Favorite College that changes lives?

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Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.


What's your experience with them?


Other than Reed, they all have student body profiles well below my kids, and my kids wanted to be challenged.


You write in the past tense. So your kids are no longer in school? Perhaps were in college in a completely different era? Were full pay so merit wasn't part of the equation?


Why is any of that relevant?


Because a lot has changed in the admissions world. This person may not grasp that simply because a student's stats may have them in the 75% percentile for a school doesn't change that they are still holding a lottery ticket.


Things have not changed that much. Then and now and generally speaking the top students don’t end up at CTCL schools.


Anyone who can write this plainly idiotic statement about college admissions over the past few years is too brain dead to be having a conversation. There have been literally volumes written by admissions experts about how college admissions has changed tremendously in the past few years but this PP thinks they haven’t changed that much? I mean, at a certain point this has to be a troll, right? Nobody can actually be this dumb?


I will repeat: by every quantifiable measure (GPA, class rank, test scores, admit rates, retention rates, graduation rates, etc.) the CTCL schools by and large do not come close to measuring up to the top 15 or so liberal arts colleges. That much has NOT changed.


So? I don't think anyone is saying that they do. Do you really think only students who can 1) get into and 2) afford the T15 LACs should get a LAC-style education? That seems to be the attitude from the anti-CTCL posters. If you aren't rich and a stellar student, you should just settle for your regional public U and be happy with that. There's no point in seeking a better educational experience. Which is a pretty crappy POV.


I know, right? It would be nice if: 1) they could accept that parents and their kids can actually evaluate the options and make these decisions without their dogmatic orders and instructions, and 2) they didn't need the buzz of satisfaction they so clearly want by having posters prostrate themselves and humbly acknowledge that Williams has better stats than their CTCL of choice, so neh-nah-neh-nah-neh-neh. It's really quite funny, but unfortunately, it distracts from the OP's request for information about CTCLs.

To get back to the topic of CTCLs, we loved Lawrence, Beloit, Wooster, St. Olaf, and Denison, along with Gustavus, Muhlenberg, and Oberlin (which might be considered peer CTCLs). We focused on the Midwest and didn't check out the PNW schools as we felt they were too far away, but they look fabulous too. I'm so glad that my kid can consider these options.




Did your kid apply this year? Mine applied/was accepted to the bolded four. All are pretty strongly in the running. Have yet to see Lawrence and St. Olaf in person, though -- next month, I hope. Have a friend who teaches at Lawrence. They love it, and Appleton.


Congratulations on your kid's acceptances! Those are all lovely schools. Is your DC narrowing in on any one of them yet? Mine is a junior this year, so we're looking at a fall 2025 start. DC wants to apply ED or EA later this year.

Of those we've visited, our favorites are Lawrence, Beloit, Oberlin, and Denison, although Denison would be a reach. DC had a very rough freshman year, so his GPA is not where we'd like it to be. Lawrence is the current front runner, but we were impressed with Beloit, and it's a close second. DC wants to major in math and physics but loves music and hopes to continue clarinet lessons, so Lawrence has a strong appeal with a good physics department and the conservatory. He doesn't want to take a full music degree but to be able to attend on campus orchestral and chamber music performances and take weekly clarinet lessons. For the same reasons, we loved Oberlin and it would also be a good fit, but DC preferred Lawrence for the location and town. We both thought the Beloit campus was very pretty. Lawrence and Beloit "felt" similar with nice kids and an intangible sense of comfort and coziness. I thought St. Olaf had a similar feel, but DC didn't warm up to it as much as I did. He was just slightly uncomfortable with the religious aspect, although St. Olaf is only as religious as you want it to be and has lots of secular students. Wooster is a very impressive little school that punches above its weight academically, although we didn't like the surrounding area as much as Appleton, Beloit, or Northfield. Wooster is still on our radar, though. At present DC is most excited about Lawrence, but there are still several months before he has to apply.




Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:I wish I could've gotten kid to consider Beloit or Lawrence. They both looked really good on paper. DD met Lawrence rep at a college fair, and said the rep was raving about the music program... "I'm not a music person," DD told me. And for her, that was that.

You know I was looking at Jeff's summary of this thread, (I didn't realize he did that), and it's depressing. The summary is all about our stupid troll and how tiresome we all are. But I think we've been able to exchange some great information. I know I appreciate what I've learned, and this discussion.


Amidst all the bashing and bickering, there are some real gold nuggets of information here about the actual schools themselves. I'm not the OP, but this is information I hoped to glean when I read the initial post. I skipped over pages and pages of insults to get to those and found them extremely helpful, so a big thank you to those who shared your thoughts and experiences! There are some very informative, thoughtful, and supportive posts here. For example we weren't considering SLACs in the Pacific Northwest, but now we're inspired to visit, and the information about other CTCLs and schools like them has been extremely helpful.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I wish I could've gotten kid to consider Beloit or Lawrence. They both looked really good on paper. DD met Lawrence rep at a college fair, and said the rep was raving about the music program... "I'm not a music person," DD told me. And for her, that was that.

You know I was looking at Jeff's summary of this thread, (I didn't realize he did that), and it's depressing. The summary is all about our stupid troll and how tiresome we all are. But I think we've been able to exchange some great information. I know I appreciate what I've learned, and this discussion.


Amidst all the bashing and bickering, there are some real gold nuggets of information here about the actual schools themselves. I'm not the OP, but this is information I hoped to glean when I read the initial post. I skipped over pages and pages of insults to get to those and found them extremely helpful, so a big thank you to those who shared your thoughts and experiences! There are some very informative, thoughtful, and supportive posts here. For example we weren't considering SLACs in the Pacific Northwest, but now we're inspired to visit, and the information about other CTCLs and schools like them has been extremely helpful.


Jeff didn’t say anything about anybody “trolling.” He just said that the very mention of “CTCL schools” as a group gets folks worked up on both sides. There’s actually very little bashing of any individual school on this thread other than maybe Evergreen State but that school probably deserves it. The complaint by the so-called “CTCL haters” is the idea that these schools all somehow belong in a special and exclusive grouping. They don’t - they are very different from each other in terms of focus, degrees offered, financial health, admissions standards and graduation rates, etc. The one common feature is that they’re all small and focus on undergraduate teaching - but literally so does the entire US News list of “liberal arts colleges” and there are a couple hundred of them.

Even Jeff sounded somewhat skeptical of the grouping and suggested that it is only of marginal benefit to several of the schools which have established good reputations for themselves entirely independent of being a so-called CTCL school.
Anonymous
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Anonymous wrote:
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Anonymous wrote:
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Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.
Dennison and Hillsdale are better than Reid these days.
Those are three wildly different institutions. Along what axis are you comparing them?


EXACTLY. You’ve just hit on the whole fallacy of the CTCL book without even knowing it.


What they have in common is a focus on undergraduate teaching, a pedagogy that’s student-centered (small classes, low student-faculty ratio, etc), and a reputation that’s a little off-the-radar relative to other schools.


Yes, absolutely. The idea is that they take in students with potential who might not have been top students in high school (although some are) and then provide the scaffolding that allows them to graduate college as high achievers. They were originally chosen as colleges that *change lives" because they supposedly provide the care, attention, and support that radically fosters growth. People who went to CTCLs are disproportionately represented in Ph.D. programs, so I'm guessing this process is effective.


Would be interesting to see if someone could/would take up Pope's mantle with an edition of "CTCLS @ 30." What might be an obstacle is the demographic cliff and the perceptions on what will be the effect on college admissions. Two factors that may still augur for an update: (a) demand for T20 colleges/LACs will continue to outstrip the supply of seats and (b) tuition costs will continue to exceed bank accounts for MC/UMC families seeking LAC-style educations for their DCs who cannot afford AWBS, etc.


That so many “MC/UMC” families “cannot afford AWBS, etc.” is a myth. It’s more that they don’t WANT to pay for them.

With a combination of the financial aid generously provided by these schools (which have much higher endowments than even the wealthiest CTCL schools and award aid to families who by almost any definition are closer to the top economically than the bottom) and greater sacrifice on the part of the families (the best things often do come at higher prices) these schools are doable.

After all, most students accepted by the top schools DO enroll and eschew the CTCL schools they used as safeties. Yes, you will find a few students at, say, Beloit who turned down Williams because of merit aid, but you’re not going to find many.

Pope’s book said little about the cost of CTCL schools in 1996. He focused on the education provided.


Many families prefer the merit awards at lower tier LACs. This is especially true if yearly incomes are variable. Nothing is guaranteed year to year with need based aid. Would mine have gone to Amherst if he'd gotten off the waitlist? Not sure. But we are all pretty happy with his 30K in merit at St. Olaf. Coursework is challenging. He's found his people. He is thriving and leading a very balanced life. He never thinks, oh, too bad I'm not at Carleton down the street, except to say their food is better. He didn't apply there because the NPC number was way too high.


He didn’t get into Amherst, so he wasn’t in the position to make the choice.


No, he didn't. Given the effort he put into the application process, I'm surprised he even got waitlisted. But it was never in his top three anyway. That was full of two even reachier schools and St. Olaf. I think he really enjoyed talking with whomever came to his school. Always nice to love a safety too. He also didn't show a ton of love to his waitlisted schools because of this preference.

But feel free to believe what you want. Our HHI went up 50K in his first year of college. We would probably have lost most of that aid by his Junior year. I have a hard time stomaching the thought of 80K tuition. Plenty of like minded folks with brilliant kids at lower tier, cheaper schools.
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Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.
Dennison and Hillsdale are better than Reid these days.
Those are three wildly different institutions. Along what axis are you comparing them?


EXACTLY. You’ve just hit on the whole fallacy of the CTCL book without even knowing it.


What they have in common is a focus on undergraduate teaching, a pedagogy that’s student-centered (small classes, low student-faculty ratio, etc), and a reputation that’s a little off-the-radar relative to other schools.


Yes, absolutely. The idea is that they take in students with potential who might not have been top students in high school (although some are) and then provide the scaffolding that allows them to graduate college as high achievers. They were originally chosen as colleges that *change lives" because they supposedly provide the care, attention, and support that radically fosters growth. People who went to CTCLs are disproportionately represented in Ph.D. programs, so I'm guessing this process is effective.


Would be interesting to see if someone could/would take up Pope's mantle with an edition of "CTCLS @ 30." What might be an obstacle is the demographic cliff and the perceptions on what will be the effect on college admissions. Two factors that may still augur for an update: (a) demand for T20 colleges/LACs will continue to outstrip the supply of seats and (b) tuition costs will continue to exceed bank accounts for MC/UMC families seeking LAC-style educations for their DCs who cannot afford AWBS, etc.


That so many “MC/UMC” families “cannot afford AWBS, etc.” is a myth. It’s more that they don’t WANT to pay for them.

With a combination of the financial aid generously provided by these schools (which have much higher endowments than even the wealthiest CTCL schools and award aid to families who by almost any definition are closer to the top economically than the bottom) and greater sacrifice on the part of the families (the best things often do come at higher prices) these schools are doable.

After all, most students accepted by the top schools DO enroll and eschew the CTCL schools they used as safeties. Yes, you will find a few students at, say, Beloit who turned down Williams because of merit aid, but you’re not going to find many.

Pope’s book said little about the cost of CTCL schools in 1996. He focused on the education provided.


Many families prefer the merit awards at lower tier LACs. This is especially true if yearly incomes are variable. Nothing is guaranteed year to year with need based aid. Would mine have gone to Amherst if he'd gotten off the waitlist? Not sure. But we are all pretty happy with his 30K in merit at St. Olaf. Coursework is challenging. He's found his people. He is thriving and leading a very balanced life. He never thinks, oh, too bad I'm not at Carleton down the street, except to say their food is better. He didn't apply there because the NPC number was way too high.


He didn’t get into Amherst, so he wasn’t in the position to make the choice.


No, he didn't. Given the effort he put into the application process, I'm surprised he even got waitlisted. But it was never in his top three anyway. That was full of two even reachier schools and St. Olaf. I think he really enjoyed talking with whomever came to his school. Always nice to love a safety too. He also didn't show a ton of love to his waitlisted schools because of this preference.

But feel free to believe what you want. Our HHI went up 50K in his first year of college. We would probably have lost most of that aid by his Junior year. I have a hard time stomaching the thought of 80K tuition. Plenty of like minded folks with brilliant kids at lower tier, cheaper schools.


Well, there’s nothing wrong with St Olaf - and I doubt your son’s love for it had anything to do with it being on the CTCL list.

And what possible schools are even “reachier” than Amherst??
Anonymous
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Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.
Dennison and Hillsdale are better than Reid these days.
Those are three wildly different institutions. Along what axis are you comparing them?


EXACTLY. You’ve just hit on the whole fallacy of the CTCL book without even knowing it.


What they have in common is a focus on undergraduate teaching, a pedagogy that’s student-centered (small classes, low student-faculty ratio, etc), and a reputation that’s a little off-the-radar relative to other schools.


Yes, absolutely. The idea is that they take in students with potential who might not have been top students in high school (although some are) and then provide the scaffolding that allows them to graduate college as high achievers. They were originally chosen as colleges that *change lives" because they supposedly provide the care, attention, and support that radically fosters growth. People who went to CTCLs are disproportionately represented in Ph.D. programs, so I'm guessing this process is effective.


Would be interesting to see if someone could/would take up Pope's mantle with an edition of "CTCLS @ 30." What might be an obstacle is the demographic cliff and the perceptions on what will be the effect on college admissions. Two factors that may still augur for an update: (a) demand for T20 colleges/LACs will continue to outstrip the supply of seats and (b) tuition costs will continue to exceed bank accounts for MC/UMC families seeking LAC-style educations for their DCs who cannot afford AWBS, etc.


That so many “MC/UMC” families “cannot afford AWBS, etc.” is a myth. It’s more that they don’t WANT to pay for them.

With a combination of the financial aid generously provided by these schools (which have much higher endowments than even the wealthiest CTCL schools and award aid to families who by almost any definition are closer to the top economically than the bottom) and greater sacrifice on the part of the families (the best things often do come at higher prices) these schools are doable.

After all, most students accepted by the top schools DO enroll and eschew the CTCL schools they used as safeties. Yes, you will find a few students at, say, Beloit who turned down Williams because of merit aid, but you’re not going to find many.

Pope’s book said little about the cost of CTCL schools in 1996. He focused on the education provided.


Many families prefer the merit awards at lower tier LACs. This is especially true if yearly incomes are variable. Nothing is guaranteed year to year with need based aid. Would mine have gone to Amherst if he'd gotten off the waitlist? Not sure. But we are all pretty happy with his 30K in merit at St. Olaf. Coursework is challenging. He's found his people. He is thriving and leading a very balanced life. He never thinks, oh, too bad I'm not at Carleton down the street, except to say their food is better. He didn't apply there because the NPC number was way too high.


He didn’t get into Amherst, so he wasn’t in the position to make the choice.


No, he didn't. Given the effort he put into the application process, I'm surprised he even got waitlisted. But it was never in his top three anyway. That was full of two even reachier schools and St. Olaf. I think he really enjoyed talking with whomever came to his school. Always nice to love a safety too. He also didn't show a ton of love to his waitlisted schools because of this preference.

But feel free to believe what you want. Our HHI went up 50K in his first year of college. We would probably have lost most of that aid by his Junior year. I have a hard time stomaching the thought of 80K tuition. Plenty of like minded folks with brilliant kids at lower tier, cheaper schools.


Well, there’s nothing wrong with St Olaf - and I doubt your son’s love for it had anything to do with it being on the CTCL list.

And what possible schools are even “reachier” than Amherst??


The obvious ones, just not SLACs.

Most people responding to this thread understand the spirit of the OP's question. I'm sure OP is equally appreciative of all the recommendations listed that were not in the book, but provide similar experiences. I think I read the book way back then? It didn't play into his list which was pretty diverse based on major of interest. I don't understand the angst on this thread, quite honestly.
Anonymous
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Anonymous wrote:
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Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.
Dennison and Hillsdale are better than Reid these days.
Those are three wildly different institutions. Along what axis are you comparing them?


EXACTLY. You’ve just hit on the whole fallacy of the CTCL book without even knowing it.


What they have in common is a focus on undergraduate teaching, a pedagogy that’s student-centered (small classes, low student-faculty ratio, etc), and a reputation that’s a little off-the-radar relative to other schools.


Yes, absolutely. The idea is that they take in students with potential who might not have been top students in high school (although some are) and then provide the scaffolding that allows them to graduate college as high achievers. They were originally chosen as colleges that *change lives" because they supposedly provide the care, attention, and support that radically fosters growth. People who went to CTCLs are disproportionately represented in Ph.D. programs, so I'm guessing this process is effective.


Would be interesting to see if someone could/would take up Pope's mantle with an edition of "CTCLS @ 30." What might be an obstacle is the demographic cliff and the perceptions on what will be the effect on college admissions. Two factors that may still augur for an update: (a) demand for T20 colleges/LACs will continue to outstrip the supply of seats and (b) tuition costs will continue to exceed bank accounts for MC/UMC families seeking LAC-style educations for their DCs who cannot afford AWBS, etc.


That so many “MC/UMC” families “cannot afford AWBS, etc.” is a myth. It’s more that they don’t WANT to pay for them.

With a combination of the financial aid generously provided by these schools (which have much higher endowments than even the wealthiest CTCL schools and award aid to families who by almost any definition are closer to the top economically than the bottom) and greater sacrifice on the part of the families (the best things often do come at higher prices) these schools are doable.

After all, most students accepted by the top schools DO enroll and eschew the CTCL schools they used as safeties. Yes, you will find a few students at, say, Beloit who turned down Williams because of merit aid, but you’re not going to find many.

Pope’s book said little about the cost of CTCL schools in 1996. He focused on the education provided.


Many families prefer the merit awards at lower tier LACs. This is especially true if yearly incomes are variable. Nothing is guaranteed year to year with need based aid. Would mine have gone to Amherst if he'd gotten off the waitlist? Not sure. But we are all pretty happy with his 30K in merit at St. Olaf. Coursework is challenging. He's found his people. He is thriving and leading a very balanced life. He never thinks, oh, too bad I'm not at Carleton down the street, except to say their food is better. He didn't apply there because the NPC number was way too high.


He didn’t get into Amherst, so he wasn’t in the position to make the choice.


No, he didn't. Given the effort he put into the application process, I'm surprised he even got waitlisted. But it was never in his top three anyway. That was full of two even reachier schools and St. Olaf. I think he really enjoyed talking with whomever came to his school. Always nice to love a safety too. He also didn't show a ton of love to his waitlisted schools because of this preference.

But feel free to believe what you want. Our HHI went up 50K in his first year of college. We would probably have lost most of that aid by his Junior year. I have a hard time stomaching the thought of 80K tuition. Plenty of like minded folks with brilliant kids at lower tier, cheaper schools.


Well, there’s nothing wrong with St Olaf - and I doubt your son’s love for it had anything to do with it being on the CTCL list.

And what possible schools are even “reachier” than Amherst??


The obvious ones, just not SLACs.

Most people responding to this thread understand the spirit of the OP's question. I'm sure OP is equally appreciative of all the recommendations listed that were not in the book, but provide similar experiences. I think I read the book way back then? It didn't play into his list which was pretty diverse based on major of interest. I don't understand the angst on this thread, quite honestly.


Well, for starters, I find it extremely hard to believe that your son would not have gone to either Amherst or the “obvious ones“ if he got into any of them. But that’s OK.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
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Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.
Dennison and Hillsdale are better than Reid these days.
Those are three wildly different institutions. Along what axis are you comparing them?


EXACTLY. You’ve just hit on the whole fallacy of the CTCL book without even knowing it.


What they have in common is a focus on undergraduate teaching, a pedagogy that’s student-centered (small classes, low student-faculty ratio, etc), and a reputation that’s a little off-the-radar relative to other schools.


Yes, absolutely. The idea is that they take in students with potential who might not have been top students in high school (although some are) and then provide the scaffolding that allows them to graduate college as high achievers. They were originally chosen as colleges that *change lives" because they supposedly provide the care, attention, and support that radically fosters growth. People who went to CTCLs are disproportionately represented in Ph.D. programs, so I'm guessing this process is effective.


Would be interesting to see if someone could/would take up Pope's mantle with an edition of "CTCLS @ 30." What might be an obstacle is the demographic cliff and the perceptions on what will be the effect on college admissions. Two factors that may still augur for an update: (a) demand for T20 colleges/LACs will continue to outstrip the supply of seats and (b) tuition costs will continue to exceed bank accounts for MC/UMC families seeking LAC-style educations for their DCs who cannot afford AWBS, etc.


That so many “MC/UMC” families “cannot afford AWBS, etc.” is a myth. It’s more that they don’t WANT to pay for them.

With a combination of the financial aid generously provided by these schools (which have much higher endowments than even the wealthiest CTCL schools and award aid to families who by almost any definition are closer to the top economically than the bottom) and greater sacrifice on the part of the families (the best things often do come at higher prices) these schools are doable.

After all, most students accepted by the top schools DO enroll and eschew the CTCL schools they used as safeties. Yes, you will find a few students at, say, Beloit who turned down Williams because of merit aid, but you’re not going to find many.

Pope’s book said little about the cost of CTCL schools in 1996. He focused on the education provided.


Many families prefer the merit awards at lower tier LACs. This is especially true if yearly incomes are variable. Nothing is guaranteed year to year with need based aid. Would mine have gone to Amherst if he'd gotten off the waitlist? Not sure. But we are all pretty happy with his 30K in merit at St. Olaf. Coursework is challenging. He's found his people. He is thriving and leading a very balanced life. He never thinks, oh, too bad I'm not at Carleton down the street, except to say their food is better. He didn't apply there because the NPC number was way too high.


He didn’t get into Amherst, so he wasn’t in the position to make the choice.


No, he didn't. Given the effort he put into the application process, I'm surprised he even got waitlisted. But it was never in his top three anyway. That was full of two even reachier schools and St. Olaf. I think he really enjoyed talking with whomever came to his school. Always nice to love a safety too. He also didn't show a ton of love to his waitlisted schools because of this preference.

But feel free to believe what you want. Our HHI went up 50K in his first year of college. We would probably have lost most of that aid by his Junior year. I have a hard time stomaching the thought of 80K tuition. Plenty of like minded folks with brilliant kids at lower tier, cheaper schools.


Well, there’s nothing wrong with St Olaf - and I doubt your son’s love for it had anything to do with it being on the CTCL list.

And what possible schools are even “reachier” than Amherst??


The obvious ones, just not SLACs.

Most people responding to this thread understand the spirit of the OP's question. I'm sure OP is equally appreciative of all the recommendations listed that were not in the book, but provide similar experiences. I think I read the book way back then? It didn't play into his list which was pretty diverse based on major of interest. I don't understand the angst on this thread, quite honestly.


Well, for starters, I find it extremely hard to believe that your son would not have gone to either Amherst or the “obvious ones“ if he got into any of them. But that’s OK.


He might have chosen any of those top three. Probably not Amherst. I tried to push him to send a LOCI but he wasn't interested. And he wasn't super attached to prestige and hadn't visited any colleges. Arrived at St. Olaf sight unseen, like a lot of kids during Covid. All of us are probably way overthinking this process.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I wish I could've gotten kid to consider Beloit or Lawrence. They both looked really good on paper. DD met Lawrence rep at a college fair, and said the rep was raving about the music program... "I'm not a music person," DD told me. And for her, that was that.

You know I was looking at Jeff's summary of this thread, (I didn't realize he did that), and it's depressing. The summary is all about our stupid troll and how tiresome we all are. But I think we've been able to exchange some great information. I know I appreciate what I've learned, and this discussion.


Amidst all the bashing and bickering, there are some real gold nuggets of information here about the actual schools themselves. I'm not the OP, but this is information I hoped to glean when I read the initial post. I skipped over pages and pages of insults to get to those and found them extremely helpful, so a big thank you to those who shared your thoughts and experiences! There are some very informative, thoughtful, and supportive posts here. For example we weren't considering SLACs in the Pacific Northwest, but now we're inspired to visit, and the information about other CTCLs and schools like them has been extremely helpful.


Jeff didn’t say anything about anybody “trolling.” He just said that the very mention of “CTCL schools” as a group gets folks worked up on both sides. There’s actually very little bashing of any individual school on this thread other than maybe Evergreen State but that school probably deserves it. The complaint by the so-called “CTCL haters” is the idea that these schools all somehow belong in a special and exclusive grouping. They don’t - they are very different from each other in terms of focus, degrees offered, financial health, admissions standards and graduation rates, etc. The one common feature is that they’re all small and focus on undergraduate teaching - but literally so does the entire US News list of “liberal arts colleges” and there are a couple hundred of them.

Even Jeff sounded somewhat skeptical of the grouping and suggested that it is only of marginal benefit to several of the schools that have established good reputations for themselves entirely independent of being a so-called CTCL school.


Jeff may very well be right and the current CTCL categorization is certainly out of date. Reed and Denison may have moved up out of the CTCL category, and other schools have entered it. Whether the grouping is "only of marginal benefit to several of the schools" is not as important to me as the benefit of the school to my kid. I've found this discussion helpful in trying to find high quality SLACs that will accept, develop, and nurture my DC, who doesn't have a hook and is a B student. Other families appear to be looking at SLACs that are cheaper options for their high-achieving children who are being offered generous merit aid. My family loves the SLAC model with small classes and dedicated teaching professors. Elite SLACs would not look at my kid, and I know there are excellent regional publics that would work well and more cheaply, but we really want a small school.. I appreciate the exchange of thoughts and impressions here. It has generated some more options that we plan to explore.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
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Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.
Dennison and Hillsdale are better than Reid these days.
Those are three wildly different institutions. Along what axis are you comparing them?


EXACTLY. You’ve just hit on the whole fallacy of the CTCL book without even knowing it.


What they have in common is a focus on undergraduate teaching, a pedagogy that’s student-centered (small classes, low student-faculty ratio, etc), and a reputation that’s a little off-the-radar relative to other schools.


Yes, absolutely. The idea is that they take in students with potential who might not have been top students in high school (although some are) and then provide the scaffolding that allows them to graduate college as high achievers. They were originally chosen as colleges that *change lives" because they supposedly provide the care, attention, and support that radically fosters growth. People who went to CTCLs are disproportionately represented in Ph.D. programs, so I'm guessing this process is effective.


Would be interesting to see if someone could/would take up Pope's mantle with an edition of "CTCLS @ 30." What might be an obstacle is the demographic cliff and the perceptions on what will be the effect on college admissions. Two factors that may still augur for an update: (a) demand for T20 colleges/LACs will continue to outstrip the supply of seats and (b) tuition costs will continue to exceed bank accounts for MC/UMC families seeking LAC-style educations for their DCs who cannot afford AWBS, etc.


That so many “MC/UMC” families “cannot afford AWBS, etc.” is a myth. It’s more that they don’t WANT to pay for them.

With a combination of the financial aid generously provided by these schools (which have much higher endowments than even the wealthiest CTCL schools and award aid to families who by almost any definition are closer to the top economically than the bottom) and greater sacrifice on the part of the families (the best things often do come at higher prices) these schools are doable.

After all, most students accepted by the top schools DO enroll and eschew the CTCL schools they used as safeties. Yes, you will find a few students at, say, Beloit who turned down Williams because of merit aid, but you’re not going to find many.

Pope’s book said little about the cost of CTCL schools in 1996. He focused on the education provided.


So now you know more about other families' finances then they themselves do?
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
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Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.
Dennison and Hillsdale are better than Reid these days.
Those are three wildly different institutions. Along what axis are you comparing them?


EXACTLY. You’ve just hit on the whole fallacy of the CTCL book without even knowing it.


What they have in common is a focus on undergraduate teaching, a pedagogy that’s student-centered (small classes, low student-faculty ratio, etc), and a reputation that’s a little off-the-radar relative to other schools.


Yes, absolutely. The idea is that they take in students with potential who might not have been top students in high school (although some are) and then provide the scaffolding that allows them to graduate college as high achievers. They were originally chosen as colleges that *change lives" because they supposedly provide the care, attention, and support that radically fosters growth. People who went to CTCLs are disproportionately represented in Ph.D. programs, so I'm guessing this process is effective.


Would be interesting to see if someone could/would take up Pope's mantle with an edition of "CTCLS @ 30." What might be an obstacle is the demographic cliff and the perceptions on what will be the effect on college admissions. Two factors that may still augur for an update: (a) demand for T20 colleges/LACs will continue to outstrip the supply of seats and (b) tuition costs will continue to exceed bank accounts for MC/UMC families seeking LAC-style educations for their DCs who cannot afford AWBS, etc.


That so many “MC/UMC” families “cannot afford AWBS, etc.” is a myth. It’s more that they don’t WANT to pay for them.

With a combination of the financial aid generously provided by these schools (which have much higher endowments than even the wealthiest CTCL schools and award aid to families who by almost any definition are closer to the top economically than the bottom) and greater sacrifice on the part of the families (the best things often do come at higher prices) these schools are doable.

After all, most students accepted by the top schools DO enroll and eschew the CTCL schools they used as safeties. Yes, you will find a few students at, say, Beloit who turned down Williams because of merit aid, but you’re not going to find many.

Pope’s book said little about the cost of CTCL schools in 1996. He focused on the education provided.


Many families prefer the merit awards at lower tier LACs. This is especially true if yearly incomes are variable. Nothing is guaranteed year to year with need based aid. Would mine have gone to Amherst if he'd gotten off the waitlist? Not sure. But we are all pretty happy with his 30K in merit at St. Olaf. Coursework is challenging. He's found his people. He is thriving and leading a very balanced life. He never thinks, oh, too bad I'm not at Carleton down the street, except to say their food is better. He didn't apply there because the NPC number was way too high.


He didn’t get into Amherst, so he wasn’t in the position to make the choice.


No, he didn't. Given the effort he put into the application process, I'm surprised he even got waitlisted. But it was never in his top three anyway. That was full of two even reachier schools and St. Olaf. I think he really enjoyed talking with whomever came to his school. Always nice to love a safety too. He also didn't show a ton of love to his waitlisted schools because of this preference.

But feel free to believe what you want. Our HHI went up 50K in his first year of college. We would probably have lost most of that aid by his Junior year. I have a hard time stomaching the thought of 80K tuition. Plenty of like minded folks with brilliant kids at lower tier, cheaper schools.


Well, there’s nothing wrong with St Olaf - and I doubt your son’s love for it had anything to do with it being on the CTCL list.

And what possible schools are even “reachier” than Amherst??


The obvious ones, just not SLACs.

Most people responding to this thread understand the spirit of the OP's question. I'm sure OP is equally appreciative of all the recommendations listed that were not in the book, but provide similar experiences. I think I read the book way back then? It didn't play into his list which was pretty diverse based on major of interest. I don't understand the angst on this thread, quite honestly.


Well, for starters, I find it extremely hard to believe that your son would not have gone to either Amherst or the “obvious ones“ if he got into any of them. But that’s OK.


My kid turns down Williams for one of the schools mentioned in this thread. $$$ vs. $
Anonymous
*turned down
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I wish I could've gotten kid to consider Beloit or Lawrence. They both looked really good on paper. DD met Lawrence rep at a college fair, and said the rep was raving about the music program... "I'm not a music person," DD told me. And for her, that was that.

You know I was looking at Jeff's summary of this thread, (I didn't realize he did that), and it's depressing. The summary is all about our stupid troll and how tiresome we all are. But I think we've been able to exchange some great information. I know I appreciate what I've learned, and this discussion.


Amidst all the bashing and bickering, there are some real gold nuggets of information here about the actual schools themselves. I'm not the OP, but this is information I hoped to glean when I read the initial post. I skipped over pages and pages of insults to get to those and found them extremely helpful, so a big thank you to those who shared your thoughts and experiences! There are some very informative, thoughtful, and supportive posts here. For example we weren't considering SLACs in the Pacific Northwest, but now we're inspired to visit, and the information about other CTCLs and schools like them has been extremely helpful.


Jeff didn’t say anything about anybody “trolling.” He just said that the very mention of “CTCL schools” as a group gets folks worked up on both sides. There’s actually very little bashing of any individual school on this thread other than maybe Evergreen State but that school probably deserves it. The complaint by the so-called “CTCL haters” is the idea that these schools all somehow belong in a special and exclusive grouping. They don’t - they are very different from each other in terms of focus, degrees offered, financial health, admissions standards and graduation rates, etc. The one common feature is that they’re all small and focus on undergraduate teaching - but literally so does the entire US News list of “liberal arts colleges” and there are a couple hundred of them.

Even Jeff sounded somewhat skeptical of the grouping and suggested that it is only of marginal benefit to several of the schools that have established good reputations for themselves entirely independent of being a so-called CTCL school.


Jeff may very well be right and the current CTCL categorization is certainly out of date. Reed and Denison may have moved up out of the CTCL category, and other schools have entered it. Whether the grouping is "only of marginal benefit to several of the schools" is not as important to me as the benefit of the school to my kid. I've found this discussion helpful in trying to find high quality SLACs that will accept, develop, and nurture my DC, who doesn't have a hook and is a B student. Other families appear to be looking at SLACs that are cheaper options for their high-achieving children who are being offered generous merit aid. My family loves the SLAC model with small classes and dedicated teaching professors. Elite SLACs would not look at my kid, and I know there are excellent regional publics that would work well and more cheaply, but we really want a small school.. I appreciate the exchange of thoughts and impressions here. It has generated some more options that we plan to explore.


Put Ohio Wesleyan University on your list. It's a wonderful place.
Anonymous
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:I wish I could've gotten kid to consider Beloit or Lawrence. They both looked really good on paper. DD met Lawrence rep at a college fair, and said the rep was raving about the music program... "I'm not a music person," DD told me. And for her, that was that.

You know I was looking at Jeff's summary of this thread, (I didn't realize he did that), and it's depressing. The summary is all about our stupid troll and how tiresome we all are. But I think we've been able to exchange some great information. I know I appreciate what I've learned, and this discussion.


Amidst all the bashing and bickering, there are some real gold nuggets of information here about the actual schools themselves. I'm not the OP, but this is information I hoped to glean when I read the initial post. I skipped over pages and pages of insults to get to those and found them extremely helpful, so a big thank you to those who shared your thoughts and experiences! There are some very informative, thoughtful, and supportive posts here. For example we weren't considering SLACs in the Pacific Northwest, but now we're inspired to visit, and the information about other CTCLs and schools like them has been extremely helpful.


Jeff didn’t say anything about anybody “trolling.” He just said that the very mention of “CTCL schools” as a group gets folks worked up on both sides. There’s actually very little bashing of any individual school on this thread other than maybe Evergreen State but that school probably deserves it. The complaint by the so-called “CTCL haters” is the idea that these schools all somehow belong in a special and exclusive grouping. They don’t - they are very different from each other in terms of focus, degrees offered, financial health, admissions standards and graduation rates, etc. The one common feature is that they’re all small and focus on undergraduate teaching - but literally so does the entire US News list of “liberal arts colleges” and there are a couple hundred of them.

Even Jeff sounded somewhat skeptical of the grouping and suggested that it is only of marginal benefit to several of the schools that have established good reputations for themselves entirely independent of being a so-called CTCL school.


Jeff may very well be right and the current CTCL categorization is certainly out of date. Reed and Denison may have moved up out of the CTCL category, and other schools have entered it. Whether the grouping is "only of marginal benefit to several of the schools" is not as important to me as the benefit of the school to my kid. I've found this discussion helpful in trying to find high quality SLACs that will accept, develop, and nurture my DC, who doesn't have a hook and is a B student. Other families appear to be looking at SLACs that are cheaper options for their high-achieving children who are being offered generous merit aid. My family loves the SLAC model with small classes and dedicated teaching professors. Elite SLACs would not look at my kid, and I know there are excellent regional publics that would work well and more cheaply, but we really want a small school.. I appreciate the exchange of thoughts and impressions here. It has generated some more options that we plan to explore.


Me too, and that's what I was hoping for when I started the thread. It was less about "the list" and more as the list as a jumping off point for a certain type of school and student.

We have merit offers from 3 schools on "the list" and another two schools that have also been mentioned. This is really helping me figure out more about them.
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Anonymous wrote:I think the main attraction for CTCL schools is parents and kids who do not have the goods for the top goals, but somehow think they are too good for state schools, so they fall for the hype that the book generates.


I honestly hope I never, ever become the kind of person who would feel good posting something like this, and I have no CTCL connection whatsoever.


PP ain't wrong though.


How are they right? What are some examples of where this person is right?

From what I can tell, there are one or two posters who've been great about analyzing some of the allegations with data and providing links for the rest of us here to read (e.g., affluence, retention, etc). Then there is one (or more according to some posters) who makes charges, but never cycles back to answer questions or provide links to their claims. For example, there are "better" schools than CTCLs providing merit but never answers what those better schools are.

In a related vein, college admissions nearly always involves trade-offs. A prime example is the need for students to draw up lists of reaches, targets, and safeties for a range of reasons, including academic and financial. Not every student is full pay. Not every student wants to attend their state flagship, possibly because they know that setting might not be the best for their temperment and learning style. Alas, one (possibly more) poster here is adamant that these students are always the spawn of affluent families who want to protect their child from the perceived horrors of public schools.

Mystifies me why these folks care - it's not their kid, they are not being asked to pay for these choices, so why are they bothered about a group of schools that a NYT reporter wrote about in a book nearly thirty years ago?


What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The CTCL boosters always bash state schools and top private schools, so what’s the difference? You’re allowed to hate, so I can’t we?


No. This is disordered thinking on your part. Every school, as another poster said, has advantages and disadvantages. It's not me "bashing" a state school when I say DD would be lost in a large environment, or, in the case of St Mary's, I'm worried it might be too local. It's not me "bashing" a top ten school when I say: 1.) Dd wouldn't get in, 2.) We can't afford it and they dont give merit, or even 3.) I don't think my child or my family has the temperament or patience to deal with the fanbase those schools attract, the kind of competitive students who actually care that the school is ranked 7 or whatever.

So you don't like small liberal arts colleges. That's okay. You've pretty much humiliated yourself by proving your ignorance on the topic. Maybe take the loss and move on.


I have a lot of respect for top tier liberal arts colleges. My kid attended one. Other than Reed, none of the liberal arts colleges in the book come close.
Dennison and Hillsdale are better than Reid these days.
Those are three wildly different institutions. Along what axis are you comparing them?


EXACTLY. You’ve just hit on the whole fallacy of the CTCL book without even knowing it.


What they have in common is a focus on undergraduate teaching, a pedagogy that’s student-centered (small classes, low student-faculty ratio, etc), and a reputation that’s a little off-the-radar relative to other schools.


Yes, absolutely. The idea is that they take in students with potential who might not have been top students in high school (although some are) and then provide the scaffolding that allows them to graduate college as high achievers. They were originally chosen as colleges that *change lives" because they supposedly provide the care, attention, and support that radically fosters growth. People who went to CTCLs are disproportionately represented in Ph.D. programs, so I'm guessing this process is effective.


Would be interesting to see if someone could/would take up Pope's mantle with an edition of "CTCLS @ 30." What might be an obstacle is the demographic cliff and the perceptions on what will be the effect on college admissions. Two factors that may still augur for an update: (a) demand for T20 colleges/LACs will continue to outstrip the supply of seats and (b) tuition costs will continue to exceed bank accounts for MC/UMC families seeking LAC-style educations for their DCs who cannot afford AWBS, etc.


That so many “MC/UMC” families “cannot afford AWBS, etc.” is a myth. It’s more that they don’t WANT to pay for them.

With a combination of the financial aid generously provided by these schools (which have much higher endowments than even the wealthiest CTCL schools and award aid to families who by almost any definition are closer to the top economically than the bottom) and greater sacrifice on the part of the families (the best things often do come at higher prices) these schools are doable.

After all, most students accepted by the top schools DO enroll and eschew the CTCL schools they used as safeties. Yes, you will find a few students at, say, Beloit who turned down Williams because of merit aid, but you’re not going to find many.

Pope’s book said little about the cost of CTCL schools in 1996. He focused on the education provided.


So now you know more about other families' finances then they themselves do?


Oh please.
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