Marine Bio / Science Schools - Questions on App, Colleges

New to the board and need some assistance, please. My son is a senior at a small private high school in VA, where they produce kids that go to the Ivy league schools and where community service is a part of the curriculum. He is interested in marine bio / science and has his heart set on Brown. He spent two summers there for summer classes and fell in love with the campus. We are trying to narrow down schools and just went on our first campus tour yesterday at Coastal Carolina. I am not attending the school and was not overly impressed, but as I said, its our first tour. We are touring William and Mary next month. I believe he plans on applying to Brown, CCU and William and Mary, at a minimum. My son took his ACT this spring and received a 29. He is taking it on Oct 24th again to hopefully get his score up. At the end of his JR year, his GPA was 3.4. He has taken several honors courses and has two AP classes this year (AP Environmental Science and AP English). He is also interested in classical studies, however, knows that his job prospects are slim and wants to study to just purely learn more. He was diagnosed with ADHD-Predominately Inattentive (the worst kind) in his sophomore year, when his grades were really dropping. He course corrected in his JR year with straight A’s and we are hopeful that that keeps up in his SR year. We also found out during the testing that he has a very high IQ. He became scuba certified and is a black belt in tae kwon do. I’m hoping that the scuba cert will show his level of interest to his major to schools.

My questions are:

  • Can someone who is more familiar with the app process at Brown shed some light on likeliness of getting in?
  • Should he include in his essay / app why his grades dropped? I’ve read conflicting views.
  • Any strong marine science / bio colleges you could suggest?
  • Does declaring that he has ADHD hinder or help his admittance, to any school?

Thank you in advance for any advice. This is the first time we are going through this and I feel like we are ill prepared.


In general it’s best to “sell” yourself in college applications. Reflecting on reasons why you didn’t do as well as you might have had things been better resonates neither in college admissions nor in business job interviews. Perhaps your college counselor can help with the explanation for the “poor” grades in his interaction with the colleges to which your son applies. At some level it’s important that the college take his ADHD into account in making the decision of whether or not to accept him. They may need to make some accommodations for him should he get accepted. This again is an area that your college counselor can address.

Brown strikes me as quite a stretch for your son. Even assuming that he applies and is accepted I would worry that the academic expectations at Brown would be intense and stressful for him.

Some of the California UCs have very strong Marine Biology programs – as would be expected given their location.See also the program at the University of Oregon.

No, the best Marine Sciences program in Oregon is at Oregon State University; not U of O in Eugene.

Incidentally, as has been said many times here on CC, Marine Science is largely a graduate study field. One cannot do much with a B.S. in Marine Science, oceanography, etc. So students would be wise to choose any major that affords them the basic sciences, and then attend graduate school.

But if an applicant is dead set on a B.S. in Marine Sciences, Marine Biology, Fisheries, Oceanography, etc…

U of California-San Diego (Scripps)
U of Rhode Island
U of South Carolina-Columbia
U of Washington
Western Washington University
Oregon State University
Richard Stockton College
California State University-Monterey Bay
U of Miami
U of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
Texas A&M Galveston
U of Alabama-Birmingham (Dauphin Island Consortium)

Thanks LakeWashington! That’s incredibly helpful. I really meant to add that he plans on pursuing a Masters in Marine Bio/Science as well.

I double majored in classics and earth & ocean sciences, so I can personally vouch for the combination. :slight_smile:

I agree that Brown is a long shot given his grades and current test scores. Encourage him not to fixate on a particular school yet…especially one so selective.

W&M is a terrific in-state option. Old Dominion might be a decent safety; he’d be eligible for the honors college and possibly some merit aid as well.

Bowdoin (reach), Boston U, Tulane, U Miami, Conn College, and the College of Charleston are other possibilities. The College of the Atlantic, Northeastern, Eckerd, and Hampshire lack classics but have good marine science offerings. Of course, as LakeWashington points out, MANY colleges can prepare one for a graduate program in marine science, so these suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg.

There are many great programs at public universities in other states (some are listed above), but you would be stuck paying full freight more often than not, and that is not financially feasible for many people. It’s something to consider if you’ll need a fair amount of financial aid.

I strongly second this.

If he is definitely interested in Marine Science, do not overlook Eckerd College. They have produced the most Hollings Scholars (a NOAA scholarship) of any school out there - even beating Marine powerhouses like U Miami. You can also consider Miami, of course.

Scuba certification is common among marine students… I wouldn’t expect that to stand out at all, but I’d still list it to show he has it.

If money is a significant factor (and for most students, it is), then yes, an out-of-state public college may not be financially feasible. The only public places I can think of that might toss significant financial aid your way (because they want to attract more high stat kids) are U of South Carolina-Columbia and U of Alabama-Birmingham. The other publics are likely to give you the cold shoulder when it comes to money.

Thank you very much for the additional suggestions Creekland, Warbers & LakeWashington! It has been incredibly helpful for us.