Are there good four-year liberal arts colleges that aren’t liberal?

A friend’s son is a high school senior. If he were “of color”, his test scores, grades, and athletics would guarantee him admission to any of America’s most elite universities. As a white kid, however, he is likely to be rejected by the usual elite suspects. I told him that he is likely to get a better education from professors whose actual job is teaching undergraduates. In other words, instead of a research university he should look at the four-year liberal arts colleges. Amherst, Swarthmore, and Williams, for example. He doesn’t want to get tangled up in rainbow flags, BLM, and pro-Palestinian demonstrations, though. He has some unacceptable political points of view, e.g., that civilians should be able to own guns as an aspect of self-reliance.

His career interest is software engineering (so actually the most sensible plan would be to get a job as a software developer and do an online bachelor’s in the evenings) and, therefore, his most likely major is computer science (which he will be dismayed to learn has very little to do with software engineering!). On the plus side, nearly every college or university in the U.S. now has a substantial CS department.

I suggested big state universities, such as University of Florida or University of Texas, as places where he could at least be protected by the First Amendment (schools run by a state government can’t limit speech and impose religious orthodoxy the way that private colleges and universities can).

Are there any great or near-great four-year liberal arts colleges that don’t enforce the Democrats’ political dogma? What about the four-year colleges of the Midwest? Oberlin, obviously, can be crossed out. How about Carleton, Kenyon, and Grinnell? Or perhaps conservatives don’t have to stay in the closet at Davidson College in North Carolina? There’s Hillsdale College, of course, but spending four years hiding from elite progressives doesn’t seem like a good idea either. First, the young man will have to learn how to deal with America’s ruling class eventually. Second, if he has Hillsdale College on his resume that will be a black (not Black) mark preventing him from getting a job at enlightened employers such as Apple, Meta, Google, et al.

Let’s check one of my “seek beyond the Northeast” ideas… the Davidson College (NC) home page:

and scrolling down a bit…

We are informed by the DEI experts that an insurmountable obstacle to success is being in an environment where “nobody looks like me”. If the home page is anything to go by, therefore, Davidson College is not a place where a white man can experience “belonging”.

The page links to a “Smith Lecture: Black Worlds at the Edge of Space-Time”:

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, theoretical cosmologist and particle physicist, will deliver the 2023-2024 Smith Lecture. She will describe the way that Black worldmaking practices overlap with questions of cosmic significance, all the while journeying to and from space-time’s edge.

Maybe the home page isn’t representative? Let’s check broader numbers. “At Davidson College – a top-ranked elite N.C. school – only six percent of professors are Republican” (The College Fix, 2016):

Davidson College, an elite private university in North Carolina, has zero registered Republicans teaching in its political science department, and what’s more, only six percent of the professors campuswide are registered Republican, according to educators’ publicly registered party affiliations…

The school held a “Teach-In on Gaza”:

Open to faculty, staff, students and the public. Mini Sessions on: A Visual Representation of Israeli Occupation, A Brief History of Anti-Zionist Solidarities, Western Responses to the Crisis, Palestinian Resistance as Abolitionist Struggle and Navigating Social Media Algorithms on Israel/Patestine [sic].

Perhaps this is further proof of the general theory that “All of Philip’s ideas are bad”?

48 thoughts on “Are there good four-year liberal arts colleges that aren’t liberal?

  1. Back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I went to Eckerd College (, might be worth a look. Great teachers, nice campus, and more. Of course I had trouble studying with the beaches nearby and lots of attractive coeds.

    A quick look at their home page now at least shows no rainbow flags, BLM banners, etc.

    • says “Make a difference in the lives of students who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community through a gift to annual scholarships or programming! Your support allows students to enjoy all aspects of the Eckerd experience. Thank you!”

      How does a student prove that he/she/ze/they is a member of the LGBTQ+ community in order to qualify for this money?

  2. BYU?

    Or maybe Michigan or Colorado if you want a chance of walking through poop to work and getting assaulted on the walk home (Bay area tech).

  3. My kid is at U. Chicago studying physics and CS and it is fine. There is some nonsense but it is not in the mainstream and not why students go to Chicago. Chicago is a tough school for lots of reasons so it will not be every young person’s ideal of how to spend four years.

    The Florida schools may be alright. I don’t know. UT Austin, a school I pay attention to, has had a fair amount of DEI so it would not be a top choice. Why the legislature permits this is anyone’s guess — maybe it will crack down. I would imagine the small liberal arts colleges you mention are both pretty bad in terms of the issues you mention and not worth the money.

  4. He would find plenty of like-minded people at Texas Tech. While you can’t completely get away from the elite liberal mindset at any university, but at Tech he would definitely be in the majority. Plus four years on the plains of Texas would toughen him up.

  5. This seems like the wrong question.

    We pay identical salaries to our engineers with no college degree and our CS PhDs at the same skill level.

    The only difference is the PhDs are older, poorer, and less likely to have started a family due to having spent 7-10 years out of the workforce during their most productive years.

    He should consider applying to YC or a Thiel fellowship instead of losing four years. Makes more sense to get a job or do a startup within a good accelerator.

    • I wondered why “Dr” Phil didn’t simply recommend the friend’s son not go to school. To be a true conservative means to eschew education. Learning stuff? Blech!

    • If goal is work after 4 years then teenager can learn algorithms, ML and basic math up to statistics without full time college then there is little reason to go to college for CS. The rest can be handled through experience, tinkering and Udacity. If the self-study is not his/her thing then it is better select college with strong co-op program and put on ear and eye protection during liberal arts requirements and take economics/technical writing for liberal art required elections.

    • perplexed: Although a bachelor’s is of little value for software engineering skills, I stand by my parenthetical comment in the original post: “the most sensible plan would be to get a job as a software developer and do an online bachelor’s in the evenings”. Having any kind of degree shortcuts interview conversations. Anyone who dropped out of college needs to explain what he/she/ze/they did instead. That’s 5 minutes of irrelevant discussion that can be cut to 10 seconds with “Bachelor’s in X from university Y”. Check out

      and note how simple it would be to say “Bachelor’s in CS from Colorado State” then move on to talk about one’s five years of industry experience and accomplishments.

      (I think Mike may have missed the above parenthetical when he typed his comment. Separately, I’m not sure I understand his comment “To be a true conservative means to eschew education”. I hope that he doesn’t have any conservative friends. So that leaves public figures. Who are the familiar conservative public figures? I can think of Ron DeSantis and Tom Cotton (Yale/Harvard and Harvard/Harvard). There’s Paul Ryan, who tried to stop Americans from digging ever deeper debt holes for ourselves. He has an econ degree from Miami University (not in Miami!). We have Rand Paul, shading from conservative over toward libertarian. He’s a Baylor and Duke (medical school) grad. It’s actually kind of tough to think of Americans who have a consistent conservative political philosophy!)

    • For the last 15 years, I have had only one friend — Phil Greenspun through this blog. I enjoyed nearly every single blog post for more than a decade. It was always strange that he thought there were thousands of homeless living rent-free, with free food, phone, and health care in Cambridge, and that anybody who wanted to do so could. But other than that he was a swell guy.

      Then “Dr” Phil lost his mind: the anti-woke worm crawled into his skull, all he cares about is Hunter Biden’s laptop, his tourism pictures mostly consist of people wearing masks, he hates DEI (if you hate inclusion then do you love exclusion?), he moved to Florida to bask in his orange god’s glow, he applied for other citizenship (how Americuh-loyal is that?), he praises Putin, etc. etc. Essentially whatever he learns on Fox News or Newsmax.

      So yes, I no longer have any friends.

    • Philip, bachelor / MA / PhD degree without connections is for HR and eligibility to be hired, some large bureaucratic regulated companies require them for certain level positions. If someone looking to be a software developer and knows what he/she wants then 4 years of after work nightly grind for just a piece of paper that costs upward of $20,000 seems too much, assuming degree content is already learned. Better contribute to some open source project, have your own website with portfolio and public git repository.
      Degree is strictly for resume being selected for review in the first place, for HR and connections – it is easier work at Google if you have fraternity brothers who were hired prior, of if some former grad students from MIT in Apple management think that this fellow in the Ph D program was smart.

  6. Doesn’t Caltech eschew racial quotas? Since Asians have nowhere else to apply, competition to get in is intense, and he will learn that it is actually *whites* who are the biggest beneficiaries of the Ivy League’s racial quotas against Asians.

  7. Kiwipedia claiming BYU as a research university is funny. Definitely not, but conservative is a relative term. They support whoever wants an open border since that’s the mane selling point of joining the church. They definitely don’t get preoccupied with the protests of the day but the guy is going to be single for 4 years unless he joins the church.

  8. I’d recommend USF\UCF (even those are “research” universities, but they should be generally free from unrelated crud at CS)

  9. “Second, if he has Hillsdale College on his resume that will be a black (not Black) mark preventing him from getting a job at enlightened employers such as Apple, Meta, Google, et al.”
    Is it a special kind of masochism to value your conservative (same as classical liberal) believes and work at Google and Facebook?
    Best go for start-ups or small companies where it is easier to get promoted.

    • perplexed: the behemoths have all the money! A friend just took a job at OpenAI. He will make $1 million per year working only slightly hard. He needs to go into work in San Francisco 3 days per week, so that forces him to live in the Bay Area and, therefore, he loses 50 percent of his income to taxes, but it is still tough to get that much in expected income from a small company.

      (Still listening to the Elon Musk biography. When he entered their HQ building after buying the company, he found boxes of “Stay Woke” T-shirts with the Twitter logo.)

    • Philip, what money? $50K more before taxes than he could make in start up and with less upside? To pay for a new Tesla? While living in one of the most expensive location in the nation? Entry level after college jobs at Meta/Google/Amazon have well defined limited compensation bands. And performance is not measured by value produced for those jobs, at least at some of those companies. If goal is to work there then there are several preparatory books that focus on getting and passing their interviews. It is better to accomplish something and then get hired there at more senior level, if the interest to work there remains strong.

    • Bet your friend is not hired by Open AI for his bachelor degree certificate from Colorado State received yesterday.
      Still $1,000,000 is $500,000 after taxes which is not bad but not a killing in Silicon Valley.

    • perplexed: My friend earned a bachelor’s degree in science (he’s so old that Science wasn’t capitalized when he graduated) at MIT and ultimately got a Ph.D. in physics (“Chinese class at Santa Clara Community College is way harder than anything I had to do in graduate school.”) His educational credentials are mostly irrelevant to the work that he has done in Silicon Valley, but at least they don’t lead to any questions at interviews.

    • Philip, if your friend’s son ultimate goal is to get Ph D then yes, he needs a BS/BA degree to get considered for a grad school. in USA, no questions. If he is an autodidact and his goal is work at start-ups or have own software developer sub-contracting business then he could skip 4 years of partial indoctrination and invest those $200,000 instead.

  10. “I suggested big state universities, such as University of Florida”

    In my graduate Computer Science courses at UF in the late ’90s, I was the only US-born student. All Chinese, Taiwanese, and SE Asian, plus a couple of eastern European. The best student I came across, however, was a Jamaican female.

  11. Why doesn’t your friend just become black or perhaps even Indian (white feather, not red dot)? Then he can get accepted to an elite school and make the right type of connections to become rich one day.

  12. It’s been a long time since I was an undergrad, but this idea of students being brainwashed by professors seems inplausible to me.

    Are students sitting down in calculus and hearing “Instead of working with numbers today, I’m going to teach you how you’re not really the gender you think you are.”

    Of course, you’ll get a lot of this if you major in gender studies with a minor in brown people oppression, but those people choose those majors for a reason.

    What’s the strongest evidence that right-ish people who go to college to learn hard skills are being brainwashed/oppressed/victimized?

    How many students even know the political views of their CS professors?

    • “this idea of students being brainwashed by professors seems inplausible to me”? Whose idea is that? Your own? The original post is about a young person who is annoyed by the Righteous, not concerned that he will be persuaded to become one of the Righteous.

    • My statistics professor, of blessed memory, was very nice and liberal, and liked to brainwash grad students while talking about Bayesian statistics, in the outward good – hearted manner but with near-couscous mental reservations and hidden phobias.

  13. At least in Arizona, and I believe in California also, a good strategy is to attend a community college for the first two years. With a two year degree from a community college, the student then has the right to transfer to any of the state universities as a junior. This lets him/her get the general studies requirements done at far less cost, in much smaller classes, with teachers whose main job is to teach. My impression (maybe biased, since I’m retired from teaching CS in a community college) is that at least in Arizona, the overall quality of teaching is better than in the universities, mainly because there is much more individual attention, and the instructors don’t have to waste most of their time writing grant applications. Anyway, he/she might give it a look.

  14. Any Canadian University will be better than any community college or four-year liberal arts in the US. The academic standards at a Canadian University will be much higher. In addition last time I checked Canadian Universities use academic achievement as the number one selection criteria.
    If he is interested in CS, UBC, McGill, UofT, SFU, Waterloo, University of Alberta, University of Victoria are all excellent choices. University of Toronto is ranked 12th in the World for CS, higher than Princeton and Cornell.
    And he will not have to wear body armor to class.

    • University of Toronto has a Sexual & Gender Diversity Office, part of the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture at the University of Toronto.

      See also

      It seems that the school was also a center for BLM. See

      Regarding the latest dust-up at the typical elite college…

      “The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education”: I argue that today, Jewish people of European descent enjoy white privilege and are among the most socio-economically advantaged groups in the West. Despite this privilege, the organized Jewish community makes claims about Jewish victimhood that are widely accepted within that community and within popular discourse in the West. I propose that these claims to victimhood are no longer based in a reality of oppression, but continue to be propagated because a victimized Jewish identity can produce certain effects that are beneficial to the organized Jewish community and the Israeli nation-state.

      In addition to all of the above, what happens when this young man tells the horrified Canadians that he thinks everyone should be able to own a gun?

    • philg: Dr. Jordan Peterson is Professor Emeritus at University of Toronto. I doubt the majority of CS students attending UofT in CS even know that they have a Sexual & Gender Diversity Office. Students in the arts and humanities may care and be active, but the CS and Engineering students at Canadian Universities tend to stay away and probably are too busy studying and working on projects.

      In Toronto, if he tells Canadians that everybody should own a gun, they will ask him if he is from Alberta.

      Sounds like he would be happy at the the University of Alberta or University of Calgary, where he will be welcome as gun enthusiast. The University of Calgary even has a firearms club:

    • Pavel: What happens to him if he refuses to accept a vaccination against a disease (COVID or something new that emerges) that kills 80-year-olds? Will he be imprisoned, unbanked, deported, or forcibly injected? says “The University of Alberta, its buildings, labs, and research stations are primarily located on the traditional territory of Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, and Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe nations; lands that are now known as part of Treaties 6, 7, and 8 and homeland of the Métis. The University of Alberta respects the sovereignty, lands, histories, languages, knowledge systems, and cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit nations.”

      (They respect these tribes’ sovereignty and lands, but won’t give the stolen land back?)

    • philpg: What happens if he refuses to accept a vaccination against a disease? As a student, probably nothing, most of the rules were only applicable if you were an employee of the government or University. Alberta had the lowest vaccination rate in Canada at 79%. In addition as a registered international student in Alberta, Canada, he will also be eligible for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, which covers health expenses, except for dental and drugs. As for the tribes’ sovereignty and etc, none of that really matters in a practical sense, it just means that at any official function a speaker at the start will say a line or two about the traditional lands and that is it. In most cases more than one first nation is claiming ownership, this is where you get that more than 100% of the land in Canada is owned by the first nations. The first nations issues will continue forever as they are a really good income source for the legal industry in Canada. A settlement one way or the other would result in an increase in unemployment numbers for lawyers.

    • Just when will the menace from the north be stopped? A note to readers… Pavel has admitted to election interference!!

    • TS: I accept Pavel’s assertion that Canada has some great in-person CS schools. However, I still think that the best path for someone who wants a career in software engineering is to work as a software engineer and do some sort of online bachelor’s in what would otherwise have been leisure hours. It wouldn’t be what my friend’s son is looking for in terms of politics, but I would suggest moving to Silicon Valley!


      (He didn’t have to move because he already lived in Silicon Valley, but he will work at Google instead of going to an in-person college (he was rejected from all of the elite in-person colleges due to his failure to identify as part of a victimhood group).)

  15. This is a three-year program, so not sure it’s eligible, but it is tiny, you come out with a proper undergrad degree in CS (“computational thinking” from Maynooth University), and it is extremely exclusive; I think it has the highest “leaving cert” score requirement in Ireland. Not sure how they evaluate foreign applicants, but I can assure you it is 100% based on academic qualifications.

    Just as a quality sample, one student implemented as their final year project, they did it from scratch including writing a parser generator because none of the existing parser generators did what they needed.

    The university in general is pretty “woke” but you don’t have to take any courses not directly related to the degree, and you can hang out at pubs extolling the virtues of the second amendment to your heart’s content.

  16. How about Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut? It is a Little Ivy and is the alma mater of Bill Belichick, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Matthew Weiner, and the guys who created How I Met Your Mother.

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