Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
College Confidential’s “Dean,” Sally Rubenstone, put together 25 of her best tips. So far, the "25 Tips from the Dean" eBook has helped more than 10K students choose a college, get in, and pay for it. Get your free copy: http://goo.gl/9zDJTM

How to balance numbers of schools vs casting a larger net for best outcome (admission/aid)?

MomtoAndrew2018MomtoAndrew2018 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
I am still fairly new to this process. I am trying to help S build a good list of schools to apply to and would like to hear your thoughts on this.

I read that in general, students should keep the list short, up to 8 schools. As of now, we have 19 schools sitting on the "List of colleges I am thinking about" in S's Naviance.

S is a B+/A- student. Due to his so-so stats, I feel compelled we need a bigger list for the following reasons:
1) To boost his chances for admissions to as good of a school as he could get into;
2) To cast a larger net for a bigger fish - I am talking merit aid, even if it is just a few thousands (our EFC is so high, S does not qualify for need-based aid for most of the schools on our list)

19 is too many. But 8? That is too short of a list. Am I crazy? How do I balance this list?
«134567

Replies to: How to balance numbers of schools vs casting a larger net for best outcome (admission/aid)?

  • MomtoAndrew2018MomtoAndrew2018 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    @NEPatsGirl Thank you!

    That is a good strategy. For the most part that is what we are doing - except we have 3 safeties and more reaches and matches on the list.

    I should have added in my original post that for 'reach' schools, we are fine with getting no merit aid. The admissions alone would be enough of a good news to celebrate.

    I know S's counselor will secretly roll his eyes at me once I tell him how many we are thinking (15?).
  • MomtoAndrew2018MomtoAndrew2018 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    @NEPatsGirl you hit the nail on the head. It is great to have choices and you never know if you don't even apply! I want choices for S.
  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl Registered User Posts: 1,916 Senior Member
    Well, FWIW, I let D apply ED to a dream school where she was outright rejected (as I expected) but sometimes you just have to play the card. And this particular school, like many of the very tippy top ones, had a COA far under what any school would/did end up costing. But, I would limit his dream reach to one or at most two.
  • MomtoAndrew2018MomtoAndrew2018 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    I should post S's stats and the list of schools we are currently considering for the sake of discussion:

    EFC: 50 to 55k (depending on calculators used)
    We can help S pay any of the schools in the list for 4 years. Although, not all schools are worth the sticker prices. This is another reason we have a large list - we want choices.

    Stats:
    uWGPA: 3.5
    WGPA: 4.2
    SAT: 1300 (will retake in August, aiming at 1350 to 1400).
    Typical ECs
    Attends a reputable suburban public HS here in MA
    Asian

    S is interested in CS and Engineering but this is not set in stone. He is pondering applying as undecided, especially to more selective schools.

    Reach schools:
    U Rochester (thinking of dropping it)
    Pitts
    U Maryland
    U Illinois - Urbana Champaign
    UMass Amerst (reach for CS, match for undecided)
    Purdue
    BU (thinking of dropping it)
    VT (low reach?)

    Target/Match:
    Binghamton
    North Carolina State
    Ohio State
    Michigan State
    RIT
    Penn State
    Syracuse

    Safety:
    UVM
    Rutgers
    Uconn
  • TQfromtheUTQfromtheU Registered User Posts: 660 Member
    Be sure that your S is willing to go to the schools on the list. Too many students come back here stating that they hate their safety school, because they never thought their results would make it a necessity. My DS started with no opinion, but was able to shorten a list I made list by removing 1-2 schools he wouldn't want to attend even on a full ride.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 1,435 Senior Member
    I would compare his GPA and SAT with the 25th and 75th percentile for each school, and move any where you are below the 25th percentile (far below on either, or at all below on both) to a "not likely" list. Then run the NPC on every school that is still on the main list, and see how the results compare with your perception of what you can afford.

    How many schools you want to apply to will depend upon circumstances, but 15 isn't unheard of at all.
  • TQfromtheUTQfromtheU Registered User Posts: 660 Member
    @MomtoAndrew2018 - That is great. The process is so much better with they are flexible.
  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl Registered User Posts: 1,916 Senior Member
    I'm surprised neither WPI or RPI are on your list. UMassAmherst is probably a good safety for undecided but I agree that CS makes it a low reach. Other than that I'm not familiar with the merit aid at the other schools.
  • MomtoAndrew2018MomtoAndrew2018 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    Both WPI and RPI were once on the list and have since been dropped.

    WPI - This is a reach for S based on Naviance data. It is also too small. S prefers larger, diverse, coed universities.
    RPI - Also a reach for S based on Naviance data. And we have other reaches that seem more appealing than RPI to S.
  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 1,427 Senior Member
    You have a lot of out-of-state publics on your list. Run the net price calculators and see how affordable they would be for out of state versus what you think is "worth it." Ask yourself how many of these large state schools are significantly different from one another in terms of academic offerings or merit aid chances.

    BU Is pretty notorious for little merit aid.

    Applying as "undecided" to increase admissions chances is only a good strategy if the school name on the diploma is more important than the major and the classes. The most popular majors are also the hardest to change into later, so don't think you can easily switch to CS or engineering from undecided at a large state school. It may be competitive or even closed.
  • MomtoAndrew2018MomtoAndrew2018 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    @Aroundhere Thank you!

    >> You have a lot of out-of-state publics on your list. Run the net price calculators and see how affordable they would be for out of state versus what you think is "worth it."

    This has been done. UMass Amherst is S's #1 choice and cheapest since we are in-state, but unless he applies as undecided his chance of getting in is very slim (20% admission rate for CS and Engineering!). CS has its own exploratory track program at UMass Amherst, if S decides to go in CS later he wouldn't be able to do it. This is the main reason we have a lot of OOS flagships on the list, to boost his chances of getting into STEM majors.

    >> Applying as "undecided" to increase admissions chances is only a good strategy if the school name on the diploma is more important than the major and the classes. The most popular majors are also the hardest to change into later, so don't think you can easily switch to CS or engineering from undecided at a large state school. It may be competitive or even closed.

    Very true...and a great reminder. S shows interests in CS and Engineering, but part of him also wants to 'keep the door' open and explore what he wants in life. If he wants to go undecided then that would be his choice. We just need to make sure to carefully choose the offerings to ensure the 'doors' are open should he decide to pursue STEM in the end.
  • LoveTheBardLoveTheBard Registered User Posts: 1,218 Senior Member
    My D was both fishing for big merit at top schools, as well as applying to HYPS, so she had a long list. In retrospect, she probably should have applied to fewer schools (she applied to 19, not including UCs), but we had no way of knowing how things would shake out (she ended up getting in everywhere she applied and got a number of full tuition scholarships at schools that offered them, and top merit at those that didn't), and she hadn't visited any schools before applying.

    Had she visited some/all of the schools, she might not have applied to them all, and would certainly have had an easier time in the spring.

    Has your S visited the schools? Don't be lured by "a few thousand in merit;" it won't get you too far with a $75K COA. Some schools -- even without merit -- are cheaper than other schools with merit. Publics aside, the COA, without merit or FA, for the schools on D's list ranged from $62K (Rice) to $75K (U. Chicago). This didn't take into account huge differences in travel or health insurance costs, or additional expenses such as orientation week, etc.

    I don't think you need more than one or two safeties. Does U Mass allow you to have a back-up major outside of CS/Eng? If so, and if he likes U Mass, that can be his safety and you can get rid of at least two of the others on the list.

    Has he taken the ACT? He might find that he prefers one test over the other (many kids do). Have you looked at Alabama? A lot of kids seem to like it for STEM -- if he can get his test scores up, he might get some automatic merit there.

«134567
Sign In or Register to comment.