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College list help: Cornell ed or uchicago ed? Target school suggestions are also very welcome.

cacosymphonycacosymphony 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
Hi everyone! I'm a junior, and looking towards the upcoming application season I've realized that I don't have a clear college list, which makes me feel a little stressed and vaguely lost. I haven't really found a "dream school" like my friends seem to have. I have a very specific, kind of abstract idea of what I do want: a liberal arts-type school that provides a well rounded education but strong in STEM (esp physics) and research. Not a huge proponent of Greek life or a party scene- I do enjoy socializing, but I'm also more of an introvert than a partier. I would like to stay on the northeast- around a 2-7 hr car ride from where I live (upstate west new york). A cool library is would also be a plus but not a priority :)

Here is a brief overview of my stats, since I understand you might need some context for recommendations:
- GPA UW: 3.8/4.0
(Our school doesnt use weighted- so idk. For more detail, my B+'s were in freshmen spanish, health, and calc bc)
- SAT: 1580 (single sitting)
- Subject tests: I will be taking in August
- AP scores: World history (3- oof. I have no excuses), U.S. history (4), Biology (4), Chemistry (5), Language (5), Calc BC (5), Physics 1 (5)
- Senior year APs: Literature, Psychology, Physics C, Computer Science, Multivariable Calc (this is not AP but dual enrollment so still a college class kind of)

Awards: nothing major. Some merit scholarships for lessons at Eastman music school for Piano, 2nd place at NY state competition for a science olympiad event, some other regional level placings for science olympiad, 1st place for regional Envirothon competition,

Extracurriculars:
- Piano (~11 years, but nothing much to show for it except those scholarships)
- Violin (~10 years, school chamber and pit for musicals, local youth symphonies, virtuosi scholarship chamber, all-state orchestra (+ solo fest) etc. all the regular violin stuff)
-Science Olympiad (won some stuff, since sophomore year)
-Envirothon (just this year, won regionals, went to states)
- Cross Country (3 yrs)
- Nordic Ski (did this for one year for fun :))

Volunteering: counselor at a science camp (~130 hours), tutoring at inner city school (~30 hrs)

Summer Activities: volunteering, did a free science camp at a local university. This summer I'm doing a paid internship in research (40 hrs a week, 8 weeks) and will hopefully also work during the school year.

Demographic: Asian American female, dual citizenship. Income range slightly above 150000.

Right now I have 2 schools that I am applying to for sure that are both reaches: the University of Chicago and Cornell. I've been considering engineering (yes, I'm aware Uchicago does not have engineering) but I truly love physics. But physics doesn't have that great of job prospects, and (this sounds dumb and cheesy) I feel like I want to do something MORE to somehow contribute to something good- I would love contribute to some sort of climate change awareness campaign or clean energy research. I would also like to do something that inspires girls to pursue STEM- in tutoring or teaching or idk. I'm not really sure. I know this is all very vague. But hopefully I can accomplish this with physics- I could teach or do research with intertial confinement fusion, etc.

I like Cornell because when I visited, it felt egalitarian and academic. I like the project teams, the engineering physics major, the wide range of course opportunities. I love snow. I do not love the campus.

I haven't been able to visit UChicago, but from the my slightly obsessive, copious research, I like uchicago because of their environment- it seems academically focused but fun and chill, kind of dorky. I love how the campus feels historically inspirational to me , with all the amazing genius physics research that happened there. I love the campus, love the library. Love the liberal arts core. I do not love their quarter based system.

I guess I'm essentially struggling over whether to do Cornell ED or Uchicago EA. On one hand, I know I have a greater chance at Cornell ED and the idea of having a definite plan mid- December appeals to me. I would be very grateful to go to Cornell- it's an amazing school. But ultimately I like uchicago more (I think?). But I haven't visited, and I don't think I will be able to before the ED deadline- my parents are in research and academia and don't have time to travel with me- so I will have to apply EA. And I know I don't have much of a chance EA. What would you suggest? I am worried if I do get in ED Cornell I will always have that what if- but on the other hand, if I do Uchicago ea I realistically have a good chance of not getting onto both.

I need some target schools, but I haven't been able to find any that clicked- University of Rochester I like, but it's too close to home and that is a huge con. I don't like Carnegie Mellon's focus on computer science, and UMichigan's size. But maybe I'm being too picky. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

*looking back over this post, it's very long. Sorry, it's a stressed 12:20 am disorganized ramble. Thank you for taking the time to read it. This is my first post on college confidential- if I am not following the right format for these types of questions or posting in the wrong place, please let me know

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Replies to: College list help: Cornell ed or uchicago ed? Target school suggestions are also very welcome.

  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5404 replies1 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What is your budget? Have you run the NPC on Chicago and Cornell and are your parents okay with the result? With a family income of $150,000 you are in the range where need based financial aid might be limited but full pay would be very painful unless you have a LOT saved up for university.

    What is your second country of citizenship (I will assume that one is the US)? What is your home state?

    "I've been considering engineering"
    This is a rather strong argument for applying ED to Cornell rather than Chicago, if you apply ED anywhere.

    I am nervous about the idea of applying ED if you are not sure where you want to attend. You are essentially giving up the time from November to May 1 which you would otherwise have to make up your mind where you want to attend. You also give up your chances to compare financial offers unless you turn down your ED school on the basis of non-affordability (which is the only legitimate basis for refusing an ED offer).

    Your SAT is great. However with an unweighted 3.8, either Chicago or Cornell would be high reaches. You do need to find good safety schools, and probably good match schools also.
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  • yucca10yucca10 1242 replies37 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    Does the environment outside of campus matter to you? They're very different in Cornell and UChicago.
    You can apply ED to Cornell and EA to UChicago, then switch from EA to ED2 in UChicago if you're deferred so you'll still have a chance and possibly an opportunity to visit.
    Also it might be too big for you but SUNY Stony Brook is probably a match and it had a very good physics program.
    edited August 17
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  • momrathmomrath 5962 replies39 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @cacosymphony Before you make an ED choice you need to make a decision on whether or not you want to pursue undergraduate engineering. Engineering is a big commitment, and while it's not irreversible I think you need a better reason for choosing engineering than that you're worried about employment prospects in physics. Looking at it the other way, maybe you should be worried about choosing engineering when what you "truly love physics."

    I hope you get to visit Chicago. Its overall ambience and personality is very different from Cornell. Not that you couldn't be happy at either, but after visiting most likely you'd be more attracted to one than the other.

    I'd also suggest that you look at a few small liberal arts colleges. Swarthmore offers engineering and a culture similar to Chicago. Williams has a terrific physics program and values music ECs (plus a gorgeous library and no shortage of snow). Smith has engineering and strong support for women in the sciences (and would be a match for you).

    As @DadTwoGirls mentions, clarify your financial situation before you apply ED anywhere.


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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    If you decide on physics, you may want to consider undergraduate-focused schools at which you would receive exceptional support for your research interests. Swarthmore makes a good suggestion; Williams has produced multiple Apker recipients (the highest recognition for undergraduate research in physics); nearby Hamilton produced an Apker finalist last year.

    https://physics.williams.edu/articles/augenbraun-apker-winner/

    https://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/elise-lepage-18-an-apker-physics-award-finalist

    https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/undergrad-research-programs
    edited August 17
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Imo, having regrets about ED is not the way to go. So, EA Chicago supplemented with other EA and Rolling admissions schools is the way I would go.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1274 replies35 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    Without a hook, OP has practically zero chance with UChicago EA (as opposed to ED).
    edited August 17
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7000 replies50 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You are only a junior. You have plenty of time to find schools. IMO, you are better off not have a dream school. You can be happy, thrive, and be successful where every you land.

    If you live in NY state, be sure to apply to some SUNYs. You have some wonderful instate options for engineering or physics. Buffalo comes to mind immediately.

    If you like Rochester but it's too close to home, take a look at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. They have similar vibes.

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  • PublisherPublisher 7776 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I am going to ignore some of your stated preferences because you are young & should consider stretching a bit more.

    Rice University in Houston & Duke University are two schools to consider.

    The University of Washington is large, but not a party school. You should be accepted to engineering & , if interested, into the CS (computer science) majors.

    Northwestern University is a better choice for engineering than Chicago.

    Washington University in St. Louis for engineering.
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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Note that the OP appears to be entering her senior year.
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  • PublisherPublisher 7776 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    @merc81: Are you sure ? OP wrote that "I'm a junior." School has already started in some parts of the country. But I agree that OP's post is unclear as she also writes " I am looking forward to the upcoming application season".

    Even if OP is entering her senior year, my suggestions remain.
    edited August 17
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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Publisher: Though the OP appears reluctant to claim senior status, the continuity in her schedule (she has completed BC calc and will be taking multivariable as a senior) suggests she will be entering her senior year.
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  • cacosymphonycacosymphony 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @DadTwoGirls I live in New York State, I've been basing off my choices of Cornell and UChicago off of my school's Naviance- but then again, Naviance does not show AP classes or extracurriculars, only GPA and SAT. My school sends around 8-15 to Cornell per year in the past 3 years, and my GPA (3.83- i rounded slightly, but not that much of a difference tbh) seems to be slightly above the average uw- but should my GPA be a serious concern for me? Weighted, it should be ~4.3. I've also seen on Naviance that around 4-6 people got into UChicago previously with around the same stats. But again, very small sample size, so I am realizing I am relatively unaware of the competitiveness of these schools' admissions. Since the consensus seems to be that I shouldn't do ED, which is my best shot for these schools, should I not bother with UChicago and Cornell applications?
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  • cacosymphonycacosymphony 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @merc81 To clarify, I am an incoming senior. Sorry for the confusion. My school year has not started yet
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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    should I not bother with UChicago and Cornell applications?
    You should apply to any school in which you have an interest and for which you are qualified. Based on reasonable analysis, such as through your use of Naviance, applications to UC and Cornell seem appropriate for you.

    Since the consensus seems to be that I shouldn't do ED
    Your thread has been posted for fewer than 12 hours. A determination of a consensus may therefore be premature.
    edited August 17
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  • onthewestfenceonthewestfence 236 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @cacosymphony Presuming you're a rising senior, I would have you look into Amherst. Its open curriculum would allow you to investigate further what interests have yet to be discovered.

    It's great that you didn't grind and take the SAT again and again. How was your PSAT? What math did you take sophomore and junior years?
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7216 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Ok you are a rising senior. Have you discussed a budget with your parents? I would complete the NPCs with your parents and see if they are ok with the numbers that are reported. Once you have a budget and use the NPCs you can proceed with an appropriate list.
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  • cacosymphonycacosymphony 8 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @onthewestfence my PSAT was 1460- so probably will not be a national merit scholar, if that's wjy you're asking. My sophomore year I took Algebra 2, my junior year Calc BC. I was allowed to skip precalculus as I self studied my school's precalc honors curriculum and scored above 85% on the local final.

    Amherst's curriculum sounds amazing, though looking online their admissions seems very competitive. I don't think I'm really looking to add more reach schools- do you have any target school suggestions along the same lines?
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  • merc81merc81 10261 replies156 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 17
    Regarding colleges with flexible curricula, Amherst, Hamilton, Smith and Brown offer similar approaches in terms of their requirements and encouragement of exploration.
    edited August 17
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  • onthewestfenceonthewestfence 236 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    "Our school doesnt use weighted- so idk. For more detail, my B+'s were in freshmen spanish, health, and calc bc."

    @cacosymphony Misinterpreted this to mean all 3 were taken the same year.

    As for targets, Pitt might be of interest to you. Ideal academics and merit money are available. If you expand your range, the state of Florida has interesting choices.



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  • twogirlstwogirls 7216 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    OP I hate to sound like a broken record, but with an income slightly above $150,000 you might not get much...if any...financial aid to these schools. Is your family prepared to pay $75,000 a year? Even with some FA....you may still be looking at a cost of $60,000 a year....is that OK? You really need to use the NPCs.

    I agree about Pitt and if you apply right now maybe you will get some merit. It’s a great school. Case Western is another one to take a look at.
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