Help match me with a university (Research, biology, neuroscience, etc.)

Hello everyone, my name is Veronica and I am currently a Junior located in NY. I am an extremely passionate student that wants to gain a solid foundation in undergraduate school in both cellular biology and neuroscience and conduct my own research. I am on the search for colleges that meet the following criteria:

  • Research university that has extensive research programs available to undergraduates (Major plus if actively pursuing research in psychedelic medicine and/or neuropharmacology)
  • Offers Cellular/Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, and/or Pharmacology majors
  • Is in the northeast or mid-Atlantic (within 6-8 hours of NY)
  • Offers significant financial aid (90-100% need-met, loan-free) and/or full-ride need/merit-based scholarships


  • US citizen, located in NY
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers):
  • First-generation immigrant (Polish), Female

Intended Majors
Cell/Molecular Biology, Pharmacology, Neuroscience
Planning to Double Major and will be on track to pursue a Ph.D. in neuropharmacology

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted GPA: 98. 86 (HS does not offer on 4.0 scale)
  • Weighted GPA: 101.083
  • Class Rank: Top 5% (not offered by HS)
  • ACT Scores: Composite (33), Science (35), English (35), Math (31, retaking for 33-34), Reading (32, retaking for 33-34)
  • SAT Scores: 1460 - English (730, retaking for 750), Math (730, retaking for 770)

*9th grade: All honors, students are not permitted to take APs
*10th grade: World History (5), only permitted AP
*11th grade: Psychology, Language, Biology (awaiting scoring)
*12th grade: Future classes, Physics, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Human Geo.

*Neuroscience and neuropharmacology: I spend a significant portion of my time studying textbooks and research articles, primarily the Neurochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology and the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. I have extensive notes on all of my studies.
*EdX courses: The Foundation of Neuroscience (The Brain) (Harvard EdX), and will be taking Cell Biology: Transport and Signaling (MIT EdX).
*Study of Herbal Medicine: I am currently taking a 2.5 year, 1000+ hour course at Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine (began mid-freshman year) and will receive my certificate of completion by November 31, 2022
*Etsy shop (2 years): Focus on herbal medicine and currently over $1000 in sales
*Practice yoga independently since the beginning of high school.
*Volunteered at Recycled Paws Rescue (~3 years): 7th-10th grade; Lead Volunteer, volunteered every Saturday for adoption events, responsible for guiding younger volunteers, answering questions, processing applications, writing for social media; independently fostered 8 dogs.
*Volunteering at A Good Dog Rescue (~2 years): 10th-12th grade; currently process applications, assist in the management of all social media platforms, manage Sunday adoption events (facilitating meet and greets, processing applications, going over contracts, etc.).
*Dog Rescue Club: President/Founder of interest/volunteer club mid-junior year for dog rescue. I have been planning this club for a few months and have over 20 members thus far. I am planning to train ambitious volunteers, educate, and throw plenty of drives, fundraisers, and events!
*Exam Room Technician at Veterinary Hospital: Began interning late sophomore year and was offered a position. I work every Saturday assisting in procedures/surgeries, fulfilling prescriptions, taking patient history, following up on patients, etc.

Some activities I have not yet accomplished but am planning to in the near future:
*Will be a member of NHS and NSHS Senior year (will apply for officer positions)
*I am currently in the process of finding an internship in a laboratory to perform research. It is extremely difficult, but finding one is my primary goal.
*I will attend a fall program at Burke Neurological Institute
*Completing therapy dog training (6 weeks) and beginning to visit pediatric hospitals, senior citizen centers, and libraries.

*Not written yet, but I am a passionate writer and plan to dedicate a lot of time to my essays
*I have a great relationship with both my AP Bio and AP Calculus teacher so am expecting glowing letters of recommendation

Cost Constraints / Budget
*EFC: $3,850, need to find a University that offers 90%-full-need met

*Cornell University (Best match, ED)
*Johns Hopkins (2nd Best match)
*Yale University
*UNC at Chapel Hill
*Boston University
*Northeastern University

Run the NPC at U Rochester to see if they might come in price-wise.

None of the places you plan on considering are safeties with admission. Are you just looking for reaches and already have a safety or are you looking for safeties too?

It’s going to be difficult to find safeties financially I suspect.

I am not sure I have great advise here other than make sure to look at schools in the top 20-30 as well. We had a child with similar interests and very high stats- top 2% of the class and had terrible results. Wl at neu and rejected from bu, penn, brown. Counselors and teachers were shocked by the results. In reflection schools like case western reserve, should have been on the list. I’d also consider the state schools, u of r and others that you wouldn’t mind attending if you had to. Best of luck

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Do you live within commuting distance of a CUNY or SUNY? It sounds like you qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship, which would provide free tuition. R/B can approach $20,000 at SUNY- not sure what aid is available to cover those costs (you could get the costs down depending on your meal plan, dorm choice, etc).

Hopefully a SUNY or CUNY is affordable as a safety. Schools that meet full need are a good option, but they will not be a safety.


Thank you, I’ll take a look at URochester. I am applying to a few safeties, I’m not that much of a risk-taker, haha. I am applying to Mercy College, UBuffalo, and Binghamton U.


Brandeis is strong in neuroscience. Neuroscience Program | Brandeis University


Yale would be a very high reach…
Cornell is a great match for your interests and I believe they fully meet need without reliance on loans (depending on family income)… You’d have a very fair chance of getting in ED. Same with Johns Hopkins.
BU – you’re definitely a match, but that doesn’t mean you’re likely to get in RD. They really try to protect their yield, leading them to reject many “matching” candidates. BU has come a long way as a research institution. I dare say you’d have a good chance of admission in ED.
I really don’t know how they award need based aid.
Northeastern may be a great match for you, they are more focused on hands-on study.

Full-ride merit is hard to find at the top research universities, but you’ll find very significant merit at University of Rochester, Syracuse University and George Washington University.

It can be useful to look at some of the smaller Universities such as Brandeis and Wesleyan. Being small but still being a research university, undergrads may find more opportunities for research than they would find in a large university, where they get relegated behind all the grad students.

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You may want to expand your search to all colleges offering great opportunities for undergraduate research, including these that appear in a U.S. News list based on survey information:

Anherst, which established the nation’s first undergraduate major in neuroscience, may be of interest, for example.

This resource can be especially convenient for estimating costs across a range of desirable colleges:


At Cornell, make sure you look closely at whether the research you’re most interested in happens in Ithaca or at the med school in NYC. If you’re especially interested in pharmacological research involving clinical trials, it may be med center based.

Based on scanning this list… Universities Researching Psychedelics | Psychedelic Invest I’d suggest taking a close look at WashU in St. Louis. Washington University’s Program in Psychedelic Research | Healthy Mind Lab | Washington University in St. Louis You’d get the need-based aid you need there, and they just instituted need-blind admissions last year. It’s excellent for all things premed/neuroscience and brain/behavior. This pathway for entering students could be of interest: Mind, Brain, and Behavior | Arts & Sciences WashU heavily favors ED applicants, but they do have EDII.

College of Wooster could be a good low-match/safety. It’s an extremely research-oriented school. They meet 89% of need on average, but are very likely to fill the gap with merit for higher-stat admits. Neuroscience - The College of Wooster The College of Wooster


University of the Sciences (PA ) could be a possibility (it has all your majors or interest and big focus on research) and its net price calculator will also indicate how much merit aid you’d receive to see if this is one that could be in contention.

Some others to consider where your chances are likely to be higher than at most of the schools on your current list:

  • Clarkson (NY) meets 90% of financial need and offers generous merit aid.
  • Case Western (OH) meets 97% of financial need
  • Wake Forest (NC) meets 100% of financial need
  • George Washington (DC) meets 92% of financial need

Stony Brook is another SUNY you might want to consider.


I think potentially all 7 are reaches - maybe BU or Northeastern as ED.

With your EFC, you want to hit the meets needs schools - and potentially Questbridge depending on family income.

I’d take a look at W&L Johnson, American Douglas Scholarship…and then schools like Miami, Rochester, CWRU, Franklin & Marshall and more.

All schools calculate need differently so run some net price calculators.

US Colleges that Meet 100% of Demonstrated Need | College Greenlight (â– â– â– â– â– â– â– â– â– â– )


I second Questbridge, if your family income is below $65K which I assume it is with your $3.85K EFC. QuestBridge | National College Match: Who Should Apply

I agree that all the schools in your OP are reaches. As long as the net price calculator (NPC) looks affordable, I would encourage applying ED somewhere (If you don’t do QB, which it looks like you should at least based on what info we have so far).

Mercy, Bing, and Buffalo are only safeties if they are affordable, so run their NPCs too. NPCs may not be accurate if your parents are divorced, own a business, or own real estate beyond a primary home…are any of those the case for you?

I second looking at WashU, Wooster, Rochester and Brandeis (run the NPCs). Syracuse and GWU are unlikely to be affordable. If you are interested in LACs I would add Amherst as mentioned above (another reach), and perhaps Oberlin for a match. Both meet full need.