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Help! So many choices!

Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
Hi!
I’m a rising senior, and I’m at the last leg of the college search process, but I think I have too many selective schools. If I get rejected, I’m afraid I will be left with no options I really love let alone good financial aid packages.

List of Colleges (in no order):
Barnard College
University of Wisconsin- Madison
Smith College
University of Michigan
Wellesley College
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

What should I do? I would like to apply to at least 4 schools but at the very most 8. If you have any advice or comments/ opinions on these schools all would be helpful! :) Thanks!
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Replies to: Help! So many choices!

  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5404 replies1 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your list contains very good colleges and universities.

    However, the first thing that you need to do is to identify two safety schools. A safety is a school that you know you will get accepted to, you know you will be able to afford, and you would be willing to attend. Usually the last part implies that they have a good program in your intended major.

    In order to help you with the "know that you will get accepted", folks here on Quora would need to know your unweighted GPA (weighted is calculated very differently by different high schools) and your test scores.

    In order to help you with the "be able to afford" part we will need to know your home state, and your budget.

    For many students their in-state public university or one of several in-state public schools is their safety. However, this is not always the case.
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  • Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Hi!
    Thanks for replying and so quickly too! I live in Illinois. Here are my stats.
    UW: 3.62
    W: 4.0
    AP Scores:
    APUSH: 5
    Environmental Science: 4
    World History: 5
    AP Lit: 3 (oof)
    AP Gov.: 5

    The APs I’m taking senior year are Biology, Spanish Language, English Language, and Calculus (BC).

    Extracurriculars:
    Speech Team: 9
    Newspaper: 10 & 11
    Mock Trial Team: 10, 11, 12
    Pride Alliance: 10, 11, 12
    Tech Crew: 11 & 12
    Drama Club: 11 & 12
    NHS: 11 & 12
    National Spanish Honor Society: 11 & 12
    National Social Studies Honor Society: 12

    I also volunteer at the local homeless shelter for volunteer hours (not required by my high school) and I will have done a little over 100 hours by the time I fill out applications.
    Thanks again!
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  • Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Oops I forgot to say that I got a 1390 on the SAT. Math: 720 and Reading: 670.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5404 replies1 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What does your guidance counselor say about your chances at UIUC? To me your stats look about average for a student who is accepted there. Being in-state and having good ECs should help. Certainly it is very much worth an application and is a great school. I am not sure if it is a match or a safety. It is certainly a great school for you to leave on your list.

    Wellesley College to me looks like a reach or a high reach for you.

    To me your list looks quite good but there are two things that I would do. One is add another safety unless your GC is pretty sure that you have two safeties already. You might want to apply to a second in-state public university. The other is to run the NPC and make sure that you and your parents are okay with what each of these schools is likely to cost.
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  • Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I haven't talked to my counselor yet about my college list, but I will set up an appointment once school starts again. When it comes to the financial aspect I've extensively talked to my parents about it, and they said they won't be able to do much except pay for things they already do now like food, and hygienic products, etc. That's one of the reasons I really like Barnard, Smith, and Wellesley because not only do they have strong academics but also they meet 100% of financial need. Also, the University of Michigan, according to the College Board, meets 91% of a student's financial need.
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  • happy1happy1 22769 replies2242 threadsVerified Member Senior Member
    Have you run the net price calculators for each school?
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  • joecollege44joecollege44 92 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    barnard, smith, wellelsley are all reaches. not putting you down, but they are for anyone. michigan I think is out of reach for you these days. if you are sure about wanting to go to barnard, smith, or wellesley then pick the one you like for ED, which will help your chances. I think Wellesley is too much of a reach to waste your ED on. I would say Smith is your best shot based on your SAT. You can always back out of the commitment if it's a financial hardship.
    Illinois is a great public option for you, but neither UIUC nor Wisconsin can really be called safeties. Good students at our local HS have been rejected from UW...so I agree you need to add a couple of true safeties.
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  • Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks again for all of the help! I've run the calculators and Madison seems to be the most expensive for me when Barnard College was the most affordable.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1094 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 18
    College admissions has become extremely competitive! The schools with the most generous need-based financial aid are often among the schools that are the most selective (and hence almost impossible to get into without the highest stats of the applicant pool or something else unique in your application that the school is looking for).

    It looks as if you like the idea of women's colleges, so I suggest you look into Bryn Mawr (and, of course, look into thier financial aid, etc.) Bryn Mawr will have some similarities (as well as differences, of course) to the other women's colleges on your list but is considered to be a little easier to get into.

    Since you do need so much financial aid and are a good, but not stellar student (in today's hyper-competitive situation) I think you need to apply to more (not fewer) schools, and search harder for true financial and academic safeties! Look for a school with rolling admissions (meaning you can apply anytime from now, and find out quickly if you are admitted/will get financial aid). That will be a TRUE safety. Unless you are in love with that school, look for another one or two safeties, because it's nice to have a choice when spring rolls around.

    A caution about ED: If you apply ED you will be committed to attend that school if accepted, and accept the financial aid package extended by the school. The school may believe your family can pay a certain amount (even if your parents don't agree with that amount). If you apply ED, make sure you communicate the level of financial support that your parents would be able to pay for you to attend that school.




    edited August 18
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  • ben556ben556 8 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    My aunt went to Wellesley and she lives close by so we always take walks there, the campus is beautiful and secluded, with a lake, tons of paths, nice old-style architecture, I've never seen a campus like that, its also in Wellesley which has lots of shops and not too far from Boston
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  • Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I've already been accepted into Coe College through one of their early acceptance programs, and I have been awarded a $24,000/year trustee scholarship. Currently even with the scholarship, it is not in my price range, so I'm hoping that once I put them on the FAFSA and get the financial aid package that it can be a safety for me.

    I've also been looking at more in-state public colleges that DadTwoGirls said to do, and I couldn't find any with my particular majors that I'm interested in, so I expanded it to the midwest instead of just IL. The majors are Environmental Science and Philosophy.
    The colleges that I got through the College Board are:
    Indiana University Bloomington
    Iowa State University
    The University of Northern Iowa
    The University of Wisconsin- Green Bay
    Oakland University
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3982 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Ton of students go to Iowa State University from Illinois. They tend to like the School and it's spirit. Great engineering. UIUC can be a challenge even being instate. Look up their gpa/Stats per department
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  • blossomblossom 9769 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Kiwi, you need to figure out how financial aid works before applying to ANY of these schools. A school that meets full need is NOT going to pay the gap between what your parents want to pay (food and random things) and what it costs- it's going to pay the gap between what their income says they can afford and what it costs. And unless you guys are close to the Federal poverty line, chances are there's going to be a difference of thousands of dollars which you'll have no way of paying.

    I don't want to be a Debbie Downer.... but you need to factor in transportation (getting back and forth) in addition to tuition, room and board, books, etc.

    Have a sit down with your parents and get an EXACT number of what they are prepared to pay for each of the four years. Then add to that number, the federal loan which you will take in your name. That's your budget.

    You may need to start again with a brand new list; without knowing your family's income it's hard for any of us to tell you if this is the right list or not- but I think you may be overestimating how much need based aid you are going to get if you haven't looked at the gap between what your parents intend to pay and what it costs.....
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1094 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes, it sounds as if you are needing/expecting a nearly full ride and those are not easy to find (without a 34+ACT).
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  • Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    My Dad's salary is around $60,000 with a family of 6 including myself. My parents are also divorced, and I don't know if they will want my Mom's information considering I don't live/see her at all. I've talked to both sides though and each side can contribute $3,000 at maximum each year. I, also, have currently $4,000 dollars saved. If I work part-time through the school year and work either a full-time job or a full-time and a part-time job over the summer I could probably earn in between ~$10,000 and $15,000 assuming I make $9/hour. I'm also applying to scholarships right now with the focus on local scholarships hoping that the smaller applicant pool will increase my chances of winning some money.
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  • Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    It's okay blossom I don't think you are being a Debbie Downer. I think you are being realistic. I would rather hear the hard truth than a nicely wrapped lie, which is why I came here instead of consulting with my friends.

    I was also curious about people's thoughts on U of M is it too much of a reach for me like Wellesley? Thanks again!
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3982 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    With your current stats Michigan should not be one of your choices. If you get a fee waiver and you feel lucky then why not.
    If you got all A's senior year and you can get your Sat up to 1450 then maybe.
    I would raise your GPA and Stats to get this:https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/685252
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1094 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 18
    @Kiwi2020, since state universities are largely funded by taxpayers of that state, a state flagship will almost always give preference to qualified students of that state over similar-stats applicants that are out-of-state. Usually an applicant has to be able to offer something that is needed by the University....either gpa/test scores higher than 75% of its admitted student, a special talent or skill (such as recruitable athletic prowess) and/or the ability to be full-pay. A few state schools are looking for geographic diversity, but not the most popular ones that are already sought-after nationally. Add in the fact that UMichigan is among the most popular and selective state flagships in the country (admissions are less that 25%, including in-state students) and it becomes a very high reach school for you. For the academic year 2017/2018, 80.9% of enrolled freshman at UMich had UW high school GPAs of 3.75 and higher, and only 16% with GPAs of 3.5-3.74. The middle 50% of enrolled students who had submitted SATs had SAT English/Reading scores between 660-730, and math scores between 670-770. Your math scores do put you in the middle of that range (great score, BTW:) ) but I'm not afraid that would be enough to offset the GPA and the fact that you're out-of state and need significant financial aid. I didn't see the most recent common data set but you can be sure the stats would be similar or higher now.

    To find out these kinds of statistics for schools you are thinking of applying to, google the name of the school and Common Data Set. The information about incoming freshman stats in in section C of the common data set. Not all colleges publish the common data set but many do. Some school websites will have a page called the Freshman Profile which gives similar information. You will most likely be able to earn major scholarships if your GPA and test scores fall above the 75% of admitted-students mark (the higher the better!)

    Of course, that means you might find yourself as one of the most motivated/smart students in the school, maybe going somewhere less prestigeous than you'd like. The upside is that you'd be the big fish in the pond, and have the opportunity for amazing mentoring, internships, and research opportunities with professors that you might not get if you were lost in the shuffle as an average student at a highly-ranked school. This kind of situation has helped nurture and launch many students into fantastic graduate programs (I personally know a student who is now fully-funded in a Ph.D program at UMichigan. He went to a little-known LAC , with stats probably very similar to yours in high school, and, no, he did not grow up in Michigan). Good luck to you!!!
    edited August 18
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1094 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 18
    An option would be for you to study like crazy to get straight As senior year, take a gap year, prep like crazy to get a higher SAT while living at home and working/saving as much money as you can, then reapply. If you do this, do NOT take any community-college (or other college) courses during this time or you will NOT be counted as a freshman and therefore not be eligible for the big, near-full-ride four-year freshman scholarships. Alternately, plan to live at home and commute full-time to community college for the first two years, ace your classes, work as much as you can to save money, then go to an Illinois state university for the last two years
    edited August 18
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  • Kiwi2020Kiwi2020 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Hi, everyone!
    Thank you for all of the advice. I'll work on changing my list up, and getting better grades this upcoming semester.
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