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Is this a balanced college list for my stats? (CS, female)

jg18jg18 75 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
Hi everyone, I've just about finished my list of colleges to apply to, but I think it might be too top-heavy. Frankly, I'm not sure what counts as a safety/match - my scores are above the 75th percentile for my match schools, but obviously they're still highly selective so idk if they can count as safeties for anyone. Feedback is greatly appreciated!

The list is also pretty long so suggestions on how to cut it down would be helpful as well.

Thanks in advance!
Major: CS + Math or CS + Stats (double or combined major where offered; if not offered, then just CS)

Reaches:
Columbia University (ED)
Princeton University (2nd choice)
Cornell University
Yale University
Northwestern University
Harvard University

Matches:
New York University
Wellesley College
Barnard College (reach?)
Vassar College
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU CS is probably a reach?)
University of Michigan
Case Western? (lack of supplements is appealing)

Safeties:
Rutgers University
About me:
- Asian female, Northeast, rising senior
- Upper-middle-class (can afford all of these schools)

Academics:
GPA: 98 W, 95 UW (school doesn't calc rank but I'm at least top 10%)
SAT (new): 1580 (800 M, 780 R)
SAT II: Math II 800, Bio E 770
PSAT (new): 1510 (760 M, 750 R)
APs: Calculus BC (5), Psychology (5), United States History (5), English Language (5), Biology (5), Environmental Science (5), Chemistry (4)
- Dual enrollment math at Princeton

ECs/achievements:
- Computer science club (president) (hosted school's 1st hackathon, grew club a lot)
- Marching band (drum major)
- Model UN (officer)
- Data science research internship at Columbia
- Tech internship at local company
- Science Olympiad (20 medals @ state, regional, invitational)
- Columbia Science Honors Program
- Honorable mention for a women in tech award
- Volunteering (local environmental organization, local library, Interact)
- NHS
- Local youth orchestra
- School math award, 9th grade

Recs:
- Pretty solid
- English teacher (likes me a lot)
- Math teacher (2 years - calc BC and multivariable, likes me)
- Research mentor (PhD, likes me and said he'd include nice words from Columbia professors I've gotten to know from my internship)
- Might get letter from Princeton math prof after I take the course

Essays:
- I think I'm a pretty good writer and I'm spending a lot of time on these, so they should be fine
- Common app essay is about compsci club experiences, perseverance, all that stuff (will allude to struggle being woman in cs, but not so explicitly that it becomes cringey or bait-y)
- If school requires 2nd long essay, I'll write about marching band, what I like about it, how it's allowed me to grow, etc
edited July 2017
24 replies
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Replies to: Is this a balanced college list for my stats? (CS, female)

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76129 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,792 Senior Member
    CMU CS is always a reach.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14633 replies974 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15,607 Senior Member
    Northeastern would also be a match. No supplement but showing interest helps.
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  • AlexandreAlexandre 24266 replies431 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 24,697 Senior Member
    CMU (CS), Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Yale are reaches.

    Cornell, Michigan, Northwestern are mild reaches.

    Barnard, NYU, Vassar and Wellesley and targets.

    Why aren't you looking into MIT?
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5218 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,219 Senior Member
    Harvard is an odd choice for computer science. It is very good for math. I wonder also how good Princeton and Yale are for CS, but I am not sure. I also wonder why you don't put MIT ahead of any Ivy League school for CS and math (Harvard is comparable for math, but not for CS). MIT is however a LOT of work if you go there.

    Other than this I think that you have a very good list. I think that Rutgers is a very good choice for a safety (the folks from there that I have worked with were excellent) but I expect that you will get into several of your matches and will do well. Good luck with this!
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  • jg18jg18 75 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @DadTwoGirls @Alexandre I prefer schools that are more liberal-arts focused, since I'm interested in applied CS and might pursue a graduate degree in policy or the humanities (example career path I'm thinking of would be being a data scientist at an NGO or in govt). That's why I'm looking at those schools over MIT - I feel like MIT's curriculum might be too technical/narrow. I will look into it further, however. Thanks for the suggestion!
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  • woogzmamawoogzmama 3832 replies18 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,850 Senior Member
    As long as you have Rutgers as a solid safety, there's no reason not to aim high.
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  • simba9simba9 3241 replies20 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,261 Senior Member
    Harvard is an odd choice for computer science. It is very good for math. I wonder also how good Princeton and Yale are for CS, but I am not sure.

    Harvard and Princeton now have excellent CS departments. It always takes awhile for reputations to catch up.

    Yale is also no slouch when it comes to CS. It's one of the schools I associate with AI, since so much of the early AI research came out of there.

    That said, I'm not a big believer in rankings for CS. You can come out of less prestigious schools knowing just as much CS as you would if you'd gone to Harvard, Princeton or Yale.
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  • CrewDadCrewDad 1697 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,721 Senior Member
    edited July 2017
    I'm thinking of would be being a data scientist at an NGO or in govt)
    My D majored in CS and minored in Japanese at Vassar. When she was researching colleges, a good friend, MIT alumnus, and data scientist/ engineer for a NY government agency, was very instrumental in helping her narrow down her choices and giving my suggestions some credence. I have no doubt that he would suggest that you seriously consider MIT. MIT students can be very pointy, but they're also more diverse in their interests than most assume. E.g., CS major/History of Architecture and Art minor.
    In the end, my D didn't apply to MIT or Cornell. She wouldn't have been accepted at MIT and probably not Cornell, but a significant deciding factor for choosing to apply to only LACs was that the size of the school became extremely important.
    edited July 2017
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  • politepersonpoliteperson 256 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 260 Junior Member
    Re: #5 MIT and CMU seem pretty similar to me; I'd apply to both or neither.

    If Michigan is appealing, you might look at a Wisconsin and Illinois.

    RPI might be another match for you. Not sure I see how vassar and Wellesley fit on this list--you seem drawn to larger schools.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76129 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,792 Senior Member
    jg18 wrote:
    That's why I'm looking at those schools over MIT - I feel like MIT's curriculum might be too technical/narrow.

    Actually, MIT has substantial general education requirements in humanities, arts, and social studies, as well as math and science.
    http://catalog.mit.edu/mit/undergraduate-education/general-institute-requirements/
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  • AlexandreAlexandre 24266 replies431 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 24,697 Senior Member
    jg18, MIT has a relatively flexible curriculum once you get past the first year, and it excels in Economics, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science and Psychology. You can also cross-register at Harvard if you wish to explore the humanities.
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  • jg18jg18 75 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus @Alexandre @CrewDad Thanks so much for your replies, I didn't know that about MIT and I'll definitely be considering it now!

    @politeperson I do prefer larger schools, but I've heard a lot of really good things about the community and resources at Wellesley and Vassar, which is why I'm applying anyway. Also, I was considering Illinois, but I heard that the surrounding area doesn't have much going on (as opposed to lively Ann Arbor). I'll try to visit during the school year and see if that's true, though.
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  • politepersonpoliteperson 256 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 260 Junior Member
    @jg18 yes Ann Arbor is tough to match; if that is a priority then Illinois may not work for you. (But I would compare to your safeties when deciding whether to apply; it's possible Ann Arbor won't be an option).
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  • prezbuckyprezbucky 4317 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,328 Senior Member
    edited July 2017
    Madison is awesome. UW would be a lower-cost alternative to Michigan and a match or low match OOS.

    Like Michigan, UW is good in pretty much everything, it's a populous school with a strong social reputation, and it has big-time sports. The campus is a mix of concrete and natural beauty. It sits on an isthmus between two large lakes.
    edited July 2017
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  • happy1happy1 22408 replies2184 discussionsForum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,592 Forum Champion
    IMO a number of your match schools are reaches for most anyone due to the fact that they do not have room to take all of the qualified applicants or that your are an OOS applicant. Right now I think there is too big a gap between your "match" and safety school. I would add a few more schools along the lines of Case Western that are more along the lines of true matches.

    Another option is to apply non-binding EA and if you get into a school like UMichigan or Case Western before December then you are fine (assuming all options on your list are affordable).
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