What other schools should I look at? LACs?

I am looking for some smaller schools to add to my college list. I am a junior so I am applying this fall and could use some help.

Residency: Texas
Gender and race: white female
GPA: 3.96 (should be by end of next year)
ACT: 31 Reading:36 Science: 31 Math and English:29
I do not know my rank or how big my class is because I attend an online school based in California.
I will have taken 5 duel credit classes with ASU and the rest were mostly honors classes, no AP’s by then end of senior year

Looking to major in neuroscience or biology with premed track


  • National Honors Society (joined in 10th but am graduating early so will only be in it for 2 years and no opportunities for leadership)
  • Global premeds shadowing program: 2 weeks in Dominican Republic shadowing doctors
    -Volunteer: Assisted living community
    -Will be getting a job soon because I just turned 16

My ECs are lacking so any suggestions that I could do there would be appreciated as well.

My current list is:

University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Texas State University

University of Utah (top choice)
UT Austin
Dalhousie University (Canada, I have Canadian citizenship as well so I get domestic tuition)
University of British Columbia
Cal Poly SLO

High Reaches:
Dartmouth College
Stanford University

I am looking for schools that have a lot of outdoor activities near by like hiking and skiing. I also want the school to have a good premed program with opportunities for research and connections with a med school.

Any other advice would be welcome as well because my brother only looked in state so I am not sure how to go about this process.

1 Like

You mention skiing - so why Texas State? You have a mix in there of small and large - for example, why not Boulder?

Do realize that few who are pre-med go to med school and the major you have chosen is low paying. You could find another major and still get the classes in needed to be pre-med. It’s GPA and MCAT. How bout the other coast - Virginia Tech is in nature - are you interested in smaller schools - you mentioned LACs so Colorado College, Washington & Lee - both are stretches for you. But maybe Sewanee, Franklin & Marshall, Dennison, Dickinson, Whitman, Whitworth, etc.

PS - stuff like Natl Honor Society schools don’t look at - it’s great you got in - but it’s just sort of a fluff piece on the resume.

Your targets - not sure of UT - if you were OOS, no way. Cal Poly - will depend on major. Your high reaches are out of reach…unless you are from a very low earning income family and can do questbridge. I’m not saying not to apply - always chase the dream - but I would say your reaches would be more like a Florida (forgetting skiing), Wake Forest, Rochester, NYU, Tulane, BU - that 30 to 50 level.

Hiking and skiing - why not UC Davis (a stretch), Oregon, Oregon State, UW, a school in Idaho, Montana, Colorado State, Wyoming, etc.

Good luck.

Texas State is just a cheap safety thats in state and the variety in size is because I am not sure what size I exactly want.

I will look for other majors like maybe some form of math? I will also look at Virginia tech.

I am in state for UT so its not as much of a reach for if I was OOS.

I was applying to my high reaches just to see what would happen but I’m not expecting anything from them.

I will take a look at some of the ones you suggested. Thank you.

1 Like

Utah checks a lot of your boxes. Regarding affordability, it changed the criteria for its presidential scholarship this year - it’s less generous but there seem to be more of them awarded. If you got one, your cost would be around 20-25K/year. It seemed to take forever for scholarship info to be released this year but maybe in a non or less COVID year, it would be different.

Your stats would qualify you for in-state tuition at U of NM where nearby outdoor opportunities abound. Annual cost would be similar. UNM might be a good safety for you because it has rolling admissions and automatic merit for stats. You’d know about admissions and costs early on and that takes a lot of pressure off. It would probably be a better bet than TX State.

Another public option in a stunning location where you might have a chance of merit aid is Western Washington in Bellingham.

For LACs, if you want to stay in the west near outdoor recreation you could try Colorado College (Colorado Springs), Whitman (Walla Walla, WA), and U of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA). Colorado College is highly selective - applying EA provides a boost. Whitman is probably a match/low reach and Puget Sound would be a match.

1 Like

The Maine LACs might be of interest: Bates, Colby, Bowdoin; Middlebury (VT) Williams (MA). All either high matches to low reach or reaches though.

1 Like

What’s your budget? Have you checked you EFC? Hard to give advice without that. Even though you live in Texas you presumably won’t qualify for auto-admit to UT, which might make it hard to get in.

Unless Utah keeps the same criteria for merit as this year, you will likely need a higher ACT score (33-34 for OOS) to get decent merit, so might be good to retake this summer/fall. Under the new structure for non-WUE scholarships you need to stay for the summer after freshman year to get residency. New Mexico and Arizona are more generous with merit and you might want to add those as they may be cheaper if you don’t get a good merit scholarship from Utah. However, Utah is a great school and IMO has a better mix of outdoor activities.

1 Like

Intended major? Many common “Pre-Med” majors are very selective such as Biology which had below a 10% acceptance. Intended major can make the school a Target or a Reach.

OOS schools will be expensive even though Cal Poly SLO is less expensive than the California UC’s, you are looking at $45K/year or around $180K/4 years. Better to save your money for Medical School. Cal Poly SLO does not have a Medical school affiliated with the campus and research opportunities are limited.

Cal Poly also has the opportunity fee established in 2019 that is many thousands and on top of OOS tuition. I only know because it caught a mom by surprise - it was $6K or $8K more than they thoughts.

Other thoughts - skiing, outdoors - UVM, UNH, Maine.

I think the Maine schools (Colby, Bates, Bowdoin are beyond stretch - but maybe not Bates).

Lewis and Clark, Willamette - I mean the list can go on and on honestly - will need to narrow some criteria at some point…

Yes, the $45K/year includes the opportunity fee according to the Cost of attendance for 2020. Of course, housing and tuition could increase by the time OP applies for Cal Poly SLO.

1 Like

One thing to think about is whether you want to consider some of the small “primarily undergraduate” universities in Canada. We are more familiar with the ones in the east since we live in the northeast of the US. Mount Allison (in New Brunswick) and Acadia (in Nova Scotia) are both very good. Acadia is very good for biology, and is in an attractive small town just over an hour from Halifax.

The ones out west we did not look at. I have heard good things about Lethbridge (in Alberta) and UNBC (in Prince George BC).

The universities in Canada (including Dalhousie that we did also look at) will not care about your lack of ECs. Your strong grades on the other hand will matter a lot up there.

Given the difference in the cost of medical school, it might be worth thinking about getting residency in Canada and then attending medical school up there. You might save US $200,000 or so. It is possible to graduate with an M.D. in Canada and then do your residence in the US.

By the way, we have dual citizenship, live in the US, and have looked closely at universities in eastern Canada. Let me know if you have any questions (admissions at various universities will also be able to answer questions).

1 Like

If you are in the auto-admit category (top 6% rank in Texas high school), then it is a safety for admission unless your major is one of those that is more competitive than the school overall. Otherwise, it is a reach.

Of course, safeties must be affordable, so you need to know your budget. Also, if you are a pre-med, be aware that medical school is expensive (although if you qualify as in-state in Texas, that may be somewhat less expensive), so avoiding large expense and debt for undergraduate would be helpful. Because major-related jobs at the BA/BS level for biology or neuroscience are low paying, that is another reason to avoid undergraduate debt, in the case you do not go to medical school.

Whitman College (Walla Walla, Washington)
Colorado College (Colorado Springs)
Carroll College (Helena, MT)
Linfield College (McMinville, OR)
University of Washington-Bothell

1 Like

Have you checked how UT handles rank for online schools? Unless you are top 6%, you cannot assume that it’s a target. It is HIGHLY competitive. I would suggest you look at University of Puget Sound and Lewis & Clark.

1 Like

My parents could probably pay around 20-30 thousand. I wont qualify for auto-admit at UT because my school is based in California and not a public school so I will move that to a reach school. I do plan on staying the summer for school if I went to Utah and my parents said that they could most likely afford that first year without scholarships if I got residency.

Does getting your bachelors or MD in Canada make it harder to get into med school or match into residency in the US? Also Dalhousie is one of my top picks because family lives there in Halifax. If you got to visit, was the campus integrated down town or was there a set area.

1 Like

I am very interest in human behavior so I was thinking something like neuroscience. I believe I may take off Cal Poly SLO off my list due to the limited opportunities.

1 Like

Based on your stats and economic issues I would like to suggest you look at mid- range LAC’s. Many offer a lot more merit money than what tuition can cost at a large state universities- even with an in state boost. There are many scattered across the country. I agree that the NESAC schools like Colby, bowdoin etc are too high a reach for you but there are many others that would work. Look at Clark (MA), Trinity (CT), Furman, St Olaf (MN) Lawrence (WI) to name a few. If you are serious about med school look at Rhodes in TN - has one of the highest admit rates for its graduates who want med school. There is a good thread here for schools that offer good merit. Definitely worth checking out.

1 Like

A 20K-30K budget will be tough without need-based aid. It is unclear what OP’s EFC is.

1 Like

Find ones that give good merit aid - or will you qualify for need - like a Beloit or Kalamazoo if you want small.

If you need big merit, your best bets are U of Az and U of Alabama. You may check out MS State too. At all those you’ll have outdoors but skiing just at Az (well not too too far). Arkansas might be another to add to your list - great town, nature, and scholarships.

1 Like