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semi-tryhard white guy applying to some very good schools, some decent ones (admission/aid chances?)

averagejoe10averagejoe10 6 replies3 threads New Member
edited July 9 in What Are My Chances?
Demographics: White Male, South Carolina, Moderately Competitive Public High School, no hooks other than the fact that I'm gay, don't know if that really helps or not tbh. Upper income bracket, low ability to pay for college (hence why I'm creating this threa)

Intended Major(s): English/Political Science/Undecided

ACT/SAT/SAT II: ACT Composite (34), ACT Superscored (35), SAT (1520), not submitting subject tests

UW/W GPA and Rank: 4.0UW, 5.07W, 4/~250

9th Grade - AP Psych (5)
10th Grade - AP European History (5)
11th Grade - AP Calculus BC, AP Physics 1 (Expecting 5's)
Planning to take 12th Grade: AP US Gov, AP Lit, AP Lang, AP Stats

Awards (as listed on common app):
-National Merit Semi-Finalist (not awarded yet but practically guaranteed)

-AP Scholar w/ Honor (same as before)

-SC Palmetto Fellows Scholar (top 6% in class, 1400+ SAT)

-Junior Marshal (top 10 in junior class)

-Statewide writing award + gold award in english (top 2 students in english department for academic year, schoolwide) ~ I combined two b/c I really wanted both, hope that isn't a red flag for admissions officers

-Kara Tutoring - manager of Diversity & Wellness Dpt, tutor (KT is an international tutoring non-profit that is dedicated to giving free SAT/ACT/IB/AP tutoring to underprivileged students, run and founded by teenagers, has over 250 tutors and a similar amnt. of students regularly)

-Generations Club (pres/founder) - volunteering club that partners with local elementary school afterschool programs and retirement homes. did two large donation drives, one collected over 600 pairs of newly purchased socks

-Yearbook/publications club copy editor

-Beta Club (pres/founder) - self explanatory

-other activism and english/writing related clubs, but not really anything standout at all or much leadership beyond simple titles

junior year English teacher - she actually sent it to me to read, not incredible but I really liked it, highlighted my potential (9/10)
calculus teacher - she really liked me and I think it's gotta be pretty solid (8/10)
librarian + yearbook teacher - both will probably be VERY good (9.5/10)

-as far as super competitive schools go, I'm planning on applying to Brown and Columbia (do I even have a shot?)

-I'm also planning on applying to Boston, Northeastern, and George Washington University, what are my chances of attaining significant merit aid here, considering I'm in a high income bracket?
edited July 9
27 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: semi-tryhard white guy applying to some very good schools, some decent ones (admission/aid chances?)

  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 250 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Lots to address here. Sexual orientation is not a “hook”. Hooks are things like being a recruited athlete, a legacy, related to a big money donor, related to a politician or other high profile person.

    Brown and Columbia do not offer merit scholarships, only need-based aid. Run the Net Price Calculator for each school to see if it is affordable and if not, move on.

    Do you mean Boston University or Boston College?

    Do you need a merit scholarship to make the cost at GWU or Northeastern affordable for your family? Some of their merit scholarships are $5-25K, which could leave a cost of $50K or more. Some students who come from a high income bracket have parents who are unwilling or unable to cover that cost.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6898 replies171 threads Senior Member
    For merit and great schools.

    Tulane might be a good fit. Wake. USC perhaps.
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  • vpa2019vpa2019 610 replies17 threads Member
    Double check Tulane for merit...I seem to recall reading that they’re moving away from merit to more need based aid. Don’t know about Wake or USC. Northeastern still giving merit too if you’re interested in Boston schools.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2597 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Congratulations on what you've done.

    Brown and Columbia are high reaches, though not out of reach, so apply, but do not expect to be accepted.

    Based on your record, you will also likely be a NMF, since your grades are good, and you have a confirming SAT score.

    Northeastern has some merit money, and has an award for National Merit Finalists.

    Are you talking about Boston U or Boston College? Boston University has a $25,000 scholarship for National Merit Finalists. Boston College has a few very competitive merit scholarships for anybody.

    So, as an NMF, you will have a pretty big chance of a nice chunk of merit money if you attend NEU or BU.

    George Washington has some merit scholarships but this are very targeted, so you may not be eligible for any.

    While you have a good application and are a competitive applicant for almost any college, the more competitive admission is to a college, the less likely there is to be merit money, and the more difficult it is to win it.

    However, as an NMF, there will be a bunch of schools at which you will automatically be eligible for good scholarships by virtue of being a National Merit Finalist.

    What are you looking for in a college, and what is your intended major?
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7901 replies84 threads Senior Member
    Upper income bracket, low ability to pay for college

    Can you be more specific?

    Bad news: if your family income is too high for financial aid but there is no money then typically you have to trade prestige for affordability.

    Good news: with your stats there are schools that will be happy to subsidize your college education, starting with your home state flagship.

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  • brantlybrantly 4281 replies77 threads Senior Member
    Take a look at Grinnell. It's very different from the schools you mentioned, but there may be good merit money for you there.

    Will your parents be contributing anything to your college education? Travel? Room and board? Books? If their contribution is zero, you have a lot of thinking to do to come up with a plan.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3870 replies52 threads Senior Member
    You have a great profile. Columbia would be a great fit. Definitely suggest applying ED. Although being gay is not a hook, it will be noticed. You might want to emphasize in your essays about growing up in the conservative south as a gay student. They like underdogs like you.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7901 replies84 threads Senior Member
    @sgopal2, OP has said that their income is too high for need-based aid, but that "there is no money" for college. Columbia doesn't give merit aid, so even if it is a perfect fit personally, the OP can't afford it.
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  • averagejoe10averagejoe10 6 replies3 threads New Member
    edited June 30
    @MWolf Thank you, all of this information was very helpful. To clarify for you and anyone else, I meant Boston University. My apologies for the confusion. My intended majors are around the sphere of political science and English, but I'm largely undecided. When I'm looking for colleges, I generally want an academic environment that is competitive enough to be stimulating, but it doesn't NEED to be incredibly prestigious. I'm looking for something that doesn't have a southern feel, and is relatively large (more like anything above ~5,000). Urban is preferable, but not imperative. Again, thanks for all the help!
    edited June 30
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  • averagejoe10averagejoe10 6 replies3 threads New Member
    @sgopal2 @collegemom3717 Thank you for all of your help! Sorry for not clarifying my financial situation enough. My parents make a lot of money, but we have a lot of debt. They would be able to help out, and they've mentioned being able to commit to a third of the total cost. I could probably afford schools like Columbia, but I would come out of it with a LOT of debt. For the career path I'm taking, I just wonder whether it would be worth it.
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  • averagejoe10averagejoe10 6 replies3 threads New Member
    @brantly thank you! I will take a look.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 690 replies6 threads Member
    You need to know your budget. Talk to parents for a hard $ amount. Run the NPC for your schools to see if they fit. If not, move on.

    You'll probably get merit scholarships from schools just outside the T20 but will it be enough? NMSF might get you something. There are schools that give a lot to NM winners. Your story and stats are very similar to my S20 although he wasn't NMSF. Most of his schools ended-up in the $40-50K range after merit (SMU, Fordham, Drexel, and Miami).

    The good news is that you have USC. Good school. Columbia is the capital so there's opportunities for poly sci internships. I did my MBA there many years ago. I was surprised how active and accepted the local LGBT community was which was not what I expected since SC is so conservative or so they said. Lol.
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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 83 replies1 threads Junior Member
    South Carolina has some interesting programs that the 'middle of the class' student is unlikely to get into. They also have great but competitive merit scholarships that attract the best of the best. The school also has a sizeable OOS population incl from the NE. It can be a safety, and you can apply to the special programs and scholarships e.g. McNair Scholarship, Capstone Scholars Program. It doesn't have to be High School 2.0

    If your parents can 'pay a third' - what is that actual number? A third of $70k for a private school is $23k..... and you will struggle get merit down to this level at private collges. Our budget was about $35k and even the most generous private schools for merit were only just getting down to this figure.
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  • 4Gulls4Gulls 573 replies0 threads Member
    First, congrats on your achievments so far. Impressive grades, test scores, activities--just like thousands of others who will be applying. Question: what was your PSAT score? There's a difference between NM Semi-Finalist and NM Finalist - I believe it's based on PSAT cut-offs. If you are NMF, you will be eligible for some scholarships - USC (Southern Cal, not South Carolina) is one for example: https://ahf.usc.edu/meritscholars/merit-scholarships/
    Fordam also gives nice merit scholarships (plus Honors College designation) to NMFs. Also ticks your "big city, urban" box. Plus great internship opportunities during the school year.

    Another school you might look at is Washington University-St. Louis. They've got merit scholarships for top students, too.

    If you plan on applying to University of South Carolina and would be happy to attend there, then you've got your safety school covered and can focus on matches where you might snag significant merit and reach schools.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9879 replies380 threads Senior Member
    If your parents have a lot of debt they probably won't be approved for a quarter of a million dollars (or more) of college loans. Find out how much they can pay out of pocket. That amount, plus the ~$5500/year federal student loan, plus whatever merit you can get will be your budget. Do you have any financial safeties picked out yet? Choose those first.
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  • averagejoe10averagejoe10 6 replies3 threads New Member
    @collegemom3717 thank you so much for all the time you've spent on me. I really appreciate it. I ran the financial calculator, and it'd be around $52,000 a year for me to attend a school like Columbia. My parents have said a realistic option would be for them to co-sign and they could "commit" to paying half of that. I think from your helpful information, however, that that's not the best option for me.

    I think I could be just as happy getting a great degree from a decent school and not paying $200,000 for it. Thank you for enlightening me to that fact.

    I'm going to add UofSouthCarolina to my list. I also have the College of Charleston on there as another in-state safety. Again, thank you so much as your help has really aided me and opened my mind up as far as the college search goes. Have a great day :)
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  • averagejoe10averagejoe10 6 replies3 threads New Member
    @4Gulls Thank you so much for all of that information. I've been having trouble finding out what schools are willing to give decent sums of money for NMF. I'll be looking more into USC, Fordham, and WashU.

    I live in South Carolina, and my PSAT score index was 215. SC's cutoff was 215 last year, and they are predicting a decrease in almost every state, and they have almost guaranteed that no states will increase their cutoffs from the previous year. From what I understand, the cutoff is to determine Semi-Finalists, and everyone who does the paperwork correctly advances to become a Finalist. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Again, thank you so much. These resources will help me greatly. I really appreciate it!
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3870 replies52 threads Senior Member
    If your EFC is $52K and your parents can only commit to half, that leaves you with finding a way to come up with the other $26K per year. Thats a lot. Agree with the other posters to focus on schools that are affordable. You won't get any merit aid from Columbia U unfortunately.
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  • 4Gulls4Gulls 573 replies0 threads Member
    @averagejoe10 Yes you are right on NMSF / NMF - I was temporarily confusing Commended (which doesn't = $$$) and Semi-Finalist. From your PSAT score it sounds like you should be fine. Do keep us posted as you wend your way through the labyrinth this year!
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