Too preppy for my kid?

HI! My son got a very generous offer from Trinity and it is now at the top of his list. He is a theatre/baseball/social justice kid. He gets along with everyone from the jocks to the theatre geeks. He plans to double major in Theatre and Political Science. Here’s the issue. He is firmly middle class, from a middle class suburb who went to a middle class public school. His parents are lawyers, but we are still just middle class. One parent comes from money and went to a T10 college, the other does not and went to a T10 law school. He has his fair share of Vineyard Vines, Ralph Lauren and Sperry’s, but he also likes witty t-shirts and often wears sweatpants for comfort rather than khakis. We take an expensive vacation for the week in the summer to Ogunquit, ME, but we don’t have a summer home. We don’t have a boat. He’s been many places in the world, but not to Europe. As I mentioned above he did not go to prep school. He insisted on staying in public school. He loved his classmates. He is relatively spoiled because he is an only child so he’s had the best that we and his relatively wealthy grandparents could afford, but he is still a pretty down to earth kid. Will he fit in at Trinity?

Although Trinity is a small college, there are a lot of different types of students. Not just preppy kids. Did he get a chance to visit the campus?

He has been there twice. Once in the summer for a tour and once on a weekend in in the Fall. Its beautiful. He likes the campus. He really hasn’t had any contact with current students except the tour guide who went to a prep school and was some kind of loafer I hadn’t seen but two of the parents were also wearing them. I can’t remember the name. The kids on the tour were about half in Vineyard Vines or prep school t-shirts.

I know a couple of (I assume) upper middle class kids who have attended and they like it, and have been able to find their peeps. One kid did go there thinking he would walk on the baseball team and that was a no go…but he should have known that in advance.

FWIW My D goes to another NESCAC school and says that kids of all backgrounds mix pretty well.

I think he knows walking on is a real long shot. He was invited to their camp, but didn’t go bc he wasn’t sure he wanted to commit there if he were asked. His choice. The fall out is his to deal with. I went to an NESCAC school with less of a preppy vibe and we all mixed well. That is true. I’m hoping it will be the same at Trinity. Just a nervous mom.

I’m having trouble being helpful because so many of your references are fashion related and I’m not sure what signifiers you are referring to. Every HS and college kid in America wears sweatpants (or some version thereof…)

Also, I doubt you are middle class. Take a look at what income level is considered middle class- never having been to Europe and not having a boat doesn’t make you middle class.

There are a lot of wealthy kids at Trinity, and some not. It is not the most diverse place in general, so if your son is looking for a high degree of diversity (ethnic, racial, international, income, etc.) I wouldn’t put it at the top of the list.

What are his other options?


The preppy kids who wear Vineyard vines and salmon colored pants are at most of the private colleges – Trinity is no exception. I’m sure there will be lots of kids like that. But there will be plenty of others that he can mingle with and meet.

If you’re looking for a more blue-collared college, then you’ll have to steer away from private schools. Urban city public type schools (like CUNY, UIC, UMBC) are the ones where there are fewer preppy kids.

I think your son will be fine there. There are wealthy students and the average income is something about 270,000, I think. It has a high % of not just 1% but of 0.1%ers I believe. But the school has made a big effort to have increased diversity in students, not just racially but financially and etc. I think they have done a lot in this area in recent years from the sound of it. I think it is a very nice school with great academics and would not worry about this issue. I understand your concern but I think it will be fine.

Agree with Suiteiki. I know several kids who’ve gone to Trinity from similar backgrounds and all athletes. I live not far, have been on the campus many times, and know a couple of faculty. I think your son will do just fine there.

@blossom What? You doubt we are middle class? Why? Our income is solidly middle-middle class. Where do you get that impression? His other options are UMASS Amherst (does not want a large, state institution), Connecticut (preppy). Union (preppy) and Muhlenberg (not up to what he considers to be his academic standards). See below

@sgopal2 He was only interested in elite or semi-elite private colleges. I went to one and he wanted that experience as well. However, my school had (has) less of prep reputation, but he wanted as close to my experience as possible.

@suteiki77 @billmarsh Thank you so much. You have eased my mind.

I have no doubt that he will find his people. My niece was a Human Rights major and found tons of like-minded people. Interestingly, she went to Andover, but on a scholarship, so she had straddled that line before. Her now-husband (they met there) did Improv and really found a great, eclectic group of friends through it. They graduated over 10 years ago and thanks to the new(ish) administration, there is even more diversity of thought and experience than ever.

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@HermosaPaula What a wonderful story! Yes, I feel like he straddles a line. When he was small my DS did attend a very elite school for the gifted on a scholarship. He then wanted to go to the public school where his playgroup and baseball friends were going and did not want to stop. He could possibly have been another Andover scholarship kid. It sounds like Trinity does have different types, 10 years ago and perhaps more so now. I’m happy it worked out so well for your niece and her husband.

I went to public school and then a LAC that is highly ranked. There were many kids there from prep schools and even those who weren’t from prep schools were just socially very different from the kids I grew up with in high school. I think it was a good experience to be in that college because I learned how to be with and make friend with people who were different from the type I was raised with. I think it is a strength to be able to get along with all different types of people and I think the reverse can be a disadvantage even if it means always being with just wealthy people.

Sounds like he will go to a really nice school whichever he ends up choosing. Don’t you wish our kids could do overnights at schools in April? I think that would have been so very helpful. But it will work out. Congrats!! :slight_smile:

yes, and they are still super close to their friend group. My son is weighing his top three choices right now (Denison, Rhodes, Trinity) and struggles with the low diversity numbers at all of them. His independent school here in LA “looks like LA” in terms of socio economic and racial diversity. He knows it will be an adjustment to walk into more of a bubble. That being said, he dresses JUST like your son…and is no stranger to Ogunquit :slight_smile:

@Charlie2772 i definitely think he can fit in at trinity as many LACs are known for their diverse backgrounds of students. Trinity is definitely on the preppy side and is unlike its rival, wesleyan. I will be attending Vassar next year, and I can say Vassar and Wesleyan are alike in that theater is very popular there and social rights as you mentioned are big. Both Vassar and welseyan are known for being very liberal. Trinity is defintely not as liberal as the two, but I’m sure there will be a group that he will be able to fit into that has similar interests as you mentioned.

Trinity also has the most prestige amongst the schools you mentioned there.

@Unattswim56 Yes, my DS applied to both Wesleyan and Vassar as top choices as they are a “fit” for him but he was denied probably due to his GPA (slow start freshman year so only a 3.75 UW). There was much disappointment. However, he’s trying to embrace Trinity (more so than the other he’s been accepted to) and hoping he WILL find his peeps there. Thank you. Good luck at Vassar!

You lost me at social justice. I would say you kid is not a fit for Trinity. I am just being honest. He seems more of a Williams type of quirky that school really enjoys. Fit is important as the classes you attend and the degree you earn. But honestly, your feeling of being inadequate is probably more about you than your kid.

Are you being honest or are you just being snarky? Why do you say the kid is not a fit for Trinity? Williams is irrelevant as kiddo did not apply/get in.

I know three happy students at Trinity. One is preppy, the other is a jeans and flannel shirt guitar playing hippieish kid, the third is somewhere in between. I think overall it’s preppy, but not so much that he won’t find friends.

He wouldn’t get into Williams. He had a slow freshman year. As and Bs. He’s all As now, but it pulls down his GPA. This caused him not to apply or get rejected/waitlisted at schools that may seem like more of a fit. ( not his SAT). There’s nothing that can be done. Currently the places he’s been accepted to have more of a preppy vibe, but they’ve also thrown a ton of money at him. Trinity is likely the best of them ( or Union) and they have the best aid. Unless he gets off a waitlist at say Bates it’s probably Trinity to which he is headed. Thank you to those who have reassured me.