HELP! What schools would be good for me?

I just finished my junior year and have NO idea what chances I have at getting into certain schools… I am the oldest and have a terrible guidance counselor at school, so I’m just going in blind at this point.

About me… I finished this year with a 3.92 unweighted GPA, got a 1420 on my 2nd SAT—690 Math, 730 English—and am planning to take it again in August), have been Class Secretary for all of high school and do many other clubs like Model UN, Amnesty International, Anti-Defamation League, School Newspaper, etc. as well as dancing competitively 20-25 hrs per week.

I am planning on majoring in something non-STEM-y (eg. Communications, Journalism, English, PoliSci, Sociology, History) but still don’t have a great idea yet.

I am on the Private College 529 plan, but am looking at some schools outside of it. Some of my dream schools are McGill, NYU, and Georgetown. I know these are very much reach schools for me.

I need to know what schools would be good matches and safeties. I would ideally like to be in or close to a major city, have a not-so-small school, stay away from all-girls or anything like that, and not go south! (I’m from the Northeast, so I’d be willing to go Northeast or Midwest or even Southwest but Southern culture is just not my thing in general).


Suggest you rethink that and open yourself up to more possibilities and less stereotypes.

What size is “not so small”?

UNC has a great J-school. Mizzou is also great. Not sure about your stats, but maybe.

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meant like that football sorority type Southern party school culture. not meant to be offensive! just not for me:)

That’s a big stereotype. Suggest you use your skills to look beyond that. There are many great schools in the Southeast that will be more affordable than schools in the NE and have all kinds of people.

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Consider Boston University.

Take a look at George Washington, American,& University of Maryland. Students often refine their preferences by contrasting these for their programs in journalism / communications, government / political science / public policy / business. Also compare the settings and cultures, urban vs suburban, hoopla of Big 10 / vs smaller sports and intramurals, as well as opportunities in fine arts / theater ecs.

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People on CC are kind of big on southern schools. They tend to offer good merit money. My kid won’t go south either and I don’t blame him. Its a completely different culture and if its not for you, you are smart to understand that in advance.

There are a lot of really good schools on that plan. Some are obvious reaches, but many would be a nice fit for your stats. I particularly like the a bunch of the CA and PA schools for non stem and being near a city. I would start researching schools on that list in the states that most appeal to you. Others that looked like “fit” or low reach were Colorado College, Boston University and Emerson. Not on the list but perhaps good choices Wash U in St. Louis and Arizona State University (for their honors and academic merit money).

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So you want to be a journalist or other non-stem., not in the South, near or in a city.

First off, your stats are very good - Gtown may be a stretch. Someone mentioned GW and American - both good in journalism. Another said Maryland.

Let me throw out Syracuse, Elon (not in the city but 45 mins from two sizable cities), Miami (FL) - yes, Elon is in the South but not Southern like you think and Miami is NY South. Add in College of Charleston - same thing - many Northerners.

You could go West to Indiana (college town) or further out to Arizona (huge merit aid).

You say your’re in a private 529 plan. Is it affiliated with certain schools? You make it sound as such.

is it this one?

Private Colleges Participating In Prepaid 529 Plan (
Usually on those ones there’s an out- you get your money back and interest.

But you need to give us more guidance.

A school like Pitt could work or Hofstra or many mentioned above. You might also look at Macalester in Minneapolis (smaller, LAC).

Really need more info than geographic area. I might suggest you and your mom/dad take a couple days and just visit 5 or 6 colleges. Nothing formal. Big out a couple big, a couple medium, and a couple small - it’s summer, they won’t be crowded so that’s not good but just to get the feel for, this size seems right, this one is overwhelming, etc.

What’s your home state?

Do you know what your budget is? I think that you would be better off avoiding debt if you can.

NYU and Georgetown look to me like they might be reaches also, although I am not all that familiar with either. Depending upon your budget they might be reaches in terms of affordability as well as in terms of admissions.

Given a 3.92 unweighted GPA and a major that does not include the words “engineering” or “computer” I think that McGill may be a match. It is an academically very strong university but admissions is not quite as tough as similarly ranked universities in the US. If you want a second option in Montreal you might want to consider Concordia, which is the other English language university in Montreal and which is just up the street from McGill. Both Concordia and McGill would easily fit your preferences of “major city, not-so-small school, stay away from all-girls or anything like that, and not go south!”. Concordia is not as famous as McGill but is a very good university – I think of it as being roughly on the same level as UVM or U.Mass Amherst.

We also live in the northeast of the US and in my experience guidance counselors know almost nothing about universities in Canada, other than the fact that McGill and Toronto exist at all.

It’s not a completely different culture. It’s America. There are all kinds of people in the South. It is the fastest growing region in the country and there are people from all over the country and all over the world who live here. Don’t let your stereotypes get in the way of getting a great education for yourself or your kids.

If a student can’t handle the heat and humidity I’ve got respect for that, just like I respect someone who doesn’t want to move up north where it’s 20 below in winter. Or if a student knows they want a city and not a small town that’s cool too, but to write off one of the most vibrant regions of the country based on stereotypes is just really unfortunate.

If you’re interested in Journalism, you really oughta check out the Hearst award winners. 2021 Hearst National Championship Winners Announced - Hearst Journalism Awards Program


Based on the Hearst Journalism Awards cited above, Western Kentucky, UNC, & Syracuse should be given consideration as well as ASU (Arizona State University). (Better to focus on the team awards rather than on individual awards, in my opinion.)

Perhaps different areas of the country having different cultures was not the right word choice. Certain areas of the country have different vibes. I know I am not comfortable in the south with a couple of pockets of exceptions. I’m not comfortable in New York City or the Bible Belt for other reasons. It’s ok to admit that and look at other options for schools. You want to be somewhere you feel safe and like you belong on and off campus. At least that has been my personal experience.


I think that you would be surprised if you venture into the South a bit more. Very surprised.


It’s so competitive for college admissions that I wouldn’t be ruling out any large part of the country like the South. You might detest Atlanta or Los Angeles, but that’s very different than saying “I detest the South” or “I detest the West.” You can miss out on some real gems by taking too broad of a view.

Places like Atlanta and Nashville are very cosmopolitan, offering a rich diversity of people, cultures, religions, politics etc. Same with California. Places like the Bay Area and Los Angeles are very different than rural California and indeed very different from each other. There are some things and some places for everyone, and the same goes for schools. You just need to be able to find it.

Our student is just starting her broad searching now, and we are encouraging her to be open-minded about schools and places, regardless of where in the US (or even the world) they are.


Depends on where you go - if you’re from the liberal North, the South can give you shock - although much depends on if you are in city or suburbs. I live in a Nashville suburb - and (in my opinion) the crazy reigns. But you go to Nashville and there’s more sanity.

Look at it another way - do you want to see only white people (or in certain cities African Americans) or diversity?? Depending on where you are in the North, but there’s much more diversity, inclusiveness overall.

A Nashville suburb is not representative of the South as a whole. Cities like Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, Durham are as diverse as any in the country. You can dig up the data on or City-Data. Plenty of liberal cities like Durham in the South, too.

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That’s why I said depends on where you go - there’s a huge difference between Nashville and the wealthy suburb I live 20 miles away.

But you have cities like Louisville, Birmingham which are very conservative - Atlanta is divided - liberal in the main city but conservative in the outskirts.

But it does depend on where you go - and I did note that. If you read the whole note, I said if you are from the North, you could be in for shock and that’s true.

But it’s not the entirety of the South, especially in some larger cities or Asheville - which is very liberal.

I would say depending on where you are in the South there is much more diversity and often more inclusiveness overall. The South is not only white and if you look at the Racial Dot Map project ( you can see that very clearly. There are large swaths of the country that are much more homogenous and white. In other parts of the country racial diversity tends to be confined to the cities. It’s not that way in the South. Lots of Black, Latino, Native American folks live in the countryside too. Maybe Tennessee is not as diverse, but look at the rest of the South as a region and you might be surprised.

I would put Durham, NC (home of Duke) up with any city in the country in terms of diversity and inclusivity. Chapel Hill is not quite as diverse as Durham (which is a city with no majority race), but it is very inclusive. I don’t know if she has the stats to get into UNC from OOS, but if she is interested in Journalism it is definitely worth a look.

As far as bridg3tnic’s comment about “football sorority type Southern party school culture”, I know what she’s talking about, but I think that is a stereotype that schools in the South are ALL like that and there are plenty of schools outside the South where Greek life and Football play a big role and, conversely, plenty of schools in the South where neither one matters much at all. I won’t link here, but you can do a search on “best Greek life” and “best football schools” and cross reference and you might find a few surprises.

I know in North Carolina, Greek life is there if you want it at Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill or any of the other UNC system schools, but it is definitely not the dominant social structure at schools. Less than 20% of students at UNC-CH are in frats or sororities.


I think you can safely generalize that the suburbs tend to be more conservative than the urban areas, regardless of which part of the US you are talking about. I would think that students would be spending a fair amount of time on campus, so how much of a consideration is that vs. the city, state or large section of the country in which the school is in?

Folks think California is very liberal, and it is in places. But it’s conservative in other places. Cities like Atlanta, Nashville, Durham etc are very diverse. And other cities that are seemingly diverse are also stratified racially, by income etc all over the US, not just in the South.

Let’s get back to the topic, and that’s to help the OP come up with schools. The OP mentioned an aversion to the South, and that’s cool. As I said in an earlier post, though, college admissions is so competitive that ruling out any part of the US solely on a generalized perception of a particular area is self-limiting. There are so many excellent schools all over the country, including the South, it pays to look everywhere and then start narrowing your list based on the schools and places that are attainable, affordable, and attractive.

Duke, Vanderbilt, Emory, Georgia Tech etc are FABULOUS schools, and I think you can find whatever you’re looking for in these schools and the cities they are in if you can get in. Those are some of the flagship Southern schools, and there are tons more all over the South that CC experts can tell you about better than I can. The same applies for pretty much every part of the US.

Don’t cut out a quarter or so of the country (geographically) from your search. Do it by schools!

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This is definitely true. I just compiled a list of the demographics of southern/non-southern states, and the southern states are by far more diverse than northern and midwestern states.

But, I’m happy to allow anyone to discount any school for logical or illogical reasons. There are enough schools to go around. If the OP wants to self-select out of southern schools for any reason, that helps narrow the recommendations.