Chance Me - junior looking at (mostly) big schools in big cities!

I am a current junior (co 2024) trying to get an idea of how competitive my application could be. I’m looking at schools near Boston, NYC+CT suburbs, Chicago/Milwaukee, NoVA/DC, Detroit/Ann Arbor (I want to continue competing in my sport on Team USA, and those teams are located in these cities). Some schools I’m looking at are very competitive, some are moderately competitive, and some are less competitive - mostly colleges that provide good merit aid or honors programs. So far I’m leaning towards Brandeis and Boston University because I actually have a shot at getting in, but I really like UMich and Northwestern too.

  • US Citizen
  • Residency: Midwest
  • Type of high school: public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity: female, white/asian mixed
  • Other special factors: I am a high school student but for 11th and 12th grade I will attend all classes at a local 2-year college as part of a program through my high school and I will graduate with an associate’s degree.

Intended Major(s)
Biomedical Sciences or Biotechnology (pre-med)

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA: School does not weight
  • Class Rank: school does not rank
  • ACT/SAT Scores: haven’t taken yet, khan academy sat prep is mid 1400s and I’m taking psat soon

*all As so far
9th grade

  • Science Honors
  • English 1 Honors
  • Freshman PE
  • Pre-Calculus Honors
  • Principles of Biomedical Sciences
  • History Honors
  • Spanish 4

10th Grade

  • AP World (3)
  • AP Calculus AB (4)
  • AP Spanish (5)
  • Chemistry Honors
  • Human Body Systems
  • English 2 Honors
  • 10th grade Health
  • ceramics

11th (currently)
1st semester

  • College English 1
  • Calculus 2
  • Personal Finance
  • College Success

2nd Semester (planned)

  • College English 2
  • College US History class
  • Calculus 3
  • Microbiology

12th grade- not planned yet, probably will include spanish


  • finalist in state level science/tech business competition
  • US Figure Skating Gold Medalist in Moves in the Field (I am working on passing Dance and Free Dance, will most likely get before I graduate. I can only pass Free Skate if the competition level requirements are changed because I would be forced out of my level)
  • National Merit? (taking psat soon)
  • State Seal of Biliteracy
  • AP Scholar
  • US Synchronized Skating Midwestern Sectional Champion & National Qualifier


  1. Synchronized skating - (9-12) I am a competitive synchronized skater (like team skating/ice dance). Midwestern sectional champion, national qualifier, featured on local news twice, compete nationally. (8-12 hrs/week, week of a competition can be over 30 hrs)
  2. Figure Skating (might merge with #1 because they’re related, who knows) - (9-12) test and compete in moves in the field, free skate, and ice dance. (mentioned above but gold medalist in moves, hopefully ice dance/free dance/free skate soon). I have over 60 volunteer hours from volunteering at events my club hosts. (8 hrs/week, can be up to 20 week of competition)
  3. Soccer - (9-12) I play club and school soccer. At school I am a varsity starter and was named to the all-league honorable mention team. I could be a captain next year, but it’s not guaranteed. Club season - 8-12 hrs/week, hs season 12-14 hrs/week
  4. Job - (9-12) I teach learn-to-skate at my local rink and volunteer as an assistant coach for some of the younger synchro teams (depends on season, around 4-6 hrs/week)
  5. Research project- biology/biomedical sciences related, with instructor at college. might submit to some competitions (summer after 11th, ~5 hrs/week)
  6. School Newspaper - (10-12) Idk, I write articles, usually 4 a month (2 hrs/week)
  7. Math Team - (9-12) varsity 1, meet once a month to compete, once every 2ish weeks for practice, not much else
  8. Health Advocacy related club - (11-12) helped successfully pass a policy increasing pay for food service workers in district to improve school food quality, water access advocacy project, a lot of surveying student body and reporting to district board (1 hr/week)
  9. Student Gov (10-12) - currently I’m just a member, but many people in leadership positions are graduating this year, so next year I’ll be at least a representative (8 in a large district (>5 high schools)) (1 hr/week)


  1. Counselor for early college program - she knows me very well and we meet every other week to check in and plan for classes and college.
  2. likely my microbiology instructor - I will participate in the honors program at the 2-year college that I take my classes at, which includes conducting research with a professor. If I have a good relationship with that professor and the project goes well, they will likely be one of my recommenders.
  3. Skating coach?

Cost Constraints / Budget
Havent filled out FASFA yet but EFC around 35k.


  • Safety: Miami University OH (EA, aiming for merit scholarship), UW Madison (EA)
  • Target: Michigan State (applying for honors and merit scholarship), Fordham (EA, honors program), UConn (applying honors college), Rutgers (applying honors)
  • Hard Target: Brandeis, Northeastern, Boston University
  • Reach: UMich, Brown, Northwestern (i have no chance lmao)
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So - how does your skating impact the choice - meaning if you’re in a USA program, wouldn’t you be required to be in a certain city or do any of the schools have teams?

Miami Ohio is a safety and you will get merit. Miami is very rural - now - it’s within easy distance of Cincy and Dayton but the day to day is not big city.

Michigan State is a more sure in than Wisconsin - so flip them - in fact, I think all your targets are safeties (maybe not Honors) except Wisconsin.

BU and NEU are, in my opinion at a different level than Brandeis - but if you’re a true leader in your sport, that dedication it requires might get you over the hump.

Your reaches - I don’t know - you’ve not taken an SAT/ACT yet. You’re gonna have Calc 3. I would not say you have no chance.

You have a sport, expertise level that will make you stand out.

What is your home state? Might that be an option - for cost??

You’re going to be fine!!!

Great job.

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You have a number of public universities from different states on your list. At some, getting a merit scholarship will be a challenge. None meet full need for out of state students. So…I would be checking that cost issue out too. There are some expensive privates on that list too.

Have you run the Net price calculators for these schools? If not…do.

Also, factor in the costs of your sport, which IIRC is not inexpensive. Your college financial aid will not cover those costs.

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Thanks for the response.
Teams are named to team usa as a team, so it’s different than other sports where a national team is the best players from different teams all over the nation. I’m not sure Miami is right for me (I’ve visited and didn’t really like the small town vibe, but it was in summer so not that many people were there anyway), but it gives good merit aid and it has a D1 skating program, so I’ll probably apply anyway. The switch up between Michigan State and UW Madison was accidental but I am in state for UW so that definitely bumps up my chances as well. I agree with the statement about BU/NEU and Brandeis, but do you think they are all still targets? Or would BU and NEU be reaches?
Do you have any suggestions for strengthening extracurriculars? Also, how do you think colleges view community college courses vs AP courses? Will they consider that I didn’t have the opportunity to take AP courses in this program? For foreign language, I learned spanish at school starting in elementary school but it does not appear on my transcript because it does not align with a specific course at my high school. Will colleges consider that AP spanish is the highest class at my school and I had no space in my schedule to take a higher course during my junior year?

Does Minnesota have your USA sport? If you will be traveling, you can get more direct flights from the Twin Cities than East Lansing or Madison.

Congratulations on all of your accomplishments! I don’t think you need to strengthen your extracurriculars; I’m surprised you have time to do as much as you have. Your skating (and related experiences) will probably make you a very interesting applicant to many schools.

If you are pre-med, know that medical schools will want to see advanced coursework in science beyond anything taken at community college. @WayOutWestMom may be able to provide some guidance on what types of classes are best to take at cc if you’re thinking about med school.

Also, if you’re thinking about med school, you want to go to a school where you can get the highest GPA you can. The biggest things that med schools care about is GPA and MCAT scores. Realize that the more competitive a school you attend, the stiffer the competition will be for the grades (as many pre-med requirements are often graded on a curve). Think about the type of environment where you will do best academically. For instance, do you prefer smaller classes or the anonymity of larger lectures? Do you thrive on competition and being surrounded by the most “elite” students drives you to do even better? Or do you feel more comfortable when you are among the top students in a group, not needing to compete for every opportunity?

Additionally, if you are thinking about med school, most med schools don’t care too much about the name of your college, as they care more about GPA & MCAT. Since medical school is extremely expensive, if your family is willing, you may want to consider going to a less expensive college and then see if your family will use the “savings” on grad school expenses.

Lastly, are most of the college’s/Team USA’s ice rinks in these respective cities, or at some distance? For instance, I know I’ve heard about the Bloomfield Hills skating club when watching figure skating. If that’s where Team USA practices, then it’s 1h3m to Ann Arbor and 40m from what Google Maps considers the center of Detroit. Although I know that it’s common for ice skaters to have to travel long distances for their sport, I would strongly urge you to go to school very nearby your skating rink. Adding 2 hours a day (or more) for commuting time can be a real pain, particularly if you’re not on public transportation where you can study/get work done.

So not only would I recommend being close to the rink, but if you could let us know whether the rink(s) in question are north/south/east/west/in the heart of the city, and by what distance, that would be great (or you could PM this info if you feel it’s too revelatory).


You mentioned Brandeis and Boston University – Brandeis gives a decent amount of merit aid. BU gives very little.

You should try to reach out and interact with the admissions offices. Your skating is unique. Any school would love to have an Olympic skater attending. It’s the type of extra curricular that really sets you apart.

Good luck.

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Is there not a team in Denver? I understand that U of Denver has a strong figure skating program. The school is mid-sized (and private, not public) but has great access to the city, and with the leadership experience in your EC’s, you could be a great candidate for their Pioneer Leadership honors cohort.

AustenNut took the words out of my mouth, about proximity to the practice site for your sport. Premed coursework plus a demanding sport is a lot, as a baseline - you don’t need time-consuming logistics on top of it all. For example, UConn isn’t close to much of anything (definitely not in the NYC-burbs part of the state!) - where would you have to get to for practices, from there??

Rather than discuss vague metro areas, I would map exactly where you’d have to practice, and look at what’s within a realistic access radius.

It’s also been mentioned upthread but deserves emphasis, that many med schools do not like core premed requirements to be taken at community college. So, the DE credits are great admissions-wise, but don’t jump the gun in terms of taking premed classes next year. (Microbiology may be one of these.) It can be a lose-lose, because you may be required to retake it but then it’ll be noted as a retake which isn’t preferred.

I think your athletic “spike” will make you stand out - colleges love students who will generate publicity with their accomplishments! You may end up with more of a shot than you think at tippy-top schools. But, make sure you prioritize what makes financial and logistical sense, over undergrad rankings, which ultimately won’t matter for med school admissions or the rest of your life after that.

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Actually some medical schools will just want this student to take higher level courses in the same disciplines that courses from the community college were. Not retakes of the same courses.

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For the nitty gritty about how med schools look at dual enrollment credits, please read this pinned thread in the Pre-Med forum

Be aware that many med school have official and/or unofficial limits on the type and number of CC credits they will accept to fulfill med school admission requirements. ALL med schools strongly recommend (and in med school speak that means require) any CC credits to supplemented with additional UL coursework in the same department taken at a 4 year college.

Although med school adcomms love applicants who are competitive athletes, athletes do not get any slack on grades or MCAT scores. They may get some leniency w/r/t to ECs so long as they have the basics covered.


Yes, Minnesota has a team USA team - in the twin cities. The only issue is it’s a junior team so I’d age off after my first year. Other cities mentioned have junior and senior/collegiate (no upper age limits).

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At schools like UConn, Rutgers, Fordham, and Michigan State, are merit scholarships substantially harder to get for out of state students? I assume it’d be a bit harder, but would being out of state significantly decrease my scholarship chances (for state schools)?


The mission of most public universities is to fund their own instate students first and foremost.

And the vast majority of public universities cost substantially more for OOS students so even if you got the same merit award, your costs would be higher.

Some schools do give instate tuition status to merit award recipients, but this is not universal.

Run the net price calculator for each college. Some ask for GPA and standardized test scores…and do give an estimate of merit aid.

UConn, Rutgers, Fordham, and Michigan State

None of these colleges has guaranteed merit aid based on stats. But apply and see. You never know.

Thank you! Synchronized skating isn’t in the olympics yet, but it was very close in 2022 and on track to be added for 2026!
This might be a dumb question, but how do you interact with the admissions offices? I understand reaching out to ask a question, but all of my questions can be answered by simply doing some googling. What would you say to them?

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We visited Michigan State. They seemed starved for students to apply. Have you looked at their Common Data Set to see what percentage of first-year first-time students received merit aid?

While I don’t know if it’s harder to get scholarships OOS, they have this whole page dedicated to scholarships for OOS students: Out-of-state scholarships | Admissions | Michigan State University

According to their chart, your 4.0 would get you $15,000. Your SAT score may affect that.

Most public schools don’t track interest.

You can generate interest by signing up for their info, opening emails, attending an info session online or in person.

You only email or call admissions with a real question that you can’t find the answer to. It’s not an issue that you don’t reach out.


Denver has some teams, but none are part of the national team and they don’t offer any team at the level I’m looking at. For some reason west coast clubs have a hard time putting together strong teams despite having arguably the best individual skaters in the nation.
Teams practice at different rinks that are around the same area, so travel time can vary. The NYC/Stamford based team stacks practices on thursday, friday, saturday, and sunday so that skaters can travel to practice, stay with teammates over the weekend, and go back. I’ve heard that some years they have had people going to school in Michigan and other far states flying in every weekend. While I am not interested in that kind of travel, I would be fine driving 1.5-2 hours every weekend.
As for the cc credits, I’m not even sure these credits will transfer to many colleges, and I’m fine taking those courses again in college. I’m not taking microbiology specifically because I want to go pre-med, but because it is one of the only introductory biology courses (I never took bio in high school because we have to take an integrated course in 9th grade and chemistry in 10th) that would go towards my high school graduation requirements and associate’s degree. Would cc classes that I retake in college because I didn’t recieve credit still count as retakes?
I competely agree with the last point, which is why I’m trying to apply to some good but not overly prestigious schools that will give me a decent amount of aid. I am also looking at honors colleges at schools that have them and considering pre-med resources like shadowing, internships, clinical work, research, and advising. A big reason why I have some top schools on my list is that (other than pressure from immigrant parents who know nothing about college admissions) I’m not 100% sure I want to go to med school, so if I don’t plan on going to med school, it would be a bit more justifiable to go to an expensive school with rampant grade deflation.

Thanks for the clarification!

Still, it’s almost 2 hrs from UConn to Stamford, and even farther into NYC. SUNY Stony Brook would be closer (90 minutes to Stamford, and even closer to the city), and it’s a great school for medical-related stuff. In general, people’s biggest complaint about Stony Brook is that the campus empties out on the weekends - but if you’re going to be bugging out anyway, that could be a good fit. And they have a number of very good honors programs: Honors Stony Brook might hit the sweet spot as a school that’s still prestigious enough if you decide against med school, but also reasonably affordable and not so competitive that it’s hard to stand out. It’s not a “city” setting per se - very suburban - but not rural like UConn. You could think about Quinnipiac, too, (great for health professions generally) and Conn College if you’re willing to consider a smaller LAC. NJIT is very well-situated for what you need, if a more STEMmy school would work; there’s an Honors College here too (and generous merit).

As far as the Boston area, if you’re willing to go smaller in terms of school size, the Worcester schools might be a good fit - especially Holy Cross and Clark. Worcester is a city in its own right, but getting to Boston is pretty easy as well - about 45 minutes on commuter rail.(Also, UMass Medical School is in Worcester, and there are opportunities there for Consortium students at Clark, Holy Cross, and WPI.) I’m not sure how well Northeastern’s co-op model would blend with your athletic commitments, but BU might work well (although it’s likely to be expensive). Brandeis really doesn’t have a “big school” vibe if that’s important to you.

Maybe DePaul in Chicago, or Marquette in Milwaukee? American or GWU in DC?

As for the DE courses and premed, I’m not an expert on this; I just wanted to highlight the issue and the importance of doing your due diligence and choosing classes carefully. @WayOutWestMom is a good source of advice on this front.


Ask your family to run the Net Price Calculators (NPC) at Northwestern, Georgetown, Barnard/Columbia, Wellesley, and/or Yale. If you don’t get financial aid from any of these, you won’t get financial aid anywhere, and you know that you’re basing everything on merit-based aid. If the NPC at any college asks for your academic stats (GPA, standardized test scores) then it should give you the minimum level of merit you would receive. Because of your expertise in your extracurricular, you may end up receiving more merit aid, but that’s a big unknown. Also, you can see how much merit aid they offer to students who do not have merit aid by looking at each school’s Common Data Set (CDS). Many of the most popular schools have been included in this database.

@aquapt gave you a much more succinct list of options; I tend to flood people with them as my own personal style is to dig through as many options as possible, and I figure everyone else is that way, too (though obviously, not everyone is).


  • Beloit (WI): about 1k undergrads, CTCL
  • DePaul (IL): about 15k undergrads
  • Lake Forest (IL): about 1700 undergrads
  • Loyola Chicago (IL): about 12k undergrads
  • Marquette (WI): about 7700 undergrads
  • Northwestern (IL): about 9k undergrads; need-based only
  • U. of Wisconsin – Madison: about 35k undergrads
  • U. of Wisconsin – Milwaukee: about 19k undergrads
  • Wheaton (IL): about 2300 undergrads, CTCL


  • Oakland: about 14k undergrads
  • U. of Detroit Mercy: about 3k undergrads

You could try a flyer at U. Mich, but I really don’t see them coming anywhere near your budget.

D.C./Northern Virginia: this area is the least likely to meet your budget, but run the NPCs and see what is typically needed for their biggest merit scholarships.

  • American (D.C.): about 8500 undergrads
  • George Washington (D.C.): about 11k undergrads
  • Georgetown (D.C.): about 7600 undergrads; need-based aid only
  • U. of Maryland – College Park: about 31k undergrads

New York/Connecticut suburbs

  • Barnard (NY): women’s college of about 3k undergrads intertwined with Columbia; need-based only
  • Columbia (NY): about 9k undergrads; need-based only
  • Fairfield (CT): about 4600 undergrads
  • Fordham (NY): about 10k undergrads
  • Manhattan (NY): about 3200 undergrads
  • Quinnipiac (CT): about 6300 undergrads
  • Ramapo College of New Jersey: about 5100 undergrads
  • Sacred Heart (CT): about 6800 undergrads
  • U. of New Haven (CT): about 5k undergrads
  • Yale (CT): about 6500 undergrads; need-based only


  • Brandeis: about 3600 undergrads
  • Emmanuel: about 1900 undergrads
  • Simmons: women’s college with about 1700 undergrads
  • Stonehill: about 2400 undergrads
  • Suffolk: about 4200 undergrads
  • Wellesley: women’s college with about 2500 undergrads; need-based only

I think you should take UConn off your list. It’s a great school, but they won’t give you much money, and it’s in a very rural area. It’s too far for you to travel to a synch skate team.

Make sure that you apply to your in-state flagship state U, in the timely manner required to be considered for all merit money programs. This is your financial safety, and is probably going to wind up being your best option, once all the acceptances and fin aid offers are in.