LACs - Why are they viewed as "lesser" than Universities

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Discus: College Search and Selection: April 2004 Archive: LACs - Why are they viewed as "lesser" than Universities
By Humbleservant (Humbleservant) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 06:26 pm: Edit

This is a commonly held view of LACS such as William, Amhers, pomona etc, and people going to LACS should note these carefully before commiting four years of their lives.

"Crnchycereal - the Brody group is a professional group that charge money for conseling, and are known to be extremely biased toward liberal arts colleges. Look up credible sources such as NRC or USNews for the REAL rankings.

LACs are never ranked higher than Ivies, because

1) they're not international in scope --they're meant for local students primarily
2) They don't do any research
3) Their faculty are usually professors that didn't get into an Ivy school or equivalent, and are relegated to teaching only--many don't have research-type qualities
4) They are mainly for liberal arts only, and lack the prestigious engineering/math/hard sciences resources
5)They suffer from severe name recognition. If you go to a LAC, you'll spedn the rest of your life explaing which school you went to, and why
6)Most LACkys have to apply to Ivies+S+M for grad school, but they missed out four years that they could have spent doing a)research, b)making contacts with grad-level professors! In four years, they're desperate to go to a real school

7)They're simply not prestigious. Nobody knows them.....ask around.

Let's face can't get a grad degree from a LAC. You have to go to Stanfor/Cornell/Columbia etc. for grad degrees anyways, so why not go there to begin with. The whole point that LAC-people make is that LACs help them get into Ivies!....well, in that case, just go to an Ivy to begin with, and for grad school, go to another Ivy+s+m. The ivies all take each others top students like crazy...there's no point going to a LAC, getting a no-brand name stamped on your head, and then trying desperately to get into an Ivy

By Summoner (Summoner) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 07:18 pm: Edit

you posted this before.

i don't hate LACs like you
but to me, LAC == 4 year Tea party

By Annakat (Annakat) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 08:18 pm: Edit

hey, did anyone see "gigli"? what did you think?

By Voigtrob (Voigtrob) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 08:22 pm: Edit

Humbleservant: Your argument is ridiculous and a complete non-sequitur.

By Fakeplastictree (Fakeplastictree) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 08:33 pm: Edit

Yeah, I agree with Voigtrob. What you just said is completely wrong and based on total bs.

Do you really think that a bachelors degree (non profesional) from any random university will give you more opportunities than a bachelors degree from a great school like Amherst? If you do, you are seriously off.

Bachelors degrees don't really mean anything anymore anyway...and its not like people don't encourage Ivy-grad school when you go to a University. An undergrad English degree from Amherst is just the same, if not better, than an undergrad English degree from USC or some similar "research" school. LAC's are meant specifically for undergraduate education...where else are you going to become a well-rounded person, instead of learning about something so specific that its limiting? Chances are, down the road at age 45, you're not going to want to read Hamlet and take Astronomy classes if you're in a completely non-related feild. LAC's give you the opportunity to explore different areas and become an intelligent person who knows MORE than just all-physics or all-journalism or all-economics.

You shouldn't decide the rest of your life when you're only 18 years old, and LAC's know this. Get a freaking clue.

By Jaf (Jaf) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 08:41 pm: Edit

The same rant as before-Humbleservant-what are your credentials? Have you been accepted by any school? Have you been turned down at every LAC? A well rounded education can be a big plus. I'm really not sure why you feel it necessary to bad mouth LAC's.

By Guitarshredder (Guitarshredder) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 09:25 pm: Edit

Well, I'm no expert on prestige and that sort of thing, but to me LACs are quite appealing. Smaller student body, no TAs, better teacher:student ratio, and it seems like a good place to take a variety of courses and find out what interests you (which is applicable to me since I really have no idea what I want to do).

By Oceanblue52 (Oceanblue52) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 09:38 pm: Edit

"You shouldn't decide the rest of your life when you're only 18 years old, and LAC's know this."

Well said. I think its ridiculous that all of us, who have barely experienced the real world, are expected to make a decision that is going to affect the rest of our lives. University's are great for those kids that KNOW what they want to do and are geared towards a specific type of degree such as engineering, pre-med, etc.

"Well, I'm no expert on prestige and that sort of thing, but to me LACs are quite appealing. Smaller student body, no TAs, better teacher:student ratio, and it seems like a good place to take a variety of courses and find out what interests you (which is applicable to me since I really have no idea what I want to do)."

How can you possibly argue that a larger passive lecture style class is better than an individualized LAC setting? It's been proven that people that are in a smaller class setting are more likely to retain the information than a person who just listens.
And what the hell is this crap about name and prestige??? It's all over this board, people that are worrying more about the name of the school rather than what it offers(This certainly doesnt apply to everyone, many of you just have tough decisions, I'm not insulting anyone!!:))It's what you learn thats important, not just that piece of paper you wave around when applying for jobs.
Oh, and your comment about the people who couldnt get into Ivy League schools that teach at LAC's is not true at all. The LAC I'm going to has plenty of people who attended Columbia, Harvard, Yale...also people that taught at the bigger schools and decided to come to a small LAC.

By Upandover (Upandover) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 09:49 pm: Edit

That guy, tha Physics guy.. er... Kirchoff? I think. Anyway, some famous physicist went to Oberlin College for his undergrad. Kofi Annan went to Macalester. Madeline Albright went to Wellesley, her husband went to Williams. Argh. There are a lot more!

By Annakat (Annakat) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 10:02 pm: Edit

george bush went to yale.

By Fakeplastictree (Fakeplastictree) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 10:06 pm: Edit

one more reason NOT to go to Yale : )

By Sunshine916 (Sunshine916) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 10:12 pm: Edit

^ lol agreed :)

aside from prestige and all that, LACs are better places for people who actually CARE about their education. they may not have big names like HYP but education at Amherst/Williams/Swarthmore is on par or better than Ivies/Elite Universities.

i know someone who picked Amherst over Princeton...and never regreted it...

By Humbleservant (Humbleservant) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 10:25 pm: Edit

"i know someone who picked Amherst over Princeton...and never regreted it..."

Sunshine, Princeton has a very LAC-like undergrad. Why would anybody equal money to attend Amherst when they could go to Princeton? That guy probably didn't get into Princeton to begin with, is my guess.

BTW, I'm reposting this because I didn't like the fact that Collegeparent was offened by my original post, and instead of letting freedom of speech reign, s/he felt the need to escalate to the moderators.

By Sunshine916 (Sunshine916) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 11:33 pm: Edit

no, she DID get into Princeton. i can guarantee it. Princeton's atmosphere isnt for everyone.

Princeton, though LAC-like, is not an LAC. some people prefer the 2000 undergrad feel of places like Amherst & Williams.

i may very well be choosing Williams over Cornell and Johns Hopkins...i feel a solid undergrad is very important, and an LAC gives you the personalized attention undergrads need. yeah, so i'll probably want to go to Stanford or MIT for grad school, but i feel that there really isnt a much better place to get an undergrad education than at a LAC.

the whole point of an LAC is not to get kids into Ivies. lots of kids pick LAC's over Ivies. not everyone is a prestige freak. im sorry, but i am so sick of kids picking colleges purely based on prestige.

amherst/williams/swarthmore are plenty well-kwown anyways. at least not any less well-known than many schools on the top 25 list.

By Acennace (Acennace) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 11:36 pm: Edit

But what's the point of saying these stuffs? Convincing people not to go to LACs? You'll never do that.

Yes, I'm going to an LAC and unlike you, I don't go for prestige.

By Fakeplastictree (Fakeplastictree) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:01 am: Edit

It's okay, Humbleservant. We know that you were rejected by all the LAC's you applied to...but I'm sure your unquavering hatred for them will convince others to feel the same, and in turn, you can slowly eliminate the "prestige" of Swarthmore/Amherst/Williams by depriving them of College Confidential students.

It's already working...

By Gameguy56 (Gameguy56) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:05 am: Edit

Well, I'd LOVE to go to a LAC. The problem is that they are usually $2000-$3000 a year more than research U's tuition, and (unless you're talking grinnell) most offer only need aid or are not very generous with merit aid. This makes is very hard to chose one over a research U for just undergrad education. I don't want to be loaded in debt after graduation and then go to grad school and emerge with still even more debt.

But LAC atmospheres are wonderfull places of learning and are excellent places to get an undergraduate education, they just are expensive places to get simply an undergraduate degree

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:08 am: Edit

I don't know anyone who turned HPYS down except for each other, for financial reasons, or for a special program (combined BA/MD for example), but I know plenty of kids who choose a LAC over any of the other schools including the other ivies and the ITs. In fact, now that I think of it, I know some kids who chose Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore over Stanford. Did not want to go west, I believe. I think that these LACs are chosen over many univerisities all of the time and evidene of this is on this forum.

By Haon (Haon) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:37 am: Edit


For cross-admits between Williams and Dartmouth, and Williams and Columbia, the applicants are split nearly 50/50. Williams wins cross admit battles with Brown, Cornell, Upenn. The only Ivies that win cross-admits from Williams are HYP.

I believe there are few other universities that win cross-admits with Williams (Stanford and MIT I believe both do, most lose out to Williams).

Williams splits 50/50 with Amherst, so Amherst most likely has similar cross-admit yields to the other Ivies.

I chose Williams over Dartmouth and I would do it again any day. I didn't apply to the majority of the other Ivies, simply because I would never consider going to most of them if I were accepted (and there is no doubt in my mind that I would have been accepted to many if not most of the Ivies). The vast majority of students at Williams chose Williams over an Ivy or similarly prestigious university. Many chose Williams over HYPS (Williams does significantly better in cross-admit battles with these schools than almost any other in the country).

Gameguy--while many LACs are a few thousand $s a year more expensive than Universities, they are also significantly more generous with financial aid. Additionally, not all LACs are more expensive--Washington and Lee, Oberlin, and Carleton are cheaper than most top universities. Of COFHE schools (many if not most top schools are COFHE schools) Williams has the 29th lowest tuition out of 31 schools belonging to COFHE. I'm not sure exactly what other schools belong to COFHE but I do know that there is a mix of both LACs and Universities (the most expensive COFHE school is Columbia I believe). After average financial aid is figured in LACs actually tend to be CHEAPER than universities (specifically Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore, Middlebury, and Grinnel are extremely generous with aid).

By Fakeplastictree (Fakeplastictree) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:01 am: Edit

"while many LACs are a few thousand $s a year more expensive than Universities, they are also significantly more generous with financial aid. "

I second that...Vassar gave me the best financial aid package I could ever ask for. Perhaps I'm just a communist, but I think that many LAC's decision not to award merit aid and focus solely on need-based aid is great. It ensures equal opportunity (unlike NYU, where my sister goes. NYU awards tons of merit money yet can't even afford to send all the needy kids to their school).

By Humbleservant (Humbleservant) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 02:24 am: Edit

Haon - you are free to do whatever you want. I just voicing the opinion of the other 95% of students, who would prefer going to a proper university for an education.

By Fakeplastictree (Fakeplastictree) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 02:29 am: Edit

speak for yourself. I doubt that 95 percent of students are that stupid.

By Jlq3d3 (Jlq3d3) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 03:28 am: Edit

I got into Stanford, Yale, and Pomona. While I have heard that pomona would offer me the best education, it is impossible to turn down a school like Stanford or Yale, simply becasue of prestige. Therefore I am planning to enroll at Stanford. However, if I did not get into Stanford, I would consider going to Pomona over Yale since its in LA, and if I did not get into Stanford or Yale, I would for sure go to Pomona.

By Annakat (Annakat) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 04:47 am: Edit

hmmm. a discrepancy: a previous post on here: applied to hy, p (ea), and amherst, but were denied, but admitted to dartmouth, middlebury, williams, wesleyan, and carleton.

By Enzom (Enzom) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 09:30 am: Edit

Yea, 95% of all students want to go to Universities rather than you even read your own posts to realise how idiotic you are? How old are you? Pre-teen? If you are college age, I fear for your future.

By Dennis (Dennis) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 09:41 am: Edit

Of course, Humbleservant is merely trying again to stir up trouble by making an incredibly stupid argument.

But, in case anyone wants the facts. From the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, here are the undergraduate programs (as a percentage of student body) that produced the most Ph.D.s over the past decade or so:

(This is just a sampling)

Biological Sciences: Reed, CalTech, Swarthmore, Chicago, Kalamazoo, MIT, Earlham, Harvey Mudd, Univ. of Sciences in Phil., Grinnell

Chemistry: Harvey Mudd, Reed, CalTech, Wabash, Carleton, Grinnell, Wooster, Kalamazoo, Texas Lutheran, Bowdoin

Sciences and Engineering: CalTech, Harvey Mudd, MIT, Reed, Swarthmore, Carleton, Chicago, Rice, Princeton, Haverford

Enough said?

By Collegeparent (Collegeparent) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 09:59 am: Edit

Thanks, Dennis.

By Monika21 (Monika21) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 10:33 am: Edit

Dennis, can you post your source (a web address)? Not that i doubt it. I am choosing between harvey mudd and carnegie mellon, and I need to convince my parents that harvey mudd is a great school despite its lack of rep.

by the way, those data about most phD, are they in terms of percentage of total graduating student, or are they in terms of the real number?

By Dylan (Dylan) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 11:17 am: Edit

Wait...this thread got deleted (and included therein was my lengthy response that debunked your entire post point-by-point), and yet you insist on reposting it?

By Collegeparent (Collegeparent) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 11:38 am: Edit

What are your thoughts on this correlation re: the Ivies and LACs?

Harvard - Amherst
Yale - Williams
Princeton - Swarthmore
Columbia - Bowdoin
Dartmouth - Middlebury
Brown - Wesleyan
Penn - Haverford
Cornell - Colgate

And then there are these possibilities:

Duke - Davidson
MIT - Johns Hopkins
Georgetown - Holy Cross
Northwestern - Carleton
WUSTL - Grinnell
Stanford - Pomona
CalTech - Harvey Mudd

What about for Rice?

By Mazzo (Mazzo) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:37 pm: Edit

Johns Hopkins is not a LAC. It was the first Research University in the country.

By Humbleservant (Humbleservant) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:16 pm: Edit

"What are your thoughts on this correlation re: the Ivies and LACs?"

Collegeparent - what a transparent, pathetic attempt to add prestige to LACs!...prestige by "association to an Ivy". How about this ranking:

Tier one - all Ivies +s+m
Tier two - all other prestigious universitie
Tier n - LACs, Devry, ITT, Heald

By Dennis (Dennis) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:26 pm: Edit

This data is on the Reed College website - . The ranking is determined by the percentage of graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D. It lists statistics by field of study and overall. The source they are using:

"Weighted Baccalaureate Origins Study, Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium. This shows baccalaureate origins of people granted Ph.D.s from 1992 to 2001. The listing shows the top 10 institutions in the nation ranked by percentage of graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D. in selected disciplines."

By Humbleservant (Humbleservant) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:50 pm: Edit

"This data is on the Reed College website "

Yes, this website's rankings are very acceptable...Reed is better than Yale, Harvard, MIT and Caltech. Very good dennis, you're a genius...let this be a lesson to the rest of us. Go to reed instead of Yale!

And Collegeparent, you just called Johns Hopkins a LAC!! How did you make that mistake? Why should you be a creditable source if you don't know what's a proper university and what's a LAC?

By Songman (Songman) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:59 pm: Edit

Well you can all yell at me what do I care I graduated years ago from NYU......I say you should do the best you can, be motivated and disciplined and you will go far in life whether you are at a LAC,University or public college. There is no correlation. I have met people that graduated from IVY's and they are practically on skid row now. I have met other IVY grads that are extremely successful and very, very bright. I have clients that never went to college and they could buy and sell 99% of the college graduates if you are using income as a yardstick. And by the way they are very, very bright!There is a saying somewhere (Lao Tzu?) We enter this life like a block of wood and life carves you"

Practically every college in the USA can provide an education. It is what you do with the skills that you have learned that matters in the end...A college will not open doors if the person on the other side of the door could care less or is biased toward your college. Five years from now no one will ask where did you go to college unless you are dating them or it matters to them. Don't get wrapped up in the college name game. Bloom where you are planted!

By Collegeparent (Collegeparent) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 02:25 pm: Edit

Humbleservant, all Ivies are not in the top tier. The exercise, BTW, was not meant "to add prestige" to the LACs, but to offer a correlation. If that's what you wanted to read into it, that is your prerogative, but rest assured, it was not my intent.

I am sure you're aware that several of the Ivies are considered safety schools for other Ivies. In most quarters, Duke and Georgetown, e.g., enjoy greater prominence than about half of the Ivies. The same is true for several of the LACs I noted above.

Please do not lose sight that the Ivy League was formed as an athletic league, not an academic one.

By Monydad (Monydad) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 02:32 pm: Edit

I've run the numbers myself, quite some time ago, from source data I located on-line, for PhDs in various areas of interest. I no longer have the source bookmarked, but if I could find it so can you.

For the particular combination of disciplines I was looking at (some social sciences, math, languages), the ranking of future PhDs 1986-1995 as a % of total student body was:

Bryn Mawr
University of Chicago
Mount Holyoke
College of Wooster

I am not affiliated with a liberal arts college and did not attend one myself. However, my kids might do so, and that would be just fine with me.

By Sheeprun (Sheeprun) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 02:39 pm: Edit

humbleservant: Go argue somewhere else!


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