Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Sign in to follow this  
dmmetler

Sewanee?

Recommended Posts

We visited Sewanee today. There’s a lot about it, particularly the focus on research, the multidisciplinary flexibility, the focus on inclusion and community and the physical location of the campus that appeals. But DD is worried about being stuck on campus, since she is unlikely to have a car. Her BFF is from a small rural town that has a lot more than Sewanee, and is finding it frustrating for social reasons, which is coloring DD’s impressions a bit. That and discovering that her cell phone had no service at all. 

But, there’s a lot she likes. So, does anyone have experience with Sewanee? Or suggestions for other schools that would be good to check out?

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every college must name its peer competitors in IPEDS

The custom comparison group chosen by Sewanee-The University of the South includes the following 16 institutions:

 Bates College (Lewiston, ME)

Carleton College (Northfield, MN)
Centre College (Danville, KY)
Colby College (Waterville, ME)
Colgate University (Hamilton, NY)
Davidson College (Davidson, NC)
Denison University (Granville, OH)
Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
Furman (Greenville, SC)
Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA)
Hamilton College (Clinton, NY)
Kenyon College (Gambier, OH)
Macalester College (Saint Paul, MN)
Rhodes College (Memphis, TN)
Washington and Lee University (Lexington, VA)

Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA)

Collegeresults.org has a "find similar colleges" tool that suggests 

 
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sewanee was the favorite for my ds through much of the process. There is a lot to like there. We did a ton of research and talked to a lot of people familiar with the school and we just couldn't shake that it would not be a good social fit. The drinking and partying culture there is pretty intense and part of the identity of the school. Ds also would not have had the spending money to run with the crowd there and in the end it just wasn't going to be a fit.

There is a lot to like about the school, though, I agree. 

A disclaimer- I happen to be one that thinks there is some level of partying at even the most conservative schools so I'm really not that easily shocked. My ds is in a fraternity at his school and I am not naive. Sewanee just seemed to crank the party scene up a few notches and there seemed fewer alternatives for those that weren't into that. Ds has met more students from Sewanee since he has been in college and had that experience confirmed. He has a couple teammates that transferred to his school from Sewanee because it was just too much.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My oldest ds visited it last year and it was his top choice until he spent a night there.  He also visited Centre in Danville, KY which is closer to us.  You might take a look at it.  It's not too far from Lexington and overall felt less isolated to me than Sewanee.  I thought it was interesting that Sewanee had alcohol-free dorms.  As others have said, Sewanee has quite the reputation as ds discovered on his overnight trip.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

5 hours ago, dmmetler said:

We visited Sewanee today. There’s a lot about it, particularly the focus on research, the multidisciplinary flexibility, the focus on inclusion and community and the physical location of the campus that appeals. But DD is worried about being stuck on campus, since she is unlikely to have a car. Her BFF is from a small rural town that has a lot more than Sewanee, and is finding it frustrating for social reasons, which is coloring DD’s impressions a bit. That and discovering that her cell phone had no service at all. 

But, there’s a lot she likes. So, does anyone have experience with Sewanee? Or suggestions for other schools that would be good to check out?

 

 

2

 

 the focus on research, the multidisciplinary flexibility, the focus on inclusion and community and the physical location of the campus

Research: there are a lot of schools that offer undergrad opps in research, that's fairly easy to find and doesn't narrow the field much. 

Multidisciplinary flexibility: what do you mean by this? Does she just want a school that will work with her on double majoring or that has interdisciplinary majors, or does she specifically want to craft her own major?  A set process for creating your own major narrows the list considerably, while a lot more schools do the first two. 

Inclusion and community: we didn't encounter many schools that didn't claim to emphasize this, and most of them had the campus organizations to back it up (groups for a multitude of interests and encouragement to create more: LGBTQ, religious, academic, Quidditch). Small schools have the advantage of professors knowing students more quickly, but ime larger schools catch up quickly if the student is engaged and involved. A lot of them do a good job at 'week of welcome' activities meant to get students out there doing things and meeting people, but of course a student can ignore those efforts, which is harder to do at a small school.

Physical location: does she like where it is in relation to home or does she like specific things about the physical setting? For example, my oldest wanted four seasons, preferably with a bit of snow but not a long winter of snow. Ideally, she wanted a bit closer to home than she is, but the two weren't compatible, lol. If she wants a specific geographic radius, that can narrow it down a lot. 

Being stuck on campus: oldest is finishing her second year on campus without a car. Mid-sized campus with lots to do and plenty of friends with cars, but she'd go a bit loony if she didn't have ways of getting off campus on her own. There are quite a few things she can walk to in a 2-mile radius, she can Uber, and there is a free shuttle that makes the rounds of Walmart, Target, and downtown every week. The shuttle is a huge plus. Youngest will be on a mid-sized campus without a car; the city bus stops on campus and goes to all the cool places, and there's Uber. And she'll be local and visiting the cats often, so actual errands won't be a worry.  

I'm not sure how you decide if you'd like rural living if you've never experienced it. Does her BFF  have relatives they could visit, lol?  We have a camp in the woods and relatives in small towns, so my kids knew that, for them,  "the country" is a nice place to visit but not where they want to go to college.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would add-DD is most interested in behavioral ecology or ethology, especially with regards to reptiles, amphibians, or other ectotherms. No school has made it on DD’s list without being well represented in Herpetological Review, Journal of Herpetology, or Herpetological Conservation and Biology, and without having students presenting at JMIH and regional conferences, especially undergrad students. And Sewanee does. 

Sewanee is literally a mountain in E. TN-an area with extreme Herp diversity and where salamanders have more biomass than any other vertebrate group. And they basically own the entire mountain, of which the buildings are a fairly small part. The professor who has been encouraging DD to check out Sewanee primarily works with Salamanders, and her field sites are a 10 minute walk from her office, and still technically on campus.  That has a lot of appeal, especially for a kid who will be entering a 4 year school a few years early, so fieldwork will be an issue without mom to drive. The psychology program is research based and has a lot of focus on cognitive psychology and neuroscience, which also appeals to her.  Every student we spoke with was either double majoring or majoring with multiple minors, and the coursework is set up so that about a 1/3 is major area, 1/3 is liberal arts, and 1/3 is encouraged to be focused on interests. Her credits for her AA probably would apply for some of the core courses, giving her more time to do things they interest her. Meeting a Chemistry major who is minoring in British literature and Asian studies made her ears perk up, as did the fact that our tour guide talked about classes where they just talk on Latin. 

That has a lot of appeal-DD has been Herp girl for a long time, and is not entirely sure if that is where she wants to be long-term. By being so involved in research so early, she knows the downsides, from spending hours in swamps getting eaten by mosquitoes to the agonies of committees to unpaid post-docs and research experiences which require you to provide your own airfare and expenses.  

She also likes the residential college concept, and the fact that all social events are required to be open to the whole campus. The dedicated vegan lines and clear labeling in the cafeteria, LEED certification, and heavy focus on recycling and environmental issues appealed.  She likes that it seems expected and encouraged to be smart (most of our guides had their gowns on-you get your gown based on GPA, starting after Freshman year). She likes that the typical dorm/house is about the size of the single floor that housed her summer programs. 

The big downside, as I said, is that the campus is a mountain. You have to go about 5 Miles down to even get to the usual cluster of stuff that tends to hang out around college campuses. There are a few little, quirky businesses closer in-but nowhere you can stock up on snacks to keep in your room. There are ZipCars on campus, but DD is currently planning to graduate with her AA at 16,and could graduate earlier if she wanted to do so. While I want her to have a drivers license before she moves away from home, she probably won’t have the option of renting a ZipCar. One plus students gave was that “it’s an easy drive to Chattanooga or Murfreesboro, and not much further from Nashville”,   Her BFF lives a similar distance from town, and a similar distance from the larger city, and, as a teen, is finding this frustrating. I definitely think that’s coloring DD’s impressions about how hard it would be to get to these places. It seemed to me like the college runs enough outings and planned trips, plus the fact that they make it easy to have a car on campus, that it wouldn’t be an issue. (While her friend is dependent on parents and doesn’t have friends who can drive yet). Of course, I went through all of college and grad school without being able to drive due to a seizure disorder, and spent four years of that in a place where you had to drive 2 hours to see a first run movie, so my impressions are colored in the other direction. 

The party reputation concerns me, especially with a younger than average college student who desperately wants to fit in. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On ds’s campus, one had to be 18 to rent a ZipCar.  

I have a good friend whose daughter was a big herp girl (she wound up not pursuing that, however), and she started at a four-year college right after she turned 16 (August birthday), so the similarities between your dd and her are striking.  She had a lot of issues adjusting to on-campus, college life - making friends, some depression, not knowing how to handle the drinking culture, dating culture, etc. She, too, really wanted to fit in. She really could have benefitted from another year of maturing. She did share her age immediately which, I think in hindsight, proved to be a mistake.  She came home many weekends (about two hours and 45 minutes away).  She didn’t have a car, so her folks would go and pick her up and take her back. She graduated at 19 and started her job about a month later.  Her young-ness was a bit of an issue as she began her professional life as well.  She didn’t divulge her age, but the news sort of got around, and people sometimes have resentment (not sure that’s the right word? Feel threatened? Act dismissive? All of the above?)  toward someone who is successful so young. I think she had to work much harder to earn people’s respect. 

Ds was young for his class, and also a grade skip.  I have no issues with a single grade-skip - there were probably six kids in ds’s class of 70 who had been grade-skipped, though ds was the youngest of them all.  My friend’s daughter is my only example of someone who was skipped two grades.  It’s all turned out fine for her now (she’s 22 now), but there were struggles and issues related to both her age and maturity along the way. Only you know what is best for your dd, but I’m just wondering if there isn’t something she could possibly do for a gap year?  Perhaps gain admission to her college of choice but then defer attending for a year?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m hoping (and encoraging) her to look at things like Semester School to hopefully delay moving on. That’s the reason for the AA, too. There aren’t many residential colleges that accept early teens. Unfortunately, we live in practically the only place in TN without a strong field biology/ecology focused department-we’re a very biomedical and biotech area (which is why DD is doing her AA in psych, not bio), so there’s not a good “live at home” option. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you need to look real hard at finding a place where there is a cluster of like minds that are also young.  In my state it is normal to grad at 16, as we have Dec kindy cutoff,  so there are plenty of turning-17-by-end-of-December students and a sprinkling of double grade skippers amongst all the wealthy red-shirts. But...some of them aren't ready for dating and the drinking scene, and may lack the independent living skills such as cooking or grabbing a cab or comfort with a mixed gender social group , although they all seem to have had high school internships in science labs or their own business.  That's the total opposite of a typical student, so a commonality needs to found...music performance, gaming, dancing, love of movies, theater, hiking, biking, skating...something.  

Have you considered using the next year after the AA to bump up the academics to go to a more selective college? A gap year with a foreign language exchange for example?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Old info here about Sewanee--It was a popular college for kids from my church (Episcopal, like the school). 

From what I remember, YES, there's a party culture--but it's odd. The kids back then attended class in their academic gowns. Very "British" in a prideful sort of way. There were plenty of kids drinking beer, but scotch was more the go-to. Perhaps that's changed! lol Hope so. 

But the school had an excellent academic rep. And you can find non-partiers all over. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Order of the Gown  is still active-about half the students we met were in their gowns (you get them based on your GPA,and certain privileges are based on whether you qualify or not.) It definitely leads to the Harry Potter feel-it really wouldn’t feel out of place for their to be a unicorn or thestral in the equestrian center!  (The fact that the student practicing on the Carillon was playing the HP theme when we left the dining hall added to that :).

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My family visited the Sewanee campus about four years ago because they were hosting a lacrosse tournament, and our niece was participating in the tournament.  Sewanee is about an hours drive from Huntsville.  A close family friend graduated from there about 40 years ago, and a friend of mine’s daughter attended a couple of summer orchestra camps there as a high schooler.  

Sewanee has changed over the last 40 years.  As was mentioned previously, the campus has a reputation for drugs and partying.  I’d be very reluctant to send a 16-year-old gifted child to that campus.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DH and I were just talking about this.  Not Sewanee, which I don't know much about (I did have a friend that transferred there and loved it, but that's been something like 15 years ago now so I'm not sure it would be any help because it wasn't in the sciences). The talk was about young students going away to college. I did.  I didn't get into much trouble, but several students I knew who were also there early did.  I knew one 15 year old girl whose boyfriend was a grad student. We didn't think anything of it at the time except to keep it a secret from her parents, but with all the #metoo stuff in the news we've gotten into several conversations about exploitation and consent recently. To be clear I'm pretty sure the age of consent in that state at the time was 18, especially for that age split.  In other severe cases hallucinogens seemed to be the trigger to start severe mental health issues in a couple of guys.

Anyway, even though I don't regret going away to school I think if I had a good school in commuting distance I might keep DD living at home until age 18. It would probably depend on the kid and the school and the drive towards one particular field. Is there a decent university in commuting distance with a good herp program and a decent shot at undergraduate research opportunities?  Does Sewanee have a program for younger college students?

Does DD seem to show interest in partying now?  Is she the type of kid you could have a candid conversation about drinking and fitting in and pregaming and drugs and how even vicodin can be laced with fatal doses of fentanyl these days? Is she the type that would have a buddy system with friends, make sure they all go to parties together and leave together, watch each other's drinks and not let one of them go off with a guy unless they were certain the person was sober enough to consent?  I credit a large part of my level-headedness in college with candid conversations my parents had about what degree of partying was okay and what degree to never try (which hard drugs could cause instant addictions, for example). But those were the days before counterfeit Vicodin was killing pop stars and the worst thing most people would do is get dehydrated at a rave or down several shots on the way to a party.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately, no. Biotechnology and Biomedical yes. If she were focused on integrative bio, it wouldn’t be bad, either. And if you want to be an engineer, you have public and private options. If she wanted an LAC without the science focus, we have that, too. But DD picked a psych major at the CC for the simple reason that she got a better response and more flexibility in wanting to focus on animal behavior and behavioral ecology from the psych department than from a bio program focused on cranking out nurses, paramedics, and various types of medical technicians. 

I don’t think that she is likely to get into partying, etc. She doesn’r like crowds or noisy situations, and is a very risk-adverse kid, almost to the point of being TOO risk adverse. And sometimes she can be extremely mature for her age. But, ultimately, she is a teen girl who wants to be accepted and fit in. 

Us moving so she can live at home and commute is on the table,  but at least right now, DD likes the idea of living on campus and having that campus life. The community college has been a decent fit academically, but everyone goes to classes and then leaves. It is rare to have more socialization than maybe eating lunch after class in the cafeteria or studying for a test at Starbucks. And she has adored the summer programs she has spent on campus. 

Sewanee has no programs specifically for younger students. None of the colleges that are on her list to check out do, although one does have a Middle College high school on campus, and some have a history of taking more young students than others. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you speak with admissions about your particular situation and your dd's age? I am interested in how admissions felt about having a younger student on campus. 

All colleges have partying and kids can get in trouble (or not!)  anywhere. The culture at Sewanee is so centered on Greek life I wonder if the admissions office has any insight into life for a younger student there. Maybe they have information that would help you make your decision. I don't remember the alcohol free dorms when my ds was looking there so maybe that is new. 

I understand you are in a difficult spot. I did like so many things about Sewanee so I get why it is appealing. All I can advise is for you to spend alot of time there and alot of time researching so you can make an informed decision (which of course you will).  We are less than an hour away so we know people who go/have gone there and ds attended several events while he was applying and I pay attention when Sewanee makes the local news. The more time ds spent there the less comfortable he was though he never did an overnight.

The campus is absolutely lovely and the academics are good and the alumni network and connections, etc. are all impressive. And obviously many, many students who attend are successful and love their school. I know some of them. would not have forbidden my ds from attending there, so I'm not just down on Sewanee. Its just a make sure your eyes are wide open situation.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing your dd may find is that opportunities to socialize and/or engage with a peer group increase as she gets older. The activities for 16/17 are just so different from 13/14. There are more specialized things, like groups that focus on ecology, robotics, Venturing Crew, lots of different interests. And the kids in these groups tend to be smart and engaged. 16 is also roughly the age when my dds could do adult activities without it being super noticeable, like meetups for foreign languages, volunteer opportunities, and so on. Your dd is really just getting to the age when the good stuff starts!

Being on campus for summer programs is just so different from living on campus as a student, I'd caution her to not go by that. You're interacting with other kids in the summer program, the majority of actual students at any particular college aren't there for the summer, you don't get a feel for campus culture at all, imo. 

I don’t think that she is likely to get into partying, etc. She doesn’r like crowds or noisy situations, and is a very risk-adverse kid, almost to the point of being TOO risk adverse. And sometimes she can be extremely mature for her age. It's like your talking about my kid here! But she's definitely partied, and given us plenty of nerve-wracking moments (and she didn't start early!). We tend to think of crowded, noisy parties, and she's done some of that, but honestly those give me less anxiety than the quiet partying in the dorms ?

I think risk-averse kids tend to "overcorrect" and jump in the deep end sometimes, like they decide to take a risk and don't see the difference between small risks and big ones.  My play-it-safe kids have astonished me quite a few times over the last couple of years, both for good and bad! 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...