My Daughter’s (Unexpected) College Choice

I’m excited to announce that my daughter will attend University of Oregon Class of 2028, where she is a Stamps Scholar and will participate in the university’s Clark Honors College. She has not selected a major yet, but it will likely be something at the intersection of arts and humanities. Her college choice was unexpected because the University of Oregon wasn’t on her initial prospect list, but through the process, it emerged as an excellent choice for her.

My Daughter’s Research Process

As a junior, my daughter spent a semester at the Oxbow residential art school in Napa. She flourished as an artist there, but she came away from that experience interested in merging her art studies with a broader humanities and social science curriculum. As a result, she focused on attending a comprehensive liberal arts college with a strong arts program, not a dedicated art school. On an East Coast college tour last summer, Sarah Lawrence College emerged as her “dream school.”

On a summer family trip to Washington, we visited UW-Seattle, Seattle University, and University of Oregon. My daughter liked Eugene and the visual arts program at Oregon, so she decided to apply.

My daughter got a lot more serious about Oregon after she was awarded the Stamps Scholarship. (I had never heard of the Stamps program before; most participating schools are east of the Mississippi River). The UO Stamps Scholarship provides a full-tuition scholarship plus an “enrichment fund” of $12,000 for research and study abroad. We were told 1,200 students applied for the UO Stamps scholarship this year; only 20 students got it.

Why She Chose University of Oregon

Price. A full-tuition scholarship is an amazing bargain, plus the enrichment money will help her pursue experiences outside of the college town bubble.

Curriculum. Oregon’s visual art program is deep enough to build her talents. Oregon has several other academic programs of interest, ranging from its classics and folklore departments to its comic book minor.

Clark Honors College. Oregon’s honors college offers faculty advisors, small classes, interesting courses, a dedicated building, and easily accessible top professors. It replicates some of the benefits she’d hoped to get from the small East Coast liberal arts schools.

College Town. Eugene is a cute college town. She liked the pro-environmental ethos, the access to outdoor activities, and the vegetarian options.

Proximity to Home. Compared to East Coast destinations, Eugene is a cheap, quick (1 hour), and relatively easy non-stop flight from home. Also, Eugene is in the Pacific time zone, which makes it easier to keep in touch.

Students. We have been consistently impressed by the students we met with, and the students universally raved about their experiences at Oregon.

Jewish Considerations

My daughter had to make her college decision during a complex time for Jewish students–and that meant she had to confront issues I never faced as a student. Several otherwise-great choices raised serious concerns for her. We all love UC Berkeley (it’s her mom’s alma mater, and I was an adjunct there for a semester), but Berkeley Jewish students had to flee a violent mob. My daughter was excited about the open curricula and close faculty support at both Sarah Lawrence and NYU Gallatin, but both schools’ Title VI complaints (NYU; Sarah Lawrence) raised significant questions about how she would fit into their communities.

The prevailing orthodoxy about Israeli-Palestinian relations at Sarah Lawrence and NYU Gallatin (and many other schools) also threatened to inhibit her learning. She wants to participate in discussion-based courses and convey her thoughts in her research and art projects–all of which would achieve their full pedagogical benefits only if she can express herself freely. Instead, she was likely to feel pressured into silence (or risk ostracization) if she deviated from a school’s orthodoxy.

In contrast, Oregon offered an inclusive Jewish environment. The campus Hillel was active and welcoming. No campus is drama-free for Jewish students today, but Oregon’s campus appeared to have less friction than her other top options.

Why I’m Proud of My Daughter

I’m proud of how my daughter navigated the college process.

Authenticity. My daughter wasn’t a STEM gunner and didn’t maximize the number of AP courses she took. Nevertheless, her application stood out because her academic choices created a genuine and coherent narrative.

Priorities. My wife and I stressed the importance of college “fit” and “value” over prestige. Still, it’s hard not to get caught up in the prestige rat-race when attending a Palo Alto high school, where many students are Ivy League-or-bust. Despite the pressures, my daughter didn’t deviate from her priorities.

Adaptability. Throughout the process, I encouraged my daughter to keep an open mind as she got news about acceptances, financial aid, the Israeli-Palestinian situation, and other topics. That’s so hard to do, especially when students fall in love with a dream school. But my daughter remained flexible and adapted to the new information she gathered.

Diligence. On our college tour, my daughter asked tough, well-informed, and probing questions to get the information she needed. I supplemented her investigation, but I rarely could improve on her efforts.

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My daughter has laid a wonderful foundation for the next stage of her professional and personal development. I’m incredibly happy and proud of where she is and how she got there, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her. #ProudDad. #ProudOregonDad. Go 🦆🦆🦆!