Tell me everything about + compare: Carleton, Wes, Ford, Mac

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Discus: College Search and Selection: September 2003 Archive: Tell me everything about + compare: Carleton, Wes, Ford, Mac
By Heyheyhoho (Heyheyhoho) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:30 am: Edit

My top choice colleges are Wesleyan, Carleton, Haverford and Macalester. I was wondering if you could compare these schools in terms of academics, student body, admissions and (*especially*) social scene. Any information on any of these four schools would be greatly appreciated. I know that they are all liberal leaning liberal arts schools and that they are all extremely well-regarded (Carleton with the best reputation, Mac with the worst of the group and Haverford and Wesleyan somewhere in between -is this assumption correct). What I'm really interested in is what sets these schools apart from each other. What types of kids attend each school? Which school has the most "traditional" party scene?


By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:00 am: Edit

I'd say that among the general public and perhaps most employers, Wesleyan is the best known and most prestigious of the lot, but among academics, Carleton is the most highly regarded.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:40 am: Edit

From all I've heard from first hand reports, Carleton students study hard but have a great time as well with lots going on on campus. All are fairly liberal schools politically, but Wesleyan has some more radical politics and views on campus that the others don't. Make sure you visit all of the schools.

By Spiffybrownboy (Spiffybrownboy) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 11:21 am: Edit

Here's liberal for ya:

Wesleyan has a nude dorm. Actually, its technical name is "clothing optional" but hell, let's face it, it's a nude dorm.

Of course, a little bit of skin shouldn't keep you away from a fabulous school. :þ

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 12:39 pm: Edit

Wow. A nude dorm. Amazing.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 01:27 pm: Edit

Actually, no one I know at Wesleyan has reported seeing nude students, even in the clothing optional dorm. But streaking in mid-winter is both a Princeton and a Harvard tradition. Wesleyan does have a really liberal reputation. The movie PCU was based on Wesleyan, though I am told by a student who went there during the period covered by the movie that: a. the movie grossly exaggerated reality; b. things had become far tamer then.

By Perry (Perry) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 02:02 pm: Edit

We recently visited Wesleyan; were surprised by its second rate appearance next to the other LAC's, many of which seem to be in the midst of building booms. Many -- though not all -- of the buidings seemed to be from the 1960s and 1970s. It had the appearence of a summer camp. Wesleyan was the last of our visits after travelling to other campuses that were graced with stately buildings, beautifully landscaped grounds, magnificent oak and maple trees, flowers, new dorms, new science complexes, new student centers, new this and that. And then we drive to Wesleyan, which seemed run down by comparison. This seemed odd since I understand that it has a healthy endowment.

This is not to suggest that one should by any means judge an institution's academics soley by the appearance of the campus -- but perhaps it does suggest something lacking in management. What do others think.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 02:28 pm: Edit

We're by way of being experts on LAC college dorms since our sons have spent summer camps in a number of them.

Wesleyan does look run down, and the town even more so. Connecticut College had broken down furniture in the dorm my son visited. Bates has a great setting, but Lewiston is rather depressing. Swarthmore is beautiful, but there is no town. Our other son spent a summer at Mt Holyoke; his room had a chest of drawers whose handle fell out when I tried to pull the drawers out. Skidmore had some of the best facilities but probably the worst reputation of all the colleges they've been in. Wellesley has the nicest architecture, and the town is nice if a bit too manicured for my taste.

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:21 pm: Edit

random differentiators: Haverford is small even for an LAC. Macalester has a nice urban location - legit international orientation. A few years back, Carleton had the reputation for burying students in the books, but things appear to be a bit less intensive today. Very attractive campus.

By Perry (Perry) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:43 pm: Edit

We also visited Brown. At the admissions office, you are supposed to pull the door outward to enter. There is a sign that says so. In my wisdom, however, I grapped the door handle and tried to push the door inward, ripping the handle off and causing a minor panick among the admissions personnel at the front desk. After all, they just had it repaired the day before. We were the first ones to arrive for the tour, having misread our clock by one hour. Thereafter, all the other visiting kids and parents had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to enter the admission's office. I suppose it was an intelligence test of sorts. If it was, I certainly failed.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:46 pm: Edit

We ruled out Haverford because it was too small. Son was interested in anthropology, but there were.are only 3 anthro professors.
I visited Carleton in January (brrr!). There was a snow storm, but they are so used to those that the streets and lanes were cleared in a jiffy, and so the campus had cleaner walkways than many a NE towns in the same situation. Northfield is a dry town, if that is of interest, and very small. Twin Cities are 45 mns. away.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:47 pm: Edit

Perry, That is so funny! Thanks for the laugh.

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 05:28 pm: Edit

Perry--what other LACs did you visit and what were your impressions?

By Perry (Perry) on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 07:25 pm: Edit

Here's a quick run down of where we went:

We took a little road trip this summer on the way to delivering our kid to Barnard's pre-college program in NY. By the way, she loved NY, the subways, running around town, the musicals and plays, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the rest of lower and upper Manhattan. But she didn't seem to think Barnard was the right place for her -- too cramped, run down dorms and facilities, but right across the street from Columbia, which is too large for her taste.

On the drive to NY, we visited Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio because of their excellent English dept. Gambier is a beautiful, quaint little village in the middle of Ohio. The town and college are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Also visited Swarthmore -- beautiful but too suburban. Nevertheless, we liked their emphasis on writing; and Haveford, which seemed quite nice. Amherst and Wellesley, both of which have marvelous facilities and course selection in the humanities. In addition, visited Yale, Brown, did not make it to Harvard, and Wesleyan, which was a disappointment given the run down look of the place. There were others we would have liked to see, but time and money was limited.

The visits were fun, the various campuses interesting, the tour guides charming, and the information sessions and interviews of various quality.

By Fonzie (Fonzie) on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 10:25 pm: Edit

anyone else with info comparing Mac with Carleton? I'm worried about the deathly workload @ Carleton

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 03:30 pm: Edit

I know a lot of recent and not-so-recent Mac and Carleton grads. Hard to get any of them to say anything bad about their experiences. I'd visit both and try to talk to as many students as you can while on the campuses. Also, check the faculty size and course offerings of the departments in which you are most likely to major.

By Geniusash (Geniusash) on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 09:40 pm: Edit

I live in the area and am considering both Carleton and Mac. Both are GREAT schools and are my 2nd and 1st choices respectfully. Everyone at Carleton are there because they want to learn. It seemed very intellectual to me, but on the other hand there was an article in the newspaper about student contortionist. The campus was absolutely gorgeous, seems very ivy to me. Mac seems a little more laid-back in terms of rigor and perhaps a bit more politically liberal, but is every bit as intellectual as Carleton. The main difference is the location. Mac is right in the heart of the city while Carleton is in the middle of cow-country. But, at Carleton, St. Olaf (another great school) is right across town, so there's always the option of socializing with the Olies!

By Heyheyhoho (Heyheyhoho) on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 09:48 pm: Edit

Has anyone visited these places? Which school would you say has the best reputation? I think it really doesn't matter and they are all about equal, (Carleton=Haverford=Wesleyan) so you should just choose the one you like the most. Does anyone know about the social scenes at these schools?

By Xmatt (Xmatt) on Friday, March 19, 2004 - 09:50 am: Edit

Wesleyan does not actually have a naked dorm, or even a clothing optional dorm. It was hoax pulled by a couple students living in West College when an NY Times was writing a story about the school. All dorms have a sort of student-governed quality so I suppose it's possible one dorm could decide it wanted to be clothing-optional, but I somehow doubt you would get a majority of students in any hall to agree to it.

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