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Colleges for a slightly unusual situation?

MostlyWellMostlyWell 21 replies14 threads Junior Member
I know that I'm a good student, but my high school is intense. I'm in the top 10% of my class, but just barely. I don't hold a candle to my school's top students, and I'm worried about applying to selective colleges because of it. Colleges always talk about how you compare to others at your high school. I'm not looking for safeties because I automatically get into Indiana's honors program with my ACT score. I'm a junior from Illinois. I'm going to major in biology and then get a master's in genetics/genetic counseling.

Safety: Indiana University
Other schools: Emory, Michigan (Ann Arbor), and Washu (slim chances). I'd like schools that are similar to these.

Academics: 32 ACT, 4.0 unweighted GPA, currently two AP's and the rest of my classes are accel. I'm in two science classes this year and plan to do more next year. I'm only doing three years of world language (Latin). I'm the house manager for my school's theater program, but I don't want to do any theater in college.

I want:
-larger schools with a reasonably even male/female ratio
-a school known for biology
-healthy/low calories food available (doesn't have to be good)
-dorms that don't have rats, lice, and termites everywhere
-good professors


I don't want:
--schools focused on greek life or extreme party schools
-schools overseas
-a "cut-throat" environment
-gigantic class sizes
-overly conservative schools
14 replies
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Replies to: Colleges for a slightly unusual situation?

  • happymomof1happymomof1 30752 replies197 threads Senior Member
    What has your guidance counselor suggested?

    What can your family afford to pay?
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  • MostlyWellMostlyWell 21 replies14 threads Junior Member
    My guidance counselor is obsessed with me going to an ivy even though I can't get in, obviously. My family can pay.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Can you study and raise your ACT by a couple points? Also, have you run net price calculators on each college website with your parents, and are they willing to pay a quarter of a million $ for your undergrad education?

    I'd add UWisconsin. Add a point or two to your ACT, and Cornell could be a choice.

    Don't run yourself down due to class rank. It isn't everything.

    Have you looked at any smaller schools? Carleton, for example? I'd suggest you visit one if you haven't. More supportive than a bigger university.
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  • kalonskalons 625 replies21 threads Member
    i agree with intparent, mostlywell. i advise you to look into liberal arts colleges! i know pomona, williams, and swarthmore tend to have even male:female ratios. emory actually has the male:female ratio of a typical liberal arts college.
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    William and Mary! I think it checks all your boxes. Also Tufts and University of Rochester. These are all mid-size national universities--5000 to 7000, give or take--with strong bio programs. They are all competitive. I'm not sure about the food, or about termites.

    An outside-the-box one is Santa Clara University. Mid-size, right in Silicon Valley (internships!), beautiful campus, the most spectacular weather. WPI is another one. It has a very unique hands-on, project-oriented curriculum. It has traditionally be heavily male, though the numbers are becoming more balanced. I would roughly peg these as matches, not reaches, but they are interesting choices that are not that well known in the Midwest.

    https://www.wpi.edu/project-based-learning/wpi-plan

    https://www.wpi.edu/offices/president/about

    Also, it helps to understand that there are many, many excellent schools. I promise that if you go to any ranking, looked up the #61, #81, #101, #121, etc. schools you would find places with many outstanding people--faculty, staff, and students. It's really not a case of Ivy League or bust.

    Good luck!
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6664 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Tufts immediately came to mind based on what you like.
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Actually on the food I know William and Mary best. It has a moderate number of places for students to eat--coffee shops, bakeries, sandwich shops, taverns, pubs, etc. an easy walk from campus, in and around the Williamsburg historic district, for example Aromas coffee shop and the Cheese Shop for sandwiches. For Tufts, Davis Square is a walkable, more working-class commercial area with lots of restaurants, etc, and the T stop that takes students into downtown Boston. There were also some student places to eat over by the old gym, but I can't precisely remember what type of restaurants were there, although we are mostly vegetarians and found good food to eat at one of them. Rochester has an attractive riverfront suburban campus a few miles from downtown. There were some restaurants fairly close, although I don't recall too much walkable. That might be a function of my memory (was there about 3-4 years ago).

    Worcester has been completely redoing the downtown area, which is not too far from the very nice WPI campus. I've been to campus 3-4 times and many times to Worcester, though not in the last year or two, so not sure how that is progressing.

    Wake Forest would be perfect--terrific biology program--except that Greek life is very central to the campus dynamic.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83404 replies741 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    MostlyWell wrote:
    I'm going to major in biology and then get a master's in genetics/genetic counseling.

    I don't want:
    -a "cut-throat" environment

    Your biology major courses will have lots of pre-meds in them, so you should not be surprised if there is cutthroat behavior and/or unsavory grade-grubbing by pre-meds for whom a grade below A- is highly detrimental to their chances of getting into medical school.
    MostlyWell wrote:
    I don't want:
    -gigantic class sizes

    You can check colleges' on-line class schedules to see if they list class sizes. Even if they do not, you can often infer the sizes by noticing the number of lab or discussion sections associated with each lecture.
    MostlyWell wrote:
    Safety: Indiana University

    I don't want:
    --schools focused on greek life or extreme party schools

    About 21% of Indiana University students participate in sororities and fraternities.
    edited December 2017
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  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School 3373 replies12 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    Actually, you could get in to an Ivy with your scores. At my son's school it was more about other factors than GPA and ACT score. The kids admitted to Ivy's had GPA between 3.7-3.9 and ACT 30-33. The 4.0 36 kids were not admitted.
    Are you looking at straight biology, CMB, biomedical engineering, or some other variant?
    edited December 2017
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2910 replies8 threads Senior Member
    TCU and Baylor come to mind. Rice may a reach, but certainly worth applying.
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2740 replies36 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    Santa Clara alum here and while the school is fine for Engineering and Business, Biology is not that well known of a major. And most people would not know of the school outside the immediate Bay Area.

    Back in my day, the food choices were pretty dreary. The restaurants in the area back weren’t that great but they have improved slightly. If Korean food is your thing. Santa Clara dorm food will definitely not make the top of any list and the dorms are older.

    If the ACT is higher, I would second WashU and possibly Vanderbilt.
    edited December 2017
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30752 replies197 threads Senior Member
    Cornell Ag and Life Sciences or Human Ecology could work for your career goals. Read the course information on the website, and see what you think.

    If you are female, take a look at the women's colleges. Bryn Mawr, Mt Holyoke, etc might please your guidance counselor as much as the formerly male-only ivies, would offer solid pre-grad school prep, and would be somewhat easier admits.
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 4464 replies40 threads Senior Member
    You should look at the common data set for the schools suggested. At some, literally twice as many women are applying as men (though the enrollment numbers are fairly equal). It can be much, much harder applying as a girl to some, so keep that in mind as you look at admission stats.
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  • ScooterDeeScooterDee 34 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Check out Brandeis.
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