• We’ve decided that DC1 will be making any and all college choices.  We do have a few rules that we’ve outlined here before:  It must be in the Fiske guide.  It cannot be a public school in another state (we’re not paying private school tuition for a state school, and the states with reciprocity aren’t as good as our state flagship).  But other than that it’s up to DC1.  We have saved and will pay for whatever.
  • While DC1 was researching about Harvey Mudd for hir practice “Why Mudd?” essay, zie came upon a lot of stuff about the insane workload and how students put things off to the last minute because they’re taking 5-6 classes a semester when students at the other 4 consortium colleges are only taking 4 classes/semester.  And how there’s so little grade inflation that literally only a handful of students have gotten a 4.0 since 1955.  (I mean, I didn’t get a 4.0 in college either, but I also never got below a B and was never concerned I would get below a B.  I think DH got a C in a pre-med weedout class he had to take for his major at the regional ivy he went to.)
  • HMC has recently cut a couple of classes from their core curriculum, but it’s still generally 5-6 classes a semester going forward, except the first semester is only 4.
  • But our students at the state flagship also take 5-6 courses a semester, so maybe that’s not horrific?  Still, our undergraduate classes aren’t anywhere near as intense as classes at a top liberal arts school.
  • I had so many friends burn out at Caltech who are now not working in anything STEM related.  (I feel super guilty about my ex-boyfriend from high school who could have graduated from our state flagship in 2 years instead.)  Harvey Mudd isn’t that because they have support systems and stuff, but if DC1 wants to go to graduate school, will a lower GPA hurt?
  • DC1 is currently thinking HMC for early decision.  They accept 25% of their early decision applicants and far less than 10% of their regular decision applicants.  DC1 doesn’t really have any “spikes” in terms of extra curriculars (everything zie has done would be considered “4th tier“).  I would feel so much better if zie knew what hir full option set was before making the decision to do HMC.
  • It’s hard to make these decisions as a 15 year old.
  • Another thing we talked about was social lives.  I went to a top liberal arts school, which draws people across all different majors.  And I’m super lazy.  So I tended to just socialize (ex. eat meals with) people I lived near rather than people I had actual things in common with.  I did have friends who were nerds (math majors, the guy who introduced me to Kenshin, etc.), but, because I always got low housing lottery numbers, seeing them was more of a weekly thing than a daily thing (technically, I got mediocre housing lottery numbers, but my roommate got insanely low ones each year and I couldn’t dump her because that’s how I ended up being paired with her in the first place– her friends dumped her because she brought their average down too much).  At any large school, your people exist (DH found his through fencing club), but if you’re lazy, you won’t necessarily make an effort to see them.  At a place like MIT or HMC or Caltech, you’re surrounded by people with interesting interests, but the workload and lack of grade inflation can make socializing vs. work tradeoffs difficult.
  • PE is a 4.0 class.  Since DC1 took it as a junior, hir class rank dropped from 25 to 23.  That explains why the class was mostly second semester seniors!  We didn’t even think of that.
  • (Also the class rank denominator dropped a lot– I guess kids do drop out of high school when it’s no longer required, which is super sad.  It’s not redistricting and there wasn’t a drop like this last year and it’s not like the university is making cut-backs or anything so university parents aren’t leaving.)
  • DC1’s class schedule doesn’t work– zie cannot take AP Music Theory because it’s never offered.  AP Art History doesn’t fit into hir schedule.  AP Spanish V (a point of contention in the grumpy household, but we gave in with the proviso that zie include it as an alternate) doesn’t fit into hir schedule.  There are no 5.0 classes that weren’t on hir list (Anatomy, AP Bio etc.) that fit into the blank spot left after all the other classes are set.  So zie can either take a “research” elective (they have to come up with something and submit it to a science fair) or zie can take multivariate calculus at my university (sadly, they don’t let hir take classes over the summer, just during the school year).  DC1 wants to take the calculus option.  I’m not sure if this is going to be possible because of class schedules (the university has to open up their evening section to make it feasible, which it will probably do after freshman enroll), and if it is, I’m so worried about the work load on top of AP Chem, AP Calc-based Physics, AP Statistics, AP English, AP Government, etc.  Especially since it looks like the engineering version’s evening section is full and zie would have to take the math major section if it opens up.  We barely got through this year and zie had PE/study hall for one class!
  • The grades for above won’t matter if zie does early decision or goes to the state flagship.  The AP tests won’t matter if zie goes to HMC (they don’t accept any).
  • DC1 had to get a meningitis shot to apply!  We’re still waiting for that to go through before zie is allowed to try to sign up for calculus even if there is a section that works for hir.
  • My friend recommends the research option because the teacher gives everyone 100% and the class is essentially over in February after the science fair.  But that requires finding a mentor and sitting in the back of the physics class DC1 just finished everyday during the free period and DC1 says zie doesn’t want to do it.
  • I don’t think zie will be able to use hir summer internship project for the science fair because it uses protected and proprietary data.  But that’s something we will have to look into if calculus doesn’t work out.
  • I kind of hope multi-variate calculus doesn’t work out.
  • My undergrad no longer allows undergraduate cars on campus!
  • Not related to college: Covid update:  My friend who I walk with at work’s daughter has covid, just a day before she was going to get her first vaccine (or a week before her 5th birthday when she had been going to get her vaccine).  DH’s colleague that he was at a conference with the other week seems to have picked up covid at the conference she went to directly after.  I am so glad that DH didn’t get it at the conference and I’m also glad I didn’t make it into work this week(!) since I’m the only person at work who masks still and one-way protection isn’t perfect, and even I don’t mask on our outdoor walks.  County reported levels are 25/100K.  I hope these are all mild cases.
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43 Responses to “RBOCollege”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    We toured Harvey Mudd and what you are saying is absolutely true. We have a friend that goes to Scripts and she gave us the unofficial tour and nailed it in one statement. “I don’t see the Mudd kids much. They are always studying. Even their clubs are just more classes in disguise”. Then on the official tour they talked about grade deflalation and it is real. The average gpa at graduation is a 3.2. When asked why it happens, the tour guide said “for example, we take this one class that’s the equivalent of an MBA and it’s covered in one semester”. The tour guide said that there is even a statement on the transcript that specifically talks to the grade deflation. I don’t know how that would impact grad school though. I went to a school that was very similar in its day and coincidentally, my gpa was a 3.2. It wasn’t fun. It also recently had the distinction of having the highest student Suicide rate in the country. They even hired someone to help address it. (My former uni, not Mudd) The two felt so similar and part of me feels like I didn’t give it a fair shake because of that.

    My kid didn’t like mudd mainly for 3 reasons. 1) it felt like high school. It was very small and he already goes to a tiny school and wanted bigger. (But one of our tour guides went to a huge school and wanted to go smaller so it totally depends on your perspective.) 2) they really highlighted the liberal arts part of the education as a positive and for him it was a detractor as he wants to do as little of that as possible. 3) grade deflation. I didn’t like it for different reasons. My kid can learn any content but really needs to learn how to build those long lasting relationships and work on teams. Mudd really values the quantity of learning..like it’s somehow better that they jam 6 years of coursework work into a 4 year education. I don’t see how doing more helps with the soft skills. If anything, having your head stuck in a book the whole time will hurt, not help my kid break out of his shell.

    I hope this doesn’t seem like I’m trying to talk you out of Mudd. It is a great school that churns out high performing people who get great jobs at very high salaries. It’s why we went. The breakneck pace does yield a desirable hardworking tech person as well. (But do I want my kid to be a workaholic his whole life? I have those tendencies as well so I’m sensitive to it). For a gifted child, having more content may also be just what they need, otherwise they’d be bored. For us, it wasn’t a fit. Just wanted to be the devils advocate on this one as early decision is a big step. Have you visited there already?

    In comparison, cal poly seemed like a better fit. Our friend’s kid is a freshman there and loves it but initially wanted to go to Uc Berkeley and didn’t get in. Her 3 friends are at UCB and she said how miserable they are because the kids are cutthroat and competitive and classmates would give you the wrong help on purpose to pull your grade down so theirs would increase on the curve. My other friend’s daughter is also transferring out of uc San Diego for similar reasons. I’m not saying all top schools are backstabbing but there does seem to be a higher prevalence of kids willing to do anything to get ahead. I am now questioning that even if we could get in to some of these top schools, would they be the right fit for undergrad? Are these the values I want my kid to learn? We definitely want a collaborative culture, not a competitive one. And at a lot of R1’s, the priority is research and publishing, not teaching. Although it does seem like there are now more undergrad opps to get involved in important research than in my day.

    We have been really lucky to have friend’s kids at some of these schools and it really gave us an important look behind the kimono. The unsanctioned tours were much more informative than the real ones. The real tours all say the same thing…how many clubs they have, all the student services, how safe they all are are, blah blah. If I have to hear about the lettuce society from one more school….

    We did love Georgia tech and didn’t get the cutthroat vibe there but also don’t know anyone currently going. We have friends who are alums that loved it but that was a generation ago. A lot could have changed in that time.

    I hope our perspective helps and doesn’t add to the confusion of the decision making process. College tours did help a ton. I can’t stress enough how valuable they were to our search. The list we started with is much different than where we are now. My sons initial first choice, the state flagship, is now near the bottom of his list.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Sadly we won’t be doing any college tours.

      I don’t know that Mudd courses are as hard as most equivalent MIT or CalTech courses, they’re just overloaded. And I’m not sure that cutting the P/F semester to four courses helps. But also I don’t know that a separate diffy Q course is necessary given zie has already had phase diagrams and eigen values and vectors aren’t that hard to pick up. I wonder if they now stuff that material in another course.

      DC1 really wants a school like Pomona or Amherst (top SLAC in a consortium) but probably doesn’t have the extracurriculars to make it happen. And we really need to know more about the computer science departments in SLACs that aren’t consortiums. CS has gotten to be such a popular major but there aren’t enough professors. I joke to DH that maybe I should be the trailing spouse and he should do CS at a SLAC for a big paycut.

      • teresa Says:

        Ah, I was going to ask if they’d consider a different 5C school so they could take some Mudd classes without the Mudd nonsense, but maybe not. But maybe Pitzer? Or is Pitzer just as hard admission wise now? (or just still too much a different group of people?) Was also going to say maybe Oxy since it has a similar vibe to 5Cs, but obviously not a consortium.
        As a socially lazy/awkward person who met most of my people through sports, definitely grateful for the SLAC experience. Don’t know what I would have done at a big school.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Pitzer is weird admissions wise. They don’t want to even get any of DC1’s strengths (test scores) and DC1 is not who they are looking for (not a social justice warrior). Very different from when it was drugged out rich kids!

        I read somewhere that HMC is now limiting who takes CS courses so I’m not sure CMC would work (plus DC1 is not who they’re looking for according to DC1). [Update: it looks like they’re still honoring the agreement with Pomona, just not the other 5cs: https://www.cs.hmc.edu/off-campus-students. ] I don’t know what hir chances at Pomona would be. Pomona is definitely a top choice for DC1 but HMC may think DC1 is a better fit (and I recently read that 50% of grades given out at Pomona are As(!)). It depends on if DC1’s spinning of biomedical interests is good enough on the help people spectrum even without other social justice and how many people pomona takes these days who don’t have great extracurriculars. I wish we knew hir admissions chances. I also emailed our pomona regional admissions person about DC1’s age (will be 16 as a freshman) and got no response. HMC told DC1 at an online thing that they didn’t take age into account at all but zie might consider spinning it into a strength in hir application.

        Oxy has only had a computer science program since 2017. If I had gone to oxy I would have run out of classes to take. It might be on hir list, but it doesn’t seem like an obvious choice. Also they didn’t hire me!

        DC1 goes to a big high school and wants a smaller college. But DH was able to find his people at a large university. It’s hard to say. I am kind of astonished how much time I spent with people I didn’t even like that much in college just because I was too lazy to coordinate with people I didn’t live near. We had icq! It wasn’t impossible! (But also because of geek social fallacies, I didn’t realize I didn’t actually like them. https://plausiblydeniable.com/five-geek-social-fallacies/ )

      • teresa Says:

        !!!!!! to the 50% As.
        I’m amazed and a little jealous at how many majors/programs/classes there are now that didn’t exist 20 years ago. But also, very seriously doubt I’d get in now, so there’s that.
        Giggling a little bit at the Oxy not hiring you comment cuz I have similar feelings about perfectly good places that didn’t hire me. (I did have to look at the Oxy site to confirm they have CS now before commenting. Randomly it was on the home page as their “featured major.”)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I was really shocked about how common CS has become as a major compared to when I was in school. It’s now one of the most popular majors at my old undergrad whereas when I went it was the bastard child of the math department with only 2 professors. (Back then you didn’t need a college degree to become a programmer!) In my day saying you wanted to major in CS would be a plus, but I think now it’s a minus– they have too many CS majors and not enough professors. So that won’t help DC1.

      • Alice Says:

        FWIW: I went to a larger university and was able to find my people, though it took awhile. My sister went to a small private college and complained that it was like our smallish high school all over again. Very cliquey and if you weren’t into certain things, you were pretty low on social opportunities.

        My guess is that at a smaller school, socially matching the culture of the school in terms of likes/dislikes/how you socialize becomes more important because there’s less variety. My university had a Fraternity/Sorority presence on campus, for example, but if you were a non-Greek sort of person, there were about 18000 non-Greek types on campus. And from them, you could find your type of people to hang out with, though you might not find all of them right away during your Freshman year.

  2. Chelsea Says:

    We are quite a ways off from college, but I’m curious about how you’ve talked to DC1 about college choice in relation to career goals. Like “If you want to do X then it’s better to go somewhere like Harvey Mudd but if you think you want to do Y then it’s better to go to State Flagship.”

    Both DH and I went to our state flagship (where we met!) and it worked out well for us, but we’re “regular people”. For example, visiting a college would not have been on the table in my family due to finances. I feel unequipped to give a kid advice about picking an elite college for an elite career like – I don’t even know! – tech or consulting or whatnot. I have two bright kids, and I want them to know that there’s a wider world out there, but I feel like I have no guidance to offer because I’m not part of that world.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Part of the reason DC1 is leaning SLAC is because zie doesn’t know what zie wants. HMC is one of the few places in the country that would allow hir to try engineering before committing to it. Zie does want a career that involves computer programming, but many careers do and the CS major isn’t required for many of them.

      I went to a SLAC and figured out what I wanted to do as a junior. DH had to declare when he applied at his near ivy, though he did add a second major.

    • bogart Says:

      It was a different era (late 1980s), but I went through high school convinced that I was going to become a professional equestrian (not high-level, more local teaching and training) and then decided against that. I visited precisely zero colleges (well, except I grew up where my safe school was) and knew I wanted to go out-of-state but applied to precisely 2 out-of-state institutions (and counting the safe school, 2 in-state, one had a very good recruiter…), got into only 1 of the out-of-state schools (another state’s flagship) and went there.

      It was fine. I found my niche, found friends, got a good education, had a good experience. I personally lean toward big schools for kids who don’t know what they want to do, because so many more options than SLACs (bigger departments, more disciplines), but having taught at a SLAC do think many kids can benefit from the hand-holding they offer (I did end up in a small hand-holdy interdisciplinary first major at my alma mater, so my experience may have been atypical in that regard).

      I tell every kid I ever talk to who’s stressing about where they’ll go to college (which is most of them) that what they do when they get to college is way, way, way more important than where they go. Like, focus on getting a good education. Seek guidance when you need it (and persist until you get it). Find sensible, decent friends and make sensible choices.

      Our kid currently wants to become a pilot, and we don’t want him to join the military (nor does he want to), so that narrows college options pretty significantly. We’ll see if the interest persists, he’s got several years before he’ll be applying.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I thought kids could get their pilot licenses as teenagers without college. Is that no longer true?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Huh you have to be 21 now! Times have changed!

        Edit: or is it 18? Google is not clear on this.

        Edit: 17? https://www.faa.gov/pilots/become/rec_private/

      • bogart Says:

        I think it is quite young. I have a colleague whose son is 18 and who has his, I’m pretty sure. Though DC’s expressed long-term goal is to pilot for some commercial airline, and that’s not something you get qualified to do by age 18.

        But. He has not in fact taken the initiative to pursue figuring out what’s involved, how he could do it, etc. Well — in fairness, he has vis-a-vis contemplating college and I’m totally cool with that, but he either doesn’t want to pursue it yet or at any rate hasn’t, and I’ll admit that I’m not devoted to the idea of him becoming a pilot — not opposed, but not devoted, and really if it’s not something he’s prepared to aggressively explore/pursue then I don’t think he should pursue it.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That makes sense. One of my uncles was only motivated to do or learn anything if it could help him be a professional pilot— he did do the work to figure out how.

  3. Steph Says:

    Just comparing number of classes isn’t necessarily useful in terms of time spent – at SLACs with a “1 class = 1 credit” program, 4 classes could mean 4 x 3 x 50 minute meetings per week OR 4 x 3 x 50 min lectures plus 1-3 x 3 hour labs. Where at schools that actually do credit hours, you can take more classes with fewer hours per class, and labs count for more credit hours.

    Another thing is that engineering can take up more hours at a SLAC, because engineering accreditation plus SLAC distribution courses requires taking an extra course in at least half your semesters. It’s a big problem at my college, especially when students decide to do a dual degree (technically a 5-year program, but all our students try to do it in 4).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      HMC classes taken by an HMC student are 3 credit hours but if a Scripps or Pomona or CMC student takes that exact same class (same place time instructor classmates) it is a 4 credit hour class for them. Since it is a consortium the number of classes is more meaningful than the credit hours. HMC is able to require so many classes by deflating the credit hours.

      But point taken for big universities. Though at ours it really doesn’t seem to be all that consistent how credit hours map into time, even for classroom hours. Foreign languages seems to be the only place where the distinction makes actual sense in terms of in class hours.

      • Steph Says:

        Ugh, that is really annoying. We have this conversation a lot because different departments have different visions of what a four-hour equivalence means (there’s a federal definition that we’re all supposed to follow, but few people actually do, it seems).

  4. Debbie M Says:

    DC1 could try to pre-learn one or more of hir subjects over the summer so that when zie takes it/them next year, it’s mostly review.

    You could require (or, if it’s too late for that, ask) that DC1 research a certain number of colleges or a college in each of several given categories before choosing.

    That’s interesting about the number of classes. My undergrad had only 4 classes per semester. Later when I found out that state-school students got 5 classes per semester, I felt cheated. My school claimed each class was a 4-hour class even though they met only 3 hours a week just like state-school classes. I went to a non-flagship state university my junior year (due to financial problems) and yes, those classes were much less work, more like high school. And when I went back to my good school I tried taking 5 classes, but one of them was just too crazy so I dropped it. Because of this post, I don’t feel so cheated anymore. Thanks!

    I definitely paid attention to the social aspects when I was choosing a college. And so I picked with with a male-female ratio around 50-50 because I needed practice with males (so no all-female colleges for me, no matter how awesome) but I didn’t want the attention of a mostly-male college either. I also picked one where most students lived on campus because in high school, my favorite two friends were in richer neighborhoods far from me, and we didn’t stay friends. In college, they would have to find some other excuse to drop me! Also, I was religious at that time and went to a college that was mostly people of my religion (Jewish) so I could get the holidays off without missing class. Finally, I wanted a school where people were from all over the place, an mine was only 10% of people from the same state and 10% from foreign countries. Oh, I also wanted a school full of smart people.

    How that worked out: I did get practice with males, but my grad school dorm was better with it’s 3-1 male-female ratio. I did not feel pressured, but like I didn’t have to wear make-up. I did make friends on campus through the dorms. And I stopped being religious there (none of the 3 different synagogues worked for me!) and ended up making friends mostly with Catholics somehow–I’m fine with that result. But spring break was always during Passover, which tended to be much later in the semester. On location, although only 10% were from Massachusetts, a much larger percent (25%? 40%?) were from New York, so it wasn’t as diverse as I’d hoped. I made a lot of friends and every one of them was from the northeastern US except one gal from Georgia and one guy from Iran. I’d never lived in New England, so it was sort of like study-abroad for me and was fine. And I did meet so many smart people! It was great! But I now suspect I could have been just as happy in my local state school majoring in “Plan II” (honors humanities and sciences), even though it was full of Texas. It turns out I like some Texans. :-)

    The covid stats I’ve been watching (besides which of my friends have it and which have it again) are the state hospitalization numbers. (I feel like these are more fully reported than covid test results, which can be at-home.) The place I look is updated only once a week now. But we appear to be on the upward side or near the top of a relatively short spike. And I haven’t heard of any additional new variants, so I’m hoping in a couple more months to start acting normal again.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I am very glad little kids can get vaccinated now. I feel so bad for my friend whose daughter was going to get vaccinated I think today, but came down with covid instead. :(

      Now that little kids can get vaccinated, I’m going to have to think about how I approach masking at work. Me being masked obviously makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable and there’s no longer the strong need to protect junior faculty with small children. One of our secretaries still has an immunocompromised husband, but she’s no longer masking, so me masking isn’t helping her feel more comfortable with it. Masking honestly is not hard to do (especially with my POSH KF95 and good pre-redesign BOTN)– but people here really don’t like it. I’d been telling myself I’d keep doing it at least until little kids can get vaccinated. Now I’m wondering if I should keep with the 11 per 100K metric or something else or what.

      The wife of the guy with the 11 per 100K metric has long covid and is not happy about it. So…

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Oh, also DC1 has read the fiske guide cover to cover, attended a bunch of online events, read piles of college mail, and done a lot of google searching trying to decide what colleges zie wants to apply to. Zie is taking it seriously! It’s just that there’s a couple perfect schools for everything DC1 wants that are tough to get into and then a much larger number of places zie has more of a chance at that zie would be happy at. (Not including ivies, where there’s really no chance given who they did and didn’t take from hir high school this past year, so zie isn’t bothering. I think most ivies really only look for kids in sports from our town, which makes a certain amount of sense.)

      • Debbie M Says:

        Hmm, maybe wait a couple of weeks until the kids have had time to get immunized and time for the immunity to set in? (If you go with the kids-having vaccines route.) If you go with the 11 per 100K metric, I don’t have a feel for how close we might be to that after this current spike. The real problem is that people who are so broken they can’t even get vaccinated are screwed forever. (I mean, unless we get herd immunity and hang on to it year after year, but that seems impossible in our current culture.) Well, there are also treatments now, so actually I don’t know how screwed they are anymore.

        It never occurred to me that my wearing a mask would make other people uncomfortable. (I am a clueless wonder when it comes to social skills.) I like that you have a reason other than peer pressure to tell anyone who might ask you about it.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I won’t be in the office again until they’ve had a chance to get their second shots.

        I’m sure they think I’m either crazy (because I’m vaccinated and they got Covid and it was fine) or judging them (because I yelled at them en masse when I walked into a mandatory completely unmasked faculty meeting during the declining delta spike and the rising omicron spike right before Christmas break).

      • Debbie M Says:

        Sorry about your co-workers. Yay about not going in for a while!

  5. Tara S Says:

    We had a 16-yr-old head off to HMC back before they (slightly) lightened the core. While in many ways it was the right fit for them, the workload the first couple of years was brutal – more intense than for older sibling who went to MIT. Ended up on the “five year plan” as did a not insignificant chunk of their classmates. Happy to share details offline if you want a “been through it” perspective…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’d be completely happy with DC1 going to MIT, but given who MIT rejected from our high school the past few years (kids who ended up going to ivy leagues, though they did accept the woman who went to Harvard instead), I don’t think it’s worth even trying early decision. The five-year plan wouldn’t be so bad given DC1’s age. But if zie can graduate from the state flagship that also has an amazing CS department in 3 years and then get a masters at MIT… It’s hard to know what to suggest and I’m glad DC1 is making these decisions and not me.

      I’d love to hear more about recent experiences for a 16 year old at HMC. We’re at grumpyrumblings@gmail.com .

  6. Turia Says:

    I have nothing I can add to this conversation, just wanted to say that as someone north of the border every time you post about college I feel overwhelmed just reading about the system. The entire thing is so alien to me (and so intense!) Good luck to DC1 and to you!

    Re: masking. I’m sorry you’re in such a mask-unfriendly space. The new study that just came out (pre-print, not yet peer reviewed but by serious people) which shows that reinfections have worse health outcomes pretty much across the board when compared with first infections has confirmed that I will be masking anywhere indoors for a long time yet. I just bought a CO2 monitor (the Aranet 4) so if I do unmask I can do so based on data on indoor air quality.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My former (vaccinated) RA who got omicron and then delta over Christmas hasn’t really been the same since, health wise, mentally, or emotionally. Such selfish unvaccinated extended family members. So much promise cut down. I really hope he recovers.

      I wonder how my colleagues would react if I brought in a c02 monitor. At this point I think they don’t actually care about infection.

      • bogart Says:

        I have an Aranet, and at the risk of sounding like I’m talking about feminine hygiene products, it’s very discreet. So if you want to use it just for your own info., pretty easy to do that. And they’re cool in that they generate data you can read on an app on your phone and see changes over time, etc. I often keep mine in a (mesh) pocket on my backpack and just look at the (chart of) data later, and it can be interesting to see the patterns.

  7. K Says:

    “DC1 goes to a big high school and wants a smaller college.”

    Not helpful at all really and I am so far removed from the competitive, pressure filled college goings….but DC1 would love a Amherst College!
    Anon in Mass

    • K Says:

      Well obviously not *a
      The Amherst College

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t know if zie would get in, but it is part of a consortium and it is a top liberal arts school. I have a friend in the economics department but don’t know anything about its CS degree.

      • bogart Says:

        It’s interesting reading your writing on this because my thinking on college is that majors and goals often change (and for good reasons). I guess that’s a reason for my preference for larger schools with more diverse offerings. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t say that a kid who wants to pursue engineering or CS or whatever should go to a school that doesn’t offer the whatever, but on average, I think there’s a high possibility of change? OTOH, of course you know your DC and besides that, zie has surely been exposed to much more (disciplines, opportunities, etc.) than the typical college-bound student.

        (My possibly aspiring pilot is focusing on Ohio State, which as far as I know is, well, plenty large/disciplinarily diverse, so meets both criteria for him/us, i.e., has desired offerings but also plenty of others if desires change…)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That’s why consortia are so nice.

        It’s surprisingly hard to switch majors across colleges at my university depending on the direction you want to go and you have to declare some majors while applying. DC1 knows zie wants to do STEM but not enough to commit to an engineering program at age 15.

      • bogart Says:

        Oh — makes sense, I hadn’t really clicked into the consortium part of what you are looking at/for. Yeah, my employer collaborates with another R01 nearby and students can take classes at either institution, very useful for some of them, as there’s definite variation in what’s available at each.

  8. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    Two of my beloved relatives are Pomona alumni, I wonder if alumni connections make any difference whatsoever. I assumed not because although they are whipsmart and got in easily (it seemed to me), they’re not big donors.

    I get overwhelmed contemplating all these choices even now 😅 thanks for continuing to share the developments, it helps to know what might be coming down the pipeline.

    Smol Acrobat is scheduled for their first vaccine tomorrow!! Such a huge deal. I wish people weren’t so weird about other people masking. I keep getting reports from people in my circles who are getting COVID for the first time and it makes me uneasy.

  9. Matthew D Healy Says:

    Grad schools know which places have had grade inflation and which have not, so don’t worry too much about that aspect of Harvey Mudd. Their reputation is very very strong.

  10. Mike Nitabach Says:

    Wow blows my mind that college students take five or six courses per semester. My memory is a bit hazy but I’m pretty sure I only ever took four per semester at UPenn back in the 80s??? Almost all of these were three hours per week (including my favorites: the 4-7PM once-a-week classes). This ensured I had plenty of time for getting drunk & high & socializing. 😹😹😹

    Regarding graduate admissions, at least in the biomedical & biological sciences umbrella program at Yale, we mostly deprecate grades in the A-B range as inputs to admission decisions (worse than this can be perceived as a weakness tho). Much more important to us is a demonstrated interest & willingness to put in substantial sustained effort on research activities as an undergraduate or post-grad. (An important ongoing conversation for us is how to control for differential research opportunity in this process…)

  11. cfroning Says:

    My friend’s daughter went to Harvey Mudd. It was apparently a great place to do engineering as a woman–very supportive environment.

  12. 32pcSet Says:

    I know you said you’re not visiting any schools, but early decision without a campus visit seems like a pretty big commitment for a 15 year old! Your kid will get into tons of great schools, so unless their heart is truly set on HMC, perhaps they might consider not EDing to any school? They will have many excellent options available without ED, and you could squeeze in a senior year visit or two before a final choice if they wanted.

    We have a current 16yo who is applying to colleges (for engineering) soon and has decided not to ED anywhere. I’m sure you’re very well versed in this stuff, and will make good decisions, but I don’t know that ED is usually advised without a conviction that it’s the ONE and ideally a campus visit. Although ED gives a greater chance of admission, it’s not helpful unless the student is sure about the school.

    If it’s at all helpful, I think Case Western might be of interest for your kid. We toured recently and know some kids and faculty there. The students are excellent and work really hard. However, Case doesn’t have the grind reputation that schools like MIT, Mudd, Carnegie Mellon, and Johns Hopkins have. Our kid could probably get into some of those, but none of us want him to work himself into the ground when engineering is already a bit of a grind no matter where you go. If you look at the data, prestige of program also doesn’t seem to improve career outcomes in engineering (once you get below maybe the top 5 schools like MIT, CalTech, etc). Our friend who went to Mudd said they all had their noses so far into their books and were so stressed that nobody noticed his roommate was making meth in the bathtub! Though that was quite sometime ago :-)

    The kids at CWRU seem intense but happy. All the majors are completely open and unrestricted (the only exception is certain music performance programs). They encourage students to try things out and to switch majors and to have diverse interests. Your kid wouldn’t have to decide on engineering or any other major until after the 1st year. That is a huge reason that many of the students pick Case. Their engineering program and facilities are excellent. They’ve got a full complement of STEM majors. We really liked the neighborhood it’s in and it’s got the cool old buildings of a traditional campus. Undergrad enrollment is something like 5K. It’s not super selective and there’s no extra essays for the app. The most intense and accomplished kid we knew from son’s high school last year (medaled in national science olympiad etc., is a total sweetheart but has a major tiger mom), is at CWRU and is in absolute heaven.

    If you want small and well ranked and nerdy without the punishing grind, Rose-Hulman is great though in the middle of nowhere. My kid did a summer program there and I would not hesitate to send a minor to school there. They are very intense and hard working, but it is a super supportive and even fun environment. You can switch majors there pretty easily. We know several people who went there and loved it and are well adjusted and successful.

    As for Cali, USC has great engineering/CS programs.

    Getting into direct admit CS programs has gotten a bit wild lately, as I’m sure you know, especially at big and/or elite schools. But it can be hard for smaller schools to have all the physical resources that are helpful for engineering studies. Other excellent small schools that aren’t super elite but have good engineering resources are Lafayette and Bucknell.

    We’ve learned that once you get above a certain (not high) tier, if you’re majoring in engineering and computer science–where the curricula are pretty standardized and the job opportunities are good–the decision is much more about fit and even vibes than it is about prestige or anything you can quantify. Most any ABET-accredited program will do, it really comes down to cost and fit.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t think official school visits are valuable, especially not over the video presentations schools do now which provide arguably more information or actually knowing people at specific schools.

      We will keep case western in mind. I didn’t know they didn’t make you choose, though if it says that in the fiske guide, DC1 knows. I just checked hir fiske and DC1 has flagged it with a yellow tab, though I don’t know what the colors mean.

      If DC1 decides California is more important than SLAC then USC would be a good choice given hir interests in music and engineering. Though I’m not sure if zie would get in— I don’t know of any kids here that have gotten in and I suspect like a lot of fancy schools they prefer athletes from our area which DC1 is not.

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