S21 Wesleyan vs. Haverford vs. Bates vs. Hamilton

First time posting here! After a brutal admissions cycle, S21 is grateful to have a handful of nice choices. However, they all seem somewhat similar to him, and he’s paralyzed by this decision because the only school he’s visited is Wes.

S21 was also waitlisted at Brown, Cornell, and UMich. Will hope for the best with these three, but he’s not holding his breath, given the competitiveness of this cycle.

He is the type of kid who gets along with everyone—friendly, sporty, social. Not quirky at all. Looking for a place with strong school spirit and community. Not quite sure what he wants to study—psychology, history, and environmental science are all possibilities.

Worried a bit about Haverford being too small and Hamilton and Bates being too isolated.
Leaning towards Wes… Any insight and advice on these schools would be very much appreciated!

Congratulations on so many great choices.

I also feel Haverford is small, and school spirit isn’t great there (IMO). Plus, the recent student strike and ongoing reactions to that are a bit concerning.

I feel like any of the other 3 could be a good match because they all have strong communities…have you visited them? Hamilton and Bates don’t seem that isolated to me, but Wesleyan does have more of a town adjacent to the school. Hamilton students are very friendly, and I think there’s pretty good school spirit. When I visited Bates school was on break, but the kids who were there were friendly. I haven’t been to Wesleyan, but have known a few artsy kids who have been very happy there (I don’t know any sporty types who have gone there).

Look forward to hearing the input of others.

Given your description of your S as “friendly, sporty, social. Not quirky at all.” Hamilton or Bates are the best fits. (I’m a Wes fan and a Haverford alum, but these don’t sound like fits for your S.)


Thank you both for your input! You confirmed our reservations about Haverford. Such a wonderful institution, but given that my S is at a small HS now, a larger student body in college would be a nice change for him.

What a shame these colleges can’t hold admitted students days/overnights. So hard to make a decision without them. Pre-pandemic, the only one of these four schools we had a chance to visit was Wesleyan.

Hopefully, we can see Hamilton and Bates in the next couple of weeks. S21 is a work-hard, play-hard kind of kid. So someplace both intellectually vibrant and fun is what he’s looking for…

Thanks again for taking the time to write back.

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Congratulations on four great choices. I immediately thought Bates, but I am totally biased (notice my avatar.) There are lots of athletes and school spirit is evident everywhere. I don’t think there’s a rahrah atmosphere at any of these schools.

I do think this student would probably be happiest at Bates or Hamilton. I love Wesleyan, but there are plenty of quirky kids and probably not the sporty spirit he likes. Haverford is a wonderful school but it is very small. Too small, I think, but that doesn’t bother students who love it there.

IMO, Hamilton feels isolated and it’s about a fifteen minute walk into Clinton, which is more a hamlet. We felt it was in the middle of nowhere. Of course it’s a great school and its open curriculum is very appealing.

My D is a Bates 2020 grad. Bates is not isolated. It’s part of the small metro area of Lewiston Auburn. All the schools and two hospitals are close to campus. You can walk to restaurants, bakeries and parks. There is plenty of shopping a few minutes away with Walmart and other stores, and Bates runs shuttles there. The Mall Of Maine is about 20 minutes, and Portland, a very cool small city, is 40 minutes away. Boston is two hours.

Feel free to head over the Bates page and read the pinned posts there. One of them is about Lewiston and gives a pretty comprehensive idea of what the city offers.

Bates, IMO has a relaxed and friendly vibe. There’s a big mix of students. I personally feel that Hamilton students are a little more conservative than Bates students, but I also think a student from either school could find their people.

@FullCircle I will message you. You can ask me questions about Bates if you like and I can probably put you in touch with a current student who can show you around or at least give you a student perspective.


I agree with @Lindagaf about giving the edge to Bates over Hamilton. (I don’t know if Greek life matters to @FullCircle but Hamilton does have it while Bates doesn’t.)
As far as the Haverford is too small concern, I would add that because of the unique relationship with Bryn Mawr (seamless cross-registration, many shared ECs, free shuttle bus that only takes 10 minutes, etc.) students are really in a community of around 2600 students. If anyone’s interested, Bryn Mawr has an excellent description of the Bi-Co, Tri-Co, and Quaker consortia. Bi-Co, Tri-Co, and Penn | Bryn Mawr College

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Thank you so much for your insight @Lindagaf. Your descriptions of Clinton and Lewiston make these towns much easier to visualize. I’m happy to hear that Bates is not as isolated as we thought. Sounds like it has a lot to offer. I’ll head over to the Bates page to read more, per your suggestion.

In regard to politics, S21 is not conservative, and although he’s incredibly easygoing and gets along with just about everyone, a more conservative student body is another potential concern with Hamilton.

@gotham_mom, good point about Greek life! I’m not sure my S has strong feelings about going Greek, but I know that if he did, he wouldn’t want it to dominate his social life. As long as there are fun parties on the weekends—a dorm room or a campground are okay with him—he will be happy. I’ll have him check out Bryn Mawr’s course offerings, too—thank you for pointing that out.


Hamilton isn’t conservative. It’s just maybe a little more so than Bates.

Hamilton and Bates are better fits for S21 from what I have read.


What type of student will you find at each of these colleges? Not one single type. Wesleyan (3200 enrollment) would be the most difficult to categorize since it is substantially larger than the other 3 which range in enrollment between 1300-1900. Since Wesleyan sponsors 24 athletic teams involving almost 800 student athletes, I doubt that your son would have any difficulty finding sporty types on campus. Wesleyan is a terrific school with ready access to the outdoors as well as to arts & music not far away in both Hartford and New Haven.


Totally understand what you mean @Lindagaf by Hamilton being just slightly to the right of Bates. That probably would not be a total dealbreaker for S21, but as a reference point, he did eliminate Davidson and Richmond from his college search because he thought both schools had a more conservative vibe. (He could’ve been wrong about that, btw.) He added Hamilton to his list quite late in the process, without knowing a ton about it, but was attracted to the open curriculum.

@Bill_Marsh, Wesleyan’s size is very attractive to S21. It’s the only school of these four he was able to visit pre-pandemic, and on the day he was there, the campus was bustling and lively. We saw all different types of people, just like you mentioned. Our tour guide was incredibly impressive, too. Of course, that was just a snapshot.

@usernameuser98, thank you for your input!
S21 will be further investigating Bates and Hamilton as well in the next two weeks. Really hoping we can squeeze in a visit.


For the parents visiting Wesleyan it’s good to know that there are dozens of great restaurants on Main Street, Middletown and Broadway caliber theater in an historic 19th century opera house just a 15 minute drive south of campus on the Connecticut River. You can make a great weekend out of a visit to check in with your son at college.

Waitlisted at Brown, Cornell, & Michigan. Some things are worth fighting for.

Otherwise, the only school that I suggest that your son eliminate is Haverford College due to too much turmoil & too little tolerance for opposing points of view.

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@Bill_Marsh, thanks for the tips! When S and I were visiting Wes, we were pleasantly surprised by the number of restaurants and shops in Middletown. Parking spots were full for blocks. Wesleyan had an energy S responsed to. Middletown itself seemed to be busy as well. Could’ve just been the day, but it was definitely something S noticed.

Thanks to @Mwfan1921 and @Publisher, I looked into the recent strike at Haverford. I share your concerns. It’s such a strong academic institution, I would hate for its reputation to suffer long term. I empathize with why the protest started. But it’s unfortunate how it played out. Had he been there, my S is a kid who would’ve wanted to continue going to class.


Here are a few CC threads that addressed some of the Haverford situations, with a range of opinions:

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Thank you, @Mwfan1921. Important to read a range of opinions. Will dig in tonight!


Also @Publisher, S21 will try to bring the fire for his waitlisted spots, but I have to say, he is tired. What a soul-crushing year it has been for these kids. Hope to get off the waitlist is elusive. I’m trying to stay positive for him!

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Just to add some balance to the Haverford discussion…my current student thinks (all things considered) the school done a pretty good job with the Walter Wallace Jr./BLM/Strike Issues in the fall as well as the covid policies and procedures. Things are turning a corner, and there is a sense of optimism that the final few weeks will be more normal than anything on campus since last March. There are some vaccinations taking place on campus this week, but I don’t know the details (it won’t be for everyone…but many have already started the process on their own).

As for the Tri-Co…our D has taken 4+ classes at both Swat and BMC. The ability to pick really interesting classes not offered at Haverford has been great. Throw in a semester abroad, and roughly a third of her classes were at other schools. That doesn’t change the dynamic of being a small school for activities and much of the socializing…but there is a lot of opportunity for interacting with thousands of non-haverford students over the 4 years.


Based on that thumbnail sketch, I too would suggest Hamilton or Bates. Personally, I prefer Bates.

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Hamilton, in Brief (Opinion)

Legacy of having been two colleges of complementary characteristics and emphases manifests in enhanced academic, social and architectural dimensions and balance. Beautiful, spatially luxuriant campus. Access to nearby suburban amenities. Academically strong across humanities and fine arts, sciences and math and social sciences. Rarefied student profile. A writers’ college, for those who wish to enhance this skill. I know some people who don’t like snow, but I’m not sure I trust them. Surrounding area the safest collegiate location in the nation, with no reported violent crime in a recent year. Charming Clinton (see photo), as well as the authentically rural countryside in its vicinity, may not appeal to your son based on the other schools to which he applied.