We’re in the midst of the application process, delayed because of Covid especially with college tours, very much in need of help for my son.
- Demos: US citizen, male, white, from rural town in New England (45 min commute each way to school, if it matters)
- High School: small highly-competitive Catholic
- Legacies: Boston University (grandparent), UConn (parent undergrad & grad); Cornell (great-grandfather, grandfather, parent undergrad). Other legacy schools I didn’t list because he’s not considering them.
- Intended major(s): US Government, Political Science, US History
- UW GPA: 3.27/4.00, W GPA: 3.32/4.00. Weighting adds .5 to grade score for Honors & AP classes but weighted GPA caps at 4.0 (thus B+ in AP Calc = 3.8 vs. 3.3 in Calc). School doesn’t rank.
His GPA is low because he struggled freshman year (2.8 courtesy of Spanish, Geometry & Biology) but rebounded strongly the last two years, making honor roll each term with tough classes.
SAT: 600 verbal, 570 math (taken once - he’s taking it again next month). He doesn’t test well, though we paid for him to attend Princeton Review online in April. Realistically, he’ll likely crack 1300, maybe 1350.
Freshman: Honors World History, English, Spanish I, Geometry, Bio, Religion, Art I
Sophomore: Civics, English, Spanish II, Algebra II, Chem, Religion, 3-D Art
Junior: Honors US History, English, Spanish III, Pre-Calc, Physics, Religion, Art II
Senior (scheduled): AP English Lit, AP US Gov, AP Comp Gov, Calculus, Astronomy/Oceanography, Religion & Ethics
His school offers few APs, not every year. Of the 16 AP courses in the handbook, 6 are art/music/foreign language, 4 are science (each year they alternate AP Bio & Chem; Physics & CS haven’t been offered since 2019), 1 Calc, and remaining are English/history/government. Honors classes are not offered in all subjects.
Honor roll (4 terms - highly likely to continue this year)
Outstanding athlete award (Junior year)
Student/citizen of the year award his last year in middle school
Probably a few commendations that I’m not remembering at the moment
Extracurriculars - I’m including this year
- Weekly volunteer at a nursing home - restarting when Covid restrictions are lifted hopefully later this fall;
- Active church volunteer (altar server)
- Poll worker/volunteer for 2020 election
- Works Dec-March part-time at a ski area; works summers part-time (30 hours/week) at the general store
- Varsity track 4 years, snowboarding club, Model UN, faith leadership club
Most clubs were shelved or completely discontinued because of Covid; a few (like Model UN) met virtually. No word on if there will be clubs this year beyond virtual.
He’s a strong writer and passionate about public policy & governmental affairs. His school has an excellent new college counseling team, and he’s lined up his LORs in the History department. I’m a writer and editor, plus the school has all essays edited by the English department. I think this will be a big boost for him, and where he shines.
Cost Constraints / Budget
We’re fortunate to not have financial constraints on school selection.
He’s interested in mid-to-large nonsectarian universities with strong liberal arts programs in the greater Boston/eastern MA/southern NH, central/upstate NY, and greater Washington D.C. areas. He’d prefer a suburban or exurban campus, and has an interest in Navy or Marine ROTC, though he’d consider an urban school (e.g. BU, American University) and schools without ROTC programs.
For very valid reasons I’d rather not elaborate on, he does not want to attend schools in Maine, RI, CT (even UConn), Long Island, NJ, PA, VA, or other regions of the US. He’s done with religious education and small schools and is looking for a larger, more diverse campus that doesn’t require a flight to/from home - hence parts of the Northeast.
Coming from a multi-generational Cornell family with an active alum as a parent, could you Chance My Kid for Arts & Sciences as ED? Academically, he’s shown he rises to the challenge and is resilient, ethical, and talented - he’s frequently referred to as a “good citizen” which may sound lame here but is very much in keeping with our values. His dad and I have strong marketing backgrounds, and know what Cornell is looking for with the essays, have both been alumni admission volunteers for our alma maters, but it’s hard to be objective when it’s your kid.
I worry about his SATs even though Cornell is test-optional; I worry about his GPA even though he pulled a 3.7 last year. I looked at Naviance (not overly helpful for a small Catholic school - and I saw that for nearly all of their admits, average GPA was below school mean GPAs, which I find encouraging. With Covid, we’re behind in the timeline and can’t tour a lot of campuses but are going where we can this summer & fall. He doesn’t have the superstar resume that a lot of the nearby prep schools could have offered him but he did a lot with what he had available especially in the last 18 months.
Second, Match My Kid? In addition to Cornell, we’re looking at Colgate, Syracuse, BU, Tufts, UNH, American University, GWU, Georgetown (probably too far of a reach), U of MD College Park, Others???
In my head I have a theoretical list but he knows so little about these schools, let alone colleges in general:
Reach: Cornell, Tufts, BU
Reasonable: UNH, American, GW
Safety: U of MD, UMass Amherst
I understand this is his process, not mine or his father’s. We may hire a private college counselor to help with the selection to further remove us from any bias - it worked well for my brother and his sons. I’m looking for more ideas of schools and thoughts on his SATs. I also need perspective if being a 4th generation Cornellian who really wants the breadth and freedom of thought that defines the university would make much difference.