I would like some help shortening my college list as I only want to apply to 10-15 schools and I currently have like 20 (and too many reaches).
The biggest things I am looking for in a school: strong IR/social studies programs, good connections and career/grad school placement, lively social scene that is not only centered around partying, diversity, close-knit collaborative student body, a good location that has both nature and urban aspects nearby. Also preferably not long cold winters but that’s not the most important factor.

This isn’t a chance me thread so I’m not gonna share a bunch of personal information, all I will say is that I’ve taken a good amount of APs, have never gotten a B in high school, and am aiming for 1450-1500 when I take the SAT (whenever test centers open).

Amherst College
Brown University
Claremont McKenna College
Colorado College
Georgetown University
Macalester College
Middlebury College
Occidental College
Pitzer College
Scripps College
Tufts University
University of San Diego
University of Southern California
U Washington
Vassar College
Wesleyan University

What’s your home state and budget?

cost is not really a concern and I’m from Oregon– I want to get out of Oregon to experience something new for sure. would prefer to stay on the west coast but am open to east coast schools as well if I like them enough

Amherst, Middlebury, Wesleyan, and Vassar are all rural, so while they have nature, there are no urban aspects, and all have long and cold winters.

Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Scripps, Occidental, Brown, USC, UCLA, UCSD, U Washington, Macalester, University of San Diego, Tufts, and Colorado College are all urban or suburban, with little or no nature to speak of (especially USC and UCLA).

Close knit and collaborative would suggest a smaller school, and I think that the UCs and USC would have less of this.

All have great social sciences and international relations, but nothing beats Georgetown for international relations.

In general, I would remove colleges which are too similar.

Keep Georgetown and Brown should likely go.

Maybe replace CMC with Pomona, and drop Pitzer

Keep Occidental.

Drop two of Berkeley, UCLA, or USC.

Drop UCSD.

Why U San Diego?

Keep two or three from Amherst, Middlebury, Tufts, Vassar or Wesleyan.

Keep Macalester and drop Colorado College

Keep Scripps only if you are interested in attending a woman’s only college.

Why U Washington?

Check with your school’s Naviance to see whether Occidental, Macalester, and Scripps are low reaches, high targets or targets.

Out of state public universities are not normally considered safeties, particularly since you have highly ranked ones and Universities of California on your list.

What are your safeties?

I think of UCLA and Cal and USC as being very different from Amherst or Middlebury College or Colorado College or the other LACs on your list.

My guess is that Middlebury probably has the coldest winters on your list, and is probably not the easiest to get to from Oregon. Amherst would not be very far behind, although it is in a very attractive location IMHO.

Thank you for your input! I know Midd is quite remote but I’m just very attracted to their strong IR dept and great outdoors scene. And based on my school’s Naviance pretty much anyone with a 3.9+ and 1350+ gets into UCSB, UCSD and UW so I’m counting those as my safeties, along with oxy. Does that make sense?


@MWolf UW and USD are my safety schools. Why the recommendation to drop brown and why replace CMC w Pomona?

Middlebury offers a very strong and popular IR program (known as IGS there).

I know you are trying to shorten your list, but if you are serious about IR, you might want to look at the joint degree program sponsored by William & Mary and St. Andrews in Scotland. Students spend two years at each school and end up with degrees from both. St. Andrews is known for its IR program.

From the NE LAC group: Based on your IR interests, I’d keep Tufts, Midd and Amherst.

Wesleyan and Vassar are more geared towards artsy students. Beautiful campuses located in ok, but not amazing towns/small cities.

Based on your academic interests, consider keeping these schools:

Claremont McKenna

Connecticut College would fit your mix; regarding the LACs in the Massachusetts consortium, the most strongly developed IR program may belong to MHC; if you would like a modestly challenging admit on the West Coast, consider UPS.

That might be true too a certain degree but I can’t get over the extent to which Wesleyan in particular also seems to produce major league sports movers and shakers: the head coach of the New England Patriots; the general manager of the Chicago Cubs; and lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). :smile:

Note that, at an average low temperature of 7.2° on January mornings, St. Paul often experiences colder winter weather than Middlebury (8.8°).

(Data from Sperling’s.)