Best course of action?

Hey guys, I read a lot on these forums when I’m looking up college info, but I’ve never actually posted anything. So hi! :x

Let me lay it all out on the table. So, I’m a senior in a Massachusetts high school and like most everyone else, I’m in the process of submitting college applications. I’m an aspiring English major. I’ve always wanted to go to college in the West Coast, but I feel that most of the schools I want to go to are reaches. I’ve sent in applications to UCB, UCI, UCSB, UCSC, and UCSD, and I’m planning to apply to Reed and Pomona, as well as other schools (not sure which, yet) that I at least have a safe chance of getting into.

In high school, I took AP US History (AP Score = 3), AP Lang (AP Score = 3), and I’m currently taking AP Lit, and I took as many Honors courses as I could. My GPA is 3.3 unweighted, 3.7 weighted, and my highest SAT score is 1940 (C.R. = 700, Writing = 640, Math = 600). My class rank is 61 in a class size of 473, putting me in the top 13% of my class.

It’s not like I did bad in high school, but I didn’t do exceptional, either. I don’t think that my high school performance is the best indicator of my ability as a student. Prior to my junior year, I didn’t care all too much about how I did in school, I just naturally did well enough to get As and Bs with minimal effort. However, I wanted to challenge myself junior year, and ended up completely overwhelming myself with work and multiple APs. I took this experience and learned from it, and in my senior year, I’m doing phenomenally well in school and I care more than I ever have before about my school work. The bad part about this is, it’s a little late from a college standpoint.

I’ve read that going to community college for 2 years and then transferring can get you into some great schools that you might not have been able to get into as a freshman. As it looks now, this would be a good choice for me if I don’t get into my dream schools, because I would be able to do way better with my current mindset in a CC then I did apathetically in the majority of high school. What do you guys think?

If I pursue this, I would try to go to a California CC; I know this is more expensive and the point of CCs is to be cheap–in part–but I hate living in New England and my BF also would love to live in the West Coast so we’ve been planning to go out together in the summer. Would an out-of-state community college kind-of defeat the purpose cost-wise of attending a community college? Is this a good plan or…?

I’m kind of ALL over the place right now, I just really need some input about what my best course of action is as of right now. ~X(
Thanks so much!

How much can you afford for college?

Well, I know a lot more about LAC’s than universities, but those are perfectly respectable stats to get into a number of cool, west coast LACs. You might even get merit aid at several of them. Check out Willamette, Lewis & Clark, U. of Puget Sound, Occidental and (a bit reachier) Whitman. If you want something larger, you might check out Santa Clara. Kids have great experiences at these places. They’re not quite as well known or selective as some of the other schools on your list, but there’s nothing second rate about the educational experience they provide. All of these schools will also probably provide better aid than a UC school would to an out-of-state student. At most of them, the fact that you’re way out of region will also boost your admissions chances.

You can read about Willamette, UPS and Whitman on the site.

@Gumbymom I’m honestly not too sure. My family is in the upper-middle class so college is going to be hard to finance but not undoable. I’m going to seek financial aid and scholarships, but I don’t think cost would be the deciding factor in what I do, although it’s definitely important. It would be an added benefit if I could save money, but my parents would be happier if I went to an amazing school than if I went to an average school for less money.

@rayrick I actually was looking at a few of those. Lewis & Clark, Whitman, and Occidental definitely seemed like potential colleges for me. I’m interested in small/medium liberal arts schools as well, like the school that piqued my interest the most was Reed, because it’s small and individualized, and it seemed like the perfect blend of smart/weird that I would want in a college. I looked at Pomona/Pitzer as well, but they seemed like a bit of a reach for my stats. I’m definitely interested in learning more about LACs, so thanks! I’ll give them a closer look.

You might consider some of the midwest small liberal arts colleges – Knox, Earlham, Kalamazoo, Lawrence University, Beloit College, College of Wooster are all ones we know/have visited. These are generally schools which balance quirky kids and good academics, from 1100 kids (Earlham) to 2000 at Wooster. Also, these schools are often about $10,000 less than many of the east coast schools, and do give merit aid. While this is not CA, it could provide some affordable alternatives with excellent academics for a student who likes Pitzer, Reed etc.

At your age it’s probably a pretty bad idea to make plans with your boyfriend in mind.

What marvin said. People will come and go. If you two are really that invested in each other you will continue your LDR with your studies. If it’s unmanageable, that might be a sign. There are so many people in this world, and so many people at most colleges. You two could take a break, see if feelings continue after you’ve ‘separated’? I think it could be a good test of time. Perfect love does not fade in four years.

@MidwestMom2Kids_ thanks! That’s interesting, I haven’t heard of any of those colleges but I will certainly look into them.

@marvin100 @okon2122 I figured someone would say it, lol. That’s a completely valid argument, and a choice that most people are skeptical of. It’s just that neither of us are really making a sacrifice in this situation. He’s always wanted to travel out West and I had the same mentality. That’s something we discovered about each other when we met, and a year later we decided we’d be happy going out together. If there was a reason for us to separate, I’m sure we could withstand the distance, but it just wouldn’t make sense to me given the situation.

You should be able to get into plenty of schools with your academic stats. I would not go the CC route. I also would not get too caught up into going to the west coast. As a senior it is late in the game to be saying this but you need to find schools that are academic matches and that are affordable. Try using the Supermatch function – look to the left under Find a College. And I agree with the view that you should not make plans with your BF at this early age.

@lonerism: The reason I ask about finances is that since your are OOS, the UC’s will cost you around $55K/year with no FA and very few scholarship opportunities. Even at a CCC in California, you are looking at $21K/year in tuition not including housing and transportation. Also getting in-state residency is extremely difficult in California, so I would no count on it to reduce your costs. If your parents are willing to finance over $200,000 for your education great, but I think you are better off looking into some of the schools mentioned in the above posts. Also just based on your posted stats, I only see you having a good chance at UC Santa Cruz. The rest of the UC’s will be Low Reach to Reach schools.

Good luck to you in what ever you decide.

BTW, how do your parents feel about this plan? Personally I would not support a child financially so she could attend a CC in CA because she likes the idea of going west with her HS boyfriend.

@happy1 Luckily, I’m not your hypothetical child. My actual (not hypothetical) parents support me in going out west for college, because they know I’ve been planning on it before I even met my boyfriend, and most importantly because they know that I’m independent-minded and can handle myself in whatever path I choose. If you carefully read my post, you would know that my plan is to go to either a university or LAC, but just recently, I’d been thinking about a CC for the purpose of transferring to a prestigious school that my current stats couldn’t get me into, also because I had heard that it can ease the cost of college. You know, making it easier for my parents to pay. My ultimate goal was not to go to a CC in CA, and my college decision is not dependent on “liking the idea of going west with [my] HS boyfriend.” Also I’m planning on applying for a dorm my first year anyway, so it’s actually incredible that people are magnifying what is probably the least significant detail in my entire post.

@Gumbymom After looking more in-depth into the financial aid that the UCs provide (which wouldn’t be much for me) I agree. I also had found that getting in-state residency is next-to-impossible for undergrad students, so I don’t think I’ll be going with any schools that don’t have significant financial aid. LACs seem to be the best option for me as of right now. Thank you!

After doing some more research, I think that my best bet is going to be applying to LACs like those mentioned above, that are good with financial aid. I’m more concerned with the actual educational experience than prestige after all. Thanks so much to everyone that gave me helpful advice!

@lonerism - lucky for both of us I guess…but I wish you the best…
And as I suggested above, I would try using the SuperMatch function on CC – under Find a College. It may give you helpful suggestions.

You have no shot st Pomona. Reed does it give merit scholarships. As mentioned above, the UCs are likely unaffordable.

For four year colleges, you need to work with your parents to run the net price calculators on the financial aid website page of each school. It will tell you how much you would be expected to pay.

If you are interested in Pomona, which is part of the Claremont Consortium, you should apply instead to Pitzer or even Scripps (all female). Both should be easier to get into and there is such cross-programming that, other than your diploma and living arrangements, you’ll not even know which school you are attending. After being accepted to Pitzer my daughter found out on Admitted Students Day that Scripps just got a big donation for pottery so they were moving all the ceramics over there and that Pitzer’s creative writing program was mostly poetry so for prose she would need to take her classes at Pomona. She didn’t like the fluidity of the whole thing but most kids like it.

I second the midwest choices - those are schools which are very interested in (what appears to be) your type of student. We live in NY and my daughter goes to the midwest for college and loves it because the school has quirky but very intelligent, interested and interesting students. We had never heard of most of the schools she applied to - it’s the east coast snob factor (and the abundance of colleges there).

Good luck!

I think you need to have a sit down with your parents about your plan because if you are upper middle class, you may find that NONE of your options are affordable. The private schools have a Net Price Calculator and you and your parents can put your data in and get an estimate. Since you haven’t done that, you are at risk of having nothing.

You might consider University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in Canada. Those public schools are cheaper than US schools, and if I’m not mistaken, your tuition is fixed by the year you enter. It doesn’t rise every year. Canadian degrees are also more focused which may or may not appeal to you.

You’re upper middle class. Likely you won’t get much or any aid. Your stats aren’t high enough for significant scholarships. In fact your UW GPA may mean no merit.

However, there may be some smaller privates in Calif (some of the smaller Catholics) who need more students and typically give some merit to nearly every student (St Mary’s and Dominican come to mind).

In other states, there are also some smaller privates that want more warm bodies and will somewhat discount their cost (not a big discount, but maybe get costs down to $40k per year).

Have your PARENTS run the NPCs and see the results.

Since you seem to want warm weather, check out Flagler College in Florida. Less expensive and beautiful…and inexpensive!!!

Your stats are similar to my daughter’s You have a slightly higher unweighted GPA, she had more AP classes, slightly higher AP scores, and higher corresponding ACT score.

She applied to mainly colleges aimed at the B/B+ student. Pomona was definitely out. Actually all the Claremont colleges were disregarded. I thought Pitzer last year had an acceptance rate of less than 20%.

On the west coast, my daughter was admitted to University of Puget Sound and Willamette - both with significant merit aid. When we visited Willamette, there seemed to be four or five schools everyone considered: Chapman, UPS, Willamette, Lewis and Clark, and Whitman. Reed was the reach school. Occidental was also mentioned by some parents but not many. She also looked at schools in the Southeast because there are some excellent but underrated LAC’s. This translates into lower college tuition and significant merit aid.

@amtc You peeked my interest. What midwest college does your daughter attend? I have two guesses - Earlham or Oberlin - but would be very interested in other schools like those.

@amtc I have to disagree somewhat with your recommendations of Pitzer and Scripps for the OP and your description of how the Claremont consortium works. You say:

Pitzer and Scripps adcoms are alert to applicants who are trying to use them to get into another one of the 5C’s. The Pitzer mission statement emphasizes: " social justice, intercultural understanding and environmental sensitivity." It’s true that Pitzer is test optional but they do look for fit and I don’t see anything in the OP’s description of her situation that suggests she’s a fit for PItzer other than a desire to go to college on the West Coast.

Scripps College says: "The mission of Scripps College is ‘to educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity.’ ” Scripps students, for example, all take the Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities.

I’m sure you know all this @amtc since you have a Pitzer student so I’m saying it for the benefit of other readers including the OP.

As for the OP’s proposal to attend community college in CA with a goal of transferring, OP might want to post that question on the California Colleges forum. There is a guaranteed transfer program from California community colleges to UC’s but I don’t know much about it, and there would still be out of state tuition to figure into the equation.