Match Me - Mid Atlantic Neuroscience Major

Demographics
Central Pennsylvania, competitive public high school ( top 20 in the state ),
US Citizen, Female, African American

Intended Major(s): Neuroscience with a Pre-Med or Pre-Health program
GPA: 3.8uw, 4.1w with strong upward trend
School Rank: N/A, school doesn’t rank
Test Scores: SAT - 1350.
I had limited prep for my first SAT, so I know I can do much better when I retake in August. May also apply test optional to some schools.

Coursework
All Honors classes except in Math
AP Courses: ( including 12 grade ): Psychology, Chemistry, US History, European History, Biology, Macro Economics
CHS Courses: Communication, Spanish IV, Human Anatomy
(received scores of 93 or higher on my college transcript )
Honors Physics

Awards
Young Artist Award
National Honors Society
Various awards from Speech & Debate Competitions

Extracurriculars
Summer Honors Program at state flagship ( 2019 & 2021, program canceled for 2020 )
Youth Camp Counselor
Provide on-going tutoring for a set of foster kids
Speech and Debate Team Member
Shadowing a physician
Avid soccer player, although I gave up playing for my travel team at the start of COVID
Church Volunteer for the last 6 years
Art - I feel the need to paint, draw, or create something every day

Essays/LORs/Other
Will have LORs from a research professor that I worked under during the summer and a physician that I shadowed.

Cost Constraints / Budget
My parents can afford to spend $25k per year. With stafford loan + work study, I can raise the amount to around 32k per year.

Schools
Lafayette
Bucknell
Muhlenberg

That’s all I have so far. The other schools I researched either don’t offer merit aid or lack Neuroscience as a major.

**What I’m looking for in a school **
* A school that offers my intended major, Neuroscience
* Flexible for setting, but it would be great if the school offered something off-campus that’s in walking distance, like a movie theater or good vegan restaurant
* Would prefer a school with less than 3000 students, but it doesn’t have to be a LAC.
* A strong pre-med or pre-health program, one that actually assists students in obtaining research and clinical experience
* Would like to be within 4-5 hours driving distance from central PA
* A school without a large greek presence

The biggest issue I am facing is a lack of transparency in merit aid. My parents make too much money to qualify for Need Based Aid, but they don’t make enough money to pay the full cost that many of the NPCs calculate for me.

And the schools that are often mentioned on CC as “good schools for merit” aren’t really forthcoming as to what stats students need to earn a reasonable scholarship.

Thank you in advance.

Dickinson College

I worry about your lack of rigor in math. You don’t want loans if possible. I also worry about your ECs - at least how you present them - you need to show depths, tenure, and leadership. As for LORs, you’ll need from your school teachers.

Your cheapest will be a state school. For example, Slippery Rock. It’s not huge but bigger than you want (about 7500). They do have an Honors College which could help make the school feel smaller. Given your budget, something like this or another state school is best.

You can look at Franklin & Marshall, Allegheny, Ursinus, Wooster, Baldwin Wallace, and Randolph Macon to meet your needs I think. Wooster could be especially good for you - not sure about the surrounding area but it’s high up there in research opportunities. Muhlenberg, Trinity (CT), Earlham, Drew,

Good luck.

Thanks for the reply. I have Dickinson on my “waitlist”. The school is fine and the campus tour went okay, but I really hated the road that ran through the middle of campus. For some reason, that really stood out as an issue for me. It sort of broke the overall feel of the campus.

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I think my math is fine. I will we taking Calculus this year, just not Honors or AP Calculus. This is my choice because the other calc classes offered at my school aren’t harder, the difference is that they assign you twice as much busy work.

My high school basically shutdown most activities for Spring 2020 and all of this school year since we were online. There weren’t many opportunities to lead clubs or activities. And I am resisting the urge to “invent” activities like some of my seniors did at my school last year.

And I will look more into Allegheny. I forgot about that college.

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On calc I get it but colleges are judging you by rigor. What you see and what they do don’t necessarily match up. Maybe for neuro science it’s not as important. Stats can be good. Bit merit goes to the top applicants so that sets you down a ■■■■■ perception wise.

All those I listed are under 3k, have neuroscience and meet your distance. I would encourage you to look at Wooster since research is important to you.

I worry about cost for you at any school. It’s why I mentioned slippery rock.

Cost could be a factor but I know they give a lot of merit aid: U of Scranton

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I second Univ of Scarnton. They have a good pre-med and pre-health programs. Also look at Juniata College. You will likely get merit aid at both. I would also emphasize that it’s important to have some financial safeties as well - such as Slippery Rock or Millersville . Regional public universities usually have pretty good biology departments since bio PhD’s are so abundant. You may have to be a bit more open on the size of college, as the somewhat larger colleges are going to have more support for the types of programs you’re looking at, and also you may need to be more flexible because you are looking for merit aid.

Suggest that you sign up for AP Stats if possible. It will give you an AP math course, and statistics is useful for pre-med. I think you’re a very good candidate overall and think you have realistic expectations. I agree that the lack of transparency for merit aid is frustrating. In a reasonable world, $30K per year should be fine for a decent college education, but that’s not our reality, unfortunately.

Edited to add: I don’t think it’s necessary to focus on neuroscience major per se. A lot of colleges have rebranded their biology degree as “neuroscience” with some minor modifications. You should focus on the department resources, faculty and support for pre-med and pre-health programs.

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Bucknell has more greek than you may be thinking.

Merit scholarships are almost always opaque at private colleges (many public universities publish them: X GPA/SAT = Y $). The reason is that privates typically use merit $ to incentivize students that they really want.

YOU know that the reason you didn’t take an advanced math class is b/c you don’t rate the quality of the relevant teachers, but the colleges just see an applicant writing passionately about neuroscience yet taking advanced classes in everything except math.

My D’s bf just graduated from Susquehanna with a neuroscience major (D also attends). Very good merit. Ticks a lot of boxes, though I’m not familiar with their med advising.

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I agree with looking at Juniata, Susquehanna, and Franklin & Marshall, plus if you don’t want a large Greek presence, I’d ditch Bucknell.

Then I’ll add Washington & Jefferson. I just googled and they have neuroscience. It’s a terrific smaller school relatively near Pittsburgh (not in Pittsburgh).

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They do, but my daughter who got into their DPT program with higher stats all around got enough merit to bring it into the $35,000 range. My other daughter with very similar stats of her sister was contacted by Lafayette’s track coach and was told she’d be full pay.

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You should have a conversation with your counselor about the math class. Ask if s/he plans to check the “highest rigor” box on the counselor evaluation portion of the common app and if not, if taking honors math would change that. The merit awards are going to go to the applicants who have higher GPA’s with the highest rigor first.

In our experience receiving the top non-competitive merit awards for private schools was typically $25-30K (tended to be about half tuition). Then they had a few competitive awards for full tuition, etc but you can’t plan to receive an invitation to compete in the final rounds of those.

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I would also suggest that honors & AP across the board except math likely gives the perception that you struggle with math, which for stronger neuroscience programs could hold you back - you’ll want a standardized test subset score in math that alleviates that concern if you are going to stick with the less rigorous math level.

What are your EBRW and Math SAT subscores?

There are a bunch of good recs so far, and if you are merit hunting you will have to apply to relatively more schools. Are you sure you won’t receive any need based aid? Have you run the net price calculators at Bucknell, Lafayette, and Muhlenberg? Do that just to make sure.

Lots of good suggestions so far. I agree Wooster could be a great fit. I would also look at Oberlin, Kenyon, Wheaton (MA), Union, Ursinus, Ohio Wesleyan. Not sure if Providence is within driving distance you want, but that could work too. Basically, at many of these schools you won’t know if you will get enough merit until you apply and are accepted. Having a URM hook is going to help you both with admissions and merit.

ETA: really dive into Allegheny if that stays on the list. Graduating GPAs are low, so I have concern there is grade deflation there…not good for pre-med. Ask questions during the virtual sessions so that you are informed.

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As @momprof9904 says I would not get hung up on Neuroscience as a major at the undergraduate level. You are more than likely going to be able to take basically the same classes with a biology major at a school without a Neuro major.

Also as Creekland mentioned I’d ditch Bucknell if you don’t want a lot of Greek life.

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I did not think of grade deflation. Where you find the graduating GPAs for different schools?

If I switch from regular Calc to AP Calc, then I would need to drop AP Econ. And no other AP classes are available that would fit my classes schedule.

It it worth it to make that switch?

Thanks for all the replies. I updated my list to include the following schools. I will research some of the other suggestions later tonight.

Lafayette
Muhlenberg
Dickinson
Allegheny
Franklin & Marshall
Juniata
Wooster

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That’s not always public info. I attended a admissions session for counselors about two years ago and they said they average graduating GPA was sub 3…so something to look into and ask at an admission session.

I encourage you to choose AP Calc over AP Econ, if you think you can do well in AP Calc.