College Search, cont’d

Writing Lifers: By extraordinarily unscientific means, we narrowed “our” list down to five schools:

These schools are worth our consideration, I think, because with one exception (UAB) there’s a certain doppleganger thing going on. You can compare UNC and UA (though it didn’t make the final five). Same with Montevallo and William & Mary and Knox College and Birmingham-Southern (which also didn’t make the cut but, like UA, it should still at least be on your radar). There are important differences between these pairs, to be sure. But UNC and UA are both large public research universities that also have some reputation for their humanities programs; Montevallo and W&M are both public liberal arts colleges, which is something of a rarity. And, of course, Knox and B-SC are both private liberal arts colleges.  

Again with the disclaimer: we make no representation that these five schools are better than any others, or that any of you should end up attending one of them. We’re just trying to refine our search criteria and apply them in the wild, as it were. Speaking of search criteria, here are a few we identified:

  • Teaching focus
  • “Quirk” — Curricular flexibility and/or innovation
  • Location — Far away/New
  • Location — Close by/Familiar
  • Tuition
  • Specific programs — Honors programs, departments/majors, study abroad, etc.
  • Setting — Urban/rural, quintessential college town, etc.
  • “Consortia” — Partnerships with  nearby colleges and unversities.

So here’s what I want you to do. In the comments section of this blog post, answer the following question:

If you had to apply to one of these five schools, which one would it be and give three reasons why. Be specific. Feel free to comment on some or all of the other schools in comparison. Think in terms of the criteria above and also this post on how to get a general read on a school’s quality of professors/teaching from afar. Feel free to introduce new criteria that are important to you as well.

An important caveat: for our purposes right now, exclude cost from the equation.

Your comments are due by Thursday, April 15.

7 thoughts on “College Search, cont’d

  1. Liz Brody April 15, 2010 / 7:58 pm

    William and Mary:
    • Second oldest university in the US
    • A “public ivy”
    • Ranked 14th in the US for having the “happiest students”

    • Liberal arts college running since 1882
    • 9-1 student-faculty ratio
    • 45% of junior class study abroad

    • Founded in 1837 by social reformers
    • Obama has an honorary degree
    • The students share 15 bicycles on campus

  2. Lin April 16, 2010 / 5:39 pm

    …I thought I posted this. >.<

    I chose College of W&M.

    Teaching focus – professors seem very dedicated to the students here. It's almost as if the professor's relationship with you is more important than the friendships you make. Although that sounds harsh. The point is, they're going to focus on you.

    "Quirk" – you get to design your own major. Lots of clubs and extracurriculars. It's a liberal arts education that focuses itself with research, from what I understand–there's a senior project that you have to do and such.

    Location – Virginia, far away from Alabama, which I'm completely okay with. It's still the South, though, so I don't think it'd be as cold.

    Tuition – $42,000 a year. Ouch.

    Specific programs – Not completely sure. I think its psychology department is strong. It doesn't have computer science, which I'm interested in, though. English, we already went through that–doesn't seem very 'creative.'

    Setting – Williamsburg is very historic, lots of parks to visit. Lots of places to eat. Not really considered a college town, more touristy. So not very exciting, I'd say.

    Consortia – They have some internship consortia, but they're not part of any that I know of.

  3. Brookes Fountain April 17, 2010 / 11:36 pm

    i chose UAB:

    1) it is ranked annually in top five research schools in the U.S.

    2) one of administrators won the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate award from the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition.

    3. they foius alot on research, and are very on top of the world when coems to that, but have a broad range of art courses and such others. their staff come across as very into the students too, and not jsut their research. i feel there is a well-done balance.

  4. nicola May 4, 2010 / 9:15 pm

    1) location. knox is located in a small, college-ish town in a totally new region of the country (for me)
    2) i’m not a huge fan of private universities, and knox is private.
    3) it’s has a tremendous history, which is important considering historical relevance can be a make it or break it thing…i guess. it reminds me a lot of charleston in that way.

  5. Tyler May 5, 2010 / 8:35 pm

    UAB, because

    1) It’s a big research university with lots of people and ideas. Groundbreaking things happen there, and even if I’m not a part of those groundbreaking things, maybe I can glean something from them. I know i’ll learn something.

    2) It’s the only one of the colleges that’s in the heart of a big(ish) city. I want stuff to do, stuff to see, stuff to experience off campus. I want the variety of people and places and ideas that a big city has and a small town doesn’t.

    3) Sort of the same thing as number one, but more specific. Huge medical discoveries are made at UAB hospital. For someone interested in medicine, UAB is fantastic.

  6. emma May 5, 2010 / 9:29 pm


    1) i really, really like the town.
    2) it’s far enough away but close enough to home.
    3) a lot of choices as far as like, what i want out of a major goes.
    4) awesome creative writing program, if i choose to either take classes or end up majoring in it.

  7. amber holloway May 6, 2010 / 9:13 pm

    I’m not really good at making decisions, but after looking around, I think I’m going to have to say Knox. Though there are a lot of reasons that aren’t really that interesting, including that they aren’t at home and I am genuinely interested in the extra-curriculars that they offer (Common Ground, their version of BAGSLY; Making Things, it’s like a tiny ASFA, and has people of all fields of art coming together and collaboration, encouragement to create, which I need; Model United Nations, well, I mean, not only do I have a thing for politics, but they travel all the way to Montreal to do it and I’ve wanted to go to Montreal because that’s where Leonard Cohen is from, and that is where he watched his mother die and the rivers are where he wrote and cried and ever since I started loving him, I’ve thought, man, if I could go there and see the same things, maybe I could understand more of Leonard, more of myself, maybe I could write about it; Best Buddies, this is a program much like Big Brother or Big Sister where Knox students have the opportunity to develop friendships with the mentally disabled. Not only is this appealing because I want to do it, it’s appealing because this college is the kind of place to have a club for it, and not just a program that teaches about it.; KARES-Knox Advocates for Recycling and Environmental Support, which, you know. I think you can tell what this is for, and what it’s for is important to me.; Diminished Capacity, this is a writing publication of Knox particularly for comedic writing. I like this, because though I’m not the best at it, I’m very interested in comedic writing. I know everyone thinks that life has various ONE MEANING’s but really, people just want to be happy, and I think laughter is happiness in its purest form. If I could do anything, like, literally anything with my life, I would be a stand-up comedian. And since I cannot go to college for that, going to a college where at least I am guaranteed that others are interested in laughter, it makes me feel better.) to me, something that really hits home is that some of their most recent commencement speakers have been Bill Clinton and Stephen Colbert. This matters not only because I like those people, but also because it says something about the attitude of the college, what they search to say through all parts of themselves.

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