Match Me! Junior looking for Target Schools in NE/Mid-Atlantic



Congratulations on a fantastic academic record. Columbia is not impossible, if you can massage something of yours into a “hook”. Oboe is an instrument that gets people in and a scholarship at schools that offer merit money, gets people an acceptance at schools that don’t offer merit. Is your oboe playing so good that you could get into a prestigious pre-college program near you? Maybe Peabody has something? It’s just that people who attend these prestigious pre-college conservatory programs sometimes get into the Ivies. Every orchestra needs a couple of oboists, and they’re not that easy to find. So if you’re at that level, that path might vault you into Columbia.

I think that you will get into all the schools you’ve listed, other than Columbia, and that your best option will be UMd. Make sure you apply early enough for merit money, meaning I think before Nov 1st.

If your parents aren’t able and willing to pay rack rate for private colleges (>80K/yr), then your best option is definitely UMd, or chasing merit money at 3rd tier liberal arts colleges. Your grandparents might not realize that you would need an additional 200K from them to make up the difference between UMd and full fare private college. You need to have a very open and frank discussion with your parents and with your grandparents about money for college, and if they give you the “Oh, don’t you worry about that now” response, then make DARNED sure that you apply to both UMd College Park and UMd Baltimore Campus, early, so that when acceptances come through, you have affordable options.

Other schools: Probably not worth applying to other public colleges besides your in-state options, since yours is one of the better ones, as good as and possibly better than any of the Northeast/Mid Atlantic flagships, you’ll get in, and the others won’t wind up being cheaper or better than your in-state option. Definitely apply to Barnard too. Only apply to Trinity if you’re willing to be on a relatively small fortress campus in the middle of a very high crime slum area in a frankly not very exciting city. Consider Wesleyan, Amherst, Middlebury, Clark, Brandeis, Connecticut College, Williams, Bowdoin, Bates, Colgate, Haverford, Vassar, Bucknell, Colby, Dickinson, Union, Muhlenberg if you’re hell bent on a private college. Honestly, none of these are worth an extra 200K over what you’d pay for U Md college park. I only mentioned Barnard because it’s very similar to the Columbia experience you want. I left out other women’s colleges, since it doesn’t seem to be what you’re seeking. I think that if you’re considering Columbia, you should also look at Penn. It is no farther a reach than Columbia, has a campus within a city, has strong writing/history/poli sci, not quite as unattainable as Yale and Harvard. You also might consider Drexel, right next to Penn, which is primarily an engineering school but has expanded into liberal arts, might award you a lot of merit money.

With respect to this, it might be worth noting that Amherst, Williams, Colgate and Vassar appear in this Forbes article from 2017:

Re: being an oboe player…the first thing you need to find out is if the college actually needs an oboe player in their ensembles.

My kid was a state ranked oboe player who also played in precollege orchestra and wind ensemble. In addition to studying oboe, she also played piano, and was in an auditioned childrens choir.

She inquired at every college of interest about playing oboe at the schools. She contacted department chairs, orchestra directors, and applied teachers. Some were very clear that they did not need an additional oboe or English horn player (kid played both very well). Others were more open to non-majors playing in their ensembles.

So…my message here…don’t count on oboe playing as being a hook…because it won’t be if the ensembles already have sufficient oboe players enrolled.

Also, you can be the best oboe player on the planet, but the colleges will want to know if you intend to continue playing in college.

I think you have a fairly balanced list. Columbia will be your reach, but go for it…because you can’t get accepted if you don’t apply.

Apply early to UMD. They fill a good %age of their incoming class in the early action round.

1 Like

Thank you all for your excellent advice! All very good suggestions. I’m not planning on playing oboe in college because I’d like to really focus on pre-law. I’m really excited because I just found out I got the summer internship I interviewed for with the legal non-profit. I really did like UMD when I visited there, so I think I would be happy if I ended up going there. I’m going to look into some of the other suggestions as well. I’m just very worried because I hear so many people getting rejections. Maybe I’m stressing too much.


FYI, Arizona merit aid has taken a dive in recent years for OOS.

Hmmm - I wouldn’t say that.

The top level fell from $35 to $32K - and the rest are intact.

Or am I missing something?

Tuition has gone up -and they may have eliminated or reduced the one time award (my daughter got $1k).

But other than the top level, it all seems intact with the last 5 years or so.

Types of Aid: Incoming First-Year and Transfer Tuition Scholarship Awards | Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid (

Ah, thought you were talking about Arizona State. Even just a few years ago, they offered in-state tuition based on grades/ACT. They also offered very high merit aid on top of in-state tuition. Last couple years this hasn’t been the case.

Absolutely, thanks for clarifying.

Since you are full pay and Columbia University is your “dream” school, let me mention two items:

  • Of the 4 undergraduate colleges at CU, as a traditional student with your intended major means you can apply separately to two colleges: Columbia College and Barnard College.
    All university students attend the same classes, use the same facilities, join the same clubs - and graduate together with the CU diploma.
    By applying at both CC and BC, your application will be reviewed by different admission teams. Barnard College will seek out exceptional young women, applying criteria that is distinct from the other colleges.
  • If you feel certain about definitely wanting to attend a certain (highly selective) college if admitted, then applying Early Decision will drastically raise the odds. Per example, at BC, 60% of the class is admitted ED, leaving only 40% of the class spots for the vastly larger RD application pool.