Allegheny College Visit Report

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Allegheny College Visit Report
By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 12:56 pm: Edit

We attended a summer information session at Allegheny College in PA - and here is a brief report for those who requested it.

Allegheny is a LAC located near Meadville in western PA. It has much of the look and feel of LAC's located further to the east (say, Bowdoin), due to its beautiful location and age - it was established in 1815.

We initially added this school to our visit list based on the recommendations of two of the programmers at my firm who are recent graduates. Both programmers spoke very highly of the quality of the CS program, as well as the other departments they had encountered.

The information session emphasized the ability to combine interesting major and minors (or double majors or minors). Their examples frequently included a science and history, or literature, or a language. A panel of 5 students - and one professor - also presented and were available for questions. My impression is that a good many thoughtful people attend this college. Certainly, there are parties, and athletics, and other fun stuff. But one of the important forms of entertainment was conversation. The implecation being that the students do not need to be entertained by the administration.

They seem to offer some sort of needs-based aid (they call it resource based aid) as well as merit aid. A large percentage of the kids work on campus, and work-study is not required to do so.

Our campus tour included (among other things) a dorm (good size double, with excellent closet space, big window, and nice bathrooms), the library, sports facilities, and a beautiful new science building. Another housing option (available after freshman year) is the interest house program. Basically, the college buys surrounding properties, maintains them, and sets them up for 4-6 students. Students with a common interest (say, a language, or writing) can live together for the cost of a dorm room, go on a minimal meal plan, and do much of their own cooking if they like.

Since this is more of a midwestern college, it is less preppy and a bit more convervation that some of its eastern cousins. My impression in general is that if you picked it up and set it down in, say, Vermont, people would be beating down the doors. It is really very, very nice, and is now on my son's application list.

One thing to watch out for, though. If you drive through Meadville PA, you will pass a DOT office. Is seems that PENNDOT is recycling used road signs into 'artwork'. Yup, giant daisies and tulips made from road signs. It is at once really cool and utterly hideous. Anyway, be prepared so that you don't nearly crash the car of young people staring at it in disbelief. We took pictures on the way back (with the cameras provided at the open house) so that our friends would believe us about it!

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 01:59 pm: Edit

Ohio Mom - Allegheny was my "dream college" years ago (didn't get enough financial aid to attend, however). It's good to hear it's still a great school.

One question: how far a drive would you say it is from say Pittsburgh or another large airport?

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

Ah, just answered my own question by looking at Allegheny's adcom site:
90 minutes north of Pittsburgh, two hours east of Cleveland and two hours southwest of Buffalo

It doesn't sound like there's any sort of major airport nearby. Anyone know?

By Jenniferpa (Jenniferpa) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 02:11 pm: Edit

The nearest major airport is probably Greater Pittsburgh. It's also about 90 minutes south. Having said that, maybe Cleveland Airport is closer? I have to say, two hours to Cleveland seems a little long: I can do Pittsburgh to Cleveland in 2 hours, and Allegheny is a lot closer.

By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 02:21 pm: Edit

look at Erie International (well, that's what it says) Airport. Not a major airport - but should be ok. Seems to be about 6 miles from the college if mapquest is correct!

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 03:39 pm: Edit

Thanks. Will take a look at connections to Erie from San Diego. We're starting to realize that there are a lot of great schools that may be a real hassle to get to - five hours on a plane is one thing but if it's going to be followed by a two hour drive afterwards, well, that gives my daughter pause. And she says she's definitely not keen on flying on a small commuter plane. Sigh.

By Arizonamom (Arizonamom) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 03:47 pm: Edit

I had the same question re Elizabethtown and Scranton in Penn. They seem like good schools but more than a 40 min drive from an airport after a 5-6 hr flight would be too much. Does anyone know .

By Mom60 (Mom60) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 05:36 pm: Edit

We are also running into the same problem. Allegheny looks great on paper but the distance to a major airport is a concern. We seem to be running into that problem quite a bit. Especially with the difficultly of getting direct flights anywhere these days the time adds up with layovers at each connection. We have the added problem of 1st having to take a commuter plane to even get to LAX. Then to fly across the country and take public transportation another few hours makes getting home a huge chore.
We have a few flights a day direct to Seattle and Denver so it makes those states look much more appealing. Washington DC is another area that seems easily accessible from our locale.

By Shennie (Shennie) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 05:53 pm: Edit

I graduated from Allegheny in the 70s. It is a great school and both hubby and I still feel very attached to the place. When we attended the student government would charter a bus to pick up students from the airport at the beginning of the term and take them back at the end. Since I lived in Pittsburgh, I never used it but I know several students who did. Meadville is difficult to get to, however, I must admit.

For all of you who are looking at schools in the out of the way places, check with the schools and find out what kind of transportation options to major airports the schools might provide.

As far as CS goes, it is a strong program there. A good friend of ours from Allegheny is currently the CIO for a major computer consulting firm. And he doesn't even have a graduate degree.

By Fireflyscout (Fireflyscout) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 06:08 pm: Edit

My daughter and I really enjoyed visiting Allegheny this summer - I had forgotten about the road sign sculpture, though! The admissions office was one of the friendliest we came across. She liked the honor code, dorm rooms, student center, internship opportunities. According to her notes, students are required to major and minor in different areas.

By Originaloog (Originaloog) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 07:05 pm: Edit

Our son too had a great visit at Allegheny College. Our individual tour guide was a very interesting fellow, who answered all of our son's questions, seemed to know many other students, and had been accepted into a graduate program in lit or writing at Swarthmore. He had a nice session with Dr. Roos in the ompSci Department and a lengthy interview with Mr Vaughn in Admissions.

The campus is very nice and the academics at Allegheny seems to be quite good. Students call it Agony College and all students are required to minor in a department outside the area of the major(math/philosophy vs math/chem). A senior comp is required as are two frosh/one soph seminars. Students are required to take a 1 ch course to develop an academic plan for their studies at Allegheny. An entire building is devoted to career services/co-op prorams/internships/study abroad programs. The college is also affililate with several outside foundations that provide for leadership and public service opportunities.

My son did decline Allegheny's offers for admission and merit aid. However they informed him in June that both would remain available to him throuth to the 2005 fall semester. I thought that was nice.

By Kathiep (Kathiep) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:41 pm: Edit

Thanks for the report!

I'm in Pennsylvania and even I think Allegheny is hard to get to! I really wanted to visit it this summer but couldn't find three days that worked for our family. We're at the opposite end of the state and I think it would be a whole day of driving each way. Of course, if we took that much time, I know I'd want to visit some other colleges on the way.... and we have over 100 4-yr colleges in PA.

By Vjjones59 (Vjjones59) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:55 pm: Edit

I have a very good friend who's an Elizabethtown (or E-town, as he calls it)grad and he swears it's no more than 20-30 minutes from the Harrisburg airport. Hope this info helps. He's a great guy and raves about his alma mater!

By Fendergirl (Fendergirl) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 10:00 pm: Edit

elizabethtown isn't very far from harrisburg at all

By Arizonamom (Arizonamom) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 12:06 am: Edit

Thanks Vjjones59 and Fendergirl, it will definitly go on her list then!

By Ohmadre (Ohmadre) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 12:29 pm: Edit

"One thing to watch out for, though. If you drive through Meadville PA, you will pass a DOT office. Is seems that PENNDOT is recycling used road signs into 'artwork'. Yup, giant daisies and tulips made from road signs."

Actually, the artwork is by Allegheny art students! You can go here to read about it - kind of interesting.

Allegheny is school with amazing student/teacher interaction, and Ohio Mom, I think that your impression about the school, the type of people who are interested in it, etc., is quite valid. Intern/co-op opportunities are great, academic expectation very high, the campus is really beautiful any season of the year.

By Ohmadre (Ohmadre) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 12:43 pm: Edit

For those concerned about the logistics of getting to the campus, in the past, Allegheny has sponsored campus visits in the fall on each of several dates. They provide buses to major cities that leave from central location points. These are essentially geared toward the student and involve a tour, discussions, class visits. You might want to check with admissions to see if they intend to continue that offering. If you can make your way to a participating city(Cleveland for example) for one of the dates, that might simplfy the logistics. I really don't know what the offering will be this year, but here is a link to the page that sets forth the dates for the various high school senior programs this fall:

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 08:13 pm: Edit

It's not the logistics of getting to campus for a visit, it's the logistics of getting home for vacation as a student that concerns me! Some schools do provide shuttles on holidays but others leave students on their own. One adcom told my daughter that she could hitch a ride with a professor to a town an hour away and then try to get a ride to the airport -- another hour away --from there.

Then there are the schools like Beloit which do have regular shuttle services from the town to the airport - but it's a two hour drive to O'Hare according the shuttle service's web site!

I've also done some travelocity flight searches to various places and in some cases, it's actually a shorter travel time to fly to the east coast from Calif. than it is to get to a podunk airport in the midwest or the northeast.

By Jenniferpa (Jenniferpa) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 08:36 pm: Edit

It was this issue that finally ruled out UNC Asheville for my daughter. After taking 12 hours to get back to Pittsburgh, on what was supposed to be a direct 2 hr flight, she realized that even if she had a long weekend, she couldn't be sure that she would be able to get home. Definitely, if she'd chosen Mills in SF, it would have been easier (not to mention cheaper) to get home.

You might want to look at this

By Fendergirl (Fendergirl) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 08:40 pm: Edit

At my school in our student union building we have a "ride" board where people can post like if they need a ride from campus to somewhere.. and people can also post if they are going somewhere and would give people rides. it works very well.. i always see dozens of peoples names up on it, and most of them do end up getting rides. it helps people to meet otehr people, pluspeople who don't have cars can get to where their going, simply by splitting gas prices.

By Kkgirl06 (Kkgirl06) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 10:28 pm: Edit

allegheny gives out tons of merit aid and you don't have to be an extraordinary student to get it.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 11:48 am: Edit

Jennifer - Thanks for that link.

By Mom60 (Mom60) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 12:31 pm: Edit

Jenniferpa-I also thank you.
Carolyn- as D is beginning her senior year I have begun talking to friends who have kids on the opposite coast. For some the transportation is a breeze for others it is a logistic nightmare. One friend who has 2 back east said that you need to really factor travel coast into your budget as they vary greatly. One women I spoke with had a child at Georgetown and due to the ease of transportation he has been lucky enough to travel home for special long weekends.(family milestone events). Her niece who is at Yale has had a difficult time getting home. Her son at Georgetown can catch an afternoon or evening flight after classes whereas his cousin does not have that option. So she muxt cut out early or lose one day of vacation on travel.
From several people I have spoken with that the first year many kids need a long weekend home when winter begins to set in.
They are all things to consider when choosing a school. Also the flight prices out of large cities tend to be more competitive.
D was very interested in Cornell until we figured it took at the least 4 flight legs to get there plus add on ground transportation time.

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