College list for “average” student

My D20 is trying to start finalizing her list. She has a lot of colleges that she likes. (most of these we have visited) so we are just trying to put the list in categories so we can start narrowing it down. Her GPA is a 3.74 with average rigor (couple AP’s, couple honors) and an upward trend since 9th grade. Apparently our school does not check the “rigor box” for applications. 99% of students go on to 4yr college. They also do not rank. She has a 30 ACT with really strong scores in reading (35) and English (33). Her EC’s are pretty minimal partly because she was in a really bad accident at the end of freshman year and spent a lot of her after school time at PT. Major will be English, journalism, or psychology.

Here is her list so far:

Hobart & WS
St Olaf*

College of Wooster (high match?)
Loyola MD*

Ohio Wesleyan

(*haven’t visited yet so may come off the list)

We have run the NPC’s on all of these and they are all coming in as affordable. $50k is max budget but would love to come in under $40k. First 3 safeties all have $30k guaranteed merit for her stats. Will not apply to 15 schools but willing to cast a fairly large net to see what merit $$ she gets. A lot of the applications are free and most don’t require supplements so they seem pretty easy. Plan so do do some EA and then maybe drop some from RD if she already has some good options.

My main question is, do you think her schools are listed in the correct categories? Any schools you would add? Does she need more or higher reaches? Naviance is not much help because many of these schools have had minimal or no applicants from our school.

I think she would benefit from adding more schools toward the higher end of her selectivity range. Maybe St. Lawrence? Even some of her currently listed reaches may represent matches of some type.

I should add colleges we looked at but she didn’t like:

Providence College
Roanoke College
Univ of Scranton

We are also not eligible for FA so just looking at merit $.

I think she is looking good. Which Likely schools are EA? It’s nice to get that bird in hand early.

I agree that Denison is an excellent addition to the list because it is need blind in admissions as well as meeting 100% of need.

I think you have a good, realistic list. Congrats!

St. Olaf is a great school! Hopefully your D will like it when you visit.

Butler fits the vibe of some of the others too.

Has she considered Skidmore?

@cptofthehouse @merc81 For some reason, she just didn’t like Denison. I was disappointed as I thought it would be a great reach school. She thinks St Lawrence is just too remote.

Forgot about Skidmore. That one is on her current research list. It is driveable for us so we will probably visit it this fall if she likes it and if the NPC looks like it is a viable option.

She probably will get nice merit at LoyolaMD with her stats.
You could add Clark (strong psych department) and College of the Holy Cross as reasonable reaches

St. Michael’s College - vibrant college scene with UVM and Champlain College nearby. Good merit aid available.

You might want to take a look at the thread for Parents of the HS Class of 2020 - 3.0 to 3.4 GPA. Your daughter’s stats are a bit higher, but there is a lot of good thinking there.

Here is the scoop: those schools you have on your list are combos of not being need blind in admissions and not guaranteeing to meet full need. That makes them a bit dicier in the chances of acceptable acceptances.

I’d like to see a guaranteed affordable safety in the list though otherwise I think it’s a great list, well put together None of those schools guarantee a dime of financial aid and you need it to make them work The fact if the matter is that there are very few private schools that come in guaranteed at under $50k if student wants to live there. Financial aid packages and a lot of merit money often not awarded until spring even at EA schools.

Add a state school that is sure to take her, you can even afford OOS costs as a true safety with EA or rolling admissions. Then all set to go.

Private schools you want to be very careful with because they’re notorious for short-changing students at the last minute. Trust me, it happens every year in spring on this website like clockwork, and kids wind up spending their first year at community college. This is why these schools shouldn’t be put on the list as a safety school, unless there’s a guaranteed scholarship or you’re very certain you can cover the tuition.

I recommend putting down a good in-state flagship university as the ultimate safety just in case you run into that scenario.

My d had a similar profile and looked at many of the same colleges. I’d categorize Hobart & WS and Gettysburg as matches. My d got good merit from Gettysburg. If you add Holy Cross and Skidmore, I’d classify those as reaches. Some others you might want to look into are Wheaton (MA)-safety and great merit; Allegheny (loved the English profs)-safety and great merit; Ithaca-safety, not sure on merit; Conn College-reach, not sure on merit.

OP has visited Clark and Denison , both of which check several boxes; however, the student crossed it off the list. I agree with taverngirl that Wheaton is worth a look.

@coolguy40 @cptofthehouse thanks for your posts. I am considering those 3 as “safeties” because they have guaranteed merit for her stats. All 3 have guaranteed $30k scholarships that she would qualify for so I guess I’m confused as why they wouldn’t be financial and academic safeties. I will double check on the requirements for renewal but in meeting with the counselors at each school, they did assure us they would be renewable all 4 years. She doesn’t like our directional schools and our state flagship is too big for her physically (she has lingering walking issues from her accident). I actually think her 3 safeties are her top choices at this point even if she gets into some of her matches and reaches.

@taverngirl Thank you for the suggestions. We did look at Conn College and she didn’t like it. I do have Wheaton on our visit list but she thinks it’s too close to home but I am going to make her look at it, esp if she gets cold feet at the last second about being so far from home. I think Ithaca is too big and hilly for her physically. For some reason, Holy Cross does not seem to love our HS. Only 1 kid got in this year out of 20 that applied and a lot of those kids got into other top colleges but maybe we’ll throw it in as a reach. Glad to hear your D did so well with similar stats!

Strong in reading & English with a 30 ACT suggests that Kenyon College in Ohio may be of interest to your daughter, although I doubt that there would be any offer of a merit scholarship.

You might want to check out some public LACs. St. Mary’s College of Maryland should come in under $50K (OOS) even without any aid. IMO, it is about as strong as most of the schools on your list (or maybe all of them, unless I’m missing something about your needs.)

I think your list is good. I’d classify Hobart and Gettysburg matches in terms of admission rather than reaches. You might add a couple of more selective schools – Skidmore (mentioned above) is a good option. Perhaps also look into Franklin & Marshall, Fairfield (more suburban) and/or Fordham (more urban).

As an aside, you might want to consider asking her guidance counselor to mention her accident and need for PT in his/her recommendation.

New College of Florida is a public LAC with an OOS scholarship that brings tuition down by half, so tuition per year would be $15k.

My S has similar stats and got a nice merit package from Loyola MD, smaller merit from Elon (but their tuition is less, so I think percentage wise the offer was equal, plus she could apply for Fellows (like Honors) with those stats which brings more merit money, and BTW he is now a freshman there). Holy Cross I loved for him but he didn’t apply and it was pretty reachy. If you like Jesuit schools, Loyola of Chicago maybe? Or too big? He also got a great merit aid package from there. Also great merit from St. Joseph U (another Jesuit school I believe). I always thought that S should apply to Rhodes…it fit all his boxes, but he didn’t.