Reverse Chance Me: Matches and Safeties (aiming for Ivies/top LACs)

Hello! I’m a junior from NYC. Some of my top college choices right now are Yale, Middlebury, Smith, Vanderbilt, and other nescacs, ivies, and a few of the top southern universities.


gpa- 92.5 UW/ 94.57 W 100 point scale. I want to note that my gpa is lower mostly because of freshman year. My first semester that year my unweighted gpa was about 84 as opposed to 97(103 weighted) point something this past semester.

SAT- 1480(760 EBRW/ 720 math)- plan to retake

APs- Euro 4, CSP 5. This year taking APUSH(4 or 5 expected), Environmental(5 expected), English lang and comp(4 or 5 expected). Next year Calc BC, English lit, Human Geo, Macro

Extra Curricular

Clubs- Freshman: Baking a difference, Sitting with seniors (volunteering a senior centers)
Sophomore: Model UN, Society of Women Engineers(SWE)
Junior: Model UN( mentored new members), SWE, Feminist Book Club
Senior: Same as junior

Volunteering- planted garden at a city park last summer(volunteer internship)
I have been volunteering at the nature center/preserve in my neighborhood through this year and plan to continue through the summer and next year
Volunteered at library last summer

Other- photography, I was named a water ambassador for my entry into the DEP art and poetry water resources contest (I’m not sure though how competitive this award is). I have also been documenting the various plants/animals at the nature center
Environmental advocacy, made flyers for various local environmental problems and spread awareness about issues(linktree)
Was accepted to summer travel scholarship program for this summer (about 20 out of over 200 applicants accepted)


essay- I plan to write about my experience growing up with an autistic sibling (teachers have told me I’m a good writer so hopefully that’ll help lol)
Recommendations- I’m asking my APUSH teacher and my AP Environmental Science teacher. I’ve done very well in both of their classes and I really enjoyed them; I think they will be able to write good letters, and my APES teacher at least, is known for writing good ones. I don’t know my GC very well, so I expect that one will be average

Of course I don’t know if I’ll be accepted, but I’m applying for fly in programs for several of the schools I’m interested in.

Also, while I didn’t list them here, I do have some matches/safeties in mind, let me know if it’ll be useful to know what they are.

Right now I plan to major in computer science but I would like a school that is also strong in the humanities.

Any advice on how to improve my application would definitely be appreciated as well! Thank you!

It will be helpful if you include the matches/safeties that you are considering.

CS is extremely competitive. You might consider other majors as well.

Remember, this essay is about you, not your sibling.


I agree about listing the matches/safeties.

Why do you want to study computer science? After reading about your background, I was surprised to see that was your intended area of study.

What’s the budget?

Also, what kind of environment are you hoping to experience in college? What kind of vibe? It appears that you want to stay in the eastern half of the U.S. at a small to midsize university (please correct if wrong). But do you care if you’re in an urban, suburban, or rural location? Are there particular extracurriculars that you would like to participate in while at college? How do you feel about Greek life? Athletic school spirit?

Yes, it would be better to list them, so that others can confirm that they are matches and safeties, or warn you that they may be more difficult for admission (especially for computer science) than you assume. You do not want to be one of the students who finds through rejection that their safeties were not safeties.

Very important: have you talked to your parents about budget?

Some matches: Mount Holyoke(match/safety), maybe Smith?, Brandeis, Umass Amherst

Safeties: SUNY Binghamton, stony brook, Albany, buffalo, maybe Rutgers

Also, yes I’m not completely set on a major yet but at the moment, I’m interested in doing CS

I want to study CS because I enjoyed my AP CSP class and it would allow me to work in many different fields, including maybe environmental science or social science (some areas that I’m also interested in but not sure I would want to major in, at least by themselves, perhaps though as a second major/minor). Also, I don’t know too much about it but working in AI I think could be interesting.

You are correct, I am hoping to stay on the east coast and I don’t want to attend a huge school (preferably no more than 30,000) I am open to really any size school (one of the larger schools I like, for example, would be UNC chapel hill)

Regarding budget, I do need a significant amount of financial aid, so I’m a little iffy on out of state publics. However, note I am willing to spend more on a school if it is among my top choices (e.g. I’d be willing to pay more for Yale or Smith, than go to a SUNY)

Just noticed that OP has several other threads where she answered about budget, interest, etc.

Of course, I plan on talking about how this has affected my outlook on life, etc.

I don’t have a huge preference for location but I’d rather there be a distinct campus and that the majority of students live on it.
I don’t mind if a school has Greek life but I don’t want it to dominate the social scene (I.e. students not participating shouldn’t feel left out/looked down upon and I’d hope there are sufficient alternatives for entertainment). Athletic school spirit isn’t really important to me, though coming from a high school where people hardly remember we have sports teams, I wonder if it might be fun to go to a school with more spirit in that regard.

I’m not entirely sure yet what extracurriculars id like to participate in but maybe continuing model un (or debate), some kind of theatre or arts activity, or newspaper

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Try the net price calculator on each college’s financial aid web site to see if the net price is likely to be affordable.

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For most of the schools I’m applying to they will be affordable, except for some of the out of state publics, which might be a bit of a stretch

In one of your other threads you said your EFC (I assume FAFSA) was $10K. Is that still the case based on 2021 income? Is that what your family can contribute each year for college? Calculate your estimated EFC here: Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator – BigFuture | College Board

Have you run any of the net price calculators on each of your school’s websites? You do need to do this using 2021 income and current assets to see which schools are affordable. Note the NPCs may not be accurate if your parents are divorced, own a business, or own real estate beyond a primary home…are any of those the case for you?

I agree the SUNYs you listed will be safeties as long as they are affordable. Work with your HS GC to help understand which NY state financial aid programs you qualify for. @sybbie719 will have additional insights.

Rutgers will not be affordable, nor will UMass Amherst, so I would take those off the list. Good luck on the fly in program applications…on your other thread you said your GPA should increase at the end of this semester, as well as your test score. I would wait to apply until you have your six semester transcript with most recent grades.


Just re-reading some of your older threads. Looks like your parents are not together. Run the EFC calculator above with just you and your custodial parent’s 2021 income and current assets and let us know the answer…that will hopefully give us an accurate FAFSA EFC. Make sure to include any child support paid by the non custodial parent (NCP).

Do you know your NCP’s 2021 income/current assets? If so the NPCs may work if you add in income/current assets from you and both parents, if not the NPCs won’t be accurate.

@luckgirl, what does the Net Price Calculator say for your family based on the 2021 data? And whatever that price is, is that price affordable? Can your family afford to pay $10k/year? $20k/year?

In looking at your previous threads from this year, this is what your preferences seemed to indicate:

Interested in:
• Middlebury
• Hamilton
• Colby
• Brown
• Bowdoin
• Williams
• Vassar
• Yale
• Smith
• Mount Holyoke
• Binghamton (safety)

Don’t care for
• Wesleyan
• Grinnell (too far)
• Carleton (too far)
• Franklin & Marshall
• Barnard (too close…in NYC)

If you could share what it is you like about the schools you’re interested in, as well as what you didn’t like about Wesleyan & Franklin and Marshall, that might help people think of schools that might meet your interests.

30,000 is a very big school! I’m not sure how much of a difference there is in terms of feel with a school of 20,00, 30,000, 40,000 or 50,000. I think they will all feel pretty big. Of course, depending on what you study, honors programs, etc, you can help make a big school feel smaller. But if you’re open to a school with 30,000 students, then I think you’re open to schools of just about any size. Chapel Hill has about 20k students.

The EFC I’ve previously referenced was approximately the average for various lacs, such as Middlebury, Williams, Smith, etc. This would be affordable, I believe. However, for now, I’m not really considering cost very much, I’ll look into this more after I’m admitted. Please, if you are recommending schools though, meet full need is preferable, and if they don’t meet full need please note that, thank you.

Not a good idea. My daughter’s friend did exactly this - and got admitted to two LACs that she really loves and wanted to go to more than anywhere else. Unfortunately the finances didn’t work out (one is not full meet need - the other is, but their definition of her family’s need didn’t match their reality). So she’s not going to be able to go to her dream schools despite having been admitted.


I agree with @DadOfJerseyGirl that it’s unwise not to take cost into consideration. You don’t want to end up in a position with disappointed hopes in the spring of your senior year (or even worse, deciding to go into a situation where you take on much more debt than you would have needed to elsewhere) when you can avoid that situation from the beginning.

You seem to have the reaches end of your list covered, but these schools are likelier admissions for you (whether a bit more likely to tons more likely).

• Stony Brook (NY): 18k undergrads; met average of 65% of need; need-blind for NY students
• U. at Buffalo (NY): 21k undergrads; met average of 47% of need; need-blind for NY students
• Colgate (NY): 3k undergrads; meets 100% of need; not need-blind
• Connecticut College: 1800 undergrads; meets 100% of need; not need-blind
• U. of Rochester (NY): 6500 undergrads; meets 97% of need; not need-blind
• Case Western (OH): 5700 undergrads; meets 97% of need; not need-blind

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Well, first off 30,000 is really the upper upper limit. I would definitely prefer a smaller school. I mentioned chapel hill as an example of a large school I am willing to consider(but even it is not really very close to the top of my list) but I think I would have to really like the school for other reasons to have it be at/near the top

In terms of what I like about my top schools:

For Yale and Smith I really like their housing system
Middlebury seems to have an outdoorsy culture which I like
For the other LACs I like the close knit community as well as the location(most are in small town New England)
For vanderbilt the main attraction is honestly Nashville (growing up in the northeast it might be interesting to live in another part of the country for a while, and Nashville seems like a cool city)

Franklin and Marshall just didn’t stand out to me in anyway and Wesleyan just seems too… liberal/politically correct (saying this as a socially liberal person myself)

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Have you considered Duke or Rice University?

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