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Help me find schools!

studyybugstudyybug 26 replies1 threads Junior Member
Hispanic, First-Generation Woman

GPA : 3.85 (unweighted) 4.65 (weighted)
* my school has a capped gpa so even w/o a 4.0 unweighted I will still be valedictorian

AP: Human Geography (4), still waiting on others

ACT : 29

MAJOR : Public Policy/Political Science

EC’s :

Student Council (4 years)

Freshman Class President

Sophomore Class President

Student Body Historian

Student Body President

State Student Council Board President
* first state member and president in my school’s history

National Honor Society (2 years)

Key Club (3 years)

Yearbook (3 years)

Photo Editor

Junior Editor

Chronological Editor

Soccer (1 year)


Distinguished Student Leader
*the second person to receive it in my school’s history

Honor Roll
Moderator's Note: I merged two identical threads so answers may be intermixed.
edited July 2019
21 replies
Post edited by Erin's Dad on
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Replies to: Help me find schools!

  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6673 replies2 threads Senior Member
    Budget? Home state?

    What do you want in a university or college? Large or small? Rural, small town, small city, big city?
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  • merc81merc81 11905 replies203 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Public policy can be a great choice for a major if you are interested in practical approaches in the realm of government through insights from the fields of political science, economics and philosophy. If you think you would be particularly interested in this interdisciplinary approach to your studies, then you may want to concentrate your college search on those schools that offer a public policy major. Colleges that offer the opportunity to study in D.C. for a semester should also be high on your list.
    edited June 2019
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  • bjkmombjkmom 7948 replies160 threads Senior Member
    What schools have you found so far?
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Congratulations on your hard work and success!

    Yes, the financial side is very important. Students, unfortunately, can be accepted to schools and then not be able to afford it. You want to avoid that.

    If money is an issue (it is for the vast majority), the public universities in your state will certainly be a place to start. You'd probably want at least a few of those on your list. And/or you can go for merit aid or need-based financial aid, aid targeted at Hispanic students. You can google colleges that offer generous financial aid and colleges that meet full financial need. Note that the latter often includes the most competitive schools (like Harvard and Yale) but also some that are not so competitive. And, in the end, they may expect you to pay more than you can. But a good place to start. Note too that many private schools will offer aid to a high % of students, which can make them 20-50% cheaper than the sticker price on the website, but that can still be expensive.

    If you are in a western state, do you know about WUE, which provides reduced OOS tuition at many schools in member states.


    Also some state flagships like Universities of New Mexico, Kansas, and Nebraska offer merit aid that can bring the cost down to in-state levels for OOS students. I think of Nebraska, which is actually an urban school and very close to the state capitol building, which would provide opportunities in your areas of interest.

    Anyway, there are many schools very strong in your areas of interest. I think of Dickinson College and the College of the Holy Cross. Both have outstanding academics. Holy Cross claims to meet full financial need.

    Would you be interested in an all-female school? I'm thinking of Mount Holyoke and Smith College, which are excellent and part of the Five College Consortium (with Hampshire, Amherst, and U Mass Amherst), so you can take classes and take advantage of opportunities at the other schools. The Smith campus is immediately adjacent to Northampton, a great college town, and MH has a notably beautiful campus.



    If you do like the idea of a small college, you might check out Colleges That Change Lives. For your areas of interest, among these schools, I think of Clark University, Willamette University (in Oregon state capital), Rhodes College, etc.

    You'd receive aid at many of those, though they would very probably still cost you something like 1/2 to 3/4 the sticker price. But always run the Net Price Calculator (NPC) for yourself at colleges that look good to you. No one can say very accurately what they will cost you--it varies by individual situation.

    Some of these won't appeal, but maybe some will.

    Good luck!
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  • studyybugstudyybug 26 replies1 threads Junior Member
    My home state is Nevada. I’d prefer to stay out of state, however, I would need financial aid. I’m not 100% how much my parents would contribute as they are relying on that I get a full-ride scholarship somewhere to cover the costs.

    I like big campuses that are in urban or suburban areas. I’m looking for a rich campus life for sure!
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  • studyybugstudyybug 26 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @bjkmom a lot of the colleges on my radar are pretty competitive such as UCLA and USC. I’m just trying to find more schools outside of the names people know.
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  • studyybugstudyybug 26 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @merc81 I definitely am interested in politics, but I’m not sure where I wanna go career wise. I was thinking about medical school or law school.
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    I have family and friends in NV, including some at the state's universities, and including some with high school students looking at colleges. Personally I'm a big UNR fan and love the Sierra Nevada.

    I'm not sure how much college counseling you get at school, and how much you know about the WUE program I linked above, but that seems like a great program for you, in giving you some more choices that would perhaps be priced similarly to going in-state in NV. Note that schools might (or will) have a certain number of WUE spots, and it is first come, first served. So be sure to get your application in early at any OOS WUE schools that look appealing to you. A couple of UCs and some Cal States are WUE schools (not UCLA), at least as of recently.

    Here's a list of schools,


    Would you consider the Midwest? Because of demographics (declining/stable populations), it can sometimes offer the best bargains. I mentioned Nebraska. It is not out in the cornfields. It's in Lincoln, the state capital.

    All of the below are outstanding state flagship research universities,

    Here's an example of the scholarship opportunities for OOS students,


    And scroll down on this link to see OOS scholarships for Kansas, which is in a great college town.


    You have a great ACT score. Note you might be able to bump up aid if you could get that slightly higher. Maybe you could take it again in September.

    I just like this chart for Miami of Ohio,


    Note that Miami of Ohio super-scores for admission AND aid. Also note that the application deadline for aid is early. That can be true at other schools too.

    If not the Midwest, what about New Mexico?


    For pre-med students (but true for all students), I always like to recommend tutors for freshman science and math classes (and sometimes others). These can be challenging. Schools offer tutoring, families are paying for the service, so take advantage. Getting a tutor is not a sign of academic weakness but academic strength. What often happens is that excellent hs students bomb their first chem or bio or physics exam. They feel defeated. They panic. Then maybe they get a tutor. It's much more helpful to get one the first week and learn from them what you need to know and how best to prepare for an exam. And to add, resilience is the best predictor of success in college. Almost every student has significant challenges. Being able to learn and move forward positively is really what leads to success in college . . . and in life.

    But certainly go through the WUE schools and see if any jump out at you.

    Good luck!

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  • studyybugstudyybug 26 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @TTG Thank you so much for all the help! I’ll definitely be looking into it! Are there any competitive schools you’d recommend I apply to?
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6936 replies171 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Congrats on so much hard work. It will pay off for you.

    Things you have going for you in a big way.

    Unbelievably strong leadership and ECs. Commitment to volunteerism/community and obviously respected by your peers.

    I would venture to guess that you will have wonderful letters of recommendation.

    You have certain preferences that will help but not be automatics. But helpful for sure. However there are many talented peers with the same and excellence is a prerequisite more than the preference.

    You are a smart and talented Hispanic women.
    You have an UW 3.85 gpa and will be class valedictorian
    You are 1st gen to college.
    You will be Pell Grant eligible.
    Nevada is a preferable state in terms of total number of applicants which is a very modest geographic preference.

    The gaps to honestly understand.

    You don’t have unlimited resources to pay for college.
    You have an excellent but not elite ACT score.

    Perhaps you could prep a bit and give it another try for a point or two perhaps.

    In lieu of testing for a higher score and looking at public universities look at some of America’s finest schools with wonderful academics - that are also test optional. Importantly, many are also generous with financial aid. Many are meets 100 percent of your demonstrated need-type schools.

    Most are reach schools for all students but worth a closer look.

    University of Chicago (though really intense)
    Smith - all women
    Colorado College
    Wake Forest

    High Matches -

    American university in DC
    MT Holyoke
    Colorado College
    Bryn Mawr


    Bard - academic match or safety.

    edited June 2019
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    I totally agree with the assessment in #10. I do think getting the ACT up a little would help. Your score is very strong, I'm not knocking it at all. It's just the most highly ranked schools have 25-75 percentile averages in the 32-34 range. They definitely do take applicants with an attractive academic and beyond profile, and that includes you, but getting close to the range can also be very helpful.

    Some tip-tip schools that would be reaches for you, and almost everyone, but that would also potentially meet full financial need,

    Northwestern University in Evanston, a great college town north of Chicago. Top school, claims to meet full financial need.

    Williams College in western Massachusetts. Williams is often ranked as the #1 liberal arts college in the US, and it has lots of money. As of a few years ago anyway, it would even pay travel costs for students if that was necessary for them to attend. It is need blind in admissions, which means it does not consider an applicant's ability to pay. Some schools are need aware and will consider that in the admissions decision. Williams is a GREAT school, though it may be smaller than you are looking for. Being a smaller school, and in MA, being a NV resident might be an advantage--schools do like geographic diversity. Maybe it has several NV students and it's not a plus. But maybe it is.

    Maybe Rice University in Houston and Boston College in a nice suburban area near downtown Boston, the king of college cities. Tufts University, also near downtown Boston, that I see listed as being need blind and meeting full financial need, though I can't vouch for that. All absolutely top-notch in every respect. Note that the acceptance rates are extremely, extremely low, especially in regular decision, for these schools. So don't take any negative outcome personally, it's just supply and demand. Not all outstanding applicants can be accommodated, and very, very many outstanding students receive rejection/waitlist letters, sometimes multiple ones. Two friends are very prominent professors at very good national universities, and they received rejection letters for college and grad school.

    You might also google colleges that are need blind. These lists can vary and are not perfect, or perfectly up to date, but if you are seeing a school that looks like a good fit for YOU on lists of schools that are need blind and meet full financial need, then that's a good candidate.

    For these schools, if you love one, and are SURE you would be happy to go there, you might consider applying early decision (ED). This can improve admissions chances. Duke, for example, has a much higher acceptance rate for ED applicants. Some of the gap is explained by things like recruited athletes, who are going to be accepted at a high rate, being a larger part of this pool. But it can be an advantage. Note, though, it is a binding commitment, and you will need to submit financial info to be eligible for aid.

    But I would suggest you check this website and google colleges that meet full financial need and see if you find other schools that look appealing to you. That's what's really important.

    But think of it as a journey, and an opportunity to learn about different schools and different places. There are lots and lots of great schools--hundreds and hundreds--you are a journey to find a small group of them that are great for you and affordable for you and your family. It's a great opportunity to think about who you are and what's important to you. Sometimes the higher ranked school is the best one for YOU, sometimes not. There are truly the most outstanding students at every single school mentioned by everyone in this thread.

    Good luck!
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  • studyybugstudyybug 26 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @privatebanker @TTG
    Thank you for all the valuable insight! I’ll be definitely looking into those schools! I also just took the SAT so I’ll probably be updating this post soon!

    Would you recommend that I apply test optional to UChicago?
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6936 replies171 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    I listed it in my post. If you want to apply.

    Yes I would.

    But if pressurized, time crunched test taking aren’t your strength, there maybe better and more rewarding environments for you. But I didn’t go there, this is only based off of anecdotal info.
    edited June 2019
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  • tk21769tk21769 10710 replies27 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    I would need financial aid. I’m not 100% how much my parents would contribute as they are relying on that I get a full-ride scholarship somewhere to cover the costs.

    You mention UChicago, which does grant some merit scholarships, but typically they have been much smaller than full ride (more like $10K, unless things have changed recently.) Most highly selective private schools emphasize need-based aid. To estimate your costs after n-b aid, you (or your parents) need to run the online net price calculators for any schools that interest you.

    At some of the most selective private schools (like Stanford), need-based aid might drive your costs down to $0-$5K (or so), but only if your family income is less than about $60K - $80K (depending on the school). Otherwise, for a full ride, you'll probably need to focus on much less selective colleges. There are exceptions (super selective schools like Duke that do offer a few full ride merit scholarships), but the competition for those awards would be intense. You may need higher test scores to be competitive.

    Here is a list of schools that have offered automatic *full tuition* merit scholarships, for qualifying stats, in the recent past:

    The following Wiki page lists schools that claim to be need-blind and to cover 100% of demonstrated financial need:
    (Keep in mind that the schools' assessment of "demonstrated need" may differ from what your parents expect. What matters is their income, assets, number of children, age, etc., and not what they are willing to pay).
    edited June 2019
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  • joecollege44joecollege44 414 replies19 threads Member
    your test scores are certainly OK but they are not your biggest asset. it seems like your leadership drive is what schools will like.

    But you need to give us some idea of what you are looking for in terms of size, location, urban/rural...
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  • studyybugstudyybug 26 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Size wise I’m pretty open to any ! I like the personalized approach of small schools, but I am super social so I like lots of people.

    Definitely urban or suburban!

    I’d like to stay in the West Coast, but I don’t mind traveling.

    I really need diversity in a college. I recently went on a leadership trip where there wasn’t a lot of diversity in the state and it made me feel a little uncomfortable.
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  • joecollege44joecollege44 414 replies19 threads Member
    the problem with the smaller schools is that diversity tends to be less.
    Occidental College in Los Angeles might be a great fit for you.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 34150 replies4935 threads Super Moderator
    Make sure you apply to some in-state options as potential safeties. You may want to leave for greener pastures but if you can't afford it...
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  • 12Vvnji12Vvnji 15 replies1 threads Junior Member
    If you're trying to go out of state, applying to UC's would be a good idea. You can try UCSB, UCR, or UCD I think you have a good chance with those.
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  • GumbymomGumbymom Forum Champion UC 30734 replies445 threads Forum Champion
    edited July 2019
    @12Vvnji: OP needs financial aid which they will not receive as an OOS applicant. They will be full pay at $65K/year. You need to stop promoting the UC’s to posters which cannot afford the costs.
    edited July 2019
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