Junior asking for college list help

hi, can i get some opinions on my college list? i want to cut it down to 10-12 schools and I think I need some more safeties/matches (very top-heavy right now)

south asian HS junior living in Alabama (how much does me living in Alabama play a role in admissions)

i have a 3.93 UW GPA (around ~25/~700).

for context, I’m an IB Diploma candidate

I have yet to take a real SAT/ACT test, but I have taken practice tests and done well on them (1500+)

thankfully, my parents said that they would be able to pay my tuition. financial aid would be appreciated, but we can manage without. my parents will probably sit down w me soon and run NPC

I want to study business, so a great undergrad business program at a college is very important for me. not exactly sure whether I want to get an MBA later on. might minor in creative writing/philosophy as well

here’s my current list (in no particular order, but top 6 are my favorites):
1. Brown (reach)
2. UPenn (reach)
3. Georgetown (reach)
4. USC (reach)
5. Duke (reach)
6. NYU (reach)
7. UCLA (probably will get 0 aid from them // reach)
8. Stanford (reach)
9. Harvard (reach)
10. Boston University (target? or reach?)
11. UNC Chapel Hill (reach?)
12. Villanova (safety?)
13. Penn State (safety?)
14. USC Columbia (safety?)
15. Rutgers (safety?)

location - I don’t really care as long as a city is nearby and the campus is not in the middle of nowhere. (Georgetown, UPenn, and NYU are all pretty close to a city, or actually inside of a city)

I really like the idea of just walking/taking a short drive into the city with my friends during college on the weekend, so this is a big part of my selection process. does Duke have this sort of opportunity? how far is the nearest city?

EDIT: I really want to go to school in the mid Atlantic, north east, or CA

weather - ideally, id like for it to not have too much rain. but coming from Alabama, I’m pretty used to rain so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

social life - I’m not the biggest partier, my way of socializing is mainly just chilling with my friends, walking around, or playing a game (whether it’s virtual or physical). i definitely want to have enough time to actually have fun during college and not just be studying 24/7.

also extracurriculars are a big deal for me (creative writing opportunities, good entrepreneurial undergrad community, etc)

I have a meeting with my school GC soon, so id really like to narrow down my choices a bit before that. thanks in advance

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Penn State is in the middle of nowhere. Maybe consider Pitt or Maryland instead if you’re looking for big state colleges that are in or near a city. The acceptance rates (on paper at least) are a little lower than Penn State, but you’re a great candidate.


thanks, would you say umd and upitt have comparable business programs to that of penn state?

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I don’t know enough to say. I was looking more at geography and “type” of college. I think UMD’s program is pretty comparable. Hopefully someone else with that knowledge will chime in.


UNC Chapel Hill is a reach to all out of state applicants. They do give out a few coveted direct admits to Kenan Flagler for applicants with the very top numbers, but most everyone else has to compete for admittance after their sophomore year. I believe the admit numbers to KF are right around 53% (note that you’d be competing with students who have the same or better stats than you).

Villanova has gotten a lot harder to get into, so not a sure thing anymore for most applicants.

Your list has a lot of prestige. No doubt that you’re on the road to being a great candidate but due to very small admit rates and tons of competition with stats that are either similar to or better than yourself, the likelihood of you getting into more than one or two of the schools numbered 1-11 on your list is slim. Not to mention that all those schools are very different from one another.

I think you should consider more match & safety schools with strong business programs. UofSC (Columbia) is a great option (and you’ll likely get some merit and honors program). U of Miami, UGA, Pitt (as someone else suggested), Florida State (depending on your test score you may qualify for in-state tuition), University of North Carolina Charlotte, Indiana University would all be good ones to look into.


Yes, you can walk to stuff from Duke, but it is a reach for everyone.

Maybe add UF and UGA and College of Charleston for less reachy schools? Might get merit money there.


PSU is in the middle of nowhere.

What about Georgia Tech or Emory in Atlanta? UVA for a reach?

Some of the schools on your list don’t offer undergrad business degrees at least not traditional. You would have to look at Economics or something similar.

Also consider if the business school is direct admission or competitive.


I would say yes. Pitt’s business program is much, much smaller and direct admit.


Pitt is rolling. If you applied today you would probably know in a few weeks before a lot of EA deadlines. That said, It’s probably $50k/year OOS. You might get some merit if your SAT is around 1500 or higher.

South Carolina would be a nice safety. Especially if you’re considering international business. You’d probably get some scholarship money.

Why not apply to Alabama as a safety?

Everyone has an approach to picking their list of colleges. If you’re full-pay with high stats I would find 2-3 safeties and then apply to all reaches after that but YMMV.

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Agree with others that your list needs more balance across the reach, possible and likely categories. As for your question about Alabama as a place to apply from, I will note that it does seem underrepresented as a source of new students at a lot of competitive schools outside of your region, which is ordinarily a good thing for an applicant looking to migrate. Top schools do value geographic diversity. Go to the “one university, two years” tab and play with the settings:


Have you looked at Babson or Bentley? Both great schools.


thanks for your reply. i think i had a typo, I meant to put Villanova as a target/reach, not safety, my bad.

i agree that my list is extremely t20-heavy. ill probably remove some of the 1-11 schools and replace them with more targets/safeties

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i really want to get out of the south tbh (GA, AL, MS, FL, TN, TX)

ill look into UVA


thanks for your reply

what career paths are available if i were to major in international business

i really don’t want to stay in the south or in state (AL, TX, TN, FL, GA, MS), which is why i probably wont apply to auburn, alabama, or UAB

thanks for this, very interesting. only 4 students from AL enrolled into upenn in 2018

What about Fordham? They have EA, so you likely can get something in the win category early. The biggest drawback is the cost.


Virginia is still the South.


My alma mater, ASU, gets a lot of love here on CC. So put that on your list for a safety to look at. It’s in Tempe,AZ with lots of stuff to do . You can also think about their Barrett Honors College. The Carey School of Business at ASU is pretty well respected. AZ has a different vibe than a southern state. You will probably get some merit to bring the OOS cost down a bit.

UMD also has a well respected B-school. But you must apply by their EA deadline. You said you’re a junior - so you have time to plan and put it in your calendar. UMD gives very little merit though. UMD is more of a likely than a safety. Their OOS admissions can be a bit unpredictable.

Rutgers B-School is respected around here. I am in NJ. Top performing students from there get good opportunities in NYC. It’s in a small town and about an hour or so away from NYC by train. Rutgers is hungry for OOS students, so it’s worth a look. The campus itself is spread out with a bus to get around- the least appealing campus of the three I have listed here.


I don’t see how Brown fits with a great undergrad business program being important.

Definitely check out Babson for “entrepreneurial undergrad community”… and also look at Boston College as well as BU. UMass Amherst too.

You can remove the “probably” from “probably will get 0 aid from UCLA.” Also, they don’t have an undergrad business major. USC (California) would be a better fit, albeit also expensive and reachy. Claremont McKenna could be good, in LA, for a business-y major with a side of creative writing and/or philosophy. In the SF Bay Area, Santa Clara could be a good one to consider - lots of Silicon Valley internship opportunities, and you could get some merit.

How about UMichigan Ross?

For safeties in SC, you might want to do a side-by-side comparison, UofSC vs. College of Charleston. Charleston is a great city, and CofC’s Center for Entrepreneurship has a lot of interesting stuff going on. You could expect great merit and honors college at both.


my list of states in the south doesn’t include VA.

i guess by south, I mean states surrounding AL (except for TX)