Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Just a general idea for a junior...

godsavethepiegodsavethepie Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
edited January 2011 in Swarthmore College
I'm a junior and I started the college research process a few months ago. Right now, I have an idea of what schools I really love, but it's still sort of tough for me to figure out what schools are real reaches. However, I'm going to have to figure that out because I can't afford to take the time/travel to visit places that just aren't reaches/fits for me.

I've researched Swarthmore a lot and I would definitely be interested in the Linguistics and Cognitive Science programs. It seems like a great place, but I'd just like to get a few opinions on whether it's really in my appropriate range as a student. I've heard so many amazing things about Swarthmore students that I'm just beginning to feel completely unsuitable.

White Female.
Private Catholic School in Pennsylvania.
No Rank.
General 3.5~3.7 GPA (I really don't like my school, just as an aside. Low grades are mainly due to a lack of interest/homework/participation, not testing)
PSAT score of a 210, due to a low math score. (I'm taking a class and it will definitely improve)
I take the hardest classes my school offers, but it's small, and we really don't have many APs available.
Band/Strings/Guitar
Book Club/Reading Olympics
Forensics (like Speech/Debate)
I've been playing piano for eight years, and I have several state awards.
I've been studying Japanese since I was little, and though I'm not completely fluent, I'm almost positive I'll get a near perfect score on the Subject Test.
I've been taking college classes at local junior colleges since this past summer. So far I've taken: Arabic, Intro to Psych, Intro to Soc, Ancient History, English I, Intro to Anthro, Philosophy in Film, Developmental Psych, Sociology of Families, and Poetry, and I've gotten As in all of them.
Also, I'm pretty sure it's irrelevant in the college application process, but I'll just have turned 16 when I graduate, if that effects anything.

If you think I'm not really an appropriate Swarthmore applicant, I respect your opinion, but please, don't rip me to shreds.
Thank you.
Post edited by godsavethepie on

Replies to: Just a general idea for a junior...

  • momof3sonsmomof3sons Registered User Posts: 5,116 Senior Member
    Without any SAT and SATII scores to look at for purposes of this analysis, and with a fairly low GPA coming from what you are describing as a not very competitive school, it's hard to see Swarthmore as anything but a real reach for you. I think that your demonstrated interest and proficiency with languages will be of interest in the Admissions Office, but will be offset by your demonstrated lack of interest in doing your classroom work. Coupled with your age, this may be seen as a sign of immaturity. I don't think that your age is irrelevant from an Admissions standpoint at most colleges based on a particular case I'm aware of.

    I see that you're also thinking about Yale and Wesleyan. These 3 schools are quite different. Are you starting your search based on a geographical reference point?

    I apologize if this seems somewhat harsh. It's not meant to be. Just my opinion as a parent having two Swarthmore students.
  • hellohowareyouhellohowareyou Registered User Posts: 220 Junior Member
    I think yale, wes and swat are all academically strong school that may be appealling to someone who identifies as progressive or active in left wing social causes, and each has a certain reputation for being more 'intellectual' than some of its most direct competitors (yale > harvard, princeton, Wesleyan> vassar, bard, Swat> Amherst, Williams).
  • godsavethepiegodsavethepie Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I'm definitely interested in schools mainly in the Northeast, as far as geographical concerns. I also have a few other things I like in a school, like an open curriculum, linguistics programs, student life emphasizing music and drama, and proximity to a city. But then, as I'm sure many are inclined to point out now, beggars can't be choosers. I have a lot of other colleges on the list, but I chose to start asking about these three because they represent to me three very different kinds of liberal arts education. Swarthmore is the smallest, and very intense academically. Wesleyan is a "large small school" which seems to have really interesting academics and student life. Yale is an Ivy, and is obviously larger, but continues the tradition of an excellent liberal arts education. I chose those three because I thought I might get a contrast in answers.

    I'm also really interested in Brown, Vassar, and Amherst, most of which fit at least two of my four requirements. I think, though, that maybe a place like BU would be more of an admissions fit for me, which I can accept. I know the majority of my choices are really ambitious, and I'd be grateful to get into any single one of them, but I'd really like to break the mold at my school where most people go to State, or religious universities.
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    I agree that Swat et all would be real reaches for you. But you should still try--get your GPA up, get your test scores up, put together a strong application, give a better explanation than hating your school in your interview. Do you need financial aid, and if so, how much vs. how much the colleges think you need (EFC)?

    I also think that you should strongly consider schools outside the northeast, where you may be slightly more valued for geographic diversity. Grinnell and Oberlin, for instance, although they don't have linguistics; Carleton and Macalester do have ling, Carleton especially has a decently-funded program for an LAC. Pomona will be very reachy, but Scripps and Pitzer are literally right next door and the Pomona-Pitzer linguistics program is pretty good.
This discussion has been closed.