What LACs are good for ill equipped students?

My son went to a bad high school where he easily got a 3.8 unweighted gpa, 4.0 weighted, and all the honors they have, which is not much honors. He is not ready to adapt to the kind of schools he can get admitted to.

He’s not going to apply to many sub 50% acceptance schools even though he might get in. He just needs to go somewhere where it’s going to be easy, and a non drinking non partying kid can get a good gpa in the first year even when he’s not prepared at all, has read less than two books cover to cover in his life, and while mathy has many weakspots that are not his fault.
He aced AP calc at his easy school (the class, not the AP exam which he bombed), for example, but can’t handle the algebra of an online AP Physics 1 class he’s taking. He’s not unaware of his problems, which shows he’s smart just not learned.

For another example, this morning I was saying something about politics and he didn’t know what “liberal” meant. He’s pretty good at grand theft auto, though. And I’m aware of how I sound.

Taking big state universities out of the picture (for other reasons) and also community college, and just limited to LAC’s, which ones can you recommend him that he won’t sink in right away? I’m not looking for an answer like “all schools have academic support” but more for “these schools are known to be easy”

They also need to have good merit aid.

I know that’s ironic but he can compete for merits.

More background:

Willing to go anywhere, any kind of location. Except conservative and/or very greek or doused in alcohol.

As for money, NPC’s that show for our 2 kid at a time, 140K income, 14K EFC:

Less than 20K NP, 12k with loans and work study-- are great, but up to 22K net.

Hendrix college comes in at 19K net for us, before loans and work study. This one hits the spot. But can he handle Hendrix?

Lawrence College comes in at that range too, and St Olaf, and I think Gustavos Adolphos.

Westminster College, Muhlenberg come in at 22K and that’s starting to get real rough.

A few of the more competitive but still not top competitive LAC’s can come in lower, but seem too high powered. (ex. Pomona, but I could pick a more realistic example)

i know you can’t run the npc’s of all for me but hopefully that gives you an idea – limited more to the great opportunity type LACs.

Most LACs come in at the 28-35K net range for us, and are too much. Almost Every NPC gives us merit.

He will be test optional because even with studying he’ll never break 1000 on the SAT.


Search Colleges that Change Lives.


Maybe Susquehanna or Ohio Wesleyan.


Yes I’ve searched colleges that change lives. There is no information there like the kind of insider information on this forum that could tell me the kind of inside scoop on what would be good in this situation.

I am very into the schools on that site but they all look pretty challenging except maybe the state one in washington, which is too costly for us.

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Why does he even want to go to college? If he doesn’t like to read and doesn’t have a lot of intrinsic curiosity/motivation, why do you think four more years of schoolwork will improve his future? Does he have a career in mind?

There are tons of other career paths available that cater to different strengths–what is he passionate about? He could get an apprenticeship, go to trade school, join americorps, get some work experience before narrowing what he wants to study


He wants to go to college. He’s mathy and techy. Probably will major in science.

He hasn’t had a good education at his inner city school. He can adapt, in a couple years, but he wants to protect his GPA for the future as much as possible.


Out of curiosity why do you want him in the same situation for college as he had for high school? Not trying to be mean; I’m just trying to understand the reasoning/desired outcomes for suggestion purposes. There are schools like Prescott that don’t give traditional grades, or High Point that are known for “finishing” or getting them caught up on soft skills. Schools like Elon, Gardner Webb, Lehigh appear to have reputations for grade inflation, but not sure you’ll get to your desired price.

Edit to add we must’ve posted at the same time. Perhaps the link above will offer some insight.


That’s a good point based on what I actually wrote. But I really meant to ask about simply about schools that won’t overwhelm.

I could say more that I don’t believe grading is the basis of rigor and quality in an education and that he could progress just fine without the grade pressure. Most LACs that have money to give are also giving a good education.

I’m kind of asking about some leads on colleges here, not really looking to have the rug pulled out, although I’m also happy to discuss because I can easily enjoy my time here discussing anything to do with college. It’s fascinating to me, and I’m a professor too (if you want an easy A, take my class).

I still want the names though!

[edit: oh you were someone who named names. Thanks!]


Insider scoop re cost or academic support outside the classroom? If you do a Google search for colleges with strong learning support, some of the large college websites have put some lists together. I recall Allegheny and American having a lot of support resources, maybe Furman too.


I think Lawrence is a good choice, from your list. Also take a look at the College of Wooster.


In that case, I definitely second @Tigerwife92’s suggestion of High Point. Not overly competitive, has science majors, in a nice area with lots of support in every way


Are you from CA as your screenname implies? If so, his best bet is the community college to UC as a transfer route.


Knox in Galesburg, Illinois is one of my hidden gems – it seems to do a really good job with B+ kind of kids, igniting their intellectual curiosity, all while providing good career support. I don’t know that it meets full need, however, so even with merit, I’m not sure if it will get to the sweet spot financially. Kalamazoo, Earlham, Beloit might be other schools to look at as well though again, while they all give merit, the finances might not work for you. A different option, perhaps more like High Point and Elon, might be Rollins, I only know of kids who have gone there, I have no personal experience with it, and again, financial aid might not work.


There are some issues with cc, but I don’t mind sharing: he is sorely in need of a brand new, revolutionary and intensely social experience. He’s not well developed socially, but he’s not an oddity who is at risk going away to college either. He’s emotionally very stable and positive, but is regularly excluded or ribbed at his school because he’s just not hip to anything they talk about. Doen’t know what “liberal” means but also doesn’t know sexual slang, etc. These are just examples maybe not good ones.

admissions to UC from CC will be based on his CC GPA, which could be bad, so now is the time to strike. But I don’t want to debate that because of the above.

Again, not so much looking to be directed in a totally different direction than the question.


@UCDProf how far do you want this student from home? There are a ton of smaller liberal arts colleges in flyover land. Places to consider…Denison, College of Wooster, Hendrix, Rhodes. Would he consider Trinity in Texas?

Look at Stonehill in Massachusetts. Or Wheaton in Massachusetts. Both small and sort of between Boston and Cape Cod.


Why is it that as soon as someone on CC has a somewhat “average” kid, people immediately start throwing out Community College as the answer. Kid (and/or mom) wants an LAC that is not too difficult because he has not been well prepared by his HS. Why can’t people just give constructive suggestions? If this kid had a 4.0 and a 1500 on the SAT , there would be 50 responses already. Not every kid is naturally academically curious. My D20 certainly wasn’t, but college is changing that for her a lot. She suddenly has interests she never knew she had. My S22 is also not academically curious but gets good grades and certainly plans to go to college. I would say most college bound kids are like my kids and the OP’s son. There are thousands of colleges in this country, and only are handful of them are considered elite, most are for average kids.

Some other suggestions:
Wheaton (MA)
College of Wooster
Catholic University
Roanoke College
St Mary’s of Maryland


Some others to consider:

Guilford College
New College of Florida
Juniata College
Lock Haven university
Arcadia University
Roanoke College
Greensboro College


He can go anywhere in the country. Flyover is where most of the economic opportunities are, but also in places like PA, where although I’ve never been there must be an LAC like every few miles.

Trinity in TX seems like it would be quite an academic challenge. I say “seems” because of just things I read on site, in reddit, on unigo, etc.

Hendrix looks like a dream in many ways except I also wonder if it will be very challenging on the grades.

Allegheny, Earlham, High Point, Wittenberg, Albion.

The issue with some of these colleges…not sure they will come in with a net cost of $22,000 or so a year.


He’s the dad

20 in <2 hours is pretty good.