Help Junior Narrow Down College List (target and reach schools)

Hello I am a rising senior and need help with my college list. Right now it is pretty safety heavy with a few targets and reaches. I could use some suggestions.

I am graduating a year early so I don’t have many ec’s.

I am from Texas, white female
My brothers EFC was 28000 two years ago and if anything it will have gone up.

31 ACT
3.96 GPA
Mostly honors classes
5 duel enrollment classes

National Honors Society
Summer Program in Dominican Republic Shadowing Doctors
I plan on getting a job since I just turned 16
Travel and Tourism Club
Junior Volunteer at local hospital

Intended major: Neuroscience, Biology, or Forensic Science with a premed track

My current list is:


  • texas tech
  • university of nebraska- Lincoln
  • Utah Valley University
  • Florida Gulf Coast University


  • University of Utah (first choice school really want to attend)
  • San Diego State University
  • Dalhousie University
  • UBC Vancouver
  • Cal Poly SLO


  • UT Austin (don’t qualify for direct admit)
  • Dartmouth College (I don’t expect anything but want to apply because you never know)

What about other Texas public universities?

What is your class rank? (for Texas public universities)

What’s your budget?
Class rank?
Why are you graduating one year early, is there a possibility you could spend one more year in HS in order to increase your class rank and number of core classes at the honors/De/IB/AP level?

Are you LDS - if so, why not apply to BYU? If not, why Utah Valley?
If you like mountains, why not run the NPC on Westminster Utah, UDenver, UNorthern Arizona?
Why Florida Gulf Coast?
If you like universities near the water, UNC-W, Eckerd, Flagler are all better safeties academically.

I don’t qualify for auto admission at Texas universities because my school is a private based in California.

My budget would be around 30k. I don’t know my class rank, school doesn’t share it until you need your transcripts. I am not LDS, but Utah Valley just looked like a good safety thats pretty cheap. Ill look at the ones you suggested. I was looking at florida gulf coast because it has a forensic science program.

Hey there! If you’re looking at FGCU I would look at Florida Atlantic University instead. With your interests, it sounds like a great fit, FAU has a medical school which FGCU doesn’t, plus it has all the majors you mentioned + a new B.S. in Medical Biology program as well. Great location, near the beach, happy and fun culture, good academic reputation. Since it is an established and fairly-large university it also has many research opportunities (including doing research at the med school as an undergrad). I worked for FAU and also earned my associate’s there and I genuinely just love the school. I don’t know if its the sea breeze or all the palm trees, but it’s just a nice place to be


FAU is a great school and if you love the beach the location is great, but the area around it is a rather expensive place to live in. If you choose FAU look for roommates to split the costs. FAU is more of a Safety than a target/reach considering your stats. Also, FAU isn’t that well known outside of South Florida if prestige matters for you.

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Try to get a book like Princeton Review 's best colleges and read.

In particular, try to understand fit.

Lots of Californians attend Arizona universities or WUE universities.

Utah Valley is good if you’re LDS because there are a lot of young married LDS couples among students but would be very isolating if you’re neither LDS nor married.
For your stats you could apply to FSU, rather than FGsu, or, as I said, Eckerd or Flagler.

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It would seem to me that U of Utah is a safety for you. They will probably give you some merit money, too.

UVU is absolutely a safety. But I doubt you’d want to go there. Very LDS, no exciting city. The U of Utah is I think about 40% LDS, but it’s in an interesting city, and there are a lot of people who are not LDS. And the proximity to the canyons means great access to hiking and skiing.

If you’re chasing merit money at a safety, try for Arizona State. They have a great honors college. Is that 3.96 weighted or unweighted? Do you have any idea into what percentile of your class that 3.96 puts you? Why Dartmouth? As an Ivy it’s quite different from the other Ivies. Rural location, very Greek.


I agree you’ll get in, but non-WUE merit required a lot of APs or a full IB while test optional plus close to 4.0 UW. Note that with the exception of WUE, the merit scholarships now require you to stay and get residency. Merit is harder to get than at the Arizona schools, but just getting residency at Utah after the first year with no merit would put your total four year cost at around $120K (45+25+25+25).

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Why is Utah your top choice - i.e. what are your hot buttons? Snow?? Urban?? Size??

Your list is fine as is - too many safeties although if they don’t take more time (i.e. common app) then no big deal.

Your best merit aid based on GPA will be Alabama and Arizona.

Good luck.

PS - hopefully by the time you apply you’ll have had the job…the NHS isn’t seen as resume fill.

I notice that you have a couple of Canadian universities on your list.

Given a budget of US $30,000 / year, I am dubious regarding whether UBC will fit your budget. You would need some merit aid. Admissions seems fairly likely to me but I have some trouble knowing whether “graduate high school a year early” will impact this.

Given your excellent GPA I think that admission to Dalhousie is very likely, and it will at least be very close to your budget (noting the current exchange rate – which is to your favor but not quite as much as what we were paying for the past four years). We toured Dal just over four years ago when my youngest was looking for universities and we liked it quite a bit. It is an attractive university in an attractive part of a nice small city. It is not right in the heart of downtown, but is a reasonable walk to downtown. I have a very favorable opinion of it.

This does cause me to wonder whether your listed GPA is weighed or unweighted.

Our youngest daughter just graduated with an honors bachelor’s degree from university in Canada. Compared to US schools (which both parents and older sister graduated from) she had more classes in her major or closely related fields, and fewer required classes in other subjects. She ended up taking (and doing very well in) a number of classes that probably would have been graduate level classes in the US. I have also wondered how her honors bachelor’s thesis compares to a typical master’s degree thesis in the US. I think that you will get a few more classes in your major or related fields and a few less required classes in other subjects if you choose to attend either Dal or UBC.

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I have canadian citizenship so I get domestic tuition so overall their costs are much cheaper.

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My Gpa is unweighted. I have no idea my rank because my school is online, so I don’t how many kids are there or what their grades are like.

Utah is my top choice because its really close to the mountains and snow, has good academics, and is a good size. We visited the campus and Salt Lake City in April and I loved it.

It’s a good school. And you cannot beat the proximity to the mountains for skiing and hiking. The area is definitely becoming more liberal. You will definitely get in there, maybe get some merit money, too.

If you are Canadian, then going to school in Canada would probably be much cheaper for you.

If you are a Canadian citizen born outside of Canada and have not lived in Canada for more than 3 months you would qualify for the in-province Quebec tuition at McGill, Currently about US$4100/year.

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We live in the US but my daughters and I have dual US/Canadian citizenship. Our youngest just graduated from a university in Canada.

The prices for you in Canada will be under your budget. We had a budget similar to yours, and our daughter graduated way under budget. With Canadian citizenship, you should ignore what I said about the potential cost of UBC. It will be under budget also.

There are a lot of very good universities in Canada. Dal and UBC are two of them. There are lots more. There are a few people active on CC who could suggest other schools if you want any suggestions.

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Hello @txandcan . With your stats and ECs, I’d say you’re fairly well qualified for your reach schools. However, if you are applying to Dartmouth, as it is the most selective school on your list, I would suggest applying ED. It would give you a big leap in admission chances, and you can reject your offer for financial reasons so there really is no downside.

Also, I noticed you said you like mountains. Did you know Dartmouth actually owns a mountain, Mt.Moosilauke complete with lodges and ski slopes? The college also owns and manages part of the appalachian trail. Seems to be perfect for what you want. If you love snow so much as well, it really is perfect for you, since it snows from November through to March and even early April at Dartmouth. Plus, we have “PE” courses you take alongside your academic ones which include skiing in various types and levels, and other snow sports. We also have sledding on our golf course throughout the winter term, as well as a “winter carnival” where students build a giant snow sculpture in the center of campus together, and teams compete for the best ice sculpture. Winter really is a exciting time full of traditions at Dartmouth.