Suggestions for a rising senior who needs help


  • US domestic (US citizen or permanent resident) or international student: US domestic
  • State/Location of residency: (state is important if you apply to any state universities): Wisconsin
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers): A decent public highschool
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): African American Female
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): Nothing I can think of off the top of my head.

Intended Major(s)
Probably majoring in CS but I might also minor in math (Or maybe a dual degree if it doesn’t require an extra year)

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.98
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): N/A
  • Class Rank: School doesn’t rank
  • ACT/SAT Scores:
    1570 SAT
    36 ACT

(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s))

AP English Lang (5)
AP Bio (5)
AP Chem (4)
AP Physics 1 (5)
AP Calc BC (5)
AP World History (5)
What I plan on taking senior year:
AP Stats
AP Psych
AP Macro + Micro

I also took Exploring Computer Science, Intro to Engineering Design, and Robotics 1 + 2. I opted out of AP Spanish Lang for Spanish IV because I didn’t want to deal with the AP test.

Also, when I was in 7th grade, I tested into AP Calc BC (Mainly with the help of John Hopkins CTY) and from 8th grade on I either took math courses from the local CC or through John Hopkins CTY.

Cost Constraints / Budget
(High school students: please get a budget from your parents and use the Net Price Calculators on the web sites of colleges of interest.)
I have a good number of scholarships, so with that in mind I would say over all four years I would like it to be under 200k. My family is upper middle class, so I don’t expect any kind of financial aid.

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)
I don’t have that many schools yet, but here are some that I’m thinking about:

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability)
    University of Iowa

  • Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable)
    UW Madison (Mostly because I’m in state)
    University of Minnesota

  • Match
    UWashington Seattle
    University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (More of a low reach/ high match situation)

  • Reach
    Northeastern (I’m a little wary of its pure math program since I know northeastern is very job oriented)
    UIUC (For CS)

I know my list is a little top heavy so I would appreciate some more quality match/likely schools to balance it out. Here are some of my prefrences:
-No incredibly small or large schools
-Nice scenery and campus are important to me
-A more liberal school is a must (conservatives don’t go off on me please)
-Following that thread, I try to avoid schools in the deep south
-The easier it is to get a dual degree or minor the better
-Not a must have but school spirit is always fun
-It’s very important that the environment in more collaborative than competitive
-The more diverse the student body is the better

First of all, congratulations on your accomplishments! You have an impressive record and should have a good shot anywhere.

Can you elaborate on the scholarships? I assume these are private outside scholarships. What amount and what are the conditions attached to these? The private schools you’ve listed are closer to $320k if paying full price.

I think UIUC will be a match for you if you apply EA.
I suggest adding UMD and Georgia Tech to your list. Both meet most of the criteria you’ve listed and have strong CS programs

I’d question the dual degree plan though. What’s your rationale?

With additional clarity from you about those scholarships, we can suggest additional options.

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Congrats on a wonderful HS career you should be really proud of your accomplishments. You certainly have a shot anywhere, but I would dive a little deeper and look at programs and schools that check the boxes for what you’re looking for.

  1. Outside the Aesthetic aspects of the schools look into the actual curriculum for your intended major. Is it a core curriculum, open, project based, co-op, etc. Look at the AP policies? Do your scores fulfill a requirement or count toward credits?

This should help you both focus your list and help you craft any supplemental “why xyz college” essays.

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Would you be happy to attend Wisconsin or Minnesota and are they affordable? If yes, then I think you have 3 safeties including Iowa. You’re good. Now aim high.

Michigan and Washington CS are probably reaches being out of state.

Georgia Tech. Not a huge school and liberal campus. Lots to do in Atlanta.

CMU, Rice, Mudd, Columbia? Pitt if you apply early.

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Washington should be considered a reach for direct admission to CS.

For Michigan, see Undergraduate Admissions & Financial Aid | Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan regarding CS. Expect CS admission to be more difficult than general LSA or CoE admission.

This usually has a lot to do with how voluminous the general education requirements that do not overlap with your major(s) / minor(s) are.

UW Madison is a very good university for CS. Many years ago I worked with a team from UW Madison on a software project and I was very impressed by the professors and the students who I was dealing with. I got to visit a couple of times and continued to be quite impressed. The people I was dealing with were very smart, but were also very good people. I stayed in touch with some of them for many years.

Your reaches are indeed reaches, but are at least possible. It is not obvious to me whether or not it makes sense to be full pay at any of them if you also have UW Madison as an option in-state. One thing which might be possible would be to get a bachelor’s degree in-state and then think about whether you want to get a master’s. If you are not eligible for need based financial aid then a bachelor’s at UW plus a master’s at a top school such as Stanford might cost less than just a bachelor’s at Stanford (or any of the private schools on your list).

If you do get accepted to MIT you might want to notice their major 18C (math with computer science). That is essentially what I did, but before the major officially existed (my degree just says “mathematics”). I would expect that you could have essentially the same course load at other universities whether your degree would officially admit to it or not (at other schools the degree might again just say “mathematics” or “computer science”). Given your stated likely major, you should also look up what “Operations Research” is. It is a way cool and marketable major for someone who is interested in the intersection between math and CS.

I might add: When I was a student at MIT I did have a meeting with a professor to ask about getting a dual major. He essentially said there was no point, and suggested that I just continue as a math major and take the other classes that I was interested in. This is what I did and in retrospect I believe that he was correct.


For most of your criteria, Pomona would suit you.

Unless you want a regional school dump lacrosse. You can apply to any school in America assuming you’re ECs are solid…are they ?? I don’t see them listed.

Congrats. What a wonderful thing.

You might add UMASS, Rice (yes it’s south but the school / Houston aren’t conservative), UMD was mentioned and maybe UNC (campus will lean left). Arizona for inexpensive and solid. again liberal leaning in a conservative leaning state. And Az looks at grades only and you’d get $30k automerit off new tuition of $41k and as nice as Honors complex as you’ll find…dorm, dining, adjacent fitness center.

I think you get into more that UWM and UMN. But your ECs will matter at the top.

If mid size ok you might find a great deal at RPI, Brandeis, CWRU, or Rochester.

Good luck. Great job !!


In general, yes. But given OP’s demographic and impressive record I think (at least) UMich will be a match.

And doing a dual degree (as OP mentioned) is IMO even less necessary


Many of the private schools suggested here may or may not be under $200k for OP depending on how her private scholarship grants work. She said she doesn’t qualify for need based aid.

I think you would be a good fit for Harvey Mudd. I know it’s small but because it’s part of the Claremont College consortium it doesn’t feel that small.

Have you considered any women’s colleges like Bryn Mawr?

Congratulations on your strong high school performance! You will have many options come the springtime. You’re so very fortunate to have some phenomenal flagships at your disposal for the price of in-state tuition (Wisconsin & Minnesota). Would you be happy to attend either of those? If so, you only need to apply to schools that you would like MORE than those.

A few possibilities that you may want to consider include:

  • Boston College (MA)
  • Brandeis (MA)
  • Howard (D.C.) - HBCU
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Northwestern (IL)
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic (NY)
  • Seattle U (WA)
  • Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ)
  • Tufts (MA)
  • Washington U. (MO)
  • Wesleyan (CT)

The above schools all range from about 3-15k in undergraduate size. They all offer at least a Master’s in math and CS, and have decently racially diverse student bodies (apart from Howard, which is predominantly black). Whether they will all pass the “attractive” screen, I cannot say, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :slight_smile:


I like your list, most schools are categorized correctly.

U Wash (class of 2025 CS OOS acceptance rate was 3%) and UIUC CS (class of 2026 acceptance rate was 6.8%, no breakdown between in and out of state) are both reaches.

If U Iowa is affordable, why apply to UWL? Would you go there over Iowa? You should apply to Iowa ASAP and you will have your acceptance in hand pretty quickly.

Make sure to apply in the EA round at all schools where that’s an option. I expect you will do well in admissions. Good luck!