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Kia ora Joe,
Very interesting post, and a very thorough anaylsis. I had to laugh about Ripon, as a future Political Science major I shared a few evenings at Marty's house during my seminar with him and a few other now forgotten students. He liked his wine, and Bob Dylan.
I really gasped at the cost of higher education on that level now. I know Ripon was fairly expensive back then, but with a few grants and a loan it didn't really occur to me. it being too expensive. It really must be crippling for a lot of families, particularly in these times trying to come up with 30 or 40 grand per year. My wife Tara is in her final year at Massey University here in Palmerston North during her undergrad, and working full time. We pay 3 grand a year as tertiary studies are also government subsidized - though for how long who knows. It has been a pretty good deal all up, and as an adult student she has taken huge advantage of the opportunity and will pursue her PHD.
I had been thinking it would be a great experience for my 16 year old son to consider a year or two of study in the states, but unless I win lotto it would be tough in the current exchange rate.
That Lewis and Clark campus looks pretty stunning. I always thought Ripon was a lovely campus as well, it had a certain charm. Cheers Joe.

Joe McCarthy

Hi Robb,
Marty came to mind immediately when the student tour guide at Reed was talking about the close personal relationships that many students have with their professors. He still gets pretty high ratings at RateMyProfessor.
The comprehensive fee (tuition, room & board and other fees) for the current academic year at Ripon is $31,015, though they note that "average need-based aid package for an incoming student in 2008-09 was $27,373". The costs of college there, and elsewhere, have far outstripped inflation and most other increases costs of living.
I don't know how things work in New Zealand, but at several of the colleges we visited on this tour, the costs for the study abroad programs (in at least one case, including airfare there and back) were included in the regular fees. If a similar arrangement exists at New Zealand institutions, studying abroad may be more within reach.
Best wishes to Tara as she finishes up her undergraduate education, and contemplates post-graduate studies!

John Krumm

Hi Joe -- Thanks for writing this. We'll be facing the same situation in a few years, so it was especially interesting to read about your family's search for a college. Wow, college is expensive. At one point we fantasized about our girls going to college on basketball scholarships, but basketball hasn’t really panned out. Now we’re wondering if they can get Nintendo DS scholarships instead.

Joe McCarthy

Hi John. Thanks for the comment. I, too, was surprised at just how expensive college has become (even my own alma mater). I like your fantasy about Nintendo DS scholarships ... although my daughter may not be eligible (she's not much of a gamer), my son would certainly be eligible if such if scholarships become a reality in the next few years. Your fantasy may not be so far-fetched. I remember several presentations at the 2006 Microsoft Social Computing Symposium highlighting the benefits of online games, as well as an article by John Seely Brown and Doug Thomas in Wired around that time on You Play World of Warcraft? You're Hired!. If some companies really are looking at competence in WoW in their hiring criteria, perhaps some colleges will look at similar skills and experiences in their admission - and scholarship - decisions!


Joe, Thanks for writing the article. We are facing the same issues with our son this year. We have looked at Reed (but my son wants to play lacrosse) and Willamette. Did you consider Whitman in your list of colleges? I am curious what you thoughts on Whitman are. We are also looking at WWU in Bellingham. Where did your daughter decide to attend? We are in Colorado, but lived in Oregon at one time.

Joe McCarthy

Charley: thanks for the comment, which prompted me to update the original post above. Meg did consider Whitman, and WWU was a strong contender, especially given the significantly lower costs (we are WA residents), but she ultimately decided to attend Willamette, and having just returned from - and written about - a warm welcome at Willamette Opening Days, we're pretty confident that this was a good decision. Best wished on your journey of exploration!

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Thank you Joe for writing such good article. I read your article deeply and enjoyed it very much as I am facing the same problem with my daughter and this is one of the reason I am easily able to understand the the things you explained here.

Andrea Pakula

Thank you so much for writing this! I'm 17 and from a small town in Easter Washington. Right now my four top schools are Reed, Lewis & Clark, Linfield, and Willamette, so this was the perfect article for me! Plus, I'm also determined to spend at least a semester abroad when I'm in college. I'm planning on visiting all of these schools for myself this coming summer, and it was great to get another comparison on the schools that wasn't from a special website. (Of course, I'll always have my parents' and my sister's opinions on Linfield, since they all went there, but the last time any of us have been there was in 2005, so I'd bet stuff has changed at least a bit.) Anyways, thanks again and good luck to Meg!

Joe McCarthy

Andrea: I'm glad you found this report useful. I hope your tour goes well, and would welcome any additional insights you glean during your visits to the campuses.


Joe, I'm currently planning a college trip with my father to visit the Pacific Northwest. I'm mostly focused on the Portland/Seattle areas, and am wondering if you could elaborate on your visit to the University of Puget Sound. Thank you for the reviews, I'm unfamiliar with small colleges and am trying to research some.


Joe McCarthy

@Colin: I can't remember anything beyond what I posted here about UPS (and even when I posted this, my recollection was rather sketchy). Good luck on your search!

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