Is This A Good College List (Profile)

honestly I’m fine with either considering they’re both great schools for science and humanities. For example, I am completely fine with going to a school that has a college of humanities and sciences (Columbia) or a school where I’m not restricted to a particular college, rather, have the liberty to choose the subjects I was initially interested in (Brown)

Firstly, thank you so much for taking out the time to help me with this. I’ve noted the colleges you mentioned and will research on them too. Also what do you mean by “unhooked.”?

Unhooked means you are not a recruited athlete, development case (meaning your parents can/will donate millions to the school), academic prodigy (IMO medalist etc), URM or legacy. All those factors provide a “tip” to students at ultra selective schools and increase their chance of admission – sometimes significantly (i.e. recruited athletes).


I’ll chime in with the rest in terms of your need to add a couple of match/safety schools to this list since you don’t have any. You sound like a fantastic student and you have strong ECs etc., however, super elite schools reject unhooked students with your profile by the droves every year. I do think you have a pretty good chance at BU, but it isn’t going to be a slam dunk because you are applying RD. Unless you are a Michigan resident (you didn’t say) the same applies to UMichigan - a decent chance there but far from assured admission. All the rest are super high reaches and leave you with the possibility of being shut out everywhere (unfortunately we see it here every year).


This is not a list. It’s randomly copied names of colleges from the top 25 in US News. There is no theme to this list. I can’t tell what sort of college you are interested in, other than “must be ranked very high.”

There is also a significant chance that you could be rejected by every single one of these.


That doesn’t guarantee you acceptance.

Your list is a bit top heavy in my opinion.

This thread I’m linking is an older one…but you need to read it. It has the OPs posts, and responses from other posters. This student was VERY well qualified…and a NMF as well.


UCB and UCLA are Reach schools for all applicants regardless of being in-state or OOS. Stats are important but they use a holistic approach with 13 areas of application review criteria so definitely not a slam dunk. Also UC’s are test blind so the excellent SAT will not be considered. Too late to add any more safety UC’s since it is past the deadline.

@trexbay22: completely agree you need some safeties and matches.


@trexbay22 Take a look at McGill. It’s a top-notch school with an excellent international reputation and they like high-stat students like yourself. Don’t be fooled by their high admit rate — Canadian schools handle admissions differently than US schools and it is likely a place where you could be happy.(also look at university of Toronto and university of British Columbia). McGill could potentially be considered a safety for you.

The problem with BU (and other US schools where you will be well above their posted stats) is that they often think that a high-stats kid is using them as their safety (which is often true) and so they reject or waitlist their application because if the school says yes and the applicant says no, it drives the college’s stats down in terms of yield rate, which is important to them. The term people use for this is yield protection.

So for schools like that (including Case Western, which someone mentioned above) you need to convince them that you are seriously interested in them via your supplemental essays as well as visiting (if possible) and attending their online sessions. Open their emails shortly after they are sent and click their links and spend time on their websites (they track that). If your parents get emails from them, have them do the same.

Even with that, they may waitlist or reject you based on yield protection. So it’s important to find some options where you are almost guaranteed to be accepted and then it’s fine to apply to as many reach schools as you have the energy to write the supplementals for.

Good luck!


That are at the first stage of college application: “grieving”. You have done exceptionally well in school, and are 99ile% in everything across the board. And then you come here and it feels like cold water is being poured on your dreams. It isn’t easy, and you must grieve the idea that you are a “likely” candidate for these schools. The reality is you might get into any one. But even that is far from a sure thing.

So best to move onto “acceptance”. Acceptance that these schools are a reach for anyone below the 99.99%ile and the 99.9%ile PLUS (also have a unique hook).

You will save yourself alot of angst, time and resources my listening to the experienced here as to what really are reach’s, safeties etc. and being very realistic. You will have to get there eventually. I would recommend you be a fast study for your own benefit.


What is your budget? Are you and your parents fine with spending $320,000 or a bit more over four years? Can you do this without taking on any debt at all?

If you and your parents are fine with being full pay with no debt, then you at least are likely to get accepted to BU, and there is a reasonable chance that you might be accepted somewhere else. However, you have no safety and you might end up with no acceptances.

What do you intend to do with a Biology degree? Are you premed? If so, then can your family afford both four years of university at a cost of about $320,000, plus another four years of medical school at a cost which will probably be higher? In this case the total cost for eight years could get to $700,000 once eight years of price increases is included.

What is your home state? If it is California then this at least slightly improves your chances at UCB and UCLA, but you should apply to a few more easier to get into UC’s, if it is not California then you probably should apply to an in-state public university. [edit: Apparently it is too late to apply to more UC’s. Where we live the deadline for the in-state public flagship has not passed yet. It seems that whether you can still apply to in-state public schools depends upon where you live, which I at least have not yet noticed.]

Your stats and accomplishments to this point are impressive. Good job! However, you should understand that the large majority of applicants to the really top schools have similarly impressive stats.

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The deadline for applying to UCs, I believe, has passed @Gumbymom

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Yes, the deadlines for the UCs has passed. However, for California residents who meet certain academic criteria, they are usually guarantee a spot at UC Merced if they don’t get into any of the UCs to which they applied.

The criteria used to be based on GPA and SAT but it looks like the rules have changed.

The guidelines can be found here:

Yes, I did mention that the deadline to add any UC’s has passed in my post so UC’s are not an option anymore.

I see one match, and that is BU. Definitely add a couple more matches and at least one safety.

The schools you list are all different. If I were you, I would think about the things that are important to you in a school, and then check to see which of your current list possess those attributes. Your preferences can be in any number of dimensions; here are some common ones:


  • Majors offered
  • Curricular style (if you have a preference among open curricula like Brown and Amherst offer, standard distribution requirements like most schools offer, or schools featuring a core like UChicago and Columbia)
  • Calendar (semesters, trimesters, quarters)
  • Ease of changing majors if you change your mind
  • Academic vibe (intellectual, pre-professional, balanced)


  • Geographic location
  • Weather
  • Urban/rural/suburban setting
  • Campus size
  • Travel/logistical convenience
  • Housing and food (this is also a “social” consideration)

Social vibe

  • Greek presence/influence
  • Sports culture/vibe
  • Things to do around campus/town/city

Political vibe

  • Vacuum chamber or marketplace of ideas?
  • Militant or peaceful?

These are just some of the things you might consider when deciding on your preferences.

The schools you list differ in several of these areas, so decide what is important to you and then kick out the schools that don’t fit you… and perhaps add additional schools that do. And as stated previously, add another couple matches and at least one safety that you wouldn’t mind attending.


At all of these schools, thousands and thousands of kids are above the the average SAT and GPA. Only a small percentage of the kids who are well qualified get in. You are qualified, but most of the kids who are qualified get rejected, simply because there are not many spaces available at most of these super elite schools. Meeting these SAT/GPA thresholds is necessary, but not sufficient, to get in (unless you are an athlete or some other special case, in which your SAT and GPA won’t matter that much). I think you have to think more about what you are looking for in a college experience (major, extracurriculars, social atmosphere, etc.) and chose some targets and safeties that would make you happy, rather than just selecting 10 of the very tippy top ranked schools, which is basically what your list is. I am sure you will find and get into a great school and it may be one on this list, but I would hedge your bets. My best friend’s son did this last year (UCLA and UCB were his “safeties”) and got in nowhere. Now he is at community college and hoping to transfer to a UC after sophomore year.

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With all this you have schools like Arizona where you can easy apply, will get $35k off, has an Honors College and is a great name. OP can do Pitt too.

Still lots of chances to be at a school with elite students even if his list doesn’t work out!!

I just want to add a voice of encouragement and say thank you. Lots of wonderful, qualified students have lists like yours, and don’t get the results they want.

You, my friend, have a chance to help a lot of people by talking your options through with people here who know a lot about this. Everyone has your best interests at heart, so I hope you take this opportunity to dig into the research, ask some questions, and find schools that will be perfect for you at multiple levels of competitiveness. Adding schools (and taking schools off) is not a slam on your accomplishments. I hope you see that. It is investing in your success by giving yourself options among schools that really match your true wish list beyond the name recognition.

The financial component is important to think about. You might find that schools a rung or two down the ladder will want you enough to offer you merit aid.


You misunderstand the point. Columbia has a very strong “Core” requirement: you must take these specific classes: The Classes | The Core Curriculum and you must meet these requirements: Requirements | The Core Curriculum

in order to graduate, no matter what subject you study.

At Brown you simply have to take enough courses, including in the major of your choice, and take 2 classes (of your choice) which involve writing.

There is a world of difference between the two.

As you seem to be a US student living abroad with an unlimited budget and great test scores, did you apply to any UK unis? Would your parents be ok with you going to a college that they haven’t heard of?


Just echoing others, you have a strong record. The problem is, there are thousands of applicants who have records similar to yours, and you and they are all applying to the same 30-50 schools. As a result, those schools have acceptance rates in the single digits up to, as someone noted, BU with an acceptance rate of under 20%.

You could apply to all of the top 30 schools and it wouldn’t increase or decrease your odds of acceptance to any one of them - they are all a crap shoot, including BU and Michigan.

The bottom line, you need to focus on the qualities you want in a school and then find some matches and targets that have acceptance rates closer to 50% or higher where your scores are in the “obvious admit” range. If you want urban, look at American or GWU or DePaul or Loyola Marymount, but you get the idea, you need to focus on schools that aren’t reaches FOR EVERYONE and find schools that fit what you are looking for.


Thank you so much for this!