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Good 'target/likely' UG Classics programs

LeoMNYLeoMNY 6 replies1 threads New Member
My daughter has been fortunate to be able to take five years of Latin and three years of Greek in HS (one of each was taken 'off the books'...but that is a different story).

She loves classical studies, has participated in and had limited success in national Latin, Greek, and Mythology competitions, and wants to pursue an UG degree in Classics. Her interest is more in language, history, literature, and philosophy than in archeology. She has two ACT scores of 35. And so...

Her aspirational schools are the same as everyone else's. What we're struggling with is finding a good selection of 'target' and 'likely' schools to which she has a reasonable chance of gaining acceptance. Ideally she is looking for schools that aren't too big or small, not too hot or cold, and which are located in or nearby a major city.

So aside from the aspirationals she's considering UC Berkeley, Barnard, Tufts, Brandeis, Boston College, Bryn Mawr, and McGill. And she has a few questions...

How does Brandeis's classics program compare to Tufts and Boston College. How does McGill's 'Best in Canada' reputation compare to US schools. And most importantly of all, what schools are we missing (other than U Mich which in her opinion fails the too big, too cold, and major city tests).
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Replies to: Good 'target/likely' UG Classics programs

  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 784 replies3 threads Member
    edited September 28
    Berkeley and Barnard are reach schools (or aspirationals) due to a high number of applicants and low acceptance rate (Berkeley's a T20; and Barnard's affiliated with Columbia, a T20, and is an extremely strong LAC in its own right w/the resources of a top research university.) IIRC, Canadian universities, like the UK, clearly state their minimum academic requirements on the individual course pages. Keep in mind that the highly popular out of state and international universities (Berkeley, McGill, Toronto, UBC, Oxbridge, Michigan etc.) tend to offer little to no merit scholarships or financial aid to applicants. You may be eligible for federal loans depending on which international university you are attending.

    In Canada, the top 3 schools are UBC, Toronto, and McGill. I would recommend reading through the individual course pages to get a feel for what courses and opportunities are available at each school.

    In the UK, Oxford and Cambridge are famous for essentially anything under the sun. If STEM-inclined, I would recommend the Imperial College of London, but as your daughter's interested in Classics, I would recommend King's College of London (which is very strong for STEM as well, as a part of the Russell Group.) I really liked Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh as well. The UK system is extremely similar to the Canadian model, and browsing through course pages will yield a ton of helpful information regarding academic requirements and course structure.

    I'm obviously biased, but I applied to (and go to) Brown for Public Health and Classics. The freedom of the Open Curriculum makes it extremely easy to pursue multiple interests, and about 20% of undergraduates double-concentrate (major.) The general consensus is that most Ivies have strong classics programs, and Columbia (and UChicago by extension,) have an especially strong emphasis on the classics and liberal arts via their CORE curriculum. Wanting a major city rules out Dartmouth and Cornell. Other strong schools for the Classics would be SLACs (selective LACs: Amherst, Williams, Pomona etc.) Of the SLACs, your daughter would likely like Pomona the most, as it is in CA (so not very cold,) and is near LA.

    A match school (target) would be the University of Rochester in NY. My alumni interviewer majored in religion/classics, and said the faculty are extremely good. CWRU is a popular high-match, low-reach (especially if you apply EA and interview,) on CC. Reed College is extremely good as well, and I would recommend applying EA vs. RD due to the lower acceptance rate (~30%.)

    The University of Pittsburgh would be a good safety (likely) school. The application process is rolling admissions.

    Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!
    edited September 28
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  • merc81merc81 12182 replies207 threads Senior Member
    And most importantly of all, what schools are we missing . . . [?]

    For ideas for schools to research, College Transitions offers a "Best Colleges for Classics" list (separated here by type for ease of viewing):

    Amherst College
    Barnard College
    Bryn Mawr College
    Carleton College
    College of the Holy Cross
    Davidson College
    Hamilton College
    Kenyon College
    Macalester College
    Oberlin College

    Brandeis University
    Brown University
    Cornell University
    Columbia University
    Georgetown University
    Harvard University
    Johns Hopkins University
    Princeton University
    Stanford University
    Tufts University
    University of Chicago
    University of Pennsylvania
    Yale University

    College of William and Mary
    Ohio State University
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    University of Wisconsin – Madison
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85057 replies758 threads Senior Member
    edited September 28
    1. As the parent, have you determined the cost constraints and told her what they are? Unless you are willing to pay list price, have you run the net price calculator on each prospective college?

    2. Given her interests, has she taken a look at the faculty rosters and course offerings in classics / Latin / Greek that each college offers?

    3. High school unweighted GPA and course work are a big deal in helping understand what colleges (or scholarships) may be reach/match/likely/safety for her. More selective colleges do not generally admit by ACT score alone.
    edited September 28
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  • LeoMNYLeoMNY 6 replies1 threads New Member
    [PikachuRocks15] Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply and I apologize in advance for the length of my follow up. I've struggled with nomenclature as the only school my daughter has been interested in that truly is a 'reach' is MIT. She is very STEM oriented...but not that STEM focused. As for the rest of the aspirationals she has the ACTs, GPAs, APs, science research, and extra-curriculars that place her in the 75th percentile of applicants...but as we know and you point out there is no way to realistically expect acceptance at any of them.

    Oxford (and Cambridge) were discounted because she doesn't know yet if she will focus on Classics or Biochem - and the English university system definitely expects you to choose before entry. McGill is for our daughter the preferred Canadian school - partly because it is smallest, partly because it is Montreal, and partly because U of BC's CNES department seems less focused on Latin and Ancient Greek.

    Back in the states we face a quandary. She was going to do Early Action at Princeton - partly because of its focus on UG students and partly because she is a legacy thus increasing her chances. With Princeton dropping early action this year she is debating between Early Action at Yale and Early Decision at Brown. For whatever reason Brown is the one Ivy with which our public HS has had a reasonable track record of success. She is thus far unable and unwilling to choose between saving the world through argument or science and is as a result very attracted to Brown's Open Curriculum. But she fears Early Decision as cutting off her other options. Anything else you might have to say about Brown would be very much welcomed.

    From there we go down a step to UC Berkeley, Barnard, Tufts, and Georgetown. All wonderful schools every so slightly less selective than the top tier. From there another step down to Brandeis, Boston College, McGill, and Bryn Mawr/Haverford. All good schools with an issue or two. Bryn Mawr in particular offers an amazing Classics program for a LAC...at the price of a solid Biochem program (except through Penn).

    Pomona is indeed one of our 20-25 schools (along with U BC and U Toronto). I keep trying to sell U of Rochester...and my daughter isn't buying (too much snow and too far to a 'real' city). Nothing wrong with Amherst or Williams Colleges...except Amherst, MA and Williamstown, MA. And there we are. Thank you again.




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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 784 replies3 threads Member
    edited September 29
    @LeoMNY In-order to notify people on CC, you need to put an "@" before their username. :smile: I have pm'd you about my experience so-far at Brown, for privacy's sake.

    After a quick google search, it appears that while you are able to change your degree program (major) at UBC, but you will have to apply to the new major, meet the academic requirements, and it may or may not be a competitive process. However, this process might be different at other Canadian universities, and is something that should be researched in depth.

    UBC Change Degree Major: http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=2,303,0,0#:~:text=UBC undergraduate students who wish,a non-refundable application fee.

    If she wants the freedom to switch her major during college, IMO, the US academic system is the best: the extra year of general education (or in Brown's case, sampling electives,) is crucial to the major exploration process. Most US colleges, unlike in the US and Canada, will allow students to double major or pursue other interests: for reference, the email I received from the undergraduate classics department at Brown (after being admitted) referenced the major being extremely popular with pre-med students.

    Being a legacy of Princeton puts your daughter in a quandary as IIRC, Princeton was the only Ivy I had researched that flat-out stated the percentage of undergraduates who are legacies, and in the past, used to further call-out how many were multi-generational legacies. While the weight of legacy to the undergraduate admissions process obviously depends on how involved you are with the university, it's an undeniable fact that all the Ivies, with all else being equal, will want to choose the legacy student over the non-legacy: as Brown puts it on their undergraduate admissions website, "Brown takes into account the natural affinity for the University that often emerges among family members of our graduates." For the Ivies that offer Early Decision, it's usually a given that applying ED is necessary to maximize the benefit you receive from your legacy status. However, as Princeton only offers Regular Decision this year, when you apply doesn't matter: the question is, if you were to apply ED to Brown, would your daughter want to attend Brown over Princeton.

    Princeton Admissions Statistics: https://admission.princeton.edu/how-apply/admission-statistics

    I am not a legacy at any T20, so I didn't have anything to consider regarding admissions boosts when it came to choosing where to apply. I attended a public HS as well and wouldn't count track record as being extremely important, as I didn't know anyone from my school who had went to Brown in the past, but me and another student were admitted this year and are going. What's more important is that you are qualified for the school, AND that you meet what they want (in Brown's case, the Open Curriculum's extremely important that an entire essay question is devoted to your potential usage of it.) If she doesn't want to commit to Brown this early in the process, she can always apply RD and SCEA/REA (which limits where else you can apply to) to Harvard/Yale/Stanford or EA to UChicago, MIT, and Georgetown.

    If Brown is your daughter's top choice after research, I would highly, highly recommend applying ED, but ONLY if ALL of the following are true:

    1. Your daughter LOVES Brown and would 110% attend if admitted.

    2. She's confident she can present a well thought out and crafted application by the ED deadline, which is typically November 1st.

    3. You and your family can afford Brown if admitted (run the financial aid calculators if applicable.)

    UofR is near Toronto, and it's popular to visit Canada according to my alumni interviewer. If you're willing to pay the application fee, it's worth applying IMO and compare offers once decisions release in the Spring. However, I applied b/c of their BS/MD program and having a fee waiver through their HS Junior Awards program (HS counselor just has to nominate you, but the nomination period closed in the summer according to the site.)

    Hope that helps!
    edited September 29
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  • LeoMNYLeoMNY 6 replies1 threads New Member
    [merc81] and [ucbalumnus]Thank you both for your replies. The College Transitions list was quite helpful but I did find it before starting my thread.

    As for looking at faculty rosters and course offerings...I know that's where we're headed. I'm just hoping to do the deep digging for 10 schools and not 20.

    As I mentioned in my reply to [PikachuRocks15] my daughter has the GPAs, APs, science research, and extra-curriculars that go along with her ACTs in placing her in the 75th percentile of applicants to the aspirationals. But we understand that there is no way to realistically expect acceptance at any of them.

    However, at the other end of the spectrum our school's guidance counselor warned us against choosing 'safety schools' for which our daughter is overqualified. And suggested that we won't get acceptances to schools that 'know' she won't attend.

    And so the search for schools that truly are likely and target continues.

    PS [ucbalmnus] I assume you are a UC Berkeley alum...as is my wife. It got us a 'Go Bears' when we did our daughter's tour.
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  • merc81merc81 12182 replies207 threads Senior Member
    Since classics may be a lightly enrolled major at many colleges, you may want to compare schools by their number of recent graduates in this field. IPEDS offers one source for this (e.g., https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=Bryn+mawr&s=all&id=211273#programs, under Foreign Languages, Literatures and Linguistics).

    LeoMNY wrote:
    Bryn Mawr in particular offers an amazing Classics program for a LAC ... at the price of a solid Biochem program (except through Penn).
    Haverford and Swarthmore offer top-level programs across the biological sciences.
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  • LeoMNYLeoMNY 6 replies1 threads New Member
    @PikachuRocks15 - Thank you again for your thoughts on Brown and other schools (and for the info on how to use the CC forum). Sincerely, LeoMNY
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  • blossomblossom 10636 replies9 threads Senior Member
    "While the weight of legacy to the undergraduate admissions process obviously depends on how involved you are with the university, it's an undeniable fact that all the Ivies, with all else being equal, will want to choose the legacy student over the non-legacy: as Brown puts it on their undergraduate admissions website, "Brown takes into account the natural affinity for the University that often emerges among family members of our graduates."

    I can't speak for other schools, but I have been an involved alumna (and interviewer, and volunteer on other committees) for many years, and I would not do too much deep thinking on how legacy status works at Brown. My classmates and I have spent umpteen hours examining this topic, and as best we can tell, being a legacy is a "nice to have" unless:

    Parent is a US Senator, Congressperson, Governor
    Parent is a recent Oscar/Tony/Grammy/Emmy winner (EGOT's of course are the best)
    Parents or grandparents have a named/endowed chair or similar (so 7 and 8 figure gift, not the $500 annual donation to your class fund)
    Kid is exceptional in their own right (musical, literary, artistic, athletic) so that legacy pushes them over the edge.

    Mom is a social worker and dad is a high school teacher, kid is a legacy? Don't bet on it. And these are kids who ended up at Cornell and Penn and Dartmouth and JHU and Northwestern- so not looking to get a kid with a C average and 1100 SAT scores in.

    I have no idea how Princeton works, but can tell you that any legacy kid with one or more parent/grandparents at Brown who thinks that's a hook- believe me- it's not. A modest tip factor at best unless the other elements are already at play....

    For match/target schools, I would focus on the Catholic/Jesuits. They are often an "admissions bargain", most have tremendous faculty in ancient languages and literature, have fantastic relationships with U's overseas for a fellowship or semester abroad, etc. I was a Classics major at Brown, did not apply to grad schools but I know from my friends that the top PhD programs (U Chicago, Michigan, i.e. all the usual suspects) were chockablock with kids from Georgetown etc. who were phenomenally prepared for graduate work on day 1.

    I would ignore your counselor's advice on safety schools. In Classics there really won't be a problem that your high stats kid is surrounded by less talented kids (I'm assuming that's what the counselor is referring to). The kids who go to college to party and get their ticket punched are NOT studying two or three ancient languages, plus developing written/reading fluency in German or French (ideally both) if they are interested in grad school. They are not writing Latin limericks or Greek puns or using Sumerian characters to write off-color jokes that only their classmates will realize are funny.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 6105 replies97 threads Senior Member
    Princeton places alumni into 5 categories, and which category you are in is based on ongoing involvement with the school, amount of money donated, and how often those donations are made (probably some more factors go into this as well). Amount of influence in admissions for an alum's kid is tied to what category the alum is in.

    OP, do you know what category you or your spouse is in?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85057 replies758 threads Senior Member
    LeoMNY wrote: »
    However, at the other end of the spectrum our school's guidance counselor warned us against choosing 'safety schools' for which our daughter is overqualified. And suggested that we won't get acceptances to schools that 'know' she won't attend.

    Safety schools almost by definition are those where she is overqualified.

    However, not all schools where she is overqualified can be safeties, such as those which use "level of applicant's interest" to wait list or reject those they see as unlikely to attend.
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  • LeoMNYLeoMNY 6 replies1 threads New Member
    @merc81 , @blossom , @Mwfan1921, and @ucbalumnus - Thank you all again for your replies.

    My daughter's guidance counselor's 'safety school' comment referred to their seeing a number of applicants with 'too excellent' grades and scores denied admission to the safety schools to which they applied. And that our daughter would be better served by applying to a larger number of 'likely' schools.

    As for our legacy status I have been a consistent giver but in what I am sure to them are very small amounts. It is more a question of getting that ever so slight tip of the scales vs other 'equivalent' applicants.

    Swarthmore is indeed one of our 20-25 schools (and a personal favorite of mine as I had a good friend who went there). But it is smaller than my daughter would like and the Classics program not quite as good as Bryn Mawr. And I did misspeak (miswrite?!?) when I said that Bryn Mawr's Biochem program isn't "solid".

    Which leaves us a bit better informed but more or less where we began. Wondering whether to 'waste' a non-legacy Early Action at Yale or instead try EA at U Chicago or Georgetown or Early Decision at Brown. And where McGill and Brandeis fit into the universe of Classics departments.

    I suppose that is another question - U Chicago is the only T10 school that has been showing our daughter 'the love' through repeated mailings and emails. Does anyone know if that speaks more of them or her?
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 6105 replies97 threads Senior Member
    edited September 29
    LeoMNY wrote: »

    I suppose that is another question - U Chicago is the only T10 school that has been showing our daughter 'the love' through repeated mailings and emails. Does anyone know if that speaks more of them or her?

    UChicago is notorious for sending out mountains of marketing materials, and it is just marketing. They send these materials to a wide range of students, including many who have very little chance of admission.

    If your D is getting personal emails from the AO (asking if she has any questions, following up on admissions sessions, etc.), that would be a different thing entirely.
    edited September 29
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85057 replies758 threads Senior Member
    LeoMNY wrote: »
    My daughter's guidance counselor's 'safety school' comment referred to their seeing a number of applicants with 'too excellent' grades and scores denied admission to the safety schools to which they applied. And that our daughter would be better served by applying to a larger number of 'likely' schools.

    Seems like the supposed "safeties" were colleges that place a high importance on "level of applicant's interest" because they do not want to be used as low-choice "safeties" by "overqualified" students who are unlikely to matriculate. An example is American University, which does not like being used as a "safety" behind Georgetown and/or George Washington.

    Another possibility is that the students in question applied to a specific major or division that was much more selective than the school overall. For example, many majors at San Jose State University are only minimally selective, but computer science there is highly selective.

    However, if the student is "overqualified" for a college that does not do this or has stated automatic admission criteria that the student meets, then this is not an issue.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 31021 replies199 threads Senior Member
    edited September 29
    I was an archaelogy major back in the last century at Bryn Mawr. So of course that popped into my head first when I saw this thread. Thinking about lower tier options for her, I can't come with anything on the guaranteed automatic safety line except maybe University of Iowa because they do admit at least in-state candidates solely based on stats. For likelies, what about University of Cincinnati (very good for classics, but I've no idea about sciences there), University of Missouri at Columbia, MO, or University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign? She should scroll through the list of Cooperating Institutions from the website of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for more ideas: https://www.ascsa.edu.gr/about/governance/cooperating-institutions-and-their-representatives and look through their list of affiliated projects: https://www.ascsa.edu.gr/excavations/ascsa-affiliated-field-projects Yes, I know that's mostly a list of digs, but if an institution has a strong archaeology program it probably has a decent classics program as well. If she's really more focused on Latin, she could also root around in the website of the American Academy in Rome as well: https://www.aarome.org/

    She also might like following the American School of Classical Studies at Athens on Facebook for their regular lectures in Facebook Live and Zoom. Today at noon EDT (7:00 pm Athens time) I'm catching one on the Battle of Salamis. :)
    edited September 29
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  • gotham_momgotham_mom 163 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @happymomof1 This 'Ford still regrets not taking a class with Brunilde Ridgway. Anassa kata!
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85057 replies758 threads Senior Member
    One other note: if a college which she is "overqualified" for and uses "level of applicant's interest" actually is one of her top choices, then she needs to show interest in ways beyond applying.

    Here is an older thread on the subject:
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/1626043-ways-to-show-a-high-level-of-applicants-interest-p1.html
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 784 replies3 threads Member
    blossom wrote: »
    "While the weight of legacy to the undergraduate admissions process obviously depends on how involved you are with the university, it's an undeniable fact that all the Ivies, with all else being equal, will want to choose the legacy student over the non-legacy: as Brown puts it on their undergraduate admissions website, "Brown takes into account the natural affinity for the University that often emerges among family members of our graduates."

    @blossom "With all else being equal" Brown, and any other Ivy, would probably choose the legacy kid over the non-legacy kid: the legacy kid's more likely to enroll, and that's extremely important for enrollment management, especially at the Ivies with ED (Brown, Penn, Cornell etc.) that have flat-out instructed legacies to apply ED to maximize your consideration under legacy. However, for few applicants (barring the exceptions in your original comment,) will the legacy be the deciding fact with 2 applicants as extremely similar. Also, go Bears!! :smile:

    The main decision that OP has to make, as pointed out in an earlier comment by him, is whether or not his daughter should apply to Brown, potentially committing herself to the school this early in the process, and not being able to consider any other choices.

    It's important to note that Brown did purposefully over-enroll by 100 students this year due to anticipated LOA/gap-years, though some students decided to rescind their gap-years. Could that potentially impact the number of seats for next-year? Yes, but the article also cites a potentially smaller ED applicant pool next-year, and with most Ivies filling ~1/2 their class ED, that could be a benefit. However, don't apply to Brown or any other school ED if you wouldn't be happy with your choice---you don't want to regret not considering all of your options, down the road, and the same advice applies to ED2 (which I decided not to do with Vanderbilt as I still really wanted to go to Brown after being deferred and ended up getting into both RD---so at least for me, applying ED2 to a school that wasn't my top choice wouldn't have been the correct route.) Make sure to apply widely (safeties, matches, and reaches) and hope for the best! :smile:

    BDH Yield Article: https://www.browndailyherald.com/2020/09/10/66-percent-students-accept-admission-brown-record-high-year/

    @LeoMNY If Brown and Princeton both equally appeal to your daughter with neither appearing as a clear top choice, IMO, as I said in an earlier comment, apply EA or SCEA/REA elsewhere: you'll still be able to receive whatever benefit there is from being a legacy at Princeton in the RD pool since that's the only pool this year, and you'll be still receive whatever benefit, if any, from applying EA or SCEA (the higher acceptance rates are more a function of a stronger/more interested applicant pool, though applying EA w/demonstrated interest such as an alumni interview can be a major factor at schools like Tulane that are big on it.)

    Hope that helps!
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  • blossomblossom 10636 replies9 threads Senior Member
    "With all else being equal" Brown, and any other Ivy, would probably choose the legacy kid over the non-legacy kid: the legacy kid's more likely to enroll, and that's extremely important for enrollment management"

    In my years of alumni interviewing, I never saw or heard anything remotely close to what you are claiming with regard to enrollment management. In my observation (and that of my interviewer colleagues, in two different parts of the country- one affluent, one not) it seemed clear that "with all else being equal" Brown would PREFER the first gen/parents did not go to college over a bright/high stats but nothing else exceptional kid who happened to be a legacy.

    Enrollment management has not been a topic at ANY of the instruction meetings or alumni interviewer get-togethers. Not even number 10 on the list of things to consider. Brown knows exactly where its cross-admits go when they don't enroll a kid who was admitted- which is one of the reasons why first going need blind, and then enhancing financial aid has become so important to the university. Princeton's packages were more generous-- so Brown lost to Princeton.

    Getting another bright kid, middle class kid from suburban USA who happens to be a legacy just because you'll know they'll enroll is not exactly rocket science. The U is perfectly happy to roll the dice with kids who have grown up disadvantaged, first Gen college, etc. with financial aid which allows them to compete with H, Y and P.

    Enrollment management is extremely important to a bunch of colleges whose entire financial aid strategy is targeted to small "merit" awards to attract the kids on the fence. Enrollment management is extremely important to a bunch of colleges where their endowments are modest and their physical plants are expensive to maintain.

    If Brown cared as much about enrollment management as you claim (with no evidence, btw) they'd admit 90% of the class ED and have a nice chunk of kids from NE Boarding schools, Winnetka, Chappaqua, and Atherton. The U has been going in the opposite direction-- diamond in the rough strategy-- but not because it doesn't know how to admit affluent kids in the early round....
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 11073 replies137 threads Senior Member
    A safety is a sure thing admit, not a school that is going to take demonstrated interest into account. Look at your instate options with honors colleges.

    At schools with sub 20% acceptance rates, it doesn't matter if you are above the 75th percentile. They are still reaches for everyone.

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