Chance me - LACs, Ivies and safeties

Thank you all! I feel like I’m qualified some days and out of my mind to be applying to these schools other days so really appreciate an outside opinion or any advice :slight_smile:

  • US citizen
  • Texas- Houston area
  • Public high school part of magnet program at high school “Academy for Careers in Engineering and Science’
  • Female caucasian
  • No other factors. Grandfather attended Columbia Law not really sure if that means anything.

International relations/political science

**GPA, Rank and Test scores **

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA: 5.0+/5.0 (actual 5.09)
  • Class Rank: 21/600. Lower than expected/usual due to being in choir 4 years which is a level class.
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 21/600, 1530 SAT 780 EBRW 750 Math. No ACT

*14 AP (incl senior year): 5 5’s 2 4’s on COVID/2020 exams. self study AP psychology
1 Dual Enrollment
4 years choir - in top choir junior and senior year

National Merit Semifinalist
AP scholar with distinction
Girls State Delegate
Girl Scout Gold Award

*Intern for environmental lobbying group
Phone banking experience
Ballroom dancer - Top in state 2018
Taught ballroom dance to Title 1 elementary students for a year (ended due to COVID)
President in choir, math honor society and biotechnology
Founded environmental club at school
250 volunteers hours (110 for same local soup kitchen)
Lifeguard over summer and babysit once a week
Student ambassador for local environmental group *

Pretty strong personal essay (according to guidance counselor and english teacher) on obvious physical deformity and how I’m grateful for it because it forced me to work extra hard in order to surmount people’s expectations that I am unintelligent due to it. One likely very good letter of recommendation from teacher I’m very close to and have been a lab aid to for two years. Other is probably ok

Cost Constraints / Budget
Middle class with good investments can afford about 25-30k but not enough to ED anywhere

Fordham // early action
George Washington
University of Texas - Austin // auto admit

So far, you seem to check all the boxes and your chances are as „good“ as anyone’s applying to those schools - which in the case of Columbia College or Yale would be single digits. There simply are very many more high achieving students, with comparable stats, than spots.

On the other hand, Fordham and GWU are likely to yield an acceptance, with a good chance at merit scholarships - something the highly selective schools don’t offer, as everyone is „merit“ material.

Given your interest in Columbia U, let me mention that there are two LACs: Columbia College and Barnard College - by applying to both you double your chances.


Dont have anything substantive, but am pulling for OP based on personal essay!! Beet of luck.


Your amazing - and if you’re good with UT (or Fordham), it pays to reach.

Just know you can get a ton of merit - but not at many of the schools you’re applying to.

So before you waste time applying, make sure to do the NPCs for Amhert, Colby, Columbia, etc. because if they say it’s $60K and you’re not able to go there, you can put your applications at schools you can easily afford - such as Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, and get in the Honors Colleges.

Or LACs like Macalester or Washington & Lee or schools like Rice and WUSTL that have merit.

Hopefully the schools on your list will work but if not better to know now.

Good luck.



With an intended major of International Relations / Political Science, consider applying to Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service as well as Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.

With respect to your chances at your target schools, my suggested schools should be enough to address that issue.


I am not clear about your financial status. What is your EFC for all of these schools? Have you run NPC for these colleges? From what you have written here, it seems you are only able to afford about a third of the annual cost but that you are not likely to qualify for enough aid. Is this the case? Do you need merit aid in order to attend?

Yes, a lot of those schools meet full demonstrated need, but it would be very helpful to know if you will qualify for FA. Please clarify. Because it seems to me that you need a HUGE merit award somewhere. There are no merit awards at Amherst, Columbia, Wesleyan or Yale.

If you will qualify for need based aid, your list is ok, though merit scholarships at GWU are hard to get.

I suggest adding Kenyon to your list. They have a few very good merit awards for top students. I also suggest Bates, if you qualify for need based aid. They have an enthusiastic ballroom dance group.

There are a lot of other schools we can recommend, but we do need more info about your financials.


You have some interesting things that might make you stand out, including commitment to choir, environmental concerns, and, to me, the most interesting, top in the state for ballroom (and teaching). Are you considering submitting a dance video as an arts supplement, or did you stop dancing?

The essay topic sounds like the essay will be very effective. I am sorry you have suffered from problems with perception of you due to a physical difference. (Deformity is a strong word: do you use that term? Is that how you feel about it?)

Maybe your guidance counselor can explain how choir lowers your rank. Small point but my kids dealt with that as well so I understand.

Good luck!


As so often, I am on the money bandwagon- esp for IR / PS. Those pathways are mostly have a bunch of low/un paid internships → low paid jobs → expensive grad school → ok paid jobs ->-> better paid jobs. Not being able to take the internships / low paid jobs (b/c you have to have a job that will let you save money to pay for college / service college debt) will make your career path substantially harder.

If you are thinking more IR than PS, look at places with strong international programs, where you can spend a lot of time abroad in your target language (everybody will have Study Abroad- look more closely at how much time you can spend away and have it covered by your regular college package). Language skills are often a minimum requirement for IR positions.

I am a fan of GW for IR/PS- you can’t beat the internship possibilities- BUT it is famously not great on FinAid, so be sure you can afford it w/o debt.


Just to add to @Lindagaf’s Kenyon suggestion–I didn’t know this last year, but they have a pretty active ballroom dance club. My sophomore started going this year and has really enjoyed it. I don’t know what the level is (she’s just doing it for fun) but thought I’d mention this. A terrific school academically, too.


Like your list. With auto admit secured at UT, you can afford to reach. Did you apply for any of the UT honors programs, like Plan II. Also make sure you put yourself up for any merit aid that you might qualify for.

The LACs you chose (and Columbia and Yale) generally have good track records of placing interns in DC.

I might reach for Yale SCEA instead of Fordham EA, unless you prefer Fordham. If you get in there, it will allow you to reach even more RD. As others have said, you need to run net price calculators. It could turn out Yale will be the most affordable college on your list, even ahead of UT, depending on family income and assets.


Thank you!

I do qualify! Sorry to not be more clear, my EFC from FAFSA is ~32,000 so given that these school meet 100% of aid what I understand is that I will be able to afford them then with a few outside scholarships. Happy to hear about Kenyon and Bates though, I had not been considering them previously.

Sorry to get off-topic. I know that Barnard is commonly called a LAC but why are you also calling Columbia College a LAC?

@compmom Thank you! I am still dancing but didn’t submit a video because I do not want to major in dance or anything although I would still like to be in a schools ballroom team if they have one. I do not really use that term no my apologies, it really just a more apparent physical difference just did not know how to best relay that. Great tip on the guidance counselor I will look into that!

@BKSquared I did apply to both Plan II and the liberal arts honors college. Oh no I somehow never came across Yale SCEA, after looking into that I would have been very interested but have already submitted. I am assuming it is too late?? On note of the financials yes Yale is one of the least expensive schools, comparable to UT.

Many schools do NOT stack financial aid (including most of the meet full need schools), and require students to submit outside scholarship checks directly to the school. Then, the school reduces your aid by the amount of the outside scholarship (because you have less need), so you are back to the same place you started.

For schools that do stack aid, it is also difficult and time consuming to find outside scholarships each year (most are one year only).

If your family can’t afford their EFC (it does look like you will be close tho), merit hunting should be an integral part of your college search. As a National Merit SemiFinalist you will have some affordable options at some of the schools already suggested…Alabama, UT Dallas, Fordham is worth an app, etc.

Is UT Austin affordable?

Have you run the NPCs on all of the schools on your list? The NPCs may not be accurate if your parents are divorced, own real estate beyond a primary home, or own a business…are any of those the case for you?

ETA: You can also use the Direct Student Loans to close the gap. $27K max over the 4 undergrad years, $5.5K first year, then $6.5K/$7.5K/$7.5K.


Depends if you can get Fordham to convert you to RD status. Yale’s SCEA deadline is Nov 1.


I would recommend that you submit a dance video supplement (when colleges allow this), even if you’re not planning to major. This is one of your most important extracurriculars, and it’s good to present yourself as a multi-faceted person. My daughter submitted piano supplements, even though she wasn’t planning to major or minor in music. It won’t be a deciding factor, of course, but it won’t hurt for sure (assuming you’re a strong dancer, which seems to be the case).


You don’t have to be a dance major to submit a dance video/arts supplement. Include a resume with your top in the state award and a letter of recommendation if you like, but the video alone is a good idea. Musicians submit all the time regardless of major.

Oops just saw post by @Motherprof. I feel that many talented kids miss out because they have this misunderstanding that a supplement should only be submitted by majors in that area.


@compmom @Motherprof I did not know! I just wrote off the option under the recommendation of our college counselor that it did not apply to me, but upon further research it does. I missed the opportunity to submit to Columbia and Yale but Colby and Amherst at least still allow me to do so, thank you so so much.


Maybe you can still submit to Columbia and Yale. Ask admissions. It is still before the deadline.