Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): Male, Black (West African)
Other special factors: First generation, Took gap year
Computer Science and Economics (very certain).
GPA, Rank, and Test Scores
Unweighted HS GPA: 3.59
Weighted HS GPA : N/A
College GPA : N/A
Class Rank: N/A out of 967
SAT - 1590
ACT - 33
Coursework WAEC National Exam with 3 Cs
Overall winner in international high school hackathon.
2nd runner up in national hackathon.
Extracurriculars During high school:
remote web development internship
volunteer at school library
religious organization(with leadership position)
volunteered to advocate child literacy in final year.
Post high school:
3-month Internship at start-up.
Weather-monitoring project since high school graduation.
A plethora of online courses.
Essays and counselor LOR include explanation for low GPA.
(Not a very exceptional explanation. Things were somewhat within my control. I just got distracted doing what I felt was the morally right thing for me to do).
Essay also explains my long-term motivations well.
Cost Constraints / Budget
Virtually no ability to pay
Safety *(certain admission and affordability): None
Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable): None
Reach: Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Trinity College, Centre College, Denison, UW-Madison, Franklin & Marshall, St Olaf.
As far as I know, five colleges are need-blind admissions and need-blind for full aid in the US. Harvard, Yale, MIT, Princeton, and Amherst. They are also five of the most difficult colleges to get into.
As a suggestion, you may want to research HBCU, historically black colleges, and universities. Look in the https://commonblackcollegeapp.com/ this would allow you to do one application for 60 of the colleges. The schools range in selectivity, size, and location. Here is a link to rankings for them https://premium.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/hbcu.There would be reaches, matches, and safeties for you from this group. I hope you find this information helpful and good luck.
OP: I think that the responses in this thread are excellent with respect to your question.
I would like to suggest a minor edit of your profile:
Instead of writing: “A plethora of online courses.” Consider: “Completed several online courses.” Or: "Completed several online courses [and then list the courses].
The reason for changing “a plethora of online courses” is that this makes the courses appear to be an insignificant after-thought when your goal should be to present these courses as an accomplishment.
Grinnell offers an excellent computer science department, is exceptionally well-funded with respect to financial aid, and enrolls a lot of international students. For the study of economics, Grinnell would be fair.
Dickinson College is a likely school for you to consider. Computer science and huge emphasis on international students and creating a global community. Your stats should earn you scholarship money or decent financial aid.