HS Jr with good stats needs help building list

Help me build out a list with Reach, Match & Safety

White, Female, U.S, Virginia
Private, college prep HS

Poli Sci, history, French?

GPA 4.0 UW, 4.6 W (+.5 for Honors & AP)
Rank 1 or at least top 3

Current Junior, only taken PSAT: 1400, PACT: 33

AP gov: 5,

Jr year taking: APUSH, AP PHYSICS, AP Calc AB. HFrench 4, HLatin4, HEng

Sr yr will take: AP French, AP Chem, AP Latin, AP Calc BC, HEng (no AP offered) & AP comp.gov

Yr round swimming, 4yrs HS varsity swimming, yearbook (editor), Model UN (leadership), French club (leadership), summer lifeguard (asst. manager), volunteer teaching swimming to autistic kids

Could maybe swim at some DIII schools.

LORs - excellent 4/5

Eligible for TEP schools

Budget: will get need based aid (we get it for HS) & scholarship money (hopefully)

Schools of interest:

Brown, Amherst & NESCAC schools

I really want to leave Virginia and eventually go to law school.

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability)
  • Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable)
  • Match
  • Reach

If you don’t want to go to school in Virginia – and you have some excellent public universities in UVa and William & Mary – what part of the country besides New England would you want to go to? Or is New England it?

New England, maybe California. Definitely not south. My parents will make me apply to UVA & W&M, so they are on the list, just not where I want to go. I lean really liberal so I thought NE & CA schools might be good options.

What are you looking for in a college?

Any preferences as to size – how big or small? I ask because someone once posted on College Confidential the following:

“It is MUCH easier to make a big university tiny than it is to make a tiny college big. You can join activities and affinity groups and religious organizations at a large campus where your own circle is cozy and embracing and you literally have NO dealings with the frat scene or the jock scene or the big U elements that you’re not interested in. It is harder to take a small college and create a robust campus culture – for the most part, if you have trouble finding your peeps Freshman year they may not be there.”

Of course, some people prefer the more intimate nature of a SLAC; as for my kids, they both matriculated at large public universities where they found their own smaller “tribes”.

You may not have given this much thought yet, and it may be something that you will not be able to resolve until you do some in-person college visits.

For California, you will need to concentrate on the private universities since the California Public’s (UC’s and CSU’s) will offer no need-based financial aid and very little if any merit aid.

Look at University of San Diego, Santa Clara, Occidental, the Claremont Consortium (Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps specifically).

Best of luck.

I’m not sure I can give you a list of schools, but here are a few things you want to consider right away.

Budget: You mention that you think you’ll get financial aid, but do you have an idea of how much? Have you looked at any Net Price Calculators to see what your expected family conversation might be?

Having a conversation with your family to understand what the budget looks like is really important at this stage - it makes no sense to start looking at expensive LAC’s, for example, if they’re going to be out of reach financially.

Qualities: You’ve already listed some schools that interested you (Brown, Amherst, etc.) which is good. But ask yourself why you like those schools - is it the location, the size of the school, the type of campus?

In talking with my kids, we figured out pretty quickly that the reason they wanted larger state flagship-type schools because the things that were important to them (wide array of majors, athletic gamedays, opportunities to meet people and get involved, etc.) were met by those schools. Listing out criteria in what they wanted in a school was a big help in allowing them to narrow down their choices.

Knowing how much you can spend and what you’re looking for in a college will help you narrow down your realistic choices now, so that when you’re ready to start visiting schools you have a list of schools that seem to meet your desired criteria and you know you can afford. (But be prepared for that criteria to change as you go through the process, it often does!)

Best of luck!

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The only two schools you have identified by name are Brown and Amherst, which are both highly-selective open curriculum schools. Is that deliberate? Is an open curriculum part of your criteria?

In PA you can consider Dickinson, Franklin & Marshall, and Gettysburg as decent possibilities with wanting need based aid. These are not in cities, so keep that in mind if it matters. They do have college towns, so I wouldn’t consider them totally out in the cornfields.

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Regarding your interest in French, Middlebury and Hamilton may represent the strongest NESCACs for the study of foreign languages.

Sorry, this was meant for the OP, @tig0121.