D21 journey

I didn’t start a thread like this for S19 but I’ve read a few recently and I kind of love them so I’m going to start a thread here on D21’s college admissions search and I hope I’ll get some good advice and support along the way!

D21 is a strong student. Honors in all subjects currently with a 3.75 GPA and a weighted GPA of 4.4. She’s the kind of student who leans more English/History than Math/Science but can hold her own in the STEM classes by just grinding it out. She’d be happier writing papers than doing math and science problem sets but she does what needs to be done to survive in those STEM classes. Our high school is a hyper competitive, large public school with the top 10% of kids going to elite universities. Kids get into Ivies when they are legacies or athletes but that’s pretty much the way it goes and no other types of students get into those schools. Multiple kids go to schools like Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Duke, Emory, etc. LACs are not popular but that’s where S19 focused his search and D21 will have mostly LACs on her list as well.

She’s not sure of major yet. Thinking political science, English, history, psychology, communications…just not math or science. No idea what she wants to do as a career. We are cool with that. S19 is the same way.

She’s not as “intellectual” as S19 - won’t sit around and discuss philosophy at night, etc., but does love a good political debate. “Fun” in terms of school spirit is more important to her than it was to S19. She’s a dancer and may want to dance extracurricularly in studio or as a member of the dance team for football/basketball. She’s outgoing and social.

She’s been taking practice ACTs and self-studying for a while. Wasn’t happy with her last score and is going back in tomorrow for another test. Had a decent PSAT that went up almost 200 points from last year so she may switch to SAT if this ACT doesn’t go up. I’d like her to get to a 31 or 32 ACT or 1400 SAT. She’s hit a 31 in ACT practice but was pretty short of that on the actual test she took in October.

We are full pay. Bleh. I think she would get merit at Denison and Furman but S19 had merit from some of his acceptances and we didn’t make him go to those schools and agreed to be full pay for him. That begs the question of whether we let D go ED somewhere in order to get a bump in admissions even though we would be giving up seeing any merit at some of the schools on her list.

Her very tentative list includes:

William and Mary
U Richmond
Wake Forest

Maybe - Santa Clara, Bates, Boston College, Villanova, Washington and Lee

We are visiting Davidson, Richmond, W&L and William and Mary this spring.

Until she gets a higher ACT or SAT, we are kind of in a holding pattern. Can’t wait to see where she ends up!

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This is terrific! can’t wait to see how the journey unfolds for her. Can we ask questions, or do you prefer for this just to be your narrative?

@RayManta ask away!

I should probably say that out school does not grade inflate. Top decile of students are usually anyone above 3.8 unweighted. She will probably be there by the end of the year.

Have you considered adding Lafayette and Franklin and Marshall? I think she will like Wake Forest.

My dancer relative focused on colleges with available dance majors (though she will major in something else), and decided to apply ED to Richmond. She just completed her first semester and likes the school a lot.


I’m fascinated by the line that she likes writing papers. Does she, or does she have any interest in, writing fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry? There are many outlets/journals that encourage teens to write by offering prizes and publishing their work–I think it’s actually easier to be published as a teen than it is as an adult, in fact. If that’s something that interests her, it’s a way to demonstrate that interest and really stand out, especially if she could say, “I’ve been published in these five journals,” instead of just a one-shot deal.

@twogirls I’m not sure about the PA schools. It’s generally hard to get to them from Chicago and no one applies to them from our school. It’s just a hard sell to both D and my H when there will hopefully be other options. S19 was accepted to Dickinson EA with $20k merit and my H was like “tell me again why he applied there?”

D did meet with a rep from Lehigh who came to our school. She thought he was just ok. He didn’t seem very enthusiastic and that turned her off.

@RayManta I have thought about her entering some writing contests and she will enter one we have here in Illinois. She and her teacher are trying to decide which essay to send. She has very little to no time to write except for what she’s assigned in class and those are typically non-fiction argumentative essays or personal stories. I don’t think she’s written any fiction since sixth grade. Lol. But she does get so excited to write those essays. I think her common app essay will be very strong.

@merc81 Richmond is high on the list although we haven’t visited yet. Is your D dancing with the University Dancers? I think our D would love that and it would be the perfect amount of dance for her.

@merc81 Ah. Just realized it’s not your D at Richmond but another family member. Would still like to know though! If you happen to talk to her, ask her about University Dancers! Lol!

I assume that by watching your son’s process unfold, she has a sense of the type of school she wants to attend, even if she is unable to articulate it yet. The approach we took with my daughter (the older child, so slight difference there) was to visit school after school starting from when she was a sophomore, just to let those thoughts germinate. We’d compare two schools–Did you like Penn better or Haverford better? Why?–and over time she had developed an informal list of criteria that were important to her. We even tested it–she didn’t want to go to a large school, and we figured if there was any place that would make her rethink that, it was UVa, but no dice (although the UVa trip allowed her to discover that she liked older schools with a sense of tradition, so it was still valuable).

I see that there are a number of southern school on the list–by southern I guess I mean the Va/NC area. Do you think that is an accident, or that she wants to go to a warmer locale where life may be a little slower-paced? There aren’t many smaller schools down here, but one that you’ve missed that seems to be getting some high marks recently is Elon, which was recently elevated to the “national university” list on USNWR from the “regional” list. Other than that, I don’t know much about it.

What about Tennessee? There’s both Sewanee and Rhodes, which I don’t know much about but fascinate me.

@RayManta She thinks she prefers warm weather, yes. She visited Davidson and W&M when we were there with S19 and liked Davidson a lot. She’s been to Bowdoin and Colby as well and really just likes the idea of a true campus with a little town to walk to. Colby’s town was too far away. From S19’s early experience, I think Bowdoin would be too intense for her. She has friends at BC who are really enjoying it (a bit too much if you ask me) but we aren’t sure about the Jesuit aspect. It would be nice for her to be near S19 and she would like that. BUT he’ll be abroad part or some of junior year so he won’t even be in Maine when D is a freshman.

Jury is still out on Elon for us. Really hard to get a grasp of it for some reason. They want to compare themselves to places like Richmond or Wake but i just don’t get the feeling they are even close academically and the school seems very focused on internships and jobs. Not a bad thing but also not really her cup of tea for undergrad. Also, she would ideally be surrounded by students similar to her. That was a big thing for S19 and D agrees with that. She’s not really looking to be a big fish in a small pond. That being said, her safeties will probably be schools like that. Not sure how to avoid that unless she goes big university route and she doesn’t want that. We visited UW Madison and she said no way. Too big.

Tennessee? Hm. Again, not really looking to add schools. I’m sure Sewanee and Rhodes could be ok for her but no one goes there from our school and I think her list is long enough.

Well this will be fun to see the process unfold for you the second time around! I like that list and think your D will like Wake. All the kids I know who go there seem to love it. I would have loved for S19 to visit Colgate but we just couldn’t make it happen. It was a big contender after acceptance though. I think I’ve mentioned to you that my D17 and I loved Davidson and it was one of her final choices in the end. I wouldn’t exactly describe it as “fun” though - seems pretty intense academically and maybe more comparable to Bowdoin in that way than others on her list. Both of my kids really liked Richmond and both were accepted - it seems like it has so much to offer and a good location. Furman may be more conservative than others on the list but when D17 and I visited it was less so than what we thought going in. Love Greenville, which is about 15 minutes from campus.
Good luck to her with the next ACT!

Aw thanks @elena13 ! Did your kids do EA or RD to Richmond?

And, yes, I think Davidson is a little bit of an outlier. It’s there because she visited and liked it and apparently kids do go to football and basketball games unlike Bowdoin. It could be a grind though. We are comfortable with it as a family since S19 was down to Bowdoin and Davidson in the end and I know a lot about the school. I can’t wait for her to see Richmond, Wake, and Davidson on the same trip and see how she compares them.

That will be a fun trip! As you know, I was deprived of more college visits with my difficult son, so I’ll have to live through you. :smiley:
I feel like Richmond didn’t have EA when my D applied but I could be wrong, so she did RD. S19 also applied RD since he was doing a SCEA app.

Sorry if you answered this but Tulane? Could get merit with a little better ACT?

Hi @socaldad2002 You know, maybe. The deal with our high school is that 20 or so kids apply EA or RD each year and they ALL get waitlisted, even the tippy top ones. Only ED athletes get in. I don’t know if it’s worth adding unless she could choose to make it ED. I’ll have her look at their website. I’m not sure how I feel about NOLA and she also wants a campus where she can live in housing at least three years if not four. She’s not interested in having to find off campus housing. For some reason, I feel like that’s a thing at Tulane. Again, I will look. Thanks!

Would you consider visiting Hamilton since you will be upstate visiting Colgate? The two schools are not far from one another…I think may 30-40 minutes. What about Oxford at Emory? She would be there for 2 years and then automatically transition to Emory.

Based on the list of schools in the original post in this thread, it seems clear that your daughter prefers schools which are a bit on the conservative side.

The College of William & Mary might be a reach for a few reasons including the pronounced male / female imbalance of 42% / 58%. Plus, I believe that it may be more difficult for non-residents to get admitted.(Both UVA & Wm. & Mary are 69% state residents = a limit on non-residents that may be established by Virginia law, although I am not certain.)

Davidson College is somewhat unusual for an LAC in that males exceed females in number of undergraduates.

She should be offered admission to WFU, Furman, the University of Richmond & Denison.

Denison is a very Greek oriented school & heavy party school. Even has a “naked week” during which students run naked through campus. Lately, students may have become a bit more serious about academics–but parties come first !

Some regard Furman University as a strict high school like environment. Beautiful campus & some claim that other students can be judgmental. Your daughter might experience culture shock in this environment. Sororities have a very dominant presence on campus. (If attracted to Furman University, then the University of Alabama’s Honors College may be worth investigating.)

Colgate University & the University of Richmond are both strong schools.

Has your daughter considered Occidental College in Los Angelas or any of the Claremont Colleges (Scripps College, Pitzer, CMC & Pomona) ? Also, if she likes Furman University, then she may want to consider Pepperdine University.

At one point, if I recall correctly, you posted that Texas schools were not being considered. If incorrect, then SMU may be of interest.

Unusual for one to be attracted to both Denison & Furman as they are almost polemic opposites (partiers versus Puritans).

Based on your brief description of your daughter & her interests, I would encourage you to consider Vanderbilt University, Wasington & Lee University, SMU, Bucknell University–although not sure about dance opportunities–in addition to your already designated schools.

In prior posts, I recall that you indicated that Vanderbilt University was unlikely according to her high school’s Naviance profile / results. Personally, I would fight for Vanderbilt University for your daughter in spite of what Naviance indicates.

@Publisher a lot to unpack. First, she’s not looking for a conservative school. She is not conservative politically but also not a SJW. Those southern schools check her box because they have small classes, school spirit, and warm weather.

S19 got into W&M OOS and Naviance shows everyone with her stats also got in. I think they continue to like our high school even though not many kids actually end up there.

We know kids at Denison. I will ask them about the partying. Your Furman comments scare me a bit. Maybe that school is more overtly conservative than I thought. We have a neighbor whose son went there. I will ask them.

I think we will sneak in seeing W&L while we are visiting on spring break.

Santa Clara is possibly on the list yet I doubt she will want to go that far. I love the Claremont Consortium but I think Scripps would be the only one she could get in that makes a little sense but I think those women don’t really match with D. She’s your typical teenager. She’s accepting of all types of people but she’s your stereotypical big high school dance team girl. Did ballet for years and years and was spending 30 hours a week doing that up until six months ago. And she’s very Midwestern. Has a lot of spunk but no edgy-ness if that makes sense.

SMU? Eh. We know kids there. Moms go and stay for weeks while the girls rush. Everyone seems to need or want a car. I just don’t think that’s a great fit.

Unless she blows the ACT or SAT out of the water, Vandy will be a wasted ED. I can stare at Naviance all day long and all of those red checks below a 35 aren’t going to change.