College list; help me narrow down?

<p>Here's my list. I'd like to eliminate at least five schools but I just can't decide which:
-Boston College
-Boston University
-Claremont McKenna College
-Columbia University
-Georgetown University
-Pomona College
-Stanford University
-UC Berkeley
-University of Michigan
-University of Washington
-Western Washington University
-Williams College
Western Washington is my biggest safety school, considering that I'd be paying in state tuition and I could probably get a good merit scholarship. Stanford is a huge reach but I think I at least would have a shot.
I'm a rising sophomore but I'd like to start seriously thinking about college now. I had a 4.0 GPA last year with two honors classes. By the time I graduate, I will have taken 15 honors classes and 7 or 8 AP's
I took the PSAT as a freshman and got a 177. I didn't take geometry my freshman year (my school has you take Algebra 2/Trig first) so the math section was kind of a hot mess.
I'm not going to list all my EC's right now, but I'm very involved in school, my dance studio and community service.
I'm looking to major in psychology or political science, and possibly double major with either philosophy or Spanish. I want to be a public interest lawyer so a college that has a good reputation for admission to good law schools would be a definite plus. So which colleges on my list do you think are good matches, or can you recommend any others? If you need more information I'm happy to provide(: Thank you!</p>

<p>To be brutally honest, I don't think you have even a remote shot at Stanford, Pomona, or Berkeley unless you happen to have INCREDIBLE extracurriculars/legacy status/hooks in general. Same for Columbia. And Williams. And Georgetown. And Boston College. Even Michigan is becoming more difficult to be accepted to.</p>

<p>I'm interested in knowing how you compiled this list, as 8 out of the 12 schools here are high reaches for a LOT of people. And to be honest, without standardized test scores, no one on CC will be able to accurately estimate where you're likely to get in. Do well in school, keep up the EC involvement, and worry about actually finding schools where you'll fit, not running down the top 25 colleges according to USNWR.</p>

<p>I didn't even start visiting colleges until the summer before junior year, and even that was early at my school. Seriously. Enjoy the next year while you can. It's just going to become more difficult after that. Visit schools junior year, get your standardized test scores, and you'll have a much better idea of where you're likely to get--and fit--in.</p>

<p>Oh, and one more thing: really load up on those honors and AP classes. If you really are interested in attending tier-1 and tier-2 colleges, the rigor of your high school schedule plays a pivotal role in the admissions process. A 3.7 GPA while taking all AP's beats a 4.0 with only two honors classes. That's my opinion, at least.</p>

<p>OP, I'm not sure Cowboy realized you are a rising sophomore. You have plenty of time to get the standardized test scores up (make sure you're ready for the PSAT as a Junior because that counts for Nat'l Merit). It's early to start targeting schools. Take the hardest classes you can and do well in them. You'll need to talk to your parents about what college costs they can afford. UMich and UCB will cost >$50K/year for an OOS student.</p>

<p>^I understand why you would think that I didn't realize OP was so young, but I was aware. It's just that, honestly, most kids who get into those top-tiered schools have taken THE MOST RIGOROUS courseload right from the get-go. With only two honors classes freshman year, I think the OP should be somewhat concerned about their shot at any of the 8 "reach" schools I mentioned in my first post.</p>

<p>Of course, you are correct in saying that there's a lot of time for improvement. However, my personal recommendation would be to lighten the load on the academic powerhouses, as that's a lot of prestigious universities for even the most qualified candidates. The OP is doing the correct thing in trying to narrow down the list. </p>

<p>Here's what I advocate: focus on just one or two reaches (schools you have a shot at, but still wouldn't be surprised if you were rejected at). Then choose 2-3 matches (schools you fit the bill for, but still aren't shoe-in for admission). Finally, have 2-3 safety schools where you're almost positive you'll be offered admission. Keep in mind that it's usually a good idea to have an academic safety as well as a financial safety (a school you KNOW you can afford, regardless of merit/need-based scholarships or grants).</p>

<p>Again, it's hard to have a list of schools without any standardized test info, so don't worry about it too much. You already have a rough set though, which is good. Stay focused, work hard, and most important, VISIT THE SCHOOLS. Just because you've heard people rave about Stanford's academic prestige and Hispanic-influenced architecture doesn't mean that you'll share their common sentiment. Look for a good fit, and whatever you do, do NOT be a "prestige whore;" you'll only regret it in the end.</p>

<p>^maybe their school only has 2 honors classes available to freshmen. I know my school has very limited options in terms of advanced classes for underclassmen.
That being said, it's important to take advantage of all the options given to you and if you find yourself unchallenged look outside of your school. Community college classes are always a good option and oftentimes can be more interesting than high school classes.
I agree that your list is heavy on the reaches but I think it's ok to set high goals for yourself especially so early in your high school career. However once you have your test scores and resume completed it's important to be realistic. (stick around this site and you will definitely gain some perspective...and get knocked down a few pegs)
For now, do more research on the schools you've listed. Figure out why you like them and what opportunities they have to offer. Once you can identify those things you'll know what to check for when it comes time to find matches and finalize your official college list.</p>

<p>thank you so much for your honest opinions. There are only two honors classes available to freshman so I signed up for them both. I plan on taking almost if not all the AP's available to me throughout the next three years.
I am a legacy at Pomona and Western Washington, if that might affect my chances. I've done research on almost all of the schools and I like them all for different reasons, but I agree wholeheartedly that I have too many reach schools. That's why I'm trying to eliminate a few of them. But like you both said, there's only so much I can do until I have test scores...</p>

<p>^Haha, ok, well obviously I was wrong about the course load. Like we've all suggested, keep taking advantages of all the opportunities available and strive for perfection. Just don't get too caught up in looking "good." Do the things you enjoy, but do them well, and you'll be fine.</p>

<p>As far as eliminating colleges go, my best advice is to visit and take any tours/information sessions available. In my opinion, it's the best (though probably not the easiest) way to find out info about the schools and see if you'd really fit in there. Another thing you can do is look at surrounding areas; maybe you love California, and most of your reach schools could be from that area (Pomona, Stanford, Berkeley, etc.). However, if you'd like to branch out, then choose one California school, and then maybe somewhere else (Columbia, BC, Williams, etc.). Again, it's a good idea to visit and get an overall idea of the atmosphere at the schools.</p>

<p>Good luck with everything! Enjoy your time in high school while it lasts!</p>