Help me with my college choices

Hi, I’m a current Junior and I’m planning to apply to college this fall. I’m an international student (unfortunately) and also I’m enrolled in IB. However, I need full financial aid (which sucks, cause it radically decreases my chances). My areas of interest are math, film and music. I want to major in both math and film but currently I’m more on the math side.

So let me talk about my academics. My SAT’s were cancelled so I don’t have any SAT stats at the moment. But I will take the August and the October one. But probably I will have a score between 1500-1550. My GPA is around %96 and according to the comments from my teachers, my predicted IB grade will be something around 43/44. I take Math, Film and Physics as HL and Economics, English and my Native Language as SL.

I have pretty unique extracurriculars. I’m not gonna list them all but they are all about math, film and music. I was also a finalist in an International Science Fair. Also, I compose my music for my film and I am very interested in film music. So I have some bunch of unique and good extracurriculars which will be in my advantage.

So my dream college is Columbia and that is because Columbia is both good at math and film. The best actually. But because I need full financial aid, I don’t think I will get in even if I apply for ED. So I have some other options in my head and I wanted some advice on which option is the best.

My first option is to apply Barnard with ED. Barnard has a great community. Also, if I went to Barnard, I would also get the film classes from Columbia as well. So I would be getting a Columbia education technically. But the drawback of this option is that I only apply for Barnard, and if I get in, I can’t apply for any other college, which I don’t want. Even though I would really like to study at Barnard, I would still want to try my chances at other schools as well. If I got in, I will feel like I missed my chance with other schools, if I don’t get in I will feel like I wasted my Early admission round because I could have applied to other universities as well. So I’m not really sure about this option.

My second option is applying to a bunch of schools that have non-binding EA programs. These schools are probably going to be

UChicago (This is one of my dreams schools. Even though there is no film major, there are some film clubs and plus the math department is very good academically here. So in Early application round in this option, UChicago would be my first choice. Also, I heard that UChicago has some pretty good financial aid opitons for internationals.)

Berklee College of Music (I would also like to study at Berklee. But it doesn’t have a math major obviously, but I wouldn’t lose anything if I applied)

Princeton and MIT (Again, I will probably not get in these schools (maybe 1% chance?). But since these schools have non-binding early action programs and since they are NEED BLIND for internationals, I guess I wouldn’t lose anything if I applied :smiley: )

Remember that I am not going to apply only to princeton/mit. In this 2nd option, I will apply to uchicago, berklee, mit, princeton and maybe a bunch of other schools that have non-binding EA programs at the same time.

Also note that these are Early Action admissions. For my regulars, I think I would apply to everywhere (lol). From schools that have a very high admissions rates to ivies. But for my Early applications, I wanted to choose schools that I would both love to go and I have at least a chance of getting in (not talking about princeton/mit though)

Also, I’m considering an OPTION #3, which is applying ED to Columbia. But PROBABLY I will not do that because I will not get in :pensive:

So, can you help me with that? Which option should I choose? Or do you have any other options? I really want to study at Columbia, but it’s a low chance. I would be really happy if you helped!

Thank you

Hi, I’m also a student! The thing about Early Decision is you are allowed to apply to other schools. However, you must withdraw your applications to those schools when you are admitted to your Early Decision school. That being said, I would not apply Early Decision to a school unless I were sure that school would be affordable for me and my family. (Beware of Net Price Calculators in this regard; they are not always accurate, and I would not trust an NPC enough to apply Early Decision based on its results.)

Given that you need full financial aid, I would not recommend applying Early Decision anywhere unless you can get a promise of financial aid from the school. Your Option #2 seems like your best bet. You mentioned a lot of good schools on your list and presumably some others you also like that have higher acceptance rates. You could even take a chance at both Barnard and Columbia.

Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished, and good luck!

ok you will have very good stats but you do not have one safety school on your list, there is no guarantee you will get into any of the schools you listed, also you need full aid which makes it much harder, time to expend your list. I would recommend against ED, EA is a good idea but I would expand my list of schools. Some state flagship universities have excellent programs. Look at the university of Alabama , Rutgers , Univ of New Mexico, Arizona, Uni of Minnesota. I am sure there are plenty of others.

“you will have very good stats but you do not have one safety school on your list”

For an international student requiring full financial aid, I do not believe that there is any safety school in the US. I do however agree that some of the schools that you have listed are good ones for OP to look at.

@greengiraffe I like your login name. You should apply to schools that meet full need for international students. You do not need to apply to schools that are need-blind for admission. The schools that meet full need for international students are all very competitive for admission whether they are need blind or not. You do have great stats and are competitive anywhere, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to find a school in the US that will allow you to attend for free.

Good luck with your search. The combination of music and math is quite appealing to me (I was a math major, and did play a musical instrument for most of my life).

You do know that you need to audition into Berklee, correct? I think you may be able to send in a video audition, but I would check the Berklee website to see your options. You MIGHT have to fly to Boston, but check the website…I think they would have other options.

The good news about auditioning for Berklee is that if you’re really good, it won’t matter if you’re an international. The bad news is…you have to be really good. I’m assuming you are, so don’t be worried unless you happen to only know three songs…on the kazoo.

Besides that, it sounds like Barnard might be a good choice to ED too…remember, you can apply to other colleges too, as long as you apply to NO OTHER ED choices.

Yes I’m thinking about applying to schools that meet full need bust most of those schools have restrictive early action programs so I can’t apply to any other school in EA. That’s why I’m planning on applying to those schools in regular admissions.

Yes I’m currently researching on expanding my list. Thank you

You mean for regular admissions right?

Yes, for regular admissions.

OK so I recently started considering Yale SCEA. But when I talk to people they say that since I need a large amount of financial aid maybe applying early decision would be a much better choice. I started researching about Yale’s film and math departments and it seems like it’s my top choice now because they have many opportunities. Do you think that I would have a chance if I applied SCEA? Or should I apply early decision to another school (like Amherst maybe) but if I got in that would mean I wouldn’t even be able to apply to one of my top choice schools. I’m stuck now, I hope you would help.

Note that Amherst appears in a Princeton Review sampling, “Great Schools for Mathematics Majors,” a source (available in the print edition) that could also be of value in identifying additional colleges to consider.

OP- you do realize that it costs to apply, right? Are you chewing up your limited college budget with all these applications? Berklee seems totally off-strategy for you.

Excellent point. I come from a developing country and just calculated that the cost of 10 US applications is equivalent to about a fifth of the annual college tuition fee back home! For someone who needs full aid and may have to rely on paying for college at home if unsuccessful in getting a full ride in the US, this would be a big spend. No idea where OP is from of course but this is definitely an angle to check.

@SJ2727 Some schools (like Brown, where I attend) offer application fee waivers to international students. Just check with the admissions office or website if you have any questions about eligibility.

From Brown’s Admissions FAQs ( :slight_smile: Regardless of your citizenship status, if the fee will present a considerable financial hardship for you and your family, you may ask your guidance counselor to submit a Fee Waiver Request.