Desperate for help selecting a college!

Hello. I’m currently a Jr and I’m drowning in college info! Need help finding a good “fit” for myself. Due to COVID, I can’t visit schools and I’m nervous about that. I’ll give my stats but I’d like to hear about ALL possibilities, including safeties, reaches, and targets. I’m not asking you to chance me, but just tell me which schools might be a good fit. Anyway, I am ranked 3 of 767, have 4.0 UW and 111 weighted. (That’s how my school gives our weighted). I will have taken 11 APs after senior year and have 4’s and 5’s on them all. I made 1450 on NMSQT and then 1430 SAT. (I know, I know…it sucks for some of the elite schools) 32 on ACT but didn’t study for it. Really don’t want to excessively study for a test (I have a lot of other stuff to do) so it may just be what it is. I think I want to major in math (preferably applied math but don’t know that for certain because well, I’m only 17!) I may consider engineering also but I’m currently ok with a LAC that doesn’t have engineering. I’m a fairly chill person (not extrovert, not introvert). Most would say I’m a nerd because I love Star Wars, Legos, and reading history. However, I’m social and have lots of diverse and wonderful friends. I’m willing to go ANYWHERE in the country and don’t care about weather. My main interests are finding a decent math program and an inclusive campus full of other intellectual but fun people that will take me in and not judge me. I am not interested in Greek life or parties but want a campus that will engage in fun together (like midnight nerf wars, buggy races, garbage boat regattas…that kind of fun). I prefer staying away from super large schools, more than 30k. I work very hard but I also don’t want to be around people that never leave their rooms and just study ALL the time. That would depress me. I am not athletic at all, so don’t care about that. I like warm and welcoming people. I know some of the places that I describe are going to be impossible to get into or are super expensive, but toss them out there anyway. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Thank you for your help!

Check out Harvey Mudd, Pomona, Amherst, Bryn Mawr, and Wellesley


What state do you live in and how much can you afford per year?

1 Like

To the last poster: I’m male, so Wellesley is out unless they want to make an exception. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I live in Texas and would like to get out of here. I don’t want to make money a consideration because some privates offer better money, making it almost equivalent to my state school. OOS schools will likely be more expensive for me but I want to consider them anyway, just in case I can snag a merit scholarship. My brother went to an OOS school and received significant merit money. So basically, I’m open to all schools for now. I will cross them off the list when I see what financial offers they make. Make sense? My parents are willing to let me go ED if I decide I LOVE any particular school but that is hard to decide during COVID.

1 Like

Check and see if Texas has any tuition reciprocity agreements too.

1 Like

You do sound like a good person for a LAC. However, none of the college in @dragonflies1 list have merit except perhaps Bryn Mawr, which is another woman’s only college.

You could look at Macalaster and St Olaf in MN, Oberlin in OH, Rhodes College in TN, Denison College in OH, Lawrence in WI, and ST Lawrence in NY.
For somewhat larger schools, you could look at Tulane in NOLA, Case Western Reserve in OH, Colorado School of Mines, or Northeastern in Boston.

For public schools, Miami University in Ohio or UVT (if you don’t mind the cold).

All have great mathematics, and also have different amounts of merit money.

Good luck!

1 Like

Thank you!

I’m a current senior and it sounds like what you’re looking for/the type of student you are is very similar to me! (the only differences being that I am not so suited for a math major and I’m a girl so I applied to several women’s colleges lmao) I would absolutely agree that a LAC sounds like a really good fit, particularly ones like Amherst, Harvey Mudd, and Williams for those top LACs as they’re all very intellectual but also community driven. For some LACs down the rankings I’d recommend Oberlin (VERY known for wacky yet studious folks) and Lafayette. Another recommendation is Vassar, which is similar to Oberlin but slightly more academically rigorous.
On the other hand, a midsized private university could also definitely fulfill what you’re looking for, such as Northwestern, Tufts, and Carnegie Mellon. I know we aren’t looking to study the same things (I will be entering as a sociology and music double major) but I do think our personalities are very similar, so I’ve put my list below. Best of luck with everything and feel free to reach out with any questions!!

  1. Amherst
  2. Barnard
  3. Brown
  4. Bryn Maw
  5. Columbia
  6. Emory
  7. Lafayette
  8. Loyola Chicago
  9. Northwestern
  10. Oberlin Arts and Sciences
  11. Pomona
  12. Smith
  13. Swarthmore
  14. Tulane
  15. UNC Chapel Hill
  16. Vanderbilt
  17. Vassar
  18. WashU
  19. Wellesley
  20. Yale

Thanks for the list! I will research those places now.
I sometimes worry that a large school is too large and a small school too small. Maybe midsize is what I need but they seem to be somewhat rare or they are technical schools with mostly male populations. (Yuck) And ALL the schools I think would be a good fit for me are hard reaches. Ugh. So frustrating. :weary:


University of Rochester is worth a look.


Totally understandable! When I started looking into colleges sophomore year, and honestly even about a year ago, I had a completely different list of schools than the one I ended up with. Even now, if I could go back I would take off all the southern schools except Emory (my parents went there) and maybe even some of the midwestern ones too. Hindsight is 20/20 :sweat_smile: I don’t regret applying to so many schools especially since so many are reaches, but if you do the same be prepared to feel veryyy burned out after

What level of math will you reach in High School? One of the issues with LAC’s is that a very advanced math student can run out of classes.

I’ve run out of math (will complete Calc BC this year) and so I’m going to have to take a college class senior year. Looking into a number theory or linear algebra…something like that.

Emory was on my list. They have a great math program. Is it a bad fit for a geek that doesn’t party? I’m sure just by being a math major, I’ll find my people. But I don’t want to feel like I’m the only guy not going to a frat party on the weekends.

Emory is a great fit for that.

For what I know about it, I definitely think you’d still fit in at Emory, vs tulane, for example, I feel has more of a reputation for mostly students who do like to party every weekend. I was accepted into Emory last week and so i’ve been looking into it a lot more over the past few days and I think you’d still be a good fit there.

I think you need a larger university, with a good math department, good engineering, and liberal arts. Not an engineering-only type of school. Don’t worry about the social life. If you go to a big school, there will be plenty of people you meet through classes and gaming club, and whatever other interests you have, who will not be interested in going to keg parties at the frats.

You also need to have a very frank conversation with your parents about money. For example, Carnegie Mellon might be great for you, but they don’t usually offer much aid, unless your family is low-income. Ivies tend to offer financial aid IF YOU NEED IT, but most upper middle class families wouldn’t qualify. You need to find out what your parents can contribute, and also run a financial aid calculator for, say, Penn or Cornell or Columbia, so that you can get an idea of what they might be expected to contribute.

Clearly, UT Austin. All the Ivies with highly ranked engineering - Columbia, Penn, Cornell, etc. Most of the big, highly respected state U’s with good engineering - U Mich, U Va, Wisconsin, U Illinois Urbana Champaign, U Washington, Purdue, etc. Highly respected private schools with good engineering - Emory is one of them, but there are many, like Union, Vanderbilt, Rice, Lehigh, Boston U, Northwestern, etc.

The problem is that if you need LOTS of merit money, you’re going to have to consider lesser schools that have engineering, math, and liberal arts, who would give you a whopping scholarship, maybe a full ride, because you are such an outstanding applicant, meaning, the other students that wind up there are NOT. If it were me, I would most DEFINITELY choose UT Austin over much less competitive schools that are likely to give you a ton of money, because even though the professors there will be fine, the level of your classmates will not match you.

Another way to narrow the list is to consider where you want to be. For example, Trinity College in Hartford CT might be right for you - but it’s in a terrible slum neighborhood, would NOT be my choice at all. Penn State might be right for you - it’s in a rural area, but it’s so big that State College becomes its own world in itself, as long as you’re not looking for the cultural amenities of a major city. Columbia might be right for you, if you can get in, afford it, and like the idea of living in NYC.

I understand that you want to get out of Texas, and that you’re willing to go anywhere. Find out what your parents can afford, and consider the environment you’d be comfortable with - cow fields plus tiny college town, big state U college town, big city, suburbs, quality of environs, and try to narrow down your list that way. Right now, your criteria seems to be finding the place that will be the right social fit for you. Any large, highly selective school, or large flagship state U that has an honors college, will have people like you.


In that case you’ll fit right in with St Olaf math students. It’d be a good match if you demonstrate interest (they offer merit but it’s very competitive, so it can’t be a safety).

I’m beginning to think you’re right about the large universities. My preferred state school will likely put me in honors and spoil me a bit because my stats are great for that school. Honors could make a large school seem smaller

1 Like

If you will be taking math beyond calculus BC while in high school, check carefully the upper level (and graduate) math offerings, particularly at smaller colleges. You may want to take a look at the offerings at UT Austin and other state flagships as baselines for comparison. But be aware that some topics like statistics or operations research may be in either their own departments or combined into the math department.

1 Like