Whitman/Colorado College/Middlebury

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Discus: College Search and Selection: April 2004 Archive: Whitman/Colorado College/Middlebury
By Asdad (Asdad) on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 09:24 pm: Edit

OK. I am putting this in for someone else. They have pretty much decided against Middlebury, but want opinions anyway. Fire away with your opinions.

By Guyute (Guyute) on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 09:32 pm: Edit

I got accepted to Whitman and Colorado College and really liked both. I'm sure the person already knows this, but at Colorado College you are going to find a lot of neo-hippies, and at Whitman they are liberal but a bit more straight laced. I never got a chance to visit Whitman, though I would have liked to. I think a decision between the two should have academics as a big factor since the Block Plan is such a huge difference from other schools. Sorry I couldn't have been more help

By B18c1cx (B18c1cx) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 03:05 am: Edit

Why not Midd, it's the best academically of the three?

By Asdad (Asdad) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 06:01 am: Edit

Visited Midd twice. Never liked the "feel" as well as the other two.

By Palomino (Palomino) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 09:19 am: Edit

Personally, I think it would be foolish to turn down Middlebury for these other schools unless there were extenuating circumstances (e.g., wanted to be closer to home, interested in a major only offered at Whitman, etc.). But if your friend didn't like Midd, why is he or she even considering it? The post should have read "Colorado College or Whitman." By adding Middlebury (clearly the most prestigious and selective of the three), you're diluting the discussion, especially if your friend already decided against it.

By Collegeparent (Collegeparent) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 09:28 am: Edit

Have to agree with Palomino & B18c -- It's a rather remarkable college with one of the most beautiful campuses in America. There really does have to be an extenuating circumstance not to accept Middlebury. It is among the Top 5 LACs in the country; it really doesn't get much better since it's usually a choice among such schools as Dartmouth, Middlebury and Williams, e.g., and not Whitman or Colorado College. The only negative I can think of is that maybe they thought it was too preppy and the student might not fit in, but there is enough student diversity there to make for a really wonderful four years.

By Snuffles (Snuffles) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 11:03 am: Edit


By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 11:12 am: Edit

I'm going to jump in in defense of Whitman. While people back east may not be as familiar with Whitman as they are with Middlebury, Whitman is a top liberal arts college that is every bit Middlebury's equal in terms of academics. It's very selective - you won't find any slackers at Whitman but you will find happy, engaged students who take academics seriously. On the west coast, the top LAC's are Pomona, Reed and Whitman --- and they're all extremely close in terms of academics and student body quality. Plus, Whitman has a unique culture - teachers and administration are incredibly supportive of students in a way that few schools are and the student body is tight knit and close. It's really a unique and wonderful place to spend four years.

To the original poster: forget what people tell you you SHOULD do. Close your eyes and visualize yourself at each of the three schools on your list. Think about who you will become in four years at each school --- and then trust your instincts. Good luck - you really can't go wrong, all three schools are very good, it's just a matter of listening to your heart about which place is the best fit for you.

By B18c1cx (B18c1cx) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 12:55 pm: Edit

Carolyn, it's admirable that you aren't using rankings/public opinion to sway your opinion... but I stick with the idea that our college system is screwed up and that rankings matter "oh too much." Passing up Middlebury WOULD be stupid... especially bc it is similar/better than the other two in non-academioc factors. Midd will open more doors than Whitman and is more fun as well.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 10:07 pm: Edit

What type of doors are you talking about? If it's grad school placements, Whitman is just as competitive as Middlebury. If it's business contacts, Whitman has an extensive and loyal alumni association. Really, I'd say they are pretty similar schools academically, just different locations. And as for fun, Whitman is a pretty cool place with just as much fun as there is at Middlebury to be had.

But again, it's not OUR decision to make, it's the original posters.

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 09:20 am: Edit

"If it's grad school placements, Whitman is just as competitive as Middlebury..."

That's not entirely true. Middlebury placed 23rd on the WSJ Feeder School survey (for placing grads at elite law, business, and medical schools), ahead of Ivy Cornell (#25). Whitman did not make the list of the top 50. As for getting a PhD., Whitman does fare competitively, but its numbers are not as good as Midds. Whitman is an excellent school, and OP should seriously consider it. He/she can't go wrong with any of them.

By Asdad (Asdad) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 09:28 am: Edit

It is very noticable that no one is mentioning Colorado College. Is there a reason?

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 10:50 am: Edit

Asdad, I think many people are turned off or hesitant about the block system at Colorado College. Colorado is a good school but a step or two below Whitman which I agree is probably a step below Middlebury in terms of selectivity.

But they're all good schools.

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 11:07 am: Edit

Reasons to pick Whitman over Middlebury: you visited and liked it better, you got a much better financial package, you want a smaller school with strong academics; you want to study sociology; you want to settle in the pacific northwest, where a Middlebury degree impresses very few people and Whitman is better-known. (Gasp! Imagine that!!)

Reasons to pick Colorado College over Middlebury: you visited and liked it better, you love Colorado, you got a much better financial package, you think you would benefit from Block Plan scheduling; you want to major in anthropology, sport science, business and economics or southwestern studies.

Plenty of reasons to pick Middlebury over these two schools, too, but I wish people would not assume that (a) more selective means better, or best for an individual student, and (b) the only high-quality school outside the northeast is Stanford.

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 11:14 am: Edit

your first reason in both examples is the most compelling--pick Whitman or CC over Midd if you visited and liked it better. Period.

By Mike (Mike) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 11:37 am: Edit

Reidmc: couldn't agree with you more. Rank is only important to People like us with kids going to school. LACs are best known in the region they are in. The average person and employer won't recognize most of the names. Why spend 4 years some where because of rank. Go wherer you feel good given all the schools mentioned are top tier. Mike's physics teacher advised kids that the name means little in the long run. What you do there is what counts

Mike's Dad

By Asdad (Asdad) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 11:44 am: Edit

Interests are environmental studies(not science), international studies, language.

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 12:12 pm: Edit

You've just named 3 of Middlebury's 5 peaks of excellence!


By Mini (Mini) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 01:02 pm: Edit

Middlebury will open no doors here in the west that Whitman doesn't. (In fact, when I tell folks I'm a Williams grad, most folks think I said "Whitman", and I don't disabuse them of the idea, as Whitman has an excellent reputation out here.)

And don't make an issue of selectivity - there are 10 times as many people on the east coast who will never set foot out here. Once folks enter college, selectivity has mostly to do with the folks who were rejected, not the people who are there!

By Guyute (Guyute) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 05:36 pm: Edit

college is so gay.

anyways, yeah i hear middlebury has some of the best language programs in the country for what its worth

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Friday, April 23, 2004 - 11:46 pm: Edit

Asdad - Based on the information you provided about the student's academic interests, I'd lean toward Middlebury or Whitman. Though I can see where some basic language proficiency and literature study could work in the block plan, I've never have figured out how a strong language major could be developed. No question but what Middlebury has excellent language programs. Frrom what I can tell international studies/international relations departments are stronger at Midd and Whitman. Don't know much about environmental studies at any of these places, but it appears that the Midd and Whitman programs offer a bit more flexibility.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 02:46 pm: Edit

Interests are environmental studies(not science), international studies, language.

I agree with the previous poster - for Language and international studies in particular Middlebury is probably a better bet than Whitman.

However, Whitman's environmental studies program is also excellent and has some unique features - including the "semester in the west program" where students travel throughout the western half of the country for a semester studying environmental issues and management. I know of no other school that offers such an intensive program.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 02:49 pm: Edit

Once folks enter college, selectivity has mostly to do with the folks who were rejected, not the people who are there!

Mini - This is an excellent piece of advice. I'm going to keep this one in my files.

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 03:55 pm: Edit

Interestingly enough, Middlebury was the first college or university in the United States to offer an undergraduate major in environmental studies--in 1965. Not saying this makes it better or worse--just an interesting tidbit.

By Bluebins (Bluebins) on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 06:22 pm: Edit

I cut and pasted this from the Whitman website. I don't know if it helps the original poster or not, but the combined plans look cool.

"Majors and Combined Plans: Forty departmental majors lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree. Combined 3-2 engineering and computer science programs with Caltech, Columbia, University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis, and Duke; 3-2 oceanography and biology or geology with the University of Washington; 3-2 forestry and environmental management programs with Duke; 3-2 master's degree program with the Monterey Institute of International Studies; 3-3 law program with Columbia Law School; 4-1 education program with Bank Street College of Education.

International and Domestic Study: Opportunities for study in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Botswana, China, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and other countries. Over 40 percent of the junior class studies abroad. Washington semester program (American University); Urban semester programs in Chicago and Philadelphia."

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Saturday, April 24, 2004 - 06:37 pm: Edit

I'm sure Middlebury has some combined plans as well - and I know that Middlebury has some great international programs.

But, here's another difference that may or may not matter to some people: At Middlebury, freshmen choose a seminar class from various options on various topics. At Whitman, everyone takes the same one year course: Antiquity and Modernity which is a great books core of study that can even be extended into sophomore year. Some people might prefer a school where there's a
"common core" of knowledge between all students, others might want more freedom to do their own thing.

And, in case anyone is interested, here's the link for the Semester in the West program - not that someone should choose Whitman simply for this but I think it's one of the coolest off-campus programs out there:

Finally, one other thing I am sad to note on Whitman's web site: Their wonderful college president Tom Cronin will be retiring at the end of next year. That may or may not mean changes ahead for the school. Again, not a reason NOT to choose a school, but something to be aware of.

By Enjoyingthis (Enjoyingthis) on Sunday, April 25, 2004 - 12:48 am: Edit

May I stick up for Whitman too? This was the only school where we took both twins and in the end, neither applied there but only because it wasn't right for them. But it's a great school with a wonderful reputation here in the Northwest. It seemed to us that the ONLY reason it isn't even harder to get into than it is is that the somewhat remote location is a turnoff to some kids. And yet, the Walla Walla area is wonderful for kids who like the outdoors and don't care about an urban environment, and the world seems to come to Whitman in terms of performances, lectures etc. It sounds like it's a very cozy, nurturing atmosphere for the students and they graduate feeling quite loyal and fond of the place, as witnessed by the very high rate of alumni giving evidenced. Although I'm happy with the choices my kids ultimately made, I would have been delighted to have one of them at Whitman. The son of one of the English teachers at our high school went there and she could NOT say enough good about it. Good luck to the poster in choosing!

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