Match me: Junior in Wisconsin for CS

Demographics

  • State/Location of residency: Wisconsin
  • Type of high school: Competitive public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): Caucasian female
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): Legacy to Notre Dame
  • I posted a chance me here before if my stats/EC’s look familiar, but now I am just looking for ideas to build my college list

Intended Major(s)
Computer science

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: our school does not do unweighted
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.3, we weight AP’s but not honors classes
  • Class Rank: My school does not rank
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 34 (30 M, 33 S, 36 R, 36 E)

Coursework

  • Will have taken 12 AP’s total (not including calc 3) including 2 AP CS classes that I’ve done well in
  • For the most part have taken the most difficult classes offered (except next year I am taking APES instead of AP Physics to preserve my sanity)

Awards

  • Nothing super impressive, AP Scholar, NHS, and I was an NCWIT Women in Computing Affiliate Winner but I don’t think that was super competitive

Extracurriculars

  • Cross Country (all four years)
  • Debate (3 years)
  • Best Buddies (on the leadership board this year)
  • Destination Imagination (if you aren’t familiar it is similar to Forensics, we qualified for State and Globals 3 times)
  • Student-Athlete Leadership Council
  • Part-time job, 15-20 hours/week
  • 200+ service hours volunteering with kids with special needs
  • Coding: knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, hoping to code some websites over the summer
  • Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Camp 2020
  • Recently got accepted to the Notre Dame Summer Scholars Computing track for this summer

Essays/LORs/Other

  • Essay will probably be like a 7/10, I’m a good writer but I have no idea what to write about haha
  • LOR’s: probably like a 6 or 7/10, my teachers like me but it’s been tough to make connections with COVID

Cost Constraints / Budget

  • My dad said he will pay for about 45k/year and I will cover the rest (depending on how much of a fit the school is for me, if it’s worth more than that, etc). I’m very grateful that he is willing to help, and would obviously like for it to be as affordable as possible, but around that price point should be fine, and could possibly go higher if it’s really the right school for me.

What I’m Looking For

  • Ideally not a huge Greek scene, I don’t mind if there is Greek life but I don’t want it to completely rule the social scene at all
  • I really like the way schools like Notre Dame/Rice have more “dorm life” instead of Greek life where people get really close to people in their dorms. However I’d obviously need some less selective schools than that
  • Would love a school that’s good for making super close friendships, I don’t have a super hard time making friends or anything it would just be comforting knowing I’ll come out of college with meaningful friendships
  • I really prioritize having a beautiful campus
  • Obviously good academics, especially for CS, but I’m aware of how competitive CS is and that it’s a pretty employable degree from any school, so I’m not super picky about how “good” the school is honestly
  • Not too urban or too rural, although neither are really dealbreakers
  • I guess I’d prefer a smaller campus, but not too small as I don’t want it to feel like a high school or anything.
  • It would also be cool to have a high percentage of students living on campus to really get that “community” feel
  • Not too selective, I know I have decent stats but my EC’s are kind of weak so I’m looking for more match/safety schools that still have what I’m looking for
  • I know I’d like some of those LAC’s like Vassar/Colby/etc, but those are suuuper hard to get into so schools with similar vibes but easier to get into would be awesome!

Sorry this got super long, thanks so much for reading any help is very very much appreciated!!

You have a very nice record. I don’t think your ECs are weak by any stretch. Here are some schools to consider given your stated preferences: University of Rochester (match/safety but campus is not beautiful IMO but handsome), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (match/safety, campus is charming but not beautiful), Vassar (reach), Tufts (reach), University of Richmond (match), Lafayette (match/safety, some Greek life), and WashU (reach).

It’s an odd list of schools but these are schools we have visited, except for WashU, given our children’s preferences and interests (one is doing CS), which are similar to yours. All these schools have good to strong CS programs are not too large and have a friendly vibe.

Vassar is a “reasonable reach” given experience with one child whose record was quite similar to yours. A hidden gem is WPI–consider it carefully. They give out merit aid and are trying hard to attract more women. The campus is charming though I would not call it beautiful. Vassar’s campus is gorgeous and Richmond’s is beautiful. Lafayette’s campus is also very pretty.

You might want to consider taking AP Physics next year given your interest in CS. Talk to your HS guidance counselor about it.

All the best!

P.S. I know, from experience, that WPI, Rochester, Lafayette, and Richmond give merit aid. Vassar and Tufts do not but both are generous with financial aid (if you qualify). I’m not sure about WashU.

The University of Wisconsin is very, very good for computer science. At the risk of repeating myself from a different thread, years ago I was working with a team from the University of Wisconsin on a software project. I was consistently very impressed with the students, with the faculty, and with the quality of work that they did.

With a budget of $45k per year without taking on debt, there is no way that I would take on debt to go anywhere else so long as you can get accepted to the CS program at the University of Wisconsin.

I think that the first thing for you to do is to talk to your guidance counselor and try to figure out whether Wisconsin is a safety for you. If so you can consider a few reaches. If not then you also need to find a safety.

You could run the NPC on places like Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and UIUC and see whether they are likely to be affordable. They would be reaches if they are affordable, and likely out of reach otherwise. UC Berkeley would likely be full pay at more than $65,000 per year and I would not take on that much debt to go there over Wisconsin.

We are not from your part of the country, but I have a vague recollection that there is some sort of reciprocity with UMN. This would be a possible safety if my vague recollection is correct.

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This is excellent advice, Wisconsin’s CS program is top-notch, but the individual expressed a preference for a smaller campus, which Wisconsin would not be. We went through a very similar debate when applying to colleges and ended up not applying to any large universities b/c neither child wanted to go to one.

Have you considered Purdue? Pretty strong college for CS & engineering, and tuition costs are around 28K for out of state.

I agree that in-state to Wisconsin – with its fantastic academics, affordable instate tuition, and the opportunity to intern at Epic – sets the bar pretty high. As many CC folks like to say, you can make a big school smaller, but not the reverse. At UW, there are residential learning communities in the 1st year dorms, programming through the Honors program etc. to “shrink” the experience. Note that UW “unweights” the high school transcript, even if the high school does not provide an unweighted gpa so the OP’s 4.3 becomes something lower. The OP should re-calculate her unweighted gpa herself using a 4.0 scale.

Another issue is to get a handle on finances – the OP’s family will contribute $45k per year, which is wonderful. Is the family full pay or is it eligible for need-based aid? If it is not eligible for need based aid, and there is only $45k available, then the OP needs at least 1/2 tuition merit award to afford school other than Wisconsin and Minnesota. That means, identifying schools which give merit and where OP is in the very top tier of applicants. My knowledge is more about LACs than mid sized privates, so I can’t lend much help there – perhaps Case Western, Univ Rochester, Syracuse, Fordham?