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ezraglenn's avatar

How good of a school is Bard College?

Asked by ezraglenn (3497points) September 15th, 2007

I am a senior in high school, and am applying to colleges imminently. I visited Bard last February and loved it, and want to apply early and go there, but everyone I talk to says I am undercutting myself. I know it doesn’t have the best reputation, but should that matter? If I think I can get in somewhere more competitive, should I apply even though I like Bard more? I know it shouldn’t matter, but it really bothers me when people judge me and think im just some mediocre pothead when I tel them I want to go to Bard. For the record, I have really good extracurriculars, a 91 average from NYC’s most competitive high school, and 2230 SATs. I am also looking at Amherst College, Vassar College, Wesleyan University, Yale University, and other North Eastern Liberal Arts schools. Suggestions?

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13 Answers

sferik's avatar

Every university has a reputation of some sort and some people will judge you based on the reputation of the university you attend. If you decide to go to Bard, in situations where your alma mater arises (job interviews, second dates, your Facebook profile, etc.) some people may to judge you as a “mediocre pothead”. If you choose Yale, those same people may think you’re snobby. If you choose Wesleyan, they may think you’re a whiny liberal. You get the point.

The question you have to answer for yourself (Fluther can’t do it for you) is whether you care what these people who will make snap judgments about you think more or less than you care about going to the university of your choice. Going to Bard may mean that you don’t land a job on Wall Street because someone thinks you’re a slacker, but maybe working on Wall Street isn’t your dream job. Maybe your dream starts at Bard.

Prepare to apply to a bunch of schools. There’s no guarantee you’ll even be admitted to Bard and there’s no reason to apply early if you’re still unsure. Once you find out where you’ve been accepted, you’ll have a more concrete set of options from which to choose. Perhaps your second choice offers you a full scholarship. Would you rather go there or graduate from Bard with $150,000 in debt?

In general, I think people put too much emphasis on deciding what college you go to. It’s important to find a good match, but I’m sure you’d be able to thrive at any of the excellent institutions that you mentioned. Ultimately, your college experience is defined by you, more than the place you go.

zina's avatar

I don’t know much about Bard specifically, but I would second sferik’s comment to apply to many schools. I know the average is 11, but that’s over the top to me. I was surprised by how my top choices shifting during the final year (learning more detail about each of the schools, visits, and as above, the financial piece can play a role), so I was glad I had applied to places to leave the options open. If you haven’t already, perhaps you can try to identify what you love about Bard (the people/culture, the campus layout, the flexibility, the kinds of courses, the size, or whatever combination of factors it is), and then ask a college counselor about similar schools (with similar/higher rankings) you might consider.

The fact that you’re questioning whether it’s a ‘good enough’ school, and considering people’s impressions that you’re undercutting yourself, says to me that that might be important to you. Maybe there are other schools you’d love that will be more challenging or rigorous? Sometimes reputation is bull, but sometimes it does reflect certain elements/truths about places. You sound like you are a hard-working/high-scoring student, so it may be important to find a place where you can really grow, shine, reach your potential…... I applied to a couple schools that were long-shots, a couple that seemed just about right, and a couple ‘safeties’ (where I had a solid chance of acceptance based on my grades/scores) – all of which I’d want to attend, of course. I got in to half of the places, so I knew my aim was right (not undercutting nor overestimating myself), and I attended my first choice. Everyone is different, but that strategy worked for me.

As for reputation, it’s true that every school has it’s different connotations to people, but overall there are schools considered better/stronger/more competitive/more rigorous/etc and the opposites. Having attended several schools, I have experienced the positive and negative reactions and effects of both kinds of reputations. Having gone to a very high-ranked undergrad did help me not only get a great education with great resources, but years later has helped with jobs, first impressions, applications, etc. But this all depends on your field—a school that may not be very well known/well ranked may have a huge strength in the department you want to major in, and that should carry a lot of weight. I can imagine it’s more difficult if you have no idea about your major (which is how I narrowed down my choices), but then I guess it has to do with finding a place with many options and generally strong programs in many departments (not limited or uneven areas). Even if there are a handful of subjects that interest you, I would strongly recommend looking at schools strengths/rankings in those areas to get a better sense of the programs and where you might fit best.

All that said, go to the school you love if at all possible!

hossman's avatar

Everything sferik and zina said is great advice. I would echo zina that you should consider very strongly the reputation of the school, not just overall, but in the occupation you intend to pursue. To give you an example, when I went to law school, I probably could have gotten into a law school with a better reputation, but I only applied to one law school because my wife was finishing her undergraduate work at that university, and I didn’t want to have to commute. I discovered in law school that the area that most interested me, and suited my abilities, was to be a law clerk for a federal judge, which is academically very competitive. I discovered that regardless of how well I did at my law school, my application for 95% of the available jobs in that area would never be considered because the law school I attended, while perfectly acceptable for other areas of law, was not one of the 20 or so law schools from which the pool of acceptable candidates is drawn. In other words, it doesn’t matter what the individual applicant’s abilities were, if you didn’t go to the right school, it almost certainly, absent some sort of special “connection,” wasn’t going to happen. In the same manner, if a medical career is your intent, attendance in certain programs isn’t going to make getting into the top medical schools very easy. It’s unfortunate, but it’s one of those instances where appearance is more important than substance.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

If you loved Bard and want to go there, go there. Don’t think so much about what other people think of you.

rosedog's avatar

I don’t know too much about Bard, but I have heard it has a very good music program.

Gotobard's avatar

Go to bard. No reason to apply there early though, it won’t gain you anything. I have a friend who applied to tufts early (undercutting himself) purely for sound state of mind. Applying to Brown early certainly made my life a lot simpler, but, honsetly, I’m a tad disapointed with the school and wish I could be spending less of my parent’s money. If you are looking at sciences, may I recomend Rice, but I’m a very big fan of Bard right now. You may be “undercutting” yourself but the bard accademic experiance seems to be one worth the lack of prestige (which isn’t really that lacking anyway). I say you should apply to three schools: Rice (its in texas), Brown (rhode island, with some of the best people in the world and lots of freedom and helpful ppl (but with an administration that is making me whiny lately)) and Bard. All of those schools are well within your range and should love to have you. Go to bard, try to get them to pay you to though, they are far too expensive. Currently they are offering full rides for science students, and I would take it if I were you. Go to bard. And no one cares what school you go to for grad/med school apps. Just do well on tests, take the prereqs, and be interesting (the last trait I am sure Bard will help cultivate) (and if you aren’t a science student, then deffinately go to bard, unless you want to be a lawyer, but then you wouldnt want to go to bard, anyway… so whatever). Keep the school list to a minimum and really invest yourself in the applications. Remember senior year doesnt really count for much of anything but you better write a kickin’ essay. Do it. Go to bard.

Gotobard's avatar

oh and look out for snobs, they are eveywhere….

Gotobard's avatar

(that was an unnecessary stab at most of the other schools you are considering applying to)

ezraglenn's avatar

I guess this is the right place to announce that I got into Bard and i’m not applying anywhere else! yay! I realized it is the perfect place for me.
Also, my father had a two hour one on one conversation with Leon Bottstein and now he’s in love with Bard too!

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

congratulations!!

suburbia's avatar

i went to bard (class of 2007). i am now a phd candidate at an ivy league university. bard was the best undergrad education i can imagine. go there.

Concerned's avatar

Think practically. Is Bard worth 120k for an undergrad? (That is if you went to their high school and should only attend for two years – otherwise way more). Can you afford starting your life as an undergrad with that kind of debt hanging over your head? The school has no reputation to speak of. Don’t take my word for it. Stop 10 random people on the street and ask them if they have ever heard of Bard college. Read some of the alumni comments and don’t start by the super positive. There is plenty of truth on the other side. Definitely NOT worth it. Save your money for a good grad school.

lalalalala1's avatar

I graduated with $17K in debt from Bard. They’re great with financial aide and most everyone is the opposite of snobbish. Career Development is really helpful and the professors care about you like they’re your family. If you keep an open mind and take advantage of their services, you will do great. Look forward & enjoy!!

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