Please Chance me for RD LAC/Ivy League Applications!

Hi all! I have a similar post to this already, but I wanted to do an updated one. I got deferred from Yale REA (which is quite fine actually, I grew more disenchanted with the school as I waited for the decision). I am starting to get really excited about RD applications! I don’t think I am going to apply ED2 anywhere, as there are a bunch of schools I am particularly interested in. I would say my top choices, in no particular order, are Vassar, Oberlin, Brown, Sarah Lawrence, NYU, Harvard, and Amherst.

Background: I go to a pretty small high school (700-800 students) in Maine. I am white, economically privileged, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. I will apply and have already applied with interests in the music/performing arts and education studies/political science fields.


This is where I think my application is the weakest (particularly SAT). While my stats are pretty good, they are not in the typical “Ivy League student” range.

SAT: 1440 (720 / 720)
GPA: ~98/100 Unweighted (Straight A’s), ~102.5/100 Weighted (my school does weird weighting)
Class Rank: Top 10% (my school only does decile ranking, so this is the best rank you can get)
Course-load: I basically took the hardest course load offered to me at my school. I took Honors or AP options for all my core classes (with the exception of doing regular physics senior year, because let’s be honest - physics sucks lol), and will finish schools with 6 APs (which is considered a bunch for my school).


I think this is one of the stronger parts of my application. There are some unique positions so I will try concisely explain them.

I have danced in my dance studio for 6 years, and trained in numerous styles (contemporary, hip hop, ballet, jazz, latin ballroom, and Bollywood). My dance teacher just recently made a principle dancer group made up of six dancer to take on more advanced choreography and training, and I was one of them!

I think one thing that make me stand out in the applicant pool is my acceptance to the AMDA High School Summer Conservatory for performing arts. They are super selective, I was one among 20 students selected from an international applicant pool, and I got to train for 2 weeks in NYC with performers on Broadway and AMDA faculty. I think it has around a 4% acceptance rate… It was a really awesome experience!

I also just recently got accepted into my school’s Gifted and Talented program for performing arts for music and dance, where we basically get mentored by local experts and teachers. The people accepted into the program are supposed to represent the 2-5% of the state’s student population who are deemed “gifted and talented” in the performing arts.

Since a young age, I have had a background in choir, since my mother is a choral director. I sang in my school’s large choir for 4 years and the select choir for 3 years. I was the recipient of the 2019 Most Outstanding Ensemble Member for the select group. Our choir received “Superior with Distinction” (highest possible rank) at a MaineACDA adjudicated festival.

I also was accepted into and sang in a number of Honors choirs throughout high school. I sang in Maine’s District Choir from 9-11 grade (auditioning for 12) and All State Choir for 10-11 grade (auditioning for 12). In 11th grade, I got accepted into the ACDA All-Eastern Musical Theatre Honors Choir, which consisted of high school and college students from 11 states.

I participated in all of my school’s fall musicals (which are pretty well recognized at our state level). I got a lead 10th grade and a supporting lead 11th grade (unfortunately our 12th grade musical got cancelled because of COVID).

I also hold a state position called “State Thespian Officer” for the Maine Educational Theatre Association. We basically strive to improve high school accessibility to the performing arts for Maine high schoolers by helping to organize and run state-wide theatre events and using social media.

Community Engagement:
I think one thing that might stand out in my application is my work with the Maine Department of Education. I was selected by the Maine DoE leadership to service as a student representative and advisor. We got to discuss policy with the Commissioner and other awesome leadership and we initiated the implementation of a Diversity and Inclusivity training for Maine teacher recertification (something really important to me being a member go the LGBTQ+ community). Our main goals were to promote equity among students of all racial and economic backgrounds and raise mental health awareness and acceptance in our schools.

I also worked with my school district’s anti-racism action group which included our superintendent and schools administrators, teachers, and students.

I am also currently the president of my school’s NHS (elected by club), which has been really interested given COVID! 80+ service hours.

Other Activities:
I started a poetry project inspired by COVID-19. I reached out to people and asked them about one thing that they are grateful for during this time. I really wanted to emphasize the important of gratitude within my local community. Currently, I am taking their stories and turning them into works of poetry. I hope to sell these books and give all proceeds to local organizations providing COVID relief.

I also am a certified Reiki master! Kind of a weird thing, but I have always been inspired by the philosophy and history of Reiki, and so I studied it throughout high school and now I can teach and practice it!

Other Stuff

Awards: Nothing huge. Mainly school-level award from my teacher. I also listed the gifted and talented program and choral award my choir got, both of which are state-level.

Essays: I think my essays are pretty good, but nothing jaw-dropping. I feel that my CommonApp is pretty simple, but captures who I am and how I got there through showing rather than telling. My supplements focus more on why my activities were really important to me and their impacts on my life.


Teacher Rec #1: My writing skills really evolved with my English teacher, and I grew from sort of the underdog to a leader within the class who helped other students, I I think her essay will be strong.

Teacher Rec #2: My APUSH teacher is my favorite teacher EVER, and I think she liked me. She promised to do her best to get me into my schools!

Teacher Rec #3: I had my chorus teacher/musical director write me one. We really like each other, and I got to read her LoR. It is pretty short (1 full page), but really nice!

Teacher Rec #4: Yes, I am extra and decided to ask a FOURTH teacher to write me a LoR. This one didn’t get sent to most places, but I have my AP Lang teacher write me one. I really loved her class, and I was the only one in there to get an award from her, so it should be pretty good.

Counselor Rec: I unfortunately never made a super strong connection with my counselor, but I feel like I was able to convey my passion and personality to her through my interview with her.

Additional Rec: I also got my dance teacher to write me a LoR. We absolutely adore each other and she knows very well, and she actually shared her LoR with me. It was like 5 pages long (doubt my reader is going to read most of it LOL), but it was one of the most powerful pieces of writing I have ever seen!

Performing Arts Supplement: I am planning on sending a music (voice) supplement to schools. Even though I express more commitment to dance on my app, I already have to send music audition videos to some of my school, so it is much easier just to send those.

Well, that was really long! Here are my schools:

Amherst (13%)
Bates (14%)
Bowdoin (10%)
Brown (8%)
Colby (13%)
Harvard (5%)
Middlebury (17%) - My brother went there so that might help
NYU (Liberal Studies Program, ~16%)
Williams (13%)
Yale (Deferred, 6%)

Conn College (38%)
Oberlin (36%)
Vassar (25%, but higher for men, like 30-35%)

Sarah Lawrence (56%)
Ithaca College (69%)
University of Southern Maine (85%) - Already got in with Honors Program invite and President’s Scholarship (~50% tuition)

I also might add McGill (Canadian school) to the list, just add some diversity to my options if I get in. I think they have around 50% acceptance rate, and they admit basically by score and grade cutoffs (which I believe I meet).

This thread might offer you perspective on the relative selectivity of your choices:

Note, however, that in the transition to the new CC format, ties in the original version were converted to ordinary counting numbers.

Why do I feel like I already saw your post, right down to the AMDA participation? Another kid with similar post recently, I guess.

You don’t intend to apply for musical theater, right? You sound like you’d be a great triple threat, what with all the dance, making All-Eastern for Choir (did you apply for ALL-National and not make it, or just didn’t apply?), and the leads in musical theater. But you’re coming from a very small pond - small high school in Maine.

The musical theater world is incredibly competitive, and few make it to Broadway. It doesn’t sound as if that’s your dream. So if I were you, I’d rule out every school that has a musical theater program/major, because you won’t get to do much there. Every college puts on shows, and you would be a very valued contributor at those schools. The schools will see that from your application, will know that you will be in all the musicals, dance troupes, singing groups, etc. They’ll like that.

What do you think about music/theater/dance education degree, and teaching high school theater/choir/dance? If that’s what you want, you need to go somewhere with music ed, and in an area of the country where you might want to live and work afterwards, because ed certification is local. Also, if you’re good, you might get offered a job where you did your internship. It’s supposedly reciprocal and transportable, but there are always extra courses and tests one needs to do to transfer the certification. Music/theater/dance ed is a decent job for a person in the arts - they can make a good living, especially in states that pay teachers well, with good benefits, plus they have summers off to travel, or earn extra doing town summer theater programs for students.

If you want poli sci and to get involved working in political activism and effecting social change in this country, I’d choose some place that is near the DC area. That’s where you could get most involved in politics, interning /volunteering at the national level. Georgetown, GW, American U. At the very least, someplace very near or in a state capitol, so that you could do the same at the state level. I don’t think that you will get anywhere, doing it in a very conservative state. So you should be looking at good schools in DC or in state capitols in the Northeast, or West Coast, where you could volunteer/work for a state rep/senator.

I am wondering what in the world you would actually DO at a school in a rural area. Sure, you’d be a well-known activist on campus, but after that? You need a bigger pond OUTSIDE of your college, if you’re planning on going into politics, improving the world. Your SAT is good enough (it’s been a tough year, test-wise, and you could always apply without scores), your grades are fantastic, your extracurriculars, while not with awards at the national level, certainly demonstrate that you will be a major contributor on campus.

You might get into Harvard, or Tufts, or BU, and you’d be in Boston (state capitol). You might get into Georgetown, definitely GW or American. If I were you, I’d think about what you want to do AFTER college. If it’s Broadway or bust, you should be applying for musical theater. If it’s music/theater/dance ed, you should apply in the area of the country where you might want to live. If you want to change the world for the better, you should be applying to DC schools or schools located close to state capitols in liberal states.

From what you’ve described, I think you could be very effective in political activism, or performing arts education at the secondary school level. And if money’s no object, and you want to do musical theater in college, go for it. You can move onto the ed or politics in grad school.

I think you look good for Oberlin and Sarah Lawrence, both of which have strong theater programs and where you would likely enjoy the campus vibe. Sarah Lawrence also gets you within striking distance of Manhattan. In addition to the schools you mentioned above, If you have the time or energy to submit any more apps, you might want to check out Fordham and Muhlenberg as matches; the latter is a LAC in PA with a very strong musical theater program.

Your academics combined with strengths in performing arts will make you an attractive candidate to many schools. However, as you probably know from the Yale thread, highly selective schools received many more applications in the early round and this may continue into RD, so they are likely to be even higher reaches than normal. Good luck!


Yes, this is VERY similar to my last post!! I tried to add that disclaimer in earlier so that you wouldn’t have to reread everything, sorry that you ended up doing so!

To address your question about All-National, I never was able to apply! I didn’t feel ready my Sophomore year, and I was going to apply senior year but they cancelled! ACDA basically alternates from regional to national every year… I was planning on applying to NAfME’s National Choir but I accidentally missed the deadline.

I really appreciate the candidness. You are absolutely correct that I do not plan on pursuing Broadway (I am nowhere good enough anyway lol). To be honest, I am not exactly sure what I want to go into. Yes, I am particularly interested in music education and politics, but I also want to have the opportunity to explore my interests more in college. I think a small liberal arts setting will allow me to get significant individualized attention while having the opportunity to explore a lot of different interests. I am definitely planning on doing grad school, whether I plan on focusing on music education, education policy, or politics (or something else that piques my interest). I think once I feel established in what I want to pursue, I will then go in a school with vast resources in an urban setting (Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, NYU, etc.). I already have schools in mind for different scenarios (for music ed: Northwestern and Ithaca. For educational policy: Harvard, Northwestern, UPenn, Georgetown etc. For straight politics: maybe Georgetown).

Thanks for all the advice, much appreciated!

Thanks for your feedback! Yes, this year’s admissions are crazy. Some schools are getting a ton more early applications, some a lot less. I am basically counting Harvard, Brown, and crazy selective LACs (Bowdoin, Williams, Amherst) out. I would SUPER happy if I get into all my targets and safeties (Vassar might be more of a target-reach depending on their application pool this year). I was considering applying ED2 to Vassar, since the school seems like such a good fit and it might be easier to get in that way, but I figured it would be best to see where the chips fall and then do some more in-depth research of my options. If I get into ONE of my reach schools, I will be very pleased!

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Ithaca has great music ed, but I don’t know how they’d be for non-instrumental music ed. I think that you are sure to get into Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, Oberlin, Ithaca. I think you need to look more specifically at what you want to do at college, what your goals are. I recently heard from an acquaintance whose kid was at Brown that the kid is transferring because kid was not happy with the vocal ensembles there, among other reasons. I also do think that you will get into Middlebury, because you have/had a full-pay older sib there.

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I really appreciate that perspective. I never really thought about the external resources (meaning the local communities) surrounding the school as a factor. It feels a little late to change my list now, but if I find myself unhappy at whatever my school is, I will definitely consider transferring! Thanks for all the help, I will keep you posted on what happens.

And Ithaca has REALLY good vocal music ed as well :slight_smile:

Have you considered Wesleyan? Seems like that school would check most of your boxes, especially your interest in performing arts, activism, etc.

I have considered Wesleyan! It’s strange, it sounds so right for me on paper, but when I visited campus, it didn’t feel like a good fit. Hard to explain - mainly just a gut feeling. But I know that Vassar and Oberlin are pretty similar to Wes, and for some reason I felt a stronger connection to those schools! Thanks for the recommendation, though!

My artsy D felt exactly the same way about Wes last year. It looked perfect for her on paper, but she never felt it, IYKWIM. She loved Vassar and Oberlin, too. She ended up getting into Vassar and Oberlin, but denied at Wes. Her ambivalence must have come through, but since there’s no supplement I’m not sure how, LOL.

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It’s strange, schools seem to really be able to tell if you’re interested in them or not! I’m hoping to get into either Vassar or Oberlin, ideally both (I don’t know which one I would choose though lol)!

I think that Wesleyan is more selective than Vassar and Oberlin.

True, but my D was accepted to Williams, Haverford, and Colby which are equally, if not more, selective than Wes. You just never know with holistic admissions.


I noticed that Oberlin is geographically the westernmost college on your list. Is this because that’s as far as you’d be comfortable going?
If not, I would suggest adding Pomona to your list. My advice is based on my D’s ED1 recent acceptance. Only slightly better stats and quite similar profile, including ECs (choir in particular).
I know, it’s the most selective LAC. But also one of the most interesting in selecting people (among scores of academically qualified candidates) who are unusual and serious in their EC pursuits. And male candidates have a significant statistical edge (recent RD was 9% vs. 6%, I believe). They would love to see your art supplement.
I understand money is no object - if so, why wouldn’t you try ED2? Oh, and they are also quite used to “the Y school” rejects/deferrals applying ED2, it’s a bit of an inside joke there. If at all interested, feel free to PM me, and I’ll be glad to share more.

Thanks for the recommendation! At this point, I think I am sticking with my college list. I know Pomona requires quite a few supplemental essays, and I’m already worrying about a lot of other supplements, so I think it would be best if I focused on my other apps. Also, given the pandemic, I don’t want to be too far away from my parents in Maine, so even Oberlin feels like a stretch for me. But thanks again for responding! Who knows, there is always the opportunity to transfer!


Completely understood. Good luck, I’m sure sticking closer to home has its huge advantages!

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Ok @parentologist, I really took your advice to heart and looked to add a larger, urban school to the mix. I ended up landing on NYU! I looked at the school before, but dismissed it due to its huge size and urban environment (at the time I really was wanting a small LAC). But overtime, partly thanks to you, that kind of school became more attractive. To be in one of the most vibrant cultural centers in the world would be a pretty awesome and dynamic shift from my hometown.

Anyway, I noticed the CAS is super selective, but then I started looking at their Liberal Studies core program, which is a little easier (I think around 16% acceptance rate), and also seems more ideal for me with the smaller classes and more LAC-feel for the first two years, before throwing me into the huge CAS student body for the last two. I think it is a great balance of really discovering what I want, and then later being able to pursue it with an abundance of resources.

Anyway, feel free to let me know what your thoughts are about that choice and/or my chances of admission there. I don’t think I am going to apply ED2, mainly because I am not that familiar with the school yet and the ED application is due TOMORROW.

Thanks for all the help.