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Help with my college list?

mlinnymlinny 2 replies3 threads New Member
I'm going to be a senior this year and haven't put much thought into my college list throughout my high school career. My family is in no way college oriented like some are definitely for MSU (I live in Michigan) and hope to get into MSU.

I plan to go to a college that is close to home (in/out Michigan and possibly the Northeast) and that isn't too far. I want to go somewhere in a suburban setting even though I was born in a city lol.

I have a 3.5 GPA and got an 1130 on the SAT w/writing. I plan on retaking the SAT (probably w/writing) this August and take 2 SAT subjects tests (Spanish + World History) this fall because Princeton recommends them.

My current college lists so far consists of:
- Oakland University
- Michigan State University
- University of Michigan
- Stanford University
- Princeton University

My college lists aren't set in stone since some of the colleges on my list release applications in mid-august to early fall.
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Replies to: Help with my college list?

  • aquaptaquapt 2463 replies51 threads Senior Member
    Have you looked at Grand Valley State U? It is a good match for your stats and has the kind of suburban campus you want. The average stats for entering students are only a tiny bit higher than at Oakland University, but it has a significantly higher graduation rate - 66% compared to 45% for Oakland U. You should be a strong candidate for either, as your stats are right near average for admitted students and both admit around 80% of applicants.

    For MSU, your current stats are right at the 25th percentile mark - so you may be able to get in, but it could definitely go either way - they only admit 66% of those who apply. Is your 3.5 weighted or unweighted? If your weighted GPA is higher, and if your SAT score comes up a bit on the retake, then you could be a lot more solid for Michigan State.

    Schools like UMichigan, Princeton, and Stanford would typically expect to see a weighted GPA well over 4.0, and very high test scores as well. These schools are probably out of reach unless there's some information missing from your post. UMichigan accepts only 26% of applicants, Princeton less than 7%, and Stanford less than 5%. Many students with perfect or near-perfect stats do not get in.

    But in addition to the very good MI public U's that you're qualified for (GVSU, OU, and others), there are others in nearby states that would give you a reduced rate through the Midwest Student Exchange Program. Do you know what, in particular, you might like to study? Anything else specifically that you want in a college, besides a suburban setting? Particular extracurriculars you want to pursue? (i.e. music ensembles, sporting activities, etc?) A few examples of schools that would be affordable through MSEP and accessible admissions-wise would be Truman State in Missouri, Missouri State, UW Eau Claire in Wisconsin, Indiana State, and Kansas State. If you would like a smaller college experience at a public university price, Truman State would be a particularly good one to look at more closely. (Its admissions standards are similar to MSU's, but it is much smaller - 5300 students vs 40,000 at MSU) Hope that helps!
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  • shawnspencershawnspencer 3121 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Stanford and Princeton are not likely to be realistic given your current stats. The good news is there are many schools that fit your criteria! Michigan has a very solid public college system, and neighboring colleges state's colleges may have tuition match agreements (for some reason University of Minnesota comes to mind).
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Yes, Stanford and Princeton are insanely competitive. Stanford accepts under 5% of applicants, and Princeton is barely higher. This number includes recruited athletes who are competitive at the national level, others with national accomplishments in the arts, etc., and other "hooked" students. The 25/75 SAT range for Stanford is 680-780 RW and 700-800 Math. About a half dozen from my town and surroundings have gone to Stanford in the last few years. Every single one was a recruited athlete. A "regular" student with typical ECs and very high test scores and very high grades is still very unlikely to be accepted. It's nothing personal, just a matter of supply and demand. And the vast majority of people who are not accepted to these schools go on to happy, productive, and successful lives.

    The great news, though, is that there are many, many terrific schools, including the first 3 on your list. Great advice to look into tuition arrangements through the Midwest Student Exchange Program.


    You don't mention the financial side. How much can your family afford to pay? That is absolutely crucial. Unfortunately, possible schools might be unaffordable. Typically public in-state universities are going to be the most affordable options, and any OOS schools that offer tuition matching. The exceptions: an offer of significant merit aid and/or significant need-based financial aid. You are a good student and are asking the right questions. Merit aid, though, often requires very high scores/grades. You might explore aid at some public universities that are not as competitive (as a Michigan, Wisconsin, UNC, UVA, William and Mary, etc.). If you would rather go to a place, like, say, the University of Arkansas, which is a state flagship/research university, and/or schools in Post #1, you could run the net price calculator (NPC), which will give you an estimate of what you would be expected to pay. Every school has this, and you can google it.

    Otherwise, that leaves need-based aid. You can google "colleges that meet full financial need." These include the wealthiest and most competitive schools, like Stanford and Princeton, but also a few that are not so insanely competitive (for everyone).

    A final thought, you might explore Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) and Work Colleges (the latter especially if your family will be paying little to none of your college costs). Probably most of the CTCL schools will be too expensive, but maybe you could target a couple that look promising and run the NPC to see if you can find any good financial news.


    Among the work colleges, where students work for their educations, I only really know Berea, which is a very fine LAC with inspiring students. Note that you need to start the application process early there, and must interview.

    Good luck!
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43281 replies471 threads Senior Member
    What's your parents' income?
    What classes are you taking next year?

    Subject tests are always good - study carefully, taking timed practice tests beforehand.

    MSU is a reach - perhaps apply undecided? @romanigypsyeyes can tell you more about it.

    I second Grand Valley State - an excellent Michigan option. With a better sat score you could apply to the honors college, which is very good (nationally ranked).
    Look into Alma and Albion.
    A low reach: Kalamazoo, an excellent college with excellent financial aid.
    Allegheny and Ohio Wesleyan are two good universities. Further east you have St Lawrence (reach), Hobart WilliamSmith, Muhlenberg, St Bonaventure.
    A bit further away, more excellent colleges with good financial aid include Earlham, Luther, Augustana, Marquette, Hiram, Butler, UDayton, Lawrence, Gustavus Adolphus, and Beloit.

    Princeton and Stanford are out of reach. Since you said you and your parents didn't know much about colleges, I'm guessing they're currently on your list because they're famous, not because of fit.
    You may want to gobto your public library and get a book called Princeton Review's Best Colleges : read the description for all the colleges for students with your stats. Find colleges you like :-):
    2 you're sure you can get into (they'll likely have a sat range around 1000-1080) and that you can afford after running the noc
    3-5 you can get into and can afford (they'll likely have SAT scores in the 1080-1180 range).
    Then add a few reaches, where you might be admitted but odds are you won't, but that's okay because you tried and you have a bunch of awesome other choices no matter what.
    (A total of about 10 is a good number).

    Run the net price calculator (NPC) on every college listed on this thread and cross out the ones that aren't affordable. You'll notice that every single night result differs from the others and that sometimes sometimesvate colleges can be cheaper than public colleges, depending on where you apply. The NPC tells you that.
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  • HapworthHapworth 578 replies0 threads Member
    edited June 2018
    The OP hasn't mentioned LACs. It is fine, of course, to mention them (I am an LAC superfan), but I do wonder, given the OP's list, if he/she has to research more. Princeton and Stanford are not reaches; they are "out of reach"es. Not to be a downer (OP, you will have a lot of good schools to choose from; trust us), but I think that UMich is out of reach too.

    If the OP can afford to go OOS, she/he has a lot of options, as there are plenty of flagships and non-flagship publics that would be a good fit. In state there is MSU and MI's other various public options. If OOS is a possibility, I always think that Ohio U. is in some ways a good comp for MSU (not an exact comp, of course). Indiana U, Iowa, Iowa State are also terrific public flagships that I like a lot (I love Iowa city!) that aren't cutthroat admissions-wise but still have lots of bright students.

    The OP did list several private schools, and if the OP is looking for a smallish (3-6K students) or mid-sized (6 to 10K), maybe he should be considering schools like Marquette, Drake, Valparaiso. I'm staying in the midwest, as the OP doesn't want to go too far away.

    LACs? Too many to mention, and so many really good schools that would be in play. Plus, as I hope the OP realizes, private schools are the same cost IS or OOS. Michigan has several. Kalamazoo is the most prestigious option, but Alma and Albion do not get enough love. Albion is essentially a CTCL school that the CTCL book forgot to include. If the OP is religious, Hope is a really lovely school. If the OP is super-religious, Calvin is terrific.
    edited June 2018
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    If you have a chance, maybe you could try to visit some of the terrific Michigan schools mentioned in this thread. They are great suggestions. It's a great way to explore what might work for you. Visit Michigan State, Michigan, Western Michigan, and/or Eastern Michigan--whichever are of most interest, or, for now, just closest to you. See how a large state university feels, and if any appeal more than others.

    Visit a couple of the smaller ones too--Kalamazoo, Hope, Alma, Albion, etc. See how they feel. Too small? Just right? Is this one great, does that one seems less appealing? You can make it a fun day trip or weekend. Are any within say 50 miles, and you can go yourself if it is more of a challenge for your family with work, etc. Think of it as exploration, learning about a new place. Stop and eat a meal around the campus if that works.

    At the smaller schools, admissions reps will often work closely with prospective students. If you visit one, and it feels great, and the NPC number looks reasonable, you might contact the rep for your area--this info is available on the admissions website, under people. Ask any questions you have that are not readily available online. Express an interest, explore whether there is a possibility of it working for you financially.

    Large schools like Michigan State don't do much of this personal recruiting. Lots of interested students and admissions is more numbers based. The process can be more personal at these smaller schools. Getting a rep enthusiastic about you can go a long way. I'll add, I live in a different part of the country and know two Hope grads who are about the most amazing people you will ever meet, and very successful. I know two professors at Kalamazoo. I would love them to teach my kids.

    Depending where you are in Michigan, some OOS schools mentioned, i.e. Ohio U, might be worth visiting as well.

    Keep an open mind, you can get a great education at lots of places. You are just trying to find one that will work in terms of admissions, is affordable, and will be a great place for you.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6936 replies171 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    OP. What is your background? .Are you a first generation college student (parents didn’t go) or an underrepresented minority group member. Native American African American Latinx Pacific Islander or other unique background? Are your parents a legacy st any schools? ( did your parents graduate from any school you like?)

    I only ask to offer some more info that will help guide the parents and students who will offer you some great insight. .

    It will help drive the potential advice to types of schools that will work for you.
    Many schools try to help out underrepresented groups with slightly less competitive stats to help balance the scales of opportunity. And legacies get a bit of preference at some schools.
    edited June 2018
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