Am I being realistic?

I know that I don’t have any crazy stats of accomplishments and my grades are a mixed bag, but I don’t know if I am being realistic with my college choices.
Here is some basic background information on me…
-Female
-From South Jersey
-Looking to major in Business most likely
-Low income family
-Bilingual Household (Polish)
The manufacturing business my dad started shut down when I was 6, since then my families financings have been in constant termoil. Both my parents filed for bankruptcy (don’t know exactly when), and my childhood house was foreclosed upon in the middle of the school year when I was in 8th grade. My dad also has had numerous heart surgeries since I was 8. My grandmother also lives with my family and she has many health issures and cannot speak English, so I often care for her and take her places she needs to go. A lot of this has had a profound impact on me and caused me incredible amounts of stress resulting in an anxiety disorder. When times are not looking good my grades often would take a hit. Sorry if I sound whining, I know that others have had it a lot worse, I’m just trying to paint an accurate picture of my life)

*Adv. = no weight; Honors = 1.1 weight; AP = 1.15 weight
Really hard at my school to get into AP before Junior year

Freshman year GPA - 90.5
Took all Adv, but got a C in Spanish (switched to Latin next year)
Sophomore year GPA - 93.6569
Took 3 Honors, 1 Advanced (Alegebra II and got a mid C in the class)
Junior year GPA - 94.4146
Took 3 AP (Got a C in AP CS), 1 Honors Dual Credit (Pre-Calc and got a C)
*All other grades are A’s or high B’s
Cumulative GPA - 92.9478
Class Rank 158/486

EC/Awards-
-DECA (will be 4 years)
Made it to states Sophmore year
-AFJROTC (Will be 4 years)
Attended CLC (week long summer camp) Fresh. and Soph. year; Soph. year was Flight Commander leading 13 other cadets and won Honor Flight (Best out of ~15 Flights)
Class Flight Sgt. Sophmore Year
Class Fight Commander Junior Year
OIC Personnel (In charge of all things administrative 4 cadets under me) Junior Year
Member of Drill Team (meet 6am-7:30am 3X a week) Junior Year
Memeber of Raider Team (meet 2:12-3pm 3X a week) Junior Year
Part of Color Guard Team (~100 hours of Community Service)
Will be Inspector General of the Corp Senior Year
Awards Include: CLC Honor Flight; Tuskegee Airman Award; Sons of the American Revolution Award; and National Society of the Daughters of 1812 Award
-Worked Every summer since Freshman year (often having to “loan” large amounts of the money to my parents)

I will be taking the SAT in August, but according to practice tests I should score around a 1400-1500

I plan on writing an my essay about the life lessons I learned going to flea markets with my dad on Saturday mornings (waking up at 4 in the morning to drive 2 hours) in the winter to sell phone cases (which is how the bills got paid for while)

UPenn is my absolute dream school, but I anolage that that is probably unrealistic
My current list of schools that I plan on applying to are
-Wake Forest
-Boston University
-Lehigh
-Syracuse
-Rutgers NB
-TCNJ
Safety Schools being Rowan, and Montclair State

What do you think?

Any feedback, advice, or information would be very appreciated.

I really like your idea for the essay. Sounds like it would be an interesting read. Your life story puts things into perspective. Make sure this comes across in your essays.

Penn would be very difficult unfortunately. Your rank/grades are simply too far out of range. You could certainly try, but it might make more sense to consider one of your other schools. The early rounds (ED/EA) are where you will have the greatest chances.

Run the EFC calculator on each of the colleges website and see which are affordable. Then use that as a guide to your apps. Its okay to have 1-2 reach schools, but have plenty of match and safeties.

Is financial aid going to be an issue for you? Have you considered ROTC?

What can/will your family pay per year for college?

Are Rowan and Montclair State affordable per their net price calculators (NPCs)?

Rowan: https://rowan.studentaidcalculator.com/survey.aspx

Montclair State: https://montclair.studentaidcalculator.com/survey.aspx

Also run the U Penn net price calculator. If your parents are divorced though that NPC won’t be accurate.

Come back here and tell us the npc results.

Thank You for the replies!
Just to clear a few things up

  1. I do not plan on doing ROTC in College
  2. My parents are not divorced
  3. I ran net price calculators on all the listed schools and know that I will be able to afford them, it’s more of a question of will I get in
    But since you guy’s are curious…
    UPenn would cost me ~$4k/year
    Montclair ~$5k year
    Rowan ~$13k/year
    Boston University and Lehigh ~$2k/year
    Wake Forest ~$6k/year
    Syracuse ~$10K/year
    Rutgers ~$15k/year
    TCNJ ~$17k/year
    Besides UPenn are there any other schools on my list that I should consider out of range?

Because of the coronavirus crisis, the financial aid budgets at many colleges have taken a hit. For the upcoming class, they will have to find a way to plug some holes. So my guess is that students with high financial need will get screwed over. Instead they will favor kids who can pay in full, or nearly full. Even schools like UPenn are running deficits.

So this a way of saying apply high and wide. The schools listed above look like a good mix. I mentioned ROTC because colleges don’t have to dip into their financial aid budgets. But if you are not interested in a career in the military then its probably not worth it. Applying to colleges with a guaranteed ROTC scholarship will put you in an enviable position.

I understand that, I just don’t want really want to go into the military.
Financial aspect aside, how likely do you think I am to be accepted to the schools I have listed (except UPenn, I know that it is just an unrealistic dream)?

Rowan, Montclair and Rutgers you have a pretty good chance. TCNJ is going to be tough. For the rest, it will depend how good of a relationship your high school has with each admissions office. Some high schools are known for being feeders.

Do you have access to SCOIR or Naviance? Take a look at the scattergrams for someone with your stats at each of these schools. They will give you a much better estimate.

Are you going to apply any of these ED?

I do plan on applying ED to one of my top schools, unless I find out that I would just be waiting the application because my transcript is too poor

Schools will use your unweighted GPA. Use that when thinking about the odds of admission.

Are you going to use your ED app at UPenn?

Based on my calculations I have about a 3.75 weighted GPA and a 3.6 Unweighted GPA

I am still debating if I am going to use my ED app at UPenn. I really want to, but at the same time I don’t want to just waist it if I have effectively no chance of getting in.

You really need an actual SAT/ACT score to see where you stand. Your GPA and rank is good but probably not T20 material.

Your essay sounds interesting. Knock that out of the park.

Include travel costs in your calculations. They add-up. Do you have a few thousand dollars a year for airfare and shuttles?

If your EFC is $0 you could look at Questbridge.

Wake Forest is a wealthy school in the South. Sororities are big…and costly. is that a good fit? (Beautiful campus though).

I would focus on Rutgers. Good essays and try to get into the Honors program.

You have a great resume and overcame a lot of difficult circumstances. Colleges will look at your school profile and realize the lack of AP offerings. I really like your essay idea.

You should be good for Lehigh, Syracuse, TCNJ, Rutgers and your safeties.
UPenn, Wake and BU are all selective but don’t count it out. It’s good to have some “reaches” and even a dream school on your list.

Once you take you SAT you will have a better idea on where to use your ED. If your north of 1500, you could be in range for UPenn.

If you really have a dream school, and your stats are close…don’t count it out. Especially in these times of uncertainty in admissions…you never know.

I was told if I didn’t ED to my “dream” school, I probably wouldn’t get in…guess where i’m going in the fall…yep my “dream” out of reach school.

You’ve picked upon the point I was trying to make about ED. Its your best chance for getting in. The ED acceptance rates are typically 5-10x higher than for the RD rounds. At a place like Penn, it is almost impossible to get in during the RD round.

Whatever you select for ED, be 100% sure that its a place you want to attend. Also by selecting an ED choice, you’re effectively reducing your chances at the RD schools by a lot. By overshooting on an ED choice, you are seriously looking at attending one of your safety schools.

If you ED to Penn, and for some reason get rejected, would you be okay with attending Rowan/Montclair? If so then don’t hesitate to apply ED to UPenn. The chances are certainly against you, but all hope is not lost. It boils down to how much of a risk you are willing to take.

You might also consider the middle ground by having a few ED2 choices.

Also do you think it is worthwhile for me to apply for QuestBridge?

If your EFC is 0 maybe. I think it’s a long-shot regardless. Several good threads on CC.

My EFC is $0

I agree you should consider Questbridge, talk to your HS GC.

With an EFC of $0 how will you afford the costs in post #4? Those estimates should include a full Pell grant (just over $6K) and a student loan for first year of $5,500 (at schools where FA package includes loans). So, that NPC estimate in #4 is what you will owe after federal, and institutional, FA.

How much can your family pay for college each year?

The cost I posted above where before any loans.
Realistically speaking I’m lucky if my family contributes 2k a year. Working during the summer and possibly during the school year will help cover some of the cost. Any additional cost I’m going to have to take outside loans on. I have some relatives who I would likely be willing to co-sign if need be.