How do I get into these universities with my current status ?

I talked to my guidance counslers at school to decide where I want to study at and my plans to go to an out of state school were shut down from the start due to the money so when I brought up any of my favorite universties they were always looked over. I know tution is going to be hard since I come from a low income family but I am looking into scholarships,grants and workstudy opportunites to pay for my schooling but was wondering if was even a possibilty to go to these schools or if I should just look into a Utah school.

Schools that I am intrested in (what are my chances) :
Oberlin College
University of Chicago
Columbia University

Carleton College

I am a highschool junior and have been on high honor roll all throughout high school I have taken all honors, AP, and advanced classes so far.

AP : Euro, Biology,(10th grade), US History, Latin, Literature and Composition,Statistics(11th grade) next year I want to take Language, Chemistry, US Gov,and maybe Envirmental Science.
- Exam Scores
*Bio -3

Extracirriculars/Volunteer Work
9th grade student council for 3.5 months
Mentored a girls group for 4 months 2 hrs a weeks in 10th grade
Helped Organize/Particapted in a community Fashion show in 10th grade
Debate Club from January till the rest of this year 11th grade
Basketball Club April till the end of the year 11th grade
I created a mentoring and tutoring system at my high school to help get students motivated about school and help them pass their classes by working with teachers -this is still a work in progress and I will get the results by the end of the year how effective the program is.
I also did several service projects through our school field trips
I help care for my Grandmother and my baby sister

Honors :
9th grade student of the year for Lit and Compostion
10th grade students of the year for AP Bio
I particapted in the AMC to represent my school
National Honor Society
I am going to be competing in a state math competion to represent my school.
Student Accalades from teachers about my personality traits that I recieved every year ex: Enthusiasum, Honesty and Dependebility

GPA: 3.97- my school doesn’t do a weighted GPA
Classrank: 3/96
Current ACT score w/ writing 22 w/out writing 23
* I know that I have really low scores but I have taken it 3 times and I still keep getting a low score and I studied like crazy but I still don’t know what to do. Help ! I am taking it again this Saturday and am hoping to get a better score.
* I am also going to try the SAT this May to see if I can do any better on that one -Help!

My Backgroud
-low income family-oldest child-first generation to attend college-daughter of Somali immigrants- skipped the 5th grade if that counts for anything- can speak fluently in Somali and English but I know Latin and Arabic pretty well

Also would it be safer to do early descion or just wait for regular registration ? Thank you so much this is will help me like crazy !

Several things:

  1. Actually as a student from a low-income family, if you get into most of those colleges, you will go either for FREE (including room and board) or you will pay very little. Stanford just announced this past week that an income of <$125,000 would get you full tuition and one under $65,000 would get you tuition and room and board. Most of the top schools in the country have similar deals (not quite as good perhaps, but very close). You need to look at this list of colleges that provide full financial need - - you can see that most of the colleges on your list are on that list. Have to get in though, but once you do, it won’t cost you much at all.

  2. You will probably pay MORE at a school in Utah than you would if you get into one of those schools on the list I provided. TONS of great schools too.

  3. Your biggest problem is that ACT score. That is too low for the schools you are talking about. I don’t see you being admitted to any of those schools on your list with an ACT score of 23. You need 28 MINIMUM and honestly probably a 30 to even be considered. And Stanford is a reach for everyone…for you with a 23 on the ACT, no way. Stanford rejects ~36% of those with a 36 (perfect score) every year.

  4. You need to ask yourself why you can’t get higher than a 23. Is your school not teaching you well enough? Is it easy to get good grades there? Because a 23 doesn’t really line up with an almost 4.0 unweighted GPA.

  5. Finally, if the real fact is that you aren’t the top student you hope you are, I would advise you NOT to seek out those schools. My sister was a National Merit Finalist…so a scholarship winner…and she went to Oberlin. The high school she spent the last two years at was not a very good one, and once she got to Oberlin, she felt very behind and found it extremely difficult for the first couple of years…before she actually learned to study. And she was one with super HIGH test scores in high school. You don’t want to go to a place that will be beyond what you can do.

Good luck to you.

I strongly recommend looking at test-optional schools. Many of them are smaller colleges that would love someone with your background to help diversify their student body, and might offer you a very generous merit aid package.

Your ACT score is just slightly higher than national average (~21). You know these schools are far above average.

Its actually really hard to get good grade its a tier 1 high school but my problem with the tests is that the questions and materials don’t go with half of the stuff that I have been taught which makes no sense because I am usually really good at tests but these ones just don’t connect with me at all escpecially the math section since I got a really bad teahcer last year for my pre-calc and we never got to finish the book so I am taking another math class to make up for it but I jst barely started it and its helped somewhat to soldify many of the concepts that was not properly taught last year. But do you guys have any suggestions for different preperations to do because I did the self-study books and they didn’t help me with much. By the way thank you for the link it was really helpful ! Also do I need to work on anything else other than my ACT score ?

Apply to test-optional schools. There are many very good test-optional schools that are just as prestigious, such as Pitzer, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Colby, Wesleyan, Bates, and more

If I were to apply to a test-optional school like Middlebury what would I need to do to standout then ? Because those that did report their test scores had an average between 30-33 for their ACT

You have good grades and ECs for all these schools. Your only weakness is ACT and other test scores which seems to be a HUGE disconnect from everything else. First, for the ACT you have to have basic math through Precalc + trig flawlessly. If you have not learned some stuff like trig you need to learn it if you want to improve your math score. English and reading is kind of tricky if your not a good reader, but I’ve noticed in general it’s easy to fluctuate based on how well you connect with the passages given. If you take an AP english class (like Lang and Comp) that might help you get better too because those MC are harder and after a year of that I noticed I got lot better at the ACT. Science is the really messy section. It’s more practical application than anything else. There are 3 types of passages that you should look up and know about: research summary, comparing view points, and experimental design. Learn the format and how to identify them, there are different tips to approach each type of passage. Also I find that you have NO time to mull over all the information before answering questions: you just won’t finish. Try to find lots of practice and get better at jumping in and scanning for information from each of the six sections as fast as possible. For the SAT there’s no science so you may like it more, but both test tend to be standardized the same way and give similar scores so it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference but it’s worth a shot. If you can get up those scores you might get into some of the tougher colleges above. However you should consider some safeties that would give you a full ride/ a scholarship. In the end you want somewhere that will challenge you but not overwhelm you. It sounds like the rigor at your HS isn’t as great as some others if you’re this unprepared for standardized tests. You should definitely try to apply to all these challenging schools because you have great potential, but keep in mind that for a top university there’s going to be a lot of tough people competing for the same spots in an admission round. Good luck!

That’s really helpful thank you !

You may want to give Bates a close look. It’s a school that’s been working to increase its geographic and racial diversity and covers full financial need, as do many but not all of the schools on your list. There’s a sizable Somali population in Lewiston ME, the city in which Bates is located.

What major do you plan to take? Some schools specialize in different majors, so that might determine what school you go to.

Is Bates also a test-optional school ?

I am not so sure because I am considering learning international law/relation, evolutionary biology to become a high school teacher or pre-med so I can become a pediatrician. But the reason why I picked these schools was that they all excel in these fields, have a small student to teacher ratio and they all have a really good arts and film programs that I would love to minor in. Also their states are also fairly liberal which would be a needed change for me since I come from a pretty conservative state and the states in it of themselves would help to inspire and motivate me to push farther since there is a good possibility that I will most likely be living there on my own for the most part.

^ Yes, Bates is test optional. I think it would be a very good idea for you to look at Bates.

Have you considered the SAT? Do some serious prep. But don’t blame your poor ACT math on your pre-calc teacher. The ACT test material doesn’t require pre-calc. There are more issues at hand than perhaps you want to face. You said it yourself: you’ve taken it three times. To me, it seems to be working just fine…

Your ACT doesn’t add up at all, all those APs and your rank and GPA, can you break down your ACT into the subject areas? I don’t know what kind of school you go to? Several Utah public high schools have pretty high average ACT scores. Like as high as valley privates, are you in a private school? What kind of prep? What was your PSAT?
Are you LDS and thus is BYU in your line up?

There are people who do better on the SAT and worse on the ACT and vice versa. For me, I guess i was average on both. My highest SAT score was a 1590 and my highest ACT score was a 24. I got into a lot of great schools, and of course, was rejected by a couple.

I’m currently a second year at UCLA. I think one of the big things that got me into UCLA was my personal statements and extracurriculars. I would suggest you work really well on your essays because all schools want to know your interest and passions and want to see if you’re the best fit for their schools.

My major is Human Biology and Society and UCLA have a ton of pre med majors. If you’re pre med, UCLA have great opportunities for pre med students, especially the Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

Sorry for sounding bias, but the other schools you listed are great as well and i suggest you do a lot of research on their campuses and surrounding envirnonment. Also, if you have time, maybe over the summer, try visiting some of the schools to see if you can see yourself going there for 4 years and if you like the campus. Good luck with the SAT!

Test optional / test flexible schools:

I know which makes no sense but the thing is that I have always been a really bad test taker when it comes to stanardized tests. And no I go to a charter school that was great when it first started out but as time went on and as the school got better they began to hire a ton of really bad teahcer and most of the AP classes that I am taking I am either a piolet student or a second year student with them. And part of the reason that I have such a high grades and rank is because I am a hardworker more than anything and my teahcers see that in most of homework and essays and projects that really set me apart from other studnets and most of the writing based tests I can ace but multiple choice portion is where I get around average score. And no I am not LDS but am a Muslim so BYU isn’t in my line up but I looking into Utah Colleges line up is

Utah State Uni
U of U
All of which would except me with my ACT but don’t have the things that I look for in a uni since I still don’t know my major yet and I want a school with a good biology and humanities programs along with the arts so when I do decide I have something to fall back on and know that I am going being taught by someone who knows that field really well. Also I have visited each of these schools and only Utah State and UVU are the ones that I am intrested in campus wise and location.

but here is a break down of my ACTs :

English 23
-essay 9
Reading 22
Math 23
Science 20

English 21
-essay 9
Reading 26
Math 19
Science 22

3rd. Composite Score 23:
English 24
Reading 23
Math 22
Science 22

4th. I am getting the score on tuesday so I can upload it then but I think I might get like a 24-26
PSAT was either 141 or 151.

Well, your PSAT lines up pretty well with your ACT scores so I doubt the SAT is going to give you any miracle, what isn’t lining up is grades, so maybe you are getting a lot of grade inflation (hard work doesn’t always equal good grades). Small charters with teaching issues that persist in offering AP/honors would show up in their AP results, have you checked past scores out? The U is probably going to be a pretty good option for you really. Westminster would offer no academic advantage but financial problems. USU seems up and coming, I am not sure I would go south in your position.