Agggh....Final List of Colleges, Thoughts & Disses?

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: Agggh....Final List of Colleges, Thoughts & Disses?
By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 04:32 pm: Edit

Hey All...

Here's my short list (started out with 20+):





Match/Safety.....Vassar C.............Regular
Match/Safety.....Connecticut C........Regular
Match/Safety.....Reed C...............Regular

Safety...........Evergreen State C....Regular

Check my profile for stats.

Recs are excellent, and essays very good. Tons of ECs and local, district, state awards (mostly science), as well as student government, swimming, outrigger canoeing, community service, yearbook, newspaper, and theater, dance, and singing (choir). 25+ student/community theater productions. Numerous positions.

My major/minor is Dance. URM.

What do you think about the list or about the colleges (good, bad, or ugly)?

By Bjturlington (Bjturlington) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 05:07 pm: Edit

Good list for you, although still a little long.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 05:17 pm: Edit


I used several sources for chances ThickEvelope, Collegedata, PR, College Admissions Service, as well as CC. Some had free advice, some charged for % chances.

Obviously, Amherst is my dream school. Just wanted to see how realistic the rest of my list. At the end of the process I plan on comparing where I got in to the advice that I was given, just for kicks.

Anyhow, opinions are very welcome. :)

By Mini (Mini) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 05:44 pm: Edit

Hey, I see you're a fellow Olympian.

Dance? What a "funny" list of schools (other than Vassar). At Amherst, though, most of the dancers go over to Smith (which is the center of the 5-college dance world, with the exception of pointe ballet, which is only taught at Mount Holyoke. This is a good thing, as it significantly expands your opportunities.) Have you visited these places?

You need to visit Reed before you apply -- some people love it, and some hate it (my instincts and experience suggest that it doesn't fit your profile at all.)

We checked out a few of these, and my d. took classes at Evergreen this year, so you want to e-mail me privately, we can set up time to kibbitz.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 06:02 pm: Edit

Hey Mini...

I've taken classes at Evergreen too. :)

I've visited the Five College area, and found it very much to my liking. It is similar in feel to Olympia, although there are many more college students milling about. I like having the option of taking classes at the other schools, as it keeps things interesting. I had friends at Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Hampshire and Amherst.

I've been out of high school a couple of years, due to an illness in the family, but I am now looking to continue my education. BTW, I am teaching a Ballroom dance class at TESC this Fall Quarter, should be fun.

I'll definately email you to setup a time to talk in a few days. I'm currently trying to get a studio up and running in Olympia--crazy, huh??!

Look forward to talking. :)

By Chamonix (Chamonix) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 09:48 pm: Edit

I bet you'll get into Amherst, and if you don't, then you'll get into plenty of the other ones. You're in great shape. Your list looks fine. I bet you could cut at least one school off though.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 11:26 pm: Edit


I will probably cut 2-3 schools, as time goes by depending on what I learn about the colleges via classroom & campus visits, info sessions, college fairs and emails.

Thank you for your confidence. Although I am still pretty relaxed right now, I'm sure I get a little caught up when things start to get heated from October on. So far, I've been pretty lucky (only have brief bouts of second-guessing) about staying grounded and realistic.


By Mini (Mini) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 11:36 pm: Edit

Well, then as you already know, while the Amherst College theatre and dance department is extremely small, when you add the five colleges together, the dance program is among the largest to be found anywhere. You will spend time on the bus over to Smith, but it is really close, and the facilities are superb.

Vassar is also said to have a top-notch department.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 11:49 pm: Edit

Your college list is superb, but...for theatre... *coughs*...apply to Yale...*coughs*...I am of course, completely unbiased and wish you the best.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 02:11 am: Edit

Hey Candi....

My special add (per parents is also one that I am considering) is a special case because it does almost everything well...

Heh, heh. Thank you C...I appreciate that unbiased view. *coughs* Maybe, I'll just have to let you know how it all plays out...even if I get into Amherst, I'll have to just keep you on your toes.


By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 02:14 am: Edit


The only thing I'm worried about is that Vassar's Dance program is an All elective one. They do not have an organized dance major/minor, although they have a great theatre program. Although, not as strong as Yale's.

Right, Candi? *Ahem*


By Tropicanabanana (Tropicanabanana) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 08:46 am: Edit

Yale's theatre program is great, but I hear it eats your life.

Vassar's program is more laidback, and you can get involved very easily. My sister wrote, casted, and directed her own play junior year and Vassar gave her the money and use of an auditorium.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 11:34 am: Edit

The Yale graduate school program in theatre is one of the best (if not the best) in the country (similar in music), but I have not heard good things about the undergraduate program (I have a friend who is a theater prof.) The main reason is that the number of graduate students is large, and they hog many of the available opportunities. The graduate students are all preparing for serious careers in theater, and so to try to do it as an undergraduate, if you are talented, is (as tb says) going to eat up your life. The nice thing, though, (but I know about music more than theater), is the number of opportunities below the top echelon of things is very large, as Yale undergraduates are very talented and create their own opporttunities. And unlike virtually all the other schools on your list, you will find some musical theatre.

You're right about Vassar not offering a major. I've had friends with kids who went (from Olympia!) who were seriously into ballet and choreography and who thought the faculty were just awesome. But compared with what you find at the Five Colleges, it is small.

Williams (my alma mater) has never been particularly well-known for dance, and in theatre it has been mostly known for the acclaimed summer festival. But they are throwing millions into the new center for theatre and dance, and have a very substantial faculty, quite a bit larger than virtually all the other schools on your list (more than double the size of Amherst's, taken alone.) (But I wouldn't go there - for the same reason I would question a bunch of the schools on your list -- if serious about dance and theatre, don't you want at least some access to a big city? I mean what well-known dance troupe or theatre company comes to Waterville? Again, Amherst is a really good choice, with tons of stuff in the Five Colleges, and longer distance access to Boston (and even NYC).

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 12:11 pm: Edit

I'd suggest you add at least one more dance-oriented school to your match AND safety list.
Smith sounds like a match. So does Skidmore. A good safety for dance would be Goucher.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 01:46 pm: Edit

Tropic, Mimi and Carolyn...

Thank you for the insight. :)

I like Skidmore, but it unfortunately does not gurentee to meet need, it was on my list for a while, until some pointed out that if I need some aid, that my best bet was to stick with schools that gurenteed to meet need or had huge endowments/merit aid programs.

And my safety, The Evergreen State College, edged out Goucher because of tuition considerations as I am a Washington resident.

Although, they might show-up on my list (I've been seriously thinking that I want to major in dance and theatre) given the fact that Vassar and Reed may get taken off the list because of a lack of major (Vassar) and aid considerations (Reed, due to RD financial aid considerations). parents insist on Yale, although it is not on my list. It's a way of placating my parents. Just between you and me, it's in the middle of the pack. Sorry, Candi. :)

PS--I was interested in Tulane, SMU, and a few others, but then I had to consider that they do not guarentee to meet need. :(

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 01:54 pm: Edit

(let's have a discussion about the need-blind thing when you have a chance -- I'm not sure this need be a significant factor in your considerations.)

By Tropicanabanana (Tropicanabanana) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 02:01 pm: Edit

That's not what I meant really. I meant that it becomes like a cult because the performers are so serious about it. It's not like in high school where you can just hang around after school with your friends and pretend to do stuff. The performances are serious so you actually have to put forth a great amount of effort. Like I directed a few plays in 10th grade and I didn't spend that much time on them, but I couldn't imagine directing a group of Yale actors without putting forth a considerable amount of time..hence it eating my life.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 02:17 pm: Edit


Okay. :)

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 12:15 pm: Edit

I'm pretty sure Dance will be my focus, along with theatre.

I'm more of a techie with respect to theatre (e.g. lighting, producing, stagecrafting), although I also enjoy being on stage as an actor--though not as much. With Dance, I enjoy performance and teaching, although managing a studio seems fun as well.

In any case, I love working with kids--especially because they still are uninhibited, and try everything without being too worried about how others will perceive them. I've produced and choreographed shows for the community, schools and extra-curricular activities.


By Mikemac (Mikemac) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 04:43 pm: Edit

It helps your chances to demonstrate as much interest as you can in a college (without being a psycho stalker!). Amherst is a ways away, but if you can arrange for an overnite visit that would be helpful. If not, ask the admission office if there are any current students in your local area you could talk to; they are home for the summer right now. These are 2 examples, the point being that in your essays you want to be able to explain to Amherst why it is a great fit for you, and also how you would be able to contribute to the college.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 07:02 pm: Edit

Your list looks great, Blaineko, and actually, I don't think you even need as many colleges on it. If you have a strong second choice, see if it takes an ED2 (I know Bowdoin does) if that fits the bill. Good luck and keep us posted. But lookin' good.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 08:59 pm: Edit

Mahalo, Jamimom. :)

And, thank you Mike.

I have a feeling that Vassar might fall off my list. I've been in contact with the college admissions office on several occasions but they've seemed a little short and aloof (and maybe a tad condescending). The first time, I thought that maybe it was just a hectic or busy day, but the two other times (during the Summer) I spoke with them were about the same. Maybe it's a regional thing (with respect to speech and/or inflection)??? I'd like to think so, but I spoke with three different people: a Director of Admissions, a student, and an Assistant Director of Admissions.

I've been cautioned not to make a judgement about the college based on individual personalities, but the interaction between the office and me have left me feeling a bit more like an intruder than an applicant (perhaps because I am a little older than their typical applicant by a couple of years). I guess, I just expected the Vassar staff to be pleasant, like all the other schools on my list.

Strange, how I've associated specific interactions with colleges. Vassar, a school I was very interested in, keeps slipping lower down my list. Although it is a match/safety for me (due to my being male), it did start out very high. If I had to make a decision today, most of my list would eclipse Vassar.

Oh well.

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 10:59 pm: Edit

For some reason Dartmouth, Bowdoin, Emory and Colby seem like candidates for cutting, though given your thoughtful approach I suspect they are on the list for specific reasons. Good luck!

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:17 am: Edit


I know it's a strange list, but here are the reasons for including those colleges/universities.

Dartmouth: D-plan; can take a year at another school with Dance program or do an internship with a studio. Can design a Theatre & Dance Major. A little large (with respect to the student population, but still small for a university).

Bowdoin: Can design a major in Theatre & Dance. The college does have a minor in Dance. Also, my geographic location is an additional boost, albet a small one. The college also seems to be trying to recruiting a diverse student body.

Emory: Has both Theatre & Dance Majors, and an undergraduate school of business. Might be a plus, especially because I am interested in creating a non-profit for inner-city/rural kids in the arts or work as an intern at The Southern Poverty Law Center. It is a little big, so I'm not too sure about the university.

Colby: Has Theatre & Dance Majors, and an Administrative Science minor. Like Emory, I can get some of the b-school classes out of the way, if I do decide on a graduate degree in Non-Profit Management or Public Policy. Just as Bowdoin does, I believe that Colby would give my application a little boost because of my geographic location, as well as from the standpoint of diversity.

Thank you for the best wishes. :)


By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 02:11 am: Edit

Blaineko -

I was not aware of the dance option at Bowdoin. URM and geographical status, in that order, will help you at Bowdoin, Colby and Dartmouth.

BTW - I'm pretty familiar with all those schools, save Emory. You can't go wrong with any of them, though I understand that Evergreen, and certainly Reed, are not for everyone. I visited Bowdoin and Hamilton with my nephew last Fall. Bowdoin is a superb school but we were both a bit cool on it after the visit. I liked Hamilton, but he didn't. And my nephew took a class at Macalester this spring. He liked the class, but thought the school a bit liberal for his tastes, and way too close to home (30 minutes.) I'm a Mac alum and a big fan of the school - the Mpls/St. Paul theatre scene is a real plus there.

PS. . .I know you are thinking about cutting schools, rather than adding them, but have you looked into Kenyon? Very strong theatre department, and the dance offerings looked decent.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 03:03 pm: Edit

Hey there Reidmc...

I did look at Kenyon, but a few things concerned me. I actually did visit Gambier and found it to be a little small (with Kenyon as the center). This, in and of itself, was not a large factor. That Kenyon does not guarentee to meet need, that the fraternity scene is such a big deal (I'm not opposed to the greek system), and has the reputation of wait-listing those who need more aid than average worked against it.

I only know about the latter because several of my friends from across the country who needed aid were wait-listed (with scores and grades that were near the top-75%) or had aid packages that were geared towards large loans and work-study awards. I do need a bit of aid, so it seems that Kenyon is more of a reach than it's statistics imply. Most of my friends had 1350+ and between 3.8-4.0, with good EC's and great recommendations. Of those wait-listed, several went on to Carleton, Grinnell, Macalester, Colgate, Davidson, and Cornell.

It was the same with those of my friends that had applied to Northeastern as a safety and got wait-listed. Those friends ended up at Bucknell, Emory, Vanderbuilt, and Tulane. Seems that admissions decisions are becoming more 'arbitrary', at least with reaches, matches, and safeties lists. That is why my list is a little long. I'm not sure if financial affects admissions (even when schools say that it does not) or if the 'packaging' of aid offers are used to disuade particular candidates.

As for Mac...I like the college a lot. I visited campus a year ago and liked the feel. It is liberal, but I though it would keep things interesting (I'm socially liberal, economically somewhat conservative). The only thing that I was surprized by was the way the work-study student in the admissions office greeted my friends and I. She looked up from a book she was reading and pointed to a corner to sit. One of my friends wanted to leave then--although since we had already seen most of the campus--she decided that the behavior was particular to the student and not to the college. Everyone else was quite friendly.

I was a little cool on Bowdoin too...but all the people (aside from my tour guide) were helpful. It definately had more of a New England feel (with people who are generally reserved) than Hamilton. I liked Hamilton very much, although the former Kirkland campus was too modern for me.

And, Evergreen. I actually like the school, and the fact that I tend to be seen as somewhat conservative, making any gathering a fun prospect. I love to be challenged and TESC kids love to discuss and debate. They also are up on current events, unlike some of my peers. It definately feels like Reed, but much more relaxed. In fact TESC is higher than Reed on my preference list. My friends think I'm nuts. :)

Just my 2 cents.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 09:39 pm: Edit


As time moves forward, some of the colleges are sinking lower on my list.

Anyone have negatives, reguarding these schools:


Input is appreciated. :)

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:14 pm: Edit


Can I just second your impression of Vassar. Last year my 2 sons and I sat through a never ending hour listening to a woman drone on in a monotonous voice and telling us absolutely nothing special. She kept saying.."now this is Tuesday and this is Vassar"- as a "joke", but we later decided it was because she really had nothing unique to say...Perhaps she was your phone contact as well, and it never pays to jump to conclusions too soon...but, this was a striking difference from many of the other schools we have seen.

I have visited all the other schools on your list except Bowdoin, and I would definitely say that none of them suffered from the same stylistic compromises- we encountered warm and positive intereractions at each...and at each the Info sessions, etc.. were informative and specifically useful (though we didn't love all the schools--but that was personal, I think)

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:43 pm: Edit

Anyone have negatives, reguarding these schools:


These are all very fine schools of course, where you could get a great education. Note that all of them have a very high "entitlement" index (percentage of students receiving no need-based aid plus those coming from private schools), with Middlebury and Bowdoin being among the highest. They are not very diverse generally speaking, though Amherst is by far the most economically diverse, with 15.6% of students on Pell Grants, and has been working hard to diversity for 10 years now. (If Bowdoin is really recruiting a diverse student body, then you'd have to give them at most a D+ for the results -- but the reality is that they have no consistent program to do so, despite the rhetoric.) And this will affect both the feel of the campus, and the educational opportunity to be found in the classroom for ALL students. And I would worry less about "guaranteeing to meet need" and focus more on those who actually receive it -- Middlebury (for example, and a fine school) may claim to be need-blind, but the reality is that they don't give out very much (relatively speaking).

But you are serious about dance -- so you really should evaluate the dance departments and, in particular, access to the dance world. Do topflight dance troupes ever come to Middlebury, Vermont, or anywhere close? Hamilton, New York? If not, is there something structured into the program itself that can make up for the deficit?

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 11:36 pm: Edit

Blaineko -

You've got a great list and will clearly make an informed choice. No need to recommend any individual schools to you. I would suggest however that Kenyon has changed a bit over the past few years. I can see nixing it over location and maybe the greek scene, but I wouldn't do so based on aid. My nephew needed plenty of aid and his stats were in the same ballpark as your friends'. He got an excellent package. I admit that a Carleton/Davidson acceptance and a Kenyon waitlist seems an odd combination, but suspect that an evaluation of the individual apps and some information on "demonstrated interest" might explain a lot. GPA, SAT and need do not give the full picture.

Anyway. . don't overwork the process. . . you're in great shape.

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 09:10 am: Edit

Actually, Middlebury's dance program is quite good, and several well known troupes pass through Midd every year. Also, the Dance Company of Middlebury has been selected to represent the New England region at the biannual National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in early June.

You've probably seen this, but here's a link to Midd's dance website:

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 04:43 pm: Edit

Thank you all. :)

I really appreciate the advice. :)


That is strange. A few of my friends had the same experience with Vassar, although one of them ended up there. One of my friends thought that they were overwhelmed by the interest people had in the college and were starting to become indifferent to applicants. I don't know if that explains it, but I did feel like it did not matter if I applied or not. Strange.


The entitlement index is a little scary. And, Middlebury is a bit stingy with aid compared to it's peers. It is high on my list, but I do need some aid, so it's RD for me. BTW, my email addy is correct in my profile. Drop me a line and we'll chat.

Getting the studio off the ground is hard work (lease negociations, hiring, trainning, designing the space, etc....) and preparing to teach ballroom at TESC is a bit stressful (I put on a few pounds stress-eating due to the studio. Heh-heh.).

I've been doing a lot less dancing this Summer, and it's starting to show, at least in my waistline. :) I'll be in shape by the time TESC and the studio open, so the only thing I've got to worry about is my applications to schools. As for dance at college, some of my school options have good programs but are not near major venues, so it's been odd to try and discern between them and those programs at colleges in or near cities. Hopefully, I'll have more time in October to really focus on the different Dance departments at the universities and colleges I'm looking at.


Kenyon has been a little 'odd' in it's admissions decisions over the past few years. As you noted, demonstrated interest does play a factor for Kenyon. It's just that for a couple of my peers and friends, it was a first choice. That is what got my attention. The following is a list of other friends who were wait-listed at Kenyon but accepted at other schools.

Friend 1: In at Trinity, Hamilton, Colgate.
Friend 2: In at Grinnell, Middlebury, Bucknell.
Friend 3: In at Cornell, Macalester.
Friend 4: In at Bryn Mawr, Smith.
Friend 5: In at Barnard, Bates, Rhodes, Skidmore.

The only other characteristic my friends shared were that some had financial need, some more than others. By contrast, the friends I have that had little or no financial need got in at Kenyon as well as some other schools.

Friend 6: Kenyon, Oberlin, Macalester.
Friend 7: Kenyon, Cornell, Middlebury, Bates.
Friend 8: Kenyon, Skidmore, Wesleyan, Grinnell.
Friend 9: Kenyon, Columbia, Bard, Reed, Colby.
Friend 10: Kenyon, DePauw, Rhodes, Occidental.

I guess it might be coincidental, but it is consistent with respect to financial need. Much of the first group were nearer the 75% for SAT scores and gpa. The second group, in the middle 50%. Also, more of the people in the latter group also were able to visit, while the first group could not due to financial restraints. Both groups did, in general email Kenyon and fly or drive to college fairs where Kenyon had a representative. That's what makes me think it is a pattern, rather than just chance. Again, Kenyon's behavior struck me as a little off-beat, and I did not want to take the chance, as I need some aid. :(


Wow, I did not know that about Middlebury representing New England. That is awesome. As for the Dance department link, I've visited often. My concern with Middlebury has more to do with it's financial aid policies.

I would probably have applied under the college's ED II plan, if my ED application is denied by Amherst, but I have since learned that if aid is a consideration especially at Middlebury, then it is not to my benefit to apply (thank you, all on CC). I like the department very much, but fiscal realites have set in. Oh, well. There are many good schools out there.

Again, thank you for your does make things easier. :)

Have a great day.

By Enzom (Enzom) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 05:32 pm: Edit

Kenyon has become very competitive, but I don't think they base admissions decisions on an applicants financial need, at least I hope not. Also, it was interesting to note that Kenyon was just named as one of the Fiske guide's "Best Buys" in spite of a hefty tuition price tag. I guess that says alot about the quality of the school.

By Dennis (Dennis) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 05:53 pm: Edit

Regarding Kenyon, I think it is very difficult to make any conclusions about "odd behavior" in terms of admissions based on a small and unrepresentative sample of students. People are accepted, rejected and WL at schools for all kinds of reasons and sometimes those reasons don't make alot of sense to those watching from outside.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 06:48 pm: Edit


Kenyon is a very good school, and is less expensive than some of it's peers. I'm just not comfortable with the lack of an aid guarentee (as I do need some), the prominence of the fraternity scene, and the rural town. I considered Kenyon despite some of the it's detriments (location primarily, not the fault of the college). It is a good value. :)


Kenyon waitlisted the students in the first group that had high scores, better grades, better ECs, better recs, and better essays. So, it is reflective of ad com decisions. The unpredictability that I am talking about has been covered in the mainstream media, and is increasing due to merit aid, and 'need-sensitivity' in admissions (as well as increased competition for some top schools). It is interesting to note that some who were wait-listed at Kenyon were accepted by other colleges in the second group above (previous post).

Likewise, I have more than 30 friends to draw from with respect to Kenyon, and it's pretty consistent. If you have less need, and show the minimum of interest, it is easier to get into Kenyon. At least, that is what prep-school friends on the East Coast, and some public school peers in Hawaii and Washington believe or feel when Kenyon is compared to other colleges. They are aware that most schools are sensitive to how needy a candidate is and which schools guarentee to meet need, although some colleges use this information more than others to craft a class.

Kenyon is a good school, but like Brown up until last year, money matters. Even schools like Carleton and Smith are need aware. Kenyon does what some of it's peers do. That is why it is not on my list, as it was the deciding factor. Carleton is also not on my list for that reason, and Reed is slipping-off.

The incidental evidence is that it is not so odd for Kenyon and other schools to sometimes favor those who can pay in admissions, especially when they are focused on increasing their appeal. ED versus EA is evidence of that, as is packaging of aid to those a school wants to attract, nevermind merit programs. Schools like Northeaster also did this 'wait-list' thing to several of my peers (who got into universities and colleges that were 'better' than Northeastern). I'm pretty sure it's a growing phenomenon, to focus on less-needy applicants.

You cannot tell me that Kenyon is not sensitive to that trend (given the size of their endowment per capita or it's rural location). Most schools, in one way or another do this. Based on my friends, family (several of which are in admissions themselves), teachers and counselors expreience, Kenyon (along with Northeaster, Brown, Smith, Carleton, etc...) tend to wait-list able but needy candidates or those who they believe are using the college as a back-up school. That Kenyon does not guarentee to meet need, is an indication of being need-sensitive.

Sorry that those experiences seem unrepresentative to you. Kenyon is a good school for a certain kind of student.

Just my 2 cents. :)

By Mini (Mini) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:14 pm: Edit

Let's put away once and for all the notion that ANY school is needblind. If Williams (I use that example because it is my beloved alma mater) were need-blind, they wouldn't end up year after year, decade after decade, with essentially the same percentage of students receiving needbased aid, and the same "entitlement" index among its students. They meet all need of admitted students, but they know quite well what to expect that need to be. In other words, they see through the blinds very well.

But I don't think you understand the difference between different kinds of need-conscious systems. There are some, perhaps Kenyon is among them - I wouldn't know -- that are trying not only to admit, but to convince to attend a class that requires the school to discount the list price the least. (They aren't really providing "aid", they are just selling their product at different levels of discount.) If this were true, they are need-conscious for every candidate (and couple it with the lack of a commitment to meet all need for even those students they admit.)

Now, contrast that with Smith, which is need conscious. What they do at Smith is prepare a total budget for aid for the year. They make a strong effort to recruit an economically diverse class (24.7% receiving Pell Grants, far higher than any other school on your list), and spend an enormous amount to do so, and it affects behavior in the admissions office itself, down to where they go on recruiting visits. They then spend down the budget for the candidates they want, guaranteeing to meet all need. When they get down to the final 1-5% of admissions, they look at the kitty, and ask if there is anything left. If there is, they continue to admit candidates with need; if there isn't, they admit candidates who don't have need. This system is thus similar to what you would see at Williams, except it is weighted, at the beginning, to students who need aid -- large amounts of it, and at the end to what is left in the kitty. That's why, need-conscious and all, Smith has 69% of its students receiving aid, Williams, being need-blind, has only 40%.

Completely independent of this is "Tufts Syndrome" - schools will waitlist candidates who they believe won't attend, thus keeping their potential yield high. If the candidate indicates s/he really wants to come, they snap him/her up!

By Dennis (Dennis) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:26 pm: Edit

Blaineko, my objection was to the statement you made about Kenyon and "odd behavior," as if Kenyon's admissions practices were somehow out of line with those of other schools. Your subsequent post shows that this is not the case. As you yourself point out, a school's admissions decisions happen for a variety of reasons of which financial need might be only one. In any case, good luck with your search for a college. Your choices look outstanding and I'm sure you'll have success as you are a very accomplished student.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:37 pm: Edit

Yep...all schools practice this sort of thing to an extent. That's why I was puzzled by Dave's comment.

The difference is that at places that guarentee to meet need, they do. While at places that don't have a guarentee, do not have to meet need. Some need-aware schools do meet full need, some do not.

Different schools do different things to attract applicants it wants or needs. I have no problem with that. It's just that after the first year, I want to know that my financial need is covered. That 'guarentee' is vital, or I would not be able to go to school, although some schools would give me merit aid to make it possible (at schools that do not 'guarentee to meet need').

Kenyon is need aware, like most schools are, but does not guarentee to make it possible to attend, so my acceptance is tied to financial considerations about meeting my need for four years, when drawing up a list. Call it insurance.

Interesting topic, though. That is why I've included a financial aid and admissions safety school (TESC).

Just my thoughts. :)

PS--I agree with Mini for the most part. Different schools do different things which favor particular applicants. That also is not not say that need-aware schools do not benefit particular students (e.g. less-affluent).

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 10:18 pm: Edit

Mini -

There are a few schools left that are legitimately need-blind. With an exception for international students, Macalester is one of them. Versus peer schools, that costs them something on an operating basis, but to date, they are maintaining the policy.

By Mini (Mini) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:07 pm: Edit

I don't believe it for one minute -- and the consistency of both the percentage of students receiving financial aid, and the percentage from private schools, year over year, proves it. It doesn't mean that the adcoms have financial aid statements in front of them, nor that they know the financial status of every applicant -- they don't need to, as they are not accepting individuals, they are selecting a class. They know where their applicant pool comes from, what their ECs look like (and cost), what the students' peer groups look like. Hey - this is what they DO for a living. If they don't know that, they aren't doing their job.

From what I've seen, Macalester is very generous indeed. They have an entitlement index of 65 - 34% of students come from private schools (this number is generally lower in the midwest), and only 31% of students do not receive need-based assistance. And of the 69% receiving needbased aid, 15% are on Pell Grants, which means they are close to getting a free ride. They have a combined index score ranking them as 40th among the 50 top LACs (low means more economic diversity.) World's apart from Kenyon, with an entitlement index of 105 (46% of students from private schools, and only 41% of students receive needbased aid.) And only 8% of students are Pell Grant recipients. In other words, an excellent school, but ranking 6th on the combined index -- a very undiverse place.

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:16 pm: Edit

Mini - I don't know enough about the inner workings at Macalester (or Kenyon) to comment further about them, but you know as well as I that the percentage of students receiving financial aid and the percent of private school students attending at any school could well be a function of the applicant pool, not admission policies.

No argument about the basic economic diversity issue however.

By Mini (Mini) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:40 pm: Edit

Doubt it -- not in the top 50. The applicant pool is heavily affected by the relationship between admissions staff and guidance counselors nationwide, and is built up over decades. Admissions staff choose where to spend their time, and their money. They decide whether to hold or attend admissions fairs in inner cities, or spend the time on the phone to the counselors at the fancy prep schools. They decide whether to hold minority or low-income weekends or summer programs, and whether to pay applicants to attend them. In short, they shape the applicant pool very diligently -- if they aren't, they should be fired for not doing their job.

And they make admissions decisions that reflect their values as well. They can decide, for example, that a student from a private school - a legacy - who has taken the SATs three times with coaching and tutoring each time and receives a 1420, has 6 APs, has fencing as his major EC, and speaks fluent French because his family spends all their vacations in the south of France, is "more qualified" than a student from an inner city school who could barely scrape together the funds to take the SAT once, without tutoring or coaching, and received an 1150, has no ECs because she works 25 hours a week not for her college fund but to help support the family, and has no APs or honors courses because the school doesn't offer any. Or they can choose just the opposite. (Some schools in the top 50 actually do.)

Of course, without a consistent track record of commitment, they don't even get the second applicant to apply -- so you are in fact correct about the applicant pool.

By Dennis (Dennis) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 09:00 am: Edit

As I have said elsewhere, this so-called "Entitlment Index" is just the invention of one person (Mini) and is based on many unproven assumptions. It is generally true, of course, that there are many colleges and universities that attract students from privileged backgrounds. However, to try and "rank" a top 50 in this regard is ridiculous without access to accurate and precise information about the exact make-up of student bodies.

The most questionable assumption of this "entitlement index" in my view is that attendance at a private school somehow indicates more "entitlement" than attendance at a public school. In reality, there are many, many wealthy and entitled kids that go to public schools in affluent areas of the country. In my community, some wealthy families send their kids to private schools but many do not. Their kids usually end up applying to the same kinds of schools. As well, some middle-class families make extreme sacrifices to send their kid to private school while other wealthy families choose to send theirs to public school. As well, some less affluent kids do attend private school on scholarships. Thus, one cannot blindly assume that private vs. public school attendance says anything for sure about relative "entitlement." One would have to know the true economic status of students admitted to a school in order to draw any accurate information about their so-called "entitlement."

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 06:25 pm: Edit

Hmmm...anyone else care to comment?

By Mini (Mini) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 06:51 pm: Edit

Ah, but this is one case where we HAVE exact data. We know precisely, with data provided by the schools themselves, what percentage of families of attending students are expected to afford $168k per child without any need-based financial aid. The formulas are arranged as such that family incomes would have to be in the top 6% of so of incomes in the United States . No entitlement? You have to be joking.

Pell grant recipient data is also hard data, and also provided by the colleges themselves. This tells you with a great deal of precision what percentage of the student body comes from families in the bottom 35% of population economically speaking. Again, hard data.

Finally, private schools. There are indeed regional variations -- southern academies, originally set up to avoid racial desegregation but now having grown beyond that purpose (but still fulfilling it), and the midwest where there are fewer private schools. It is also true that some private schools do provide scholarships (tiny percentages in most cases, but I'll grant the point.). However, if students attended private schools on scholarships, they would still require need-based assistance to attend college, so it would already be reflected in the data. In other words -- we do know something about their economic status -- they do not fall in the top 6% of the population.

In short, I think you'll find this data much more reflective of actual campus experiences than virtually anything you'll find in USNWR -- which, granted, doesn't say much. It will tell you something about how your fellow students are more likely to spend their summer vacactions, or their winter breaks, or what kinds of cars they'll drive (or whether they have one), where they purchase their clothing, and whether they are likely to be able to afford expensive medical, law, and business schools upon graduation. In short, entitlement.

But it is just data. Size varies.

By Lahhdyydum (Lahhdyydum) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 08:56 pm: Edit

Emory.. the only negative thing i've heard about this school is that it lacks school spirit b/c of its division 3 teams and no football team. but the social life is good and it's in atlanta (awesome city!) and the academics/aid is great.

By Mattmom (Mattmom) on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 09:21 pm: Edit

Blaineko, please note that the possessive form of "its" does not take an apostrophe. "It's" is the contraction of "it is." (Seriously, this is something you should be aware of when you do your essays, as well as in other writing!)

By Tropicanabanana (Tropicanabanana) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 01:56 am: Edit

Don't people who apply to expensive schools essentially expecting a handout (financial aid) have a bigger sense of "entitlement" than those who have been sensible with their finances and saved? Why not apply to the schools you can afford instead of picking the few most expensive ones in the country?

But why does this matter anyway? You still haven't told us why we should care if a school has a high entitlement index. I'm leaving my old crappy car at home and I work during most of my time off from school. It's not going to bother me to be around kids who happen to have had hard working parents (or grandparents in some cases). Are you worried your daughter will feel inferior because she'll be around students whose parents worked harder? Envy can be a hard thing to deal with, but it shouldn't be a big deal at college because college students don't flaunt wealth as much. Because in my opinion, it's not the composition of the student body but the attitude. A school like Vassar has a large percentage of rich kids too, but you don't feel it. At Amherst, you would. This isn't because of the income of the students but because of the campus culture. So I'm saying that as long as you can find a campus you feel comfortable in, this made up index shouldn't matter. You keep talking about this entitlement index, but please tell us why we should care. I'm expecting some really profound mindblowing reason why you keep bringing this up and incessantly rail against wealthy people.

By Hayden (Hayden) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 01:10 pm: Edit

"It's not going to bother me to be around kids who happen to have had hard working parents (or grandparents in some cases). Are you worried your daughter will feel inferior because she'll be around students whose parents worked harder?"

Tropicanabana - Are you saying that people like nurses, secretaries, technicians, etc. don't work hard, merely because they don't get paid a lot?

I think it would come as a big shock to a single mom with 3 kids, who couldn't save $10-20K a year for the past 18 years, that guess what - she just should have worked harder.

By Tropicanabanana (Tropicanabanana) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:31 am: Edit

I'll say something my boss always says, then - "work smarter, not harder." You're right that the hardest jobs are sometimes the lowest paying - I guess I was trying to argue that a sense of entitlement is more tolerable when earned (say by working hard and saving and sending your kids to whatever school you want) rather than assumed (not saving and expecting your kids to go there anyway with someone else paying).

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 03:31 pm: Edit

I do need aid, because costs are like 40,000 @ year. I make like 28,000. Took a couple of years off before college. Financial aid (especially loan, workstudy and grant) is helpful, as anything I have saved will be factored into the financial aid mix by the schools I am looking at. :)

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 02:57 pm: Edit

Reed & Dartmouth have unfortunately been taken off my list. Also, Emory is close to the chopping block.

Reed students I've spoken with keep telling me there is little school spirit, and that they'd rather study than go out an explore the Pacific Northwest on down-time. An interesting bunch of students, but a little out of touch with a well-rounded life.

Dartmouth and, probably, Emory are out for size reasons. I think I prefer a smaller school.

Junt an update.

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