Using SuperMatch to Find Colleges With "High Moral Values"

Question: Our son is attending what we thought was a good school. It is a heavy party school with open homosexuality. How can we find a school with high moral values?

I often hear complaints about party schools ... and not just from parents but even from the students themselves. It seems that on many campuses, the situation has gotten out of hand. However, I've also found that it can take a while for those who eschew the drinking and drug scene to find each other, especially at large universities … but many eventually do. For those who choose not to transfer, joining clubs that promote healthy activities or that focus on issues such as religious faith and social justice can be a way of creating a community that doesn't revolve around substance abuse, late nights, and loud noise.

However, if your son feels that he's truly a fish out of water and wants to seek calmer seas, you might want to try using College Confidential's new "SuperMatch" tool. See

With SuperMatch, your son can select all his preferences for school size, location, major, etc. Then, near the bottom of the search, he should look for the "Party Scene" tab. Here, he can choose the option that says, "I don't party and would prefer a school known for having a strict no-party atmosphere." Once he identifies institutions that meet his preferences, I suggest that he try to visit them so that he can talk to students and get a stronger first-hand sense of what the campus climate feels like.

However, I would also like to point out that I bristle when I see that you have equated “high moral values" with colleges where there is not “open homosexuality." I live in a small city that is well known for its large openly gay population. Many of my gay neighbors and friends are the most honorable and moral people you might ever meet. The story of one lesbian couple who took in a homeless 8-year-old after her single (heterosexual) mother committed suicide would bring tears to your eyes. These parents already had two daughters of their own, but they found room in their house and their hearts for this child who had nowhere else to go. And there is the gay father who lives around the corner from me who volunteered to travel to China during the SARS epidemic so that a group of adoptive families could bring their new babies home from orphanages. (This dad is a pediatrician, and due to the medical crisis in China, the prospective parents were not permitted to make the trip unless a physician was willing to accompany them. So the doctor agreed to go, and his own partner agreed to be a single dad to their two children for two weeks to contribute to the adoption effort.) I could tell you many more stories of gay men and women I know personally who have served on school boards, headed charitable committees, and who have contributed to our city in countless ways. So you can see why it concerns me when homosexuality is linked to questionable morality.

On the other hand, I fully understand that some people—college students included—are not comfortable in an environment where they are surrounded by openly gay peers, and certainly everyone has the right to make this choice. I used to work at a college with a very visible gay presence. Some students who were bothered by this did transfer out. Others, however, became increasingly less ill-at-ease as they got to know their gay schoolmates. One young Mormon woman I recall found the campus environment to be very stressful at first. But now, years later, although she is married and still devoted to her Mormon faith, she says she is grateful for the diversity she experienced during college.

But, if your son prefers to attend a college with little or no overt homosexuality, he can use the "Religious Affiliation" tab on SuperMatch to select a Christian college. Even if he's not a practicing Christian, he is likely to find that such schools offer a welcoming environment and one that is more consistently heterosexual and party-free than at many unaffiliated institutions.

Whatever he decides, I wish him—and you—well as he reenters the admissions maze. As a parent myself, I know how stressful it can be when a child is unhappy. So I hope that your son will be able to seek out soul mates by joining appropriate clubs at his current college while he takes advantage of SuperMatch to locate another place that will turn out to be a better fit.

(posted 11/09/10)