Trying to help S22 with the choices for his final list, and I’m concerned whether it’s appropriate, balanced and realistic for his profile. We’re flying a bit blind here, as this is our first child going through the process, so please forgive any silly questions. I’ll try to provide all the detail I can. Here’s the story:
Zero cost constraints. We are not eligible for financial aid, nor will we have any problem or concerns about paying full freight anywhere he chooses (and yes we know what that entails). We’re fortunate to be in this position, and fully comfortable paying for any school that he wants. For us, this is 100% about fit.
Selective, independent, college-prep HS. School does not calculate gpa or rank. Unweighted GPA is probably around 3.8 (2 B+'s in 9th, 1 B+ in 11th, rest are all A’s). School does not weight, but it would probably bring him up around 4.1-4.2. Rigor of curriculum is decent, not great. 0 Honors/AP in 9th, 1 in 10th, 2 in 11th, 3 in 12th. He will have five years of english, math, science, history, and foreign language, as well as two arts classes every year (he’s a musician). School is highly regarded independent school on West Coast with a ver strong track record of placement at top colleges. They cap the number of honors/AP’s per year, so his schedule would be viewed as decent, but definitely not as tough as the top of his class.
Planning to go test optional. Extremely strong verbal ability, but math is rougher. Long story short, covid made finding/preparing for testing seem like more hassle than the potential payoff.
Recs should all be outstanding. Loved by teachers and counselors, huge classroom participant, warmhearted, creative, engaged, eager kid.
Essays should be above average, but not off the charts. Solid writer, knows how to turn a phrase. Authentic and passionate kid.
EC’s will be pretty thin. Some of this is covid, but honestly most of it is just an introverted kid with some mild social anxiety. He’s done a few school clubs, a bit of service, finished 2nd in a state-level academic competition, and spends a good deal of time studying music. Biggest non-music EC is a podcast he produces. He’s done considerable work on it, and has had some success there.
Interviews will be a mixed bag. He’s a quirky kid, embraces his own nerdiness and doesn’t care a whit about fashion or being part of the “cool crowd”. It’s very hard not to love him when you spend any amount of time with him, but he’s definitely an outside the box personality. At the right social fit, they’ll get him. At a cookie cutter school, probably not.
He’s a talented musician, and will probably submit a music sample with his application, but I’m not expecting it to be strong enough to move the needle admission wise.
Here’s what he’s looking for:
Small, small, small. Anything over 3000 is a non-starter. Closer to 1500 is better. Needs a close-knit, welcoming, friendly, highly residential LAC, where people are known to be kind to one another.
Definitely needs a strong music program, but doesn’t want to do a conservatory. Open to applying to schools that have conservatories, but only if the BA students aren’t shut out from good music offerings. Secondary interests include: Education, Music Education, Media Studies, Political Science, History. Would like to avoid schools with massive math coursework in their distribution requirements. Thinking about a career as a music teacher, but that could very well change as he explores.
Relatively open geographically. Will consider anywhere in US except Southeast (culturally too conservative for him). California is a plus, but not a big deal.
Refuses to consider schools with a strong religious influence. Doesn’t want a party school, or a school with a dominant Greek system.
Enjoys a politically progressive, open-minded, lefty-ish student body.
Schools that he has already researched but ruled out (for various reasons) include: Goucher, Muhlenberg, St. John’s (MD), St. Olaf, Loyola Marymount, Reed, Kenyon, Brandeis, Colorado College, Vassar, Bennington, Chapman.
Schools that he has researched, liked, and are looking likely to make the final cut are (in no particular order):
Lewis and Clark
University of Puget Sound
Lake Forest College
That puts the list at 13. I’m sure at least one or two will drop from this list over the summer as we visit, but I’m not sure which ones. So I guess the big question I have is: does this group seem balanced in terms of safeties, matches, and reaches. I know he’s got at least several on there that are a bit of a stretch, but based on my research it seems like there are 3-4 in there that are pretty safe, and then there are 3-4 that seem like a coin toss (but that’s hard to say) . Am I way off? How would you categorize his chances with the schools in this group? Are there obvious places that we should be considering that we haven’t? Is anything on this list a completely terrible fit?
Again, sorry if this is the wrong way of looking at it. I’m hoping that he’ll wind up applying to 10-12 schools, and have enough choices at the end of the road to feel good about all of the hard work he’s done.
Thanks to everyone in this group for any wisdom you can share.