Best Kept College Secrets

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Birds of a Feather – Constellations of similar colleges

Most of the major college guides report what they call overlap – the colleges to which an applicant might apply if applying to the college under discussion, and, while overlap is interesting and helpful in some situations, it most commonly reflects regional identity or traditional patterns.

So,  a typical profile for a Colorado College or a Coe College or a Whitman College will include one or two colleges with a slightly more competitive admission profile, generally the college of aspiration for the region – Stanford in the West/one of the Ivies in the Midwest and East, and Duke in the South.  For the most part, the rest of the overlap will be regional and will generally include a range of public options.

Whitman, for example, will cross with Stanford, U. Washington, U. Oregon, Berkeley, and Western Washington.  Some proportion of applicants to Coe will apply to Iowa, Iowa State, Missouri, and Illinois.  The overlap at Hendrix will include Arkansas, U. Texas, LSU, and Missouri.

It makes sense, of course, but doesn’t reveal much about what the essential character of the college might be, other than its location.

There is some danger in lumping colleges together – actually quite a lot of danger in so lumping – but in the hope that an applicant attracted to a particular kind of college might profit from knowing which of the thousand of colleges out there are of the same ilk, here goes:

Places to blow things up legally – tech schools with great hands-on programs:

New Mexico Institute of Technology(NM), Franklin W.Olin College of Engineering(MA), University of Colorado College of Engineering(CO), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VA), Purdue University School of Engineering(IN), California  Polytechnic State University (CA), McCormick School of Engineering -Northwestern University (IL), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (IN), Wentworth Institute of Technology (MA), Colorado School of Mines (CO),

Free Spirited, somewhat experimental, socially liberal, slightly boho student population?  

The more conventional of the slightly boho would include:  Lewis and Clark (OR), Earlham (IN), Oberlin (OH), Bard College (NY), Sarah Lawrence (NY), and Reed College (OR).

More unconventional?  Bennington College (VT), Prescott College (AZ), Humboldt State (CA), Shimer College (Ill), Hampshire College (MA), Warren Wilson College (NC), Antioch College (OH), Marlboro College (VT),  Northland College (WI),  New College (FL), Evergreen State U. (WA),

The larger universities with a significant population of the extremely “laid-back” might include Northern Arizona U (AZ), U. Colorado- Boulder (CO) U. Wisconsin (WI), Montana State, U. Oregon, U Cal Santa Cruz,  SUNY New Paltz (NY), U. Vermont (VT), Chico State (Cal State Chico), Appalachian State (NC).

Say it loud – I’m preppy and I’m proud!

Colby (ME), Middlebury (VT), Dartmouth (NH), Williams (MA), Boston College (MA), Trinity (CT), Hamilton (NY), Colgate (NY), Saint Lawrence (NY), Hobart (NY), Princeton (NJ), Georgetown (DC)

U Virginia (VA), Washington and Lee University (VA), College of William and Mary (VA), Sweet Briar (VA), Hampden-Sydney (VA), U. Richmond (VA)

Duke (NC), U North Carolina (NC), Davidson (NC), Furman (SC), Birmingham-Southern (AL), U of the South-Sewanee (TN), Vanderbilt (TN), Rollins (FL)

Denison University (OH), Kenyon College (OH), Miami University (OH), Notre Dame (IN),  DePauw (IN), Lake Forest (IL)

Claremont McKenna (CA), Stanford (CA)

Challenging small colleges for genuinely nice, not-terminally-preppy kids?

Bates College (ME), St. Anselm’s College (NH), St. Michael’s University (VT), Mount Holyoke College (MA), Alfred University (NY), Elmira College (NY), McDaniel College (MD), Dickinson College (PA) Juniata College(PA)

University of Mary Washington (VA), Presbyterian College (NC), Rhodes College (TN), Oglethorpe University (GA), Agnes Scott College (GA), Berry College (GA), Wofford College (SC), Randolph College (VA), Emory and Henry College (VA), Guilford College (NC), Wake Forest University (NC), Converse College (SC),  Samford University (AL), Austin College (TX), Southwestern University (TX)

College of Wooster (OH),  John Carroll University (OH), Earlham College (IN), Knox College (IL), Wheaton College (IL.), Illinois Wesleyan University (IL), Lawrence University (WI), Beloit College (WI), Ripon College (WI), Cornell College (IA), Grinnell College (IA), Coe College (IA), College of St. Benedict (MN), Saint John’s University (MN), Macalester College (MN), Carleton College (MN), Gustavus Adolphus College (MN), St. Olaf College (MN), Westminster College (MO)

Santa Clara University (CA), Saint Mary’s University (CA), Thomas Aquinas College (CA), Dominican University (CA), Mills College (CA), University of Redlands (CA), Whittier College (CA), George Fox College (OR), Lewis and Clark College (OR), Willamette University (OR), Pacific Lutheran University (WA), Whitman College (WA), Whitworth College (WA), Gonzaga University (WA)

More?  Let’s hear your suggestions!





1 comment for “Birds of a Feather – Constellations of similar colleges

  1. PAM R
    August 27, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    NYU should be on the, “free-spirited, unconventional college list.”

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