Some DifferentCollege Options:Small Public SchoolsYou’ve Probably NeverHeard Of Before but areWorth Checking Out!(And other potentially useful college-related informational tidbits.)(Includes liberal arts and engineering schools.)
So youre thinkingabout where you wantto go to college.Youve thought aboutthe Ivies. Or Stanford.Or Northwestern, theUniversity of Chicago,Duke, Johns Hopkins,Washington (the St.Louis one) or someother elite, prestigiousand well-known privateuniversity of that ilk.
Well forget about it! Youalmost certainly won‘tget in to any of them.Those schools don’t wantyou. They want thestudents who will maketheir presence felt in theclassroom every day, notthe quiet study-hounds.They want the studentswho project themselvesas the “leaders oftomorrow,” not thestudents who will merelybe excellent at whateverit is that they will do.
Besides, what is it about those schools that makes you want toapply there? To be sure, they do have a lot of good programs andopportunities, but do you know what they are? Is that why youwant to go? Or have you (and/or your parents) just been sold on abrand name?Know this: There are actually very few instances in which thebrand name on your undergraduate degree will be the mostimportant thing about it. What is important about where you go toschool? Consider the following: Program: Does the institution offer a program of study that you would want to study? (And conversely, do you want to study what they are offering? Rigor: Will you be sufficiently engaged and challenged (but hopefully not overwhelmed) there? Setting: Would you want to spend four (or more) years there? In that place? In that environment? With those people? Cost: Can you afford it?
And another thing:Why do so many of youalways end up applying to all the same schools, anyway?!(C’mon, folks: Show some originality,eh?)
So what are your other options?• There are any number of less elite private universities that would be more than happy to collect your tuition, from Boston University on the east coast to University of the Pacific out here and dozens more in between.• There are also the small liberal arts colleges, many of them − such as Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Vassar, Swarthmore, Kenyon, Carleton, Grinnell, Reed, Whitman and the Claremont Colleges − prestigious “brand name” schools in their own right. And some of your personal attributes that work against your being accepted at the larger and more famous “brand name” schools (especially ethnicity for most of you) can actually work in your favor at many liberal arts colleges.• There are also a number of small schools that specialize in professional programs like engineering − RPI, Stevens and Rose-Hulman Institutes of Technology and Kettering University, for example − or the health sciences − University of the Sciences in Philadelphia or the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science, to name a couple. Of course, good luck winning the financial aid lottery in order to pay for these schools. (Or good luck getting into Berea College or Cooper Union.)
Or you can… Stick with public schools!Forget about the private school PR machine and the hype that it generates;state-supported can also provide a top-notch education. And they have twosignificant practical advantages over private institutions. The most obviousone is the lower tuition, even for out-of-state students. Now you may havebeen fed a line about how this advantage can often be negated and thensome by the “generous” financial aid packages that private schools canoffer. This can be true. More often than not, however, it isn’t. But there isanother distinction that is arguably more important, and it concernsadmissions practices; public schools tend to judge applicants largely ontheir actual academic strengths and abilities, and less − often far less − onthe non-academic nonsensical garbage that private schools tend tofetishize.Yes, public schools do have some disadvantages relative to private schools− especially where it concerns funding, and especially in times of taxrevenue shortfalls. But you’ve experienced most of them, having gone toschool at Lowell; did your education here turn out to be of a lesser qualitybecause of them?
Many of you will look at the campuses of theUniversity of California system. The 8established general campuses are alltypically ranked among the top 100“national” universities. These schools admitstudents in an almost entirely numbers-based manner, something that would workto the advantage of most of you.But although UC tuitions are less than the$40,000+/yr. tuitions of the elite privateschools, these fees are now pushing$15,000/yr – not cheap. And the UC schoolsare large and bureaucratic; UC campuses(excluding Merced) have enrollments rangingfrom 15,000 to 26,000 undergraduates and17,000 to 38,000 total students.
Santa CruzBerkeley Davis Santa Barbara MercedLos Angeles San Diego Irvine Riverside
Then theres the CSU system. TheCSU system is tasked with educatinga broader spectrum of the post-secondary student population thanUC is, which is in large part why it isoften − unfairly − seen as the lessprestigious of the two systems. Butthere are two reasons a student mayfind a CSU campus more appealingthan UC. First, theres a greateremphasis on undergraduate teachingrather than research. And second,tuition is on the order of $6,500 to$8,000 per year. But with lowertuition comes a greater dependenceon the state, which results in fewerresources and less financial stability.
Another CSU campus worth noting is Humboldt State University inArcata. HSU offers a typical range of majors for a school its size,but is best known for its natural resource programs. Humboldtprovides a unique opportunity to go to a small school (<7,500students) in a small town (Arcata, pop. ~17,000) for a CSU pricetag.The setting is also unique: Californias beautiful Redwood Coastregion. But with this beauty comes isolation; Humboldt County is along way from any major population center. And culturallyspeaking, HSU might prove to be outside your comfort zone; thereare almost certainly more students who identify as “hippies” thanwho identify with an Asian ethnic group. But if youre looking forsomething different, Humboldt may be the place for you.
What else in the CSU system might hold some appeal?San Diego State has a strong business program, particularly inentrepreneurship. Other programs with strong reputations range fromspeech pathology to jewelry & metalwork. Cal State Long Beach’s music program has recently been elevated to conservatory status. Also strong in film and engineering. CSULB can boast the first Rhodes Scholar produced by the CSU system.Cal State Fullerton has a strong business program, particularly inaccounting. Also strong in musical theater and nursing. The baseballteam is a perennial powerhouse. Cal State Chico does, unfortunately, have a reputation as a party school. But it also has strong programs in journalism and graphic design. Very sustainability-conscious, and has its own organic farm.San José State, befitting its location in Silicon Valley, has strongengineering programs, especially computer and electricalengineering. Also strong in business, the arts and nursing. San Francisco State, just across the Stonestown parking lot from us, earns notice for its arts and humanities programs. The physics department is known for discovering planets outside our solar system.
“Middle 50% Range” as a Measure of a SchoolHow can you tell if a school is “good?” So much of what makes a school“good” is subjective, and in no small part depends on the needs andpreferences of the prospective student. A student may not fully know if aschool is right for him or her without visiting. Rankings? They are subjective,too, depending on what those doing the ranking deem to be important.An objective metric that will be cited here is the “middle 50% range” of theSAT or ACT scores of students who matriculate at an institution. Simply put,the middle 50% test scores are the most typical scores earned by incomingstudents. These ranges exclude the top 25% and the bottom 25% of scores,each of which would potentially be a wider range that would also be lessrepresentative. Assuming that we can judge the overall ability level of agroup of students by their SAT scores − admittedly a big assumption − wecan get an idea of the overall strength of an academic program by assumingthat a strong program attracts strong students, which in turn allows thefaculty to take their students further − again, a big assumption.These last assumptions, however, are ones you are familiar with, becausethey no doubt played a role in bringing you to Lowell. Chances are youwanted to come to Lowell because of the high-level college-preparatoryprogram that Lowell offers. This type of program draws a lot of very capablestudents to Lowell. But we can offer the program that we offer in large partbecause we attract the students that we do. These things have a tendencyto mirror each other, imperfect as the correlation can be.
How do UC and CSU schools stack up against each other using this “Middle 50% Range” metric? (About like you’d expect, actually.) (Sources: US Department of Education, College Board, SFUSD) Click on the graphic above to see the full chart on the web and peruse it at your leisure.
Middle 50% Range vs. Acceptance Rate: A Look at Two Schools in MissouriMany assume that there is a strong correlation between theacceptance rate at a school and its quality. For example, the IvyLeague schools are widely believed to be the best schools in thenation, and they have very low acceptance rates. (The same goesfor Stanford and others you could probably name.) The assumptionis that if the acceptance rate is very low, then a lot of studentsmust be applying because of how great the program is.But the number of prospective students applying to a school and itsacceptance rate depend on a number of factors. Some schools putmore into PR than others. Schools in heavily populated areas willalso tend to draw more applicants. And there are often elements ofself-selection based on whether or not a prospective applicantbelieves he or she has a reasonable chance of being accepted.In order to see where our assumptions about acceptance ratesbreaks down, let’s look at two smaller public universities in thestate of Missouri that we shall look at more closely later: TrumanState University, the state liberal arts school where the acceptancerate tends to be about 75%, and Missouri University of Science &Technology, where the acceptance rate is about 90%!
Both Truman State and Missouri S&T have reputations for being verydemanding. As a Truman State English major once put it: “The requirements toget into Truman are not as rigorous as they should be considering the time anddedication it takes to get even a B average here. This is not your averageblow-off state school.” Similarly, a Missouri S&T student said this about hisschool: “If you dont plan on working you’re a-- off the whole time until yougraduate, you are either a genius, or youre going to drop out.” Theirreputations, and their distances from major cities, winnow the field ofprospective applicants considerably. Plus, both schools are very explicit aboutwho they will accept, so if one doesn’t meet the explicitly stated criteria, whyapply? Neither school may be widely known outside Missouri or the Midwest,but both schools and their graduates are highly regarded by academics(especially Truman State) and employers (especially Missouri S&T) who doknow of them.Look at the table below, which compares the middle 50% of ACT compositescores of these schools to those of schools you are more familiar with, as wellas comparing their acceptance rates. Which do you think says more? School Middle 50% of ACT Composite Scores Accept. Rate UC San Diego 25-31 38% US Military Academy 25-31 11% Missouri S&T 25-31 90% Boston University 26-30 58% Truman State University 25-30 75% Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 25-29 33% University of the Pacific 23-29 36%
If one of your goals in going off tocollege is to leave California for awhile − either to experience lifein another part of the country orto give yourself an opportunity togrow up a little more and becomea bit more independent − the UCand CSU systems wont be ofmuch use to you.One possibility is the myriad ofprivate colleges and Universitiesout there. But unless you getlucky with financial aid, this isthe most expensive option.
U of Washington $29.9K+$10.0K U of Oregon $28.7K+10.3K U of Minnesota $18.8K+$8.0K U of Wisconsin U of Michigan U of Connecticut $26.6K+$8.1K $38.9K+$10.9K $29.1K+$11.4K U of Iowa Penn Purdue Rutgers $26.3K+$9.2 State $28.7K+$10.4K $25.4K+$11.3K $28.6K U of Maryland U of Illinois Ohio State +$9.7K $27.3K+$9.9K U of Colorado $29.1K+$10.3K $25.4K+$11.2 U of Virginia $34.1K+$11.7K $38.2K+$9.4K U of North Carolina $28.4K+$9.7K Georgia Tech U of Georgia $28.6K+$9.2K $28.1K+$9.0K U of Arizona $26.2K+$9.3K U of Texas $32.8K+$9.2K U of Florida $26.2K+$7.7K Figures shown above are annual undergraduate tuition and fees (arts & sciences majors) + room and board for 2012-13. $1.0K = $1000Then there are the public universities of other states. The ones you aremost likely to look at are the well-known flagship campuses – the onesyouve heard of because of their Bowl-Division football programs. Morethan a few of these schools actually have academic reputations, too. Butthese schools are usually big. And the more prestigious among them startto get almost as expensive for out-of-state students as privateuniversities.
Question: Have you considered Canada? Most of Canadas universities are government-supported, and their tuitions for foreign students are usually competitive with the tuitions American public universities charge out-of-state students. Several major universities that are widely held in high regard are indicated on the map below. Of these, McGill University, University of Toronto and University of British Columbia (Vancouver) are generally recognized as the top three. Memorial ● $9.5K+$6.4K U of Alberta $19.6K+$6.8K ● U of SaskatchewanU of British Columbia $14.6K+$7.2K U of New Brunswick $23.9K+$7.8K ● $14.7K+$7.9K ● ●● U of Calgary ● U of Victoria ● Simon Fraser U of Manitoba ● Dalhousie $19.2K+$6.8K U of Ottawa $16.3K+$6.7K $16.7K+$8.4K ● $12.7K+$8.0K $15.7K+$8.8K $19.1K+$11.5K ● ● McGill U of Toronto $18.0K+$8.0K $28.4K+$11.4 As of Fall 2012, $1 US ~ $1 Canadian. Figures shown are for annual ● ● Queens undergraduate tuition and fees (arts & sciences majors) + room and board. U of Waterloo ●● $23.9K+$11.4K $21.5K+$9.0K McMaster $20.5K+$9.2K
McGill University is sometimes referred to as the “Harvard of Canada.” Itsnot quite as prestigious as Harvard, and being a public school, it is not asfinancially well off as Harvard or any of the Ivies. It is not even the oldestuniversity in Canada – University of New Brunswick and DalhousieUniversity are older. But McGill is universally recognized as one of the topuniversities in Canada, if not the top school. The medical school at McGillis the oldest in Canada. And the section of Montréal where McGill islocated is where much of Canadas wealth was once concentrated.Instruction at McGill is in English, and the English-speaking population issubstantial in the largely French-speaking city. (Actually, half of Montréalis bilingual.) (Note: If you are interested in attending a university whereinstruction is in French, look into Université de Montréal or UniversitéLaval in Quebec City.)
The University of Toronto is the oldest institution ofhigher learning in what is now the province of Ontario.It is a “collegiate university,” much like Oxford andCambridge; the constituent colleges operate withconsiderable autonomy. Academically, there are manycomparisons to be made with UC Berkeley: A researchfocus – 10 Nobel laureates have been affiliated withUT – and high-level academic expectations.
Many state and provincial universities are big schools,schools that have a reputation for treating students as if theywere just one of many – because each student is one of manyat that campus.Many students can handle that just fine. But what if youwanted a college experience that is more intimate? What ifyou wanted to go to a small liberal arts college – or even atechnical institution – where you wont be just another facein the crowd and the professors might actually know yourname? What if your desire for these things trumped thepotential culture shock of living in some of these smalltowns? What if you wanted all this – but cant quite affordMiddlebury or Williams or Swarthmore? And what if you justwanted to attend a public school because you believe in theidea that education is a government responsibility?Well, schools like that do exist. And the purpose of the restof this presentation is to introduce you to a few of them.
First: What is a liberal arts college? You’ve heard of a few of the best known − Amherst, Swarthmore, Oberlin − but what characterizes one? An approach to education that focuses on exposing students to a broad range of knowledge rather than preparing them for a specific career. As (ironically) the Yale Report of 1828 put it:"Our object is not to teach that which is peculiar to any one of the professions; but to lay the foundation which is common to them all.” A focus on teaching undergraduates rather than on doctoral students and research. A small size − typically around 2000 students.
What is a public liberal arts college?Ostensibly, the only difference between a traditional liberal arts college anda public liberal arts college is governmental funding and control. But thereoften can be more differences due to the general differences betweenprivate and public schools. Private schools are often founded with a visionof what a school ought to be. Public schools, on the other hand, are founded(and their missions can later be changed) to meet a need of the communityor the state overall. The mission of any school may change over time, but ingeneral, private schools tend to stick closer to an ideal whereas publicschools exist to meet a need.So while some public liberal arts colleges stick fairly close to the traditionalmodel, others stretch the model considerably. PLACs are more likely thantheir private counterparts to offer professional programs such as business,nursing or teaching. (A number of PLACs were originally founded as “normalschools.”) PLACs can often be several times larger than most of their privatecounterparts. An extreme example of this is the College of Charleston. TheCollege of Charleston had been either a private institution or a municipalcollege for most of its history, and its undergraduate enrollment hadtypically been about 500. The state of South Carolina took it over in 1970,and since then undergraduate enrollment has grown to 11,000. (Its largersize is the only reason CoC is not included in this presentation.)When you see [COPLAC] on a slide profiling a particular school, that meansthat the school is a member of COPLAC, the Council of Public Liberal ArtsColleges, a consortium of 27 such schools.
Since liberal arts colleges focus on the humanities, socialsciences and natural sciences, there’s no point inapplying if one is interested in a career in engineering orbusiness, right? Well, in fact, there might be.A small number of liberal arts-oriented schools do haveengineering programs. And some liberal arts schools have5-year (3+2) programs in conjunction with engineeringschools, leading to a degree from each of the twoinstitutions: A BA in physics from the liberal arts schooland an MS from the engineering school in the chosenengineering discipline.For those seeking careers in business, it is more commonfor a liberal arts school to feature a business major thanany engineering major. But a business degree often isn’tnecessary for a career in business. In fact, manyemployers like liberal arts majors because they tend tohave developed communication and critical thinking skillsduring their college years.
One final note before we begin the PLAC section in earnest: At the end ofthe blurbs for some of the schools, you will see [CoD]. This means that theschool is featured in Colleges of Distinction, a guide book and anaccompanying website that seek to help students “…go beyond the rankingsin commercially-driven lists.” Admittedly, Colleges of Distinction is not themost widely known college guide book, but the aims of its authors aresimilar to the aims of this section of this presentation, namely, to promoteschools that: Actively engage students in their own education Do a good job of teaching undergraduates by, among other things, having professors (not graduate assistants) teach classes small enough that the professors might actually know their students’ names Foster a sense of community where students can get actively involved Have a good placement records for employment and graduate school, and that generally foster a sense among their alumni that their college years were well spent.For two of the schools featured here, you will also see [CTCL]. This refers toanother guide book and website, Colleges That Change Lives, whichcontinues the work of the late Loren Pope in promoting schools that feature“a familial sense of communal enterprise” and “a faculty of scholars devotedto helping young people develop their powers.”
New College of Florida Sarasota, FLAs its name implies, New College was meant to be non-traditional. Studentsreceive narrative evaluations instead of grades (much like UC Santa Cruzused to do). Students performance in individual courses only determine ifthey pass a “contract” for the semester – one must pass seven contracts tograduate. January is reserved for independent study projects, which arerequired to graduate. Despite the lack of grades and required courses, NCFhas a very high success rate of getting their students into top graduateschools. A relatively high number of NCF students (considering the smallsize of the school) have won Fulbright scholarships. The campus itselfincludes the former Ringling mansion as well as a student center andcafeteria designed by I. M. Pei, and NCF has come up with novel uses forstorm runoff and air conditioner condensate. If you require extrinsicmotivation to succeed, this is not the school for you. But if you want to bechallenged, and if you like the thought of a very small honors collegeenvironment, NCF may be worth a look. [CoD] [CTCL] [COPLAC] Undergrads: 800 No Grad Students Tuition & Fees: $29.8K Room & Board: $8.6K
State University of New York at Geneseo Geneseo, NYSUNY Geneseo has become the “honors college” of the SUNY system.Among their many recognized programs are performing arts as well asphysics, the latter of which operates a state-of-the-art particle accelerator,unusual for a school of its size. The biology program is also popular enoughto draw plenty of pre-med wannabes. But the science majors at Geneseoneed to be nearly as well versed in Western humanities − and just as able towrite − as everyone else. Aside from academics, the town’s well-preservedearly 19th century architecture and the legendary sunsets that can beviewed from campus are also selling points. The SUNYG sports culture? Itmostly revolves around the hockey team. Geneseo was once named byNewsweek as one of its 25 Most Desirable Rural Schools, but although it’slocated in a rural area at the western edge of the “Finger Lakes” district, it’sclose enough to Rochester to have regular weekend bus service intocivilization. [COPLAC] Undergrads: 5500 Out of…: 5700 Tuition & Fees: $16.3K Room & Board: $11.0K
An aside about the SUNY system: Aside from Geneseo, thereare several small liberal arts colleges among the SUNY’s“University Colleges.” There are also 4 large “University Centers” –Binghamton, Stony Brook, Albany and Buffalo – a highly esteemedCollege of Environmental Science and Forestry and several smalltechnology colleges (these are technical and professional trainingschools rather than true engineering schools). The out-of-statetuition + fees for each of these schools is about $16,000 per year.SUNY is not CUNY:The City University of New York is aseparate system from SUNY and,understandably, it does not offer theintimate small college experience. Butit does offer the opportunity to study inNew York City at a reasonable cost(out-of-state tuition is $485 per unit).Its flagship institution is City College,and its most academically highly-regarded schools are the liberal arts-oriented Hunter College and thebusiness-oriented Baruch College.
Undergrads: 7400 Out of…: 8200 Tuition & Fees: $16.1K Room & Board: $12.5K SUNY OswegoOswego gets plenty of snow; perhapsthat’s why this campus has produced quitea few TV weathercasters. The libraryhouses an extensive collection of lettersand papers of Millard Fillmore, one ofAmerican’s worst presidents. Oswego isanother school where hockey is king.Note: SUNY Oswego does have areputation as a party school. [CoD]
St. Mary’s College of Maryland St. Mary’s City, MDSt. Marys College is officially designated by the State of Marylandas its public honors college. The school is small and the professorsare accessible and highly regarded by students. The dining hall ishighly regarded, too. During the senior year, students are expectedto complete a St. Mary’s Project, which may be a research project ora creative expression in the arts. There are a number of “green”initiatives on campus – from LEED silver-certified Goodpaster Hall tothe campus composting to the geothermal system. St. Marys City islocated on the estuary of the St. Marys River near where it emptiesinto the Potomac River, which in turn empties into Chesapeake Baynearby – so aquatic activities are popular. St. Marys City was the1st capital of Maryland in the 17th century. The area is 2 hours fromWashington, D.C., or Baltimore – but youd need a car. Newsweekonce rated SMC of MD as one of the 25 Most Desirable Rural Schoolsin America. [CoD] [COPLAC] Undergrads: 2000 Very few grad students Tuition & Fees: $27.6K Room & Board: $11.3K
University of North Carolina at Asheville Asheville, NCForget your preconceptions about the South; UNCA is a long wayfrom Tobacco Road. Asheville, a medium-sized city (~80,000+)situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, has a reputation as an artsytown that attracts creative types. To a certain extent, Asheville,including UNCA, has a reputation as something of a hippie haven,although “hipster” may be more like it. So given its setting, it shouldcome as no surprise that students are required to take a threesemester humanities core that covers a broad range of both Westernand Eastern texts. Politically, students at UNCA are reputed to be asliberal as students at any college anywhere; theres plenty ofactivism on campus. UNCA is also attractive to outdoor enthusiasts,is often cited as a “green” campus, and it’s Environmental Studiesprogram consistently makes the Fiske Guide to Colleges’ list of“…pre-professional programs with unusual strength in preparingstudents for careers.” [COPLAC] Undergrads: 3800 Out of…: 3900 Tuition & Fees: $19.7K Room & Board: $7.6K
University of Minnesota − Morris Morris, MNSituated in a small town on the farmed-over prairie of westernMinnesota, the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota wasonce the location of a U of M agricultural college, and an AmericanIndian boarding school before that. (In fact, in order to acquire theIndian school’s property, U of M had to promise that Native Americanstudents would always be educated there tuition-free. This is whyNative American students make up almost 10% of the student body,UMM’s main claim to diversity.) UMM is one of the greenest collegecampuses anywhere; two wind turbines provide most of theelectricity for the campus, and there is also a biomass plant. Thesciences are strong; biology and chemistry are the 2nd and 3rd mostpopular majors. Nearly half of UMM graduates go to graduate schoolof one kind or another. The annual spring jazz festival is a big deal.Morris is not close to a major metropolitan area, but there is aweekend shuttle to Minneapolis. [COPLAC] Undergrads: 1900 No graduate students Tuition & Fees: $12.6K Room & Board: $7.3K
University of Mary Washington Christopher Newport University Fredericksburg, VA Newport News, VAUMW is the only university named for CNU, named for a turn-of-the-17tha US President’s mom, a vestige of century English pirate, opened itsUMW’s former status as the women’s doors in 1961 as an extensioncollege for the University of Virginia. campus of William and Mary. In 1996,Another likely vestige is the high the administration of CNU started thefemale-to-male ratio at UMW. process of transitioning CNU from anBefitting it’s location, UMW is one of “overgrown community college” to athe few schools that offer a BA in competitive university. It hashistoric preservation. The debate expanded its campus and itsprogram is very strong, especially academic programs and is now seenpolicy debate. Seniors are required as an up-and-coming universityto fulfill the experiential learning according to many college rankings.requirement, designed to challenge Spirit abounds, and attendance atstudents to go outside of the bounds football and (both men’s & women’s)of the typical classroom. The honor basketball games is pretty good for acode is a big deal here, but overall D-III school. The dorm facilities arethe atmosphere on campus is highly regarded, too. Randall Munroe,generally described as relaxed and of xkcd fame, majored in physics.friendly. [CoD] [COPLAC] Undergrads: 4800 Out of…: 5000 Undergrads: 4500 Tuition & Fees: $20.1K Out of…: 5200 Room & Board: $9.9K Tuition & Fees: $21.6K Room & Board: $9.0K
Ramapo College Mahwah, NJ Ramapo College, the school that is officially designated as New Jersey’s Public Liberal Arts College, is located in a relatively affluent suburb of New York City. Like TCNJ, there are virtually no large lecture hall classes. Their stated mission revolves around the “Four Pillars”: interdisciplinary curriculum, international education, intercultural understanding and experiential Undergrads: 5700 Out of…: 5900 learning opportunities. [COPLAC] Tuition & Fees: $21.6K Room & Board: $11.6K Salisbury University Salisbury, MD Admittedly, the city of Salisbury is not the nicest part of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. But the campus it- self has been gettingUndergrads: 7900 much, much nicer over theOut of…: 8600Tuition & Fees: $16.0K past decade or so, and thisRoom & Board: $9.9K school’s program and repu- [CoD] tation are on the rise, too.
The Evergreen State College Olympia, WAThe Simpsons creator Matt Groening said of his alma mater that itwas “...a hippie college, with no grades or required classes, that drewevery creative weirdo in the Northwest.” Groening was at Evergreenin the 1970s shortly after it opened in 1971, but much of the ‘60sethos remains. The school motto is the Latin translation of “Let it allhang out.” Rather than taking several classes per quarter, students atEvergreen take one full-load interdisciplinary course per quarter.Students receive narrative evaluations rather than letter grades.Incoming students agree to the Evergreen Social Contract, whichobligates students to value freedom of thought and expression and totreat every member of the community in a civil manner. The campusproperty itself, located in the state capitol of Olympia, includes aforest and a beach – the latter is generally considered “clothingoptional.” It is the kind of school that a student who really embraceswhat Evergreen is about will get a lot out of − but it’s not foreverybody. [CoD] [CTCL] [COPLAC] Undergrads: 4500 Out of…: 4800 Tuition & Fees: $19.0K Room & Board: $9.2K
How do these schools compare with schools you’ve heard of?Direct comparisons are tricky, because different types of schools have very differentthings to offer. But here is how they compare using that “Middle 50% Range” Metric. (Sources: US Department of Education, SFUSD) Click on the graphic above to see the full chart on the web and peruse it at your leisure.
A few more schools of this ilk:Mid-50% range of SAT or ACT* scores for entering first-year students at these schools are comparable to those at CSU schools. HSU, SSU and CSUMB are included for comparison and are italicized. *Approximate correlation between ACT and SAT scores can be found here and here. CA = CSU tuition for California residents. WUE = Tuition for eligible students through WUE program of WICHE. CoD = Schools that are featured in Colleges of Distinction. COPLAC = Schools that are members of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. # of Total, SAT/ACT* SAT/ACT* SAT School Location Under- Incl. Tuition & Fees Room Mid-50% Mid-50% Mid-50% CO- CoD grads Post-Bac. & Critical Reading Math Writing PLAC Board University of Montevallo Montevallo, AL 2500 3000 $17.9K $6.5K 18-24 20-28 University of Sci and Arts of Chickasha, OK 1000 1000 $13.2K $5.3K 20-27 18-24 OK University of IL at Springfield Springfield, IL 3100 5100 $18.3K $8.2K 20-26 19-25 Richard Stockton Coll. of NJ Galloway, NJ 7200 8100 $18.7K $10.7K 470-570 490-600 470-560 SUNY Fredonia Fredonia, NY 5400 5700 $18.2K $10.5K 480-580 490-590 SUNY Cortland Cortland, NY 6400 7300 $16.2K $11.4K 510-590 480-560 SUNY Brockport Brockport, NY 7200 8400 $16.1K $10.3K 470-570 490-580 460-560 Southern Utah University Cedar City, UT 7200 7700 $17.0K/$8.6KWUE $6.0K 19-26 18-25 Fort Lewis College Durango, CO 3800 3800 $17.6K $7.9K 19-25 18-24 Winthrop University Rock Hill, SC 4900 5900 $24.7K $7.3K 470-580 480-570 Humboldt State University Arcata, CA 7400 8000 $7.6KCA $10.9K 460-580 450-570 SUNY Plattsburgh Plattsburgh, NY 5800 6400 $16.1K $10.1K 470-550 480-560 University of Wisc. − Superior Superior, WI 2600 2800 $15.5K $5.9K 19-24 18-24 Sonoma State University Rohnert Park, CA 7700 8700 $7.4KCA $9.2K 450-560 460-570 University of ME at Farmington Farmington, ME 2200 2300 $18.2K $8.5K 440-570 440-540 460-570 Midwestern State University Wichita Falls, TX 5500 6200 $9.6K $6.2K 450-560 480-560 430-530 Western State Colorado Univ. Gunnison, CO 2000 2200 $16.3K/$11.5K $8.7K 18-24 18-24 Keene State College Keene, NH 5100 5300 $19.7K $8.8K 450-550 450-550 450-550 Southern Oregon University Ashland, OR 5900 6700 $21.5K/$10.0KWUE $9.2K 450-580 440-550 Shepherd University Shepherdstown, WV 4200 4400 $15.1K $9.1K 460-560 450-550 Eastern Conn. State University Willimantic, CT 5300 5600 $21.3K $9.9K 460-550 450-550 Mass. College of Liberal Arts North Adams, MA 1700 1900 $17.5 $9.3K 440-560 450-550 Henderson State University Arkadelphia, AR 3400 3800 $12.5K $6.3K 18-25 18-24 University of Hawaii at Hilo Hilo, HI 3500 4100 $17.8K/$9.1KWUE $8.0K 420-540 430-560 410-520 Eastern Oregon University La Grande, OR 3900 4300 $13.2K/$10.3KWUE $8.7K 430-540 430-540
And Don’t Forget Canada!In most of Canada, small undergraduate-focused schoolsakin to American liberal arts colleges are not common.But in one region in particular − the Maritime provinces −such schools are actually the norm. Of the next fourschools profiled here, three are in the Maritimes; thefourth is a small Anglophone school in the province ofQuébec. Checking Maclean’s Canadian university rankingsmay give you some other ideas. (Maclean’s is a Canadiannews magazine akin to US News & World Report.) Manyschools make a “Common Data Set” available; you canuse these to compare schools. (But you can’t use SATscores; Canadian schools generally don’t require theSAT.) The Maritimes
Mount Allison University Sackville, NBIronically, the first people who can see first hand how Mt. AllisonUniversity values personal attention are those who are deniedadmission; rejections include a handwritten note explaining specificareas of weakness. (Personal hand-written notes are included withacceptance letters, too.) Mt. Allison University is regarded by manyas the top primarily-undergraduate university in Canada. It hasproduced 50 Rhodes Scholars over the years, a high number for sucha small school. Although Mount Allison has a strong reputation in thesciences, it is best known for its arts, fine arts and music programs.It is home to the oldest university art gallery in Canada, and the artsscene in Sackville is pretty vibrant overall. Mt. A. also offers anaviation degree, unusual for a school of this type. Of historicalinterest: Mount Allison was the first university in the British Empire toconfer a bachelor’s degree to a woman (1875). Undergrads: 2500 Very few grad students Tuition & Fees: $15.9K (Can.) Room & Board: $8.4K (Can.)
Saint Francis Xavier University Antigonish, NSMost schools sell class rings to their graduates-to-be, but no schoolmakes the class ring a point of pride like St. Francis Xavier does.Seniors are awarded their X-Rings in a ceremony that takes place onthe feast day of St. Francis Xavier. St. Francis Xavier students ratetheir school extremely high in terms of professor accessibility andoverall satisfaction with their educational experience. The sense ofcommunity on campus is strong to the point of sometimes beingcalled an “X-cult.” The university offers many strong programs inbusiness, the arts and sciences and information systems. Some ofthe more unique programs: Aquatic Resources, Celtic Studies andJazz Studies. The athletic teams are actually called the X-Men (andX-Women)! The campus is home to the Coady International Institute,which promotes innovative approaches to international development.Antigonish is home to the longest-running Highland Games festivaloutside of Scotland. Undergrads: 4200 Out of…: 4600 Tuition & Fees: $14.7K (Can.) Room & Board: $9.0K (Can.)
Bishops University Sherbrooke, QCBishop’s is located in Lennoxville, a historically English-speaking (butnow bilingual) community that, along with other nearby communities,recently merged with the larger, mostly French-speaking city ofSherbrooke. Bishop’s is one of three English-language universities inthe province of Québec (McGill and Concordia, both in Montréal, arethe others). It is another small university that emphasizes closeworking relationships with faculty in a small residential setting andinstruction in the liberal arts and sciences. The Williams School ofBusiness is well respected. Its academic programs are broadly basedand stress the inter-relationships of disciplines rather than theirspecializations. The campus features its own wildlife refuge. A wordof caution: Bishop’s does have a “party school” reputation. Undergrads: 1800 Very few grad students Tuition & Fees: $18.9K (Can.) Room & Board: $7.6K (Can.)
There are more small schools out there that you might be interested in − schools that are not necessarily liberal arts-focused, or even undergraduate- focused. They may have remained small because of geographic remoteness or because some offerings outshine others. Or the school could simply be relatively new. Trent University University of Lethbridge Peterborough, ON Lethbridge, AB Undergrads: 7500 Undergrads: 6800 Out of…: 7900 University of Northern Out of…: 7400 Tuition & Fees: $18.3K (Can.) British Columbia Tuition & Fees: $12.2K (Can.) Room & Board: $9.2K (Can.) Prince George, BC Room & Board: $5.2K (Can.) Notable Programs: Undergrads: 2900 Notable Programs: Forensic Science Out of…: 3600 Neuroscience Env. Resource Science Tuition & Fees: $17.7K (Can.) Addictions Counseling Room & Board: $6.2K (Can.) Notable Programs: University of Prince Environmental Studies Edward Island Natural Resource Mgmt. University of Charlottetown, PE Michigan−Dearbor Undergrads: 4000 n Out of…: 4300 Tuition & Fees: $12.7K (Can.) Dearborn, MI Room & Board: $9.6K (Can.) Undergrads: 7200 Notable Programs: Out of…: 8700 Veterinary Medicine, Tuition & Fees: $22.9K Biology, Business Room & Board: N/A* Mid-50% ACT Eng.: 21-27 University of Colorado Mid-50% ACT Math: 21-26 Colorado Springs Notable Programs: Rutgers−Camden Colorado Springs, CO Engineering, Business Camden, NJ Undergrads: 8000 Out of…: 10100 University of Alabama Undergrads: 4700 Out of…: 6400 Tuition & Fees: $17.9K in Huntsville Tuition & Fees: $26.9K WUE T&F: $14.6K Huntsville, AL Room & Board: $11.4K Room & Board: $9.7K Undergrads: 5900 Mid-50% SAT CR: 480-580 Mid-50% ACT Eng.: 20-26 Out of…: 7600 Mid-50% SAT Math: 490-600 Mid-50% ACT Math: 19-26 Tuition & Fees: $21.1K Mid-50% SAT Writing: 490-570 Notable Programs: Room & Board: $8.2K Notable Programs: Engineering, Business Mid-50% ACT Eng.: 22-30 Business, Law Mid-50% ACT Math: 21-28 Notable Programs: Engineering, BusinessN/A* = No campus housing available.
Or perhaps you’re interested in going to a school that specializes in the visual arts. Or the performing arts. Alberta College Nova Scotia College of Art and Design of Art and Design Calgary, AB Halifax, NS Tuition & Fees: $15K (Can.) Tuition & Fees: $13.9K (Can.) Room & Board: $10K (est.) Room & Board: $8.3K (Can.) Emily Carr University of Art and Design Vancouver, BC Ontario College Tuition & Fees: $12.7K (Can.) of Art and Design Room & Board: N/A* Toronto, ON Tuition & Fees: $18.6K (Can.) Room & Board: N/A* Massachusetts College of Art and Design Purchase Boston, MA College Tuition & Fees: $27.5K Room $ Board: $12.6K Purchase, NY See Profile University of North Carolina School of the Arts Winston-Salem, NC Tuition & Fees: $20.7K Room & Board: $6.1K (performing arts)N/A* = No campus housing available.
Or perhaps you see yourself studying engineering orthe applied sciences. And rather than going to a largeinstitution, you would prefer a smaller school thatfocused on such academic pursuits. Wouldnt it beabsolutely ideal to go to MIT or CalTech?Well, you cant (in all probability).But while those two schools may be the most elitesmall engineering- and applied sciences-focusedschools, they arent the only ones – and a fewalternatives happen to be public schools that offer ahigh-quality education and may well be moreaffordable than their private counterparts, even forout-of-state students.Presenting...
Small(er) Public Engineeringand Applied Sciences Colleges
Colorado School of Mines Golden, COAs its name suggests, Colorado School of Mines was born of the goldmining in the Colorado Territory in the latter half of the 19th century.Mines is still one of the few institutions that has the broad expertisein resource exploration, extraction, production and utilization that itdoes, but it broadened its focus a long time ago so that it has becomea very well respected overall engineering school. Mines stresses itscore engineering curriculum, believing that engineers are engineersfirst, and practitioners of their specialties second. Overall, professorsexpect a lot of their students. The emphasis at Mines – and this istrue of most of the schools presented here – is on engineeringpractice rather than theory. Employers seem to like this; the jobplacement rate and average starting salaries for Colorado School ofMines grads is high. CSM and the city of Golden abut the Front Rangejust west of Denver; the opportunity for outdoor activity abounds. Undergrads: 4000 Out of…: 5500 Tuition & Fees: $30.7K Room & Board: $9.2K
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Rapid City, SDSDSM&T, which also began as a mining school, owes its existence toits proximity to the Black Hills, site of an 1870s gold rush. It owes itsDepartment of Defense funding for the cutting edge research beingdone by its Advanced Materials Processing Center to its proximity toEllsworth Air Force Base. Materials is one of the four research areasthat SDSM&T specializes in; the others are energy, undergroundscience and science education. Additionally, the Electrical andComputer Engineering department conducts significant research inapplied electromagnetics and microwave technology. SDSM&T offerssome distinctive degree programs at the MS level; its atmosphericscience program is nationally recognized, and it is one of the fewschools to offer any degree in robotics or in paleontology – theMuseum of Geology is an important research center for the study oflarge vertebrate fossils. Undergrads: 2000 Out of…: 2300 Tuition & Fees: $11.5K Room & Board: $5.9K
Montana Tech of the University of Montana Butte, MTUnlike the schools presented in the previous 6 slides, Montana Techdoes not award the Ph.D. (yet), thus the emphasis is squarely onundergraduate education. Also, while men still outnumber women,the ratio at Montana Tech is more like 3:2 (significantly lower thanthe previous 6). Several engineering programs at Montana Tech –geological, geophysical, mining, metallurgical and petroleum – arereminders of how important resource extraction is in Montana. Butstudents can also study more general engineering, scientific andmathematical fields, or business or nursing, and can do so at a schoolwhere small classes and hands-on learning are the norm. MontanaTech’s Career Services Office has a very high job placement rate.Butte’s location in the Rockies just west of the Continental Dividemeans that opportunities for outdoor recreation abound, but there’splenty to do on campus, too, which students are alerted to by email. Undergrads: 1900 Out of…: 2100 Tuition & Fees: $18.1K* *T&F with WUE: $9.0K Room & Board: $7.5K
Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls, OROIT is another institution that focuses on undergraduate educationrather than Ph.D.-level research, with the emphasis being on hands-on learning and practical design principles. In addition to severaltraditional engineering programs (mechanical, civil and electrical),OIT offers programs such as geomatics and renewable energyengineering. OIT is the only completely geothermally-heated collegecampus in America, and it is planning to go entirely off the power gridin a few years. Although as rigorous as any, the engineering programat OIT is actually pretty small; in terms of degrees awarded, theengineering technology program is larger and the health caretechnology program is 3 times as large. The main OIT campus islocated in Klamath Falls, close to the California state line. Undergrads: 3900 Very few grad students Tuition & Fees: $23.7K* *T&F with WUE: $11.7K Room& Board: $8.4K
How do these schools compare with each other and the Cal Poly Schools? Here is how they compare using that “Middle 50% Range” Metric. (Sources: US Department of Education, SFUSD) Click on the graphic above to see the full chart on the web and peruse it at your leisure.
"If all you want is a good education(and you want that more than you wanta name-brand degree), you can get a goodeducation just about anywhere." Paul Marthers Former Dean of Admissions Reed CollegeThe moral of the story is: Don’t beobsessed with getting into “The RightSchool”. Just find a school that’s rightfor you. Maybe − just maybe − you’vefound one here.