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Advice on my college list

Jonathan0Jonathan0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
Hello! This is my first post here. I'm relatively new to the college process, but I've done some research on what kind of colleges I would like to attend, and have formulated this list after some trial and error and feedback from friends and family. I would love suggestions. I know the list is top heavy and rather large, but please give me advice rather than just stating the obvious. Replacements or additions are also cool with me, as is categorizing the reaches, safeties, and matches.
Stats are below.

Also, this is not a chance thread. I'm not looking for you to chance me at colleges, beyond classification purposes.

I visited and loved the campus, programs, internships, etc. but I'm not going to get unrealistic about my admissions chances.

I also visited. Similar story as above.

Seems like a good fit for me, and it has merit aid.

Same as Vandy, but even better of a fit.

I really like their engineering here, and I have a (very) slim chance at merit aid.

One of my top choices (at least in my current mind) because of LA, half-tuition NMF award, great connections, and good student life (among other things).

I'm not so sure about this one. I haven't done much research on it but it seems like a good fit, and it has merit aid. I know I have to demonstrate interest, though.

Is this a match or a reach? I can't really tell. Anyhow, I like the school based on my research so far.

Georgia Tech
Is this really a match? I really like their engineering programs and Atlanta.

I'm attracted to the idea of no gen eds.

I have a high likelihood of merit aid here, and it's in New Orleans. Other research makes it look good.

Madison is an amazing city, and Wisconsin is good at engineering.

Minn. Twin Cities
Great engineering, relatively affordable, and great location.

Ugh. I don't want to go instate, but rather kind of far away. I should have a safety instate for financial reasons, though, and USCe is my mom's Alma mater and she is making me apply.

School my parents insist on me applying too:
Purdue or UIUC
My parents are somewhat ranking obsessed, and these where in the top 10 for engineering. They told me to pick one. I don't want to, largely due to the fact that they aren't in what I would call exciting locations (no offence to those affiliated with either university), as well as the fact that I already have a ton of colleges at the moment, and extra applications would be extra-tedious. Also, I already have 2 safeties (and maybe even 3--see below). I might convince them out of it.

Maybe I'll apply to UMiami? It has lots of merit aid, good location, and it seems like a generally good fit for me, but I'm. It sure about engineering there. It doesn't have any essay supplements, which is a bonus,

Now, about me:
I'm a rising junior in South Carolina largely interested in engineering, particularly electrical or chemical. My SAT is 1540 with a 800 math and 740 English. I'm Hispanic.

I'm taking the most rigorous classes available at my school, and will be doing math and design tech as my Hls in the IB program the next two years. I've also done/will do AP classes and done well. I'm currently #1 in class rank, but this may move down a spot because of my friend, another really smart student

I've done cross country since 6th grade and ran a marathon last February, but I'm not nearly good enough at xc for it to be an athletic hook.. I was vice presidential of Spanish club last year and will be president this upcoming year. I'm on the school math team, as well as the all-state math team, despite not qualifying for AIME.

For colleges, I would much prefer colleges in large cities, but this is not a deal breaker. I mostly just don't want to attend a school in a very small town. Also, I like strong networking, good internship and job opportunities, and a good campus vibe.

I know my list is top-heavy, but I'm trying to cast a wide net as to increase chances of merit aid somewhere. This is because I have 4 siblings but my parents will never qualify for financial aid. They also don't want to full pay unless the school is really "worth it" in their point of view, such as MIT or maybe Duke. When I talked with them about finances, they basically said that they could full pay at a lot of places, except that it would be very difficult and they would not want to do it, particularly with my older brother already in college and 3 younger ones on the way.

Schools I'm most likely to cut are Wisconsin and WUSTL (but only for the latter because of a lack of research done by me about it).

If it helps, schools that I had on my list previously but removed include UCLA (financial reasons), Columbia (I realized the only reason I was attracted to it besides its location and engineering was that it was an ivy school, and it's expensive), and RPI (apparently there is no social life there).

Oops, this post is super long. Thanks in advance for reading it and giving advice!

Replies to: Advice on my college list

  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 851 Member
    You have a solid list, but it's very focused on southern schools, I'd consider replacing Vanderbilt with CMU, maybe Duke with Stanford or Cal Tech, Wash-St.L with Northwestern, so you have some geographical diversity. I'd keep Wisconsin and drop UVA, so UM, UW and GTech are your public options. USC is not a reach, so you can put that as a match, especially if you're NMSF.

    Also a few of your colleges are in small towns - Cambridge, Ann Arbor, Madison could be considered small, unless you mean something with less than 50,000 people.
  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom Registered User Posts: 268 Junior Member
    Out of state UVA is a reach.
  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    Also, consider visiting UIUC, you might be surprised. My son visited and I was amazed that he really liked it.
  • ShrimpBurritoShrimpBurrito Registered User Posts: 963 Member
    edited July 17
    USC (Cal) is most certainly a reach, for anyone, especially Viterbi. Wasn't their acceptance rate in single digits last year?
    (Edit: looks like it was 15%. Still nobody's match!)

    OP, it seems the chance of merit aid is important, so I would not swap out Vandy, WUSTL, or Duke for comparable schools that do not offer merit.
  • suzy100suzy100 Registered User Posts: 4,211 Senior Member
    Merit at your reach schools is really, really competitive. I don't see any safeties that are guaranteed affordable. What about Alabama?
  • Jonathan0Jonathan0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    I considered Cambridge in the city because of Boston being right next door. Also, I was hoping that Michigan and Wisconsin being such large schools might somewhat negate the lack of the large city. I haven't visited any colleges like that yet so that should be on a to do list for me.

    Rivet2000, thanks for the advice. I think I'm being too narrow minded and should not discount them (UIUC and Purdue) because of size or location.

    Suzy100, USCe should be affordable because I'm instate. I also have Clemson instate, which is a potential safety that is also affordable (and good at engineering). I've heard about Alabama being really good for merit aid, but I'm not very familiar with Bama. I'll do some research on them. :)

    Theloniusmonk, I didn't put several of those schools in the list because of merit aid (a long shot at top schools I did put anyway but might as well try).
  • scmom12scmom12 Registered User Posts: 2,695 Senior Member
    UofSC and Clemson are safeties for in-state and very good from a cost perspective since you should be Palmetto Fellow. Don't underestimate what you might get from these schools. Please fill out the UofSC top scholars/honors application carefully. A top scholarship could open up a lot of doors and I've just read that they are increasing the number of Stamps scholarships. Look into this. (BTW way not sure I understand the USCe thing. What does e stand for?) Clemson also has competitive scholarships that you might get chosen for.

    Bama is Alabama.Definitely pursue Duke. Some of suggestions are great, but if money is an issue, don't discount the cost of getting there and back when looking at schools far away.
  • Jonathan0Jonathan0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    Thanks scmom12. I like your dog!

    Haha, yes I know Bama is Alabama.

    USCe means USC east. I did this because both USCs were on the list, USCw and USCe. I will definitely try very hard for the scholarships at USC (and maybe Clemson).

    I really like Duke based on my visit and their engineering program, too.
  • scmom12scmom12 Registered User Posts: 2,695 Senior Member
    edited July 20
    Even though we came first, commonly on CC Southern Cal is USC and South Carolina is UofSC (or SoCar if you're ESPN). Just FYI in case you end posting in another thread.
  • carachel2carachel2 Registered User Posts: 2,501 Senior Member
    edited July 20
    With #1 rank and your 1540 ACT I would bet a lot of $$ you would get full tuition at University of Pittsburgh. They also are highly into recruiting URMs and have some full-ride URM scholarships which I think you would absolutely be competitive for.

    Have you looked at Pitt? Their engineering is unique (at least compared to some of the schools we looked at) in that you are admitted to engineering and then get to *choose* your specific engineering major at the end of year one.

    Urban location, fabulous cit, great internship and co-op support. Lots going on--you really need to look into it. My daughter chose it over Clemson, Purdue, Northeastern, University of Texas, A&M and Alabama.
  • Jonathan0Jonathan0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    @scmom12 noted! I thought ESPN was SCar tho.

    @carachel2 I briefly looked at Pitt. I thought it was interesting and wrote it down as a college to look at. Thanks for the advice!

    Also, how does your daughter like Pitt and what made her choose Pitt over the other options? What has been your experience with the school as a parent? :)
  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    Did you take PSAT/NMSQT? That could put you into NMS contention along with the merit aid possibilities that comes with it. Also, you could in contention for the National Hispanic Recognition Program - that would be something nice on your application.
  • Jonathan0Jonathan0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    Yes I have taken it. Last year I got a 1510 on the PSAT (sophomore year so it doesn't count) so I hope to get NMF through the test this year.
  • Jonathan0Jonathan0 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    On that note, I was also considering adding schools that offer lots of merit aid to NMF, such as A&M, ASU, etc.

    Would it be significantly harder to go from about 12 applications (My list in the OP has more but I'm going to trim it down to 12 I think) to 15?

    The extra three would likely be from these kinds of schools. I feel like all of these extra financial safeties are unnecessary though, so I should find which of them I like the most and just do that one, right? Or should I keep my options open and apply to two or three in case I change my mind?
  • PengsPhilsPengsPhils Registered User Posts: 2,983 Senior Member
    Northeastern sounds like a great fit as well - possibly up to 30K merit aid (NMF or even without), solid engineering, one of the top co-op programs in the US and top ranked career center, all in the middle of Boston.
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