Is this a realistic school list?

Hi! I’m a high school senior and was just rejected from Haverford College ED1. I knew it was a bit of a reach, but am still disappointed. I have been using the CollegeVine admissions calculator, and I’m wondering if some of you could help me see if my college list is realistic and accurate before the final deadlines come.
Demographics: white female, MIDDLE class, first-generation
Stats: 4.1 UW, 4.71 W. Top 20% of class. 680 math, 750 English SAT
Classes: 13 honors classes, 6 APs
AP tests: three 5s (all of the APs I’ve taken so far)
Intended major: English
Honors: PMEA District 12 Choir (see below), AP Scholar, NMS Semi-Finalist
ECs: 4 years of choir (in the highest choir of my school), auditioned into district choir, elected onto Choral Council (one of 7 members), 4 years of drama club including being a featured/lead character in the last few shows, Cappies critic (chosen from audition essay to critique regional high school plays/musicals), Co-editor (one of two) of school’s literary magazine, member of NHS, organized a drive for a local animal shelter (was a one-time thing), hosted a radio talk show in 9-10 grade (stopped because of COVID), cashier job at a chain store, worked last summer as a camp counselor for a few weeks.
Essays: Solid work on BC and Tufts essays, my Common App essay is very good according to my current English teacher.
School list:
Saint Joseph’s University (Safety) already accepted
Dickinson College (Safety)
Franklin and Marshall College (Target)
Boston College (Target) This is the one I’m most worried about since their acceptance rate went down a lot last year.
Connecticut College (Target)
Wesleyan University (Hard Target) I think this is a reach
Tufts University (Hard Target) This is a reach for sure
if this is WAY off, could anyone suggest other schools on the East Coast (preferably in the North) that give good aid (parents make under $100k) that would be safe bets? Thanks for your help.

I think most of your targets are reaches, what is your gpa with 4.0 being the highest possible? Are you looking for merit (St. Joe’s is very generous)?


My Naviance says 4.1, but I’ve used some online calculators and it’s always a 4.0 (I have had all As and A+s Junior and Senior year, with an A- and B+ in Sophomore year). I’m looking for schools that meet 100% or really high percentage of need, but merit scholarships would also be helpful. Saint Joe’s did give me a really nice merit scholarship, but I have to see the entire package (which comes in January) to see what the net price is.

Based on your intended major, some of these colleges may be of interest:

For potential additions across a range of selectivity, look into Hamilton, Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Skidmore and Wheaton (MA).


If Saint Joe’s isn’t affordable it isn’t a safety, their COA is around $60K. How much is the merit award?

Posters can help identify schools but we need to know the following…What can/will your parents contribute for college each year? What is your FAFSA EFC? What state to you live in?

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The merit award is $25,000 a year, my FAFSA EFC was $17,000 and most NPCs give me a net price of about $23,000 a year. I live in Pennsylvania. I hope this helps and thank you, everyone, for the help you have already given me!

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My daughter had similar stats as the OP, scores a little higher, one more AP and I think merit brought it down to at least $25,000. OP I assume freshman year was all A’s?


Yes it was, sorry I didn’t specify. And in case it was unclear I had one A- and one B+ in 10th grade and the rest were all A and A+.

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I think good aid in the NE is not easy to find. You need to go South or West. Bigger and you can see aid on the NPC is Hofstra. It won’t be the feel of the schools you mention. It’s a $$ trade off.

Some on your list, like F and M, meet 100% of need but while you seek aid it doesn’t mean you qualify. What is your EFC?

A Miami of Ohio is much bigger but gives aid. An Allegheny and Wooster plus Oberlin will also but all these are venturing further away. Maybe a Skidmore or more likely Hobart in NY will work.

If costs truly an issue, you should add a public safety (as a backup plan) like an Alabama or Arizona that will give you cheap tuition. Yes they are farther and too big but it’s a trade off and they will have Honors plus ECs to meet some of your needs. In the NE, maybe Maine.

If St Joe works, then no need for anything else.

CT College is a likely yes but interestingly have told some kids with your score to apply TO. I surmise F&M will work too.

Good luck.

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Sounds like you will also need some need based aid from Saint Joe’s to make it work, as net COA right now is around $35K with the $25K merit.

Can your parents contribute the $23K you are getting on NPCs?

Have you applied to any PA publics?

This site offers an especially convenient resource for estimating costs among its partner schools:

For lots of publics, it’s too late to apply for honors, but I’ll see what I can do. Giving Hofstra a second look for sure. Thanks.

Your stats are great. I’m sure you will find a school somewhere. Look for schools that have a higher acceptance rate for safeties. Tufts is a reach for everyone since their acceptance rate is under 15%. Look for a school with an acceptance rate higher than 50% for a safety/target.

Are you interested in Creative Writing or straight English? My D22 is interested in Creative Writing and I can point you to some good schools there.

Let us know your budget — what you can pay out of pocket and we can make some suggestions.


Thank you! I know that these are reaches; my eyes were a little bigger than my stomach when I made my list lol. Right now I’m looking for just English, but I’m considering a minor or concentration in Creative Writing, depending on what’s offered. I’m really trying to pay under $25k as best as I can.

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I know you said East - but I will 2nd Kenyon for both potential merit $ and some financial
aid potential, strong english, creative writing and welcoming community. Oberlin, Denison worth a look. Depending where you live - these are not too far from East coast, so might be able to cut down on travel costs plus inexpensive area for school - so need for less spending money too. Did you ever look at Macalister in Minn ? Since you are merit and financial aid hunting, my recommendation would be to broaden your list and many posters here can help with schools meeting your interests and are affordable.


I’m looking a little more into Kenyon and it’s a wonderful school. It is actually farther from me than all of the others (I’m in southeastern PA), so I’ll have to think about it. Thanks for the tip!

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We can make it work; I’ve talked at length with them about how this is how much we’d like to pay. Not as of yet but I think I will.

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If you are in SE Pa the Ohio schools like Kenyon are a 6 hr drive. Not far.

Big merit may come from schools that need revenue badly but there is the downside that they struggle financially and services may be limited. Washington College. Juniata.

English is now featured at less schools as so many go STEM. Yes you’ll find great programs everywhere but some, like Kenyon, will be more robust.

You really have to get that budget set and focus on schools to meet that #.

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If you are willing to go a little further away and are open to a women’s college consider Hollins in Roanoke VA and Agnes Scott in Decatur/Atlanta. Both have good merit and should get you close to 25k and you might get more scholarships on top of that.

You might consider Knox in Illinois as well.

Are you applying to any PA publics? Are you looking for a smaller LAC like Dickinson or are you interested in a school with more sports like BC? Interested in Greek life or the lack thereof?

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You need a true safety. Did you apply to Temple? If not, I would call them today. I would think you’d be eligible for merit and Honors. Maybe at least one PASSHE school?