Help build me a college list :D

I’m a rising senior with pre-med aspirations but a rather clear understanding that I will likely be another statistic that shows how most pre-med kids switch out, so the listed majors below are ones that I genuinely find interesting and will likely UG in.

(Hopeful) majors: Public Health, Neuroscience, Actuarial Science, maybe biostats?

  • I am also interested in the PNP program (Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology) at WashU

Female Asian American, parents earning ~230k per year (colleges spend more money sending me brochures than they will for financial aid lol). My parents are willing to pay for top unis but I know it’ll put significant financial strain on them (my dad’s new job takes him across the country after covid ends and he needs a house) and I’d rather them save that money for med-school, my younger sibling’s education, and/or retirement. I qualify for in-state tuition in Maryland and Florida.

  • University of Florida is already on my list :smiley:

I’m not very into extremely academic schools; for example, uchicago’s “where fun comes to die” kinda scares me (that on top of the vv low acceptance rate). A sense of a close-knit student community is a must! A high professor:student ratio would also be nice, though it’s not a deal breaker. Geographically, anywhere on the North American continent, though somewhere that gets ice-cold would be fun! I’m considering Canadian schools as they cost less and admission seems to be based solely on academic stats rather than the American mix of essays and extracurriculars and the elusive “fit.”

  • McGill seems lovely (went on a campus tour freshman year and was vv taken by it) and UToronto would be chill except for the grade deflation complaints I’ve seen…

GPA (unweighted): 4.0
ACT (not superscored): 36 composite: 35 english, 36 math, 36 science, 36 reading

13 AP classes so far, 6 more next year with 6 dual enrolled courses at a local state uni (I’ve maxxed out my high school, save for the foreign languages and comp sci). I’ve gotten A’s in everything so far and mostly 5’s. Transcript is:

Freshman year:

  • AP Environmental Science - 5, A
    AP World History - 5, A
    Chemistry Honors - A
    Algebra 2 Honors - A
    Latin 2 Honors - A
    English 1 Honors - A

Sophomore Year:

  • AP Art History - 5, A
    AP European History - 5, A
    AP Physics 1 - 4, A
    AP Chemistry - 4, A
    AP Statistics - 5, A
    Pre Calculus BC Honors - A

Junior Year:

  • AP US History - 5, A
    AP Psychology - 5, A
    AP Calculus - 5, A
    AP Physics 2 - 4, A
    AP Language and Composition - 4, A
    AP Biology - 5, A

Senior Year (expected):

  • AP Literature
    AP Calculus AB (for the GPA boost really;;; also b/c I’m likely not taking a math course…)
    AP Physics C
    AP US Government/AP Macroeconomics (they’re one semester courses each)
    AP Microeconomics
    Intro to Philosophy
    Intro to Brain and Behavior
    Ancient Myths East and West
    3 other undecided courses for the spring semester dual enrollment, might take ordinary differential equations if my friends taking it in the fall come out alive :stuck_out_tongue:

Extracurriculars! Treat me kindly; I swear I have the best excuse: rowing~ Crew takes up my waking, sleeping, and all breathing hours.

JV Crew - Freshman Year: 24 hr/wk, 54 wks/year

  • 1st in Freshman Women’s 8+ at Districts
  • 5th in Freshman Women’s 8+ at States
  • and maybe 2 more things at less significant regattas that I don’t remember

Varsity Crew - Sophomore to Senior Year: 24 hr/wk 56 wks/year

  • in the 1st Varsity 8+ (top 8 girls on the team make up this boat) for Sophomore and Junior years, and hopefully Senior year as well!
  • 1st at Districts (2020-21)
  • 5th at States (2021)
  • and more placed things that I can’t share b/c the names of the regattas have locations

Science Olympiad - Sophomore, Junior, Senior Year: 3 hr/wk, 12 wk/year

  • 2nd Anatomy and Physiology at Regionals (Sophomore Year)
  • 4th Water Quality at Regionals (Junior Year)
  • 3rd Ornithology at Regionals (Junior Year)
  • 5th Ornithology at States (Junior Year)
  • 3rd Water Quality at States (Junior Year)

Local High School Volunteer club - Vice President, Sophomore-Senior Year: 2 hr/wk, 50 wks/yr

I got at 1510 on the PSAT so I think I’ll make National Merit come fall.
I also volunteer at a learn to row summer program for 40 hours each summer <3

I think that’s it! Thank you all so much, and if there’s any key info I missed out on, please tell!

You’re afraid of challenging academics. I mean, your record is impeccable.

How do you get in-state at both Maryland and Florida?

Well that’s your safety - so the sky is the limit.

Do you want large like the two you picked, medium like a Rochester, Wake Forest or Emory, or a small LAC - choose any of the top 20 - so your Amherst/Williams…a Wesleyan would be a safety.

What are you seeking?

Both UF and UMD have great Honors Programs - and if you’re looking to save money, they’d be a win. Just not sure how you’ll get in state at both. I’m sure it’s a parent, divorce thing .

Your list can be whatever you want, that has your majors and your desired demographic.


I’m actually not sure about Maryland but I definitely get instate in Florida! Though I do like Maryland b/c I have lots of friends and family there (ya it’s a parent thing ;-; )

Medium preferred over large; you can probably tell I’m not a big fan of stepping out of my comfort zone and large schools where the sheer number of students make it difficult to have a cohesive ‘culture’ seem to push it for me.

I’d love to be at an academically challenging university, though at the end of the day when admission letters come in I’ll likely base my decision on money.

Also thanks for Wake Forest; it seems really cool! I’ll look into it tomorrow :smiley:

If you want mid size and you want south - you can look at FAU’s Wilkes Honors College which has its own campus in Jupiter. Total safety and cheap.

You need to look at schools with merit aid - since money is important to you. You can look at Miami (you’ll get great aid) and if you have bright futures, that will help.

You can apply to schools like Emory, Rice, and WUSTL that have merit aid but it’s difficult to get. Northeastern has merit aid, William & Mary has for a select few, Case Western, Lehigh and the list goes on and on.

Rochester, SMU, Wake Forest, Denver, BU, Elon, and more - honestly the opportunities for you are endless.

If you’d like LACs, schools like Macalester, Kenyon, and more have merit aid.

You may also try for W&L’s Johnson Scholarship.

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Thanks for the reccs! Is there a significant difference between WUSTL and Rice (or is there one you prefer)? Also LAC stands for liberal arts college, right? From what limited things I’ve read, liberal arts colleges offer more rounded education and tends to have the smaller class size; is this it or is there more?

Thank you and sorry for asking so much; I don’t really have anyone to guide me through this whole process.

What I prefer doesn’t matter. WUSTL is in St. Louis and Rice in Houston…both near the city. Both are outstanding - both are hidden gems. Both have possible, but difficult to get merit. Rice has no Greek - they place you in residential colleges like Yale.

The LACs typically don’t offer the pre-professional - i.e. engineering, accounting, etc. but some do. They are smaller, often 1-3K kids. I imagine classes are smaller in general but you can get small classes anywhere - even a Rice/WUSTL/Vandy, etc.

So you need to develop a list of reach (your Harvards), Match, and Safety Schools. Even for you, there are reaches - so you can have your parents go on the Harvard, Yale, etc. Net Price Calculator - see - would you get aid? If not, and it sounds like you won’t, you can take out any school where there’s no chance of merit aid.

UF is a huge school and will have large classes - hence I mentioned the FAU Honors College.

You can look at any schools ranked 30+ on US News and most will offer merit aid. You can google each school + merit aid to see. For LACs, maybe #20 and up - just google US News top LACs.

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Ok, thank you! And yeah the Ivies and such have been rather unforgiving financially so they’ve been cut : D

The Ivies, Georgetown, the top LACs - the Bowdoin, Colby, Williams, Amherst, etc. don’t…but so many do. And if you step a notch down, you’ll get paid.

Alabama and Arizona are hugely generous - although you have that at UF already. You should look at any private schools 30-100 and LACs

2021 Best Colleges | College Rankings and Data | US News Education

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Duke and Tufts – two totally different vibes – might be interesting in terms of what they offer academically. Neither gives merit but there are some scholarships, particularly at Duke, that could be worth chasing if it checks enough boxes.

You might want to see whether you fit into any of Colby’s various financial aid options. You may be above the cut-off, but it also sounds like a great fit academically and socially. And you could almost certainly row. It’d be a good one to look at to consider LACS.

If you see what you like through this but need to find options that are more affordable, come back and let us know what is appealing to you. With your stats, you can consider anything. It’s just about cost. McGill, btw, is a great option.

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That’s too bad about the cost of attendance factor. You’d be a shoo-in for Bates, Hamilton, Ithaca and Wesleyan:

Maybe, Ithaca has merit aid?

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WashU and Rice are two peas in a pod. Rice is probably marginally more difficult to get into, but that’s splitting hairs. The areas around their campuses are very similar. The students at both have a reputation for being friendly and their communities are tight knit. Rice is known for their residential college system, which WashU has borrowed a bit from in recent years. WashU is bigger and leans more pre-professional. Rice is smaller and more STEM-oriented. Today, I think Rice might be considered to be the more “fun” campus. The reverse was probably true 20 years ago. I’m a WashU alumn who picked my alma mater over Cornell and NU…it just felt like home the moment I stepped on campus. But I really, really regret cutting Rice from my final application list. Had I known what I needed to earlier, applied and been accepted to Rice, it probably would have been a WashU-Rice coin toss.


If you’re chasing merit $ and want a supportive environment, look at St. Olaf.


Definitely take a look at the University of Rochester. They have merit and sound like you’d be a great fit based upon what you are looking for. (Academics, if you like research, crew, close knit, open curriculum allowing you to study what you like, cold, etc.)


To me this sounds like a good reason to stay at your in-state public flagship university; you will qualify for honors programs and likely significant merit aid. Then take those savings and go to a good medical school (assuming that you have the grades and MCAT scores to get into medical school). Once you have your M.D., no one will care where you got your undergraduate degree.


I agree with keeping your in state options open. There’s nothing wrong with shopping around for other schools too though. With your stats, you’re competitive for major scholarships and could have equally lucrative offers in various places. One gal in our high school had several totally free rides she was considering at the end - all merit. Turned down Stanford full pay for one of them and is extremely happy as a medical resident at a top place now.

But competitive scholarships are just that. One never knows who will get them, so yes, keep at least one known affordable school on your list.

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It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders. Your goals show maturity and thoughtfulness.

My D’s goals were very much in line with yours. Our family did not qualify for need-based aid so she shopped for merit (including competitive merit) to preserve her college savings for medical school. She was very pleased with her outcomes, which included competitive full-ride and full-tuition scholarships. She was a strong student in top 5% of her class, but her stats were nowhere near yours. So I definitely agree with the other posters who have recommended finding a couple of safeties/matches you would be happy attending then go for it all out. :smiley:

Some competitive scholarships require GC/school nominations so look into that or ask about suggestions here. I can’t wait to follow your journey. :grinning:

P.S. My D loves McGill and Quebec (she speaks French and is a Francophile.) Unfortunately due to COVID concerns we ruled it out due to distance since we are in GA.


Honestly I think the two (Rice and WashU) are very similar. My D looked at both but chose Rice. I really wanted her to like WashU since it’s significantly closer to home than Rice but for whatever reason she just didn’t connect with the school. It didn’t help that our visits were at unfortunate times. We did an official tour on a very cold and rainy day so campus was pretty dead and it was hard to be excited in that weather. We swung by one other time on our way to somewhere else but it might have been Spring Break or something because campus was really quiet. She liked it but didn’t love it and her reasons were not super clear. On the other hand, she visited Rice for an admitted student day on a perfect spring day and she just felt a connection to campus. Plus, she loved the idea of the residential college system. She is a rising junior there now and loves it so I think she made the best choice for her. She loves the quirky traditions and super collaborative environment. She was just talking at dinner last night about how much students help one another.

I think both are excellent choices and you really can’t go wrong with either. Rice has excellent need-based aid (The Rice Investment) but it’s strictly tied to income and it looks like you wouldn’t qualify. Both have merit but it’s hard to come by. Neither are cheap!

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If you are Florida Bright futures, you will have a full ride, likely to the Honors College at UF. That is pretty nice to have at a top 30 school. You could save a lot of money for grad school.


Full tuition, not full ride for Bright Futures.

Are you considering rowing in college? You could get a lot of athletic money for rowing.

Look at Florida Tech, where you’d get merit money, athletic money, can use BF and the resident grant. U of Tampa and ERAU also have rowing.

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Vandy and USC have merit

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