Chance Me/ Match Me Hoping for UNC-Chapel Hill, but need other options preferably NE

US Citizen - North Carolina
White Female
Current Sophomore trying to figure out a sane college list with some safety schools

My daughter goes to a top ranked public school for the Performing and Visual Arts. Basically, she had to apply and audition for admission and is there for theater. The way it works is she must perform regularly and takes three intense theater courses a year. As such, there are fewer AP opportunities at this school. The school offers only honors and AP courses.

Intended Major(s)
My daughter hopes to major in Chemistry (pre-dent) and minor in music, theater, or musical theater.

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores
Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
Class Rank: At end of Sophomore year she’s 1/80
ACT Score: She has taken the PreACT and gotten a 32. She will take the actual test in the fall and hopefully score the same or better.

The plan is to take 6 APs through senior year (Enviro Science, World Hist., Lang, Lit, Stats, Calc). She has one dual enrollment course (US History had to be taken this way due to scheduling).

Awards and Extracurriculars
Service Learning Award (100 hours of community service)
Service Learning Diploma (250 hours)
International Thespian Honor Society
ITS individual event Superior scores at State and Regional levels both Freshman and Sophomore years (so far)
Has regularly acted professionally since sixth grade
Participant in County Young Leaders program
Fencing (3rd place in State for Epee 2022)
Student Council
AutoCAD certified
Accepted to (attending this summer) NC Summer Ventures in Science and Math (competitive and free live-in research program)
Shadowed Pediatric Dentist off and on throughout HS

I assume these will be great. Her small school means she has close relationships with her teachers across all subjects.

Cost Constraints / Budget
50k or less. She wants to be an orthodontist, so she will have lots and lots of school to pay for.

Safety (maybe?): NC State
Reach (maybe?): UNC-CH, McGill, Bowdoin (This is well out of our price range. She just loves it).

As you can see, my daughter has a pretty specific set of interests. She loves loves loves science and math, but also has a passion for performing. She’s looking for a school that will let her do both. UNC would be great for this, but we live in the third largest county and it can be hard to get in. We are early in this process and would love help knowing other places to look.

Thank you!!!

Bowdoin has one of the most generous financial aid packages in the country - often beating the price tags of public institutions. Try the calculator on the webpage to see how they will evaluate your financial situation. You may be very pleasantly surprised.

Bowdoin’s net price calculator can be found at Estimate Aid | Bowdoin College .

However, if it is obviously too expensive, no point in applying. Getting admitted but finding it too expensive means that the let-down will be larger.

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Sadly, the calculator doesn’t look too promising for us.

I noticed that you have McGill on your list. I am originally from Montreal and have family members and friends who went there (it was my safety coming out of high school), so I figured I would comment.

McGill is very good for music as well as for sciences. It’s music library is quite impressive. If you daughter maintains her high GPA in high school her chances would be very good for admissions, at least for sciences. Admissions for music would depend upon an audition, but it sounds like this would not be your daughter’s major anyway. We did ask and the music professors at McGill in many cases will give lessons for a fee for students who are not music majors. Apparently this is a way that some music professors augment their income.

However, one concern that I have about McGill is that it is well known for grade deflation. I am not sure that the difficulty of getting a high GPA there would be taken into account when applying for graduate programs in the US.

There are some smaller schools in eastern Canada which are very good for both music and/or theater and also for sciences, and that would cost less than US$50,000 per year for an international student. One daughter was interested in a small school and we also had “not promising” results from the NPCs for Bowdoin and other selective LACs in the northeast of the US so we did look very closely at the small universities in eastern Canada. The main issue is that they are not well known in the US. Whether this impacts graduate school admissions for American students who graduate from small universities in Canada is something we have not found out yet, but I do not anticipate a problem. Our daughter did give at least one data point that suggests that it is possible to maintain a very high GPA at a smaller university in eastern Canada. Let me know if you want some suggestions.

What does she love about Bowdoin that we may be able to build on with suggestions for small LACs with merit or state colleges with the ability to provide opportunities she is interested in. Getting price down as much as possible for undergrad will help with dental school costs.

I don’t usually do chances. But she is ending her sophomore year, right? If she stays the course with these grades, and class rank, and gets a 32 at least on the ACT, I think she has a chance at acceptance. But as you say…it’s not an easy admit. Still…that’s a strong record.

Right now…it’s a little too soon to really predict.


Have you given your daughter the college budget? Does she know that Bowdoin is too costly? Please let her know your price limit…and that any school that doesn’t come in at that price point will need to NOT be considered (if that is the case).


No need for Bowdoin if aspiring to be a dentist. The cost is prohibitive and the benefits to dental school acceptance minimal. Plenty of UNC/NC State grads at UNC and ECU dental school with in-state tuition being a definite plus.
Do not have her encumber herself with substantial loans in order to achieve her DDS. The profession is lucrative but the in roads being made by insurances/ increasing overhead costs have and will begin encroaching on that.
I’ve owned my own practice in NC for 22 years and went to UNC for dental school.


From what we observed this last year, class rank and GPA are incredibly important at UNC. So your girl has very likely chances. Those from NC outside of the top 10% of the class were usually waitlisted or denied unless they had a very unusual hook/first generation/added diversity. To me the excellence in theater adds another hook for your child. Have multiple people give feedback on her essays. UNC’s prompts were not my daughter’s favorites. Maybe prep a little more for the ACT. So many great resources out there for that. We found the science section to honestly be a place to improve, because it was a lot of reading comprehension or interpreting graphs and not so much science fact recall.


Rigor is an issue. Some applicants participate in ECs that are the equivalent of a full tine job, and still maintain high grades in the most rigorous classes offered. So keep in mind that she should take the classes appropriate for her abilities. Unless she is a pro on broadway or on movie sets, in which case she would be independently tutored, she needs to show appropriate rigor.

Her ACT score might be easily raised with just a bit of prep work. Look into this. She has time.

I think she is definitely on track for chapel hill. Considering her professional goals and costs, it is a very sensible choice. If you wont get fin aid, dont dangle 80k schools in front of her.


We totally agree. My husband did undergrad dental and residency at UNC, which is what we are lobbying for.

We have gone to an island near Brunswick Maine every summer since she was little. She just loves that area. We have been very upfront that we can’t afford it. We’ve also talked to her about the lack of research opportunities there. She doesn’t really want a small school, so I think it’s more wanting a different school than all her friends do.

Good point on the ACT. That will be a project this summer.

As for rigor, she is taking the most rigorous classes possible at her school, while fulfilling her theater major. They only offer 10 AP’s and a few of them she can’t take (music theory, Art).

I did not know about grade deflation at McGill. That is very helpful info!

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I’m rolling on the floor, that a southern girl should think that her beautiful summers in Maine are a reason to go to college in Maine, with its gorgeous (but short) fall, 6 months of winter, followed by mud season, which should be ending just as its time to leave campus in early May.

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They do survive, but that first year is not pretty. D21 had only ever been in the summer, so we took one college visit trip in the winter and New England delivered too much, we were snowed in for two extra days waiting for flights to get rescheduled while she thought it was magical to live in a snow globe.

OP may want to look at the state flagships and their automatic scholarships along with other available merit. UMaine and UNH can both provide reasonable prices for high achieving students and check off some of her other boxes.


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