Where should I look? C/O 2022

I’m wondering which schools are realistic for me and what I can do to improve my chances.

Schools I’m interested in:

  • William & Mary
  • Amherst College
  • Boston College
  • Trinity College
  • Bowdoin College

Majors I’m interested in pursuing:

  • Journalism
  • Political Science

SAT: Haven’t taken the SAT yet but will in the Spring

GPA: 4.05
Rank: Top 25%


  1. Section Copy Editor for my school Newspaper (since freshman year)
  2. Founder and Co-President of a peer support/mentoring/community building club (since October)
  3. Member of the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Board (since October)
  4. Founded a menstrual product initiative, have raised $1200 since August. Testified in front of DC Council on menstrual product legislation. (Since August)
  5. Co-Founder and Women’s Sports writer for a DC-based sports blog (Since June)
  6. Women’s Sports writer for a Los Angeles-based sports blog (since November)
  7. Travel Soccer player (since 5th grade)
  8. Youth Consultant for Child Trends (since January)
  9. Member of the social media team for sexual assault awareness and prevention committee at my school (since June)


  • Paid job at a non-profit. Advocates for improved Mental Health for students in my school system and city. Have met with the Director of the DC Department of Behavioral Health and School Leaders.
  • Paid internship (set to begin later this month)


  • Teacher ones should be good since I’m very close with the teachers who will be writing them and have known them for years. My counselor doesn’t know me very well because of the size of my school.


  • Named to compete in the Vildbjerg Cup, an International Soccer Tournament in Denmark. Earned the Silver Medal, earned Player of the Match honors in a Semifinal match.

I am aiming to play D3 Soccer if possible.

Hi! All of your schools seem realistic (in my eyes). Also, I wouldn’t really worry about the counselor one. I had the same fear, but counselors seem to be pretty good at bullsh*tting (or colleges expect that the counselor recs from big schools may be nonsense, who knows?)

However, I will warn you that if you want to pursue a career in journalism, you might want to aim for schools with well-recognized journalism programs (as in Northwestern, NYU, BU, UGA, UT-Austin, UNC, Emerson, Mizzou, USC, Syracuse, Northeastern, American, GW, maybe Indiana, etc). The industry is EXTREMELY elitist. I’m studying journalism at NEU and decided last minute to only apply to journalism schools instead of the smaller liberal arts schools I really wanted to go to, and I’m glad I did because looking at who gets picked for co-ops/internships/fancy first journalism jobs, it’s overwhelmingly people from top 20 j-schools + people from places like Harvard and UCLA. It’s not impossible to get a job/internship coming from a less prestigious school, but like the elitism is off the charts in fancy newsrooms. If you want to see more about this, look at the Poynter reporting on it (Omar Rashad did some good work on this if I remember correctly). I’ve had other people I went to high school with leave smaller liberal arts schools for NYU and Emerson after they figured this out :frowning:


What can you afford to pay without taking on any debt?

What is your unweighted GPA?

Do you have two safeties?

Hi! Thank you so much for responding and for your insight! I’m very interested in Northwestern and Northeastern (I should have mentioned them) but I will certainly look at the other programs you mentioned as well as the article you mentioned!

Hi! Thank you for responding! I imagine my unweighted GPA is somewhere around 3.8-3.9 but my school does not track it.

In terms of safety schools, I’m not totally sure where I should look! I really like UMass Amherst and I like Rutgers but I don’t know if they would be considered safeties for me.

Being able to pay for college is not a huge concern.

If you want to be recruited for D3 soccer you should be filling out recruiting questionnaires and emailing coaches now. At the highly selective D3s on your list (Bowdoin, Amherst) having the hook of a recruited athlete increases one’s odds of acceptance dramatically.

Regarding journalism, I concur that you should consider top programs for that. In addition, you should do research on what the future holds for those working in journalism, and those types of jobs appeal to you.

Can you elaborate a bit on your unweighted GPA? Calculate it yourself if your school doesn’t: core courses only on 4 point scale where A=4, b=3 and so on. If truly a 3.8 or 3.9, how are you only in the top 25% of your class? Is your HS very competitive or have grade deflation? What is your rigor like (number of honors classes? Number of APs?)

Thank you for responding! This year I’m taking 4 AP courses, 2 honors courses, and 2 on level courses (electives). Next year I plan to take 5 AP courses, 2 honors courses and 1 on level (elective) course. My class is quite competitive.

Does your school report class rank on your transcript? If your school uses Naviance or Scoir, use that (along with your GC) to categorize schools as reaches, targets and safeties.

With a class rank of top 25% (if that is truly where you are), without any other hooks such as being a recruited athlete, Bowdoin, Amherst and Boston College will be high reaches. The majority of accepted applicants in those schools are in the top 10%. Even if you score 1500+ or 34+ on the SAT or ACT, your grades could still be a negative factor for those schools. Trinity and William & Mary are targets or low reaches. Are you a VA state resident? That would help with William & Mary. I’m not familiar with which schools have good journalism programs, as that’s not my field, but if you are interested in small LACs, or medium-sized universities in the mid-Atlantic or New England, consider:

University of Richmond, George Washington, American, Bates, Connecticut College, Skidmore, Lafayette, Colgate, College of the Holy Cross. Also maybe Vassar, Wesleyan, Colby, Hamilton for a few low-medium reaches.

If your are open to schools in the Midwest, you could try Oberlin, Kenyon, Macalester, St. Olaf for a safety, and maybe Grinnell or Carleton for two reaches.

Thank you! I’m a Washington DC resident.

I have also looked into and am interested in Richmond, Carleton, Northwestern, Northeastern, Macalester, Lehigh, etc.

Transcript currently has 26 courses taken, 3 B+'s, 5 A-'s, and 18 A’s (not including courses currently being taken)

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I think that Northwestern might be a reach, although a reasonable reach. Northeastern seems more likely – a daughter was accepted there with similar grades (one fewer B+, otherwise very similar). However it was not affordable for us and she ended up elsewhere in a major that Northeastern does not have.

UVM is another school which you could consider as a possible safety or near-safety. It has a “Community Media + Journalism” concentration in their Public Communication BSc program. I do not think that it meets the “well-recognized” issue that @jayakama101 points out, but I am not sure if any safeties will fit this criteria. It is in a very attractive location as long as you are okay with real winters.

Don’t want to be a downer, but Northwestern would be a high reach (not just for the OP but for almost anyone). It has a 9% acceptance rate and 92% of accepted students are in the top 10% of their class.

Hey! Try looking into Washington and Lee University! They have really good financial/merit aid, and a large chunk of their body plays D3 sports!

Welcome to College Confidential @jane04 ! I went to W&M so can help answer questions about the college:

  1. William & Mary is a Division 1 school, not a Division 3 school. It does have intramurals and sports clubs that do travel.

  2. William & Mary has an excellent political science program, however it does not have a journalism program. It does have a Sharp Seminar, where students work with the Pulitizer Center, and numerous students have gone on to pursue journalism after graduation – however those are mostly because of their participation with student journalism outlets like the Flat Hat.

  3. The majority of students who apply to W&M will be in the top 10 percent. It will be very competitive if you are applying from out of state. I saw that you were a DC resident – you may be considered out of state unless either of your parents have Virginia residency.