OOS (East Coast) for Game Design

Hello all, would love to get your thoughts on chances for merit for my junior daughter.

We are from CT in an area where school is VERY rigorous. Her current unweighted GPA is 3.5, but since all of her classes are AP or Honors, her weighted GPA is on track for about a 4.2 to 4.5 depending on how things finish up. She will be around a 4.0 or 4.1 at the end of her junior year.

SAT scores are to be determined but based on PSAT I would think worst case would be 1350 and best case mid 1400. Could be higher but not counting on that.

She is extremely into video game design and creation. She is on the digital art and animation side (very artistic many years of by hand and digital artwork). On the tech side she has taken and enjoys AP level comp sci classes. First one was MIT app inventor and the this year they are doing Java. She’s not programming in her spare time for fun, she chooses the art side for that

Utah is on her list for a few reasons. It has a strong game design program, and she also loves mountains and nature. She fell in love with Colorado when we visited and liked Moab as well. We’ve never been to SLC.

I’m curious what thoughts are on her chances and odds with OOS, 4.3 weighted, 1350-1400 sat, 7 AP and 10 honors. ECs nothing special but a number of them. Art club. Camp counselor. Was in theater production as actor. Mentor in a kids learning to program workshop a few years. Some other items as well.

She is looking at some other great schools like northeastern, WPI, RPI, but these are likely to be far more expensive and likely less or no merit since her stats fall at or under their averages. Plus being east Coast they are almost 70k per year with room and board and fees!


The auto merit is based on stats and in particular UW GPA, not weighted, along with SAT/ACT score. You can get some idea of which scholarships she might be in line for from the NPC. But the large merit scholarships require close to (or exactly) 4.0 UW (and over 30 ACT). And unfortunately no allowance is made for school rigor or grading policies.

So broadly speaking I think that (if anything) you wouldn’t get more than a modest first year only grant to offset a part of the OOS tuition. Of course you can then stay for residency over the first summer and it becomes much less expensive in subsequent years (tuition and fees around $10K, total COA of ~$25K per year, though tuition depends on how many credits you take). A very large number of first year students do stay that summer, it’s great fun, especially if you find a friend with a car for weekend trips.

That’s really the key cost advantage of Utah, it means the total cost of attendance for four years is only about $120K even if you are full pay OOS for the first year. Do visit, it’s easy to combine with a ski trip and the campus is really beautiful when the mountains are covered in snow.

Thanks for this info. I find this all fascinating. I was reading some threads and saw so many people posting about having UW 4.0 GPAs. I was amazed. The number of kids with a truly unweighted 4.0 in our high school could probably be counted on one or two hands, and they will go to MIT, Yale, Duke, etc (and they usually have a mid 1500s SAT to go with it). Of course, there are also kids who get very good grades taking the normal college prep level classes (non honors and non AP or IB). I have a hard time imagining that Utah gives those students the same unweighted evaluation? Seems a bit crazy since the latter students path is quite simple compared to the rigor of the kid taking college level classes in HS? Maybe this is a west coast thing. I have seen similar stuff in California schools where it seems as though a ton of kids all have no issue getting all A marks. Around here the teachers take pleasure in making a B+ hard to achieve in honors or AP classes.

While I absolutely understand why UU would want to offer those deals to those level kids, it seems like their average SAT score is around 1200. Meaning, they get solid students but most of them are slightly above the national average. Seems odd that they would take a kid in the 1400 range with all rigorous classes and treat them the same as a kid with an 1120 sat and all college prep level classes.

In that sense it’s a shame that Utah has such broadly based scholarship award criteria.

I will say the becoming a resident thing is fascinating. Had no idea as most schools tend to discourage and do all they can to stop that (OOS kids becoming residents). They have all sorts of tricks to keep you paying OOS for many years even if you do try to move there.

The one downside I see as a parent is that Utah is already across the country. Living out there for the first summer would mean seeing our child even less, if at all. But obviously kid needs to do what is best for them.

I really appreciate the feedback. For us. A school like Utah is already 10-20k cheaper a year than schools around here so that makes it a factor. Thanks!

Not sure how much you would need but Clarkson gives very good merit, and they made the top 50 in the country for game design. Really great school.

Auto merit based on unweighted GPA and SAT/ACT is common at many western colleges, for example Arizona even publishes their table of awards: https://financialaid.arizona.edu/types-of-aid/scholarships/freshman-transfer

Certainly you can game this system if you want (just as kids in states with class rankings game that system), but I don’t see that as particularly common.

Where the rigor and everything else comes into play at Utah is for the full ride (Eccles) scholarship, which is holistic and based on an essay and interview. Those candidates won’t necessarily have received the top auto merit (eg if they didn’t have a perfect UW GPA), but they will be the sorts of students with a 1500+ SAT score who would also get into top 20 colleges. There are also smaller departmental scholarships which can be applied for separately and are judged holistically (a list is here: https://utah.academicworks.com/).

In terms of spending the summer, there are jobs as orientation leaders which pay a stipend plus provide free housing. There is also a full semester of classes available (all charged at instate rates) with a wide choice of general ed and lower level classes because so many freshmen are staying. If you take a least one class for credit then you can get on campus housing for the summer so many people take one or two classes and combine that with a summer job. You have to spend all but 28 days out of a 365 continuous day period in the state, so that usually means a couple of weeks at home at Christmas and then a week or so of holiday in the summer. However college organized study abroad programs also count for residency so you can also go on one of those.

We just went to the Honors College open day. They have some wonderful opportunities for students in the Honors program. Students can apply to participate in themed learning programs that fulfill all but one of their Honors class requirements and include a summer overseas research trip that also works toward their residency. So that first summer after freshman year, your student can go study ecology in Argentina and upon return be eligible for Utah residency.

Yes I should have mentioned that AFAIK the Honors College admission offer is also determined holistically (after all that’s why you write an essay), though there may be some level of stats-based screening as part of the decisionmaking.

Praxis Labs (https://honors.utah.edu/praxis-labs/) are another interesting Honors College opportunity worth checking out. The trip to Argentina mentioned above is the Ecology and Legacy minor (https://honors.utah.edu/ecology-legacy/).

@Twoin18 @trudytrudy thanks so much, both! Super helpful and friendly - this site is a fantastic resource.