Please help me on my college list

Hi everyone this is my first post here because I am so stressed it was time to stop lurking and start asking. I have a lot of reach schools and I can’t seem to find any universities that I want for my matches. I think I’m being too blindsided by prestige, and I’m looking for more safety/match schools. I also am thinking about being pre-PA so hopefully somewhere easier would be ideal for a higher GPA.

Here’s some background info about me:
-First gen
-35 ACT
-4.49 W GPA or 3.97 UW GPA
-pretty competitive TX high school
-still unsure about what to major in (thinking some business pathyway as I have a lot of hs experience in it and it’s prob what’s gonna get me in the top uni’s, state schools I’m not sure if I should do the normal science chem major or psych or business)

What I am looking for in colleges in order:
1)medium sized
2)NOT TOXIC/ academically cutthroat (so no Harvard pls)
3) gives size-able amount of aid
4)close to city/suburban area (i.e. walkable)
5) open to major switching
6) counts AP credit (not as an elective like USC)
7)good alumni network (although not mandatory)
8) somewhere not that cold although I am applying to Boston schools
**I feel like I’m not asking for too much but seeing as my list is just full of reaches I think I’m deluding myself

My list so far:

  1. Rice University
  2. Stanford University
    3)University of Texas at Austin
  3. Boston University
  4. Emory University
  5. Vanderbilt University
  6. Northeastern University
  7. Texas A&M
    9)Washington University

Are you an under-represented minority? (i.e. Black, Latinx, Native American…?) Male or female?

Have you run the net price calculators for these schools? Do they all look affordable?

If you’re interested in both business and lab sciences, maybe check out this program at the Claremont Consortium, which has around 7000 undergrads across the 5 colleges. This major is available to Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps students. All of the 5C’s meet full need, and they offer a suburban/urban-adjacent setting with mild SoCal weather, and all of the small-classes / collaborative environment /major flexibility that you’re looking for.

Check out U of Richmond, and Wake Forest. Maybe Lehigh. Consider adding Tufts and Boston College to your Boston-area list - especially BC, if you want a business major as an option.

It’s true that your list is pretty reachy. But you’re in that situation where you need generous full-need-met schools if you’re going to go private/OOS; otherwise, you have good in-state public options. And you certainly have the credentials to be a competitive applicant at reachy schools. It’s just tough for unhooked applicants

Looks like you’re not quite in the top 6% for auto-admit to UT Austin. Business is extra-competitive and may not be worth the reach if you’re not strongly committed to it.

How about UT Dallas? Their BS in Healthcare Management in the business school is tailored for pre-health students who are also interested in business. Lots of high-achieving students there, taking advantage of the National Merit full ride. (Speaking of which, did you make the NMSF cut? Seems like you might have, given how high you scored on the ACT…?)

U of Miami could be a slightly less reachy option that is strong in your areas of interest and, like BU, recently made a “full need met” commitment. Maybe not as generous as the most reachy schools, but run the NPC and see.

Are you going to apply ED to Rice, if it’s your top choice? Chances are somewhat improved if you do. URichmond and UMIami have non-binding Early Action, with higher acceptance rates than RD and the chance of having an offer in hand early, to take the pressure off before the RD cycle.

Are you auto-admit to UT Austin?

We live way to the northeast of you so we have not visited anything out your way. However, I have heard very good things about UT Austin. I think that Texas A&M is a good choice also. Either one should be able to prepare you very well for a PA program. I do not see a lot of advantage to most of the higher priced schools on your list.

I know more about Stanford, WUSTL, Northeastern, and BU. These are all very good universities.

My main thought about Stanford is that it will be competitive with a lot of very strong students. Because of the quarter system the end of the quarter comes up fast and you do not want to fall behind ever. I was there as a graduate student so fortunately I was mature enough to hold the partying until the end of the quarter. I did find that most weekends were spent studying, except that I usually took Saturday evening off as my weekly break from studying.

At least for us Northeastern and BU are much closer, and we visited both. Both were out of our price range. You might want to run the NPC and see what it says for you. Actually, you should probably run the NPC on every school on your list, with the possible exception of in-state publics if you can afford the full in-state price.

I would not take on debt for undergrad if you can help it, particularly if the alternative is UT Austin or TA&M.

One thing that might be worth adding: The NPCs are usually fairly accurate if your parents are still married and living together and do not own a small business, farm, or rental property. If your parents are divorced or own a small business then reality is usually worse than the NPCs. With one exception (who is rich), every small business owner and farmer that I know in the US has had to send their children to in-state public schools.

@aquapt Asian and female, and yes, I’ve run the calculator (which is another reason Rice is my #1, Vanderbilt is the second most affordable because I’m not sure how to accurately calculate state schools but the calculator gives me $15k). Thank you so much for the list!

Also to put into perspective that I applied to Questbridge, which is why most of my schools are high-tier.

Most of my ECs are business-related (DECA, entrepreneurship clubs, start-ups etc) and considerably more than some of my peers who are lower ranked than me that got into McCombs. I feel adequately confident in getting into McCombs.

I might apply to Claremont McKenna for QB RD, although I didn’t rank it because it was a bit too far from a major area (too closed off).

As for UT Austin, I am at about 6.2% so not auto (!!! sad). That being said, I am paranoid at not being able to switch majors and my advisor told me if I am undecided it is probably easier to get into the harder major first because it will be harder to switch from science to business than the other way around. I also want to major in something that can give me a job if I just decide to stick with undergrad only (which science isn’t really that great for). Thoughts about this?

Unfortunately not NMSF because the SAT hates me and I hate it. ACT gang only.

I ranked Rice as #1 on my Questbridge application because if not matched, I can move it to a special ED due in December. I’m still not sure if this was a good idea vs Rice ED in November, but that’s what I’ve done so far. My school is notorious for rejections from Rice unless applying through ED, but I’m not sure if my situation will put me in a different scenario. Thanks for reading all of this.

@DadTwoGirls Sadly 6.2% is not auto. With that being said, BU and Northeastern University are 8k and 12k respectively. I’m not sure how much state schools are because the net price calculator isn’t that great and it gives me about 15k, and upperclassmen have said about the same but they are not low-income. Even if it is lower, the price is relatively similar. Thank you for your input!

Do you know your FAFSA EFC?

If Vandy NPC is giving you an estimated cost of $15K, I think it’s unlikely you will become a QB finalist (majority have EFC $0 or near $0).

Is TAMU your academic safety (you have auto admit there, correct?) Is it affordable?

@Mwfan1921 I meant 15k for state schools on their really sketchy net price calculator, my Vanderbilt NPC is def NOT 15k. Sorry if that was confusing.

Got it. So for BU and NEU at $8K and $12K, respectively, those may not be affordable correct? Assuming those net prices include your Pell Grant and the $5.5K loan. If not affordable, I would not apply.

So it looks like TAMU would cost you $15K? Seems high. But if true, what is your affordable safety?

@Mwfan1921 that is a good question.