An innocent Junior seeking wisdom. please help!

<p>Hello,</p>

<p>I'm currently finishing my Junior year in high school and I'm starting to really look at colleges. The counseling at my school is terrible, so I was hoping for some good advice on where I should apply and where I have a chance at getting in. </p>

<p>Here are my stats:
ACT: 34
SAT: 2260
PSAT: 228
Rank: around 3/300 (only 1 B so far, 6 AP classes so far)</p>

<p>Extracurriculars:
Sports: Tennis Captain, 4 years varsity tennis, 4 years varsity swimming
Band: Vice President, 4 year member, 1st chair trumpet
Community Service: 4 years Key Club, 2 years NHS
Other: I'll be working on a Conservation Crew for four weeks over the summer in Colorado. I'm also planning on volunteering a lot in other capacities over the summer.</p>

<p>Here are SOME schools I'm interested in:
Columbia
University of Chicago
Dartmouth
Yale
Princeton
Stanford
Brown
Northwestern
University of Southern California
Colorado College
Bowdoin
Pomona</p>

<p>I want an excellent education, but I'd also like to be stimulated outside of the classroom and have a good time. I love outdoor activities and spending time in nature, but I'm also attracted to schools in big cities. Of the schools I listed, I've visited Columbia, UChicago, and Northwestern. I loved all three, Columbia and UChicago slightly more than Northwestern.</p>

<p>Here are some questions I'm grappling with:
Where should I apply? (obviously)
Where should I apply early?
Should I apply at several highly selective Ivies to increase my chances of acceptance to one, or only apply to my favorite, as a reach school?</p>

<p>Any help at all would be greatly appreciated!</p>

<p>Do you have a safety school that you are pretty much guaranteed admission whose net cost after known (need and/or merit) financial aid is affordable and which you would be happy to attend?</p>

<p>I live in Illinois and my sister attends the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. I suppose that's my safety school. </p>

<p>I'm also slightly interested in the University of Arizona, because I think it would be almost free with National Merit Scholarship money, and because it's in a good location for outdoor activities. </p>

<p>If you could recommend any other good safety schools that would be nice. I'd like schools with solid academics, good merit aid, and good settings for outdoor recreation.</p>

<p>Your stats are eerily similar to mine when I applied(<a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/what-my-chances/1071487-i-have-papercut-urgent.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/what-my-chances/1071487-i-have-papercut-urgent.html&lt;/a> if you are interested). Same scores, same schedule rigor, same rank, similar ECs. </p>

<p>That being said I was rejected at the high reach level (Stanford, Princeton) and waitlisted/accepted a the mid/low reach level (schools like Vanderbilt, Rice, Cornell, UVA, WUSTL). I was accepted to like 8 other schools that were all ranked between like 20 and 150 or better, so some not particularly prestigous, but still all solid options.</p>

<p>I definitely wouldn't apply to just one reach school. Because of the nature of admissions, applying to more does increase your chances. But that doesn't mean you should blindly apply to every Ivy school- pick the ones you really like and the ones that trule appeal to you. Some people are perfectly fine with just applying to every top 20 school to maximize their chances, but I don't think that's the right way to go about admissions personally. Also, if you have a good understanding of finances, there's really no use applying to a school you won't be able to affort.</p>

<p>Always a good idea to apply to 2 or 3 schools that you are 99.5% you will be accepted to and that you can afford as a backup plan. A strong instate school usually falls into this category, or a school known for dishing out merit money (for example, Alabama is a solid school and will give you a verrry generous merit package automatically for being national merit). After that, apply wherever you want really. You're only limited by how much you are willing to spend on applications. Most people would recommend applying to about 4 in the "match" range and about 4 in the "reach" range or something like that. But it never hurts to apply to more schools.</p>

<p>If you know what major you'd like to go into, it's also good to see the reputation of colleges in that field. You may find that it knocks some schools off your list or adds schools you might not have considered before.</p>

<p>Thanks a lot! That makes sense. It's good to hear from someone who was in a similar situation.</p>

<p>Apply to UPenn too. I think you have a real shot!!</p>

<p>Any thoughts on where I should apply early? I'm thinking of applying early to both UChicago and Colorado College; these are Early Acceptance, so I could apply to both. However, I'm also considering applying early to Yale, Princeton, or Stanford. I need to be able to compare financial aid packages, so Early Decision isn't really an option for me.</p>

<p>Advice? Should I try for one of the harder schools early, or go for the safer UChicago and Colorado?</p>

<p>You should probably make a solid list of which schools you love the most, and then apply to your top school (or schools) early. </p>

<p>By the way, I take my hat off at your username.</p>

<p>Which should I send in, my ACT, SAT, or both? Is it worth retaking either?</p>

<p>You have an excellent list. </p>

<p>IMHO, send in all of your scores. They are pretty consistent. </p>

<p>Apply EA to UChicago, Colorado College and UIUC. </p>

<p>With the exception of Colorado College, most of the schools on there are pretty tough to get into and pretty unpredictable for most people. I would say that you should get into Colorado College, though I wouldn't call it a safety, and you have probably between a 40-60 chance at Northwestern, UChicago, USC, and Bowdoin. You do know about the one class at a time deal at Colorado College right? That doesn't appeal to everyone. </p>

<p>I'd say that the rest are reaches for everyone but you definitely have a decent shot. I assume that you have taken SAT Subject Tests and they are good. </p>

<p>Consider Canadian schools for safeties, McGill, Toronto, UBC. They are totally numbers driven and you will definitely get in. NYU should also be a safety - can't get more urban than Greenwich Village. </p>

<p>It's interesting that you have no schools in Boston - Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Brandeis are all serious options. I only mention that because you are attracted to urban and well I don't see how you can not even consider Boston for college.</p>

<p>Of course I live in Boston, so perhaps I'm biased, but really. :-)</p>

<p>Thanks! I like Boston as a city, but for some reason I'm just not attracted to any of the schools there, I don't know why. Here's another question:</p>

<p>What are my chances for getting in early at Yale, Princeton, or Stanford? Which one do I have the best shot at, or are they all equally difficult?</p>

<p>Princeton is re-instating early action for your class, so I can't really say about that. But generally speaking, in the early rounds Yale will accept a few, reject a few, and defer the vast majority. Stanford prefers to accept a few, defer only a few, and reject the vast majority. So if you apply to Yale you are more likely to be deferred, which means you'll be unsure for months only to probably be rejected. At Stanford, you're more likely to be rejected outright, where at least you'll know where you stand. (Of course, you could get in to either of these schools early; this is just assuming you're not such a sure thing that the school will want you early.) It's very hard to predict whether Yale or Stanford is more likely to accept you.</p>

<p>Personally I applied early to Yale, was deferred, and then got rejected. I applied regular to Stanford and was accepted. I also applied regular to UChicago and was admitted. Before these results all came out, I had been debating whether to apply early to Yale or Chicago. In hindsight, I really wish I had applied early to Chicago. I loved the school, and having an acceptance there early, in the bag, would have made the rest of senior year and applications a lot less stressful. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and had I been accepted early to Yale I doubt I would be saying this. I just think that in the early rounds you're competing with a lot of athletes, legacies, and truly extraordinary shoe-in cases. The school isn't going to accept you early unless they really want you, and IMO it's harder to stand out. So if I were you I'd do the Chicago/Colorado/UIUC early route, and save Stanford and Yale for regular.</p>

<p>I realize my thoughts are somewhat jumbled but I hope this helped at least a bit!</p>

<p>They're all essentially equally difficult to get into. You've got a shot at all three, but I'd honestly predict rejections unless you've got something more to you by the time you apply(some sort of experience, research, internship, awards).</p>

<p>By the way, I believe Stanford, Yale, and Princeton are all single choice early action. If you apply early to any of these three, you are not allowed to apply early to any other school. Not sure if you were aware. </p>

<p>As mentioned, I had very similar scores. I sent both. Though the two are practically equal, each provides validity to the other. Plus one may showcase a certain skill more than others (ex. you may have a 740 on the CR section but a 36 on the ACT English).</p>

<p>My problem with you applying SCEA to a reach school like Stanford, Yale or Princeton, is that it's unlikely to save you any work. Because these are reach schools, the chances of you getting in SCEA are small, and you'd be giving up on applying EA to a match school like UChicago, where you are more likely to get in. Unlike ED, EA generally doesn't give you an admissions boost, though at least for the class of 2010, EA at Chicago did provide an admissions boost. I don't know about for the class of 2011. SCEA definitely doesn't give you that boost. </p>

<p>Since you say that you loved UChicago, if you get in EA, it becomes your safety, and oh what a safety! You would be able to eliminate all schools that you knew that you didn't like as much and probably use the time to do a better job on the few remaining applications, which may or may not include Yale, Princeton and Stanford, but would definitely exclude Northwestern. </p>

<p>If you chose a reach school and didn't get in SCEA, you'd be under tremendous pressure for the remaining applications, and there would be a lot of them. </p>

<p>Even if you did get in, since you loved UChicago and Columbia, you'd probably apply to them anyway so that you can do your due diligence in April and make a decision that's right for you. </p>

<p>In other words, I think that applying EA to UChicago is more likely to save you time and money than applying SCEA anywhere else.</p>

<p>Could I get merit money from Davidson?</p>

<p>What are the best schools I could get merit money too? Lately I've been looking into the Barrett Honors School at ASU because I could get a full ride there. I have friends that got a lot of merit aid to Denison... What other schools should I be considering for merit aid?</p>

<p>My $.02 - Consider Mizzou.</p>

<p>As a NMF, you will get OOS fee waived , and they throw in @ $2,000 on top of it, and of course you will qualify for additional funding from them.</p>

<p>My son is also from IL, & has similar stats, and when we visited last summer, toured their Honors College and Engineering, and they treated him like royalty. The Mizzoue Eng shirt they gave him has been his most worn this past year.</p>

<p>Good luck with whatever - with your stats and choices, I don't think you can go wrong, so visit your favorites and have some fun. :)</p>

<p>I potentially see a huge problem--have you taken the SATII tests? Several of the schools on your list require two of them. If you haven't taken them, you are really under the gun. Some will take the ACT only instead, but I would like to see strong performances on the SATIIs for the caliber of schools you are looking at.</p>

<p>I took the US History last year and got a 740. I was stupid this year and didn't sign up for any. So I guess I can't take any more until October 1st.. The early action deadlines for UChicago and Colorado College are November 1st and November 15th, respectively. Will I be able to get my subject test scores in by then?</p>

<p>The October 1 testing date will be early enough for your EA schools. Most schools will take the ACT with writing and not require any SAT subject tests so you may want to check your particular schools and decide if it is even worth taking those tests since your scores are otherwise high enough and consistent.</p>