Match politically interested student w/ strong academics and extracurriculars

I did a few college tours this summer with my family and looking for some match schools. I have a good in-state safety option (IL) and a decent idea of my reach schools.

Georgetown is my first choice and has been for years. I am interested in going into government/politics and have attended summer programs in DC over the past two years. I love the DC area and have toured GW and American as well, but at the end of the day, I really love Georgetown.

We looked at UVA, UNC, Duke, and Johns Hopkins this summer. In the next few weeks, I also have tours at Northwestern, UChicago, and Notre Dame (parents are both alum).

I am looking for schools with a strong pre-law track and economics program, ideally in a location with off-campus opportunities (ie. Internships). Programs focused on foreign relations and/or public policy are great as well. Study abroad opportunities are another big plus. I’m looking for a school with a strong community, campus culture, and alumni network as well as rigorous academics.

I go to a highly regarded boarding school in New England. I’m not really looking for advice on chances because I think the college counselors at my school will have a much better grasp on that. However, I am trying to broaden the schools I’m looking at. Overall I have strong academics and extracurricular involvement. I am on the board of our public forum debate team and work in leadership roles on two community service initiatives, among other activities.

I don’t have strong preferences on size or location. I would prefer a mid-sized school on the East Coast or in the Mid-West, but am open to other options. Cost constraints are also not a huge concern.

If anyone has suggestions for colleges with acceptance rates around the 20% to 30% range that fit the criteria I am looking for, your input would be much appreciated! If you know of any programs matching my interests outside of that admissions range, I would love to hear it as well.

For Econ+Law School admissions, I would be cautious about UChicago. The base ( not Business) Econ major is way more rigorous than their peers and isn’t the most conducive to a very high GPA for law school admission.


There is no pre-law track…you can major in anything. Economics, however, is a definite major. And if you’re looking at public policy interests, state capitals are the next best thing next to D.C.

I think you might be interested in U. of Richmond and its Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law major. Its proximity to the state capitol means that there are also many opportunities for internships and work as it relates to public policy. It also has a regular econ major.

Emory is in Georgia’s state capital, and you might find its Public Policy Analysis major interesting as it combines quantitative studies with public policy.

Providence in Rhode Island is about 2 miles away from the state capitol and seems to hit a lot of your interests as well.


You didn’t look at W&M? Tufts?? Richmond?? Brandeis?

I think W&L would be a fine choice but it’s much smaller. The prof we met on campus told us that after Sewanee (of all schools), that W&L places more in DC jobs on a per capita basis than anyone. I forget the exact subject, but it was Sewanee and then W&L. But it’s rural (but they do have a DC term which includes internship).

If you are looking at the set you are, why not Vandy, WUST, or Wake Forest.

But rather than look at big name schools - look at special programs. For example, my daughter is an International Scholar at College of Charleston - so she’s in a select group focused there. You can find those types of groups at various schools.

Honestly, pre-law is advising and econ can be done anywhere - but you seem name focused - so why not look at the names? Lots of schools have DC programs - in fact most - because it’s affiliated at American. But to look for in school internships, why not look in cities - so Macalester, South Carolina, GW/American - even if they’re not your top, UMD and George Mason, etc. as they are close by.

Alternatively there’s lots of LACs - wonderful schools in PA, Ohio, Maine, NY, etc.

Bottom line - the answer to your question is vast.


If you’re thinking more about international public policy rather than domestic, look at Fordham or NYU. The proximity to the U.N. and related advocacy organizations is another option that would be hard to beat.


Thanks for your reply! By pre-law track I more meant strong advising and matriculation for law school.

Your point about state capitals is very interesting and something I hadn’t considered before.

1 Like

Specifically, it is relatively math-heavy (see Economics < University of Chicago Catalog ). If you like math and are good at it, it may be a good academic fit. But less math inclined students may prefer other schools where the economics major is less math-heavy (or the business economics major at Chicago).

1 Like

I will definitely look into some of those! Just did a quick google search on W&L and it looks great.

I am also looking at Vandy and Wake Forest, and will probably tour Tufts when I am back at school. My family is from IL, so we were only on the East Coast for a long weekend. The schools we chose to tour are not the only ones I am looking at, just how dates and times worked out while we were there.

I am also a rising junior, so I have some time to narrow down my list before I make any final decisions.

Thank you for your input!

With respect to your interest in public policy, some of these colleges may be of interest:

1 Like

Ur early but it’s good. Hit schools as you vacation. Figure out…forgetting the name…what do u like…large, small, urban, rural, sports etc.

Lots of schools will meet your need.

1 Like

I would still show George Washington and American some love by signing up for their email lists and any other activities. Then you can apply to Georgetown EA and depending upon the results, decide if you want to apply to GWU and AU. It is helpful to show some interest before submitting the application because they are often used as “safeties “ to G’Town. You don’t want to be yield protected but not have an acceptance from G’Town.


not a key metric for choosing your college, especially now that most people are working for 1-3 years between college and law school. First cuts for law are LSAT & GPA- not much advising needed there! I have yet to see any hard evidence that any college’s “pre-law” advising shines above the others (including, fwiw, Harvard’s). Every place on your list will give you everything you need to prepare for law school.


For what it’s worth, the first couple schools to come to my mind were Emory and URich. :grinning:

My D21 is at W&L if you have any questions down the road when you’re solidifying your list. We know kids who’ve done the DC internship and loved it.


I think you would like Hamilton. It’s not exactly near anything but I think you would find your peep there. And, of course, their namesake embodies a lot of the career aims you’ve outlined.


My d went to Georgetown and loved it. Many who love Georgetown also apply to Boston College which is somewhat less selective (though still selective!). Lots of overlap with Northwestern as well. American and GW are classic backup schools for Georgetown applicants and you really can’t beat DC for your interests and they are both great schools, in particular we know several very smart kids who loved GW. Have you considered Boston University? It is another classic safety for kids applying to your list. Others are URochester and UPitt. What about NYU?


With respect to Hamilton, you may be well-suited, in particular, for its term-length programs in D.C. and NYC, with associated internships:


Dickinson is a less selective option with a very strong international program. I know a recent grad who managed 3 term-long study aways - one in DC, one in Buenos Aires and one in Madrid. Graduated deeply bilingual, worked for 2 years at a top DC law firm as an associate and is now at UPenn Law.

Semesters in DC are now nearly ten-a-penny. IRL the school that is the single best that I know of for in-term internships is actually GWU- if you hustle, you can have internships all the way through and graduate into actual jobs. GWU is not GU: it is not beautiful, doesn’t have the campus feel, and doesn’t have the éclat. But it matches it for speakers and irl beats it for in-term internships- mostly b/c of course scheduling, and a little bit for distance.

Btw, don’t be discouraged if EA at GU doesn’t work out: they are very upfront about how they use EA, and that there is no admissions bump at all.


Dickinson receives recognition for its IR program in this site, for example:


That website seems great! Thanks for bringing it up. I just looked into the “public policy” degree a bit more and it seems like exactly what I’m interested in!


Thanks for your response! I’m a little apprehensive about BU, GW and NYU because I’m hesitant to be on that urban of a campus. One of the reasons I like Georgetown is because of the super easy access to an urban area but with a more traditional campus feel. Urban is not necessarily a deal-breaker for me but I definitely have a preference against it.

I think I’ll definitely apply to Boston College. My aunt went there and loved it so I’ve grown up hearing good things.

1 Like