Match and chance me - literary/creative ECs + high stats, looking at LACs

Hi! I’m looking at smaller liberal arts colleges like Carleton, Grinnell, Wesleyan as matches but I’m worried they’re too selective. Also applying to a number of reaches, do you think it’s worth it to use up a lot of Commonapp spots with them? If anyone could size up my chances and offer safeties/matches I’d appreciate it! Mostly looking for an open/kind/passionate school culture, and a solid humanities rep.


  • US citizen
  • New York resident, willing to go to school around the Northeast area and a bit further
  • Public high school, not too competitive
  • Female, East Asian
  • Sister is a Yale student (if that matters? My parents think it will give me legacy status)

Intended Major(s)
Undecided, probably will apply with something along the line of English or social sciences

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Haven’t been able to check my GPA, but vast majority of transcript is 99s and 100s
  • Class Rank: Unknown but likely Top 5-10 of ~300
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 35 ACT


  • Full IB diploma. IB Physics SL, IB French 5/6, IB English HL, IB Visual Art, IB English HL, IB US History, IB Biology SL + HL, AP Calculus BC (highest rigor offered in my school, except if doubling in science senior year-- I took arts classes instead)

New York Times Contest Winner (Top 10 of 7000+)
Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contest Finalist (Top 50 of 3500)
Poetry Contest Winner (1000$ prize - probably ~350 entries)
Scholastic Gold Key for art
Longlist for a literary magazine’s poetry contest
National Merit Semifinalist (should I include this? Can probably move stuff around)


  • Editor in Chief of school literary magazine, members won 8 awards at local college’s poetry event, reads 200+ submissions
  • Cellist in multiple ensembles. All-State, concerto soloist in honors orchestra and string quartet member.
  • Poetry Mentor for online summer program affiliated with youth lit mag. Highly accomplished fellow mentors
  • Art team manager for same youth lit mag, published 7 issues
  • Quiz Bowl Captain/Literature Specialist
  • Kenyon + Iowa Young Writers Online
  • Very selective but unheard of UNDP-sponsored Chinese summer program - cultural, sustainability-focused
  • Book Club President
  • Artist and graphic designer
  • Tutor in math/sciences

Essays should be very good but I haven’t gotten feedback yet.
LORs should be decent and show my strength in those classes, but with remote learning, I didn’t get to develop the strongest connections.

Cost Constraints / Budget
We have an income of ~40k a year, so looking at colleges committed to granting 100% demonstrated need. Savings are solid in those cases.


  • Safety
    SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Buffalo (necessary to have both? Bing seems super reliant on stats)
  • Likely
  • Match
    Carleton, Grinnell, Wesleyan, Vassar, UVA
  • Reach
    Middlebury, Williams, Amherst, Tufts, Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, Brown, Yale

My mom is pushing high Ivy reaches. Might also look at women’s colleges for matches? I wanted a couple bigger schools for variety and intend on shortening the list to 15. Thanks so much in advance.

Kenyon and all your “matches” are actually reaches due to acceptance rates.
Suny Geneseo would be better for English, writing, social science, than Buffalo (which is very strong in STEM).
Run the NPC on Eckerd, Sewanee, Denison (respectively safety and matches).
Does the U of Iowa offer sufficient merit (look into Freshman scholarships)?
Yes, women’s colleges are a good idea, too.


Guess I’m a bit unsure on GPA…a majority of my transcript is 99/100s doesn’t mean you have a 99/100 - but I’ll assume you do.

Congrats on all you’ve accomplished.

If so, I see the SUNYs - any SUNY - as a safety.

I think your matches are not matches - but I suspect you’d get into Kenyon and maybe Wesleyan. But they are really reaches - except Kenyon.

Move UVA to the reaches - and then you have your reaches.

A safety is only good if you can a) afford it and b) can be excited by it.

Will you be excited by SUNY?

I’d look at adding a Skidmore, Macalester, Oberlin, Franklin & Marshall, Trinity, Connecticut, Kalamazoo - two or three at this level - then you can take all the hail mary’s that you want - and it would not surprise me to see you get into one or two.l bcuz your ECs in writing are unreal.

To me, UVA is the outlier - it’s larger, it’s pricey as heck (although meets need) and it’s a tough get. Iowa, previously recommended by @MYOS1634 , is actually the public for writers. They come up in all the rankings.

Good luck.


Add Oberlin as a low reach/high match.

For writing, Barnard and Bryn Mawr are worth investigating. Bryn Mawr considers creative writing supplements for admissions. It might be possible to access the Kelly Writers House events at Penn too, but not sure on that. Barnard would be more of a reach than BMC.




Is Hamilton on your radar? It’s known for developing writers. Meets need. Not easy to get into, however,


A couple of.othera to consider as more safety’s are Skidmore and Mt Holyoke.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.