Need college suggestions for Virginian applicant with low gpa but decent SAT!

Hi, can someone here help me build my college list? I have a few schools so far but am looking to apply to 10 or so schools! Also, I’m looking for somewhere that has a good amount of students, nothing below 5k enrollment. Thanks.

Background Info: SE asian male immigrant (but citizen). First gen college student. Low income, single-mom household.

School: Super competitive public high school (not in NOVA lol)

GPA: 3.58UW, 4.16W (13 A’s, 9 B’s). Not that great of GPA but I’m pretty ok with it given circumstances and time constraints.

Class Rank: School doesn’t rank but I’m guessing I’m top 20-30%

SAT: 1520

SAT Subjects: Math 2 (780), Chem (800)

Coursework (so far): 7 APs (Chem[we don’t speak of this], Physics 1[5], Psych[5], APUSH[4], CSA[5], Lang[4], CSP[5]) + all honors

Senior year: 5 APs (Physics 2, Calc BC, Lit, Gov, Stats) + Discrete Math

ECs (in order of time spent):

  • Co-founded a business that pulls in revenues of 1-4k a month. Donate a portion of profits to charity (rn it’s going towards SPCA)
  • Decent @ chess. USCF (provisional) rating is 1700-1800. Online rating is about ~1870 average across traditional time controls and 2000 on correspondence as of right now.
  • Competitive programming. Self-taught myself data structures/algos, C++, Java, and Py3. I've won/placed high at some regional/local competitions. I'm in the top percentiles on a few popular problem/competition sites, also.
  • Lockpicking. I'm pretty good at picking locks, I can pop open most if not all locks (bar super expensive ones) sold in retail stores. Just a cool hobby, probably not going to put on college apps.
  • Fluff: Math Club, Chess Club, Computer Club, Medical Club, Science Honor Society

Schools I have so far (intended major is either CS or math, maybe engineering…):
Community college

Penn State


Look into the University of Rochester.

That’s a well above average GPA. Don’t sell yourself short.

Have you run the NPC for all of these schools? Are they affordable?

If Purdue is affordable, I’d add UMD to your list. Strong in CS/eng and my D thought it was a similar vibe to Purdue.

I’ve read some bad things about them lately doing a bait and switch on financial aid. First year is good, then they cut it way down for second year. Might not be the best choice for a low income student that needs a lot of aid.

For the OP, make sure you run the NPCs on the schools on your list. Penn State and Pitt are not known for giving lots of financial aid to OOS students. If you had a better GPA you might have been competitive for merit at Pitt but with a 3.58, I don’t think you will get any.

I think your best bets are your in-state publics. While you list several as reaches, there must be some that would be matches for you.

Does your high school have Naviance or an equivalent? If so what does the scatter gram chart look like when you plug your GPA and test scores for some of these schools? I’d be especially curious what VT shows for your stats. I found Naviance to be a very useful tool in gauging my son’s chances at colleges when he applied with lopsided stats.

No. I just guessed that tech was a reach since engineering is pretty competitive.

UVA and Tech are pretty cheap when I plugged it in the npcs. VTech was around 15k and UVA was like 2k. As for the OOS schools, it ranged from 25k-45k (lol). I don’t mind going to debt for school but 45k is a bit much. I might just apply anyways if I qualify for application fee waiver.

Thanks everyone.

You hit 5 of my D’s 7 applications, with similar metrics and objectives. She added Ohio State and Lehigh.

From research/tours, I’d add Maryland, though she chose not to apply there.

From VT’s website :

"Virginia Tech engineering continues to be sought out destination for an engineering degree, seeing a 20 percent increase in applications this year.

Fall 2019 first-year student profile:
Average high school GPA is 4.14
Average SAT Math score is 707
Average SAT Reading score is 652
Total SAT average is 1351"

Assuming their GPA average shown above is weighted and calculated the same way as yours, it sounds like you would have a decent chance. Check out it their career survey starting salary outcomes for CS majors -especially the top 25% of earners. Seems very strong.

What about the other VA publics? Do any of them have programs that appeal to you?

I’ve looked at W&M, JMU, and GMU.

I like W&M but I don’t think I have really a fair chance w/ my stats. GMU and JMU are ok I guess? I don’t really like their locations (especially GMU - Fairfax traffic is horrible). Also, their aid isn’t really that great (20k-25k)…

Crosd out Pitt, Penn State, and Purdue, since rhey wont gice tou money to attend. Penn state is 48k a year OOS (no aid)- 25k is in state costs.

Look into Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell, URochester, Union, Clarkson. You’d get automatic merit aid at Miami Ohio and UAlabama. Vanderbilt may be a reach. Umaryland, UMinnesota have competitive merit scholarships.

Affordability should trump any student body size consideration - if you’re admitted to many universities pick the largest affordable one of course, but don’t limit yourself on this at the application stage.

You cannot borrow more than 5.5k for freshman year (unless you planned on saddling your parents with debt, which, if they’re lower income, woudn’t be very nice). So, your budget is the amount of Pell youre eligible for, 5.5k in loans, your savings from a job, and your parents out of pocket contribution. Cross out any university that doesnt match your budget.

Add a few more VA public universities. VTech is a match but you can’t count on it.

Don’t sell JMU short - you may qualify for additional aid via the STEM Second Century Scholarship - “Incoming freshmen enrolling in one of the designated STEM programs may qualify to be recognized as Second Century Scholars and receive scholarship support. The Second Century scholarship is awarded for a maximum of four years of undergraduate work, provided recipients continue in any one of the designated STEM majors and maintain a high level of academic performance and commitment to their studies. The amount of the scholarship is set at a minimum of 75 percent of in-state tuition and fees for the year recipients enter the university and continues at this amount for a maximum of four consecutive years”

Thanks @MYOS1634. That was very helpful. I wasn’t aware of the 5.5k loan limit :frowning:

My hope is to get into VTech. I’ve also been considering just going to community college and transferring to UVA since that seems to be the most financially sound route. I’m not certain at the moment though, I just have to wait and see I guess :slight_smile:

Run the Npc on all universities listed above. Participate in the JMU scholarship contest.
Many universities give scholarships to freshmen with a high SAT score (up to full tuition) so if you went to community college you’d lose that advantage. That score is literally worth ten of thousands dollars.

I did! Thanks for the great suggestions. All under 15k (both URoch and Lehigh were under 10k, Vandy was exceptionally low at 2.5k lol) except for UMD (way too expensive).

I don’t care of prestige or ranking of school, so I’m willing to go to anywhere that pays the most. Location matters though, I can’t stand hot weather…