What are my chances at Northwestern?

I would like to major in either biochemistry, chemistry, chemical engineer, or civil engineering. I live in Illinois and I am a white female. I experience stress and anxiety on a daily basis about getting into some of my top schools (Northwestern, UIUC, Boston University, Brown University, Boston College, University of Michigan, Georgetown, and Northeastern University). The following are my stats/ECs

3.9 UW
4.75 weighted

My grades:
Freshman year
A,A- World Cultures
A,A - English 1 (honors/accel)
A,A- Algebra 2 (honors/accel)
A,A- Biology (honors/accel)
A,A - Business Law
A,A - digital marketing
A,A - spanish 2 (honors/accel)

Sophomore year
A,A- World Cultures
A,A - English 2 (honors/accel)
B,A- geometry & trig (honors/accel)
A,A- chemistry (honors/accel)
A,A - AP Psychology
A,A - AP Human Geography
A,A - spanish 3 (honors accel)

Junior year
A,A- AP English Language and Comp.
B,A - AP Chemistry
A,A- AP Biology
A,A- AP US History
A,A - Pre-calculus (honors/accel)
A,A - spanish 4 (honors accel)
N/A - college physics (taking over the summer)

Senior year
(Just my schedule since i’m a junior)
N/A - AP Statistics
N/A - AP English Literature
N/A - AP Government
N/A - AP Environmental studies
N/A - AP Calculus BC
N/A - AP Physics C (still deciding)
N/A - AP Computer Science (still deciding)

AP Scores:
5 - AP Human Geography
4 - AP Psychology
4/5 - (Predicted) AP English Language & Composition
4/5 - (Predicted) AP Chemistry
4/5 - (Predicted) AP US History
3/4 - (Predicted) AP Biology

1230 (may go test optional if goal score of 1520 is not met by the end of summer)

Main ECs:

  • (11th/12th grade) participated in a research case study with the International Youth Researchers Conference on japanese culture and the art of living well (plan to write a paper on bioethics for the upcoming fall event)
  • (10th/11th/12th grade) political volunteer work for a local organization as well as a state campaign for Kevin Olickal
  • (10th/11th/12th grade) mental health advocacy group where I speak on panels regarding mental health and coordinate monthly meetings with my peers, also have worked on annual essay contest which fixates on a new mental health topic every year
  • (11th/12th grade) published papers with my school newspaper
  • (10th/11th/12th grade) varsity girls swim team
  • (10th/11th/12th grade) science honors society, a lot of events and lectures I usually attend
  • (10th/11th/12th grade) volunteer work with a local organization for senior citizens (serve on the Teen Board)
  • (11th/12th grade) Harvard Global Health Leadership conference
  • (11th/12th grade) YCAT (Youth Climate Action Team) member of many sectors. YCAT is an international student led environmental group that has reached 1000+ In various continents, i write news articles and participate in research studies for the environment
  • (11th/12th grade) Local Environmental Club that works to promote green cafeterias, recycling, and energy conservation in schools


  • Congressional Award silver medalist (United States Congress’ award for young Americans)
  • Presidential Volunteer Service Award
  • Illinois State History Fair Qualifier (wrote a research paper on the Manhattan Project/atomic bomb and examined the geopolitical relations of different countries and medical achievements which spurred from it)
  • Published articles with my school newspaper


  • President of the mental health organization i’ve worked with for the past 3 years
  • Pi Sigma Pi (history honors society) executive committee member
  • PLT (principals leadership team - one of few selected students from the entire school to improve the environment and policies of our school)
  • Math Honors Society
  • English Honors Society (running for president - will update when results come)
  • Science Honors Society (running for treasurer - will update status when results come)
  • Junior Leader
  • National Honors Society
  • Spanish Honors Society

Please do not sugar coat anything. I would like to -realistically- know where I stand amongst my competitors. I believe I have pretty okay writing skills, so I am only a little worried about my essays. However, I really need to know that I can get into college because my self esteem is very low, as noted earlier by the constant anxiety and habit of self comparison. I do not think I am the strongest applicant, so feel free to be harsh with my current standing against others

I want to start by saying…you have fine grades and activities. But this list is very top heavy:

Northwestern, Brown, Boston College, University of Michigan, Georgetown and Northeastern are all competitive for admissions. They should be in your reach column, in my opinion. With an improved SAT score, I think they could be possible…but not guaranteed.

UIUC and Boston University seem like good options.

What do you have for a sure thing school…affordable and where you have a strong probability of acceptance? You need to get this choice on your list first…actually two…

Your stats are quite good.

Please don’t stress about colleges. There is a college for every student who applies. Just cast a wide net so you will have choices.

1 Like

Thank you very much! I appreciate the response. My top safety/match as of right now is Loyola University. I love the campus and I hear they have wonderful science programs. My household income is within the $30,000 range so I am hoping for a good scholarship. I am also planning on applying to Elmhurst University, Rutgers University, and DePaul.

Your application looks good, but a bit questionable because you’re interested in engineering, and I don’t see any engineering-related activities. If you really want to get into one of these schools, I can tell you a good admissions strategy.

You need to be careful here. If you’re in the 30k range, I would imagine you would receive lots of financial aid from Northwestern since they’re famous for doing that, but idk about brown.

If you’re really desperate and want to maximize chances

I’d do Northwestern or Brown ED. If you’re doing engineering, Northwestern does have a better program. Doing ED will significantly boost your chances overall, and since you’re also living in Illinois, yeah. You’d have a decent chance.

If rejected from Northwestern…

I’d do ED2 with your colleges in Boston. Northeastern, Boston College, Boston U all have ED2 applications, so that can kinda be your second redemption chance.


I do think you have a chance of acceptance at Northwestern…especially if you can increase that SAT score. Have you tried the ACT? Some kids just do better on that test.

I would strongly suggest you run the net price calculators for these colleges.

Are your parents divorced? Do they own a business or are they self employed? Do they own real estate other than your primary residence? If NO to all of these…then run the net price calculators.

Right now the NPCs are set for students starting in fall 2021. So whatever you get should be viewed with caution and as an estimate only.

I suggest this because Rutgers, Elmhurst and DePaul do not guarantee to meet full need…and could be too costly for you. Same with UIUC.

Does Illinois have grants for low income students? If so, check into that too.

I think you have to consider affordability as well as your ability to be accepted.

The other schools you listed (not UIUC) do meet full need, but this can vary wildly from college to college. So…please do keep that in mind.

Yes, your acceptance might be improved by applying ED, but if you do that, you give up the ability to compare net costs amongst multiple acceptances.

This is all great information, thank you. I will definitely look into all those options. My mom and I were discussing costs when I was first looking into different colleges, so that is why I chose to include more reach schools that could provide better aid (assuming). Also, how would applying ED prevent me from being able to compare NPCs? Is it because of the binding nature and the fact that I can only go to that respective school? Once again, thank you for your insights

Thank you for the response! Those were my thoughts as well, I’m worried that I may not have the best chances since my ECs aren’t really geared towards engineering (as well as my poor SAT score). I am still deciding if I want to ED but I do believe it is worth a shot since it is one of my top schools. I will definitely consider doing ED2 to Boston schools (I actually wasn’t aware they offered ED2 until you mentioned it, so thank you)

Northwestern -
Georgetown -
Michigan -

Just Right
BC +

No Problem
Add 2 schools

1500+ is extremely unlikely (I would quit now if that is your goal), so test optional will be your best strategy. My guess is you just miss at Northwestern, but it is not completely out of the question. Good luck! Please report on how you do.

You can compare the net price calculators before you apply! My comment was about comparing financial aid awards and net costs to multiple acceptances.

What you can’t do with an ED acceptance is compare that ED financial aid award and net cost to other colleges. If you are accepted ED, you are given a very small amount of time to make a decision on whether to accept that offer of admission and the aid provided. If you say yes, you are required to withdraw all other pending applications and decline other acceptances. If you say no, that ED school is off the table.

The good news…one reason to decline an ED acceptance is that the finances do not make it possible for you to attend.

But here is the rub…when you get that ED acceptance and financial aid, you will have no idea if that is the best net cost for your family…or not. It might be the best deal…but it might not be…you won’t ever know.

Now, if you get accepted to Northwestern ED with a financial aid package that works, you are in terrific shape. So…just consider all of this.

You have a nice set of things on your list of accomplishments. With very competitive schools, there really is no good way to predict acceptances.

But the net price calculators will give you an estimate of your net costs.

Will do, thank you! I will update whether I decide to go test optional once I finish with my final SAT in August.

That makes much more sense, thank you!