Any college list suggestions?

Stats for context: 1590 SAT, 4.0 UW with 15 APs, lots of local/state level leadership.

I have absolutely no clue what I want to major in–I’m undecided between math, linguistics, polisci, writing, lit, and a bunch of other things. Looking for colleges that offer a well-rounded liberal arts approach instead of leaning super pre-professionally.

Here’s the college list;

REA Yale

EA UMD, UVA, UNC, Penn State

RD Dartmouth, Harvard, Duke, GW, Georgetown, Williams, Swarthmore, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Stanford, Pomona, Cornell, Brown, Rice, BU

Also applying to Deep Springs which starts around EA deadlines

21 is a lot but I also feel like, to maximize chances of getting into a reach, shotgunning is the best bet.

A few thoughts:

What is your state school?
What will your parents pay?
Your list is very reach heavy


State school is UMD. EFC is around 20k but will also be applying for various full-ride scholarships (Jefferson at UVA, Robertson at UNC/Duke). I’m aware it’s pretty reach-heavy–would love any suggestions for safeties/targets!


The state schools in your state would be safeties. Jefferson and Robertson are highly, highly competitive and are not based entirely on academics.

Have you used the net price calculators for the schools that meet full need? Have your parents seen the NPC and are they ok with the cost? I suspect Penn State will be too costly.

You have great stats (congrats) and could possibly get merit at a lot of schools: U of South Carolina, Pitt (maybe), Muhlenberg, Denison, Some of the SUNYs …just to name a few.


OP - congrats on your very impressive accomplishments in High School!

Can you please say a little more about what you are looking for in a college in addition to liberal arts offerings? Would be helpful in terms of suggesting the additional target and safety schools that you hope to add to your list.

You have listed a wide variety of schools. What are some of the the common threads from your perspective?

What are your preferences for:

Size of student body?
Urban, suburban, rural?
Political leaning?
Greek life?
Distance from home?


If you are ok with UMD and PSU it’s fine. But as others say, what are you looking for. From size to vibe to urban/suburban, you are all over the place. And an EFC is not the same as need the college determines so you want to check several and see what your cost will be based on their calc.

Good luck

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You sound like you know what you’re doing. So long as you’re fine with the possibility you will wind up at UMD.


Congratulations on your achievements so far. I think that you are likely to get UMD’s Banneker Key full scholarship (tuition plus room and board), if you EA there. RD at Swarthmore and Bowdoin might be challenging.


Yeah, I know someone who’s going there for Banneker-Key - definitely going to apply for that.

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The biggest thing I’m looking for is an intellectual atmosphere, full of high-achieving people–I guess a lot of the time that comes from selectivity, but I don’t think it has to. I’m really into hiking, so I’m looking for a college that has that as a robust activity (eg Dartmouth, Williams), and I think I could do more to find better colleges for that. I’m pretty indifferent in terms of rural-suburban-urban - just as long as it has a campus (so honestly, BU might be off). I’m from MD, and would love something within driving distance (between Duke and Dartmouth latitide-wise), but Stanford and Pomona just seem great as hail-mary applications.

Thanks for the suggestions!

No separate application is needed for UMD’s Banneker-Key, as they consider all who apply EA. Do a good job on the essays, which I am sure you will. Good luck.

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I’m surprised I didn’t know that–thanks for letting me know!

Based on your diverse academic interests, it seems you might benefit from considering colleges with notably flexible curricula, such as Amherst and Hamilton (along with Brown).


Based on stats you have a chance at many top schools that meet financial need, but so do many others. Fine tune that high reach list as you go and find more where you will be in the top for merit. As you add a few, remove a few (BU, GW can go based on campus preferences)

Give yourself a couple more in-state options as most of the out of state publics do not guarantee to come close to the EFC unless you get one of the big scholarships you mentioned. Penn State has been too pricey in the end for many out of state students to consider based on CC posts, so not really a safety if you can not afford it.

Davidson and Wesleyan may be swapped out for some on your list where your chances and aid may be higher.

These lists are helpful. They are sorted by no loans/no loans for some/and meet 100% with loans (so you may need loans for the EFC and the part not covered by EFC).


I’ll check out that list–thank you so much!

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For brief opinions on several selective liberal arts colleges, see post #7: Struggling with D21's List. ED & ED2: Amherst, Hamilton, Wellesley, Vassar.

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Skidmore & Brandeis as potential safeties.


If linguistics is high on your areas of interest, then these are some additional schools that I would consider that offer all your majors (including linguistics) and are in areas with close proximity for outdoor adventures. Several of them also have honors colleges, providing a more intimate atmosphere on campus.

  • Bucknell (PA )
  • SUNY Binghamton – has been interested in recruiting more top students from out-of-state
  • Appalachian State (NC)
  • U. of Vermont

Already on your list, but Cornell, Dartmouth, and Middlebury seem to be hitting a lot of your interests.

If you’re considering schools without linguistics (which it appears from your list that you are), then these are some other schools you may want to consider. There are a mix of schools here with a range of selectivity. Some you’d be likely to get extremely generous merit aid from. At others you would have a definite shot, but no guarantees. And then others (like Hamilton) don’t offer any merit aid.

  • Dickinson (PA )
  • Gettysburg (PA )
  • Hamilton (NY)
  • Ithaca (NY)
  • James Madison (VA)
  • Skidmore (NY)
  • St. Bonaventure (NY)
  • St. Lawrence (NY)
  • U. of Tennessee
  • UNC-Asheville (North Carolina’s public liberal arts college)
  • Union (NY)
  • Washington & Lee (VA) – 10% of students are named Johnson Scholars which covers tuition, room & board.

I urge you to run the Net Price Calculator (NPC) at each college you’re seriously considering. If the college expects a contribution that your family is either unable or unwilling to pay, and if it doesn’t offer merit aid, then you should eliminate it off your list. If it’s unaffordable for you to attend, then it’s not a viable choice and that means wasted energy crafting essays that could have better been spent elsewhere.

I would also suggest you narrow down your list more, particularly if gunning for large merit awards. Sometimes there are additional applications and steps for the big scholarships, and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. You want to make sure that your essays are individualized for each school and that they really sing and speak to who you are. For most people, that quality of essay can’t be rushed.


Note that some of the schools you listed may offer a minor in linguistics.

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