Tell me about this list

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Discus: College Search and Selection: September 2003 Archive: Tell me about this list
By Shilpa1125 (Shilpa1125) on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 06:02 pm: Edit

I'm looking at these following schools, but I want to apply to 8 as a maximum, preferably 6 or 7, and I was wondering if anyone could give me a brief description of these schools (atmosphere, social life, comparison to the others, things like that). All I know about most of these places are their academic repuatations and I would really like to know more from the student's point of view. I'm definitely applying to U of TX as my safety, so I really only want to apply to 7 from this list, so I just want to narrow it down soon. Thanks!

Claremont McKenna

By Shilpa1125 (Shilpa1125) on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 11:57 pm: Edit


By Gadad (Gadad) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 08:22 am: Edit

The best thing to do would be to get a copy of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. It has a 2-3 page description of all the details you're seeking on each of these schools.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 09:52 am: Edit

Wow, those schools are as different from UTX as can be. I recommend college prowler--just google onto the site and it'll give you students' viewpoints on each school--you have to order a booklet for each school, I believe $5 apiece. Or go to your library for Fiske, Princeton Review Top 350, and the Insiders Guide to colleges. Or go to Borders or Barnes and Nobles and spend an afternoon perusing those same books.
You know that Amherst, Claremont, Pomona and Williams are small liberal arts colleges though they are part of consortiums that do share facilities with other schools. Of the three only Pomona has frats which are a very small part of the social scene according to what I hear. Claremont is more conservative of the three. As for the ivies, Dartmouth is as different from Columbia as they come. So you are looking at quite a variety.
My picks from that group would be Brown, Amherst, Pomona, Duke and Rice. I would also throw in a slightly less selective school like Vanderbilt, Emory, USC, Tulane so that if the stretches don't work out because they are all very difficult schools to get into regardless of stats,you would have a non Texas alternative to contemplate. Have fun!

By Shilpa1125 (Shilpa1125) on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - 05:00 pm: Edit

Thanks a lot for the help! Yeah, I know, they're all basically the opposite of UTX, but I'm definitely in at UTX so I'm using that as my safety. I definitely need more safeties so I'll check out those other schools you mentioned.

By Haon (Haon) on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - 11:06 pm: Edit

This is what I can give you (take it for what it's worth):

Amherst -- Along with Williams, the top LAC in the country. It has a slight reputation for being snobby, and is in the five-college consortium (look it up, there are good and bad things to it).

Claremont McKenna -- A fairly selective LAC... in a consortium with other CMC colleges... This is the "polisci" specialty college of the CMCs...not as selective as Pomona, Amherst, or Williams, but still a good school (maybe a reach). CM is near a city and in southern Cali (so it's warm year round). Unfortunately there's also a lot of pollution.

Dartmouth -- The most liberal-artish of the Ivies. It's very rural and very much a "work hard-play hard" school. However, it is still significantly bigger than LACs and if you're looking for an LAC, go to an LAC.

Duke -- A southern version of Dartmouth... a work hard-play hard school...definitely very southern. I personally know a lot of people that are going/went/want to go to Duke who I cannot makes me wonder about the type of student it attracts.

Pomona -- Southern California's answer to Amherst... the best and most selective LAC not in New England (with the possible acception of Carleton). It's part of the CMCs with Claremont...has a slightly snobby reputation (like amherst), and is the most selective of the CMCs. Pomona and Claremont McKenna almost share a campus.

Rice -- while technically a university, it is very liberal-artish. It is located in a city (austin I think) which unfortunately is supposaidly fairly intolerable at times. An excellent school.

Williams -- My favorite of the bunch. Along with Amherst, Williams is the best LAC in the country. Williams students are known for being acceptionally well-rounded...look for a large amount of athletic students here. The faculty is excellent and 100% devoted to undergrad teaching (something only found at LACs). The college is famous for treating its students exceptionally well. You can't get a better education anywhere in the country.

Yale -- My favorite of the Ivies and my favorite non-LAC. While Yale is committed to undergrads, it is a research university at heart and you can expect to get many TAs. Check out the residential college system and make sure you can deal with crummy New Haven if you're looking into Yale. This is the most selective university of the bunch.

Columbia -- The "city Ivy." Located in NYC so most of college life will revolve around the city, not the campus. Unfortunately, it is not located in the nicest part of the city. Probably the least-undergrad-focused of the bunch.

Brown -- known as the "slacker Ivy"...however, don't expect to get off easy at brown. Brown has an open curriculum (Amherst has one as well and Williams practically has one). Brown traditionally attracts extremely bright and qualified students who didn't want the stress of HYP. A downside of Brown is that they are NOT need-blind in admissions and have had some financial difficulties. Some of the buildings are fairly run-down and you won't find as much college spending here as you will at the other colleges you're considering.

I hope this helps...if you want more in-depth descriptions, I'd be happy to provide them...I've personally done overnights at Williams, Dartmouth and Yale and I've visited many of hte other campuses (some several times).

By Stanfordhopeful (Stanfordhopeful) on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - 11:26 pm: Edit

Hey Haon, I e-mailed you about Williams a few weeks ago if you remember. :)

Since you obviously have a good amount of knowledge about these schools, can you answer a few questions?

I am an international considering Williams and Dartmouth for Early Decision. I am finding it VERY hard to choose between the two schools.

Can you offer a comparison between the two? Are they homogenous (in regards to the student body)? I've heard that Dartmouth is quite racially segregated, is this true? From your visit, did you get the impression that Dartmouth was a heavy-drinking school? About the athletics at Williams, PR says "Reputedly a school for smart jocks, Williams life indeed “revolves around sports,” with 40 percent of students participating in varsity athletics. “At Williams people are very proud of our athletes, so we go to support them often.”" How true is this? Can you elaborate on the entry system for freshman housing at Williams?

How is the Financial aid at Williams? I am an international student and I've read about their International Scholar package where they offer round trips back to your country and a small monthly stipend to assist with costs, is this for every entering International student who displays need? How is Williams with financial aid?

How do you respond to this comment about Williams from PR:

"In terms of diversity, some note “a polarization of the campus—at one end the minorities and at the other the mainly white jock population.” "

Is this true?

Can you give me overall impressions about the social life at Williams? I've been a city person all my life, but changes in environment don't really affect me much since I've traveled a LOT. Is Williams a hospitable social environment? Also, should I visit before applying ED?

By Tux (Tux) on Thursday, September 25, 2003 - 01:52 am: Edit

"Rice -- while technically a university, it is very liberal-artish. It is located in a city (austin I think) which unfortunately is supposaidly fairly intolerable at times. An excellent school."

It's in Houston; known as the "Ivy League of the South" :)

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Thursday, September 25, 2003 - 10:18 am: Edit

Stanfordhopeful, Williams is needblind even for international students. Dartmouth is not.

By Haon (Haon) on Thursday, September 25, 2003 - 02:20 pm: Edit

I replied to your email, right? If I didn't, please resend.

Dartmouth IS a big drinking school... when I visited the person I talked to said you could easily drink every night of the week if you wanted to. Most students drink thur-fri-sat nights at Dartmouth (however, there are non-drinkers there too). Definitely, tho, the social atmosphere revolves around drinking.

Williams is need-blind for internationals, dartmouth is not. Williams is supposed to be one of the most generous schools with financial aid, offering less loans and more grants than other similar schools.

There are definitely a lot of athletes at WIlliams. However, I personally am not an athlete and I don't find myself to be at any sort of disadvantage (socially or otherwise). Most of my closest friends are athletes and while there are some parties that are hosted by specific teams, NONE are exclusive in the least.

In terms of diversity at Williams I haven't noticed any polarization... everybody is extremely friendly and most campus groups are extremely diverse and accepting of others.

The entry system at Williams is wonderful. It does not exist in any form at any other college in the world as far as I know and it is part of what makes WIlliams great. Basically, your "entry" is the group of 20-30 people you live with your freshman year (your hall, either vertical or horizontal). There are two JAs per entry who are absolutely amazing. THey are not paid by the college and are not liable for their entry (IE, they're there to be supportive, older friends, not authority figures). There are 3 prospective JAs who try out for every 1 availible spot, so those who become JAs are absolutely amazing and really want to be there. Your "entry" gives you a close community from the moment you arrive on really helps ease the high school-college transition. Throughout the year you will do activities with your "entry" (dances, bar-b-ques, trips to montreal/nyc, etc). Once a week your entry has "Snacks"...sunday evening everybody gets together in the entry common room and it's a nice study break. People make announcements about games and performances and just generally hang out. I'd definitely recommend doing overnights at all schools you're interested in (especially if you're doing ED). Maybe I'll host you (I'm hosting my first prefrosh this wednesday).

Socially, the college tries hard to make sure there are always things to do on campus. There are many very interesting guest lecturers and performers (tonight Eric Nieves, a comedian is coming). College life revolves entirely around the campus--Williamstown has fabulous art museums, a small movie theatre and some great restaurants...not much else.

All of the professors are at Williams because they WANT to cannot get a better education anywhere else in the world. Many professors also do research (and it's very easy to do research as a student).

By Shilpa1125 (Shilpa1125) on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 11:43 am: Edit

Thanks for all this information! I already wanted to go Williams a lot, and now I want to go there more. The only thing that's turning me off about it is that's it's out in the middle of nowhere. I've visted there a few times becaues my brother goes there, and I really liked it, but this confirms my liking towards it!

By Haon (Haon) on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 02:01 pm: Edit

Well it's true that Williams is in the middle of nowhere but no matter what college you go to you will spend the vast majority of your time on the campus itself.

While there aren't any large towns near Williams, Boston, NYC, Albany, and Montreal are all within a days drive from campus and people definitely do take trips into those cities. Our entry is planning an entry trip to NYC or Montreal (or both) for a weekend later this year.

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