My chances? I need to shorten/ make my college list more realistic

<p>So my list of colleges that I was thinking of applying to has ballooned to ridiculous proportions. Plus, a lot of the schools I just don't think I have that great of a chance at, but at the same time I would like some stretch schools. So here is my list of schools that I'm thinking about, and then I'll include my info. Please help me figure out which schools I should actually apply to! and if there are other schools that you think might be a good fit I would appreciate recommendations as well.
University of Washington (Seattle, it's in my state so the tuition= :D )
UC Berkeley
UCLA
Case Western Reserve
Tulane
Carnegie Mellon
Cornell
University of Chicago
Vanderbilt
Brown
Bowdoin
Washington and Lee
Brandeis
Possibly Williams or Swarthmore, I don't have a very good shot at those I don't think, but the idea of going to a smaller school has been growing on me
My mother wants me to apply to one of those really really famous/low acceptance rate places like Harvard or MIT etc. but at this point I don't think it's really worth it. Then again, I guess some of the other schools on my list are pretty big reaches too.</p>

<p>So my info:
School type: public
State:WA
Race: mixed (half asian, should I even put asian down?)
Major: I'm thinking something along the lines of environmental biology, or molecular bio, or food science. honestly not really sure yet.
GPA: approx. 3.92 uw
not sure of rank, probably in top 10%
SATs: Reading: 730 Writing: 670 Math:660 2060 total (I think I will retake)
SAT 2: lit: 720 (thinking I will also take bio)
I'm doing IB diploma, but I'm also going to take the Calc b/c test
here's my junior and senior year schedules, does fresh/soph really count?
Junior: IB bio 2, IB music, IB history of Americas, IB calc methods, IB spanish 4, IB english
Senior: IB bio 3, IB physics, IB modern world history, Calc ap b/c, IB english seminar, IB music
My ECs:
Youth Orchestra group: 11th and 12th, assist. principle in my section 12th grade
Science Olympiad all 4 years
Volunteer at hospital every week, I think I have about 200 hours right now
Volunteer at computer recycling center
Karate 12th grade
Taekwondo club 11th grade
NHS
Chinese Bridge camp (Went to China for 2 weeks, learned some chinese/ about culture, interacted w/ students from China)
Traveled to volunteer in Fiji and Peru (both were medical)
I'm also organizing a benefit concert with a couple other classmates. </p>

<p>Thank you if you read all of that!!</p>

<p>haha now I understand all the bump things</p>

<p>Do all of the schools on your list even teach food science?</p>

<p>I think the best way to shorten your list is to figure out what you want since your list is very diverse. For a minute imagine you got into two very similar schools in terms of prestige/competitiveness that are totally different. Let's say Bowdoin and Cornell (they are close enough in stats). Would you pick the small LAC or the large private university? The one in a reasonable sized city or the one that is not really in the city? The one with the larger or small faculty to staff ratio and so on?</p>

<p>Focus your list a bit more basically. Also know if you are leaning towards the LACs they value the supplemental essay much more so you will need to put a lot of time into your supplements.</p>

<p>First of all, thank you so much for replying!
Okay, so I will explain my list and stuff a little more.
And yes, the only school with food science is Cornell, but I couldn't find many schools that really really appealed to me that had food science.
Speaking of majors, food science and enivronmental science/biology do appeal to me, but honestly right now there is no major where I feel I have enough experience in that area to say that it is my passion. Plus, after volunteering in Peru, going into medicine has a lot more appeal. But, I figure I can major in whatever and still get into medical school if I do decide to pursue that path.
Okay, so my thought process as far as colleges. Originally bigger schools appealed to me because of the amount of research opportunities/ lots of major options, but after talking to someone who went to Amherst, I've been thinking that a smaller school may be a better choice. However, a really small school would basically have the same amount of people as my high school, so medium-small schools are kind of my favorite as far as size right now. What I mean by that is that University of Chicago (about 5100 kids) to Cornell (13,000) seem like a good size range. However, a lot schools like this I don't think I have a stellar chance at.
University of Washington has great science programs and is in my state, so it would have the lowest tuition. I don't think I will get much in the way of financial aid, if any, but paying 50,000+ would still be really hard.
UC Berkeley I've visited, and the environment seemed pretty nice, most people seemed happy (of course that was just a few hours there, so I don't really know).
University of Chicago kind of made me curious, with their interesting application questions. Plus, after reading Freakonomics (the author is a professor at UChicago), I thought going to a school with professors like the author of that book would be fantastic. But my chances at this school are beginning to look pretty tiny.
Honestly, a lot of my info comes from the pamphlets I get in the mail. I know those are really biased, but they do make some schools look appealing. Brandeis seems good because they emphasized research opportunities, as well as ease of double majoring. Plus, their pictures made it look so nice! (Yeah I know, pictures aren't really what I should be deciding college on.) Bowdoin has research opportunities near the ocean and in Canada, plus their freshman seminar choices seem really interesting. And my college list just sort of ballooned from there. So that was pretty much my messed up thought process. I guess my problem was that I wasn't really picky enough, there isn't a huge list of things that I absolutely feel I need to have in a college. Although good food/ vegetarian options would be a plus! =)</p>

<p>Freakonomics is amazing, though I don't know if you want to base your decision on that. Vegetarian food is very common, all the schools I have visited where extremely vegetarian friendly (the only schools I have visited that are on your list are CMU and Swarthmore).</p>

<p>If you can't decide on big things decide on little things that matter, because right now your list is too long/needs to be cut down. For example I am (with like two exceptions) only planning to apply to schools that have a quidditch team and that don't have a stadium (I can rant about that for ever, but basically I don't want to go to a school that focusses on athletics). Then you can make rules for your sub-catagories, for example all my reaches meet 100 percent of demonstrated need and all my safeties have a lot of merit based scholarships that I would qualify. You need to find something to help you narrow down the list, take some time and figure out what is important, start with the vegetarian food (there is probably at least one school on the list that is not very vegetarian friendly).</p>

<p>Thank you so much for the advice! I will have to do more research I guess, since I haven't visited that many of the schools on my list.
How did you like CMU and Swarthmore? I heard from someone else that visited Swarthmore that it was really nice, but it sounds kind of competetive/ like there is a lot of work, although I suppose any college will have a lot of work.</p>

<p>Oh and does anyone think I have reasonable chances at any of the schools listed?</p>

<p>I live in the city where CMU is (Pittsburgh), so I refuse to attend (one of my newest ways of cutting down my list was realizing I wanted to be at least an hour from home), but it is a great school. I have several friends that go, I love the campus (I sometimes hand out there after a Model UN competition there) and they are overall a very strong school. As for Swarthmore, I loved it so much that I plan to apply ED there. It is very competitive in the sense that you are surrounded by extremely smart students/it is consistently ranked one of the toughest schools in the country, but it is not a competitive atmosphere/the students are not competitive with each other. From my understanding yes the workload is sort of crazy, so if you want a slightly more relaxed school it might not be your best choice...</p>

<p>As for your chances I think you have a decent shot at all the schools assuming your essays and recommendations are strong. Obviously schools like Cornell and Williams are reaches for everybody but you are a strong applicant. The only thing I could see that might weaken you application is your ECs, it is unclear if you have a decent number of hours/leadership positions, if you do you should be fine.</p>

<p>Thank you so much for the information!</p>