Matches for high-stats high-anxiety D22 w quirky major

D22 has good safeties and of course reaches that 1 million other high-stats kids will apply to, but needs suggestions on appropriate matches.


  • State of residency: TX
  • Type of high school: Large suburban public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity: White Female
  • Other special factors: No hooks other than legacy at UVa

Intended Major(s)
After considering music theory and graphic design (both strong interests), D22 has tentatively decided for now on either religious studies or sociology, with the aim to do graduate work in Protestant seminary toward some kind of religious vocation. Does NOT want conservative religious school - trying to get away from that, would prefer broader perspective that is social justice-oriented. Either secular or Jesuit would be better.

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: ~98/100
  • Weighted HS GPA: 102.9/100
  • Class Rank: Not yet, but likely top 10ish/650ish
  • ACT/SAT Scores: ACT 35 (33 M/36/36/36) (single sitting)

*3 AP done (Bio 5/HumG 5/WHAP 5)
*4 AP Jr yr (Eng/APUSH/Span/Psych) + dual enrollment math thru UT-Austin
*5 AP Sr yr (Eng Lit/GovEcon/Stats/Chemistry/Music Theory)

Very few - some regional awards for Academic Decathlon, a few small local things

School ECs: Pretty light. Band 9 (quit due to marching reqs and bad knees), Aca Dec 10 (team leader), Choir 11-12 (missed out on all-region/all-state chance due to COVID), school musical 11, Young Democrats (VP 11, Pres? 12)
Other ECs: Lead teacher of church choir for preschoolers for 3 years (given leadership at age 14), peer leader in church youth group, regular leader in worship (reading scripture/offering prayers or reflections); junior election judge in county 2020 election; created graphic logo for school district’s COVID virtual academy for fun, was forwarded to superintendent and now used on official school communications with her permission; plays clarinet, ukelele (self-taught), and piano (self-taught with guitar chords book, somehow).

Cost Constraints / Budget
AGI varies $125-150k, current year $127k; budget $25k-30k


D22 preferences (deep breath…):

  • Traditional campus with green space (not “office buildings in the city” like BU, NYU)
  • Little to no Greek life, minimal drinking culture
  • Liberal/progressive vibe
  • No Southern state schools - too conservative, too Greek
  • Big enough to have lots of major choices and strong alumni network, but not enormous
  • Ability to change major, even between different colleges within univ.
  • Relatively low-stress, collaborative atmosphere
  • Solid mental health services for anxiety disorder
  • Boston area would be a plus due to family nearby, but not required
  • Nice to have national student body (a few from TX around, but not everyone from TX)

UNAFFORDABLE (per NPCs): Michigan, GWU, WashU, Tulane, Miami-FL, USC, UNC, all UCs, Wm&Mary (sadly)

UT-Austin - top 6% auto-admit
Kansas - visited, generally pleased, would attend
New Mexico - drive-thru, very meh

[Need help]

UVa (legacy) (prob EA) - D22 loves idea, haven’t visited, may be too fratty
Boston College (ED2? )- Hoping to visit in summer

Brown (ED1?)
Rice (ED1?)
Amherst? - Hoping to visit (unsure about LAC)

Thanks in advance - first-time poster but I have learned so much already from CC in the last several months.

Loyola Chicago would be a match where your child would see merit $. While in the city, it has its own campus


Gonzaga has both religious studies and social work. Jesuit so more liberal and service oriented. She’d likely get big merit money.


My good friend’s D loves Loyola Chicago.

UVA is a reach for her. And do they give FA to OOS students? I’d also say BC is pretty reachy these days, as well as being pricey.

You have some expensive reaches on your list. Have you run NPC’s?

As she is open to the idea of Jesuit schools, what about Gonzaga? That’s a lovely school with a friendly vibe and a lot of school spirit. She would get merit aid there for sure. Holy Cross is an excellent school, don’t know about merit awards, but I’m sure she’d get in. My D’s good friend was very happy at Siena, a Franciscan college, which is a safety school.

I see Pomona and Amherst, both high reaches. I think she could add Bates, which came to mind as soon as I read your description. No Greek life. There’s a very popular multifaith chaplaincy on campus. Definitely collaborative, friendly, and inclusive. Run the NPC. It’s a reach, but I think they’d be interested in her. The counseling center is very good.

And I see @2plustrio just recommended Gonzaga too. I wish my son had applied.


Boston College was my first thought. Fordham. Look at St. Olaf.

In the Boston area, Tufts would be a good choice. Harvard (the Divinity School might be a resource). Wellesley, Brandeis, Northeastern. But Boston College sounds like a great fit.

Also look at Clark (an hour and a half from Boston) and other Colleges that Change Lives (website) schools.

If she has bad knees, she should get an accommodation and be allowed to be in band. Honestly geez. The marching requirement should be waived for health reasons as long as she has documentation.


Santa Clara University might be worth a look. It’s Jesuit and a lovely campus.


GMTA with Gonzaga.

Another college that may fit her needs is Xavier. Again, another Jesuit. I have heard wonderful things about it from my coworkers kids who have gone there with it being very supportive. They have traditional theology and sociology majors along with opportunities for music. With her high stats and leadership, would this honors program work for her (or too much for her anxiety which is totally acceptable)?

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Boston College, Fordham and Holy Cross are not particularly generous with merit aid.

Brandeis is in the Boston area and great for quirky students. It has Jewish roots but is secular with a social justice lean.

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Good point. From the OP:
Cost Constraints / Budget
AGI varies $125-150k, current year $127k; budget $25k-30k

The stated budget would make a state school a financial possible. The AGI is low enough for financial aid at top schools that meet need, with a probably cost of $12-15k. Some of those are of course high reaches but worth looking into schools that meet need with that AAGI.

And merit aid. Music is a possible source of merit aid if talent is there. Also suggest a music supplement with recording, resume, letters if appropriate (if talent warrants it). Regardless of major.

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Saint Olaf! Lovely kind, small school (about 3K students) near Minneapolis/St Paul, superb for music, especially choral, Lutheran-affiliated but not heavy handed WRT religion, dry campus. Merit scholarships for up to 1/2 cost of attendance plus some financial aid might get you to your price point.

I second Gonzaga too.


I second the idea of St. Olaf. Even though it’s Lutheran, not Jesuit, it’s said to be progressive. I’ve read on this forum that many atheist/agnostic students are happy there. The school’s religious requirement seems to mostly embrace the quest to find meaning in one’s life, however one defines it. Music, of course, it tops there. Main drawback is that it draws heavily from the region…may not be as diverse as the OP would like. Don’t know about financial aid, but I suspect she’d get a fairly generous offer.

Maybe Grinnell? Don’t know anything about the religion department but as a top LAC, has a national/international student body, definitely progressive, and I‘ve heard Is generous with merit aid.


Difficult to make suggestions as all preferences are difficult to find in one school.

Fordham University Rose Hill campus should be considered.

Based on concerns about stress & mental health, maybe your daughter would be most comfortable at an LAC rather than in a National University environment as universities are a more difficult adjustment during one’s first year of college. Consider LACs with no Greek life since that is a concern.

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Legit question- how does it work to not march but in a marching band? have a person to push/guide a wheelchair? for spacing / order / patterns that could be challenging, though achievable ?

Our band marched but mostly played indoors. The marching was only for certain events. I was suggesting she participate in every aspect of band except for marching. If she WANTED to march, they would have to accommodate that too. These accommodations are legally required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The school is violating that by telling her she cannot participate in band due to knees. (I have a kid who could not march but otherwise participated fully in band. And majored in music.)

Our marching band marches, there are no indoor performances. There are other band options at our high school besides marching (5 in total), but the marching band is part music, part physical performance, competing as a team. My kids play sports, but I’ve alway been impressed with the amount of physical hard work the band students do.

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Thanks for the rec - as it happens, a friend mentioned Loyola recently and I forgot to check into it. Will do that.

Gonzaga - that’s a good suggestion, had not considered. Thanks.

Molloy College in Rockville Centre NY (Long Island) is Jesuit, service oriented, has many majors including music, theology, sociology - and would have significant merit with the stats presented. Its about 3,500 students, but only about 450 live on campus. Very small, safe, intimate campus.

Thanks Lindagaf. (I read the entire thread on your daughter and Bates, super-helpful and informative).

Re: UVa, would be a reach except for legacy. Per alumni assoc., oos legacy acceptance rate is 33%, roughly double the standard oos rate. Part of this may be that the legacy pool is objectively stronger, as these kids have typically had lots of resources growing up. But the school acknowledges that legacy is a factor in oos admissions (not in-state, though). Still far from a sure thing, especially after the unprecedented 2021 admission season.

RE: NPCs, I should have been more clear in original post - all schools on the list are manageable per NPCs. For us, UVa and Brown would be ~31k, BC 28k, UT 28k, Amherst/Pomona ~23k, and Rice 18k(!).

I will do a deeper dive into Bates for sure. Would need to run NPC - would they offer merit at all?

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