Match me-CA math nerd with weak ECs [3.6 GPA, 3.9 GPA 10-12]

Female, white, Californian, 1/2 year homeschool, 1 1/2 year public high school, autistic and ADHD, mental health issues

Intended Major(s):
Math, possibly CS
I took the SAT in seventh grade and got a 1350 and got a 1500 on a practice test w/o practice- will update

UW/W GPA and Rank:
3.6/4.1, 10-12: 3.9/4.6
School doesn’t rank and weights DE classes on a 4.0 scale

9 DE (started taking CC classes in seventh grade)

Middle school: 4 CS classes, precalc

HS: calc 1, 1 English, 1 history, calc 3, currently taking linear algebra

AP Classes: calc AB, didn’t take test, calc BC, 5

Next year: ap lit, ap gov, ap economics, ap physics e & m, ap physics, whichever math class I can get into next (probably diffeqs)

currently taking AP lang, AP chem, APUSH, AP stats, AP physics c mech


software lead on FRC team (very intense, high time commitment)

Matholy VP

officer on NAMI



Essay: I’m a strong essay writer with lots of possible proofreaders, so hopefully I’ll be fine there:

LORs: I’m not close with any humanities teachers yet, but I’m slated to have one teacher (calc/physics) for all four years. As he knows me pretty well, he’ll be a good LOR.

Summer plans: apply for math program (hopefully one of the free ones), take another math class, or hopefully do some research.

Cost Constraints / Budget
Unknown- our financial situation is oscillating because my parents are self-employs, so it could be nothing or I could have a budget upwards of 80k. Although the finance situation isn’t the best, please match me with schools that are attainable stats-wise, even if not quite money-wise.

My GPA is dragged down from poor performance in freshman year due to mental illness, but other than that, I’ve been getting straight As and got straight As in every college class that wasn’t during freshman year. I’m looking for colleges with a large focus in math and preferably smaller colleges. I’m hoping for Harvey Mudd or a school like it, but that’s likely not plausible with my weak ECs. I also need to mention I don’t have much familial support- they are quite against me “stressing myself out,” so I end up doing everything by myself without help.

Please give me suggestions for any schools,whether safety or reach or anything in between.

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It will help if you have a test score.

Your budget will help determine because some smaller schools meet need, and some don’t. So it’s hard to recommend without - because I can suggest a schools that will be $50-80K but if it ends up you can’t afford it, then what?

Do you have any geographic restrictions? Do you want to stay LAC size?

My projected test score is probably going to be ~1550. If my family’s financial situation doesn’t work out, I am fine with taking out loans (and I have been applying for every scholarship I can find.) I don’t have any geographic restrictions, and although hopefully I’ll be able to stay LAC size, I’ll take anything that fits me, to be honest.

Start by identifying a school that you are very likely to get into, that you can afford, and that you would be willing to attend.

Each CSU has a service area. Which CSU service area do you live in?

You should also look at schools that are part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). They offer discounted tuition to California students.


Money comes from schools. Private scholarships are very difficult to get and fortunately you can’t take out loans - just $5500 the first year.

For any size, obviously you know you have the CA state schools and community colleges.

For your GPA, cheapest, assuming you deliver on the SAT, would be Alabama or for smaller UAH, both under $20K all in. One is huge and the other 10,000 kids. MS State would be another inexpensive.

You can also look at smaller publics like Truman State - in the middle of nowhere.

Or you might go for LACs that pay big - and you can get into the $35-45K range - whether a Kalamazoo, Depauw, etc.

If you want to stay local, Occidental might be a possibility. Others might be Willamette, L&C, Puget Sound - those type schools.

You’ll certainly have options.

In some cases, private schools won’t take all your DE credits, etc. so you’d want to look into that as well - assuming you want credits for all your college classes.

Best of luck.

You might find a good fit in the College of Creative Studies, which is a small sub-program at UCSB. Mathematics | UCSB College of Creative Studies There’s an additional application for CCS, in addition to the UC app. This could give you some of the small-school attributes you’re looking for, without giving up the resources and relative affordability of a UC.

Freshman grades won’t count toward your UC GPA GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub I don’t think your EC’s look that weak - you’re just “pointy” in your areas of interest, which is okay. I wouldn’t recommend disclosing any more than you have to about mental health issues, which colleges can see as a red flag as they seek to minimize risk of mental health related incidents on campus.

The problem with an “oscillating” financial situation is that your aid eligibility is computed based on a prior tax year, which could be okay or not depending on the timing. It would be safer for you financially to look for schools where the “sticker price” is lower or where you can get merit aid that will keep your costs down.

Harvey Mudd could be a good fit (academically and socially, if not financially) if you would also like their broad and lab-science-heavy core curriculum. Alternatively, you could also consider Scripps, where you could major in math and still take Mudd math classes in addition to those at Scripps and Pomona. Great math faculty across the board at the 5C’s.

You might talk to your school about participating in the Rensselaer Medal Program, which is awarded to HS juniors and guarantees 30K/year merit at RPI: The Rensselaer Medal | Admissions It’s a mid-sized school (under 6K undergrads) but offers math degrees through the PhD level, so you wouldn’t have to worry about running out of advanced classes, as you well might at many LAC’s. They’re always trying to recruit more women, so I think your chances of acceptance there are very good. It has a bit of a “grind” reputation - not known for being low stress - but a lot of students who are really passionate about their subject, as you are, are very happy with the intensity.


This ^

Recalculate your UC GPAs. If you only got As in 10-11 you will have plenty of plausible UC CSU options.

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The exception being Cal Poly which does count 9th. Still, lots of good options.


It sounds like you’re a junior in high school now. Is that correct?

Are there any particular school supports that need or want? Do you have an IEP or 504 with accommodations currently? Most colleges will do “easier” supports (like extra time), but if there are more intensive ones, looking at what a particular college will offer is important. Also, if you do have a 504/IEP, make sure to get it updated before you go to college.

Also, you may want to speak to your health professionals about whether they feel you should remain within a certain radius of home (whether a certain number of hours driving, or flying, etc).

Lastly, when thinking about costs, look into health insurance. Some health insurance plans are only good for the state where you reside, whereas others have national coverage. If your family’s plan does not have national coverage, you will need to budget to add on health insurance.

I would see if your family can start putting money aside now so that way your family has some money to help with college costs if they’re having a bad year financially while you’re in college, otherwise you may need to stop attending college in the middle, or transfer to a local school, etc. Additionally, I would focus on schools that offer significant merit aid so that way even with your family’s oscillating finances, there would be a stable base of money from the university to help defray the costs.

The first school that came to mind for me was Rose-Hulman in Indiana. If there are concerns about distance from home and ease of transportation, it’s not ideal, but it offers good merit aid, it’s a small school, and is very engineering/tech-focused.

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Are you a junior or senior? Did you take the PSAT? Maybe look at University of Rochester, St Olaf, and Macalester.

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I’m a junior- class of 25- and although I haven’t taken the PSAT yet, I tend to score close to perfect on my practice tests. I don’t really have any support needs- although I have the right to longer tests, I’ve never used them.

You should take the PSAT as a good score can lead to NMF scholarships.

Yes, I’m registered for it and taking it in October.