Last Updated Apr 21, 2010 10:31 AM EDT
After visiting 14 colleges and applying to eight of them, Ben has decided that he will be attending Beloit College in the fall.
At the start of the process, Ben thought he might like to attend Juniata College in Pennsylvania, my daughter's school. He was smitten by Wheaton College outside Boston and he received his highest merit scholarship from that liberal arts college. He loved the wonderful science facilities at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, and he appreciated the enthusiasm and friendliness of the physics teachers at Willamette University in Salem, OR.
Ben would have been happy at any of the eight schools, but he had the luxury of picking the one that ultimately stood out for him. Because he applied to wonderful colleges that were solid academic matches, there wasn't much suspense on whether he would be accepted. He received acceptance letters and large awards from each of them.
Ben liked the feel of Beloit, which was founded by some Yale grads in 1846. It's a progressive school, which was a plus. He liked the idea of spending lots of time in the school's new LEED-certified science building, which is a beauty. The staff, professors and students at Beloit were as friendly as the folks at Juniata College, which I have always thought must be the friendliest campus in the country.
Most of all Ben liked the two physics professors whom he met. The chairman is a brilliant professor and director of the US Physics Team, who can actually make students laugh about physics. Another professor, who has a PhD from Cornell, is a down-to-earth, super friendly young woman, who was more than eager to show off her department when we arrived unannounced at her office door one fall afternoon.
Ben also felt at home when he met some of the physics students, who bragged about the department and the camaraderie they found here. These kids spend a lot of time with each other in the physics lounge and they, along with the physics profs, regularly get together to play European board games. (We have more than two dozen European board games at our house and Ben regularly beats all of us so he needs some real competition.)
- The school has roughly 1,250 students from 48 states and various foreign countries and is located roughly 90 miles northwest of Chicago.
- The average class size is 15 students and a third of the classes have 10 or fewer students.
- Seventy five percent of Beloit students receive some type of financial aid.
- Beloit ranks 20th out of 2,000 degree-awarding institutions for producing future PhD's.
- The college ranks 11th among the nation's most selective liberal arts colleges for its proportion of alumni receiving PhD's.
Further Reading:5 Reasons to Attend a Liberal Arts Colleges
The Best Colleges You've Never Heard Of
Rejection Letters: The Best Way To Avoid Getting Rejected
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and you can also find her over at TheCollegeSolutionBlog. Follow her on Twitter.