Chance/reverse chance a junior w okay stats, research/STEM/CS

hello i hope you are all doing well… first time posting after stalking forever, need some honest opinions!!


  • US citizen, first gen immigrant if that matters
  • Northern VA
  • Competitive public HS
  • female, asian (indian/south asian)
  • no hooks

Intended Major(s): probably something in CS/bioinformatics

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.6-3.7
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.01 on the 4.0 scale
  • Class Rank: no ranking
  • SAT Scores: 1560 (800 M, 760 RW)
  • gpa is def what i am most worried ab, my gpa rn has been impacted by mental health/home life/addiction stuff, esp during this last year but i had a 3.9 UW/4.2 W before, and am hoping to show an upward trend in senior year and academic capability thru essays/ap scores/additional info. kinda sucks cause a meh gpa will put me out of some good merit money :<


  • by end of hs will have done 11 APs, 9 Honors, 1 DE, 2 Academy classes (which are like tech-ed you have to apply for sorta)
  • 9th grade: Academy STEM Engineering, Spanish 2, all honors
  • 10th grade: AP World (4), AP-CSA (4), Spanish 3, all honors, took debate
  • 11th grade: APUSH (not taking exam), AP Calc AB (projected 3-4), AP Physics 1 (projected 3 if im lucky), AP Lang (projected 5), AP Bio (projected 3-4), Genetics
  • 12th grade: AP Stats, AP Lit, AP Chem, AP Calc BC, Academy Oracle 1 DE, Anatomy, have to take debate as i am a captain


  • ISEF science fair project: 1st place in Comp. Biology at school, 2nd at regionals
  • TSA Essay Writing: 4th at regionals
  • TSA Biotech: 3rd at states, going to nationals
  • 4th at states overall for Congressional debate, 1st in prelim rounds, Outstanding Senator award

Extracurriculars : nothing special, but have tried to stay involved

  • Biochemistry Club, co-president/founder, grew to about 50 students but haven’t been able to do much virtually aside from guest speakers/lab tours/presentations, etc
  • Varsity Girls Tennis all 3 years, captain next year
  • Congress debate for 3 years, captain of team
  • CyberPatriots (cybersecurity) for 2 years, Vice-President/ Linux teacher
  • TSA, applied for leadership
  • Writing Center for 2 years, p hard to get into as a sophomore (which I did), applied for leadership
  • worked/took classes over summers (Kumon, INOVA physical therapy center) applying for internships and another job right now
  • taking an AWS Cloud Practitioner exam this June


  • my essays will be good i am going to work my butt off on them and try and highlight why i struggled so much gradewise this year and what i learned and how i grew etc etc
  • LORs will be debate teacher and coach (9/10, loves me and knows me pretty well) and chem teacher/club sponsor (7/10, not sure how her writing is but she likes me)

Cost Constraints / Budget preferably, in-state or out-of-state with decent merit aid

  • anything up to $35k a year, not including room and board

Schools : really rough list i’m having a hard time figuring out what i can get into realistically, as STEM is pretty competitive, mostly in-state schools based off of naviance

  • VTech: i’d say match/reach, esp in light of class of 26 admissions
  • U Washington: for CS very much a reach
  • UVA: reach
  • William and Mary: match/reach
  • Washington and Lee: match/reach
  • VCU: likely/match
  • GMU: likely/safety
  • UMD: likely/match
  • U Pitt: likely/match
  • Christopher Newport: likely/safety
    the kind of schools i would love to go to, but couldn’t afford or get in, are UC Berkeley, USC, Pomona, Emory, Northwestern, NYU, Boston U, U Georgia, Loyola Marymount, Rutgers
  • big one is i want to be near a city

overall, i really don’t know if i’m being overconfident and how to get more safeties/matches on my list please help

Given your budget constraints, take any OOS public off your list. That includes Berkeley, UGA, Rutgers, UMD, UWashington. Also take NYU off the list. They give terrible aid.

For all the others, run the NPC to see if you will get enough aid. I disagree that you can’t get into places like Pomona. Have a look at Scripps and Northeastern.

Hey! I am a graduating senior year and have some insight that can really help. W&M is a really great school and typically gives great aid—plus you’re in-state which is great! W&L offers great scholarship programs (apply to the Johnson one and you’re automatically considered for the others)—the interview is important though to receive one of those scholarships. They have a very strong alumni network and graduates tend to do very well after undergraduate (they have the money). Wake Forest University is expensive but tends to give great aid too. I would actually say look into UMD because they aren’t as expensive as many of their peer colleges. Good luck! You got this.

Okay, thank you! Scripps looks really good- I wonder what being at an all womens college would be like

How likely is it that I’d get into W&M? I love W&L- Lexington is my favorite- but the stats kind of terrify me. I’ll look into Wake Forest, and definitely try and see how much I could get at UMD! Thank you so much!

Of course! I would stay you have a great shot at W&M—at least for my admissions cycle this year they only had an optional essay besides the Common App main essay. Just remember to do and spend time on that optional essay.

To be honest, W&L is probably a reach for many people—but I feel that if you let them know you really want to attend you have a chance. The college is small and has this “personal” feeling, so what I did was reach out to someone at W&L I know of and talk with that student. I used what the W&L student told me about W&L (traditions they liked, etc) and incorporated that into my W&L supplemental essays. If you can find someone to reach out to, somehow, I think that would be awesome and perhaps you can talk about how you first learned about W&L through them—that’s what I did and I was ultimately admitted. Just an idea.

Yes! Look into Wake Forest—it has a beautiful campus (one of my favorite ones) and really great academics. They also have really great food…

Nonetheless, you have so many great options. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I would gladly help!

oooh will do for W&M, thank u for the advice!

yeah, it definitely looks that way w the admissions rates. I’ll try to ask around to see if anyone knows someone going there, or check FB and stuff. Reaching out to random people has become quite a habit of mine nowadays! Thank you for the idea, I totally see why you were admitted!

ugh food. so important… i took a look at their virtual tour and it really is pretty.

thank you so much for all your help!! i’ll probably have a question here and there, i appreciate it sm!

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I am so proud of you! You sound exactly like a XULA (Xavier University of Louisiana) student! I frequent many college fairs because of all the mentoring I do and you are impressive!

Before I give you feedback on your list I’ll just share why your profile would definitely get you a full tuition ride to XULA…

  1. XULA doesn’t charge out of state tuition and is a private STEM-heavy school.

  2. As soon as you mentioned tennis I recalled the XULA tennis team (many of whom are biology, chemistry, premed majors) won the ITA Small College National Doubles Championships recently in 2019 and the tennis scholarships are very generous if you join the team

  3. You are also on the debate team which is not only Student Government Association material but I do know that the XULA Debate team took home 11 trophies recently at the 2018 Nationals at Wiley College

  4. You mentioned you liked CS or Bioinformatics and you can major or double major in whatever you desire at this STEM focused school whether it’s Computer Science or Bioinformatics or Biomedical Engineering, etc. they have award winning professors such as Dr Kim Zhang who won the 8th IEEE ICDM2008 Data Mining Contest.

  5. And the XULA computer science majors took home FIRST place at the 2018 Be Smart Hackathon. It’s also in New Orleans which is a great city which you mentioned you want a city.

I digress from the rant it’s just your profile is literally what I’ve come across with the XULA students, STEM minds think alike.

Anyway, your list is superb and I have no doubt you’d get into Boston U, UC Berkeley, Northwestern, Emory, USC, I love the researchers over at UPitt so I’m biased there, UMD is great, Vtech and UVA. Don’t be shy go ahead and apply and compare the scholarship packages! If you are worried solely about money I’m being so serious, it’s highly likely you’ll get a full ride offer if you apply to XULA as well.

I’m excited for your future!

@manyapx My daughter attends Scripps. It is different from most women’s colleges because it is in a close knit five college consortium, five colleges within one square mile and there’s a lot of intermingling in classes and clubs and many males on campus.
However, the dorms, core classes, and some clubs will be all female. They have a lot of lovely traditions, though unfortunately Covid has put a dent in it :frowning:

I’ll definitely look more into it- it seems amazing! New Orleans is so pretty and has such great culture- I’m not a fan of heat, but I can definitely get used to it. Thank you so much for your advice, adding it to my list!

Scripps is definitely gorgeous and I like the location. I’m mostly worried about the price, especially as I’d be out of state, but I can look into its merit aid more.

I think Pomona is extremely unlikely. And they don’t give merit aid. Scripps is also expensive but offers merit-- but probably not enough.

In state vs out of state only matters for public universities. Do you qualify for need based financial aid? If you do not, then you need to restrict your search to in state universities and the handful that give excellent merit aid.

Scripps gives limited merit aid but you could give it a shot.
Wake forest may be a good bet for you- excellent academics, not too far from home, and they give merit.

Nope, income is too high, but I don’t want to burden my parents too much (they don’t make enough to afford 70k/year lol). I’m definitely limiting myself to in-state and OOS safeties/LACs I think will give me merit aid :smile: thank you!

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What are my chances at Wake Forest? Looking at their stats it seems hard to get into

@secretpanda shared good advice about taking advantage of talking to current students. Many Admissions Offices offer “meet a student” virtual appointments to talk to current students so you don’t have to try to find one on your own. :slight_smile: My D took advantage of that at W&L when she was preparing her Johnson essay and later when she was deciding whether to accept her admission. At other schools too, but since you mentioned W&L…

I’m a bit unsure of your budget. You said $35k not including R&B. So does this mean your budget is actually around $50k+?

You are lucky to be in VA with a nice selection of public in-state options. For privates that give merit (some more competitive than others), will you consider PA or OH LACs that give good merit? Closer by maybe URichmond, Furman, Rhodes?

Right, after talking it out with my parents through this last month, we’ve settled on maximum price being 40-50k (willing to pay more if they believe the school is worth it). They told me that they’d be willing to sell some real estate to cover costs as well. I’m not horribly worried, but cost will be a deciding factor for me, when it comes down to a few schools. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get merit aid, but not sure if I’m a strong enough candidate.

URichmond and Rhodes I’ve looked at, just not sure how good my chances are there. Also, LACs definitely appeal to me, but it’s hard finding ones that aren’t insanely competitive and still good for STEM. I’ll look into PA and OH schools, thank you!

First off, congratulations for making it through this terrible pandemic year. You are far from alone in having had a less than typical academic year and given your rigor, excellent SAT, good ECs and, yes, still a very solid GPA, I think you remain a strong candidate. Your biggest challenge won’t be your stats, but making sure you can stay in budget. I don’t have a lot to add regarding schools, but you mentioned an interest in Loyola Marymount and I know they do give some merit so it may be worth a look (I would consider it a match for you with your stats). Best of luck!