Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Innisfree

Sweet Briar College

Recommended Posts

Anyone know much about how Sweet Briar is doing now, several years after they almost closed due to financial problems? I see very limited and mixed information online.

The enrollment numbers seem to be gradually increasing, but it's still very small. I saw on a College Confidential thread that this year's freshman class included over 300 students. The financial picture is murky to me. Their bond rating has improved, but I'm not sure about a long term prognosis.

Dd17 would probably be admitted easily. She has a friend going there, and I think only my general discomfort with the school's stability and future has persuaded her not to apply. But she'd love some things about the school, and I wonder if I'm discouraging her too much.

Would you consider it if a dd was interested?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst has good insight into the school.

 

I met an alumna a year ago who was on student government when it almost closed. The situation was very odd. It had a good endowment and they had not done a capital campaign to raise more before announcing the decision. 

In my opinion small colleges are always worth looking at closely. But I don't think Sweet Briar is more at risk than others. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would not. The near-closing was handled very poorly in my opinion, with little consideration for students or professors, and only averted because of a lawsuit. That was only five years ago. 

The school remains so small that stability would definitely be a concern to me. I personally discouraged my kids from looking at really small schools, partially because it can be harder to fit in and find friends if you don't fit the prevailing culture, and partially because you won't experience the variety of people and experiences that you will at even a school on the low end of mid-sized. Sweet Briar goes beyond small to microscopic, lol. 

They get some good regional/liberal arts rankings from various places, but I don't love their stats. I don't thing every student needs to be at a high stats or competitive college by any means, but their stats are too low for my comfort level. Their ACT range is 18-27; that is a lot of students scoring below basic college readiness. Specifically, 23% score at 12-17 and 25% at 18-23. That's from their 2016-17 common data set, the most recent I could find. 

Also, I have a possibly  unreasonable bias against the name. Like, yes, my dd considered Sweet Briar, but decided on Calico Critters College instead 😂

  • Like 1
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, thanks, katilac. That pretty much encapsulates all the issues I've spent the last few months pointing out to dd.

She herself brought up concerns about the nature of the student body. Yet she keeps kind of wistfully mentioning Sweet Briar anyway, partly because her friend will be going there and partly because friend is calm, stress-free, and already accepted at Sweet Briar, while dd struggles to get her remaining applications finished. Plus horses, of course.

I've been trying to figure out if the friend's mom knows reassuring things about Sweet Briar that I don't know, or what. I haven't come up with a tactful way to ask that question, though.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/1/2020 at 11:26 PM, katilac said:

I would not. The near-closing was handled very poorly in my opinion, with little consideration for students or professors, and only averted because of a lawsuit. That was only five years ago. 

The school remains so small that stability would definitely be a concern to me. I personally discouraged my kids from looking at really small schools, partially because it can be harder to fit in and find friends if you don't fit the prevailing culture, and partially because you won't experience the variety of people and experiences that you will at even a school on the low end of mid-sized. Sweet Briar goes beyond small to microscopic, lol. 

They get some good regional/liberal arts rankings from various places, but I don't love their stats. I don't thing every student needs to be at a high stats or competitive college by any means, but their stats are too low for my comfort level. Their ACT range is 18-27; that is a lot of students scoring below basic college readiness. Specifically, 23% score at 12-17 and 25% at 18-23. That's from their 2016-17 common data set, the most recent I could find. 

Also, I have a possibly  unreasonable bias against the name. Like, yes, my dd considered Sweet Briar, but decided on Calico Critters College instead 😂

Those are issues that should be considered, but don't necessarily relate to the near closure a few years ago.

I would look closely at any small college, especially those that are tuition dependent for annual revenue. I think Sweet Briar isn't immune to closing, but may be in a better place than other similar schools if only because of the attention the brush with closing brought to their budget.

I don't see more recent Common Data Set reports on the website, but they do have this fact sheet.  https://sbc.edu/institutional-effectiveness/fact-sheets/

 

It's worth keeping in mind how many colleges accept the majority of applicants and how wide the range of test scores can be.  Old Dominion University has about 19% in the ACT 12-17 range.

I think the small size of the school means that a few test scores could have a significant effect. 

I'm not arguing that SB is a match for your kid. Just presenting some other things to consider. 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Sebastian (a lady) said:

Those are issues that should be considered, but don't necessarily relate to the near closure a few years ago.

I would look closely at any small college, especially those that are tuition dependent for annual revenue. I think Sweet Briar isn't immune to closing, but may be in a better place than other similar schools if only because of the attention the brush with closing brought to their budget.

I don't see more recent Common Data Set reports on the website, but they do have this fact sheet.  https://sbc.edu/institutional-effectiveness/fact-sheets/

 

It's worth keeping in mind how many colleges accept the majority of applicants and how wide the range of test scores can be.  Old Dominion University has about 19% in the ACT 12-17 range.

I think the small size of the school means that a few test scores could have a significant effect. 

I'm not arguing that SB is a match for your kid. Just presenting some other things to consider. 

 

My biggest concern with the near-closure was that is seemed somewhat shady . . . the plans were certainly abrupt beyond reason, imo, and were stopped by a lawsuit. I would want to look into it more closely, see what has changed with leadership, and find out what measures have been put into place. 

I know that a lot of colleges accept the majority of applicants (including the two my kids attend), but a high admit rate is not the same as a low rate of college readiness. Their admit rates are around 60% and 77%, with ACT 12-17 scores at around 4.5% and 0.5%. 

The ACT overall range of a small school might be affected more by a few test scores, but this is the actual percentage/number of students who score at the various levels. Sweet Briar's overall range of 18-27 is not what would concern me as much as the 23% of students who score 12-17. That's a substantial percentage of students with remedial scores, not even counting those on the lower end of 18-24. Any school with a double-digit percentage of students scoring 12-17 would give me pause. That doesn't mean none of them could provide a good education to my kids, but it would be a hard sell (for me). 

Regarding number of students: Sweet Briar had 79 new students in 2017, 124 in 2018, and I can't find anything official for 2019 so I doubt it was 300 (that would have about doubled the entire student body). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, katilac said:

My biggest concern with the near-closure was that is seemed somewhat shady . . . the plans were certainly abrupt beyond reason, imo, and were stopped by a lawsuit. I would want to look into it more closely, see what has changed with leadership, and find out what measures have been put into place. 

I know that a lot of colleges accept the majority of applicants (including the two my kids attend), but a high admit rate is not the same as a low rate of college readiness. Their admit rates are around 60% and 77%, with ACT 12-17 scores at around 4.5% and 0.5%. 

The ACT overall range of a small school might be affected more by a few test scores, but this is the actual percentage/number of students who score at the various levels. Sweet Briar's overall range of 18-27 is not what would concern me as much as the 23% of students who score 12-17. That's a substantial percentage of students with remedial scores, not even counting those on the lower end of 18-24. Any school with a double-digit percentage of students scoring 12-17 would give me pause. That doesn't mean none of them could provide a good education to my kids, but it would be a hard sell (for me). 

Regarding number of students: Sweet Briar had 79 new students in 2017, 124 in 2018, and I can't find anything official for 2019 so I doubt it was 300 (that would have about doubled the entire student body). 

Based on my conversations with people who have kids at SB and also with am alumna who was there when it almost closed, there may well have been some self-serving decisions happening.  The alumna was describing members of the administration who were not following normal practices (such as meeting notifications to students on governing bodies). My understanding is that those members of administration left a couple years ago, as the fight to keep the school opened occurred. 

In a different venue I was reading a duscussion of the Common Data Set that pointed out that there is an 18 - 24 month delay from admitting student to releasing the CDS. So the 2017 set reflects data on students who would have enrolled during the turmoil around the threatened closure.  

You may have a good point about test scores indicating a school not being a good match for a particular student. That's worth considering. 

The national average ACT is 20.8 and the college ready benchmark score is 18. A student with lower scores might feel they are better supported at a school like Sweet Briar that somewhere like a community college. (Mary Baldwin had a similar average score to Sweet Briar.)

I found it interesting that I actually couldn't compare with a few other similar schools that came to mind, because those schools are now test optional and no longer report score ranges at all.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Sebastian (a lady) said:

 I found it interesting that I actually couldn't compare with a few other similar schools that came to mind, because those schools are now test optional and no longer report score ranges at all.

I hadn't heard of that! It makes sense, I guess. If you are already a very small school, and a substantial number of students aren't reporting test scores, the remaining number might be too few to give a meaningful range. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, katilac said:

I hadn't heard of that! It makes sense, I guess. If you are already a very small school, and a substantial number of students aren't reporting test scores, the remaining number might be too few to give a meaningful range. 

It's not just small schools. I think any school that is test option can choose not to report cohort scores.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know a family with a student there. I think it's probably right for a certain sort of student. It seems like it's a very supportive sort of place. They dropped the tuition, which is good. They are test optional for homeschoolers, which is nice.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And it also works the other way-the Agnes Scott Rep told DD that in general, their test score range is inflated a bit because they are test optional, so they tend to get scores from the kids with good ones (and homeschoolers), and do not have to report those who do not submit them. They have an idea in-house of where the average lies because a decent number of high schools have unofficial scores on their transcripts, and, honestly, they haven’t seen any significant outcome differences between the kids who report scores and those who are accepted holistically without them, but had unofficial scores in their record somewhere that are on the low side. 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn’t familiar with this school so I checked out their website just now.  How does a school that size have an ABET accredited engineering program?  That really surprised me.  Maybe in that atmosphere I could convince my daughter to consider engineering.  In general, it is so hard to tell the financial stability of smaller schools.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't send my dd to a school that small bc of her major (she needs a decent sized orchestra), but I have to say SB is gorgeous! Like that means anything. 

Has your daughter looked at Bridgewater in VA? They also have horses...😊

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, I'll mention Bridgewater, though we're pretty much down to the wire for admissions. I will be so glad when this process is done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have talked to Sweet Briar a couple of times over the last 4 years. The Alumnae have strongly involved in the school. It wasn’t the right school for my DDs but if your DD has a interest in it, it can work financially, and she has the drive to apply I would let her do it. I would even go so far as suggesting that she contact them regarding the possibility of a late application. As May 1 approached, more information becomes apparent and my DDs began to make meaningful decisions. I am sure that your DD will also. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/10/2020 at 1:52 PM, Chris in VA said:

I wouldn't send my dd to a school that small bc of her major (she needs a decent sized orchestra), but I have to say SB is gorgeous! Like that means anything. 

Has your daughter looked at Bridgewater in VA? They also have horses...😊

I attended Sweet Briar for my freshman year of college.  It is an absolutely gorgeous campus!!  I have fond memories of my time there.

I am planning to take my DD (junior in high school) for a visit.  I think it would be a good fit for her, but I think that it is likely too far away for our home for her to consider.  

  • Like 2

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

×
×
  • Create New...