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I have finished my part of the Common App  :hurray:

 

So now I'm just looking one last time to see if there are any colleges that we have overlooked and should add to our list.  I don't really feel like we've found a perfect match as yet, but we have some good options.

 

Ds prefers to delve deeply into a topic.  Though he has completed the work for traditional classes, always finds some area for very deep study and research.  Our schedule has mostly been flexible throughout high school, so if he wants to spend several weeks lost in a topic, it works out fine.  He loves sitting down with an expert and discussing topics, and I guess much of his education has been Socratic.

 

Now he is doing DE (honors classes at the local large U) and finding college isn't what he expected.  There is lots of busy work, too many classes to take all at one time, and he feels like there isn't time for deep learning or mental excursions.

 

I like the idea of Evergreen, but the people I talk to think his scores are too high for that and he won't find the intellectual stimulation he needs.  But then the very intellectual campuses (e.g. Reed) seem to expect students to take a huge load and umpteen EC activities as well.  

 

He's not ready to choose his major.  He loves the sciences and is seriously considering chemistry or physics, but also computer science or psychology.  And he is an excellent writer, if the world were a different place, he'd likely be a novelist.  His literature prof thinks he should be an English professor.

 

Do any colleges jump to your mind?  

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I went to Kenyon, and it's an amazing school.  It has one of the best English departments in the country, and a pretty impressive list of novelist alums (John Green was a class ahead of me).  Classes are small, and professors actively encouraged students to push themselves, and to take on personal academic projects.  In the sciences, it was common for undergrads to help professors with their research, the way that grad students do at larger universities.  The price tag is high, but they give a lot of aid.

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Kenyon and UChicago are just two examples of the many small and excellent Liberal Arts colleges (LACs) that are perfect for young, engaged and inquisitive minds. Get your hands on the book Colleges that Change Lives by Loren Pope.  It not only lists 50 or so of these gems but it explains what makes an LAC an excellent choice. Most of these schools are undergraduate colleges, which means that undergrads are working with professors in labs, and are working as TAs or peer tutors -- all jobs usually reserved for grad students at large state universities.  Many, not all but many, of these schools also offer merit scholarships and generous financial aid which can make them more affordable.  

 

Now for my particular plug.  College of Wooster has been a perfect fit for a few WTM kids. It is small with professors dedicated to teaching and including their students in research projects. The student body is made up of bright, delightfully nerdy young adults who are engaged in learning. Every student completes an independent senior thesis -- a long written project with an oral defense, a project that takes 3 semesters or so with the entire undergrad program designed to prepare them for the task. In other words, the school is perfect for a student ready to delve deep into a topic! My ds has been a paid researcher since his freshman year.  He has done field work every summer, has presented at professional meetings, will likely be published this year, and has been a TA and peer tutor. He is a kid who detests busy work, who wants to go deep into a topic. He has been very engaged there, is thrilled to be challenged and has found a tribe of good friends.

 

Don't overlook the honors programs at large state schools. They often offer the perks of an LAC within a large campus -- special housing and programs and classes. Alabama's honors program, for instance, has attracted more than one WTM kid. 

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Another one course at a time school is Quest in BC, Canada. Hampshire in MA is a design-your-own-study school.

 

You can search in IPEDS for schools on the trimester and quarter system to take fewer classes at a time.

 

Did you visit Evergreen? My DD is going to check it out next week.

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Kenyon and UChicago are just two examples of the many small and excellent Liberal Arts colleges (LACs) that are perfect for young, engaged and inquisitive minds

 

Not wanting to quibble - but U Chicago is not a small Liberal Arts College; it's a sizable research university.

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I like the idea of Evergreen, but the people I talk to think his scores are too high for that and he won't find the intellectual stimulation he needs.  But then the very intellectual campuses (e.g. Reed) seem to expect students to take a huge load and umpteen EC activities as well.  

 

The  handful of Evergreen grads I knew when we lived in Seattle were all very smart and very intellectually curious. There is a huge selection bias here since they were all grad students at UW or computer folks at Amazon or Microsoft.

 

Anyway, Evergreen isn't all slacker hippies smoking dope.

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The  handful of Evergreen grads I knew when we lived in Seattle were all very smart and very intellectually curious. There is a huge selection bias here since they were all grad students at UW or computer folks at Amazon or Microsoft.

 

Anyway, Evergreen isn't all slacker hippies smoking dope.

 

This is really great to hear.  Ds loved UW when we visited and I think it is high on his potential grad school list. The no-grades thing at Evergreen has had me worried about going to grad school from Evergreen. 

 

UW is on our UG list, too, but it is more traditional.  I will say that it is the best college to visit.  The office just gives you a list of classes that are open to visitors instead of scheduling a class visit.  Ds spent most of our week in Seattle wandering from class to class. I think he would have been happy if we had just left him there ;-)

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Another one course at a time school is Quest in BC, Canada. Hampshire in MA is a design-your-own-study school.

 

You can search in IPEDS for schools on the trimester and quarter system to take fewer classes at a time.

 

Did you visit Evergreen? My DD is going to check it out next week.

 

 

We all loved Evergreen when we visited.  It's such a serene campus.  Be sure to allow time to hike to the organic farm and the beach.   He did like the format of the classes, but was only able to visit one.  (That was a marathon trip from Olympia to Eugene visiting all of the campuses in between.) The students were all very quiet, but we were there the first week of classes.  I imagine that discussions liven up as the quarter progresses.
 
I really think he would like something different, but then I panic that something like Evergreen is too different and might hurt his future chances.  He's definitely getting mixed messages from "concerned" folk that he is undershooting his potential.
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Thank you all for the list.  Some I've never even heard of.  Others, like UChicago, I believe have already spent our potential application fee in mailers!

 

I definitely prefer quarters myself and for him.  I'm still irritated that my alma mater caved and went to semesters.  I've found this list helpful for others looking for shorter terms:

http://www.planetbauer.com/colleges.htm

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I definitely prefer quarters myself and for him. 

I had though quarters a good idea, but am no longer of that opinion. The two quarter stretch in winter/spring with only one week break is rough. And then, it's not like professors cut down on the amount of material they are covering just because it's 10 week quarters instead of 15 week semesters - they make it fit. Pace is breakneck. I think quarters at a demanding school are absolutely brutal.

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 But then the very intellectual campuses (e.g. Reed) seem to expect students to take a huge load and umpteen EC activities as well.  

 

He's not ready to choose his major.  He loves the sciences and is seriously considering chemistry or physics, but also computer science or psychology.  And he is an excellent writer, if the world were a different place, he'd likely be a novelist.  His literature prof thinks he should be an English professor.

 

Do any colleges jump to your mind?  

 

Actually, I think Reed would be a great choice for someone who likes to dive deep and avoid busywork. They have the only nuclear reactor in the country that is entirely run by students, and they have a higher percentage of physics grads continuing on to the PhD than MIT does. They are also very strong in psychology and writing, and they have a 3/2 program with CalTech and UW for Comp Sci.

 

The idea that Reed students carry a "huge load" is based more on the depth of the coursework and the amount of reading, not the number of classes they carry. A full load at Reed is 30 courses over 4 years, so students take  3-4 courses per semester. A student who can transfer in some DE credits could just take 3 courses per semester and still be full time. And there is no busy work — requirements for the famous HUM110 class that all freshmen are required to take = a 5-7 page paper every 3 weeks (students choose from a list of suggested topics, or can propose their own topic) and a final exam. The reading list is huge, though, that's the time-consuming part.

 

Reed does also require some PE credits, but those are easy to fulfill, and you can use swimming for several of them (just keep a log). Other options include juggling, fencing, hiking, etc. 

 

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I think quarters at a demanding school are absolutely brutal.

It's not a piece of cake in community college either. My senior is dual-enrolled at a CC on the quarter system. I totally agree that the one week break after winter quarter is tough, tough, tough.

 

The main problem with the breakneck pace is that there is little margin for error as you adjust to a class in a new subject, or get the flu, or anything else life might throw at you (like having to fill out college applications!). You fall behind after the drop deadline, it's very easy to fail. Even if an incomplete is an option, it's not much of one since the next quarter will be just as breakneck if you want to enroll in something besides doing the catch-up work.

 

That being said, DD likes it! Three of the six colleges on her list are on the quarter system.

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I need to put a plug in for U Rochester, of course.  There's only one required writing course and oodles of options for that one.  Then there are two clusters outside your field, but oodles of clusters to choose from for that too.  The student is really free to choose what they want to take (esp over my two LAC lads) and the research being done there is top notch - often in sync with other top places (which is why middle son spent the summer doing paid research at Stanford).

 

For kids who love "in depth," it's tough to beat the Research Us where undergrads are a big part of doing the research.  Their classes are taught with the idea that they are training researchers.  They assume basic cc/AP knowledge coming in.

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Just want to agree that quarters are brutal. One of mine has seven week quarters. Three weeks in, you are taking midterms. They hit the ground running and if you get sick, you are sunk. The one week break between fall and spring quarters is very short, not really long enough to recover from the intensity. Mine says he couldn,t handle semesters and likes quarters, but has had various problems getting through some of them.

 

Nan

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I had though quarters a good idea, but am no longer of that opinion. The two quarter stretch in winter/spring with only one week break is rough. And then, it's not like professors cut down on the amount of material they are covering just because it's 10 week quarters instead of 15 week semesters - they make it fit. Pace is breakneck. I think quarters at a demanding school are absolutely brutal.

I would definitely agree with this. My husband has done one course at a time, quarters, and semesters, and I think quarters would be the worst for in depth study. Except for year long sequences like some math and science courses, professors really do cram a semester's worth of work into a quarter. I think quarters are preferable only if you want to be able to take significantly more classes in college.

 

Speaking from experience, one course at a time sounds ideal for him. There is plenty of time to go in depth and it also works very well when you want to study completely unrelated things. There is no need to short change one class to keep up with others. My husband, a chemistry and art major under one course at a time, could devote as many hours as he wanted to art when taking an art class, without worrying about keeping up with his difficult science and math classes.

 

Edited to add that one course at a time also makes it much easier to change majors or add majors or minors at a later time, even in majors that require many prerequisites or sequential series of courses. I didn't take calculus until my junior year when I was inspired after a great stats course required for my psych major, but eventually completed enough math courses to get into a top grad program in statistics.

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Yes, do not overlook honors programs at state schools. Ds is in the English/writing honors program at U of Mi (Flint campus) and the depth is amazing! At times, a bit on the brutal side. While the general admission rate to regular programs is high, the honor's programs are highly selective. Despite the selectivity, there have been a few that have already dropped, not making it as far as midterms. Ds, who loves to be challenged in his areas of passionate interest, is thankfully thriving on the work load.

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I'll jump in with one more thumbs-up for state schools. :) We were prepared to send our sons to private LACs if that's what they chose, but both of them decided on large state schools, and I have to say, we are extremely impressed with the quality of their educations.

 

One of the things we heard several times when touring my younger son's school is "You can make a large school smaller, but you can't make a small school larger." 

 

My older son is in the honors program at his state school and it is wonderful. There is no "honors" program per se at my younger son's school, but there are plenty of de facto honors-style opportunities. At 18 he is already taking graduate-level math classes no problem, along with upper-division math and CS classes. Also, unlike what someone said upthread -- there are opportunities for undergraduates to do research, TA, etc. My son is a lab assistant, reader/grader for intro CS, and a peer mentor for students in CS1 and CS2 who want a little more attention. (All of these positions are either handsomely paid or given college credit.) He has also applied to be a full TA for the intro math and CS classes; yes, these posts sometimes go to grad students, but most of the TAs are actually undergrads, since they often know the material better, having just taken the class (and the position earns full tuition plus a handsome stipend :) ). Also, my son and his friends (18/19-yos) are being snapped up (right now!) for Silicon Valley internships next summer. These are highly paid (plus free housing!), highly competitive positions.

 

But yes, academics -- my son feels there is no "ceiling"; he is able to push himself -- to go as far or as deep -- into the material as he is able to. And the professors beg the students to come to office hours. :) Yes, the student has to take the initiative, but there is plenty of access to professors. There is also the opportunity to take classes in a dizzying variety of subjects -- in languages, for example, everything from Yiddish to Korean to Telugu to Old Norse ...

 

(edited to remove personal info :) )

 

 

 

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I need to put a plug in for U Rochester, of course.  There's only one required writing course and oodles of options for that one.  Then there are two clusters outside your field, but oodles of clusters to choose from for that too.  The student is really free to choose what they want to take (esp over my two LAC lads) and the research being done there is top notch - often in sync with other top places (which is why middle son spent the summer doing paid research at Stanford).

 

For kids who love "in depth," it's tough to beat the Research Us where undergrads are a big part of doing the research.  Their classes are taught with the idea that they are training researchers.  They assume basic cc/AP knowledge coming in.

Ditto-my ds is also a senior at UR and he is the type of student who would forego all courses except math, physics and comp sci if it were allowed.  With a heavy dose of math.

 

He has been allowed so much freedom to choose his courses.  Some professors allowed him to take courses without fulfilling the pre-reqs (I'm not so sure this is a great idea but it was OK for him) after just talking with him about what he needed to know.  He made sure he knew it and was fine.  So the school is very, very supportive of kids who want to go in-depth; he has also taken a bunch of graduate courses.  I don't know if this is typical at universities like UR, but they have been remarkably flexible and at no extra charge : )

 

Also they have a "take five" program for students that is competitive-the student is allowed an fifth undergrad year, at no additional cost, to study a discipline that is different from their major concentration.  Creekland's brilliant son is a take five scholar-not my slacker child.  But further evidence of the school's encouragement of in-depth study.

 

Also wanted to add-OP, if your son decides to pursue a math\science\tech degree, I can't think of a better place than Harvey Mudd. It's a tiny liberal arts style school that only offers degrees in the sciences.  Students can register for courses at one of the other 4 schools in the consortium.  It seems like the ultimate destination for smart kids in the sciences.  HM's graduates also do extremely well in graduate schools like Cal Tech and MIT. 

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My college might be of interest to someone who wanted to study that way.  It's in Eastern Canada - the University of King's College.

 

First year students normally do a great books program that counts as four or three credits for sorts or sciences students respectively.  All attend a lecture together, and then they break into smaller tutorials.  Many of the texts are read in some depth.

 

For subsequent years, students can major in any of the areas at the larger university the college is part of (that's Dalhousie University which is a major university with several professional schools.)  They can also major in few programs that are offered mainly at the college that are good matches for students who want a more in depth and traditional approach - Contemporary Studies, Early Modern Studies, and History of Science and Technology. There is also a journalism school.

 

It's a nice school in that its an intimate, small liberal arts college of about 1000, with all of its own cultural and social aspects, with access to the resources of a major research university.

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We all loved Evergreen when we visited.

 

I really think he would like something different, but then I panic that something like Evergreen is too different and might hurt his future chances. He's definitely getting mixed messages from "concerned" folk that he is undershooting his potential.

Apparently they put on a good visit program: DD and my DH both loved the visit. I totally expected my DD to love it, but for DH to find it too "hippie."

 

I guess, having spent the day taking other DD ot her activites instead, that I'm still in the skeptical/concerned camp. The local reputation really seems to be "Evergreen used to be a really great school..."

 

Would love to hear of anyone's recent experiences there!

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Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa is another.

www.cornellcollege.edu

I actually thought of this one if you like the idea of one course at a time. DD did her seconds semester of Russian there while she was still in high school. It was quite intense and she enjoyed a small class and a very involved professor.

 

I think Grinnell in Iowa would also meet your criteria.

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