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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: College List
By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:39 pm: Edit

I think I've finally come up with a tentative list of schools that I'm thinking about transferring to, and I'm hoping that you guys can help me out with suggestions here...mostly if I should add or subtract any schools.

I'm not going to go in depth as far as my info because as a transfer student there are going to be different considerations. My current college GPA is 3.91 and my ECs are few. In fact, my only ECs are work and my membership in Phi Theta Kappa (I'll be graduating with honors). All of my other ECs are infrequent and irregular. I got a 29 on the ACT, but that was about ten years ago.

Here's a list of my requirements (sorry, this is rather informal):

Must Have:

•Ample research opportunities for undergrads: genetics based research, stem cell research, neurobiological research, disease research-Parkinson’s, Glaucoma, Alzheimer’s
•No schools in major metropolitan area or very rural area
•Professors that enjoy teaching and are interested in their students succeeding

Somewhat flexible:

•Cost: Ideally $10K-15K/year or less in self-help and loans (after grants and scholarships)
•Ample internships available and other “external” learning opportunities such as help available for students to attend seminars, etc
•Location: Prefer Washington or Oregon. Also open to other states with wetter and cooler climates. Open to Michigan and Illinois because of family there. Also open to Massachusetts (mostly because of Smith College) and Wisconsin.

A little more flexible

•Prefer smaller student body (less than 10,000) and small teacher/student ratios

School list:
Grinnell College (I know, it's in Iowa)
Smith College
Reed College
Whitman College
Lewis & Clark College
Lawrence University
Hope College
Lake Forest College
Alma College
Beloit College

Thanks to everyone for reading through this long post and thanks for your help.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:45 pm: Edit

Haverford (yes, I know that's not Oregon or WA)

I have former students doing research at Whitman--very happy with it. My D is at Reed, they DO mean it when they say they do research there.

Carleton and Macalester would also meet your criteria.

By Dstark (Dstark) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:48 pm: Edit

Dmd77, how isolated is Whitman?
What kind of students would thrive at the school?

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:52 pm: Edit


I forget, when you say "transfer" where would you be transferring from? Once you are in college, ECs cease to be important. Your GPA looks very good. I don't know, however, how easy it would be for a transfer student to secure financial aid as in many cases, that aid is earmarked for incoming freshmen. Something to look into.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:56 pm: Edit

Huge amounts of genetics-related research at Smith - we saw examples of it when we visited in April during their senior theses presentation day. (It's kind of interesting - the biology department at Smith, at least on paper, is about 4 times the size of the chemistry department - no idea why that is.) And you are old enough to be an Ada Comstock scholar (10% of the student body is made up of older women, average age 36, range 24-69, with heavy scholarship support.)

Not in the northwest though. Where are you now?

Dstark -- Whitman is basically the Williams of the Northwest, but without the football team. Superb teaching, engaged students who enjoy the outdoors, great alumni networking, fine facilities. And isolated. 4 1/2 hours to Seattle or Portland, 2 hours to Spokane. Town is nicer than Williamstown, though it also houses the state's maximum security prison.

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:06 pm: Edit

Marite, sorry about that. I'm transferring from community college with an Associate of Science degree. I've been looking at schools that state they have *some* financial aid available for transfer students, but I also have a decent amount of opportunities of aid through PTK.

Dmd77, thank you so much for your response. I'll look into those schools as well. It is also good to know about Whitman and Reed, they are both "up there" on my list based on what I've read.

Mini, one reason why Smith College has stayed on my list is because of the Ada Comstock program (sounds very interesting) so I'm also relieved to hear that the research wasn't exaggerated also.

You also reminded me that I didn't give my age (for those who don't know). I'm currently 26.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:29 pm: Edit

Just curious...what is PTK?

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:31 pm: Edit

Phi Theta Kappa. The national honor society for the two-year colleges.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:37 pm: Edit

You probably know this already - but (I think) 2 PTK scholarships are attached to the Ada Comstock program at Smith - you might want to check (almost 90% of Adas receive financial aid.)

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:45 pm: Edit

Ahh, Mini! You keep making Smith more and more tempting. Right now I think the only downside I have is the location (and even that isn't bad from what I can tell but I'll visit next year to know for sure). Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing the Ada Comstock scholarships on the PTK site.

I think my boyfriend is hoping that Smith will get bumped (although he is really supportive of wherever I go). :)

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:49 pm: Edit

Where do you live now?

We did a lot of "kicking the tires" at Smith. D. leaves for there on Saturday. (Northampton, by the way, is a great town, and is one of the reasons Smith became more attractive to her.)

(Folks in my office who went to Whitman say it is superb.)

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:56 pm: Edit

I live in Colorado now. I've been wanting to live further north for quite a while now (I'm one of those weirdos who LIKES cold, snow, and especially rain). The pacific northwest appeals to me (a lot of the climate is ideal for me) and it would be an easier move. My bf would also be able to transfer within the company that he works for now so job hunting would be easier for him. He's said that he will follow me wherever I decide to go.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 02:01 pm: Edit

Whitman has 300 days of sun every year. Virtually no rain. Snow in the winter. Now Reed and Lewis & Clark, on the other hand....

You will definitely get all the "weather" you want in Northampton.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 04:01 pm: Edit

Another possibility is Bard--my sister got her master's there, doing research in frogs. She was in her 40s, didn't feel particularly unusual. They have some interesting programs for "older" students.

Whitman doesn't seem isolated, based on what I've heard, but all the students I've known who go/went there are not particularly social people--more thinkers than not, if you follow me. All of the students I know there got some merit scholarship money.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 04:32 pm: Edit

Check out Clark U in Mass. I am impressed with that school. Do not know what their policy with transfers is. Rensselaer is also a good one to check out.

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 05:10 pm: Edit

Thanks to everyone for your help so far! I do have another question now that I've actually looked at the list, doesn't it seem a little too top heavy (or am I just not giving myself enough credit)? I have a couple of state schools here for safeties so I'm not worried about that.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 05:36 pm: Edit

In a word, no. Hope is a very, very fine school (more undergraduate research in the sciences reported than in any of the Ivy League schools), with an 80% admit rate. Beloit and Grinnell (an extremely fine school) almost the same. You add in the state schools and you are safe all around (I think you might even have too many, though financial aid for transfers is sometimes tough, so it can't hurt....)

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 05:58 pm: Edit


Since there is a b/f involved, you probably need to consider location where he could get work. Smith is not too isolated. I know a couple who commute between Boston and Northampton, another that commute between Boston and Williamstown. Not ideal, but doable. I'm concerned, from what I heard, that a place like Grinnell might not afford many job opportunities for your b/f.

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 06:14 pm: Edit


Thanks for the info. That is one reason why I'm particular on location (although we have discussed me taking off for two years if it is the *perfect* opportunity). Luckily he can transfer almost anywhere in the country through his job (although I do have to take commute time into consideration--one reason why I don't want to go anywhere too rural).

Grinnell is actually toward the bottom of my list. It looks like they have a decent program and they have PTK scholarships up to 12K/year (renewable).

But, if anyone has any input regarding location/job opportunities I'd really appreciate it.

By Demingy (Demingy) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 06:16 pm: Edit

BTW, I don't think this can be said enough. I really appreciate how helpful everyone is on this forum and I appreciate the time that all of you have taken to help me with my search.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 06:17 pm: Edit

Hartford is about 40 minutes from Northampton.

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 06:20 pm: Edit

Springfield MA is even closer to Northampton than Hartford. Commuting to Worcester wouldn't be that far either.

By Perry (Perry) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 07:26 pm: Edit

If you're looking at Smith, perhaps you should also consider Mt. Holyoke. I recall they produce the most female Phd's in the sciences of any college. Statistics virtually identical with Smith. My daughter liked it and gave it very serious consideration.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 07:58 pm: Edit


Would you consider Northeastern? It has a coop program and is well connected to the biotech industry in the Boston area. I don't know about financial aid, but the coop program might make it doable for you.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 07:58 pm: Edit


Would you consider Northeastern? It has a coop program and is well connected to the biotech industry in the Boston area. I don't know about financial aid, but the coop program might make it doable for you.


Sorry, duplicate. Moderator, please delete.

By Coureur (Coureur) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 08:12 pm: Edit

Your very first "Must Have" is ample research opportunities. That being the case, by limiting yourself to LACs, you are cutting yourself out of the what is by far the largest source of research opportunities, namely the research universities.

LACs are good because they have small student bodies and personal attention and a few neat little scientific research programs, but if you want to go where most of the research action is you may need to look at the research schools.

Go to a medical or college library and pick up the current issues of the scientific journals for the fields you list (genetics, neurobiology, etc). Thumb through the papers and note the affiliations of the authors from the US. In any given issue, you will notice that there are very few, if any, scientific papers being published out of LACs. It's all research universities and research institutes. Every now and then you see an LAC, but it's pretty rare.

It all comes down to what you want. If the LAC atmosphere is more important too you than the research opportunities, your list is fine. But if having the best chance of being involved in top or near top flight research is your goal, I suggest you look beyond the LACs.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 08:57 pm: Edit

I went to a large research university--and yes, undergrads were involved in research--but mostly as assistants to graduate students, a pattern I see continuing at most research universities now. In contrast, I know UGs at both Reed and Whitman who are creating original research as part of their theses. The professors they are working with ONLY work with undergraduates--I see this as an enormous advantage for the students.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 10:57 pm: Edit

University of Vermont
University of New Hampshire

By Demingy (Demingy) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 01:12 am: Edit

Coureur, I appreciate the advice, but I have to second what Dmd77 says. I understand that the large research universities have the most research opportunities (and I plan to get my graduate degree from one), but I've noticed that most of the research info seems to involve grad students. There are opportunities for undergrads to work on research projects, but these aren't common. I would also assume that since I'll be coming in so late I would be at a disadvantage in that the profs wouldn't really know me as well as the other students competing for the coveted spots.

I feel that my best chance to get as much research experience as possible in my undergrad education would be to look at the smaller LACs because they do have research projects that include (and sometimes are all) undergraduates. Also, it will be easier for me to get to know my professors when there is a small student body, which would increase my chances of getting into a project that I'd like. So I guess that I would have to answer that the LAC atmosphere is more important to me than the research opportunities (although I don't think they are too exclusive of one another).

Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions and help. Of course this is still open for any other suggestions. :)

By Coureur (Coureur) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:56 am: Edit

I would agree that research opportunities at universities are largely focused on grad students, but I would emphatically disagree with the notion that research opportunities for undergrads are not common. In my experience they very common. I went to grad school at UC Davis, and there were many undergrads working in the labs taking part in important research. Many ended up as co-authors on published papers and abstracts by time they graduated, which greatly helped them in their grad school and medical school admissions.

And this is not confined to UCD. I see the same opportunities here in town at UC San Diego, and my daughter's tour guide at MIT described much the same situation there --> an abundance of research opportunities for undergrads.

But like I said, if the LAC environment is what you are looking for, great. You are on the right track. But if you want to be doing important, publishable, research...well, the "research universities" are not called that for nothing.

By Dmd77 (Dmd77) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 05:04 pm: Edit

Coureur (and others): I should clarify my comments on UG research at large universities. While I agree that many students have the opportunity to participate in research at large universities, their participation often consists of working with other under- and graduate students on a professor's project. However, many LACs--esp those that require a thesis to graduate--expect UGs to do independent research. The two kinds of research are both valuable, but a student should be clear which they want to do going in, and choose appropriately.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 10:27 am: Edit

Dmd, I would look at some small universities as well as LACs. Some offer 5th year masters at very little cost or free and great research opportunities. One school I know that does this is Clark and every kid I know who has gone through their program has performed very well. Far, far above any expectation and better than most kids even those going to elite name schools.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 10:37 am: Edit

research at LACS
Reed college requires that every single student who graduates writes a thesis. In the sciences this translates into year long original research which is published.
However Reed is tiny and even though biology dept is very strong you will be taking more generalized classes than you would at larger school, not to say you can't specialize, but smaller dpt than say at U of O

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 09:03 pm: Edit

Demingy - Great list. I think you're set. Good luck.

By Par72 (Par72) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 12:27 am: Edit

Might want to look at Holy Cross-they might have access to UMass Med Center. HC is a better school than Clark.

By Demingy (Demingy) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 12:49 pm: Edit

Thanks to everyone for your help, I think I have a pretty strong list now. Carolyn, I also wanted to specifically thank you. I think of you as one of our resident college gurus so it means a lot to know that you give my list a "thumbs up". :)

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 01:15 pm: Edit

Demingy - no thanks necessary. It's my personal opinion that any school would be lucky to have you as a transfer. If you express yourself as well in your application materials as you do here, you should have no problem. Best of luck!!!

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