<p>My kid is a junior who only knows she wants small, intimate, and "quirky-cool." For the purpose of this thread, FA and her stats are irrelevant. We'd like as much info as you're willing to share on your personal favorite college; is the "feel" of the school everything you expected? Is it diverse (socioeconomically, racially, etc) in your child's experience? Are the bureaucrats willing to work with you, or is everything covered in red tape? Thanks.</p>
<p>I'm a high school student still in the college process and after visiting many LAC's I'd have to say Hamilton and Colgate were my favorites. Both in upstate NY, beautiful campuses, amazing academic opportunities.
-Hamilton had, by far, the friendliest students out of any school I have ever visited.
-I admit, they were both a bit homogeneous, but it didn't bother me at all.
-Specifically at Hamilton, there is a strong focus on writing and verbal skills- every person seemed to be extremely well spoken!
-My dad said Hamilton was the most positive impression he'd ever had of a school and it was definitely my favorite!</p>
<p>oh another random tidbit: both schools had TONS of research open to undergrads. At Colgate they said that there is one professor who hasn't published any work without a student coauthoring in over 10 years!</p>
<p>You want quirky LACs? My family specializes in them! I will put a good word in for Whitman College. It is tiny and remote, and in the quaint downtown area of Walla Walla, Washington. Go for the alliteration and stay for the education!</p>
<p>It has first rate facilities, especially for an LAC, and a beautiful campus configured around a huge green space, Ankeny Field, ringed by lovely old trees and dotted with odd but fitting public art. It looks the part of a charming well established LAC, but with many new buildings like a state of the art library and athletic facility. A creek with a duck pond runs through it. </p>
<p>It is academically rigorous and the students have heavy work loads, but there is a strong emphasis on theater, sports, the arts, and this all comes with a very inclusive and friendly vibe. My S is an outgoing young man who appears to have lots of friends from different classes and with diverse interests. Politically, it leans left but there are exceptions.</p>
<p>It is not as diverse as might be desired, but that is an issue for many LACs. Neither S nor I have had any problems dealing with the administration, but then we are both pretty low maintenance. S likes his professors, his sport, his friends, but is less enthralled with the weather - again a problem with many LACs outside of Cal. S is a bright kid and has found mostly intellectual peers and some extraordinarily intelligent students. He likes being there and I suspect will have many lifelong friends from the experience. </p>
<p>Because there is not a big city nearby, the students must find ways to entertain themselves on campus, in the small nearby downtown, or out in the countryside and they seem to succeed quite well. Walla Walla has about 40,000 people, but there are no big cities nearby. Seattle / Portland are over four hours away and Boise over three hours. It is an interesting drive across the state for those who haven't done it.</p>
<p>On the other hand, we have high hopes for Sewanee to which D has just been admitted. It is gorgeous, with unusual customs, and very little in the way of civilization around it - Chattanooga 30ish miles away and Nashville 90ish miles provide the option of city life, but the campus is an island. My D refers to it as Hogwarts south based on the photos and her overnight stay. The people she met were very friendly and welcoming. It consists of sandstone buildings that look like castles among stately trees with more heavily wooded areas nearby. The students tend to be more conservative and it is affiliated with the Episcopal church, which appears to be quite socially and politically liberal. They have a track record of churning out Rhodes Scholars - 26 including one last year. Their facilities are also first rate and quite impressive for an LAC, though some of the guys dorms have a less stellar rep.</p>
<p>As a parent, most of my comments are based on hearsay, other than my observations about the campuses, which I have seen. I suspect that I will know more about Sewanee around this time next year if D ever calls home. These schools have less name recognition than some other top LAC's, which tend not to have much name recognition anyway. So, when you answer questions about where your children are going to college, you will tend to be met with blank stares, confusion, bemusement, or misplaced pity. However, Whitman appears to be doing an excellent job with S and I am optimistic that D will thrive at Sewanee. Check them out.</p>
<p>Now I wish I would have encouraged my D to look at Sewanee! Oh, well. My D hasn't enrolled yet, but signs are looking good for Kalamazoo College. Is it okay if I pipe in about a place where we've only yet seen their best side? I am kind of in love. What attracted me was the interesting pedagogical approach, the "K plan," which comprises four parts: a flexible curriculum, robust internship/externship program, one of the country's strongest study abroad programs (85 percent of the students take advantage), and a required senior individualized project. The campus is lovely; a beautiful quad (makes a campus, IMO), nice facilities, etc. It's comfortably nestled in a nice residential area of Kalamazoo, which seems to be a wonderful community. My D's acceptance letter was warm and personalized. She received a generous merit scholarship, against an already reasonable (as such things go!) cost of attendance. My D immensely enjoyed her overnight in November. Twenty percent students of color; students from 25 countries. I cry when I scroll through Kzoo's photos on U.S. News (dweeb!).</p>
<p>Kalamazoo is another favorite in "Colleges that Change Lives," as is Whitman. That is a great resource for off the beaten track LAC for "B" students. That does not apply to all the colleges listed there - certainly not Reed or Whitman, but it lists quite a few colleges that might be worth exploring depending on what your student is interested in, location, etc. They are reputed to be rigorous teaching colleges with small class sizes that not just the elite can get into.</p>
<p>I want to put in a word for Mount Allison, one of the few liberal arts colleges in Canada. </p>
<p>Approximately 2500 students, located in province of New Brunswick. Has been rated at the very top of all the Canadian college rankings for almost twenty years. Has produced 49 Rhodes Scholars, 8 in the past 10 years. Approximately 40% of students do research with faculty. </p>
<p>We found it to be an extremely warm and welcoming community. Big on quirky, not so big on athletics. Kind of environment where everyone leaves their bags and laptops lying around (including outside of the cafeteria while they went to eat. They offer 40 majors and have 140 clubs. Solid endowment. </p>
<p>SATs are not required for American students. Tuition for Americans is $14,530, but they offer considerable merit scholarships and also need based aid for international students.</p>
<p>Reed College in Portland, Oregon. You gotta visit to understand it.</p>
<p>^^ Small, intimate, and quirky-cool but not as difficult to get into as Reed would be Kenyon. Really lovely campus, smart kids, great rec center. It definitely was not for my son but sounds like a school you should explore. (FWIW--I can't imagine any LACs having much in the way of red tape. Seems that's one of the benefits of dealing with a smaller school, no?)</p>
<p>(And to soccersara--I've heard that about Hamilton students for decades. It has gotten REALLY hard to get into, though--no wonder!)</p>
<p>I wasn't going to post because this isn't "my kid's LAC", but since people are posting impressions of schools they've visited, I think this is ok: Smith was a wonderful LAC for me. Nurturing, challenging, with easy access to professors who really cared about your learning experience. My niece graduated from there about 7 years ago -- she loved it too -- so I feel like the great experience I got is something students now are getting. At one point, I asked an Art History professor if, instead of taking the final, I could do my own project. No problem. Talk about no red tape! I mapped out a paper that explored the art works of that era and she was fine with me showing my knowledge in an unconventional way. My D is not at a LAC, and from what I now know, I can't imagine a professor at her school saying yes to that request.</p>
<p>Check out Emerson College in Boston MA. I don't know if you are looking for big city or small town or something in between, but Emerson is definitely quirky/cool. Also, it only specializes in either performing arts or communications (how odd is that?). My D was a journalism major and loved every minute of it there. There is no campus so to speak as it is in the heart of downtown Boston, but the buildings surround the Boston Common which is the unofficial campus. They have a couple of brand new buildings and a state of the art television and radio studios. They also own the historic Majestic Theatre where all the art students perform. The students are for the most part hipsters and a large gay/lesbian presence. Not a lot of racial diversity in the school itself, but Boston itself is another story. My D had many friends from the many neighboring colleges, so meeting different people was never a problem. They own a real castle in the Netherlands for people studying abroad which my D didn't do but many friends did and loved it. When we were researching schools before our D attended, one book described the student body at Emerson as all the kids who were outcasts at their high school. That pretty much sealed the deal for our D lol.</p>
<p>Also, I forgot to add that all her classes were very small and had very personalized attention from most of her professors. They were for the most part very approachable and caring. I don't recall having and bad experience with "red tape", D was able to pretty much handle everything herself.</p>
<p>Check out the Masters Universities. These get little or no "press" on this site or through USNews. Most are smaller universities that offer a masters degree as their highest degree. Many are smaller in size, and some are quirky. </p>
<p>Our DD went to Santa Clara University. It's not quirky so it's probably not what the OP to this thread is looking for. It's a Masters university with about 4200 undergrads. It has the "feel" of an LAC which is nice. Great programs, and a terrific location in Santa Clara, CA. </p>
<p>Like I said...probably not right for the OP but could be right for others reading thread.</p>
<p>These masters universities are NOT listed with the LACs, and they are NOT listed with the universities on the US News reviews. However, many are terrific.</p>
<p>DS just started at Beloit. Take a look at their campus videos, especially the April 1st on students with super powers. His freshman seminar professor (Physics teaching a civil war class) is disappointed that the administration won't let him teach the class to drill with swords. The football team had its own WOW clan/tribe/something? No administration problems so far but the food has to be the worst out of all the schools we visited (20+)</p>
<p>D1 is currently a sophomore at Hamilton and loves it! As soccersara posted above, there is a strong emphasis on writing...which my D enjoys since she is about to declare as an English major. Hamilton is small and intimate (profs are very involved and engaged with students) but I'm not sure I'd characterize it as "quirky-cool"- I'd call it "preppy" (in a good way :)) It is very reminiscent of many of the LACs in New England- I say this as a Bates grad!</p>
<p>It's all in this thread. Love the midwest for it's non-preppy, understated vibe and Grinnell for it's 'come as you are' feel. But apparently Grinnell has become much more selective this year - applications are up 52%.</p>
<p>This article sums it up pretty well.
As a Reedie, I long ago accepted that most Portlanders consider my alma mater a hybrid of Haight-Ashbury and Keith Richardss medicine cabinet. This reputation, sadly, ignores what makes Reed truly countercultural. Reed, you see, is actually a conservative stronghold. In crucial ways, the place is far more rigid than most Bible colleges. And yes, thats a good thing...</p>
<p>Whoops--when I initially posted, I didn't see that M's Mom had already weighed in, but I'll add my two cents worth about Grinnell, since it's already written...An extremely diverse (and, yes, often referred to as "quirky") student body, smallest class sizes of just about any LAC, beautiful campus with a mix of well-kept older buildings and interesting new ones, tons of resources (thanks to an endowment that is about $1.0 million per student), rigorous academics. Students exercise self-governance and, in my personal observation at least, the administration has been reasonably responsive to concerns. Carleton would probably also meet your "quirky-cool" criteria too.</p>
<p>Carleton is the winner in my family - I was the middle of 5 to go there and d is the 3rd of the next gen. Pops up on lots of "best of" lists - teaching, undergraduate research, women in science, happy students, beloved by alums, etc.</p>
<p>Is there an LAC for high school outcast types like Emerson, but which offers a wider variety of majors? D is socially weak but a good (hard-working more than super smart) student. I think she's kind of awkward in the same way Asperger's kids and some techies are, but her strengths aren't in math and science. If would be easier if they were.</p>