Wooster v Knox, et al

S accepted to Wooster, Knox, Coe, Lewis & Clark and Lawrence w/big merit and FA. Still waiting on St Lawrence and Whitman decisions. Interested in environmental studies/science, creative writing, UF and Greek life. Looking at Duke Nicholas School of the Environment or Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop for grad school. Wants a great college experience after going to a tiny suitcase charter with no campus spirit. He grew up in CA, FL, NC and HI, but NC most recently. Loves outdoor sports, especially UF, of which he is a two year varsity player and co-captain this year. I love how much Coe wants him. I think he’d thrive. He’s worried it’s religious. I love Wooster but worried about L&C’s lack of political diversity. He’s a pretty left of center registered independent but I read some schools drill down on non-political kids. I guess I’m wondering which one is better academically with a great local and campus community rather than politically focused? I don’t know much about the reputation if these schools outside our geographic area.

Great choices! My son went through athletic recruiting at St Lawrence, Knox, Wooster, and Lawrence so we got to know those pretty well. Of those four, St Lawrence sounds like the best fit for your son, based on strength of environmental sciences, presence of small, but traditional greek life, big sports support (hockey is D1 and apparently rivalries are intense and games are huge campus events), and a close campus community, with a small but charming “business” district 2 blocks from campus, with pizza, movie theater, coffee/bagels and a farmers’ market. We were impressed by the overall “nice” vibe at St Lawrence, including his prospective teammates who were humble and overall nice guys. We also know some current students at St L who love the environmental science offerings, hiking and winter sports. Our impression of Knox, Wooster and Lawrence were much more of a blend of quirky kids, with less traditional greek life, though all three schools do have greek life. St Lawrence had the least “SJW” vibe, more of a go-along-get-along vibe.

For creative writing, though, Knox is a solid choice. It’s one of the few LACs that’s focused on CW and in a unique way. Most CW programs in the US were modeled on the Iowa grad program and they tend to train toward “literary” writing while not spending as much time on other genres or on skill sets such as how to plot, how to write dialogue, how to create characters, etc. Knox noted the importance of other genres in a positive way. For the lay person one way to think about this is that while all forms or writing depend on literary skills, and there’s a small subset of published work in the genre known as “literary,” the vast majority of published work relies on knowing what genre you’re writing for and targeting those niches. In other words, the word “literary” is the name of a genre and most writing programs focus only on that genre. The publishing world, meanwhile, sells all sorts of other genres (sci-fi/fantasy; thriller; romance; children’s etc.) and students graduating with CW must verse themselves in the requirements of those other genres on their own. Knowing a genre and writing for one (or more) will allow you to publish and earn a living. Literary skills, however, inform all genres. You might want to look once more at Knox for this reason–that they positively acknowledge genres as part of the CW program–before making a final decision.

Knox was the true hidden gem during my LAC kid’s search. After visiting 15+ LAC classes, including at highly ranked east coast schools, my kid said the Poli Sci class at Knox was the most dynamic, engaging and fascinating class he attended. Of course, there is a fair amount of randomness in that class visit process, but still, he was blown away. A music professor met with him for an hour to talk about performance and academic opportunities and was so excited and interested in him that my son wanted to commit to Knox just to study with her. The coach who was recruiting him was engaging, honest, sincere. Campus improvements were happening everywhere, with a new fine arts building being built and the music/theater building being renovated. Turn out for the Knox-Grinnell match in my son’s sport was impressive, the field was ringed by Knox student on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I found the shopping area near campus cozy, for pizza, pub food, coffee, though the town is a classic midwest town which has seen better days and is working its way back to prosperity. I would say Knox, compared to St Lawrence, is higher on the “quirky” student scale. Overall, a really wonderful, transformative community.

For the reasons stated by @Midwestmomofboys, St. Lawrence seems like a nice match for your son. For environmental studies particularly, SLU could make a good top choice from your son’s tentative options.

Thank you so much! This is the vibe he got, too, that it’s a pretty outdoorsy school which is very much what he’s like.

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This is what keeps him coming back to his decision, Knox’s writing program. It’s so unique and could really set him on a path to being published. Thank you!

That it has a 3-2 with Duke is so hard to pass up.

@motherof1dragon , any news yet? My son is also considering a fantastic offer from Wooster. I love your son’s options. I don’t think there is a wrong choice there.

Yes, he was accepted to St Lawrence! The FA, even with a large merit scholarship, was almost exactly double Knox, Wooster & Coe, so we appealed with those offers and are waiting to hear. He declined his Lewis & Clark offer and hasn’t heard from Whitman yet. It’s really between SLU, Wooster and Knox depending on what the SLU FA comes back at. He’s tending towards Wooster over Knox at the moment for some reason. I think it was Wooster’s Woo Week for admitted students that impressed him while he missed most of Knox’s events awaiting his decision. But, if SLU comes through, then I think there’s no argument. I can’t say, however, that if one has fall classes over online that it won’t change everything. $66k for Wooster online or $78k for SLU online just makes no sense. This is where Wooster being in Ohio makes all the difference over NY, as what NY may look like or may do is concerning, especially their one size fits NYC for all approach even for SLU which is nearly in Canada but on the same protocol as NYC. I can’t say shelling out nearly $300k for a college experience that shuts down multiple times over the next four years based on what happens in NYC, nearly eight hours away, hasn’t worried me.

OP–studying CW, as with studying film, gives you the guideposts for becoming a novelist or becoming a filmmaker. The rest is practice. For people who “make it” as a novelist, the learning curve is real. As with any skill set it will take 5-10 years to learn his craft, and only with daily practice. Some take even longer. That being said, becoming a novelist (or some other sort of writer) as a career is possible. One way to handle this apprenticeship period is to plan for another job alongside daily writing. (Set a timer for an hour a day and just write. It doesn’t matter what. His voice will emerge–and his craft.) Choosing this second job ahead of time means that fate doesn’t choose it for you. If he doesn’t make plans for his “apprenticeship job” some call it a “day job” then fate will place him in the job at hand–waiting on tables, bartending, or whathaveyou. To be sure, those jobs are helpful in developing a sense of the world that he will be writing about. All writing is at its core about human interactions and the internal change of humans. (I feel that keeping a day job even when successful is good because of this–it’s material.) So being exposed to a lot of different humans is helpful. Day jobs are best, in my view, if they allow enough energy and mental space for the person to keep their “real job” of daily writing. So often young people will go into law because it involves writing, but law is extremely demanding and uses words all day–and CAN, depending on the person, leave them drained of wanting to produce more words. For the opposite example: See John Grisham and Scott Turow. He may want to see what others have done for day-job work and plan accordingly. Stephen King was an English teacher, and held many other jobs that informed his work. Many people go into publishing and then agenting. Some other famous examples of day jobs were Kafka and Mark Twain. The best advice I can give for learning how to write is to do it daily, and read daily–and by “read” I mean dissect the writing he loves. Every day. That plus 5-10+ years will turn him into a published fiction writer. Best of luck.

New York State may be comparatively well situated at this time with respect to the trend of its cases.