Match vs. Safety - please help confirm list for student with 3.4 GPA

The college search process for DD23 has shifted recently after she decided to move away from a theatre BA/BFA program. She is still trying to finalize what she will be studying, but is strongly considering English/creative writing/journalism/advertising. Her school does not use Naviance, so we are trying to sort through her current list of schools to determine whether they are a match, safety or reach.

DD23 has been focused on attending a mid to large size university with all four seasons that is within a 1-2 hour drive of skiing and snowboarding. Academics, opportunity for study abroad, internships and job placement are all important. She wants a school that has a traditional campus with access to a college town, great school spirit, athletics, and opportunities to be involved in clubs (related or not to her major). We would like to see her at a university that can offer smaller class sizes.

She currently has a 3.4 GPA and we are expecting it to stay close to that by the time she starts applications this summer. Her curriculum (while not highest level of rigor) will include 4 years of all core subject areas (math/english/social studies/science), 3 years of foreign language, electives focused in arts and english, one honor class, no AP, 2 college classes taken online and in addition to regular high school schedule during COVID shut down, 32 credits for potential transfer from dual credit classes.

She will likely be test optional (not a great test taker). She has good ECs/leadership, expecting great essays and LORs, and work experience.

Can you help us understand if these schools are appropriately categorized? FWIW, Michigan is her state of residency.


  • Appalachian State
  • Butler
  • Colorado State
  • Indiana University
  • James Madison
  • Loyola Chicago
  • Miami University Ohio
  • Michigan State
  • U of Colorado, Boulder
  • U of New Hampshire
  • U of Utah
  • U of Vermont
  • Virginia Tech (reach?)


  • Central Michigan
  • Grand Valley State
  • Ohio University
  • U of Iowa (based on Regents index)
  • U of Kansas (based on assured admissions)
  • U of Kentucky
  • Western Michigan
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Are there cost constraints that would require her to earn a merit scholarship at any of the colleges? If so, then make the reach/match/likely/safety assessment based on earning a large enough merit scholarship, rather than admission.

You might also consider Ithaca College – which meets most of your criteria.

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Apologies - I forgot to mention financials. We currently do not have any cost constraints or requirements for aid.

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Hi! I’m not good at chancing, but from a quick look I think U of Vermont is not a match at a 3.4. Our HS does not use Naviance either; we found that niche can do a graph of chances with GPA and test scores, and it was pretty valid for my son. Even if she isn’t going to submit, having some idea of her test scores will help you a lot with figuring out chances.

As an Ohio resident and IU grad, I can tell you that the skiing places within reach of her Ohio schools, KY and IU, might not be up to par depending on what she is used to in MI. :slight_smile:

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Thank you. She definitely would agree that many of these schools are not near a preferred size/type of ski location, but we are trying to keep options open.

Re: test scores - she is taking SAT again but current score is 1140.

I think UNH is reachy. What about UMaine?

University of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff is a short drive from ski slopes and in an interesting college town/city.


At first glance, knowing about several of the schools using the system our school changed to as felt it was more reliable and detailed than Naviance, Maia Learning, many of her match/target schools are more likely slight reach schools with a 3.4 GPA and no incredible test scores to bolster and not many honors or AP classes.

  • Miami of Ohio, U of Colorado, Boulder, UNH, Univ of Vermont, and Indiana U are all reaches looking at the numbers. If the school offers ED, she could have a better chance and also if full pay for schools that are not need-blind.

I would add DePaul to your list, we loved DePaul as a match/targe/slightly a reach. Loved DePaul when visited and didn’t love Loyola Chicago, but thought we would like Loyola more before the visit. So, you never know. Loved our travel through Iowa City and the Univ of Iowa had a great campus and cute town right off-campus.

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You might consider adding UConn and UMass to that list.

University of New Mexico. Skiing pretty nearby at Sandia Peak, Santa Fe and Taos. Gives excellent aid to OOS students. Great sports. Good English and journalism departments.


OOS 3.4 is more than a reach for UMASS


I’d say the same about UConn

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I can’t speak to all of these but my son has similar GPA with 1260 SAT and was admitted to UNH.

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That is helpful. Is your son in state?

UNH is high on DD23’s list. She is taking the SAT again in March to try and improve those scores.

I wouldn’t assume that.


No, we are out of state. I love UNH. We toured over the summer and I think it had a nice feel and has a lot to offer.


I totally agree with @TS0104 about the quality of skiing options in OH, KY, and IN. I also am abysmal at doing chancing.

But these might be some places that would be matches and offer great skiing & snowboarding.

Montana State
University of Nevada - Reno
University of Minnesota - Duluth
University at Buffalo (SUNY)

ETA: I forgot to add Brigham Young as a possibility. I don’t know if it’d be a match or a reach, but I imagine the skiing would be pretty good and its advertising program is supposed to be very good.

Our daughters are quite similar, except my D22 is moving more towards BFA the closer college gets. I don’t have any additional suggestions as mine is not a skier. I will confirm that Michigan State is a match. My D was admitted with 3.5, SAT 1210, ACT 26, mostly honors and arts classes, 3 APs. There were a few very low grades in that 3.5. I agree that Western and Grand Valley are safeties.

I’ll just throw out there that Michigan State has an auditioned Musical Theater minor open to any undergrad student in the university. It requires something like six theater/dance classes and participation in two productions. We attended their staged reading of new work last fall and were impressed with how much the students accomplished just a few weeks into the school year.

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