Chance Me - CO 2024 Asian Female - Public Health/Biology

US Citizen, 2nd generation Chinese, female
Attended highly ranked public high school in 9th grade (class size 250), small religious/private high school from 10th-12th (class size 100)

Intended major: public health, environmental health, human health. I have no interest in biomedical/environmental engineering.

Neither school ranked students
9th grade GPA: 3.0 uw, 3.8/5.33 w
10th grade GPA: 3.85 uw, 4.38/5.0 w
11th grade GPA (sem 1): 3.95 uw, 4.67/5.0 w
Average (after 5 semesters): 3.55 uw, 4.2 w
PSAT/NMSQT: 1460 (50% chance of becoming national merit semifinalist)
ACT: 33 (first attempt)

9th grade: 1 AP, 1.5 DE, 4 Honors, 1.5 Regular (8 available classes)
Dual Enrollment Environmental Science (APES: 2)
AP Comp Sci Principles (3)
World History Honors (APWH: 3)

10th grade: 2 AP, 3 Honors, 1 Regular (7 available classes)
AP Bio (5)
AP Seminar (5)
AP Enviro self study (4)

11th grade: 4 AP, 2 Honors, 1 Regular (7 available classes)
AP Calc AB
AP Research
AP English Language
AP Spanish Language

12th grade planned: 6 AP, 1 Honors (7 available classes)
AP Calc BC
AP Stat
AP English Literature
AP Spanish Literature
AP Chem
AP Gov (sem 1)/AP Macroecon (sem 2)
Intro to Medicine Honors


  1. National Merit Commended Scholar (possible semifinalist) (11th)
  2. AP Scholar with Distinction (10th)
  3. National Speech and Debate Association - Degree of Special Distinction (top 7% of graduating seniors in class of 2022) (11th)
  4. USA Biology Olympiad - Semifinalist (11th)
  5. Regional Science Olympiad - 4th place in Green Generation (11th)


  1. Speech and Debate - involved 10th-12th, leadership position 12th
    1x National qualifier, 2x state qualifier, regional champion

  2. Hospital Volunteering - involved 10th-12th, leadership position 11th
    200 hours logged, weekly involvement

  3. HOSA Future Health Professionals - involved 10th-12th, leadership position 11th-12th

  4. Science Olympiad - involved 11th-12th, leadership position 12th
    4th place in regional science olympiad (green generation aka environmental science) (11th)
    USA Biology Olympiad semifinalist (11th)

  5. Tutoring job - involved 11th
    Approximately 4 hours per week

  6. Speech and Debate nonprofit and advocacy - involved 11th-12th

  7. National Spanish Honor Society - involved 11th-12th, leadership 11th-12th
    Regular fundraisers and toy/food drives

  8. Track and Field - involved 9th-10th
    2x varsity letter recipient, stopped participation due to struggles with ED

  9. Mock Trial - involved 9th
    Team placed top 10 statewide

  10. Student Ambassador - involved 10th-12th

I am looking for a school which has a motivated but not cutthroat competitive environment, in a somewhat safe location with opportunities for networking, research, and internships related to public health/environmental health. Ideally an undergraduate population of approx 6000, give or take and a varied entertainment scene, with students who are balanced between academics, personal life, and sports/entertainment. Ideally, my school would have the resources and location to aid my career, which I see either in public health/environmental policy analysis or as a professor of the biological sciences and public health.

Provisionally, my ED school is Duke. In the likely case that I am rejected, EDII is going to Emory. My other EDII candidates are WashU, Vanderbilt, and Johns Hopkins. I have several state schools which I can attend for free if none of the reaches work out.

In terms of RD reaches, I’m thinking Tulane, Wake Forest, UNC Chapel Hill (out of state), University of Georgia (out of state), Brown, Georgetown, Tufts, Northwestern, University of Miami, USC, Stanford, but I’m open to any other options that may be a good fit!

What can you afford ? I’m thinking no at every school on your list but you never know. I’m thinking U of Tulsa which you’d go for free if you get NMSF.

But you’re highly unlikely at every school mentioned but Miami and UGA, just unlikely with UGA being closest.

What’s your state of residence ? Start there. Check UAB, St Louis, U of SC, Arizona, Indiana, Elon, Louisville, maybe Charleston.

If you get nmsf or NMF though more could open - start with Tulsa.


IMO you need to re-work your application list to include more match and safety schools. Be sure to run net price calculators if finances will come into play.

It is easy to come up with a list of “big name” schools. I suggest you do the research to find those match and safety schools that appear affordable and that you would be excited to attend. There are tons of fantastic schools out there where you can have a great college exerience and get where you want to go in life.

Congrats on your accomplishments thus far.


Thank you for your feedback, I will check out those schools for sure! I don’t feel particularly inclined to share my state of residence but I do know that there are at least 3 state schools at which I have a high chance at acceptance and could attend for an extremely affordable cost, so that’s why the list I have here is more reach-heavy. If my ACT score went up to 35, do you think any of the schools I mentioned become matches?


Glad you are looking at in-state schools as well.

Don’t forget, I’m not an AO - so my opinion means little.

A 35 (if it happens, of course would help). But I’ll stick with my ratings - but I’d move Miami and UGA to match then.

Some would have increased odds with ED. And Emory might be enhanced if you went with the Oxford option. Tulane could be possible too - with a lot of demonstated interest, etc.

Those I listed are well known in public health but less competitive for admissions, etc.


btw - if you get NMF - then schools like Fordham, Tulsa, Alabama (look at Mccullough Medical Scholars) - they become dirt cheap - and given the low pyaing field and further education you need, maybe that’s a better angle.

If it happens…

Congratulations on making a big upward swing on your academic trajectory! Although your unweighted GPA is on the lower end for the schools you listed, the fact that you have turned things around is good. That said, the schools on your list are reaches for even the strongest of candidates, and you should have other options that you are likely to be accepted to, can afford, and that you would be happy to attend (all three conditions should be met).

Would you be happy to attend those schools? How would you feel if those schools are your only acceptances? If you’d be happy to attend those schools, then great. If not, you need additional schools on your list. What is your budget? Will your family qualify for need-based aid? (For instance, have your family run the Net Price Calculator at Duke and Emory. Is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) affordable for your family? If not (and for many families, it is not), you will need to attend schools that award merit and thus let us know what the price/year is that you family is willing and able to pay.

If you’re interested in public health, then some of the influential places to be includes federal and state capitals. In Atlanta there is a consortium among higher education institutions which allows students to take one class/semester at a different university in the consortium. So if you’re not accepted to Emory, there are still ways to take classes there. The same thing is true for Baltimore schools and Johns Hopkins (such as if you majored in public health at Towson, which has about 17k undergrads).

I obviously didn’t pay too careful attention to the size of the school, but did list the number of undergrads so you could determine which way you’d be willing to be more flexible. For instance, Agnes Scott may only have about 1100 undergrads but it’s in a lovely area of a major metro and you can take tons of other classes at other universities, so it might feel larger than a different school of its size. Conversely, you may take the approach that you can make a big school feel smaller (through honors college/programs, specialty interests, etc.) but it’s extremely difficult to make a small school feel bigger (though there are schools like Agnes Scott that might prove an exception).

With that said, some schools you may want to consider include:

  • Agnes Scott (GA): Women’s college with about 1100 undergrads

  • American (D.C.): About 8500 undergrads

  • Florida State: About 34k undergrads. Be aware that there is a lot of tension in public higher education in Florida right now…investigate to see how you feel about the situation.

  • George Washington (D.C.): About 12k undergrads

  • Georgia State: About 29k undergrads.

  • Providence (RI): About 4200 undergrads

  • The College of New Jersey: About 7k undergrads just a couple of miles outside the state capital.

  • U. of Indianapolis (IN): About 4k undergrads

  • U. of South Carolina: About 27k undergrads

  • U. of St. Thomas (MN): About 6100 undergrads

  • U. of Utah: About 26k undergrads

  • Willamette (OR): About 1200 undergrads

These are some other schools with good reputations in the health fields that you may want to consider:

  • East Carolina (NC): About 22k undergrads

  • Mercer (GA): About 5k undergrads.

  • Saint Louis (MO): About 8800 undergrads.

  • U. of Alabama – Birmingham: About 14k undergrads

  • Xavier of Louisiana: About 2800 undergrads at this HBCU that is renowned for its health programs.

Edited because I originally forgot to mention GW.


Thank you very much for the suggestions. While I’m still more inclined to stay within the 3 state schools I mentioned if none of the reaches work out, I’ll do a lot more research about the schools you mentioned as well as possibly transferring after two years. What exactly do you think my profile is missing to be seriously competitive for the likes of Wake Forest, Tulane, Emory? Is my 3.55 unweighted GPA the biggest lacking point? I should add that I am looking for a relatively more liberal campus without huge party culture, even though I know that variety will exist at every school.

Your shot for Wake Forest, Tulane, and Emory is not nonexistent. You do have a shot, but it’s a very long shot. Your 3.55UW GPA is a potential issue that may be alleviated depending on what your school profile indicates (the school profile is sent by the counselor and will indicate typical GPAs and roughly how each GPA ranks within the class). If your school is known as lacking grade inflation, then that could help. The AP scores from your freshmen year don’t help your cause. But, the biggest reason why I think your chances are low are because of the admission rates (source):

  • Emory: has a 13% overall acceptance rate, with ED 26% and RD 12%
  • Tulane: has a 10% overall acceptance rate, with ED 31%, EA 12%, RD 8%. If you’re not applying ED here, your chances just became 3x harder.
  • Wake Forest: 25% overall acceptance rate

Perhaps you think of the applicant pool to these schools as similar to your high school, with students running the gamut for exceptional to lackluster, and so if you’re in the 10-25% of your class, you’re likely to be in the top 10-25% of applicants to these schools. That’s not how it works, however. The vast majority of applicants are going to have very competitive profiles…if they don’t think they have good odds of being accepted, then they generally won’t apply. And of those really competitive applicants, these schools are taking 10-25% of them, and leaving the rest without an offer of admission. Take a look at some of the threads for the schools you’re interested to see who was getting admitted, deferred, waitlisted, or rejected. These are not students with a 2.0 GPA and 23 ACT. These threads may be helpful for you:

So if these are your top schools, that’s fine. But realize that they’re reaches and that you should have schools on your list where you are much likelier to receive an acceptance.

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