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Safety Schools for High Achieveing Student?

graceekgraceek Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
Hi all, I am a rising senior in high school trying to narrow down the list of colleges I want to apply to. I am considered top of my class (my school doesn't rank though) but I am not the valedictorian. I have an UW GPA of 96% and a W GPA of 100%. I got a 1460 on the new SAT but haven't taken subject tests yet. By the end of next year I will have taken 12 honors classes, 7 APs, and 1 college math class. I have always loved learning and I want to be surrounded by students who are mature and feel the same way about academics at college. In high school I started an American Sign Language Club and am president of the Teens Against Tobacco Club. I am also a member of FBLA (I went to nationals one year and placed in the top 9 at states this year). I have been playing college-level piano for three years and have been taking lessons for 7. I don't want to pursue music in school, but will consider classes in music. I also volunteer 2 hrs/week at my local hospital. In addition, I live on a farm and raise rescue animals. I run the social media pages and website for the farm. Lastly, during my freshman year of high school I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that caused me to miss a lot of classes for doctors appointments or pain and I went through rigorous Physical Therapy during HS. I am covered under a 504 Disabilty Plan at my school and have a few accommodations (but they're fairly simple and most schools should cover them. I will be meeting with disabilty directors at schools before I apply). However, I have chosen to take all of this in stride, and I hope to go into school Pre-Med with business and English minors. I am also an ambassador for Sick Chicks, which is an international program. I basically host support groups and get-togethers for ill and disabled youth. So, with all of that in mind, I should start by saying that I have always dreamed of the Ivy League. Princeton, Harvard, and UPenn (specifically) would be my dream schools. I'm thinking of applying to them as my reaches. I was thinking that a school like Lafayette could be my "fit school" and I am also looking into Williams, Amherst, and Wellesley. Are these schools too competitive for "fit" schools? Where else should I be looking? As for safety schools, I am thinking about Villanova, TCNJ, possibly Penn State. However, I'm NOT looking for large Greek life or party schools, and would absolutely prefer a school more focused on academics (it's fine if there is Greek life, I just don't want it to be too big of a deal because I am unable to drink or party due to alcohol intolerance and migraines from my disease so I don't want social lives to be capitalized at the school). I am looking at schools in the Northeast. NO WHERE in the South (I hate the heat and humidity!) and no where west because I don't want to be too far away from home. Money isn't a factor in my decision and I would prefer a small campus. Anyway, any suggestions of fit schools and safety schools would be greatly appreciated and any opinions on if I'm reaching too high or already looking at good schools for me would be welcome too. Thanks so much!
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Replies to: Safety Schools for High Achieveing Student?

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 28,365 Senior Member
    edited July 16
    No, Williams, Amherst, and Wellesley are reaches for most everyone. Just because they are LACs does not make them easily in reach. Also -- your test scores, honestly, sound a little soft for Ivies. High 700s for both sections would be something to strive for to be competitive in their applicant pools. You will see some students with lower stats, but they are typically hooked (URMs or athletes, for example).

    Have you visited many schools? What did you think about LACs? You should go visit as many match and safety schools as you can between now and application time. It is harder to find schools you really like in that category than finding reaches, and getting on campus is important.

    Here are a couple of suggestions:

    - If you liked Wellesley, then Mount Holyoke would be a "low match" -- you likely would get merit aid there, too. Both my kids really like MH when they visited, and both got in (one with quite a bit of merit). Both chose other schools for various reasons, but it was on their short list (even for my high stats kid).

    - Dickinson is another option (again, low match) -- they don't actually have a business major, but I can also say that pre-med with dual English & business minors is a daunting combination because here is almost no overlap in the coursework needed -- it would be hard to finish most places in 4 years. Also, pre-med is not a "major" -- it is a series of classes you need to take to quality for med school admission. You can major in ANYTHING and be pre-med. My nephew was a philosophy & history double major, took pre-med classes, and is now a doctor. Dickinson also might offer some merit. If you are serious about pre-med, saving some money on undergrad could be a good idea because med schools is expensive. Dickinson also would probably give you some merit aid.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 2,081 Senior Member
    For many high achieving students their state flagship is a safety school. For my oldest UMass Amherst and UVM were both pretty much safeties.

    We live in New England, and therefore relatively close to eastern Canada. In Canada (and pretty much everywhere outside of the US) admission is relatively predictable and is based on grades and test scores and references. Therefore for us anything in Canada was a safety (and the top ones were matches also). This should be true for you also. For my two daughters taken together this included McGill (obviously very highly ranked to be called "safety"), and the four top ranked small primarily undergraduate schools in Eastern Canada (the closest thing that Canada has to what we call LACs): Mount Allison, Acadia, St Francis Xavier, and Bishop's. If you prefer a small campus, these last four would be good choices. Acadia is hilly, which might or might not be an issue. Bishop's is closer and a bit more contained in terms of size and hills.
  • sheepskin00sheepskin00 Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    For high matches, you might look at Colgate, Brandeis, Wesleyan, Vassar, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, Colby, Bates, Franklin & Marshall. All of these are solid schools with good academics and smart students. If you're willing to consider the Midwest/Rockies, look at Oberlin, Kenyon, Colorado College, and Grinnell as high matches as well. Remember, though, that "match" doesn't mean you're guaranteed admission; it just means you fall within the schools' range. They're all still quite competitive.

    For safeties, check out Dickinson in PA, College of Wooster in OH, Clark in MA.

    All this is off the top of my head, so I don't present this as an exhaustive list.
  • ChembiodadChembiodad Registered User Posts: 1,261 Senior Member
    Look at schools where a 1460 SAT is above the top-25% and the acceptance rate is over 40% - as an unhooked applicant that can be considered a safety.

    A match will be a school where a 1460 is at the top-25% and the acceptance rate is over 25%.

    As an unhooked applicant, any school where a 1460 falls below the top 25% should be considered a reach.
  • wisteria100wisteria100 Registered User Posts: 2,750 Senior Member
    Some strong pre med options that could be matches
    Bates
    College of the Holy Cross
    F&M
    And for a safety- Muhlenberg
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,633 Senior Member
    I agree with @intparent .

    And while a college might be a solid match in terms of your stats, you do have to take acceptance rates into account.
    IMO, colleges with acceptance rate at 25% or below should be seen more as low reaches, even if you do have high stats. Remember too that a match school is not a sure thing. It is common to be waitlisted at match schools.
  • ChembiodadChembiodad Registered User Posts: 1,261 Senior Member
    I have to disagree with @sheepskin00 on the list of high match schools - an unhooked applicant with a 1460 would have to consider most a reach, especially Colby, Vassar and Wesleyan which would be be high reaches.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 6,979 Senior Member
    edited July 16
    Several of your potential choices do not offer business majors or minors (e.g., Harvard, Princeton, Williams, Amherst, Wellesley). However, some have entered into a relationship with Harvard Business School that could complement your studies:

    Now HBS says it has reached agreements with five elite liberal arts colleges, including Hamilton College, Williams College, Wellesley College, Grinnell College and Carleton College. The business school had previously formed a partnership with Amherst College, and the online program is already available to Harvard undergraduates.
    http://blogs.wgbh.org/on-campus/2015/5/5/harvard-business-school-expands-online-initiative-liberal-arts-colleges/

    The above noted, I might recommend Vassar for you, as well as Mt. Holyoke, which might offer a nice alternative to Wellesley.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 30,561 Senior Member
    Dickinson would be a match, not a safety.
    Add Macalester for an urban LAC? Skidmore for another fit.
    Muhlenberg would be a safety.
    For a serious student who is good at music but wants a solid science background and an easy business add-on, I'd recommend St Olaf : great music, known for premeds, business concentration (smaller than a major), special program called science conversation, internship program with the Mayo clinic.
    Run the NPC on all of these and being the results to your parents.
    Are you instate for Pennsylvania? Apply to psu Schreyer (essay topics should be up already) and, if admitted, apply to Global for housing, and you'll have zero trouble with drinking. Pitt honors is unstructured but Pitt is great for premed too. Finally, Temple honors is a great safety.
  • apple23apple23 Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    edited July 16
    Deleted. Sorry, posted on the wrong thread.
  • Studious99Studious99 Registered User Posts: 713 Member
    John Carroll would be a solid safety school. It's known for having excellent undergrad teaching, and has all the programs you are interested in. Greek life is certainly present, but doesn't have an overly large influence on the feel of the campus. You certainly won't feel left out if you choose not to rush.
  • moooopmoooop Registered User Posts: 1,526 Senior Member
    You didn't mention if your disability makes walking far or navigating stairways a problem. A lot of the better colleges in the Northeast are with quite hilly. Others are flat. Most, but not all, are fairly compact.
  • glittervineglittervine Registered User Posts: 201 Junior Member
    I have a chronic illness that sounds very similar to yours, which caused me to miss a lot of school in high school too. I was also looking for a small school with minimal partying atmosphere.

    I go to Amherst now, which I agree would be a reach for you, along with Williams and Wellesley (which was also one of my top choices). If you get your SAT up a bit, you'd be in a more comfortable position.

    If you're interested in Wellesley, also look into Bryn Mawr and Mount Holyoke, both beautiful schools with great academics but a little easier to get into. Other schools you might like: Allegheny, Susquehanna (has business administration major), Earlham (if you are willing to go a little further from the Northeast), Muhlenberg (previously mentioned).
  • graceekgraceek Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Thank you everyone for your replies. I am aware that my SAT score is a bit low for the schools I am interested in. Is that what makes these schools seem like reaches for me? Or is it how competitive they are? Unfortunately I typically do not have much luck with standardized tests which is why my SAT is on the low side. Is there an approximate SAT score that you think would make me a more plausible candidate ( @intparent @glittervine @Chembiodad )? I was hoping that my courseload, activities, and leadership positions would outweigh my lower SAT. Also - my SAT score is right in the middle for Cornell and Williams which is why I felt like it wouldn't be as big of a deal for them to be reach/fits. But, I want to be a strong applicant so I will try the test again if everyone thinks that could be a make or break factor. Thanks!
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 30,561 Senior Member
    Any school with acceptance rates below 20% is a reach for everyone. For a school to be a match, it needs to admit at least 25% students where you are at the top 25% threshold or admit 30-35% and you're *near* the top 25% threshold.
    You could also look into top test optional universities: Bowdoin, Bates, Wesleyan, Wake Forest, Franlin and Marshall....
    However 1460 is an excellent score - it's only average for your "reach for everyone" schools.
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