Open-mindedly looking for college recommendations and chances


  • US Citizen
  • Southern Ohio, small college town, mostly lower-middle/middle class. My school is in, for the most part, an impoverished area.
  • Small public high school, non-competitive except for top 10 of each class.
  • Chinese (adopted)
  • Other special factors :

Not sure if any of these things mean anything at all, thought I would mention regardless.

Intended Major(s)
Not entirely sure; interested in social sciences, computer science, fashion, music (very wide range sorry). Definitely interested in interdisciplinary studies.

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA: 5.49. AP/Acc/College classes on 6.3 scale but the highest possible GPA is the mean of all of the highest possible GPA’s including 4.3 and 5.3 if that makes sense.
  • Class Rank: 4/175 weighted, 23/175 unweighted
  • ACT: 29. Reading 34 English 31 Science 26 Math 23
    SAT: 1310. English 720 Math 590
    Will definitely be taking one of these again, did not study at all for either


AP Chem
AP Gov

(Can only take one AP sophomore year, took two this year plan to take more next yeat)

College Courses:
Intro to Sociology
Intro to Writing and Rhetoric
Intro to General Psychology
Human Biology
ASL 1+2
College Algebra
Contemporary Social Problems
Intro to Prose and Non-Fiction
Intro to Philosophy

Four years of Spanish, took this year off, plan to continue through the college.

Will be taking at least six more college courses by the time regular decision applications will be due.


  • VFW Regional Essay Finalist (this was in middle school so I dont think this counts, thought I would mention it.)
  • Honor roll for all of academic career

(Include leadership, summer activities, competitions, volunteering, and work experience)

  • Student Council Class Representative-Freshman-current, definitely next year
  • Prom Committee Co-Chair
  • School Events Co-Chair
  • Founder of Sending Sunshine Chapter
  • Teen Science Cafe Leader
  • UChicago Global Politics summer course
  • 30 hours volunteer (more to come)-Local arts studio advocating for those with disability, autism in particular. Forest trash pick-up. Organizing book collection at college.
  • Work in food industry-Spring of sophomore year to fall of Junior year, plan to start working again over the summer.
  • Plan to get an internship with the art studio and volunteer with Zero Waste Events Production over the summer-environmental awareness at festivals.

(Optionally, guess how strong these are and include any other relevant information or circumstances.)
Have not written yet, plan on writing about my experience as an adopted Asian in a predominantly white Appalachian region. I would say my writing skills are a fair amount above average.

Cost Constraints / Budget
No cost constraints, cheaper would be great but not necessary.


  • Safety
    Ohio University, CU Boulder
  • Likely
  • Match
    Not entirely sure if these are matches, probably more of a reach
  • Reach
    Brown (Possibly ED), NYU, Vassar, USC, UPenn

List is still in progress, would love suggestions. I am open to pretty much anything except really small colleges and rural colleges as I prefer cities. Prioritize student life and academics, prefer small greek life. Would not like to go further down than North Carolina, definitely willing to look out west. Absolutely no conservative colleges.

Thank you for the help!


Forgot to Mention:

Volleyball from 7th-10th grade, played club in high school.

Possibly playing tennis next year

Look at Macalester for sure. Urban, liberal, progressive/inclusive.


Also Lewis and Clark, which is also urban.

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Thank you! Will definitely do some research on these, Macalester looks super interesting right off the bat.


Look at Willamette University. It is a little on the small side, but I think it has an ideal mix of programs for you and you might really like it.

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Unfortunately, CU Boulder and any of the California publics are going to be unaffordable. You’ll get very little financial aid and they are quite expensive to begin with.

How about the Ohio state schools? Miami U has a lot of scholarship programs.


I just want to confirm that your family is willing and able to pay $80,000/year without more than the federal loans allowed (about $5500 for first year of college) and without jeopardizing a financially secure retirement? I would double-check and get confirmation on the budget from your family.

That said, how did you develop your list? There is a very eclectic mix, and I would love to know your rationale as it may help in providing additional suggestions. Also, the UCs will be very expensive as generally there is no financial aid for OOS students. So your family would be paying $60k or more for a big public school experience.

Have you run the NPC’s for your schools? Are they affordable? Have your parents determined their EFC? I don’t think the UC’s offer FA for OOS students.

Depending on your EFC you’ll probably want to look at schools that meet full need.

OU and OSU should be on the list. Maybe Cincinnati or Kent too? You need some more safety/matches on your list.

Going far away costs money. Add a couple thousand for plane tickets, Ubers, etc.

DePaul in Chicago. Yes it’s Catholic but very LGBTQ friendly. Good film and arts programs. Maybe Chatham or Point Park in Pittsburgh. Chatham is next to CMU and Pitt. Some other randoms that might work are Fordham, USF or UCF in Florida. Maybe Loyola in New Orleans.

I grew up close to your location. Was a first gen many years ago. You’ll have a few obstacles. First, going to a subpar high school is a disadvantage. Don’t be afraid to start with some remedial math and English classes to catch-up and get used to college. Second, there are resources to help you learn to study, take notes, write papers. Take advantage of tutoring and professor office hours. It’s not where you start but where you finish. Good luck.

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A very close friend of my parents has donated enough money to pay for around three years at a UC/Ivy and my parents have saved up around 80k for my tuition. I say that cheaper would be better simply because this money could go towards other expenses.

OU and OSU are on my list simply due to proximity and the fact that all my credits would transfer at OU since that is where I take my classes. Many people in my area go to either OU or OSU due to affordability. I would like to note that I am very unlikely to go to either if I were to get in anywhere else, I am not a big fan of Ohio.

In terms of the UCs, I absolutely love California. From what I have heard, the UCs tend to be open-minded, environmentally conscious and have great student life. I am more apt to UCSB than UCI, mostly due to the campus and area.

In terms of UPenn and USC, I am very drawn by the work hard, play hard attitude. I also love both Philly and LA.

In terms of NYU, I am a big fan of NYC, I go there a couple times each year, following my dad on shows. Also, since I am interested in interdisciplinary studies, such a large institution with such a large amount of resources is something I am very interested in. Also, the music program there is great.

Brown has always been in the back of my mind as a good friend of my parents was the Dean of Biology there before she passed away. I toured it a couple months ago and I loved the campus, and I also love that it tends to be more laid back while still maintaining a rigorous education. Also the open curriculum is a huuuugee plus. I understand to Vassar is similar to Brown, and I have it on my list for similar reasons. I recognize that both of these schools are not particularly attainable.

I realize that the draws for most of these schools can be found in many other places that would be more attainable, I would love your feedback and I appreciate you being willing to help! Thank you.

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Also consider Michigan State University and University of Delaware.

Of course, for all schools on your list, you should run the Net Price Calculators and look at the scholarship page on their websites to see if they are potentially affordable.

Affordability is not really a huge issue for me, my family would be able to pay for four years at a pricier school without issue. I was just thinking that I would be able to use some of the money saved towards other things such as housing after freshman year or just general expenses.

Given that money is not an issue, what schools might be similar to those on my list while being more attainable in terms of stats?

Thank you!

Two more suggestions: Drexel and Temple

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This list is categorized based on my very fallible sense of what might be your chances of acceptance. The schools in bold are the ones from your original list. The ones I’ve added are usually some combination of really highly rated by the Campus Pride Index, have strong across-the-board strengths, have fashion and apparel options (design, merchandising, etc), are in geographic areas that you seem to really like, etc. And I did a tilt more to the west coast than elsewhere, because that’s just a feeling I have from your initial post, although you definitely have eastern schools on it. (Although you listed fashion as only one of several fields, it’s sort of a limiting factor in terms of most colleges don’t offer a major in any type of fashion/apparel field.) I also indicated if a schools is part of the Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) group, an association of small liberal arts colleges.

Just adding my two cents, I personally think that it might be a really big culture shock to go from a small town in Appalachian Ohio to a big university in a big, urban environment. I’d probably go with a smaller university in an very big city/urban environment, or if you really want a big university, do it in a place that is geographically more manageable/similar (midwestern nice is a real thing).

If you do go for a big university, I’d highly recommend trying to find ways to make the campus feel smaller, whether that’s via an honors program, living learning community, going to campus early for special programming (like a single class where you live with other freshmen and get used to campus), etc. I understand that you want a change from Ohio, but I’d recommend going to a place where you’re not going to be completely anonymous.


Extremely Likely (80-99%)

  • Ohio University
  • Oregon State
  • St. Catherine (MN): all women
  • U. of Oregon
  • U. of Puget Sound: CTCL
  • U. of Redlands (CA)
  • Virginia Commonwealth

Likely (60-79%)

  • Drexel (PA )
  • Gonzaga (WA)
  • Indiana University
  • Ithaca (NY)
  • Ohio State
  • Thomas Jefferson (PA )
  • U. of Colorado
  • U. of Delaware
  • Willamette (OR): CTCL

Toss-Up (40-59%)

  • Marist (NY)
  • U. of Minnesota
  • U. of Washington (but virtually impossible for CS)
  • U. of Wisconsin

Possible (20-39%)

  • Cal State – Long Beach
  • Occidental (CA)
  • Reed (OR): CTCL
  • San Diego State (CA)
  • UC – Davis
  • UC – Irvine
  • UC – Santa Barbara

Less Likely (20% or less)

  • Brown
  • NYU
  • U. of Pennsylvania
  • U. of Southern California
  • Vassar (though more likely than the other “less likely” institutions, IMO)
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i just wanted to add that UCI typically garners the reputation of being a “commuter school.” i have very little to no experience with UCI, but if campus community is rather important to you, i’d look further into this. also, outside of UCLA and UCB (and that’s already pushing it, honestly), i don’t know if it’s justifiable going to a UC for undergrad if you’re not from california. unless you’re looking to study, say, animal science at UCD or computer science at UCB, it’s kind of a no-go. OOS pricing is crazy expensive (bc the UC system is kind of broke), and the money you would be saving by not going is no small thing. i understand you saying price isn’t a (large) factor, but again, it’s no small thing to consider.

NYU doesn’t necessarily have a campus at all. some students love how integrated it is into the city, others hate it. it’s one of the largest qualms people have with the school. have you visited? would you be applying to the gallatin school?

some other schools i thought of:

  • barnard (however, it’s a women’s college. if that is a no-go because of your gender identity, that’s totally fine. you just didn’t mention single-sex colleges being an issue, so just wanted to suggest it since it’s in a city and is not too small and is also related to columbia.)
  • occidental (in los angeles)
  • macalester (in st. paul [and is a personal favorite])
  • pitzer/scripps (both apart of the larger 5C consortium— the latter is all women’s)
  • case western reserve (though you’re probably already familiar from your being in ohio)
  • uofrochester (has an open/flexible curriculum similar to brown)
  • wesleyan university (open curriculum and large student population for an LAC)
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Regarding Barnard, in case transgender is a concern?

Look at Wesleyan in Connecticut, American in DC, maybe Pitt

Good luck!

And Boston University

You can’t go wrong with an in-state university, so I would just focus on that. If your parents are lower/middle class, you’d be doing a big favor by saving them money.

Agree with @kalons.
Plus, all of the UC’s are uber competitive. Those UC’s will be reaches for you.
Your current math skills wont be competitive. Most of the UC’s are on the quarter system which means that you have 10 weeks to prove yourself. The California High Schools have adapted similar schedules such that the local students are used to moving through lots of information in rapid quarters.

In-state students have priority.
The UC’s were built for in-state students. The state’s taxpayers have continuously complained that non-residents should not be prioritized over in-state residents, such that legislation continues to be introduced to place limits on non-residents.

Each UC is vastly different.
UCI tends to be commuter campus. Lots of freeways and cars to get around SoCal. Very strong network of students.
UCSB is extremely popular because of its location. It does have a bit of a party vibe.

Apply, but apply with the knowledge that your parents’ friend will be paying $67K per year for the weather. The State will happily take your much needed money.
USC is $80K per year. Private university but also very competitive.

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