Looking for suggestions for match/safety schools (CS major)!

Hey everyone!! Just your average stressed out junior looking for more schools to apply to. Here’s some info:

HS grad year: 2022
Gender: Female
State of Residency: Wisconsin
Intended Major: Computer Science


  • Course difficulty: pretty good, I’ll have taken 12 AP’s by senior year including 2 AP Comp Sci classes which I’ve done well in
  • ACT: 34
  • GPA: Our school only gives us our weighted (4.39) but my unweighted is around a 4 if I calculated it right
  • EC’s: not bad but nothing super outstanding either, I’ve done a few EC’s related to my major along with other clubs/sports and I’m working on coding some websites and little side projects like that but I haven’t cured cancer or anything

What I’m looking for:

  • I love the mountains and the outdoors!! Hammocking, hiking, roadtrips, etc are my favorite. So I’d love a college near mountains (or nature in general). However, it isn’t really a dealbreaker for me if I don’t go to school near mountains; I can always move there after college. But I do really want a beautiful campus. Ideally moderate weather but that’s also not a dealbreaker (I’m from Wisconsin so I’m used to pretty terrible weather)
  • Good academics are obviously important, but honestly from what I’ve heard a Comp Sci degree is pretty employable, and I’m sure I’ll find a job and be fine with a degree from just about anywhere. That said, it is important to me that the school has decent connections/support for students after grad.
  • I’m looking to make quality friendships, so schools with a really supportive student body and genuine people are awesome. Not a huge partier but also not against it. I’m not really interested in Greek life, and honestly if a school’s social life is primarily based on Greek life it’s kind of a dealbreaker. My ideal school would be really easy to make close friends at (I’m not super shy but a little awkward lol) and just overall have a really nice environment.
  • Budget: My dad owns apartments so he doesn’t have a set salary, but I am definitely upper middle class so probably won’t qualify for much financial aid unfortunately. My parents could probably pay between 20-35k a year, which is kind of tight especially for OOS or private schools. So schools that give a lot of merit aid would be cool!!


  • I’m really looking for matches/safeties here, as I already have a long list of reaches lol (ND, Rice, Colorado College, UNC, Northwestern, etc).
  • So far for safeties I have UW-Madison, App State, UVM, and Virginia Tech, but any more suggestions would be appreciated!!

Thank you so much for any help!! Hope this wasn’t too long:)

hmm. Virginia Tech is not a safety for out-of-state CS. Your stats are very good but shared by many others. I would’ve said UW Madison isn’t either, but then I saw that you are instate.

I could suggest RPI, WPI as probable matches. They aren’t safeties either though. A safety would likely be RIT.

That’s really good to know thank you!!

Wisconsin and Minnesota public universities seem to be obvious choices.

Remember: a safety must be assured admission (including to the CS major, if admission by major) and assured to be affordable (at list price or with assured merit scholarships for your stats*).

*Or a reasonable expectation of financial aid from the net price calculator, but if your parents have rental real estate, some net price calculators are unreliable.

Ignore! Misread

I think your reaches of ND and UNC will be tough. You’ll most likely be full-pay.

Your budget of 20-35K is tough. Most good private schools (not Ivy’s) come-in around $40k with good scholarships. Some OOS publics like Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina could come in below $35k with scholarships but you’ll need to be flexible with location/wants.

Maybe look for schools that are looking for women in STEM. They might offer nice scholarships.

If you want mountains what about Utah, Colorado, Montana, or Idaho? Montana State, Boise State, Utah. Colorado School of Mines. My roomie in grad school was from Montana. The pictures from his back yard were postcard material.

App State is neat. Seems like a happy place. Beautiful area.

Run the NPC for your schools.

The good news is that CS is employable from anywhere.

For safeties maybe look at the Midwestern Exchange…Kansas?

Midwest Student Exchange Program |.

Yes Utah is an obvious safety with pretty reasonable merit if you are prepared to stay for the first summer and get residency. A very strong (preferably perfect) UW GPA plus a rigorous AP course load should get merit that puts it well within your budget. Amazing outdoor opportunities on your doorstep, including skiing, backpacking, climbing, rafting etc. My D has loved her time there, her group of friends travel all over to ski resorts from Montana to Canada to California and to the National Parks in every direction. Weather is undoubtedly better than Wisconsin and the campus is beautiful. Flying into Salt Lake City is generally very easy.

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Gonzaga. Jesuit colleges typically give good merit.

I would not apply to CS at Notre Dame, and it doesn’t have any of the other things that you are looking for in a college either.

I think that Arizona State may be a safety, as well as UA, I am not sure about U Colorado, but it may be a match for CS.

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“I love the mountains and the outdoors!” ~University of UT would be a good safety and a solid CS program. After 1 year of living here, Utah will happily let you pay in state tuition. We have a budding tech start up scene and community called silicon slopes for internships. Their is a ton of bicoastal wealthy people moving to UT from Atherton/Palo Alto and NYC/ Greenwich looking to put their capital to work in the community they now live in. It’s place after graduation you can join a cool start up or create a pitch deck and find funding for your dream tech concept. Utah skiing and outdoors are the best.

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Remember that “safety” implies both admissions and affordability.

I agree with another comment that VT for CS is not a safety out of state.

UVM is probably a safety in terms of admission, but is not a safety in terms of affordability. Their NPC does predict merit scholarships (and was spot on for us), but I would be a bit surprised if you got the price down to $25,000 per year out of state. Getting it closer to $40,000 might be possible but I do not know if I would want to pay that much considering how strong U.Wisconsin is for CS.

The University of Wisconsin is very good for computer science, and overall. I have worked with some very good CS graduates from there. I understand that many students find staying in-state not all that exciting. However, I think that you will do very well at UW. Also, employers from other states (including where I live in the northeast) will be aware that UW has a very good CS program.

Affordability is likely to be an issue at a lot of out of state universities.

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Listen to @DadTwoGirls…a safety is a GUARANTEED admit AND affordable.

Colorado will be expensive from OOS, as will Mines. Although you are not from a WICHE state, neither offer WUE tuition. Why? They have high enough out of state demand with little merit that they don’t have to. That will likely leave you paying close to full price.

I second Utah. Although it was one of my son’s safeties, he almost chose to go to school there, opting for Cal Poly two days before the deadline. They gave him free tuition first year followed by instate the next three as long as he stayed in state over the summer. The campus is pretty and feels smaller than the student body would suggest. Only about 10K live on campus. The MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section) are RABID about sports. All of the students seemed happy. Many who don’t know about SLC fear the LDS influence if they aren’t themselves Mormon. It’s a factor, but SLC is only 40% LDS. It wasn’t anything that turned off my son. Once you’re in the Wasatch Mountains, you’ll be pinching yourself.

Neither RPI or WPI, both good schools in their own rights, would be considered “outdoorsey” schools. WPI in particular has a novel and interesting approach. It was the other school my son agonized over.

Although it’s a reach, you might at least take a look at Cal Poly for Software Engineering. Their CS program is hyper competitive, but most of them end up doing software engineering anyway. SE is still competitive, but not quite as much so. It’s in an idyllic coastal town in a coastal mountain range. As a CSU it’s more affordable than any of the UCs, but they offer virtually no merit, so it still won’t be cheap. Under $200k though.

Good luck!


Utah “silicon slopes” is transitioning into~ How to Be Silicon Valley

Seconding Utah, Cal Poly SLO.
VTech is a good match, Purdue, UNebraska Raikes if you’re into thisbtype of interdisciplinary program.

Run the npc!!

Frankly, the one to beat will be UWisconsin :slight_smile:

Our friends daughter with the same stats who lives in state was deferred from Madison. I would add La Crosse as a truer safety.

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I agree, actually. Odds are probably 70-30 for this student.
Still, a low match, and the one to beat.

UVM and Vtech will not be safeties either academically or financially, but Utah would be close and this student would likely be in the running for some of the “named” scholarships at App State.
The financial limitations will constrain more than the academic ones.
For true safeties, Lacrosse, Eau Claire, UMN-Morris, with UMN-Morris the one to beat for CS.
WPI would be an excellent match
WWU (not sure about likelihood of scholarships, but good CS and FAFSA-based)
Cal Poly will not give scholarships but will be a good academic match and is within budget.
GMU may be worth a shot (lots of contractors in the NOVA area).

The CSS Profile will be deadly for a family whose income comes from rentals so it really limits where she can apply.