Hi! I Need HELP with school suggestions... (Ideas: Duke, Vandy, Emory, UMich, Cornell, etc)

Hi! I’m a current junior in high school who is insanely stressed out about choosing an ED school and is very indecisive. I need help to decide what would be the best fit for me.
So get to know me:

  1. academically : my GPA is a 4.0 UW and 4.23 W ; my ACT is a 34 (36 Eng, 30 Math, 36 Reading, 34 Sci) however, my superscore is one point away from a 35, and I have time to get one more point from math (It’s 36 Eng, 30 Math, 36 Reading, 35 Sci). I have a strong schedule filled with APs since sophomore year. I think I will graduate with 11 APs. I also have a strong list of extracurriculars and achievements, so I am most likely (hopefully) a candidate for certain selective schools.
  2. socially : this is where my decision gets difficult. I am an extremely social person, not a ‘nerd’, looking for very active Greek life and a great party scene and social atmosphere.

I am planning on majoring in either biology or neuroscience, maybe major/minor or double major. I am set on pre-med.

I am looking for a “work hard, play hard” mentality, a great balance between academics and social life.
Please help me with my suggestions and if anyone has experience with schools like Duke, Vandy, UMich, Emory, Cornell, UT Austin.
And if you have any other ideas!

Consider an EDI and an EDII to give you two chances at ED.

Here is the updated list of EDII colleges.


Thank you! - that’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m leaning towards applying EDI to Duke and if I don’t get in - EDll to Vandy or Emory. I’m just looking for some insight because I am worried about balance and social scenes at these more selective schools, as opposed to being set on something like UMich.

Can’t argue with your strategy at all.

I would do the same thing – ED I To Duke and ED II to Vandy/Emory. I know a lot of people at Duke, and based on your post, I think you would be a great addition. Best of luck and I’ll be rooting for you! :slight_smile:

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Sounds like a plan assuming you checked and have determined that all the schools on your list are affordable.

I’d try to get your application in to Michigan early (I think by 11/1 but check) to get into the early action pool. I’d also consider one or two somewhat less competitive schools as more of a safety (ex. UWisconsin)

Some other options might be UCLA, USC, UVa, and UNC


Thank you so much!!!

Oh definitely planning to apply to some safeties. thanks so much!

Dont know what state you are but UT Austin is difficult OOS.

You need to raise your 30 ACT to have a shot at an elite program.

There is many many threads of line of people only applying fo top 20 schools and getting nothing.

While you’ve accomplished a lot and congrats…at the top level so has anyone. You are unlikely for any school you mentioned. Most are. Nothing wrong with applying.

But also go a step down for a match. So a Rochester, Brandeis,BU, Wake. Northeastern although there’s people getting in top 20 getting rejected there. Case Western but it may not be play hard enough. Maybe William & Mary.

Also Florida and UGA are outstanding. Even at public schools, they have plenty of top kids.

If you seek merit aid, boatloads of top students go to Alabama, Florida State, ASU, U of SC and Pitt. Focus on each Honors College.

Also what is your monetary situation. Will you qualify for need based aid ? If not is cost a consideration ? If so do not apply ED. Period. End of Story.

You have a great top end list. But you need matches and safeties. At all the schools i mentioned as target, you are the rule, not the exception. At the public schools except W & M, those are safeties but they are littered with Ivy level students who take the $$.

Don’t be like many others and reach only high without a safety net underneath.

Congrats and good luck.

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Look into Tulane and Colgate.

While the list is nice you can get to med school from anywhere. Your GPA and MCAT matter. The fact is a very small percentage of students who want pre-med end up in medical school.

No doubt the schools on the list are fantastic…most are reaches for this and any student however. And you can get go med school from nearly any college in the country.


Thank you! I was just mentioning my top schools … I definitely have a list of matches/safeties.
Also- my ACT is a 34, not a 30.

Your math is a 30. You’re gonna be a STEM student. Gotta get it higher to have a chance at an elite school.


I’m personally a believer in applying to a lot of schools. So reach. But also have solid abd safety. Many safer have top top students.

What’s the $$ situation are you full pay? If so are you looking for a deal, etc.

I recommend that you also start thinking about what you would bring to the table, as communicating that is a key part of the application process. Duke has no shortage of applications from high-achieving, outgoing students interested in the biological sciences and pre-med, and that goes for many of its peer institutions as well.

What are you looking for in a college? Virtually all selective colleges have good biology programs, and many (if not most) have thriving social scenes as well. Having more information about your criteria would help us help you.

There are quite a few good options if you are open to smaller schools, including but not limited to:

  • Wake Forest

  • Davidson

  • Rhodes

  • Furman

  • Bucknell

  • Trinity (CT)

  • Union

  • Lafayette


To me this brings up the budget issue. Do you know how much you and your parents are okay with spending over 8 years? Medical school is expensive. You should definitely avoid debt for undergrad and even better would be to leave a few dollars in the bank (or 529 fund). Do not be surprised if by the time that you get to medical school (if you do) it is costing somewhere around about $400,000 for the full four years.

Right now you are looking at an unweighted 4.0 GPA with very rigorous high school classes. This is a really good start.

I do wonder about the 30 math ACT with an unweighted 4.0 GPA (which to me implies all A’s in math classes, and all other classes).

“Balance between academics and social life” is not how I would generally describe premed classes. You should expect premed classes to be tough and full of strong students even at your in-state public universities.


@collegejunior16 UMich has some premed coed Greek fraternities. See what you think

All the schools on your list are reaches. You need safeties and matches. What are your in-state options? What are your safeties? Please list. Too many times we’ve seen students list what they “think” are safeties but truly aren’t.

What’s your budget? Have you run the NPC’s on your list?

Wake Forest and SMU came to mind immediately. Maybe Richmond and W&L?

Try to bump-up your math section. Maybe take the SAT?


The list provided by @merc81 fails to recognize schools which tied in the rating system so here is a list with the appropriate rankings assigned:

(Unfortunately, CC’s system will not allow one to post a list which recognizes ties.)




Bryn Mawr

While interesting, the list of schools which prepare one well for medical school should include hundreds of colleges & universities, not just 25.

You may want to see if these survey-based results support your current schools of interest or offer you further ideas: