Hi, trying to help D22 finalize her college list, which I think is too reach-heavy. Would appreciate suggestions for narrowing the list, as well as other good fit schools she might’ve missed. Sorry such a long post, trying to anticipate questions:
She’s a STEM/STEAM girl, interested in learning so many things, truly undecided on a major. But also interested in non-STEM studies (if not as a major, perhaps a minor).
Current interests include (not in order of preference): Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering, Astronomy, Computer Science, Economics, Neuroscience, Physics, Sociology, maybe something that involves art (Game Design, Graphic Design).
Demographics: Asian American, LGBTQ+ female, California resident
GPA Unweighted: 3.95
UC (University of California) Weighted GPA: school transcript says UC GPA is 4.55; RogerHub says UC 4.48, capped UC 4.28
11th: Calc AB, US History, Comp Sci A
12th: Calc BC, Physics, Microeconomics, US Gov’t/Pol, Lit/Comp, Statistics, Studio Art
Also community college: Psychology, American Sign Language
District doesn’t rank but she got a notice last year she’s top 9% for UC auto admission.
SAT: Canceled 3 times, hopefully can take next month. Practice tests range 1460-1520 but don’t know how it will go in a real exam (if it happens at all), so assuming Test Optional.
Extracurriculars: Strong leadership/awards in robotics, science olympiad, foreign language/culture; plus band, student government, other volunteer work. Not quite like some of the EC’s I’ve seen on this forum(!), but we’re proud (as is she).
Her Wish List
Prefers a medium sized college (5,000-15,000), or a larger one that can feel smaller, or smaller one that can feel larger (consortium). No pre-med or pre-law plans (but not ruling them out), though likes the idea of a university surrounding undergrads with professional schools, grad schools, etc for the energy of a big academic institution and opportunities to attend workshops, events, etc.
Most importantly — she wants to challenge herself in a rigorous intellectual environment, but with more collaborative than competitive students, in a college that helps students maintain a healthy work/life balance. Schools with strong mental health and advising supports are ideal.
Wants to take classes where professors and students are truly engaged with each other and academic mentoring is encouraged. Would love smaller classes, but willing to navigate large classes and reach out to professors on her own too. Wants to be able to explore different majors, across different disciplines — common core would help for that, although she likes the idea of an open curriculum too (did I mention she’s undecided?). Also wants to be able to switch majors relatively easily, or at least be able to change her mind multiple times.
While not against being prepared for the workforce or grad/professional school, she prefers not to have a “pre-professional vibe.” Wants to be with kids who also love to learn for the sake of learning, who are collaborative and not cut-throat, and enjoy “nerding-out” over a variety of topics.
Not anti-Greek, but doesn’t want it to dominate the social scene. Wants to be able to find her place amongst fellow nerds, where she can play D&D but also join other extracurriculars like music, tennis, ultimate frisbee. Definitely not interested in women’s colleges or religiously affiliated schools (even Jesuit). Prefers open-minded, racially diverse, progressive-leaning student body.
We live in California and she prefers to stay in-state, but out-of-state is okay for the right school. Wants to live in an area that’s more liberal/progressive, racially/ethnically diverse, LGBTQ+ supportive, so does not want to consider schools in the South. No preference for city size, except not rural, and nice to have access to a larger city for internship and cultural opportunities, etc.
Dislikes super hot weather, loves rain (but we’re in a drought so it’s a real novelty here). I think she’d be able to handle cold, rain and snow, but fear the constant gloomy days of non-California winters may get depressing.
We (parents and DD) would love for her to attend a UC or Cal Poly SLO but, besides unpredictable admissions odds, we’re especially concerned she won’t have the opportunity to enter undeclared and “find herself” and her major over her first couple years in college. We are also nervous about the size of most UC’s — 30,000 and growing and we’re not sure if investment in faculty, facilities and housing is keeping up with undergrad numbers?
Also a concern with Cal Poly SLO and other technical schools is if she decides not to do STEM at all. She wants to attend a school where she could thrive as either a STEM or non-STEM major (or both!).
Haven’t run NPC but did MyIntuition and expect to pay full cost wherever she attends, which we are fortunate to have saved for and can afford. We prefer to pay up to the highest UC costs (~$40,000/yr) especially if she does want professional schools later, unless we are convinced a more expensive school is truly the best fit for her. We imagine that final decision can’t be made until she’s admitted and actually visits schools, so for now we’re looking for good places to apply.
[Edited to Clarify: $40k is not a hard limit, it’s our comparison point of UC versus any private. It’s more like a “floor,” in that we’re already expecting to start at that cost. A CSU would seem like a windfall of savings in comparison; while a private would likely be money over $40k (possibly double) that we’d rather not spend but can comfortably afford and willing to spend if we are convinced she couldn’t get a comparable experience at a UC or CSU.]
She’s still doing more in-depth research on schools on her list, but I’ve grouped them into schools she currently thinks “fit” her best (categories borrowed from @cosmopolitan2022 ). Would love to see more realistic schools in the “most enthusiastic” group, either because she learns more about schools in other groups and moves them up, or discovers other great schools we hadn’t considered.
UC San Diego
UC Santa Cruz
UC Santa Barbara
Cal Poly SLO
CSU’s (San Diego, Long Beach, San Jose, Sacramento)
Still Deciding Enthusiasm Level:
University of Southern California
Cal Poly Pomona
Schools considered but removed from list:
Princeton, CalTech, Northwestern, WashU, Haverford, Northeastern, Wellesley, Vassar, Univ of Rochester, Brandeis, Reed, Santa Clara, Univ of San Diego, Whitman, RIT, UC Merced, Lewis & Clark
She knows several are crazy reaches, but doesn’t want to cut the ones she loves then later regret not having tried. Yet I don’t want her to put so much energy into too many intense application essays only to get crushed by a flood of rejections. So would really appreciate feedback I can share with her to help reduce the number of moonshots and add more targets/safeties in case we missed some that would really suit her.
If you’re still reading this, thanks for your time and any help!