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Halcyon

Thoughts on these colleges: Eckerd, Cornell College, Macalaster, Lawrence, Earlham, Wooster

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Hi there! haven't been around much lately, so hi all! Would love to hear if any of you have kids attending these schools and their experience. Much appreciated!!

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I am also very local to Macalester and toured recently. I also toured Lawrence recently. I’ll come back and say more about our tours when I’m not on a mobile device but also following for hopefully more experienced parents comments. 🙂. For the record, I thought both were fantastic.

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I have a kid at Lawrence and one of the schools she turned down was Earlham. What do you want to know?

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My ds graduated from and loved Wooster.  It is full of down to earth, nerdy, intellectual kids. He didn't like the hipster vibe he felt at Macalester, and decided he didn't want an urban school location. Don't know what he didn't like about Lawrence, but it seemed a lovely school, too.

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Following. Would also like to hear any generalizations about differences in the culture/vibe and academic strengths/weaknesses at these schools. They all seem to be good smaller LAC but it does seem hard to identify specific differences and what kind of student would be a good fit.

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Following. Would also like to hear any generalizations about differences in the culture/vibe and academic strengths/weaknesses at these schools. They all seem to be good smaller LAC but it does seem hard to identify specific differences and what kind of student would be a good fit.

 

 

Yes, this is exactly what i hope to learn from others here--sorry i wasn't more specific in my OP.

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One thing I was going to mention is Lawrence is hosting a series of webinars on different topics and areas at the school if that is of interest to anyone.  The first webinar in the series starts tomorrow night ...

 

https://www.lawrence.edu/admissions/connect/wednesday-webinar-series

 

I do intend to come back and give my impressions of my tours I just haven't had time yet.  I live shockingly close to Mac so I'd be happy to give any info about living in St. Paul as well and the location of the campus, etc.  

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Earlham is Quaker and having worked in Quaker education, I've had known a number of graduates from there and students who went there and they've all had nothing but super positive things to say about their experience, especially the personal attention from faculty and community.

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My husband and I are both Cornell College grads and had great experiences. I think one of the biggest differences about Cornell is the block plan. We both loved it even though we had STEM major/minors which some consider to be more difficult on the block plan due to how rapidly one must master large quantities of complex information. But having later experienced quarters and semesters, we both highly prefer blocks. It was especially ideal for my husband who majored in chemistry and art and completed all premed requirements because when he was taking an art class, he could spend as many hours in the studio as he wanted without sacrificing study time for other classes.

 

Mt. Vernon is a great small town, and we are still in close touch with several of our profs, even though we now live on the west coast. Two have been out to visit us several times and of course we’ve been back many times.

 

My son didn’t want to be in a small town, and I was really hoping he would choose Macalester, as they are quite strong in his primary areas of interest, and I really liked everything I read and heard about it. But alas, we had by far the worst tour guide of our college visits and it was also the last of several visits on a spring break trip, so it was the first “no†postcard he sent back.

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We have friends at Cornell. Very hippie, very social justice-y. They love it. Not of interest to my military college kid, though CC called and called.  :lol:

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My son is definitely liberal, but not very involved in social justice (much to my sadness! He won't come to marches or protests with me :( I think he's Rachel Maddow-ed out LOL) 

 

He is laid back, easy going, very bright and works hard but will not kill himself for academics. He likes being around other smart kids who are not overly competitive, needs a nurturing environment with teachers who are kind and helpful and see the best in their students. Refuses to grade grub. Cornell sounds pretty good. Turns out there is a CTCL forum happening in May near us, so we'll be attending!

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My son is definitely liberal, but not very involved in social justice (much to my sadness! He won't come to marches or protests with me :( I think he's Rachel Maddow-ed out LOL) 

 

He is laid back, easy going, very bright and works hard but will not kill himself for academics. He likes being around other smart kids who are not overly competitive, needs a nurturing environment with teachers who are kind and helpful and see the best in their students. Refuses to grade grub. Cornell sounds pretty good. Turns out there is a CTCL forum happening in May near us, so we'll be attending!

 

The bolded is exactly how my ds would describe Wooster.  Jane in NC's ds is also a Wooster grad who found his "people" there. Jane and I have nothing but glowing comments to make about the college.

 

My ds started working in a geology lab the spring semester of his Freshman year. He did field work all three summers of his college life, including a couple of weeks in Iceland. He also presented at the big Geology Society of America twice -- once as a sophomore and once as a senior. He also tutored math and geology and was a TA for a couple of semesters. In fact at graduation, I gushed to his professors, thanking them for how they nurtured and pushed him. It was all that I could have wished and hoped for during those long years in the homeschool trenches.

 

Aside from the wonderful faculty, he found his crowd of people there. Smart, engaged, quirky, not competitive. The student run coffee house was a haven freshman year where the kids who don't drink would gather to play board games, Apples to Apples or Cards against Humanity. His tight knit group of friends started playing D&D, and two years after graduation are still playing weekly via Skype!!!  (My ds is in Japan teaching English, and is the Dungeon Master for the group.)  Friends invited him to spend Thanksgiving at their house, a small group of them hiked on the Appalachian Trail one spring break, and at graduation his friends and their families and our family took up huge tables in the big family-style Amish/Mennonite restaurants in the surrounding area. 

 

What separates Wooster from the other LACs is that their capstone project is big and mandatory. And, if you do not pass it, you do not graduate. There is so much support along the way that it seems shocking that anyone would not complete and pass it, but 2 girls from his glass didn't pass. It was the only truly stressful part of his undergraduate time, and I think helped him put off grad school for a little while (hence teaching in Japan). 

 

Wooster is beautiful, and to my Southern California boy, the trees and rolling farmland, the quaint small town vibe, not to mention the actual 4 distinct seasons, was exotic. 

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Lawrence sounds like an OK fit. Is there a major in mind? There is a conservatory, so he should at least appreciate music and theatre enough to want to go to his friends' performances, which will be at least once a term. How does he feel about trimester versus semester systems?

 

DD felt Earlham was too small. She found the campus peaceful, the loom room in the art department was unique, the study abroad program is one of the best around, but the student newspaper was basically three people. There is a lot available for such a small school, if he can do small.

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My son is definitely liberal, but not very involved in social justice (much to my sadness! He won't come to marches or protests with me :( I think he's Rachel Maddow-ed out LOL) 

 

He is laid back, easy going, very bright and works hard but will not kill himself for academics. He likes being around other smart kids who are not overly competitive, needs a nurturing environment with teachers who are kind and helpful and see the best in their students. Refuses to grade grub. Cornell sounds pretty good. Turns out there is a CTCL forum happening in May near us, so we'll be attending!

Your description of your DS sounds like the typical Knox student. Knox is quite liberal and quirky. One of the biggest social clubs is Ultimate Frisbee. They all seemingly converge spontaneously in the quad for practice and then disappear just as quickly. The student newspaper just won 19 awards for journalism (for the second year in a row). Greek life is available but not a big part of the social scene; more students are independent than Greek.

 

Perhaps the best (and most recent) updates are that Knox received accreditation to confer the BS degree. Beginning with Fall 2018, students will be able to receive the BS in multiple disciplines (i.e. physics, chemistry, neuroscience). Students with a min 3.5 GPA and 27 ACT will automatically receive $30,000 in merit aid (larger merit scholarships are available to qualified applicants).

 

Knox is located in a rural (farming, railroad) town but is an hour away from 2 larger metropolitan areas. The town is served by Amtrak and is the regional Amtrak hub.

 

What is your DS interested in studying?

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From what I've seen of Lawrence and Macalester, those could work as well in terms of liberal, quirky, intelligent, non competitive vibe?  I'm sorry I forgot about this thread.  I've visited both these campuses, live within spitting distance of Mac, and know many grads from both these schools.   But also the parent of a junior so I'm watching this space.

 

What I would say about Mac, is that it is a more urban campus.  I just saw a complaint somewhere that it's TOO urban.  Having just visited campuses in Chicago, I would say it's considerably less urban than those.  :)  There are nice local amenities within walking distance and transit is really easy to use.  There is also an amazing bike trail system in the Twin Cities.   I would not recommend having a car in that location for students.  That is a nice more residential neighborhood.  It's good to have some urban savvy in the area (locking doors, keeping bags close, keeping valuables out of sight, guarding technology, etc).  Crimes in this area are generally crimes of convenience.    All the grads I know from there have done well and were very happy with their undergraduate experience.  I do think this campus seems like it would be best for pretty confident, independent young adults.   Great internship and community opportunities available nearby.  I think the campus is pretty engaged with the area.   The dorms we saw are kind of antique.  

 

Lawrence is a little smaller campus.  It's in a nice location in a mid size city and 30 minutes from Green Bay.  There are amenities within walking distance - it sits at the end of the downtown area of Appleton.  Transit is not great and I think it's also difficult to have a car at Lawrence due to parking but I know some students do.  It seems a little more sheltered than Mac.  It's also small with about 1,400 students I think.   (vs. 2000+ at Mac).  I just spent the day there but I was super impressed with the faculty and the philosophy.  I love schools that are excited about multi-interested kids.  My kid would prefer something more urban, but I think this school could be GREAT for him (he's into music - he was not excited about doing music at Mac either).   All the grads I know from here are impressive too.  

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Yes, Lawrence sits at the edge of downtown Appleton, but as in many small downs, downtown dried up when the mall was built on the outskirts of town. There is a university-provided shopping shuttle to the mall when the limited walking-distance stores won't do. You can also use the athletic team shuttle to get to the big parking lot by the stadium if you have a car on campus (where "on campus" really means "15 minute walk away."

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What is your DS interested in studying?

Knox sounds great but I think DS is leaning towards a more urban environment. 

 

Re what he wants to study--no idea. He is very good at math and loves Physics, but recently has begun to blossom in his history class and has begun taking a bit of a political philosophy bent to questions...and his writing is improving as well. He is a very slow, careful reader, so I am dont think he'll major in anything extremely book heavy. 

 

He says now he'd like computer engineering, but I truly dont think he knows what that means. ANd he loves to talk business--why a business is losing money, how they can win back customers, etc. But he also wants a liberal arts education, not too career-focused at this stage.

 

I think, for him, is that he will "know" what school is right for him via 'feel'. He's pretty intuitive and really is looking for kind, supportive faculty and kind, friendly kids. He is not interested in partying, but loves to have fun bowling, playing frisbee, and just goofing around in general. 

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Macalester would be the best for urban. None of these are great for engineering, though. Some LACs do have entrepreneurial experiences even when they don't offer a business major.

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Are any of the schools listed in a small town with a college town vibe - coffee shops and fun local restaurants and similar. Macalester is on DD’s list but she would also enjoy a hopping small town.

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Are any of the schools listed in a small town with a college town vibe - coffee shops and fun local restaurants and similar. Macalester is on DD’s list but she would also enjoy a hopping small town.

 

I really think Appleton is a cute town!  There are certainly restaurants and coffee shops and museums within walking distance of campus.  There is also a performing art center within walking distance that gets travelling Broadway shows.  I've heard students can get discount tickets for like $25!  The campus is just 1400 students though so it doesn't really dominate the town.  It's also right on a river.  

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My ds graduated from and loved Wooster.  It is full of down to earth, nerdy, intellectual kids. He didn't like the hipster vibe he felt at Macalester, and decided he didn't want an urban school location. Don't know what he didn't like about Lawrence, but it seemed a lovely school, too.

 

We're semi-local to Macalaster too, and have mixed reviews.  Several of my in-laws and friends went there, and back in the day (70's-80's) it was more of a left-leaning unpretentious campus.  Children of friends of mine who attend there now are unhappy, and some have transferred out.  It seems to have become more hoity-toity.

 

Still, it's in a great area.  I LOVE that area, and it might be just right for the right kind of person.  And of course stories I've heard are only anecdotal.  It's a nice campus in a great neighborhood.  You wouldn't need a car.

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We're semi-local to Macalaster too, and have mixed reviews.  Several of my in-laws and friends went there, and back in the day (70's-80's) it was more of a left-leaning unpretentious campus.  Children of friends of mine who attend there now are unhappy, and some have transferred out.  It seems to have become more hoity-toity.

 

Still, it's in a great area.  I LOVE that area, and it might be just right for the right kind of person.  And of course stories I've heard are only anecdotal.  It's a nice campus in a great neighborhood.  You wouldn't need a car.

 

I can definitely see how Mac wouldn't be a fit for everyone and I have heard it does have a richer, prep school vibe currently.  I do know several recent non trust fund grads that have had a good experience though and were happy with their choice.  I really think for a confident, self assured, urban seeking student it could be a great fit.  And I live practically around the corner, so needless to say I love the hood.  The students I come across from Mac locally seem pretty great for the most part.   Maybe those are the down to earth ones I meet in the local coffee shops, etc.  :)  

 

I actually think my kid would love Mac if it weren't so close to home for him.  

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Are any of the schools listed in a small town with a college town vibe - coffee shops and fun local restaurants and similar. Macalester is on DD’s list but she would also enjoy a hopping small town.

Mt. Vernon is a neat small town, but not far from Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. And Chicago isn’t too far if a trip to a really big city is desired.

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