Help me mold my college list?

Hi, I’m a rising senior and need help forming my college list. I want my cap my list at 10 schools and I’m looking mostly a out of state schools. I want to apply ED to Columbia but I need to add more matches and safeties to my list. I want to find schools that I have a higher chance of getting into, but would still love to go to. I’m looking mostly at schools in urban areas (NYC, Boston, Chicago, Philly, etc.) or the suburban area just surrounding the area.

Here are some stats.
SAT I (breakdown): N/A
ACT (breakdown): 31C, 33R, 36S, 25E, 28M (Retaking in September to make higher)
SAT II: Taking in October maybe
Unweighted GPA (out of 4.0): 4.00
Rank (percentile if rank is unavailable): 5/426
AP (place score in parenthesis):

AP Environmental Science- 4
AP Human Geography- 4
AP World History- 2 (oops)
AP Biology- 5
AP US History - 4
AP Chemistry- 5

IB (place score in parenthesis):
Senior Year Course Load:
Major Awards (USAMO, Intel etc.): AP Scholar w/ Distinction


Extracurriculars (place leadership in parenthesis): Colorguard/ Winterguard (Captain for 1 year), Band (Historian for 1 year, now guard captain)
Job/Work Experience: Internship/ Shadowing at a vet’s hospital
Volunteer/Community service: Uhhhh
Summer Activities: Summer Student at the Jackson Labs


Applying for Financial Aid?: Yes
Intended Major: Biology or Biochemistry (doing the pre-vet track)
State (if domestic applicant): GA
School Type: Magnet School
Ethnicity: Black
Gender: Female
Income Bracket: $60,000-$80,000 (not completely sure)
Hooks (URM, first generation college, etc.): URM

Current schools I’m thinking of:

Columbia (ED- Reach)
UGA (safety)
GA Tech (Reach/ High match)

I’m also thinking of biochemistry, and I would recommend Northeastern, UMiami, and Case Western for match schools! They are all in urban areas! Also Boston University is a nice, urban university that could serve as a match. For safeties, look for desirable but affordable ones. I don’t know much about colleges in Georgia, but maybe choose another in-state school you like. Other schools that could be safeties for biochem…Ohio State has a good vet program I heard. You may want to look into midwest schools as well, since they have better animal programs. But Cornell also has one of the best vet programs; you may want to look into it :slight_smile:

Have you considered any of the UC schools? They are big research schools, which would be good for someone looking to go into biochem. What about Stanford (that’s a reach, I know, but it might appeal to you for research opportunities). UMich is another option, or University of Washington Seattle.

UCs don’t give aid out of state, but Michigan is a better option. I think Georgia Tech is a match, not a reach, especially if you can raise your ACT, but it’s wise to apply to UGA as well, considering how sharply Tech’s acceptance rate has fallen in recent years.

Have you considered Purdue? I know it does not fit your location requirement but as a 2013 grad of the biochem program and having received acceptance to vet school this year, I have nothing but praise. (Plus I spent 2.5 yrs working in the field and felt my education served me well.) They require a capstone undergraduate research project and you have a vet school right there to volunteer in.

If you are interested here are some links. Also from my understanding the application can be confusing (you can be a biochem major several ways at Purdue) so be sure to do choose the college of Ag and not the dept of biology or chemistry.

Also, I will say that I know that you are looking at going out of state (I did too) but I will caution you about the rising cost of vet med education. I am looking at 300k in total debt when I graduate in 2020 from vet school. I could have helped keep costs down by attending my state school.

Case Western is an excellent suggestion, and you might get merit aid. Same for GATech, which is a bargain to begin with for tuition.

You might want to consider Texas A&M. It is my understanding they have the largest Vet program in the country. College Station is not NYC, however, so you might consider a visit to see if you like it.

U of MN also has strong Vet program, and is the heart of the Twin Cities.

Good luck!

I think you might want to reconsider wasting an ED on Columbia. It’s such a long shot with your stats. You seem like a great student and many colleges would love to have you, but you need to see how many people with 31 ACTs and ECs like your’s get into Columbia. You might have a better shot at urban schools like BU, George Washington, American, U of Pittsburgh, U of Rochester, Syracuse, NYU etc

I agree about Columbia; I’m not sure it’s wise if your test scores are in the 25th percentile.

Most out-of-state publics give little to no aid, besides UVA & UNC, or a few scholarships (UAlabama, Temple).

-Franklin & Marshall College (High M)
-Lafayette College (High M)
-Muhlenburg College (M)
-Occidental College (M)
-Smith College (M)
-University of Arizona (S, a few scholarships for out-of-staters)
-University of Notre Dame (Raise ACT; they’re very generous with aid)
-University of Virginia ®

If you can get the ACT over 32, I think you have a decent chance at Columbia ED but be prepared for rejection. You may want to apply EA to a low match/safety. I’m not sure about FA, so you need to run the NPC but Agnes Scott in Atlanta could be a very low match/safety. Tulane is also a possiblity.

Thank you everyone for your responses! I will look into all these colleges and continue to build my list.

@citymama9 Why would you say I’m “wasting” an ED, if it’s my first choice. The worse that could happen is I get rejected, and if I do get accepted then the weight of college apps will gone for the rest of my senior year.

I forgot to mention this earlier but I’m also applying EA to GA Tech, UGA, and any other schools on my list that offer EA

Have you visited Columbia or the other schools on your list? If possible, I highly recommend you do so.

Back in the stone ages I, too, applied ED to Columbia and was accepted. I had never visited campus, but had been to NYC twice as a young child. Well, when I did visit in the spring after being accepted, I found out it was overwhelming for me, and I had to scramble to change schools last minute.

Good luck to you!


There is what is called an “opportunity cost” associated with every decision.

By applying to Columbia ED, you have lost the opportunity to apply to another reach school where the admissions advantage offered by ED may have been more likely to result in a successful outcome.

The “worse that could happen” is that you don’t get into any of your top choices because your application is not strong enough for you to be admitted to Columbia ED or for you to be admitted to your other other top choices RD.

Good Luck

I’ve visited my in-state schools and I have family in NYC and have been many times, so I am familiar with the fast pace. I did a self-guided tour of Columbia last summer and plan on doing a real tour in October, I don’t really have the means to tour many more out of state schools, but I do plan to apply to a few fly in programs.

I appreciate all the advice and I’ll make sure to really think about where I’m applying, so I’ll be happy where ever I end up going

I didn’t mean to offend you. @Mastadon explained what I wanted to say. ED can give you a boost at a reach school, but you can only apply to one school ED so you want to make it count. I’m not a psychic or expert so I have no idea whether you will get into Columbia or not. I was just being cautious on your behalf. The best thing is to go their thread here and see the stats and ECs of the accepted students and see how you compare.

In these days of grade inflation you need to stand out. How will you captivate the interest of an admissions committee at Columbia, Penn, Chicago?

A lot of people on CC forget that ED is for your first choice, rather than for whatever prestigious school you have the best shot of getting into. Hence, “wasting an ED” is mentioned often.

University of Rochester is an excellent choice for you. I would also suggest that you look into the women’s colleges as schools like Smith, Mt. Holyoke are known for merit money.

Absolutely 100% look at (and hopefully apply to) BU. You are a bread & butter candidate. They need more people from the South (I was admitted out of GA, myself!) and I also know they need more URM. If you put together a strong application and show interest, I suspect they’ll use preferential packaging to offer you a generous amount of aid. If you’re curious, I’m happy to share some anecdata with you over PM. The big thing is show interest: go to an info session when it comes to ATL, and visit campus if you can.

And not to pile on, re: ED, but something no one has mentioned that is worth throwing out there: if you are chasing generous financial aid, seriously, seriously consider whether or not binding ED to Columbia is in your best interest. Generally people who NEED aid, especially full tuition or a full ride, do not benefit from binding ED. And of the Ivies, I don’t think Columbia is known for being as generous as some of the others (which don’t have binding ED–they have single choice early action, which is less harsh). Just bear that in mind. I honestly suspect you’ll get some generous packages from a few schools, and it’s in your best interest to leverage those against one another.

@usualhopeful - Actually, it is possible that some people on CC who mention “wasting an ED” are doing so not because they forgot anything, but because they are familiar with the field of Probabilistic Decision Theory and/or Rational Choice.

If one is dealing purely in the realm of logic, is pretty easy to show that the blanket statement “ED is for your first choice” is an oversimplification that can result in sub-optimal (or seemingly irrational) behavior.

UChi, out of all the schools mentioned, seems like it could disregard a lower ACT score the most. Possibly GTech also. Still, your amazing GPA and rank gives you an advantage.