Undergrad. Philosophy Major? Looking for right college

<p>Hi. First post on this site. I'm hoping to major in philosophy (and also study english and history or sociology) but am having a hard time finding the right college. I know not to base my college choice strongly off the major I want right NOW, but I want a school still capable of offering these courses in case I choose to stick with them.</p>

<p>A little background on me: Rising senior. I'm not very well-off, so I'm hoping for a cheaper public university (preferably smaller too), and I'm a North Carolina resident. 4th out of ~400 at competitive high school; I will have taken 12 APs by the end of hs, and got an 800 on my SAT II for US history, 780 for World History. Breakdown for SAT I is: 800 CR, 680 M, 670 Wr (will hopefully improve on math and writing when i re-take in fall). 3 years of mock gov, 3 years academic team, 2 years science honor society, and founder/president of school philosophy club. I'm also a first generation American (which apparently matters?), with both my parents coming here from the middle east.</p>

<p>I'm currently looking at mostly in-state schools and public liberal arts schools, and the schools I'm most intrigued by are (in order): University of Mary Washington, William & Mary, SUNY Geneseo, Davidson College, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Asheville, St. Mary's of Maryland.</p>

<p>I'd very much appreciate feedback on any one of these schools, as well as thoughts on my chances of getting in and aid opportunities. Recommendations for other schools with strong philosophy deptments would be awesome and warmly welcomed.</p>

<p>Overall rankings, graduate:
The</a> Philosophical Gourmet Report 2009 :: Overall Rankings</p>

<p>Breakdown of Programs by Specialty:
The</a> Philosophical Gourmet Report 2009 :: Breakdown of Programs by Specialties</p>

<p>Advice on choosing an undergraduate college for philosophy:
The</a> Philosophical Gourmet Report 2009 :: Undergraduate Study</p>

<p>UNC-CH is ranked in the top 10 in that bottom link kwu provided, and it is your IS flagship, and quite possibly the best IS value of any school in the country. Why wouldn't you go there?</p>

<p>That link seems somewhat lacking in its answer to the undergraduate question. I am aware though that Chapel Hill is probably has the most prestigious philosophy department, as it's the most renowned school I listed. I'm really not looking forward to UNC though- too large, crowded classrooms, snooty student body and it seems the dream of most people that go there is to go to Chapel Hill. I'm looking for more a down-to-earth crowd I guess. And I'd actually like less partying, which UNC is notorious for along with an out-of-control Greek system.</p>

<p>I think Mary Washington, Geneseo and Asheville have the best feel of what I want (with cheap admission too), but I'm worried I might be selling myself short on the academic side of things. I've also heard complaints that they are suitcase schools with lackluster campus life. Can anyone comment on that in regards to these schools?</p>


Oh, crowded is a bit of an exaggeration. Glancing over past course offerings, with the exception of intro philosophy (200 students, with recitation sections), most philosophy courses have at most 30 students and often under 20 or 25. The sciences are a bit larger, from what I understand, but humanities courses are fairly small at UNC.</p>

<p>I really don't think you give Chapel Hill sufficient credit. I had many of the same qualms as you as a senior and applied primarily as a safety school, and I ended up choosing Duke for various reasons. I had the opportunity to take numerous courses at UNC, interact with many Carolina professors, and see quite a bit of the school. My current opinion of it is much higher than it was as a high school senior, and I think it tends to be a bit underrated by top NC students. The budget cuts have been an issue, of course, and some of the larger departments are a bit impersonal, but by and large a motivated student can do quite well there.</p>


I'm fairly familiar with UNCA, as my sister goes there. </p>

<p>Pros: Its reputation as a commuter school is somewhat exaggerated, although it's true that a hefty percentage of students comes from that area of the state (~40%). Asheville is a very cool little town, and the university itself is lovely. Professors are very eager to interact with students, and the student body is reasonably liberal, though not quite as liberal as the town of Asheville itself. While partying is there if you want it, it's very low key - there's only one frat on campus, and it doesn't dare risk getting disbanded. It's fairly intellectual, and many of the students there would've aimed for LACs except for cost. </p>

<p>Cons: Classes tend to be larger than you might think, and it can be difficult for freshmen or sophomores to get into the classes they want due to the limited number of courses offered. The curriculum requirements easily rival Chicago or Columbia's in complexity, and thus it is extremely unusual for a student with a minor or second major to graduate in four years (in fact, super seniors with only one major are not uncommon). The financial aid, at least compared to that of UNC or State, seems to be decidedly lacking. Although UNC is not terribly diverse either, UNCA is a bit worse in this regard - URMs tend to stick out like a sore thumb there.</p>

<p>If you want a small school, why not take a look at Davidson? Great location, great academics, and great financial aid (no loans).</p>

<p>The University of Pittsburgh may be worth looking at. It's probably bigger than what you are thinking of (although Pitt is smaller than UNC-CH) and perhaps an urban campus is not what you want. However, being OOS and with your stats already, I think you might stand a very good chance of getting a full-tuition scholarship. Pitt's Philosophy department is a top 10 program and its history department is quite good as well. Not sure about English or Sociology, but another advantage Pitt has is its wide variety of choices in majors. Pitt would be closer than SUNY Geneseo.</p>

<p>I second the recommendation of Pitt, which has superb faculty both in philosophy and English, and which gives both merit and need-based aid. But I also agree with the posters who urge you to take UNC-Chapel Hill seriously. It's an excellent school with terrific humanities departments, and it's a great deal instate. I think students too often dismiss schools because of some global impression they get of the academics or student body, either from a short visit or from a superficial description in a book. Most big schools have a lot of social and intellectual variety; you just need to find a compatible group. This is particularly true of the state flagships--lots of the best instate students go there for financial reasons, not because of "fit", and so the schools naturally become rather diverse.</p>

<p>My son, for instance, who is very serious about computer science, decided to attend UVA, our state flagship, despite the fact that it isn't a top-rated science school in the national rankings. He took several classes there as a high school student and found supportive, interesting faculty and, despite UVA's preppy frat-boy reputation, many quirky students like himself in the cs department. He's sure he'll get a fine education there at an affordable price.</p>

<p>If grad school is in your future, I think you'd do better at a school with faculty who have a strong research profile. On your list, that would favor UNC Chapel Hill, Davidson, and William and Mary.</p>

<p>I'm definitely strongly considering all those schools (UNC-CH, Davidson, W&M and now Pitt) but I also feel like they're a bit of a reach. I have very little community service, and I feel like that might hurt my chances for those schools where a well-rounded application is almost a necessity. My SAT is good for a first time, but I also think it's a little low to get into those schools, especially considering my lack of athletics or community involvement. </p>

<p>I'd honestly be pretty happy going to any of them though. I'm more about the quality of education than a suitable campus life, though I'd also like a nice combination. More interesting to me in the second-tier schools and which to apply to. I like LAC's, and discounting the elite schools (Wesleyan, Swarthmare etc.) the best options I've been able to find are Geneseo, Mary Washington, St. Mary's of Maryland and also the New College of Florida. Asheville's a really good in-state option too. Feedback on my chances for those higher-up schools? Or just words of wisdom on the LAC's i mentioned? (feel free to recommend other small schools I might have looked over)</p>

<p>I would suggest looking at Kenyon College (LAC in Ohio which is called a "writer's college") it has a great English/philosophy department and is small with more down to earth feel and little to no party scene. I am not sure about Financial aid and scholarships but is worth a look. ALso Dennison University in Granville, Ohio. Other than that, William & Mary or Sewanee, University of the South in TN seem to also fit. Again, look into financial aid/scholarships as these are not cheap schools.</p>

<p>You might be interested in St. John's College, famed for its Great Books curriculum. There are campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe. It's the kind of school that you either love or hate. The application is free, and the school does rolling admissions. You could even apply now if you wanted.</p>

<p>Be sure to have the money talk with your parents on how much they are going to be able to contribute to your college education, and run a FAFSA estimator. </p>

<p>Pitt should be at least an admissions safety for you, if not a financial safety. It's another rolling admissions school. If you decide to apply, do so early for the best shot at merit aid.</p>

<p>Check out Rutgers's Philosophy program....</p>