Chance Me: JHU, Columbia, Rutgers, NYU, SUNY, Tufts

Hi! I’m currently an hs junior who’s looking at top 50 schools in the Northeast. I’m concerned on whether or not my stats are good enough to get into any of these schools, but I’m honestly up for any suggestions on getting my stats up/any other possible schools in the NE that you feel would fit my criteria. I was also wondering if you had any suggestions on courses to take moving into senior year. Thank you so much for all of your help! I aim to major in pre-med with a minor in international studies/public health/neuroscience (not sure yet).


  • JHU
  • Columbia
  • Rutgers
  • NYU
  • SUNY
  • Tufts
  • Princeton
  • Northwestern
  • Bernard
  • Ithaca
  • UConn
  • William and Mary
  • Brown
  • UNC: Chapel Hill


  • ~280 volunteer hours (spent mainly volunteering at a hospital and doing other types of community service)
  • Includes a neurology department internship done over one summer (unpaid, secretary).
  • Have interned for a teacher.
  • have not taken the SAT as yet (COVID reasons), but PSAT scores range from 1240-1270 over the past three years.
  • currently runs an anti medical misinformation initiative on social media + website.
  • Takes biomedical PLTW (Project Lead the Way) courses for CTE.
  • As of right now, taking AP Chem, AP Lang, and AP Seminar. Has taken AP Bio (4).
  • Plans on taking AP Lit, AP Gov, AP Physics 1, AP Calc BC, AP Research
  • Completed 2/3 years of STEM summer classes at a local university.
  • On MUN leadership Team.
  • Did the Exploring Program with local hospital. (1 out of 5 total participants)
  • Co-president of a club that focuses on community service by donating food to homeless shelters, phonebanking, taking trips to local foodbank, environmentally friendly initiatives, and writing letters to Medical Professionals.
  • Has run an SAT workshop, discussing confusion during the pandemic.
  • Has helped a club run a blood drive.
  • Part of committee that helps to determine classroom formats during the pandemic and advise teachers on what is strongest…
  • Student Council (3 years)
  • Member of the Junior State of America
  • Member of HOSA
  • has accelerated to Calculus (currently, junior year).
  • has attended Yale’s IRSY virtually.
  • 3.7 GPA
  • Taking French (3 years so far, may do AP French)

From the ones I’m familiar with, Rutgers and UCONN.

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Thank you! Is there anything specific that you feel that I can use to amplify my application?

GPA and test scores, you have an impressive number of AP classes which shows rigor. For Ivy’s you really want as close to perfect scores and GPA. Also see what you can afford, big difference in price tag between in state public vs. OOS and privates. East coast universities tend to be costly.

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Oh okay! Thank you so much! I’ll definitely work on getting my GPA up this year, and I’m taking the SAT in March. Does self-studying for AP Chem mean anything to colleges?

Hey! I think with the stats you’ve provided probably the Ivies you’ve listed as well as William and Mary, Barnard, and other of similar selectivity (sorry not too familiar with NE schools) are definite reaches. That said, if you are sincerely passionate, a great writer, or very unique, I think you have a shot anywhere. Remember its not just stats and awards that matter (though they are very important). If you simply reach the ‘average’ stats/involvements for a college, you have a shot if you can also provide a strong personal story or character to your application.
Since you are a junior, you have plenty of time to strengthen your application. I will say, I think the only reason I got into my dream school was because of the ECs I started the second half of my junior year, so you definitely have time to strengthen your application. But just remember if you’re going to start something or join new ECs make sure you’re honestly passionate about it and not just doing it for apps, because it is hard to lie about that.

You sound like a person who has worked very hard, takes challenging courses, is truly interested in medicine. Keep it up, and you will get into medical school. Be aware that premed is not a major. People who want to apply to medical school need to take, at a bare minimum, one year of college English (might be satisfied by AP), a year of general chem, a year of organic chem, a year of physics, and a year of biology, all with lab. Some schools want calc or statistics, too (statistics would be FAR more useful to a doctor, but you kind of need a bit of calc for physics - you will have already done the calc in Calc BC). You should plan to major in whatever you really love, that you can get great grades in, whatever gives you joy. Theater, neuroscience, basketweaving. The med schools don’t care. They plan to teach you everything you need to know, in med school. They want to see high achievement in the premed classes, so that they’ll know you can do the pre-clinical sciences, a high MCAT score, and high achievement in whatever you choose to major in. They also like to see some kind of clinical experience that demonstrates that you’re serious about medicine.

Your PSAT does not predict a very high score on the SAT. It would be a good idea for you to, at home, take a practice ACT and see how you do. Some people do better on the ACT than the SAT. One of the best ways to improve your college application late in high school is to prep for the standardized test, to improve that score. So first, over the Christmas vacation, take a practice SAT, and also take a practice ACT. If you do significantly better on one, then plan to focus on prepping for that one. Do practice tests, the free Khan Academy prep, whatever is recommended by people who’ve been through it already. With prep, you might be able to bring your score up from 88th percentile, as predicted by your PSAT, to 95th percentile or more. My kid prepped himself for the ACT over the summer, and wound up bringing his score up from I think about 32 on the first practice test, to a near-perfect score. He didn’t get smarter - he just learned how to do the test.

As your record stands now, I think that Ithaca, William and Mary, Rutgers, SUNY, and UConn are matches. Your in-state flagship U is probably a safety (you didn’t mention what state you live in). I think the rest are reaches, and some are unrealistic, even if you are an underrepresented minority, which you don’t say you are. I think that you’ve shown tremendous interest in medicine - but you’re not applying to med school yet. I like the rigor of your academic classes. Do you think that you could manage Physics C instead of Physics 1, since you are taking the BC Calc?

In my mind, what stands out in your ECs is your energy and enthusiasm and dedication. Unfortunately, what the T20 schools will want to see is unusually high achievement in one EC, and I think it may be too late to arrange that, although the pandemic has created some opportunities that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. For example, we are about to undertake the most massive, time-compressed immunization campaign our country has ever seen. For someone interested in public health, there has GOT to be a unique and creative community service project or research project in there somehow. Other than that, and of course getting the best grades, and the best AP scores you can get, it seems to me that you would get the most bang for your buck out of preparing for the standardized test you are best suited for, so that you can get a score that says to the colleges, “Wow! This kid is smart, high achieving, and remarkably driven, with great energy. Admit her!”

What is the unweighted GPA?

As of the last transcript I’ve gotten, 4.246.

Unless that is out of 5, that is probably not an UW GPA.

If you are pretty seriously pre-med the first question is can your parents afford to pay for college w/ no debt? if so, happy days! If not, make sure that you focus on colleges where you are likely to be able to graduate with little/no debt. Your future self will be unbelievably grateful.

Once you have the money part sorted, look at places at which you are likely to shine. You need to be able to get a high GPA and get great recs (esp at colleges that do department letters for LoRs). Med schools will be more impressed by a 3.9 from SUNY than a 3.2 from JHU.

Like @parentologist, your practice PSAT scores are problematic for a lot of the schools on your list, and with no UW GPA it’s hard to know where you really stand.

You also need to tighten up that laundry list that is under “Stats”, separating out and grouping your ECs into something coherent. The more selective schools will want to see commitment and development over time in your main EC(s). Also, having 3-4 years of a FL is strongly recommended at rather a lot of the schools on your list- 3 years of French will not separate you from the crowd. Similarly Calc AB in Grade 11 is a fine achievement, but not something that will stand out in the application pool for more than half the colleges on your list.

Some comments on some of the schools on your list:

  • JHU- super for both IR & biological sciences, but it has a serious work ethos. Be sure it fits you.
  • Columbia- do you genuinely want to do the Core?
  • NYU- super expensive and not generous with financial aid. Unless your funds are unlimited, you might re-think this.
  • Bernard- Barnard. Do you actually want to go there, or is it a back door to Columbia?
  • Rutgers, SUNY, UConn, William and Mary, UNC-Chapel Hill: you are OOS for at least 4 of these, so check affordability. UNC-CH has an 18% OOS cap (including recruited athletes), so admissions is harder than you might be expecting. They do meet need for OOS though. W&M is notably pricey for OOS, and no finaid or merit aid.
    *Brown: I always love it when students put down both Brown & Columbia as schools that they want to attend. They are night and day experiences. Figure out which place plays to your strengths.