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Colleges That Change Lives, by Loren Pope (reread)

Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools You Should Know about Even If You're Not a Straight-A Student
by Loren Pope
304 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Nonfiction/Education/College

My second read of this seminal college admissions text. I'm still annoyed by the uniformly positive reviews, but don't let that be a significant detractor. Pope is also a strident advocate for liberal arts colleges (LACs), perhaps the equivalent of Richard Dawkins in the (non-)religious world.

Since I've already talked about my thoughts, this time I'll written up a short description of all 40 schools covered and included information gleaned from my own research.

NORTHEAST

1. Allegheny College (PA)
Preppy reputation. Located in western Pennsylvania with lots of snow. Stronger in the sciences than the humanities. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

2. Clark University (MA)
Small research university with LAC atmosphere. Strong in psychology and geography. An interesting alternative General Education track called International Studies Stream. Certain majors allow a tuition-free fifth year to earn a master's as well as a bachelor's.

3. Goucher College (MD)
Artsy but quiet (not "passionate") community. Strong in creative writing. Located just outside Baltimore. A former women's college with still unbalanced gender ratio, so males are especially sought. Study abroad is required--many courses offer short experiences--and all students receive a $1200 travel voucher.

4. Hampshire College (MA)
"Alternative" reputation. Three-tier divisional curriculum with independent study emphasis. Five-College Consortium with Amherst College (elite, top-2 in the country), Smith College (all-female), Mount Holyoke College (all-female), and and University of Massachusetts - Amherst (public flagship).

5. Juniata College (PA)
Located in rural central/western Pennsylvania. Regional reputation. Strong in pre-med. "POEs" (programs of emphasis) instead of majors.

6. Marlboro College (VT)
General Education is called the Plan of Concentration, focus on independent study and writing. "Alternative" reputation. Tiny, unique school on a mountaintop. Sounds rather Transcendentalist, to me. Talk to fairfeather!

7. Ursinus College (PA)
Preppy reputation. Maintains a core curriculum.

8. Western Maryland College (MD) [now McDaniel College]
Sporty reputation. Has Greeks, with residence-hall cluster housing, but students may only rush as sophomores.

SOUTH

9. Agnes Scott College (GA)
All-female. Located in Atlanta, which mitigates a common social life complaint. The student body is one-fourth African-American by current statistics (though Asians and Latin@s are not nearly so well-represented). A strong Honor System with unproctored exams. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.

10. Birmingham-Southern College (AL)
A politically diverse, conventional (not quirky) student body. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

11. Centre College (KY)
Has risen surprisingly high in USNWR rankings despite accepting more than half of the applicants. Not extremely intellectual or political, as befits the name; rather, the students tend to "do what is expected." Also a high percentage of Greeks. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.

12. Eckerd College (FL)
Young, having opened only in 1960, but on the rise. A fancy marine science lab by the water. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, including required "value-oriented" courses in Western Heritage and Judeo-Christian tradition.

13. Emory and Henry College (VA)
An old-South, conservative type of place, but very nurturing. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

14. Guilford College (NC)
Weirdly strong in oil geology, at least according to Pope. Affiliated with the Society of Friends (Quakers), sharing that unique ethos with Earlham (IN).

15. Hendrix College (AR)
Quirky liberal reputation, although this is relative to its surroundings--often described as a blue dot in a red state (e.g. no Greek organizations). No Greek organizations, which is decidedly unusual in the South. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

16. Lynchburg College (VA)
Preppy reputation. Affiliated with the Disciples of Christ.

17. Millsaps College (MS)
For the middle-of-the-road conservative. Retains a strong interdisciplinary core curriculum. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

18. Rhodes College (TN)
Preppy/Greek-dominant/"Southern belle" reputation, but this is changing. Pope says "slightly more than half" of the students go Greek, but I believe this number has been declining. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.

19. St. Andrew's Presbyterian College (NC)
Takes special care to avoid ableism, with every building handicap-accessible and even special living facilities for those who need them. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (duh).

MIDWEST

20. Antioch College (OH) [now closed]
Formerly an experimental/alternative school with alternating work terms and written evaluations instead of grades. High Ph.D. production.

21. Beloit College (WI)
Liberal, quirky reputation. Strong in creative writing and anthropology.

22. Cornell College (IA)
One-course-at-a-time curriculum, similar to Colorado College in this respect (also somewhat Hiram College with its hybrid Hiram Plan). It was, in fact, founded before the well-known Cornell University (NY). Affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

23. Denison University (OH)
Preppy reputation, although Greeks have been deemphasized heavily by the administration in recent years.

24. Earlham College (IN)
Quirky, much like Beloit. Strong in Japanese, with annual exchange students. High Ph.D. production. Affiliated with the Society of Friends (Quakers).

25. Hiram College (OH)
Hiram Plan with each semester consisting of 3 12-week courses and a single 3-week course. Hiram, Ohio, is isolated and rural, however. Affiliated with the Disciples of Christ.

26. Hope College (MI)
Strong in science, particularly chemistry. Affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, and retains a religious flavor.

27. Kalamazoo College (MI)
Quarter system; K-Plan encourages study abroad and internships. High Ph.D. production.

28. Knox College (IL)
Trimester system. Strong in creative writing. Location of a famous Lincoln-Douglas debate. (Heads-up, buymeaclue!)

29. Lawrence University (WI)
A pleasantly "mainstream" vibe. Trimester system. Includes a strong music conservatory, similar to Oberlin College (although the similarities end here, other than both being LACs).

30. Ohio Wesleyan University (OH)
Preppy reputation but looking to diversify. (ETA: With emphasis on "diversify," as I am corrected by malinarose, who cites personal experience in actually attending.) Affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

31. St. Olaf College (MN)
World-renowned choir and strong music program in general. "Clean and wholesome," enrolling an admittedly homogeneous student body of whitw Scandinavian Lutherans. Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church; it retains a religious curricular requirement but is otherwise known to welcome other faiths. Strong core curriculum with theology requirement. (Sideways heads-up, mrissa!)

32. Wabash College (IN)
All-male. Fraternities are, unsurprisingly, popular; the college itself acts like one huge fraternity in the "band of brothers" sense. Strong (academic) religion department.

33. Wheaton College (IL)
Considered among the most academically rigorous Protestant Christian schools (all students and faculty required to sign a pledge of faith), though with a nondenominational affiliation.

34. College of Wooster (OH)
Rigorous independent-study focus, leading to a capstone thesis. High Ph.D. production.

SOUTHWEST

35. Austin College (TX)
Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.

36. St. John's College (NM/MD)
Everyone majors in Liberal Arts with a set Great Books curriculum. Two identical campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

37. Southwestern University (TX)
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Sorry, I don't know much about the Texas LACs and Pope's descriptions are long but unexceptional.

NORTHWEST

38. The Evergreen State College (WA)
Evironmentalist/alternative reputation (as the name may suggest). Narrative evaluations in place of letter grades. Public liberal arts college.

39. Reed College (OR)
Presently the most selective school in this book, although perhaps 20 years ago it was barely selective at all. Known, along with Swarthmore College, for being one of the hardest schools in the nation. Every senior writes a thesis and takes comprehensive exams in the major. Grades are recorded but not presented to the student unless he/she inquires with the registrar directly. Attrition could be better--the 6-year graduation rate is, er, not that high--but I know people who loved the experience. (Heads-up, vom_marlowe!)

40. Whitman College (WA)
Outdoorsy, located in the cute but rural town of Walla Walla, Washington. I hear the wine industry is blooming around there.

Comments

Dude, I went to Ohio Wesleyan. It's not really that preppy at all, in fact I was very happy with the diversity level. It was one of the things I really liked about the school, the detractor is it gets cliquey--international students hang out with international students, greek types, arty types, they all go together, not much mixing--but I'm sure you have that everywhere. Anyway, I hated it my freshman year, but OWU really grew on me. I recommend it. It's great for sciences like pre-vet and chem, the history dept is really strong, and it has amazing art facilities. All around good academics in the almost-middle of nowhere Ohio, so if you can deal with that...
Interesting! I certainly stand corrected. That is, though, the reputation. You said you "went" there--have you graduated college already? Or did you transfer?
Yup, I am a college graduate. I was done in May then I stuck around Pittsburgh during the summer and now I'm NYC. Ohio Wesleyan was great for me, if you ever want to talk more about the school just let me know.

(Anonymous)

Alternative Reputation

What do you mean when you say Alternative Reputation? Do you mean liberal ideas in terms of politics, environment, War etc? Or are you talking about "alternative Lifestyles?

Re: Alternative Reputation

Alternative = ultraliberal, hippie, et al. Many, though not all, people might have unusual piercings, tattoos, tastes in clothing, and strong fringe political views. This includes "alternative lifestyles" like higher recreational drug use.

In the future, please sign anonymous comments.
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