Undergrad colleges for your average boarding school kid

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Discus: College Search and Selection: March 2004 Archive: Undergrad colleges for your average boarding school kid
By Gianscolere (Gianscolere) on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 02:43 am: Edit

lately, i've been thinking about my future and decided that my ultimate goal is to attend a top law school (not yet sure which one).

i wish to attend a reasonably competitive college for my undergraduate years- at least a college that can prepare me well for first tier law school admissions. i'm aware of the fact that admissions practices at some of these law schools are extremely competitive, with a lot of the schools (harvard, yale come to mind) admitting only 600 kids out of 11,000 applicants.

on a different note, my goal is to develop, by the time i apply to law school, a strong sense of competence and confidence. in fact, this has also been my goal for high school.

could you name several reasonably competitive undergraduate colleges (please no uber competitive schools like harvard) that fit my criteria? i've asked this question before, but i've refined my criteria ever since.

-i wish to major either in history, political science, urban studies (if offered), or sociology.
-reasonably competitive (probably 1300 average SAT); challenging academics
-urban/semi-urban area (easily accessible to major city)
-abundant community service, internships with civic organizations in the city
-2,000 freshmen
-focus on undergraduate education
-independent research opportunity available
-student population is diverse in every aspect
-non-existent or very little greek life
-low student-teacher ratio; socrates style of teaching
-open-minded, opinionated, tolerant, talented student body
- students are well-lopsided rather than well-rounded
-student body as a whole represents talent in every academic and co-curricular area

-i attend a highly competitive and extremely rigorous new england boarding school; current sophomore

-i will have taken, by the end of senior year, the following courses: ap calculus AB/BC, ap gov and politics, ap comparative government, ap english lit, ap spanish language, ap spanish lit, ap american history, ap world history, ap studio art, ap biology, ap chemistry

-judging from my current progress, most likely a B+/A- average

-haven't yet taken the SAT. most of my current test scores are in the 99th percentile national norms, but they are not, by any means, accurate predictors of future success on the SATs

-community service, tutor in inner-city schools (4 days a week for 2-3 hours per day)

-founder of community church youth group

-history research occupiest most of my time...i've gone to nationals since 7th grade and will submit my future work to history competitions and history journals. PRESENTLY: internship with BU history professor. political internship with the senator in my region and an urban planner (conducting serious research with this person).

-student director of minority recruitment at my school; in charge of applicants from chicago and boston but i recruit students from inner-city areas nationwide

i know that the two main criteria for law school admissions are the LSAT score and GPA. the top law schools usualy admit students with at least a 40 LSAT and a 3.5 college GPA. i know that teacher recs, essays, and co-curricular involvement also play a factor in law school admissions but by how much? how different is law school admissions from undergraduate college admissions?

hopefully you read the entire post and could offer me with feedback. thank you times 3


By Santaclaramatt (Santaclaramatt) on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 08:08 pm: Edit

I would suggest coming west, (no need to stay in the snow for your undergraduate education), and look primarily to Pomona College. It's a liberal arts college in the Claremont Consortium, which has much to offer. The college itself is smaller than you might hope, but combined with the four or five other colleges (including one graduate college) adjacent to Pomona, that should not be a problem. Each school has its own "bent"... Harvey Mudd is for the uber-engineer, Claremont McKenna is more conservative and focuses in the social sciences, Pitzer is generally liberal, Scripps is an all women's college, and Pomona is a challenging liberal arts college of the first order. The library is good as is the school's endowment and reputation. (I wouldn't suggest Claremont McKenna to you because it seemed very free with its alcohol policy, which you don't appear to want. Giant bottles in every dorm window didn't appeal to me either.)

Pomona would not be a "sure bet" with your qualifications; although, it should be well within reach. If you do not have any competition from students at your current school, its reputation should help; if others with higher statistics apply, you're really going to want to submit your application early, arrange for an interview, and even contact professors in your area of interest about the opportunities offered at Pomona. (Hopefully theyíll notify admissions of your interest) The college also lets you submit other materialómusic tapes and perhaps extra-curricular research or writing.

The only possible problem is its location amid the famous Southern California suburban sprawl. You really would want a car to get off campus.

On the west coast, I would apply to Stanford as a reach and consider Santa Clara, (where I attend), as well.

Stanford is simply too good not to consider. It's really selective, but the opportunities that are available there are excellent. It provides a laid-back, yet challenging academic setting, itís warm, the campus is 8,000 acres of buildings, quads, bike trails, and uninhabited land, the endowment is large and provides students with research opportunities all over the world, (one of my friends went to Switzerland this summer), and it's only a CalTrain ride away from the best city in the United States, San Francisco. Oh, and the library is great too (8 million volumes or so).

If you're not interested in UC Berkeley due to the size, Santa Clara is probably a good third selection in California. The history and political science departments are great. Classes are small, professors are accessible, and the workload is pretty intense. Research opportunities are especially good in Ethics. Otherwise, it would be best to design your own class for the purpose of conducting research, which some students do.

The total undergraduate student body is around 4,500 and the endowment, as announced this January, is nearing $500 million, which allows for some good scholarships. You would likely earn a Dean's or Provost's scholarship on admissions ($8,000-15,000) as well as enter into the honors program, which includes a $2,000 bonus. The endowment also allows for a good number of endowed university chairs, currently over forty and soon to be over sixty.

The university also has a school of law, a business school, a school of engineering, and a school for education, counseling psychology, and pastoral ministries. Generally speaking, in the undergraduate population, the less academically interested students go into the business program. Engineering and the humanities tend to be much better student-wise, and professors tend to be good throughout the universityópolitical science especially.

The library space, which will be finished by 2007, should be excellent; although, the holdings are somewhat less than desirable (about 830,000 volumes). Before its completion, an automated vault will be constructed to house all of the books for easy student access. The Link+ library loan system includes many other institutions in California, including the Claremont schools, and provides access to 4.5 million titles. It takes about 2-3 days for the texts to come in.

SCU is across from a CalTrain station, which connects to San Jose (5 minutes) and San Francisco (55 minutes). As it is a Jesuit school, there is an interest in social justice and community service. Placements with the Pedro Arrupe Center for Community-based Learning are offered in conjunction with classes, and SCCAP (the Santa Clara Community Action Program) is a student run liberal-minded organization on campus, which focuses on community service, political involvement, and on campus protests. The Jesuits (a liberal Catholic order), also bring faith into college life. Sunday night Mass at the Mission Church is very popular, the Loyola residential learning community (a particular dorm) focuses on social justice issues and faith, and the Religious Studies Department is really big on campus. In all, about 60% of students are Catholic, and the university is pretty open to students of all religious persuasions. Campus ministry also has a Lutheran minister on campus.

Admissions is finally getting its act together after something of a poor showing last year. This was largely due to an online application software glitch that caused information to disappear into the depths of cyberspace. A new Vice-Provost of Admissions was hired with experience at Boston College, and already we have seen 1,500 more applicants this year. Hopefully, the average SAT will be up at 1260 or so. (Last year it was at 1230) About 55% are slated for admission for the class of 2008. I'd imagine that number will continue to drop over the next few years.

On the East, perhaps Boston College, University of Chicago, Tufts, Johns Hopkins, George Washington, or the like would be a good fit. Iíve also heard good things about Miami of Ohio, but I donít think that it is near a major metropolitan area.

Reed College in Portland is another interesting school in the west; however, it is quite small.

Well, I've procrastinated too much and need to get back to my Ethics of Consitutional Law paper, which contemplates the death penalty and the proper intersection between morality and the constitution...then to the Hellenistic phase of the Greek Agora.

Hope that this information has been of some help to you, and good luck in your "college search."

By Gianscolere (Gianscolere) on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 05:43 pm: Edit

thanks very much for your input- i can't believe you put so much effort in making a response. i thoroughly read your post and from it, i learned about santa clara, among many other colleges that you suggested. SCU is especially appealing to me since it's a jesuit school and in the west. but if i were to stay in chicago, i'd most likely attend (if accepted) loyola chicago, also a jesuit school, because my mom works there and she's entitled to free tuition benefits. interestingly enough, i've always kept pomona on my radar screen and consider it to be one of my reaches. each year, about 4 or 5 of our seniors apply early to pomona, so its reputation is well-known among the kids in my school.

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