Please Chance a Black Girl w/ Awful Stats!

Major: Finance or Science Major (Chem or Neurobiology)

Demographics: African American/Black Caribbean (Female); In Florida

Come from a low-income household, so I cannot go to college unless it is covering pretty much everything.

Class Ranking: 59 out of 587

GPA: - Cumul. GPA: 3.74, - Academic Core GPA: 4.0, - Weighted Cumul. GPA: 4.49

SAT: 1060 :sob: (Test optional perhaps?)

Honors: Took 16 Honors Courses

APs: Took only one and that was it.

Extracurriculars/Volunteering Positions/Jobs

  • Drama Club - Performed in a Shakespeare Play; Part of Two Technical Teams for another play.

  • Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders - Secretary of the Club (Officer)

  • Spanish Honors Society

  • Part of an organization that raised awareness & give recognition to women.

  • Graphically Designed Cards & Flyers for a Cancer Organization.

  • Thrift Shop (Church)


  • A/B or A Honor Roll

  • Certification in Agricultural Sci.


  • Guitar, Editing Videos, Swimming, Roller Skating, Graphic Designing

Essay: Have been putting my all into this because my stats are awful.


I’m planning to get one from Spanish, Physics, English, & Business Teacher. I am close with all of them.

Location: I’m fine with anything. I just care about the value of my education and getting into a decent program.

School Size: Doesn’t matter to me.

Colleges I’m Considering Atm:

  • FIU, UCF, FSU, FAU, Nova Southeastern University, University of Maryland, Howard University, University of Pittsburgh, Fordham University, Santa Clara University, (Reaches): UF, University of Miami, NYU, UCI, UC Berkeley, Cornell

My college list is probably not reasonable. I know I’m at a significant disadvantage. I wasn’t allowed to do many things to further my education. I feel disappointed about my high school journey but it is what it is. I can only focus on the future now.

Are there any decent colleges that I should know about? Any advice? I think I’m going to make changes to my college list. Maybe look into some liberal arts colleges.


I don’t think there is much point at applying to your reaches, but consider HBCUs like Prarie View in Texas. Good luck.


As far as in state is concerned your total cost of attendance for: UF, FSU, USF, UCF, FAU ranges from $16k to $25k/year. I am unsure of the need based aid at these schools. So, you will likely be looking at loans. One question is whether you can go the community college route to minimize your costs, assuming community college in Florida is free. You may be able to knock out general education classes that way and transfer into one of the above.


UC Irvine and Berkeley will offer not financial aid as an OOS applicant so expect to pay around $67K/year so cross those 2 schools off your list.

BTW: Your stats are not “awful” and going test optional would be your best bet if offered by the schools.


Absolutely apply test optional. The rest of your information looks good!


Well, your stats are not “awful”.

The one that is most worrisome is the 1060 SAT. If you just had a bad day, I’d think about taking it again. If you think this is indicative, you really don’t want to go to some of your reaches. They’ll be teaching to the top 5% or 10% of college students, not the top 50%.

The problem with test-optional is that if the 1060 is indicative, that means your high school has some fierce grade inflation. And the admissions offices will know this and take it into consideration.

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I suggest you remove all private and out of state schools from your list. I don’t think any you listed here are possible. Not because you can’t get in but because you can’t afford them. Fordham for example I isn’t likely to give you the money you need. Sounds like you’re in Florida, right?

You generally need two rec letters. Some colleges will let you submit an extra one. In general, aim for a humanities teacher and a science or math teacher. I’m not sure how useful the business teacher would be. The best letter will come from someone who likes you and you like them and you participated in class. It doesn’t have to be a class you got an A in.

Yes, try some Liberal Arts colleges. You have a good GPA. You need essentially the most FA you can get, or a full ride. Your core GPA, as you said, is high. Try a test optional college that values high grades, is test optional, and has good FA. Bates might fit the bill. I think they’d be interested in you. Vassar, Kenyon, Connecticut College, Union, Bryn Mawr, Franklin and Marshall. Lots of others on this list. Here's Every College That Offers 100% Financial Aid

A lot of those colleges are test optional, but some are more so than others. I mentioned Bates because it’s been test optional for decades.

@MITPhysicsAlum , respectfully, I disagree. I live in a high income area and tutor wealthy children for tests, who have much worse scores. Our schools are very rigorous and our students go to HYP and similar. This young woman is from a low income home and I’m guessing her parents had little extra cash to spend on tutoring. A high score much of the time indicates parents who can afford tutoring.


Wondering if Flagler might give enough aid to make it affordable?

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There are schools out there for you, but you need to adjust your list. Research options in-state as recommended while you look beyond that.

Selective and highly selective colleges will look at your GPA, class rank, and the level of challenging courses you enrolled in compared to others in your high school. It sounds like there were AP classes, but you took honors and some CTE classes based on the mention of Ag Sci. If you were interested in pursuing Ag Sci or some kind of natural resource management that could be a hook at a state’s land grant uni with majors/depts who want to have a more diverse student body. There could be some merit there are test optional.

Going test optional from a state (FL) colleges know had testing opportunities will be tough the next couple years unless it was already a college that was leaning test optional. Combine that with only one AP class and a class rank just on the cusp of 10%, I think you need to remove most of your highest reaches. There is fierce and diverse competition and you are better off spending that energy on matches with merit and need based aid.

Keep UMiami on there as a high reach as travel will not be expensive for you and they offer merit and meet 100% of demonstrated need. And they have some healthcare related majors that may be of interest and finance/business.

Howard could very well end up being your most expensive option (outside of public CA) if you were accepted. It is very competitive and they offer limited need and merit. It may still be over well over $30,000 per year with the expectation to take out loans based on students I know.

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Simply reading your post, I can feel the charm. Your story (your narrative) matters. Don’t shy away from what you have accomplished. You’ll find lots of folks here that are able to provide their kids with the world.

That’s not you.

But for many schools, they want diversity- racial, ethnic, gender, socio-economic, and geographic diversity.

@Lindagaf Always makes sense. You should take a look at some of the small liberal arts colleges. Many have lots of money to offer kids like you. They also use a more holistic approach to admissions where you can write about how you have managed to do so well despite coming from a “low income” (as you described) background.

I’ve helped a number of my students at a small State school get accepted into the most prestigious graduate programs in my field. They didn’t think they could, but they were diamonds in the rough.

If you need help, there are a LOT of wonderful folks here- take advantage of them. I when my kid was searching.

Good Luck! You seem like a wonderful young woman!


Oh, and despite my avatar, I am also Black- if that matters. You might want to check out the list of Black First Year students at the leading Liberal Arts Colleges from the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. You can see how many applied and the admissions rate for Black kids.

On the site, you can also find the same infor for the leading National Universities.


You have a very good GPA! Yes, definitely go test optional. I’m a little surprised that your SAT score was so low, since your post is well-written.

First of all, you’ll probably qualify for a Pell Grant of $6495/yr. Then add on a subsidized federal loan, and you’d have enough to pay for the community college to your flagship state U route. Choose one that has a transfer agreement with your chosen public state college. I suspect, with your grades, that you could dash through community college and get to the flagship state U in 15 months of 4 semesters (2 summers, plus fall and spring). This is the fallback, through which you get your 4 yr degree from a good public U in your state, with only about 27K of debt, mostly subsidized, or even less, since I suspect you could get scholarship money, too.

Don’t expect full rides at OOS flagship U’s - I doubt that they’d meet your need. I think that your high reaches are not feasible. You’re in that just less than T20 range, but very well could have a lower cost at a private school vs a public school. Take a look at LACs that meet full need. With your very nice GPA, your low socioeconomic status, the URM boost, and I assume first gen to college, I think you could possibly get a full ride at one of those. I’m assuming that you will qualify for an application fee waiver, which would allow you to apply to 20 schools through the Common App.

Here’s an admittedly out of date list of LACs that in 2016 met full need. Colleges that Meet Full Financial Need

Take a look at it. Investigate each school, how selective it is, whether they’re test optional, and whether they still meet full need. I bet you could find a number of matches on that list.


Going test-optional is not a choice for the Florida state universities. Form the FSU website: Requiring an ACT or SAT test score for admissions consideration is not an institutional choice. FSU, along with Florida’s 11 other public universities, is subject to Florida Board of Governors admissions regulation 6.002 which requires first year students seeking admission to submit an ACT or SAT test score.

However, this shouldn’t deter you from applying. Your test scores will be taken in context. FIU is probably a match. I do not know how Florida is with reference to financial aid for low-income students. Consider seriously some of the advice given here about the LAC’s which are test optional and about rethinking your list. Best of luck to you!


What are you disagreeing with? That the OP should understand whether the 1060 is what she would expect if she took it again or well below that? To me that seems like important introspection in deciding where she should go and whether to go test optional or not.

I disagree with the quote here. A low SAT score doesn’t necessarily mean the school has grade inflation. As I mentioned, I work with kids in a high performing school district who get scores lower than this. Their parents can afford private tutoring.

A college admissions officer will certainly consider where the OP’s high school is along with all the other information on the app. There may not be an assumption of grade inflation, but there is much we don’t know.


Did you only take 1 AP class because your school doesn’t offer them or just because you only took 1? Your gpa is very strong and your rank is good as well. I think the idea of applying to meets full need lacs is a good one, though I think your rigor may not be high enough for the most selective lacs.

Your stats are far from “awful,” but your list needs a lot of readjusting. You’re making the right move to ask for advice before doing a lot of work on apps that are pointless.

First up, the UC schools - it doesn’t even matter if you can get in, as you cannot afford them, period. Do not even waste two brain cells on the UC app, which uses a whole different essay format from most others and would squander your time for no reason. Buh-bye, UC System.

NYU is wildly unlikely to be affordable, but run their Net Price Calculator and see, if you are really attached to the idea. (Are you familiar with net price calculators? They’re available on every college’s financial aid page, and it’s really important to use them in deciding where to apply. It’s possible at schools that give merit to get a better offer than the NPC predicts, but for the most part it will give you a pretty good idea where you stand. (Although, if your parents are divorced or have a more complicated income situation - i.e. owning a business or real estate investments - then the results may be less reliable.)

Run the NPC for Cornell. That’s a very unlikely admit but it will at least give you an idea whether the more generous full-need-met private schools are likely to be affordable.

Getting enough merit at Pitt for it to be affordable is pretty unlikely. I am not sure about U of Maryland - I’m not optimistic but will defer to those who know the school better.

You have terrific in-state options in Florida, of course, so that’s good! Run the NPC at Miami and see how the costs compare to the publics, after the state-level aid and possible merit.

Santa Clara doesn’t meet full need but who knows, merit might fill the gap. Doesn’t hurt to apply if you like the school. Similar situation with Fordham, but probably a little better odds of an affordable acceptance.

Have you looked at Lehigh, in Pennsylvania? They are really trying to improve their diversity, so you’d get a nice URM bump there, and they are very good for both of your areas of interest - sciences, and finance. (There are also dual degree possibilities if you find that you want both.) They meet full need, and you can apply test-optional. I think you’d be a strong candidate, so it could be worth applying if the NPC looks favorable.

If you want California, you might like this major at the Claremont Colleges: Keck Science :: Academics : Science and Management Major CMC is the most business-y of the schools, but you’d probably only have a chance there by applying Early Decision. (Which you could, if the NPC shows that they’d give you enough aid, but that would be a big decision for a school that’s not yet on your radar.) Scripps and Pitzer also meet full need, but each school has a different financial aid formula. They’re all pretty reachy but not completely unreasonable reaches if you apply test optional.

There are lots of LAC’s that might work, but start by running NPC’s on the list you have and letting us know what looks affordable and what doesn’t - that will help to guide further suggestions.


A low SAT score combined with high class rank and good gpa does suggest grade inflation. Is the top of the class scoring below 1100?

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Remove UMD, Nova, Fordham, Pitt, Santa Clara, UCI, UCB. They don’t meet need and therefore will be unaffordable.
Nyu is typically very stingy with aid.
Cornell is pretty unlikely but look at the majors in CALS.

What AP did you take? Did you take the exam?

LACs give you the opportunity of switching majors easily so they could be a good option for you (biochemistry and finance are 2 very different fields). Why these two?

Apply test optional.
A 4.0 uw in core classes is excellent.

Do you have a job? Help your family with care (for siblings, elderly relatives…)?

Run the Net Price Calculator on the following colleges:
St Olaf
St Lawrence
St Catherine (MN)
Lewis and Clark
Mount Holyoke
Bryn Mawr
Agnes Scott

List the 5-10 most affordable ones below, then we can help with estimating their selectivity.


I’ve attached a list of all schools that meet 100% of need. Run the net price calculator for a few.

Your stats are far from awful. Yes, the test will hurt you in Florida schools but there are many. There’s also the Miami Dade path to U Miami.

No one has mentioned quest bridge so perhaps I’m missing something but I would look at their website. Perhaps it’s a fit ?

Also there are schools that offer generous merit to minority students. One that comes to mind is the Cathedral of Learning scholarship at PITT.

Good luck.