Advice on my College List?

So, I’ve been doing a lot of research recently into where I actually want to apply to college and I’ve narrowed it down to these colleges:

For sure:

  1. Brown
  2. Upenn
  3. Vandy
  4. WashU (St. Louis)
  5. UNC Chapel Hill
  6. Ohio State
  7. University of Akron
  8. University of Cincy


  1. Yale
  2. Duke
  3. Northwestern
  4. JHU
  5. Georgetown
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Umich
  8. Case Western Reserve
  9. University of Pittsburgh
  10. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
  11. Penn State
  12. Indiana University

I’m aiming to have around a list of 8-12 colleges, so could you guys give me some advice on which schools from my “maybes” list would be best for me and even recommend any other schools not on there that would work for what I’m looking for? Could you also give me some advice on whether or not the schools I’ve already picked out match my interests well?

Here’s what I’m looking for in a school:

  • Planning on going to Med school afterwards, so don’t want anything too costly and would prefer a cheaper school or one with decent financial aid packages for upper middle class (Parents make around 180k). EFC is prob 30-40k

  • Want a school with quality academics and offers tons of research positions, mentorships, internships, etc. (also plan to major in bio or biochem, so also a good program for that major)

  • Don’t care too much of the geographical location in terms of weather, but I would definitely prefer if the school was located near a larger city instead of a small town. In general, I just want a lot of stuff to do for fun off campus

  • Strong school community/school spirit

  • Bigger campus size, and would prefer 5,000-15,000 undergrad population (but this isn’t toooo big of a factor and is why I’m open to attending a school like Ohio State)

Will you have stats and an overall profile to match ?

Have you run any net price calculators ? Where do you get $30-40k? Depending on their assets that is likely understated, especially at many of the schools you list.

That’s a great list. But not knowing anything about you I can’t give an assessment. There’s probably 10x that many schools that fit depending on your overall portfolio.

Obviously there’s a difference from Akron to Brown.

I was going to ask about Miami but I see none of yours are rural but I imagine that’s why.

Rochester, Syracuse, Arizona, Florida/State, Denver, Charleston, South Carolina, UTK, Arkansas, Emory, Miami, Tampa.

There’s just too much unknown. Need to know your credentials.

Based on most of your criteria and your current mix of schools, you may want to look into the University of Rochester.

1 Like

I agree that your EFC may be higher than $30K-$40K. Have you run the NPCs at any meet full need schools? If so, what do they estimate as your COA? NPCs may not be accurate if parents are divorced, own a business or own real estate beyond a primary home…are any of those the case for you?

What is your home state? Major?

Have you visited any of these schools? Some of the schools on your list are pretty different for example Penn and Brown. Washu and UNC Chapel Hill. Hard to find the commonality here, but you do have a range of selectivity, which is good.


Ok my bad lol, completely got confused with the term EFC. I meant the out of pocket pay my parents are willing to contribute without it being too big of a burden on them. Essentially what I meant by 30-40k is more of a “budget.”

Here’s some extra info about me:
Demographics: Male, South Asian/Indian, Live in Ohio, Large public school

Intended Major(s): Biochemistry/Biophysics

ACT: 34 (35 english, 35 math, 34 reading, 33 science) / 35 superscore (math and science up 1 pt)

UW/W GPA and Rank: 4.0 UW, 4.75 W, school doesn’t do school rank/valedictorian

Thanks for the suggestions!

Yea I definitely need to look more into NPCs, and as I said in my other reply, I got confused about the meaning of EFC sry ab that. I also included some extra info abt me in that other reply as well.

As for the school selection, no I haven’t visited any schools just yet, but I picked these schools mostly because of one key factor or another. Some of the things like size of school, campus, and even surrounding area isn’t too important if other factors from the school are really good. For instance, Brown is something that doesn’t completely fit what I’m looking for (as it’s pretty far away from my hometown), but its unique open curriculum is so interesting to me and I’d really like to attend because of it.

1 Like

Interesting, I’ll look into it

Doing a net price calc or having your folks do on a few schools like Brown or Gtown will let you know if you should even keep them on the list. Those will be $320k + for four years…don’t forget grad school after.

These schools only do need aid. If they show you are full pay, you can eliminate all no merit aid schools from your list.

While that would be a bummer you’d save a lot of heartache later.

Btw OSU (and Miami) are wonderful. Akron is way beneath you…no offense to the Zips. It’s far but AZ would be free tuition as would Bama or close to. Az has a solid honors colleges and beautiful campus. ASU is not as lucrative but has the top Honors College along with U of SC. FSU another where you’d do well and stay with budget if full pay (40k is what I’m using) but that’s 10k more than 30k which is a lot.

See what Brown and Gtown say they can afford, not what they want to afford. That’s step 1.

Step 2 is 30k or 40k. You need to know. That’s a lot of $$ for an or.

The good news is if even full pay you’ll have wonderful opportunities.

Then report back.


With your stats and being in state, tOSU is a safety. With that, I see on reason to actually apply to any of the publics on your maybe list. For you area of interest, it isn’t worth paying more. The chance of getting the COA at or below tOSU is near nil. It is OK to keep places like UCincy on because you may have a lower COA that could make it attractive.

Will do! I definitely do need to look into the NPCs more and doing that would def provide some much needed info. Also speaking on Akron, I’m really only thinking abt applying there because my parents have a family friend who’s son attends there and says he’s had a great experience. It always looked like a decent school, but yea it may not be the best for me.

Yea gotcha, I was really just considering the out of state publics bc of the difference in quality, but I guess it might not be worth the price in the long run.

My D had similar stats and is also premed so she was looking for merit to preserve her education savings for med school (we are full pay). She did not apply to colleges that do not offer merit. The colleges that came in under $40k with merit “tuition discounts” offered with decision.
Case Western
Our in-state unis (because of in state status it is free tuition, no merit offered)

She also applied for competitive merit. She considered all of these reaches as she would not attend without merit. If you decide to pursue competitive merit, keep in mind that some require your high school’s nomination and most have early deadlines for applying.
W&L - Johnson Scholarship (awarded)
Davidson - James B Duke (alternate) and Belk (was not a finalist)
Duke / UNC - Robertson (was not a finalist)
UVA - Jefferson (was not a finalist)
Vandy - Cornelius Vanderbilt (was not a finalist)

I agree with the suggestion of Miami Ohio. That’s a no brainer if you don’t mind the location. :grinning:

ETA: She was accepted to all of those except Duke, UNC (waitlist) and Vandy (waitlist).

1 Like

In your case, I hope your daughter took the Johnson - that’s an UNBELIEVABLE offer!!

My daughter did not get. She interviewed for a tuition only scholarship and did not get.

She has free tuition at Charleston - but W&L would have bene sweet.

Congrats to your daughter!!!

Thank you ! She is excited to be a Gennie! And to know that med school/grad school can be funded with no loans. With changes in the healthcare industry we believe that to be key for those considering the health field.

Congrats to your D as well! I love College of Charleston!

(Edit for typos)

Thanks - I just stroked a check for $4K for tuition, room & board for a semester as OOS. That’s lucky.

Honestly, it was 16th of 17 schools she was admitted rank wise but easily the best fit. They actually gave her more money after she accepted.

Had she got the full tuition at W&L, she’d have gone - for what she wants (govt), W&L is fantastic.

Still, it worked out ok - except I put waaaaayyyy too much money in the 529 plan.

Both kids with tuition, room & board, i’ll be out 140K - pretty lucky.

Revisiting this thread since my last past was off topic… :grinning:

You’ve received good suggestions from other posters. I commend you for recognizing the benefits of keeping your undergraduate costs as low as possible since your goal is medical school. I agree you should revisit your list and remove any college not offering merit aid (keeping a couple instate options since they are in budget and great schools).

I shared my D’s merit results in a previous post to give you an idea of the tier of schools offering non-competitive merit to attract strong students. The LACs on her list would not meet your size criteria; I provided the details as an example of potential merit offers if you widen your list to include less selective schools.

Once you have safeties/targets from instate publics (tOSU, Miami) and schools that typically offer merit for your stats, then feel free to reach for more selective colleges with competitive merit. You never know unless you try. Also, remember to look for a place you will be happy for four years and be able to maintain a high GPA for med school apps.

I look forward to seeing your revised list! Good luck!

What about Ohio University? Yes, it’s in a more rural location but it’s a fabulous college town. Excellent allied health professions, and a D.O. and nursing school on campus.

As an Ohio resident, you have a lot of very good public university instate and affordable choices. Start there.

Wow. Thank you so much for all of your information. I’ve taken some time to consider all you’ve said as well as other posts under this forum and I’ve revised some parts of my original list. Definitely took merit aid into account, because all of these schools offer some form of it.

New list:

  1. Duke
  2. Vandy
  3. Johns Hopkins
  4. WashU (st. louis)
  5. Notre Dame
  6. UNC
  7. Umich
  8. OSU
  9. U of Cincy
  10. Miami


  1. U of Rochester
  2. Washington and Lee

I really cut down on out of state public schools, but the only 2 I kept were umich and unc since I really just LOVE everything about them. Besides that, I was wondering if it would make sense at all for me to apply to any Ivy League schools. I’ve been eyeing Upenn and Brown for years now, but since they don’t offer merit aid and I’m trying to avoid high costs, would it make sense at all to apply to them? Any other feedback on this revised list would be greatly appreciated.

1 Like

Honestly compared to the other in state schools I’m applying to (OSU, U Cincy, and Miami), I would choose all 3 over Ohio state for personal preferences, so that’s mainly the reason.

1 Like

You should apply to them if you have the time and desire to see if you can succeed - but you have to know you are not going no matter what.

Even the schools you list that do offer merit but it’s brutally hard to get - whereas a Rochester is more free with it. W&L is worth it for the Johnson scholarship - but it’s a small school and very unique. But free is free.

You might add a U of SC and apply to Honors - you’d definitely get great merit there.

Overall the list looks fine - but I’d assume looking at it with cost being an issue, you’ll be at a public in state. But if you’re willing to do the essays for the new list schools to try and get merit, go ahead. That’s where a Rochester will be a bit bitter - in they’ll have auto merit. You might take a look at Rice too. And Miami of Florida - which has stronger aid.

Good luck. You are very well thought out - so that’s good.

Once you look in Common App and load these schools, you can see what is required to get “competitive” scholarships.

1 Like