Junior looking for more colleges to add to my list

Hi guys! I’m a current high school junior/rising senior and I’ve been starting to make a college list but wanted some help for ideas of colleges I might be interested in.
*Indian female, upper middle class from a large, competitive public high school in Minnesota

  • Price range: have around $125,000 or more in savings ($31,000 a year) but obviously nothing that would put me in a large amount of debt, schools with good financial aid or merit aid.
  • 34 ACT
  • 3.77 UW GPA about 4.0 weighted, will probably be 3.8 by the time I’m applying to college, all A’s/A- except for a C- in precalc (whoops)
  • 4 APs as of junior year, taking 6 total in HS and 8 AP tests, so far 5s on tests so probably 4s and 5s
  • taking PSEO (college classes) at the University of Minnesota TC, 4 junior year and 3 senior year, so far have gotten 3 A’s and 1 B+.
  • Semester 1 senior year will be taking an internship type class on food science and will get 2 community college credits from that
  • Extracurriculars: rather lacking lmao I was pretty depressed most of HS and had trouble finding anything I wanted to be part of
  • 2x National French Competition winner of Gold and Platinum medal
    -working on the crew of a short film for film club (member of film club junior year and probably senior year too)
    -recreational dance lessons and piano lessons outside of school (just for fun)
    -part time job
    -probably 100 volunteering hours at various places mostly freshman/sophomore year, not since the pandemic started
    -volunteer as teacher’s aide for elementary summer school in 2019 and 2021, around 40 hours
    I am undecided on a major. I’m taking Russian art history this semester and I really like it and am thinking of doing something at the Russian museum of Art this summer, so if there’s a Russian Cultural studies minor that would be appreciated (I know that’s niche haha).
    I know that my major won’t be STEM, other than a possible food systems/food/nutrition path, which I’m interested in but not sure of yet. It will probably fall under the liberal arts/ bachelor of arts and science agenda. I am most interested in and have taken the most classes in English literature/writing, history, and social sciences such as sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, etc. I am also interested in education policy and possibly international relations, but not an educator path as a teacher.

Colleges I’m looking at:
U of Minnesota: I’m pretty sure I’m guaranteed admission since I’m technically a student here and have taken classes here, great school
I would be interested in other safety suggestions.
Mcgill University
Boston University
Boston College

I am interested in a school near or in a city, don’t really care for sports/greek life, preferably out of state and either Chicago or on the East coast, although I’m open to other vibrant cities like montreal. Good hiking trails and access to nature is a plus but not required. Mcgill is my top choice right now so if there are similar colleges in terms of student life to that that would be great. Don’t really care about size, just >1,000 graduating class and do not necessarily like super large schools. Looking for schools with overall good education since I am undecided on a field/program, but suggestions on schools with good food science programs and majors would be appreciated.
I would love some recommendations on LACs with good aid. Open to the West Coast (washington, oregon, Northern California) as well.
thank you so much if you read to the end of this!

Your GPA is on the low side for BU, BC, and UChicago, and they shoukld be considered very high reaches. As for McGill, what is your GPA without your freshman grades? According to McGill, the cutoff grades for admissions into human nutrition and for agriculture were:

So you look well on track for McGill, but check out whether that C- is precalc is a problem.
(Requirements for U.S. applicants | Undergraduate Admissions - McGill University)

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You’ll be OK to get into the Arts program at McGill, but not the others. The C- in precalculus will prevent you from getting into the Human Nutrition program.

I’d add University of Wisconsin. You get tuition reciprocity which makes it affordable.

Maybe look at schools in D.C.

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If you want LACs and a city Barnard and Wellesley would be great though they might be high match/reaches.

Is the C- in precalculus an immediate rejection from the nutrition program? I have As in all my other math classes and I don’t consider myself bad at math, there were just extenuating circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Do they take that into consideration or no? I also would not be applying for only a nutrition/food science concentration if I applied to mcgill, probably just as a minor. If I decide senior year that I really want to pursue a career in food sciences or food systems, I would probably go somewhere else as I really like the downtown campus at mcgill and the agricultural classes are at another campus.

Yes, it is, unfortunately. Canadian universities are not nearly as holistic as US universities. Those grades and standardized test scores listed on the link above are the minimums required.

ok thank you! I didn’t see that B requirement for math. What are some good schools in the DC area?

Schools to look at in DC: Georgetown - their School of Foreign Service is tops in the field, George Washington U, American U

I second the recommendation for Barnard. If you’re interested in NYC,
there are other schools that might suit you.

Wellesley is close to Boston but it’s in a rural suburban area. I’m a big fan of women’s colleges. There are many others you could look at.

Tufts, Northeastern and Brandeis are all schools to look at in Boston if you haven’t already.

I would second the recommendation of University of Wisconsin. It’s a great deal for Minnesota residents and it fits your budget. They have good departments in almost every subject.

What about Middlebury College? I believe they have one of the best language programs in the world. They probably also give good financial aid.

You might want to look at Concordia, which is just up the street from McGill in Montreal. I do not know about your specific majors there.

Hello - I would recommend you get a clear understanding of your budget. I know you stated the amount you could
pay from your savings, but you need to understand what schools believe you can pay from your complete financial picture not just your savings. You mention upper middle class and that is rarely a classification that would qualify for financial aid beyond loans.

Have you run some of the schools calculators ? This will provide a clearer picture and then use this for your list. You will then find out if your list can be need based schools or if you need to concentrate on merit based schools. Even if a school says they meet full need, it is the school that defines the need.

You can spend a lot of time making a list, but it needs to reflect your financial reality too. Your accomplishments and interests are wonderful and I imagine many schools would love to have you as a student - but you first need to understand the financial piece.


thank you for the advice! I admit I am new to this and wasn’t aware that I would be getting 0 need based aid from private universities due to my family’s income level (higher education in America is such a rip off). I was wondering whether need based and merit based schools is a dichotomy? If I am getting a merit based scholarship at a school do I not also get FAFSA/need based aid?

You can get both merit and need based aid, from schools that offer merit. Some schools like Middlebury, don’t offer merit aid.

You are going to have to run NPCs (ideally with your parents!) to see what’s affordable. Come back here with those findings.

Some schools have limited, large merit awards that are very competitive (Vandy, UNC are two examples)…if you need to win a competitive merit award to attend X school, that school should be categorized as a reach, regardless of its acceptance rate and your stats.

Some LACs that can provide good merit (none of these are rural, but not all are near a big city either) include Macalester and St. Olaf (both in Minnesota), Rhodes, Furman, Occidental, Puget Sound, Wheaton (Ma), Goucher, Sarah Lawrence, U Richmond, Lewis & Clark…there really are quite a few.

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I can comment on the Russian programs. Both Macalester and St Olaf have small but vibrant Russian departments, although the focus is on language and literature/culture (but you can look into other course offerings and the art programs to see if they match your interests). The Wisconsin-Madison Slavic department is large and renowned (so are those at Indiana, UIUC, and OSU, but they would probably be more expensive for you). UIUC has a specialist in Russian avant-garde art (in the Art History department). McGill’s Russian department is small-ish but very good. I agree that you should prioritize those that give merit aid (like Macalester or St Olaf) or in-state tuition. Other LACs with merit and good Russian programs are Oberlin and Kenyon (more rural but not far from Cleveland/Columbus respectively)+Grinnell.

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Since you mentioned Chicago, both Northwestern and U Chicago have great Russian programs, but these schools are reaches for everybody (+ expensive).