Please chance me for Poli Sci/Econ!

Sorry if formatting is messed up, I’m new to the forum and on mobile at the moment.

Demographics-White/Hispanic Male,Second Gen Immigrant(Parent wasn’t born here), current sophomore in high school
*Domestic student

  • State/Location of residency: Massachusetts (state is important if you apply to any state universities)
  • Type of high school- I go to a small charter school(graduating class of 80), but it has a pretty decent reputation locally

Intended Major(s)
I want to do something with political science and economics, whether it’s a major/minor or double major, or even the combined thing Dartmouth has

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: School doesn’t report, but I think it’s around a 3.7?
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.3, weighting system is standard Honors+.5 and AP+1
  • Class Rank: School doesn’t rank
  • ACT/SAT Scores: Aiming for 1440-1540 or above

APs: APUSH, AP Lang(A year early), AP CS A, will be taking AP Chem, AP Lit, AP Stats, AP Gov, AP Psych, AP Bio, maybe AP Spanish

None yet

*Attended journalism class with Harvard Crimson,

Was a campaign intern on Joe Kennedy’s failed senate campaign last year(as a freshman), helped coordinate high school internship for them,

Model UN(Will almost certainly be President senior year)

History/Quiz Bowl(Will be captain senior year)

Student government representative(will run for student body president)

Theatre since 7th grade, a few leads,

I’m also hoping to attend some stuff like NSLI-Y and TASP,

I was going to be a senate page this summer but it was cancelled(applying again for any terms I can)

I’m a pretty strong writer, so let’s assume good essays, and I know I have at least one good LOR from my theatre director/ future AP lit teacher

Cost Constraints / Budget
My max cost w/aid would have to be about 40,000(calculators usually give me about 30,000, so that should be fine

(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:
    University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa(diversity elite scholarship)
    UMass Amherst(Instate, RD)

  • Likely- UW Madison, likely admit but want Powers-Knapp scholarship, would anyone know if I have a shot at it?

  • Match
    George Washington University(RD)
    William & Mary(RD)
    Colgate University(RD, top match choice)

  • Reach
    All ivies minus Columbia and Dartmouth RD
    ED to Dartmouth(Top choice excluding HY)
    Georgetown EA
    Vanderbilt RD or EDII
    Duke RD
    UVA EA
    Possibly WashU

Sorry if that’s too many schools, I’m still in the building up my list phase, I might have to cut it down a little before I actually have to apply.

So, does anyone think I have a shot at any of my reaches, particularly Dartmouth ED and Ivies RD?


At this stage, nobody can say anything except generic “you’re on the right track!” and “they are a reach for everyone” type comments. Get your Junior year marks, test scores, ECs, etc and then come back.

I will say that, in a class of 80 people if you don’t know if you are in the very top of your class or not you aren’t paying attention. Does your school see you as one of the ‘stars’ of your class? When you look at this year’s graduating class and consider the colleges that they are going to attend, do they make sense to you? Do you ‘get’ why student X and Y did/did not get into one of the colleges you want to get into?

The only one of the schools on your current list that (kind of) admits based on major is SFS at Georgetown. The rest will only pay attention to your intended major in terms of how you link it to the overall narrative of your app. Your list, btw, is (with the exception of UWi) a very very typical list of names of ambitious NE corridor students. Besides being famous names / popular with your peers/parents, do you really know anything much about any of them? Do you know why somebody would choose P over Y (or v-v)? Do you know why I think that W&M is the outlier on your list?

This worries me: you believe that your family can afford $40K/pa, but the NPCs are showing you a smaller number. That is not how this usually works! Check your numbers with your parents. If they own their own business or own rental properties or are divorced, be extra cautious about depending on calculators. Every single year we get students on CC crushed that it turns out that they can’t go to their dream school b/c it’s unaffordable.

In the meantime, read this:


Thanks for your advice!

I’m sorry, I should have made both parts you highlighted clearer,
For the rank part, I am definitely one of the ‘stars’ of my year(accelerated courses, I usually got chosen to do school tours before COVID, stuff like that).
For the aid, what I meant is that while my EFC is usually around 30,000 when I use calculators, I would be willing to bear up to 40 if it meant going to a better college.

As for the rest, I realize that I do sort of sound like the template for a New England polisci major, but I feel I’ve done ample research on these schools. (I’m looking for a studious college with a robust social life, but I don’t really mind the size factor). With the exception of a few schools (cough Princeton cough) I selected them based on where I want to go, not where my parents want me to.

However, I am obviously not an expert, and have not been able to visit the vast majority of these schools, so I’d welcome any advice if you think that applying anywhere I’m considering would be a mistake.

Again, thank you so much for the response!

What does “willing to bear” mean. Your EFC is what colleges think your family can afford to pay, based on the info you have provided, so are you thinking getting an extra $10K/year in loans? That is problematic for 2 reasons:

  1. you can only borrow $5-7K/pa in your own name, so your parents would have to borrow the rest and the colleges typically include that in their expectations, and

  2. polisci careers start with un/low paid internships followed by terribly paid entry level jobs- even if you have a degree from Harvard. Based on everything you have posted, you are almost certainly headed for grad school- betting that you are thinking law already, but could be an MPP or an MBA. All three of those are fiercely expensive - and until you have the grad degree you do not make much money (in fact, while you are in those grad degrees you still do no/low paid internships- even if you are at HBS or HKS).

Yeah, taking on a little extra debt is more or less what I meant.
Of course, everything is still up in the air, which is why I’m padding my list with a very likely full ride from Alabama and a possible one from Wisconsin(Although information on the Powers Knapp scholarship is pretty hard to find-I’m unsure if it’s an easier one like at Bama or a one in a million scholarship like Forty Acres)

Being completely transparent, the debt side is a reason why I want to do something in Economics as well. I think having an Econ degree from a T20 should probably give me a good shot at some BCG jobs, or something similar, which might translate well into an MBA(My parents are lawyers, and they give me the advice to avoid law school at all costs)

Thanks again for your help!

If you would like to combine these interests (along with philosophy), look into colleges with an available public policy major:

Your parents are wise.

What makes you think that you are a match for GW, W&M, or Colgate? Or that you are a likely admit to UW-Madison as an out-of-state applicant?

Look at the Common Data Sets for the schools you are researching, specifically Sections C9-C11; you can glean information on how your stats compare to those of recently admitted students. Also, Section C7 of the CDS will tell you how each school weighs various academic and non-academic admissions factors. If you haven’t taken any SAT or ACT exams, and a target school places a lot of emphasis on test scores as an admission factor, then it may be a bit presumptuous of you at this point to be identifying “safety,” "match,’ or “reach” schools.

The way that my kids approached what schools they applied to – based on input from their guidance counselors and their parents – they each applied to a total of 9 schools: 2 “safety” schools (defined loosely as essentially guaranteed admission and also clearly affordable); 2-3 reach schools, where their GPA and test scores were in the bottom 25% of admitted students, based on the CDS; and the rest falling into a middle category, where their GPA and test scores placed them in the median 50% of admitted students based on the CDS.

Well, I based my classifications off two assumptions, that my extracurriculars will be considered at least average(let me know if I’m mistaken, I may have to reconsider), and that i will be able to improve my SAT to a 1500 or so with a year of studying until my first test.

With these assumptions, for UW Madison I would be well above average, although I realize that it may be more competitive out of state. Meanwhile, those assumptions would put me slightly above average for Colgate, and about average at William & Mary. Obviously, most T20s are reaches for anyone who hasn’t yet been elected President, so those are easy.

Of course, it’s possible that my SAT will stay at my 1220 practice test score, but considering I took that practice test as a baseline, without studying, I’m hoping I can improve.

Thank you for turning me onto the common data sets though, previously I was just using prepscholar as a resource, so that will help.

Could you clarify this? It seems clear you have an interest in Dartmouth. Perhaps you meant you wouldn’t be applying to Columbia and some other Ivy?

*Edited, replied to the wrong person

Sorry for not being clear, I’m saying that I will be applying RD to all ivies with the exception of Columbia(because I don’t want to apply at all), and Dartmouth(because I will apply ED).

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If I recall, W&M may have a limit on the number of OOS applicants who are admitted (it used to be 27% of the entering freshman class, I don’t know whether that has changed). If that is still the case, you will need to have high stats to be competitive with other OOS applicants for W&M. My oldest child was waitlisted at W&M with a 34 ACT, 4.5 GPA, and solid ECs.

Look at Section C7 of the CDS to see how much consideration your target schools give to ECs; you may be putting too much hope that being elected class president will take you to where you want to go.

Getting from a 1220 SAT to a 1500 SAT may be not be feasible; that’s a big jump. I would wait until you get actual test results back before getting too attached to the schools you list as your match and reach schools.

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All good things to know, thank you!

If the scholarship is necessary for affordability, you should make the assessment based on the likelihood of getting the scholarship, not admission. Since this is a full tuition competitive scholarship, it is probably a reach.

Wisconsin out-of-state cost of attendance is $56k per year.

That makes sense, I was just clarifying it based on whether I could get in, but without that scholarship there’s no way I’d go to Wisconsin over UMass or Alabama.

Do you happen to know how competitive this particular one(Powers-Knapp/Mercile J. Lee) is? As I mentioned, I can’t seem to find too much information on exactly how unlikely my chances would be.

Since that scholarship does not seem to be mentioned much, it is probably given only in very small numbers. If that is the case, it is best to assume it to be a reach.

Ok, thanks!

This isn’t necessarily related, but do you have any advice on getting into the Senate Page program?

Yeah! My biggest advice is to apply to a senator who doesn’t advertise that they sponsor pages. For instance, Chuck Schumer has a really easy and public application process, but that makes it way more competitive.
I just cold emailed the office of every Senator who had enough seniority, until I found one who I was eligible for, and then applied that way.