What do I do now?


i wasn’t sure which category to post this in, so it’s going here.

i’m a high school senior from alabama. i have already received decisions from every college i applied to, and it’s not looking great.

through questbridge:
i was a finalist but didn’t match so i moved onto other application rounds.
i applied to mit early action and columbia early decision. in regular decision, i finished and submitted applications to brown, colgate, colorado college, northwestern, vassar, yale, colby, hamilton, washington & lee, and wesleyan.

i was rejected from every single school i applied to through questbridge.

after that, i applied to the university of memphis through a priority application. i guess i applied after the financial aid priority date because i received no merit scholarship or other aid (just pell grant and direct loans). their cost of attendance is ~12,000-13,000 per semester.
i had applied to long island university (brooklyn) and i received 17,500 in merit aid there. the only issue is liu brooklyn has a really expensive cost of attendance to begin with. tuition alone is 37,926 annually & that’s not including room & board, books, etc.

the point is: i can’t afford to go to either of these places.

so, here is the fundamental question: what am i supposed to do?

  • i could take out student loans for either liu brooklyn or u of memphis.
  • i could take a gap semester and apply to schools that accept spring 2022 admits. if i did, where?
  • i could take a gap year and apply to schools for fall 2022 with really good merit/need aid programs. if i did, where?
  • i could wait until later to go to college, after i’ve got some work experience. and again, if i did, where?

the only thing that i don’t consider an option is applying to in-state schools, or really, any schools in the south. i hate it in alabama, and interacting with the average person here is physically exhausting and depressing because of the culture of the bible belt (think racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, overtly capitalist/fascist, and so on).

some other information if you want to recommend me schools to apply to:

  • i’m currently most interested in social work or non-profit management, communications or journalism, and any environmentally-oriented majors (environmental engineering, urban planning, etc).
  • my family’s made up of 6 people including myself and my efc is around 2150.
  • my act is a 33, my weighted gpa is a 3.9 and my unweighted is a 3.6.
  • in the fall 2020/spring 2021 semesters, my grades have dropped substantially (from a-/b report card to a/b/c/d report card) due to depression/anxiety symptoms and my high school swapping to different levels of in-person/hybrid/virtual instruction.
  • i want to live in an urban area. i need to be shown that the world is bigger.

i realize this post is long. thank you for your time.


First, I am sorry that your decisions are disappointing. It is hard when you set your sights on something and work toward that goal to end up falling short.

I am not sure how Questbridge works specifically but it looks like you didn’t apply to a true safety (a school where the admission rate is high and you can pay to attend). You are limited to a student loan of $5500 for your first year and that still makes your list unaffordable. I understand about wanting to leave your state. The interesting thing is many people on CC recommend your state school to high achieving students from out of state because of their generous merit aid. It is possible you might have been pleasantly surprised by your classmates.

In terms of what to do next, you can certainly take a gap year and work to make some money but also look for something meaningful to you and get involved. It will be important for you to show schools what you did during the time off. Work on your mental health, too. These past several months have been a challenge and have impacted just about everyone in some way. Don’t let that define you.

As far as where to apply going forward, look for schools that provide need based financial aid and that are less competitive in terms of admission, think in the 30-40% range. More merit opportunities come from schools where your stats are significantly higher than average. You can google the name of a college and the term common data set, there will be lots of data about test scores and gpa. Trinity College in CT might be worth looking into. They have some interesting majors that might be appealing as well as the option to create your own interdisciplinary route.

Lots of folks will have lots of great suggestions, too! Good luck to you!


I think you reached to high, my kids with higher stats and who need merit applied to much less selective schools. Look at some public OOS schools, although they will definitely cost more than your in state options. My daughter’s least expensive option was a private, Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia, $20,000 a year including room and board after merit. She wanted to go south and get out of the northeast due to covid restrictions so will be in South Carolina.


Sorry you are in this situation. I’m sure is frustrating and a bit demoralizing. But you do have options.

You could consider looking at schools that are still accepting applications and give merit such as Arizona State or the University of Arizona? University of Alabama? I know you don’t like Alabama but the school is huge and populated with kids from all over the country and internationally.

A gap year is also worth considering because then you’ll be able to better research and target colleges with good merit opportunities for your stats.

Lastly there will be a list of schools which miscalculated yield coming out at the beginning of May. There are usually some worth investigating but I dint know how the merit and FAcworks at that point. If your common app is ready to go you could submit to a few and see what happens.


In early May the NACAC publishes a list of schools that still have openings. Every year there are some very good schools on the list, and many still have financial aid available. Look for a post and link here on College Confidential, or look on NACAC’s website, probably May 3-5. Experienced posters here can recommend good schools on the list. Be ready to apply right away for the best chances at admission and financial aid.


I am sure you are upset and frustrated, but glad you are moving forward to look at your next step.

First, if you want to attend, contact University of Memphis to find out what happened. With that low of an EFC, you should be eligible for need-based aid. Did you and your family complete the FAFSA? Hopefully, they may still offer you need-based financial aid. U Memphis seems like it is still accepting applications.

Also contact LIU about need-based aid. I would NOT take out lots of loans to attend LIU or Memphis, as social work requires a masters,

Have you talked to your HS guidance counselor? Are they of any help? Can they point you toward some options. As noted, there may be other schools you can apply to, but you would want to check if applicants would still be eligible for need-based aid.

You seem to be good student that ended up on the wrong end of the admissions cycle. This is a bump, but you can still be very successful.


I would recommend community college or just taking a gap year


Community college and then transfer to need blind private universities who are generous with fin aid.

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Have you looked at University of Alabama at Huntsville? It seems to have better stats than the other campuses and because of NASA has a facility at Huntsville, has a strong set of students there, and a lot of scientists, etc in the general community. They are still taking applications. And it’s only a few miles to the Tennessee border, so maybe not quite so Southern as where you want to escape from?

I’ve never been there, so not speaking from any direct knowledge, though.


First, you are dismissing a whole state (region) based upon something that many of them have no control over, where they were born/live. If you want to be a social worker, you have to learn to evaluate people as an individual not some gross classification. With that, your likely best option is to take a gap year and apply to some in-state schools. It looks like you would qualify for a full tuition scholarship at the University of Alabama. Between federal loan, partial Pell and work, you may be able to cover the other costs.


Oh please. This student lives in Alabama. You really don’t know what their personal experiences have been. For all
you know the OP may be a POC or belong to another minority group and if they say their experience living in the region is exhausting and depressing I think we need to respect these feelings and experiences, not invalidate them. Of course, the region will have a diversity of people, but unless you, yourself have experienced the life of the OP, I don’t think a lecture on how they should feel is appropriate, especially if you are someone from a majority culture who has never experienced discrimination. I grew up in Alabama and Tennessee, and love many things about the region (still have relatives there) but I experienced it as a white middle class sheltered girl. Going back on visits, however, even I have heard/seen things that I found shocking. There’s no denying it can be a hard environment for a lot of people.

Having said that, I will reiterate that there’s a large number of students from all over the country at UA and so likely a larger degree of diversity than one finds in the state in general. if UA is your only affordable option, you may find a way to make it work for you and find a few like-minded friends until you can get your degree and move elsewhere.



So first of all, let me just say that these rejections don’t define you. You are an amazing human being and you worked hard and just because someone prestigious colleges rejected doesn’t mean that your hard work and intelligence and resilience means anything less.

Secondly, I applied to LIU too and it looks like I’m going there too now. At first the scholarship wasn’t enough with just the merit based aid, so I emailed the admissions office and they told me to fill out a tuition appeal application and they were able to evaluate my profile and give me an additional grant.

I’d suggest emailing Tatiana in the admissions Office, she’s really helpful. Just let her know about your situation and ask that your financial aid is reconsidered. Here’s her email: Tatiana.Marshall@liu.edu.

I think you should do the same with the other school.

I hope this helps, but just remember that no matter where you end up going you can still become the person you aspire to be in terms of both character and career. In a few years, you will look back and be proud of yourself and feel happy about where you are, even though it stings right now and things seem impossible. Continue to work hard, never give up on yourself and your dreams and don’t ever let anyone or anything stop you from reaching for your dreams!!


I don’t think that taking a gap year and reapplying is a good idea, unless you would be doing something that significantly improves your application. Plus, you say your grades are worse now. The pandemic has been hard on a lot of students, and I think that colleges realize this. If I were you, I’d have your guidance counselor contact U Alabama to see what they can offer you now. It should have been on your list as a safety. I suspect that even now they would give you an excellent aid package. I know you want to get out of the South, but you don’t have any alternatives now.

Forget about LIU. Living in NYC is expensive and stressful, and LIU is NOT worth taking out loans to attend.

Put in an application to ASU. They’ll take you, might give you honors college, might give you money. The problem is that you really do need a full aid package. I’m not sure that you would get that from any schools on the NACAC list.


I do, IF the list and priorities change. Social Work is a needed and noble profession, but it doesn’t pay a lot. You’ll have an anchor tied to you forever if you go into deep debt. If there’s ever been a time to take a gap year it was last year and this year. If you do that you can find better candidates where you are more likely to get in and will likely get need based and merit aid. Tough decision though. Good luck!


I’d normally agree with you about a gap year but if OPs final senior grades aren’t as good as she’d like that could affect merit opportunities.


I missed that. The catch 22 is that most colleges have contingent admissions. Those grades need to recover either way.

That said, here’s the whole list of schools and their application dates. There are lots of possible candidates still. It can’t hurt to throw some apps out and see what financial traction they get.


On the above list, look at U or Arizona, with a deadline of May first.

As it’s been said, you do not want to go into debt for a social work degree.

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It sounds like in-state is the only thing you can afford. Most people can’t afford to pay triple the tuition to go out of state. Univ of AZ is one place you could get good enough merit aid to make it on-par with a state school. Options are going to be extremely limited.

(think racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, overtly capitalist/fascist, and so on).

But seriously, it’s not healthy to label people. You can be who you are and find plenty of like-minded friends at a place like Auburn or Alabama. Most universities lean ideologically “left” anyway, especially in more urban schools like UAB. Your grades and scores would get you a scholarship at all of these schools.

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You are clearly a very qualified applicant. I agree that you probably aimed too high for ED. I think you would have had a better chance ED at Colby, Colorado, or Vassar. However, you need to consider your options going forward.

I’m going to give different advice, because as a QB finalist, you have a lot of potential. I’m not super clear on how QB works, but you still need to aim for the schools that best align with your stats. Consider trying again next year. Or, as you are likely a pretty desirable applicant, try for some slightly less selective schools that will offer substantial merit awards or even full rides or full tuition.

Try QB again, if that’s possible. I notice you didn’t apply to any of the excellent Midwest colleges QB partners with. As you clearly like LACs, Macalester, Oberlin and Grinnell should have been on your list. They are a little easier to get into than almost every other college you applied to but they are all excellent schools, on par with the three I listed earlier.

Take a gap year. Work, volunteer, maybe audit some classes at a CC if possible. Don’t take them for credit or you will be considered a transfer student and not many colleges offer the kind of money you need.

Another option, if you really don’t want to wait, is to take a bunch of CLEP exams and skip some general Ed classes. You could start college with sophomore standing. https://clep.collegeboard.org/ Generally, only public universities accept CLEP credits.

I do not advise trying to start in the Spring, especially if residential college is the goal. At small LACs, that can be really hard. Quite a number of colleges don’t accept spring transfers for freshmen anyway.

Tagging @MYOS1634 who might have good ideas.


Your slip in grades senior year is an issue. If you reapply for next year, as your guidance counselor to add a note about your mental health. Be sure to ask the GC to add info that shows the steps give twine to address your mental health, such as you’ve received counseling, you are coping better, your grades have recovered in the second half of your senior year, etc… Do something meaningful in your gap year that will enhance your applications. I think there is potential for you to turn things around, but you need to be proactive.