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Down to the wire: who else is still deciding?

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This part is less agonizing than the waiting for decisions to come in part, but it's still tough! 

I think we're down to Macalester, Oberlin, and Hamilton (with the possibility that he'll decide at the last minute to stay close to home and go for UGA). 

Vassar is out because it would be something like at least 10,000/yr more than any of the others, and they're not willing to budge on financial aid. We just visited St. Olaf a few days ago; they were the next most expensive net price, so they would have had to really wow him to stay on the list. He liked it fine, but nothing stood out enough to keep it on the list (I'm glad we saw it, though, for my 9th grader who's interested in music). 

We visited Macalester and Oberlin over the past week, too. We're all big Macalester fans now. The location is great--in a city, in a nice neighborhood, AND easy access to cheap flights home. It seemed like a lot of smart kids who don't take themselves too seriously. I really appreciate how they say they're committed to internationalism and diversity, and they seem to mean it. Significantly higher percentage domestic students of color and international students than either Hamilton or Oberlin, and that's quite an accomplishment for a school in Minnesota--not exactly a state known for diversity. From what we've been told, the math department is strong and growing rapidly with lots of new hires over the past few years. He wasn't crazy about the food, but I don't think any of the schools left on the list (except UGA) are known for great food. Same thing with the weather--it's a drawback, but Hamilton wouldn't be much better (less cold but more snow), and Oberlin would only be marginally better. I can really see him at Macalester, and I can't think of any serious red flags....I do think he was hoping to feel more of a real immediate connection and didn't. But I don't know that that's a realistic thing to hope for in a one day visit.

Oberlin is an interesting one. We were there for admitted student days; he went to two classes, chatted with several math professors, listened to a welcome talk from the president. We dropped him off for his overnight visit Friday night, and I had the impression that he was feeling very pro-Oberlin. I spied on him by checking his phone's location at midnight and he was still out somewhere, not in the dorm. The next morning I texted and my very introverted, historically somewhat anti-social kid told me to take my time getting there to pick him up. I thought that was going to be it; he was going to tell us he was set on Oberlin. But it turned out that he'd actually spent all his time the night before with two other prospective students while his host stayed in his room (to be fair, he had a broken leg and probably wasn't up for wandering campus for hours) and that a big topic of discussion had been their hesitations about Oberlin (interestingly, both of them also have Macalester on their short lists, and one also has Hamilton). So what I gather is that he DOES really love a lot about Oberlin, but that might not be enough to overcome his concerns. My husband graduated from Oberlin, and I lived there for a year, and I think his concerns are valid and the same criticisms I had of the school, coming there after having just graduated from a big public U in the 90s. I don't have a good sense of how different things would really be at either of the other small LACs he's looking at, though. Oberlin gets the press because it has the reputation already. There's also a ton to like about Oberlin; a bigger student body and the conservatory mean there's always something going on on campus. He really enjoyed the math class he sat in on on and liked the profs he spoke with. It's the closest to home and the best financial aid package. 

He flies up to see Hamilton in a week and a half. He's flying by himself, but his grandfather is going to meet him at the airport and go with him on the visit. Hamilton doesn't offer overnights except to students traveling alone, but he's going to e-mail and see if they'll make an exception. But he'll at least get to sit in on a class or two and talk to a math professor (his grandfather knows one there and can make an introduction; he did that at Oberlin, too, and it was very helpful). We saw Hamilton last summer, but without many students around. I'm very interested to see what he thinks of it after a revisit. If there's one school out of all our visits that it seems like he did feel an immediate connection with, it was Hamilton. But an empty campus full of gorgeous buildings is very different from one with all the actual people he'd be living with for four years. 

I really think he has three great choices and that he could be happy at any of them. But, of course, it feels huge and overwhelming to him. It's funny--Hamilton is the only school out of his original top 4 favorites that he got into, but it's definitely not a shoo in now.  I just want to know where he's going to be next year already! But I'm not going to find that out for at least a couple more weeks it looks like.

Okay that got long--who else has a kid still trying to decide? Are we the only ones? I need commiseration! 

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My child is still deciding between University of Hartford and University of Southern Maine. She'll be a music composition student. She feels bonds with the professors from both schools, and that seems to be the major factor for her. The costs are pretty close for us. I think she will mourn for the one she turns down!

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16 minutes ago, Pronghorn said:

My child is still deciding between University of Hartford and University of Southern Maine. She'll be a music composition student. She feels bonds with the professors from both schools, and that seems to be the major factor for her. The costs are pretty close for us. I think she will mourn for the one she turns down!

 

I think that's a lot of it for my DS, too. He likes to frame it in negative terms, because he's a bit of an Eeyore, but really I think he has genuine affection for every school and will be sad about what might have been for the ones he doesn't go to!

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Happy to commiserate with you! For DS, the decision is to go or not go (he has an Associate's & has been deciding between possible majors, trades, and working.) DS was going to give a final decision by this Wednesday about whether to go in the fall, but we've been watching the housing situation & there are only a few singles left, so today has become decision day...I'm waiting on pins and needles, LOL!

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Dd still has to decide. Over the last couple weeks she has slowly and relatively effortlessly whittled it down from 8 to 5 to 2 (Smith and Grinnell) though at this point she hasn’t officially eliminated any. She will be visiting Smith for Accepted Students Days this week. We all hope that she will have a clear idea as which way she wants to go once the exhaustion clears from her trip.

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Still deciding too.  Sigh.  Plus he's on a short music waitlist.  Honestly, I'm hoping we don't hear from that school at this point.  LOL.  

I have a favorite we're visiting again next week.  He has 2 that are substantially cheaper than all the others so that has made it simpler in my parental head anyway.  

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Definitely still deciding and going to every accepted students day we can go to 🙂 We spent last weekend at 3 different schools in 3 states and will be spending Thursday, Saturday-Monday at another 4 with more to follow.  The considerations are definitely heavily influenced by finances.  BC still hasn't sent her the financial package but she went up this weekend and loved the school. Others have great financial packages but have some serious concerns associated with them. I'm utterly and completely exhausted from the visits but have been learning so much. I can't tell you how many Deans/Department Heads have not been receptive to basic questions that are outside the box. It's been really disheartening to see. I think we have 6 schools left to visit and some of those would require negotiating more aid if she were to want to attend.  What we've learned in person is invaluable but I look forward to having a decision 🙂

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, cuckoomamma said:

Definitely still deciding and going to every accepted students day we can go to 🙂 We spent last weekend at 3 different schools in 3 states and will be spending Thursday, Saturday-Monday at another 4 with more to follow.  The considerations are definitely heavily influenced by finances.  BC still hasn't sent her the financial package but she went up this weekend and loved the school. Others have great financial packages but have some serious concerns associated with them. I'm utterly and completely exhausted from the visits but have been learning so much. I can't tell you how many Deans/Department Heads have not been receptive to basic questions that are outside the box. It's been really disheartening to see. I think we have 6 schools left to visit and some of those would require negotiating more aid if she were to want to attend.  What we've learned in person is invaluable but I look forward to having a decision 🙂

 

 

 

Cuckoomama, that is one intense schedule of visits. My DD pared down her list because she couldn’t bear to visit more than one more school. Luckily she had seen most of them once and going back for a more extended overnight visit with students on campus. 

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21 hours ago, MerryAtHope said:

Happy to commiserate with you! For DS, the decision is to go or not go (he has an Associate's & has been deciding between possible majors, trades, and working.) DS was going to give a final decision by this Wednesday about whether to go in the fall, but we've been watching the housing situation & there are only a few singles left, so today has become decision day...I'm waiting on pins and needles, LOL!

Ugh--like you need the extra pressure of limited housing while you're trying to make a decision! 

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5 hours ago, cuckoomamma said:

Definitely still deciding and going to every accepted students day we can go to 🙂 We spent last weekend at 3 different schools in 3 states and will be spending Thursday, Saturday-Monday at another 4 with more to follow.  The considerations are definitely heavily influenced by finances.  BC still hasn't sent her the financial package but she went up this weekend and loved the school. Others have great financial packages but have some serious concerns associated with them. I'm utterly and completely exhausted from the visits but have been learning so much. I can't tell you how many Deans/Department Heads have not been receptive to basic questions that are outside the box. It's been really disheartening to see. I think we have 6 schools left to visit and some of those would require negotiating more aid if she were to want to attend.  What we've learned in person is invaluable but I look forward to having a decision 🙂

 

 

Maybe you don’t want to say, but I’m wondering what types of questions you mean here?

Edited by Mom0012

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Good luck to all of you! I thought we would be doing a few visits ourselves, but after seeing NYU again last Friday my DD's mind was completely made up! I'm kind of sorry we aren't going to see any of the other schools again, but she's not - she absolutely hates these events! She even has her list of dorms sorted out. It feels so good to be on the other side of the decisions and I hope you all get there soon :)!

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My ds decided to go for it (and was able to get the housing he was interested in too!) For the curious who have followed his LONG process of trying to decide on some kind of major (I think I've been posting various and odd questions about how to help him since 2014 or 2015!), he landed on film editing/media studies! 

Hoping others can decide soon too! 

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On 4/9/2019 at 4:45 PM, Mom0012 said:

Maybe you don’t want to say, but I’m wondering what types of questions you mean here?

We've asked about undergrad research opportunity, accelerating graduation because of many AP credits and dd would like to certify in both elementary and secondary ed, if possible (maybe using those AP credits to do so).  We've run across a real mid tier school where this is standard and yet many, both more and less selective schools, act as if we are suggesting something absolutely impossible and get defensive, acting quite condescending.

Had one selective school tell us that of course dd could eventually do research but when the professor described what that would look like, she said that dd might be able to join a journal club that read articles that have been published and "just see what types of things have been published". Sophomore year she could begin to look at what types of research practices are important to consider when researching....not exactly our timeline or depth of interest. When she asked another school what types of opportunities were available for undergrad research in the Ed Department they told us that the professors were "all scholars and researchers" and not to worry that they would help her figure something out. Yet another school told her to not get ahead of herself and just start taking classes and they could come up with an opportunity to "go to Finland and study their education system" with her???????? or whatever else she was interested in. The two schools open to research who were excited to speak with dd about research opportunities that their undergrads take part in look like they'll be out of reach financially. We're going to ask if they'll consider matching her other financial packages, but the things I read online about negotiating more aid with these two schools aren't encouraging.

We just spoke with the faculty of one selective school on Thursday, and they were not receptive to a double major (not double certification), which I thought was pretty standard. The President said that she couldn't imagine why anyone would double major (????). The professor that we spoke with at that same school discouraged dd saying it was "a real mixed bag".  We suspect it may be partly because students are getting closed out of classes that they need, but that's really just a guess on our part since students on the panel discussed that as a drawback of the school. 

Three more schools - tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday and then one next Monday. My feeling from speaking with parents on these tours and that we know is that most families don't speak with the faculty of the Department their students will be majoring in. It's been illuminating and disappointing.

Not really what you asked, but almost every school also claims to do X, Y or Z that is unique to them and yet...it's not. Each school we've been to says that their students have the opportunity to be placed into a classroom early on unlike other schools. Literally every single one.  And every one says that in most other schools Ed Majors can't study abroad, but that their Ed Majors can. We haven't found one that says they can't. 

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9 hours ago, cuckoomamma said:

We've asked about undergrad research opportunity, accelerating graduation because of many AP credits and dd would like to certify in both elementary and secondary ed, if possible (maybe using those AP credits to do so).  We've run across a real mid tier school where this is standard and yet many, both more and less selective schools, act as if we are suggesting something absolutely impossible and get defensive, acting quite condescending....

Had one selective school tell us that of course dd could eventually do research but when the professor described what that would look like, she said that dd might be able to join a journal club that read articles that have been published and "just see what types of things have been published". Sophomore year she could begin to look at what types of research practices are important to consider when researching....not exactly our timeline or depth of interest. ...

My feeling from speaking with parents on these tours and that we know is that most families don't speak with the faculty of the Department their students will be majoring in. It's been illuminating and disappointing.

That has been our experience as well.  I don't understand it myself.  General college tours are not very informative.  It would be like driving by a car lot and making a decision about what car to buy by glancing as you drive by.  The dept is where they will be spending the majority of their time, where they will receive their mentoring toward future goals, where they will be turning to for help, etc.

FWIW, if the dept is condescending, run the other way!!

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

That has been our experience as well.  I don't understand it myself.  General college tours are not very informative.  It would be like driving by a car lot and making a decision about what car to buy by glancing as you drive by.  The dept is where they will be spending the majority of their time, where they will receive their mentoring toward future goals, where they will be turning to for help, etc.

FWIW, if the dept is condescending, run the other way!!

 

But how does one go about doing this. Some universities have such a high number of applicants, I wonder how they could possibly accommodate every kid wanting to speak with a faculty.  What would be the proper way to gain access to the department?  Is this arranged through admissions office? or do you go directly to the department head? 

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27 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

 

But how does one go about doing this. Some universities have such a high number of applicants, I wonder how they could possibly accommodate every kid wanting to speak with a faculty.  What would be the proper way to gain access to the department?  Is this arranged through admissions office? or do you go directly to the department head? 

If they don't have time to talk to perspective students, the dept is not worthy of your $$ or time.  They are a business and you are paying them if your student attends.  Meeting with your is NOT doing you a favor.  Always remember that you are a paying customer.  

My kids email the dept head/dean.  Either the dean meets with them and invites a prof or UG adviser to the meeting or the dean forwards their email to the person he thinks is most appropriate for discussing their questions/needs.  My kids have typically received receptive responses and the meetings have normally been great.  In the few instances that they have not, those schools have been completely eliminated as options. 

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One of the best interactions we got on our college tour was from the Math department at the University of Michigan. U of M is huge but we had an hour and a half with the head of the department, 30 minutes with another professor, and then the department head had one of his students take us out to coffee on the department's dime to answer questions from a student's point of view. 

DS simply e-mailed the department, told them when he would be visiting, and asked who was available to chat. With this approach we were able to talk to professors at all universities except Harvard (who told us to piss off), and we also met with a number of the academic advisors for the math departments. Most schools also organized for us to meet with one of their math students.  We visited universities in July, so were warned that no one would be around, but the departments made it happen. 

Edited by lewelma
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All the universities we visited had a way to request meeting with the prospective major department as part of their standard tour options. Some of the schools also had an easy way to request to sit in on a class. One routinely had a student in the program my DD would be going into meet with the prospective student  (but we didn't do that on our visit).

Had the standard Admissions route not worked, DD would have emailed the department dean, but that wasn't necessary.

As this DD is our oldest kid, sometimes we weren't sure what to ask (other than things I've read on here). By the last discussion, DD was just starting to hit her groove.

We all noticed how the college spiels sound the same:  caring professors, small classes, a club for everything, "great opportunities", etc. Where they differ are specifics- can they name specific examples of what graduates of that program are doing now? Who do they work for? What grad schools are they going to? Can they name a student by name with the research they are doing?

All the people I heard speak to my DD talked about the importance of combining her major with another major or useful minor. One listed a couple examples from her current students. Another one couldn't think of where any of their past students had gotten into grad school. But the standard mentions are all the same, it seems, even though they say they are unique!

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DD had a good trip to Smith. On her layover, she received a text from the college that many of the classes Thursday afternoon would be cancelled due to protests. When the shuttle dropped her off, she was thrilled to be dropped out right by the protesters marching against the current chief of police. She really liked the social justice vibe of the school. There were social justice messages marked in chalk on sidewalks all over the campus.

Her host ditched her after dinner (what is it with hosts, she has been ditched or passed on every over night visit that she has had) but DD hung out with a couple of students and their prospies in the dorm which suited DD much better. She hooked up those prospies the following day. They attended a couple of classes and a couple of presentations. I was quite proud that DD knew what she needed to experience to make her decision and deviated from the set agenda to get her answers.

She got a better feel for campus. Our last visit was a rushed morning tour which focused only on the quad. She was pleased to find that gf-dining hall full and felt that there was a community and not isolating. She also tried the non-dedicated dining halls with success. In addition, she learned that the concentration that she is interested, though delayed entry and competitive, is not popular and typically has openings left not filled and there is assistance to develop one's application.

I am still hopeful that she will decide later this week though it may take a little encouraging on her parents' part.

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Glad she had a good visit @Arch at Home! Overnight hosts are so hit or miss--it's frustrating, because I really do think when they're good they're the best way to get a feel for what going to school there would be like. 

Hamilton won't give DS an overnight while he's there 😞 . He does have two classes picked out to sit in on, the regular campus tour plus the "first year favorites" tour that shows them some different stuff, a meeting with a math professor, tickets to Hamilton's production of West Side Story, and an invitation to "Prime Friday" where the math department gets together at the campus pub whenever Friday falls on a date that's a prime number 🙂 . So he might be too exhausted for an overnight anyway. I'm jealous that his grandfather is going with him instead of me (although he's a much better pick for hanging out with the math department than I would be!)....they're also going to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think Hamilton might be getting an unfair advantage with all this fun stuff booked.

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8 hours ago, kokotg said:

Glad she had a good visit @Arch at Home! Overnight hosts are so hit or miss--it's frustrating, because I really do think when they're good they're the best way to get a feel for what going to school there would be like. 

Hamilton won't give DS an overnight while he's there 😞 . He does have two classes picked out to sit in on, the regular campus tour plus the "first year favorites" tour that shows them some different stuff, a meeting with a math professor, tickets to Hamilton's production of West Side Story, and an invitation to "Prime Friday" where the math department gets together at the campus pub whenever Friday falls on a date that's a prime number 🙂 . So he might be too exhausted for an overnight anyway. I'm jealous that his grandfather is going with him instead of me (although he's a much better pick for hanging out with the math department than I would be!)....they're also going to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think Hamilton might be getting an unfair advantage with all this fun stuff booked.

That does sound like a good visit. I wish him luck.

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On 4/14/2019 at 1:11 PM, 8FillTheHeart said:

If they don't have time to talk to perspective students, the dept is not worthy of your $$ or time.  They are a business and you are paying them if your student attends.  Meeting with your is NOT doing you a favor.  Always remember that you are a paying customer.  

My kids email the dept head/dean.  Either the dean meets with them and invites a prof or UG adviser to the meeting or the dean forwards their email to the person he thinks is most appropriate for discussing their questions/needs.  My kids have typically received receptive responses and the meetings have normally been great.  In the few instances that they have not, those schools have been completely eliminated as options. 

A school came off ds's list for this very reason. The faculty member he would be studying under for four years (the head of his area of concentration) couldn't be bothered to respond to ds's emails asking if they could meet on two different occasions when ds was visiting. He didn't offer to answer ds's questions via email or phone. He just didn't respond at all. The dept found someone else to answer ds's questions, but the whole situation left bad impression and was just a big red flag. Sadly, it was one of our more affordable options.

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On 4/7/2019 at 10:08 PM, kokotg said:

This part is less agonizing than the waiting for decisions to come in part, but it's still tough! 

Okay that got long--who else has a kid still trying to decide? Are we the only ones? I need commiseration! 

My ds finally decided last Friday. It really wasn't his fault. We were waiting to hear about a final scholarship opportunity. And yes, it was a long, tough spring! I feel your pain. 

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On 4/14/2019 at 9:40 AM, Roadrunner said:

 

But how does one go about doing this. Some universities have such a high number of applicants, I wonder how they could possibly accommodate every kid wanting to speak with a faculty.  What would be the proper way to gain access to the department?  Is this arranged through admissions office? or do you go directly to the department head? 

 

Roadrunner, as others have said, I have had my short person just email the math department. We just got back (Saturday night) from a visit to a large state university. We spent one day on the generic, cattle-call tours, which were fine. The next day was dedicated to math: In response to her email, they arranged for her to attend an upper division math class, meet with the freshman advising team, sit down with the department head, and talk to the department's honors college liaison. Day 2 was NOTHING like Day 1 and very much worth the time invested.

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21 minutes ago, JoJosMom said:

 

Roadrunner, as others have said, I have had my short person just email the math department. We just got back (Saturday night) from a visit to a large state university. We spent one day on the generic, cattle-call tours, which were fine. The next day was dedicated to math: In response to her email, they arranged for her to attend an upper division math class, meet with the freshman advising team, sit down with the department head, and talk to the department's honors college liaison. Day 2 was NOTHING like Day 1 and very much worth the time invested.

Exactly.  No comparison.

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Agreeing that meeting with someone (or multiple someones) in a specific department is enormously helpful. I really regret that we didn't set up something like this at Macalester like we have at all the other top contenders. He does have an e-mail in to a math prof there, at least, to try to get a feel for the department. Of course, a lot of kids have no idea which departments they're interested in before they start college.

Hamilton visit sounds like it went well. Although I think it sold my father-in-law on Hamilton more than DS 😂. FIL spent his whole career teaching at universities; he was super impressed by the close connections between profs and students at Hamilton. But I suspect DS would find something similar at most small LACs. So he liked Hamilton, but wasn't wowed enough to immediately decide it's The One, which I think is what he was hoping would happen. He texted me at one point, "everyone here is from Massachusetts and plays a sport." And the math prof he talked to said that most of the math graduates go into finance. These are all things he sort of suspected would be true of Hamilton and reasons why it might not be the best fit for him. I mean, he doesn't have anything against people from Massachusetts (he was actually born in Boston!) but either Macalester or Oberlin would be a lot less regional than Hamilton, and I think he'd like that. He's visiting the math department at UGA later this week to go completely in the opposite direction...and then he's going to have to pick a name out of a hat if he still can't decide, because time will be just about up! 

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5 hours ago, kokotg said:

Agreeing that meeting with someone (or multiple someones) in a specific department is enormously helpful. I really regret that we didn't set up something like this at Macalester like we have at all the other top contenders. He does have an e-mail in to a math prof there, at least, to try to get a feel for the department. Of course, a lot of kids have no idea which departments they're interested in before they start college.

That is my kids. In their case, we found attending classes, perhaps chatting with the professor teaching; eating in the cafeteria; and overnights beneficial to get the overall feel of the campus. A departmental visit would have been worthless for DDs.

5 hours ago, kokotg said:

Hamilton visit sounds like it went well. Although I think it sold my father-in-law on Hamilton more than DS 😂. FIL spent his whole career teaching at universities; he was super impressed by the close connections between profs and students at Hamilton. But I suspect DS would find something similar at most small LACs. So he liked Hamilton, but wasn't wowed enough to immediately decide it's The One, which I think is what he was hoping would happen. He texted me at one point, "everyone here is from Massachusetts and plays a sport." And the math prof he talked to said that most of the math graduates go into finance. These are all things he sort of suspected would be true of Hamilton and reasons why it might not be the best fit for him. I mean, he doesn't have anything against people from Massachusetts (he was actually born in Boston!) but either Macalester or Oberlin would be a lot less regional than Hamilton, and I think he'd like that. He's visiting the math department at UGA later this week to go completely in the opposite direction...and then he's going to have to pick a name out of a hat if he still can't decide, because time will be just about up! 

I hope that something will feel right.

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