Please Chance/Match Rising Senior


  • US domestic (US citizen or permanent resident) or international student: US Citizen
  • State/Location of residency: (state is important if you apply to any state universities): New Hampshire
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers): Independent boarding school
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): White male
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): Double legacy at University of Delaware

Intended Major(s)
Geography (for schools that offer it), Environmental Science at all other schools

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.9
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.41
  • College GPA (for transfers): N/A
  • Class Rank: Top 10%
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1310 (630 EBRW, 680 Math), 28 ACT – will only submit SAT score to schools where it is above 50% percentile, taking it again in August. I think my SAT score is better than ACT so I’m focusing my efforts there.

(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s))
Freshman Year: None available
Sophomore Year: AP European History [3]
Junior Year: AP Lang, APUSH, AP Comp Sci Principles
Senior Year (tentatively): AP Lit, AP Calc, AP Chem, AP Comp Sci A

Completed Honors Spanish 5, taken Honors Band every year


  1. Dartmouth College Book Award
  2. National Honor Society
  3. High Honor Roll
  4. Some small Model UN awards
  5. Accepted into several selective music groups (district honors, school’s jazz band, etc.)

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

  1. Varsity Cross Country (Captain) (9-present)
  2. Varsity Nordic Skiing (Captain) (9-present)
  3. Varsity Track and Field (10-present, canceled in 9th because of Covid)
  4. Math Team (9-present)
  5. Interact Junior Rotary Club (Board Member) (9-present)
  6. Model UN (Ambassador) (11-present)
  7. Many music ensembles, elaborate in additional info section: concert, marching, pit, jazz big band, jazz combo, rock, woodwind quintet (First Chair Clarinet) (9-present)
  8. Summer internship with local land trust (present)
  9. Busser and Host at local Hotel and Resort (head busser and host) (11)
  10. Debate Club (founder) (11)

(Optionally, guess how strong these are and include any other relevant information or circumstances.)
9/10 from math teacher, had me for Algebra I, PreCalc, and will have her for AP Calc, she also coaches math team
9/10 from APUSH teacher, loved her class and will do an independent study with her next year

Cost Constraints / Budget
(High school students: please get a budget from your parents and use the Net Price Calculators on the web sites of colleges of interest.)
Likely will not receive much financial aid but cannot pay full tuition at most private colleges, ideally under 50K

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability)
    UNH (EA)
    Wheaton College - Massachusetts (EA)
  • Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable)
    UVM (EA)
    UDelaware (EA)
  • Match
    Hobart and William Smith (RD)
    Gettysburg (RD)
    Dickinson (RD)
  • Reach
    Dartmouth (ED) - have connections and taken tours - this is my top choice
    Bates (RD)
    Colby (RD)
    McGill (RD)
    Colgate (RD)
    Cornell (RD)
    Brown (RD)
    Middlebury (RD)
    William and Mary (RD)

My list feels very reach-heavy and I don’t plan on applying to this many schools. If anyone could give me tips on some match schools I should look into, or some reach schools I should consider eliminating, please let me know. I’m also unsure if I’m qualified to have a shot at schools that are this competitive as my counselor hasn’t provided much guidance. I know no one can give me accurate admission odds, I’m just looking to see if I’m on the right track. Thanks in advance!

Yes your list is VERY reach heavy but that’s OK now. Look at the specific programs at each of the schools and see if you can come up with a top 3 to focus on.

I’m not sure if your against bigger state schools but UMD might be a good fit, they have a great geography program.

1 Like

I’ll circle back to this thread tomorrow, but you might want to look at SUNY Binghamton as it has a well-reputed geography program, isn’t a huge big state school, and it’s trying to attract strong out-of-state students. Another school if you’re willing to venture out of the northeast is Macalester. It’s strong in geography & environmental studies, offers merit aid, is in leafy area of a big city, and some I suspect you’d likely be able to continue Nordic skiing in the environs.

Other schools you might want to consider include Bucknell, SUNY Geneseo, and Juniata. The latter two I think are likely or extremely likely admits for you.

1 Like

Maybe consider ED1 at Dartmouth and ED2 at another (even one of the reaches) if this is offered.


Glad you are legacy at UD - it is “cosidered” so that’s good.

I think the list is fine - if you are ok with your safety and likely schools. Your major is a good one for getting in.

Your reaches are that - and that’s why they are reaches. If you are ok with UNH, Wheaton, or UVM - you’ll be fine - but you could add another school to help you - or an auto admit like Alabama or Arizona although your list is NE heavy…but how bout U Maine?


Yes, I’ve been researching my safety schools and I can confidently say that if I went to any of them I would still be really excited. I’ve looked into UMaine and I’m not crazy about the location and I don’t particularly like the campus, I would choose UNH over UMaine.


Dartmouth, Cornell, Brown are not realistic for an unhooked, white, male from a boarding school with your academic and EC profile. And even less so in RD. You don’t need those places to be successful. I wouldn’t waste my time with them.

Geography is a major?

Someone above mentioned Bucknell. I’d also look at Davidson, Richmond, Lafayette, Lehigh, BC, Haverford, Vassar (co-ed now)

Most of those ^^ are reaches. I would focus more on match/safety, especially since the OP needs merit. What about other northeastern LACs? Union, St. Lawrence, Connecticut College, Trinity, Skidmore, Marist (ok, not a LAC), Gettysburg, Franklin & Marshall?

1 Like

Is it 50k just for tuition or 50k/year total cost of attendance?

Dartmouth COA is over $80k at current rates. Have you run their cost calculator?
They don’t offer merit aid.


Lol since before the OPs parents were born (1969). Only offers need-based aid, so not likely to be affordable.


Good catch - I missed the won’t get aid - but can only afford $50K.

Assuming has no need (as he implied), he needs to apply to schools with merit - and yeah, Dartmouth is out - especially ED - because he’d be bound!!!

All the Ivies and elite LACs with a few exceptions - will be out of consideration.

OP - this isn’t bad btw - this is normal. Tons of really top level kids at most every flagship, LAC and then some.

In the end, for many, money talks - and that’s the first discussion you need to have with your folks - because if you’re at $50K and will get no aid, anything from Gtown, Tufts, Bowdoin, Dartmouth, etc. are all out. Even a Franklin & Marhsall - need only.

Good luck.

I just went through your list of schools to see what percentage of freshmen without need received merit aid, and what the average merit aid award was for those students. The info wasn’t readily available for McGill.

Safety (certain admission and affordability)

  • UNH (EA) 75% averaging $5800 for an in-state COA of about $28k
  • Wheaton College - Massachusetts (EA) 55% averaging $29,414 for a COA of about $45k

Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable)

  • UVM (EA): 89% averaging $16,884, bring OOS COA to about $44k
  • UDelaware (EA) 51% averaging $9k, bringing OOS COA to about $44k


  • Hobart and William Smith (RD): 74% averaging $21,800, bring COA to about $56k
  • Gettysburg (RD): 84% averaging $23k, bringing cost of attendance to about $54k
  • Dickinson (RD): 61% averaging $20,777, bringing cost of attendance to about $56k


  • Dartmouth (ED) - have connections and taken tours - this is my top choice
  • Bates (RD) – no merit aid
  • Colby (RD) – no merit aid
  • McGill (RD)
  • Colgate (RD) – no merit aid
  • Cornell (RD) – no merit aid
  • Brown (RD) – no merit aid
  • Middlebury (RD) 1%, $10k
  • William and Mary (RD) 4% averaging $10k; bring OOS cost-of-attendance to about $53k

Have your family run the Net Price Calculator (NPC) at Dartmouth. If the price is affordable for your family (and there are schools that are very generous with higher-income families), then it remains in consideration. If that price is not affordable, however, take all the schools that don’t offer merit aid off of your list with the possible exception of McGill. As only 4% of William & Mary students without financial need receive merit aid, I would make the assumption that you’d be full-pay and thus that it is out-of-budget, too.

All your Match schools have merit aid, but their average package would still keep them above the $50k threshold. Have a talk with your family. If $50k is the top budget number, then these schools all just became reaches because you’d be needing to get more than their typical merit aid packages to make them affordable for your family.

Wheaton is not a safety unless they have done a pre-read or some such and given you a minimum merit aid number that would bring this in budget. Since 45% of students without need didn’t get any merit aid here, I wouldn’t say this is a lock. At best this is a likely, but probably more of a match.

Would you consider going outside of the northeast? It appears as though you prefer suburban or rural campuses and small to mid-size schools. Is that correct? Is there anything else you can tell us about what you’re hoping to get out of your college experience?


For the schools I mentioned earlier, here are the same stats:

  • Binghamton: 13% of students without need receive merit aid averaging about $11k, bringing average OOS cost of attendance to about $35k, but even without aid this is within budget I’d call this a likely.
  • SUNY Geneseo: 26% of students without need receive merit aid averaging about $3200, bring OOS COA to about $32k, but again, it’s within budget even without aid. I’d call this a safety.
  • Macalester: 56% of students without need receive merit aid averaging $19,460, bring COA to about $57k. This one would be a reach.
1 Like

Easy eliminations:

  • Colleges which appear unaffordable in their net price calculators.
  • Colleges that you would not choose over your safety colleges under any circumstances.

Still can’t shake the image of a sister school, though. BTW, the OP says he expects not to receive much financial aid, not that he doesn’t qualify at all. Need-based aid varies widely by school. I’m sure he and his family will look into that.

Some safeties/targets for Geography and merit/relatively lower cost, you might research Miami Ohio, u Denver, ASU, SUNY New Paltz, Ohio U, U of SC.

Run the Net Price Calculators at all the schools on your list to get cost estimates. Here’s Dartmouth’s: Net Price Calculator

If a meet full need school that offers no merit doesn’t look affordable per the NPC, do not apply.

NPCs may not be accurate if your parents are divorced, own real estate beyond a primary home, or own a business…are any of those the case for you?


I’ve read that Clark University is a strong choice for geography?


Look into Ohio Wesleyan. I think that would be a safety/target for you. They do offer some good merit aid, have a geography major, and just seemed like a great school to me. My son was considering it and had really positive experiences with admissions, etc.

Also, Bucknell might be an option, though probably not a safety.

It is! According to the website the yearly COA is $68k, but 80% of undergrads get merit scholarships. The smallest of the 4-year merit scholarships is $10k per year, then $15k, $20k, and a full ride for ~5 students in each class. Clark is on my list, and you should look into it too, OP!

1 Like

What area of geography - it’s different things at different schools - from atmospheric sciences, GIS, Environment (sounds like this), urban studies, etc.

Is there a specific facet - that might impact where you look.