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How’s My College List

kenneydabestkenneydabest 16 replies4 threads Junior Member
I’m a rising senior from New York State. I want to get some people’s opinion on the college list that I have compiled. To give you a better sense of who I am here’s some of my stats.

GPA: 4.0 (95)

My freshman year I went to a school that didn’t have any Honors or AP classes, so that year I had all regular classes. My sophomore year half of my classes where honors and the other half where regular, my school didn’t place me into higher classes because they couldn’t since my old school didn’t have any honors classes.

Junior year I took 4 AP classes (Psych, U.S. History, Eng. Lang., Span. Lang.) and all my other classes are honors. My senior year I’ll be taking 5 AP classes (Macroeconomics, Gov. and Poli., Bio, Phys. 1, and Calc AB).

My presumptive scores for my junior year AP exams are:
Psychology: 5
U.S. History: 5
English Language: 4
Spanish Language: 5

As for my SAT or ACT, I have yet to take them yet because of COVID-19. I hopefully presume to get some where between 1450-1550.


Freshman Year: None (my school didn’t have any)

Sophomore Year:
Youth in Government (co-president)
Chemistry Club (member)

Junior Year:
Spanish Honor Society (President)
Youth in Government (co-president)
Debate Team (member)
Interact Club (Vice President)
Science Honor Society (member)
Chemistry Club (member)
Volunteer at Local Food Bank

(Presumptive) Senior Year:
Spanish Honor Society (President)
Youth in Government (co-President)
Debate Team (secretary)
Interact Club (TBD *probably Vice President*)
Science Honor Society (TBD)
Chemistry Club (TBD)
Volunteer at Local Food Bank

When I put together my college list I looked for some key things. I wanted a college, of course, with great academics and a great Political Science program (my presumed major). I also wanted to be close to an urban area and I chose schools that I can see myself going to. I also prefer colder weather, but I made some exceptions. I have some great stories to write my essays about, and I am a very ambitious person. The following colleges that I have compiled I have thoroughly researched, and I feel a strong connection with all of them.

I know that almost everyone is going to say that my list is too long, and I understand that, but these are the schools that I love the most. I just need some advice about how to narrow it down some more, maybe some details I haven’t noticed yet. Also note that I’ll be a first generation Hispanic student coming from a low income, diverse school district.

I also would like some advice on what really should be focusing on in my senior year. I feel like I am very involved, but I lack a specific wow factor. Like other students that get into these schools have done research at universities, or have won national awards. I feel like I lack something of that sort.

My List:

Stanford University (Stanford, CA) (4.2%)
Yale University (New Haven, CT) (4.2%)
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) (4.6%)
Columbia University (New York, NY) (5.3%)
Princeton University (Princeton, NJ) (5.5%)
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) (6.2%)
Brown University (Providence, RI) (7.1%)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) (7.7%)
Rice University (Houston, TX) (8.7%)
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) (9.1%)
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) (11.4%)
Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) (14.4%)
Tufts University (Medford, MA) (15.0%)
Emory University (Atlanta, GA) (15.6%)
Northeastern University (Boston, MA) (18.1%)
Boston University (Boston, MA) (18.9%)
Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) (31.1%)
American University (Washington, D.C.) (36.1%)
Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA) (36.7%)
Stony Brook University, SUNY (Stony Brook, NY) (44.1%)
University at Buffalo, SUNY (Buffalo, NY) (61.1%)
edited July 9
12 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: How’s My College List

  • JustinbecauseJustinbecause 10 replies0 threads New Member
    You seem very very well rounded and competitive for many of these schools. I know your list is already very long, but the majority of the schools on your list are extremely competitive and admission can come down to luck. I highly recommend that you apply to some of the University of California schools. Some of them (UCB, UCLA, UCSB, UCSC, UCSD) are all amazing schools and provide great financial aid for OOS students. I know applying to 5 more schools must sound horrible since you're already applying to 20+ schools, but there is only one application you fill out for all the UC campuses and most people can get an application fee waiver. I believe these UC schools would be fantastic safety/match schools for you. As for what you should focus on during senior year, you should start thinking of some activities that would blow admission officers away just by the fact that you did *this activity* during such a hard time. Obviously, keep your GPA up and if you're able to take the SAT/ACT, definitely take it. I'm very confident you'll get into many of those schools but I had too many friends last year with stats similar to yours get rejected from all OOS schools. You have the stats, you have great EC's, now is the time to starting thinking of what else you can do that will separate you from the rest of the admission pool. Have fun with the admission process!
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6665 replies2 threads Senior Member
    edited July 9
    "provide great financial aid for OOS students"

    What? The Universities of California are indeed great universities. However, they are known for providing almost no financial aid at all for out of state students. OP would probably be full pay at any of them.

    OP, you have great stats. There are a few things that come to mind reading your post.

    One is that the SUNY's are great schools. I really hope that with your great stats that they are safeties for you. Your guidance counselor would know better than I whether this is true -- we do not come from New York state.

    If the SUNY's are safeties for you, then this does free up your application process to only add other schools that you would like better than the SUNY's, which would explain why the rest of your list includes a lot of reaches.

    Do you know what your budget is? If not, then you need to find out. If you do have a budget, and if it is less than $300,000 over four years, then you should run the NPC (or get your parents to run the NPC), and see whether the other schools on your list are likely to be affordable.

    Also, you have a long list of reaches. I am concerned that it will be difficult to put enough focus on each application to maximize your chances at any particular school. I think that you need to think hard about what you want in a university and find a way to cut the list shorter. I do think that with your great stats and being Hispanic you are likely to get accepted to several of your reaches. You can only attend one.

    Suppose that you get accepted to every school on the list, which one would you attend? Which three would make the short list as you were trying to decide?

    Also, you have a long list of ECs. Which ones do you care about the most?

    My last point is going to show my bias: Stanford is a great university. I loved the time I spent there. They care a lot about diversity in admissions. I would leave it on the list as long as you are willing to go that far to attend a great university. For me, it is one of the few schools that I would be willing to go that far for. Given your great stats and your intended major, I would leave Harvard on the list also.
    edited July 9
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10435 replies123 threads Senior Member
    This list is way too reach heavy.

    Have you run the NPC on all these schools? Are they all affordable?
    If not, take them off the list.

    If you prefer colder weather, get rid of Rice and USC. That will e a start.

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  • kenneydabestkenneydabest 16 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Okay just to update, I scrapped Rice, Emory, and Occidental from my list.

    @Justinbecause Thanks for the feedback and confidence boost. But like @DadTwoGirls said I won’t apply to USs because of their lack of aid. And I definitely agree with you that I just need to focus on a specific wow factor to stand out.

    @DadTwoGirls I have run the net price for all these schools, and a ton more, and of the ones that were affordable I narrowed it down from there. That’s how I got this list. And the two SUNYs I have on my list are my safeties, that’s why the rest are reaches and a few targets.

    @momofsenior1 What I’ve said before should address your post too. And yea, I got rid of Rice. But the reason why I won’t get rid of USC is because I really like urban areas, so that outweighed the weather for me, since USC is so close to downtown.
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  • kenneydabestkenneydabest 16 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Here’s an updated list if anyone else has more feedback:

    1. Stanford University (Stanford, CA) (4.2%)
    2. Yale University (New Haven, CT) (4.2%)
    3. Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) (4.6%)
    4. Columbia University (New York, NY) (5.3%)
    5. Princeton University (Princeton, NJ) (5.5%)
    6. University of Chicago (Chicago, IL) (6.2%)
    7. Brown University (Providence, RI) (7.1%)
    8. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) (7.7%)
    9. Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) (9.1%)
    10. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) (11.4%)
    11. Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) (14.4%)
    12. Tufts University (Medford, MA) (15.0%)
    13. Northeastern University (Boston, MA) (18.1%)
    14. Boston University (Boston, MA) (18.9%)
    15. Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) (31.1%)
    16. American University (Washington, D.C.) (36.1%)
    17. Stony Brook University, SUNY (Stony Brook, NY) (44.1%)
    18. University at Buffalo, SUNY (Buffalo, NY) (61.1%)
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10435 replies123 threads Senior Member
    Definitely still too long ; )

    Look at culling the reach schools from 1 - 10.

    Do you have a location preference? Your list is mostly clustered around the NE. Could you cull Stanford, U of Chicago, NU, and U Penn?

    If you want urban, could you cull Stanford, Yale, Princeton and NU (and maybe Brown)?

    I would pick BU or Northeastern and cut the other.

    Keep in mind how many essays you will need to write. My D applied to 8 schools and wrote 19 essays. It's a lot of work to make it personal and convey fit.

    Keep 15 - 18 since those are the match and safeties. (And I would keep Georgetown and Tufts).
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  • flamingogirlflamingogirl 47 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Providence although "urban" is a very quiet town the street Brown is on has restaurants a couple clothing stores, nail salons and there is a mall maybe 20 min away but it defiantly does not have the busy vibe of larger cities. But there are parks and plenty of stores so if you are looking for a uni in the middle of a community which has other people living there besides students it could work but it isn't a hub of action .
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 2087 replies25 threads Senior Member
    You have 3 different types of schools between UChicago, Brown and American. UChicago is about academic rigor and the Core. If you haven’t read about the Core, you should because it greatly impacts your first two years. American (and Georgetown to a slightly less extent) is going to be more pre professional with emphasis on during term internships. It is also nearly impossible to get away from current politics at them. What you do outside the classroom may be more important than inside. Brown is an open curriculum.
    They are all very good school. But you will likely have very different experiences. What do you want?
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8039 replies85 threads Senior Member
    Agreeing with the some of the other posters that you have some circles to square: for example, Brown and Columbia students are not typically interchangeable (also, if you haven't factored in Columbia's & UChicago' Core programs you haven't done enough homework to know that you 'love' those schools).

    As nobody else has pulled you up on the "no EC's in Grade 9 b/c your school didn't have them" piece I will. ECs covers everything you do beyond schoolwork (classroom or homework)- whether they are at school or at home. The kid who goes straight home from school to mind younger siblings for a parent working a swing shift has an EC. The kid who is a ranked chess player at a school with no chess club still has an EC. The kid who volunteers at the non-profit so much that s/he has a leadership role has an EC. Kids who go to schools with no official extracurriculars still do something when they aren't at school or doing homework- and the ones who want to go to Harvard find a way- or make one- to do something meaningful to them. The reputation of Harvard students as ambitious achievers is well earned! Fwiw, *none* of the unhooked kids that I know who got into any of the schools on your list had won national awards, and only a few of them had done serious research.

    So, think about what you really do with your time outside the classroom. To me, your ECs look like minor school clubs- perfectly valid, perfectly reasonable, good member of the community stuff- but nothing that says clearly 'this kid is one of the stars in their class'- which is what they are looking for. You can't change much of your application profile at this point- but you can focus it. What *really* matters to you? where does your non-schoolwork time really go? How do those things line up with the rest of your application (especially, given the times we are living in, your proposed major)? Push yourself to think *hard* about what you really truly want to do- and why. Go past the first layer of thinking ('it would be so cool if...') to the next layers (I've learned this / realize that / if I can achieve x, then y good thing could happen') ('these factors in the world + my interests / strengths = this potential bigger picture). etc.
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  • whidbeyite2002whidbeyite2002 313 replies1 threads Member
    When my daughter applied to college for 2019-2020, one of her intended majors was political science/international relations. While you have a list of great colleges for PS, I agree strongly with @Eeyore123 that you need to study each school for fit. My daughter did apply to Brown partly because she loved the physical environment, but the more open curriculum was not appealing to her; core curriculum from colleges like Columbia, Reed, and U of Chicago were. I would spend your time deeply researching the schools in your list, and then you can make your cuts.

    I’m glad to see some SUNYs on your list! However, I was surprised that Johns Hopkins is not on your list, though. Also, I would look for state universities with strong honors colleges with merit aid. Unfortunately, the UCs do not fit in this category.

    If you have access to books from your public library at this time, I would check out Fiske Guide and/or Hidden Ivies. These books helped my daughter in her research.

    Good luck with your college list and applications!
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  • rickle1rickle1 2687 replies23 threads Senior Member
    Would just reiterate two themes:

    1. Very top heavy, I would add other schools that are strong in your major, not just strong overall, and

    2. Really look for strength in your major and any other fit criteria. You may find a school that's great for you in several ways but doesn't show up in most T20 lists.

    William & Mary is a good example. They have an excellent Poli Sci program, a large network in DC, etc. Although W&M is a fantastic school and known for its academic rigor, it won't show up on any T20 list (quality of education is right there with the best of them). There are many other schools that fall in to this category.

    You've done great work to date. Congrats on that. You are a competitive candidate for the best schools, but guess what, so are thousands of other applicants. You could get in or go 0-15 on the top heavy section of your list. It's really a crap shoot.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 3041 replies5 threads Senior Member

    Your revised list is not that bad, my suggestions:

    I'd remove Penn, USC and Northeastern, they're more stem, pre-professional than the others.

    17. Stony Brook University, SUNY (Stony Brook, NY) (44.1%)
    18. University at Buffalo, SUNY (Buffalo, NY) (61.1%)

    If your hs has naviance data that shows maybe better acceptance rates for your stats, I'd be comfortable keeping a reach heavy list, as long as you're ok attending these colleges.
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