Reverse Chance Me/Suggest Schools!

hello all! C:

i’m a high school junior seeking to expand my college list. i only have about three or four i’m 100% sure i’ll be applying to my senior year, and i’m hoping someone can suggest similar schools or schools i’d have a really good shot at attending that still meet some of my criteria!

my stats/educational info:

  • 3.92 UW GPA (no clue as to my weighted, sorry!)
  • no class ranking is done at my school
  • attending a selective vocational school (requires application, recommendations and portfolio to apply) but school has NO tuition
  • studying under the environmental science track at school (so most of my classes have been STEM based)
  • JR year: AP biology & AP lang
  • SR year: i’m planning to take AP envirosci, AP lit, APUSH, and either AP gov or AP physics but most likely gov, as my math skills aren’t the strongest and i’d rather take courses i’ll enjoy
  • PSAT sophomore year: 1150
  • taking the SAT in march, practice tests are sitting at a 1380 but i think i can get up to at least a 1400


  • completed a 3yr STEM summer program at my local community college (3yrs of physics, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, alg2, geometry, pre-calculus & calc, probability & statistics, biology, computer science/intro to HTML)
  • co-founder of a mutual aid network in my county in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and neighborhood gentrification (30+ student volunteers, currently raised ~$600, donated a ton of food, good community relations with local businesses, etc)
  • PEER leader (all the basic stuff, freshman mentoring, school spirit blah blah blah)
  • debate team (attended 5 comps, participated and won in 1)
  • wrote articles for a student run online publication for the summer
  • currently working with state legislators and student environmentalist groups to get an amendment passed to protect our waterways and natural marshland
  • applied to the thrive scholars/scs noonan scholars program (will hear back in april!)

personal info:

  • first gen latina (multiracial black/white/asian)
  • family income is 100-110k with 4 dependents
  • my mom owns a small business, no employees, just her and me (this is why income fluctuates, the business also put us like 35k in debt if that counts for anything)
  • my family most likely won’t contribute to the cost of my college education once i come out to them as they’re very religious & conservative but i don’t know if these types of situations are taken into consideration

i don’t have any super duper specific criteria for schools, just that they be in pretty liberal areas and have good liberal arts programs. i want to go into law but i love the humanities so i’d rather do an undergrad i enjoy and can make sure i do well in! C:

the schools i know i’m definitely applying to are:

  • mount holyoke (VERY good merit aid, especially for community service if selected to receive scholarships)
  • stanford (haha, kind of a reach but tuition is free for families <150k)
  • colby (good financial aid, i think the situation is the same as stanford)
  • john jay (tuition estimate is 10-17k, i have connections in the city so i think i can get a job and manage the cost but it’s very low on my list bc of this)

if anyone could suggest schools or areas they know have pretty good schools i would really appreciate it!! feel free to be honest, i know my stats aren’t really as impressive as a lot of other people here haha.

thank you !! <3

ADDITIONALLY: please do not ask what state im from or to consider state schools! i genuinely cannot stay where i am for college for the sake of my own safety & wellbeing. all the schools i listed above are fairly far from where i am located anyway. thank you again :]


Because you’re interested in Mount Holyoke and Colby:

  • Smith College!! In the same college consortium as MoHo and is also a women’s college. Great liberal arts program, very liberal school, gives out merit scholarships & financial aid
  • Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania. Also a great women’s college and also in a tri-college consortium with Haverford and Swarthmore (some of the best co-ed liberal arts schools in the country) and in a larger consortium with UPenn.
  • Williams (a definite reach school for anybody, but if you don’t mind the rural feel then you might want to check it out!
  • Tufts - larger student body (~5k students compared to the 1-2k of the schools mentioned above) but still is liberal and has great programs. Located in a suburb but has access to Boston so you can get the urban feel too if you want it!
  • Claremont College Consortium - specifically Claremont McKenna, Pomona, and Scripps. Keep in mind that these schools are pretty selective so you should definitely have safeties as well, but they’re great in liberal arts. Additionally, though they’re located in a suburb about 45 mins from LA, there’s a larger student body (on account of the consortium aspect) so if you want some more social interaction there’s that!
  • Hamilton or Skidmore - both in NY, both have really pretty campuses
  • Barnard and Wellesley - also women’s colleges and solid reaches. Neither give out merit scholarships unfortunately but you might qualify for financial aid? Not an expert!! However Barnard is located in the heart of NYC and Wellesley is in a suburb near Boston. Both are amazing schools, it just depends on whether or not you want a more urban vibe or not

I hope this helps! Also, though a 1400 SAT score is definitely something to be proud of, I know some of these schools have RIDICULOUSLY high test expectations lol. I’m not sure what the test-optional situation is going to look like next year, but you might want to consider going test optional for a couple of these (i.e. Barnard)? Again, just a general thing to think about and do some research beforehand!


oh wow, thank you so much!! i’ll definitely look into all of these!!

i know barnard, stanford, wellesley and some others have gone test optional for class of 22. i think my essay skills are kinda strong so hopefully that + submitting an SAT score at all can help C:

also: this might be kind of a dumb question but can you explain what a consortium is?

Sure! Basically college consortiums are within the same area and students from one school in the consortium can take classes in another! It offers a lot of interaction between different colleges which means not only a wider range of students/professors to meet but can also offer different campus feels depending on which is more your style.


That’s really a conversation you’ll need to have with your parents, because they’re the ones with any legitimate authority. They’re the ones paying for college too. It would be wrong for me or anyone else to advise you otherwise. I say this as a parent myself, and I have a teenager too. I can’t predict what’s going to happen or how it’ll end up. I’m sure, like any parent, they’re going to want to set you up for success, and I’m sure they love you unconditionally.

If this happens, it could put you in a bad situation if your parents are unwilling to supply financial information. Since your mother owns a business, the net price calculators can become very inaccurate. Unless you can find a place that has guaranteed full cost of attendance merit (not just tuition)for your stats, it is going to be difficult to find safety schools.

i am safely closeted at the moment, they previously put me through religious practices meant to “fix” me and are still under the impression this worked.

they’ve already supplied me with financial information for summer programs and scholarship opportunities. i just asked for schools that have more gratuitous/merit aid because if i attend one, breaking off my relationship with them will be far easier as i don’t have to rely on them financially.

so far mount holyoke is my top pick— my community work and grades could possibly be enough for a full ride. someone else replied with similar schools, so i’m looking into those & searching for others with good merit aid. (:

thank you! that clears up a lot C:

my march SAT was cancelled today unfortunately, but it gives me more time to study and hopefully my score can increase to at least a 1500 by may/june. i know a lot of these schools went test optional but hopefully a high SAT score can help any chance i have at merit aid.

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I don’t have specific advice but I commend you for your initiative, hard work, setting high goals for yourself, and taking control of your situation. You’ll go places! Good luck!

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that’s alright! thank you so much (: <3

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my parents will not be paying for my college education. they aren’t aware of most of my achievements, extracurricular, etc. because my education isn’t a concern to them.

to out myself to them for the sake of discussing college would be to put myself in genuine physical risk. they do not have unconditional love for me, which is why i reach out to those with more experience with the college admissions process for realistic advice as to my chances.

regardless, thank you for your advice. <3

If you can score high on your SAT, you could get some fairly generous merit aid in Univ of AL and Univ of AZ that could cover most or all your tuition. Whatever you choose, your parents are still going to be on the FAFSA application, and you need their tax info in order to complete it each year you’re in school. You need that in order to qualify for student loans. That’s going to be the case with any school. An ROTC scholarship or GI Bill, would be one of the few exceptions.

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While you’re working out the different parts, here are a few things you can work on:

  1. Make a list of ALL the activities you’ve done in HS. List the years involved. Note down all your achievements with dates. Keep track of hours for volunteering. Be specific. Don’t forget the little things - babysitting, summer jobs, helping out someone. Anything that took your time outside of school. Keep this list updated. This will come in very handy when you’re creating your resume and when you’re filling out college apps.

  2. Take a look at common app essay and supplemental essays for schools you’re interested in. Note down the questions. Let them marinate in your head. Think of how you might answer. Essays take time. Start early. Check out “college essay guy”. Tons of free resources for essays.

  3. Definitely put in the time for SAT/ACT. A great score can really help.

  4. Be in touch with your advisor/college counselor in school. Get their help.

  5. Look at the ‘Letter of Recommendation’ template that’s filled by your teachers. See which teachers might see you in the best light and write a great letter for you. Be sure to connect with your teachers, show your enthusiasm and hard work. It’s hard during a Covid year, so make the extra effort.

  6. Own your story. Build your narrative. Be unique.

  7. You’re doing great. It’ll all work out. Don’t give up! Good luck!

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If you’ve taken the PSAT, look into schools that give generous national finalist aid. My friend got 50% merit scholarship at USC and the rest was covered by need-based aid.
Good luck! <3

In addition to those high stats colleges, because of your financial need I think it is imperative you also apply to colleges with easier admit rates where your stats+hooks will help generate enough FinAid to make them affordable.

I’ve helped a couple of kids through this process, and it’s not impossible to end up somewhere where after DSL and Pell Grants are deducted from institutional scholarships+grants, the net price ends up around $3K-$7K/yr. You can make up that with summer jobs and work study.

What might hold you back is that at >$100K family income, you won’t likely see any PG money and that will add to your bottom line. Is your family’s income estimate gross or AGI? If the AGI is significantly lower enough to qualify for PG status, you also may want to apply to some schools that do not use the CSS. Also, try some schools with middle50 SAT scores below your estimated score.

Between the reachy full-need schools on your list, and adding some schools where you might score significant scholarship and grant aid, I think you can find a place that will fit your budget. No guarantee, but if you do enough research+work, you improve your odds.

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Will your parents fill out the FAFSA for you, or will they try to sabotage your college education? For you to receive financial aid every year, they need to fill out the FAFSA forms every year.

Legally, they have to fill it out, even if they kick you out of the house, so long as they kicked you out of the house AFTER you reached the age of 18. So if they kick you out, and you are 19, you will still be considered a dependent.

However, many colleges with good financial aid programs will take that into consideration, and still provide you with financial aid, even if the Federal Government does not.

I recommend that you apply to top Liberal Arts Colleges rather than Stanford. Amherst college provides just as good financial aid as Stanford and it both has higher acceptance rate, and, being a LAC, focuses a lot more on your story.

The financial aid of most of these may not be enough (see below)

SInce you may have issues with FAFSA forms, you may want to focus on colleges which are full need met without having to take loans. Colleges which are full need met without loans that you may want to consider are:

Colby College (on your list) - high reach
Swarthmore College - high reach
Davidson College - solid reach
Pomona College from the Claremonts - high reach

All are lower reaches than Stanford, though.

Colleges which may also provide full need met without loans to people with your family’s income are:

Colgate - solid/lowish reach
Lafayette - low reach, perhaps high match
Maybe Vassar - also lowish reach

For Tufts, Williams, and Wellesley, your family may make to much to qualify for Full Need Met. However, it may be possible to get full need met if your parents refuse to fill in FAFSA.

Mt Holyoke, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Claremont McKenna, Hamilton, Skidmore, and Smith generally require that you take some loans. Since you will not be able to do so if your parents refuse to fill FAFSA forms, that is something for you to consider. However, you should contact the financial offices and ask whether you will still get support in that case

You may want to also look at Agnes Scott - they will not meet full need, but your are most likely eligible for enough merit aid to attend cost-free. Another college which may give you enough merit aid to fill in the missing financial aid is Beloit.

Some colleges where you may get a full ride based on merit are:
WashU - Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program, since you’re Hispanic
Tulane - has a few
U Miami
Wake Forest

You could be eligible for more if you can get your SAT past 1400. However, looking at your GPA, you evidently know the material, so you should consider taking the ACT, since it is more straightforward. Check out a couple of practice tests and see how they go.



i have a more detailed & time-specific list of my volunteer hours and activities on a google doc and i’ve been building on it over time! many summer programs and scholarships i’ve started applying to use similar college app questions such as the “why us” essay and 200-300word max supplemental essays, so i’ve been saving those as well (:

my march SAT was cancelled today, so i’m aiming for a later date (may/june) and hopefully the extra time can allow me to raise my score a lot more. my PSAT was pretty low so i have already increased my SAT a ton, but i know it needs to be higher to be considered more competitive— so i’ll definitely be putting in the work for that.

covid aside i also have a pretty good relationship with almost all my teachers! i participate often in the virtual setting and communicate with them & my counselors often, so that also isn’t an issue for me.

but thank you for your advice, these are all definitely still things i really need to keep in mind especially for what i’m aiming for C: <3

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my PSAT wasn’t high enough for anything like that unfortunately, but i’ll look into what kind of merit aid USC offers!

thank you C: <3

from what i remember off having to read our W2 and 1040 for 2019, our AGI is closer to 100k. we have no savings and are in somewhat serious debt (35k) so i don’t know if this is also taken into account.

i heard something about the PG income max being extended but i don’t think i would qualify regardless. i’m trying to apply for several non-federal scholarships as anything is better than nothing.

and yeah, i know the schools i listed are very much reaches haha, even most of the suggested schools from a previous replier. it’s kind of why i posted to begin with, so hopefully I can take all the advice and suggestions i’m receiving into account as i continue to search for schools.

thank you so much again (: <3

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hello! wow, this is a lot to go through haha

first off: thank you so much for such a thorough and extensive reply. i genuinely haven’t heard of some of these schools so i’ll definitely be looking into them and what their financial/merit aid is like.

i don’t plan on telling my parents the truth until i’m either in my last year of college or completely out of school & financially stable; it is a giant risk, as they have found out before and it has had some severe consequences.

for the time being i doubt they will refuse to fill out my fafsa. i will call the aid offices of some of the schools you mentioned and ask what they can offer if i’m unable to fill it out though.

my SAT for march was cancelled today, so i’m aiming for may/june and hopefully by then i can increase my score to at least a 1500.

thank you so much for all of this help and the school suggestions, i really appreciate it (: <3