Chance Me!


  • US domestic (US citizen or permanent resident)
  • State/Location of residency: Virginia
  • Type of high school: Public Suburban High School
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity: Female, African
  • Other special factors: First generation and Low-Income

Intended Major(s)
No Idea yet however I plan on completing an MD/MBA after undergrad and also delve into tech so I will double major possibly in a science and business with a concentration.

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.9
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.0
  • ACT/SAT Scores: Not Taken Yet

AP’s: 7 will not send any scores (Language and Composition-A, European History-A, Psychology-A, Chemistry-B, Stats-Senior Year, Comp Sci A-Senior Year, and Literature-Senior Year)
Math: 8th Grade: Algebra 1, 9th Grade: Geometry, 10th Grade: Algebra 2, 11th grade: Honors Pre-calculus
Foreign Language: 8th Grade: Spanish 1, 9th Grade: Spanish 2, 10th Grade: Spanish 3
Electives: I’m in a Biotechnology Program at my High School so I had to take 7 (2 had to be AP) science classes which also qualified me for the joint Biomedical Program where I took classes like “Biomedical Innovations” and “Medical Interventions” for the remaining 5

Principals Honor Roll


  • Campaign and Fundraiser African Student Association Dance Team
  • Podcast Host
  • Executive Director of The Annual Black Expo District Wide Event
  • Human Rights Council Member of Representing School District
  • National English Honors Society Tutor
  • Crew Member at McDonald’s
  • Theater:
  •      Junior Year: Almost Maine cast as Deena
  •      Senior Year: Yet to Audition
  • National Honors Society Member
  • Black Student Union Member

Outside of School

  • Alto Member of my Church Choir
  • Assistant Treasurer of my Church
  • Medical Hospital Volunteer
  • Crew Member at McDonald’s

The teachers I plan on asking:
-My club sponsor: mentioned how much of a leader I am in the club
-My friend’s Math Teacher: went to her whenever I needed help in math cause my actual
teacher sucked. She liked me a lot!
-English Teacher: Nobody talked in that class but she likes me for some reason. I plan on
befriending her next school year
-My Econ Teacher: She liked me but I ain’t really talk to her much

Cost Constraints / Budget
No actual budget but hope schools are not stingy with financial aid. (please let me know what colleges are great for supporting the needs of low-income students :slight_smile: )

(Depending on scholarships for all schools below!)

  • Safety: UPitt, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Syracuse (Applying all EA)
  • Likely: None?
  • Match: I have no Idea
  • Reach: All 8 Ivies, UMich, UChicago, Northwestern, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, Boston U, UVA, George Washington, Northeastern (Applying all RD for now)

In all honesty, I have no idea where else to apply to college. As you can see I plan on shotgunning so please help me find colleges that match my stats and my college criteria below. I greatly appreciate it <3.

College Criteria

  • Urban/Suburban
  • Medium to Large student body
  • Many Student Groups and Extracurriculars
  • Diverse
  • Great Business Program
  • Double Major Ability
  • Great Medical/Science Program
  • Great with Financial Aid
  • Good Quality Dorms
  • Grade Inflation :wink:

Congrats, you have a lot going for you. A few thoughts:

You need to have a conversation about budget and understand what (if anything) your family can afford, then run the net price calculators for the schools on your list.

“Likely” and “safety” are basically interchangeable terms.

GW appears to be a target/match. You should beef up this section of the list.

Applying to all the Ivies makes no sense, based on your fit criteria. Dartmouth is not urban or suburban. Columbia’s core makes it very difficult to double major, etc. Don’t chase prestige, prioritize fit at all levels of your list.

Good luck!


I’m going to give some more thought to your post, but first off, have you looked into QuestBridge? It helps students who are first generation and/or low income (below $60k, I believe) with the college search process and if selected as a QuestBridge finalist have options to basically apply Early Decision to a bunch of really academically strong schools. I would definitely look into that.

What kind of colleges do students at your high school go to? Have any of them gone to the Ivy League? Are they mainly going to community colleges? And additional context you could provide would be very helpful.



Not knowing what your budget is, these are some schools that I would start investigating. Make sure you run the Net Price Calculator for each one (and note if it asked for your GPA or any academic info…if it does that usually indicates the minimum amount of merit aid that you might expect as well).

Xavier (LA): This is an HBCU in New Orleans that educates a very disproportionate number of the US’ black doctors. They’re really known for their premed program, and they were recently rated as one of the country’s top 10 best buys for private universities. They’re also in the planning phase to open their own medical school. This school is in the small to medium category (about 2700 undergrads), but there are several other universities in New Orleans for an expanded pool of college students to mix with.

Some other HBCUs you may want to look at include Florida A&M (FAMU), Howard (see if the dorm situation has improved), and North Carolina A&T.

Two schools that are a bit smaller that you might want to consider are two different Atlanta-area women’s colleges, Spelman (also an HBCU) and Agnes Scott. Spelman is the Morehouse sister school, so there are strong linkages there that can make it feel like a larger school. And both schools are part of ARCHE, a consortium of Atlanta colleges that allows students to take classes at the other colleges. Agnes Scott is very racially diverse and also has a lot of merit aid to offer.

Don’t overlook your Virginia publics, particularly as they are likely to have special scholarships for in-state students, particularly those with high financial need. You can throw an app at U. of Virginia which would definitely be a reach but does meet full need (as they calculate it). But I’d also take a look at Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, George Mason in Fairfax, and Christopher Newport in Newport News.


You say no cost constraints but you are low income. Do you realize college costs, perhaps up to $340k b4 grad school? So it’s a huge expense to discuss with your family and not take likely.

So you may need to stay in state or apply to schools that meet 100% need depending on your finances.

But as others have said you need to apply to the right schools. All ivies don’t make sense.

Here’s a few thoughts.

  1. Have your folks run the ‘net price calculator’ at a school like Harvard or Brown. It will show your expected contribution.

  2. At each OOS public, see what types of scholarships they have for African Americans. Pitt offers Cathedral of Learning. Does Penn State have something ? If not, unless near full pay is affordable ($50k plus), it’s not gonna work. So then it’s not a safety.

  3. What’s your weighting system. A 3.9 but a 4 gpa either means Bs In AP or no way you have 7. And why not send scores…are they not 5s? That’s what top schools will expect.

When you have awards or activities make sure they show impact. Honor Roll means little. NHS means little. If you say NHS and we picked weeds in a park 2 hrs a week for 14 week so others could enjoy….that means something.

Also, take a look at to see if you qualify. It’s a great program for someone low income.

Also if you do have need (as the schools, not you, determine, look at the schools that meet need). Schools like Syracuse (my alma mater) or Gw may (but may not) meet your need. Every school sees need differently so awards/pricing can vary. Some schools will reject you if you have too much need…these are need aware schools as opposed to need blind which don’t factor in your finances for admission.

Btw any school you can’t afford is not a safety……

I’d add UVA, W&M, CNU in state. Maybe Mason. Or if you’re 100% sold on Va Tech then just CNU or Mason to ensure an in state backup. Btw. UVA meets 100% need. Not sure Va Tech does. Unless the state has a program for low income, while UVA is a harder admit, depending on your finances it may make sense and Va Tech not. Look into that.

I’d look at SMU, Seattle, American and more, all of which have full rides…yes they are more work (essays, etc) but they offer great opportunities…such as Frederick Douglas at AU.

If it turns out college will cost more than you realized (ie you’ll get little aid), schools like Alabama, UAB, Arizona, FSU, WVU and so many more can come in at a great price. $20k or close to it with your #s.

Whether you end up in med school or b-school, where you go undergrad will matter little.

One last thing. You listed 4 teachers but will need just two letters and sometimes schools will take a third from a third party like coach or employer. Take a look at common app and each school’s apps for exact needs so u don’t spend more time than needed.

Keep up the great work.


Move Pitt and Penn State to the reach category, since you need large merit scholarships to afford them. They have a poor reputation for affordability to low income Pennsylvania residents, and tend to be even less affordable to non-Pennsylvania residents.

In general, go to the net price calculator of each college’s web site to check if the financial aid is likely to make it affordable. If your parents are divorced, check if the college requires both of their finances for financial aid (and do the same when using the net price calculator).


Unfortunately, the HBCUs do not offer the level of financial aid the OP may need. Their aid packages rely heavily on parent plus loans.

@Willimiah, congrats on your accomplishments! The list mentioned above will help you focus on colleges that may be able to help with the financial needs.

However, many of these colleges want to see you took the most rigorous courses at your high school. With your weighted and unweighted GPAs so close together, you did well in the classes you took, but did not take classes with higher weightings. Can you clarify?

It sounds like you are taking PLTW bio med classes. Those are taught at the college level. Some colleges value those.

Take some time to look at this list and their admissions data.

I would look at Marquette University in Milwaukee for a likely. They give great financial aid to first gen AA students.

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Some HBCUs offer VERY generous merit aid. Tuskegee is one and Prairie View (I’m pretty sure) is another. Alabama A&M might be as well. But they also need some standardized test scores which OP doesn’t have yet. I didn’t mention these particular schools because they’re rural, not suburban or urban. But depending on how her standardized test scores come out, she could be looking at some very generous merit aid.

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There is lots to love about the HBCUs and I know HBCUs have some great scholarships and merit, but overall the data does not show the HBCUs anywhere near the meets 100% needs list or even the meets some needs. I see too many families going into debt they may never come out of and turning down opportunities to go to college debt free or much closer. Leaving Tuskegee with over $120,000 of debt for a low income or middle class family is adding to the wealth gaps in our communities.

These are average annual costs, so multiply by 4.

Tuskegee U
Cost by household income

Household income Average cost after aid
Less than $30,000 $36,841
$30,001–48,000 $35,955
$48,001–75,000 $37,338
$75,001–110,000 $34,082

Cost by household income

Household income Average cost after aid
Less than $30,000 $39,395
$30,001–48,000 $40,938
$48,001–75,000 $43,093
$75,001–110,000 $44,529
More than $110,001 $45,955

Compared to a 100% meets need like Vanderbilt
Cost by household income

Household income Average cost after aid
Less than $30,000 $3,176
$30,001–48,000 $4,652
$48,001–75,000 $7,694
$75,001–110,000 $15,636
More than $110,001 $40,509

Or even Syracuse, that does not meet full need, is half the cost of Tuskegee and Howard for lower incomes.

Syracuse -
Cost by household income

Household income Average cost after aid
Less than $30,000 $17,250
$30,001–48,000 $19,737
$48,001–75,000 $23,533
$75,001–110,000 $28,653
More than $110,001 $47,284

I could not find the out of state info for Prairie View, but their instate average was half of actual costs.

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Virginia has great state schools, check all of them out, I would add more matches or safeties in VA! I agree with @AustenNut as far as amazing programs at Agnes Scott and Spelman.

Spelman has an excellent 5 year Dual Degree Engineering program not many people know about, 3 years in Spelman and two at one of the highly competitive engineering schools:


Probably means that if the OP is interested in some of them, the OP may need to take the SAT or ACT targeting the threshold scores for large merit scholarships at Tuskegee, Prairie View A&M, etc…

The usual 3+2 program cautions apply:

  • Extra year of costs.
  • Financial aid at the “2” school is not known up front. Financial aid and merit scholarships gotten at the “3” school generally do not transfer.
  • Admission to the “2” school as a 3+2 transfer may be competitive or may be assured with specific courses and grades – needs to be checked.
  • Someone at a “3” LAC may not want to transfer to the big engineering school that they did not want to attend starting as frosh.

I second looking into Questbridge and expanding your apps to more of your in-state publics. In addition to Pitt and Penn State not being affordable without competitive limited high amount merit awards, Syracuse is also likely to be unaffordable. Run the net price calculator on each school’s website along with your parents, here’s Syracuse’s: Net Price Calculator

Here’s Harvard’s: Net Price Calculator | Harvard

NPCs may not be accurate if your parents are divorced, own real estate beyond a primary home, or own a business…are any of these the case for you?

Regarding college grade inflation, if you are serious about that, then you would remove UChicago, MIT, Northwestern, JHU, CMU, and U Mich from your list. You do have to cull your list because you won’t be able to adequately complete all the essays from the 19 reach schools you mentioned.

Note the common app limits you to 20 schools, so plan accordingly and use some schools’ own apps where possible. First step is to identify a true safety school which also must be affordable…what school is that? (Virginia Tech is not a safety).

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