College Admissions: 10 Western Colleges Worth a Summer Road Trip
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Claremont Consortium
This is a unique school with about 2,000 undergrads set in the bustling town of Colorado Springs. Students take courses on the “block plan”, which means that they study one subject at a time for 3 and 1/2 weeks. The average class size is 13, and the school caps all classes at 25 students. Students here love the outdoors and can often be found hiking or skiing during their time off. One-third graduate with a major in natural sciences, although the college is home to fine language, literature and history programs. CC is test-flexible, but you will need a strong GPA to be among the 34% admitted.
If you are looking for a top liberal arts college in LA, look no further. Occidental has a big city location with about 2,000 students, and easy access to the ocean and the mountains. Undergrads often take advantage of off-campus jobs and internships in the metropolitan area. And the warm climate extends beyond the classroom with an abundance of activities to enjoy-- from a popular Glee Club to sports, politics and yoga. With an acceptance rate around 44%, slackers looking for an easy 4 years in LA need not apply.
Highly intellectual and quirky, Reed is different than many colleges. Students are very focused on academics and sports are not a popular pastime here. The mood on campus is liberal and most students are driving toward the goal of graduate school. However, weekend parties abound and they are famous for their annual Renaissance Fayre which lasts for 3 days. Set in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon, Reed is a great place for serious academics to enjoy 4 years. They only accept about 43% of students though, so study diligently if Reed is on your radar.
Houston is home to big oil money, cowboys and the elite Rice University. You will study hard at Rice, but as you might guess, Texans also party hard. Rice is renowned for its “Annual Night of Decadence” party. The university has an amazing “residential college” system of dorms which students love, and there is no shortage of on-campus activities. Although famous for their sciences, Rice is strong in most areas of study. With 3,500 students, only 21% of applicants are offered admission.
Walla Walla, Washington may be famous for its onions, but it is also home to Whitman College and 1500 undergraduates. Often described as the “perfect college town”, students adore Walla Walla. Surrounded by the beauty of Washington state, Whitties enjoy great academics, popular intramurals and a friendly campus. Although it is often compared to its counterpart, Reed in Oregon, Whitman is less intense academically and more “sportsy”. Only 47% of students are accepted, and Whitman fills about 20-25% of its entering class during early admission each year.
While all of these colleges are highly competitive, students should consider that many colleges strive for geographic diversity. And while a student from Massachusetts may get stack ranked against dozens of their classmates at a nearby college in Maine, they will rarely find that situation at a western college. So, remember that demographics can be a helpful strategy to employ when considering colleges.
Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.
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