Narrowing Down my list

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: Narrowing Down my list
By Familyguy24 (Familyguy24) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 11:42 pm: Edit

I have a rather long list of schools and I would like to cut some out. I would like to have about 8-10 to apply to. I am looking for schools with good physics programs. I will need fin aid, and a pretty good amount at that. I prefer nice weather, but it is not a necessity. I prefer it to be near a city, or located where a city isn't that far away. If the campus is active, however, that should be enough. I would not rule out anything based on size, even though I prefer smaller if I had a choice. I live in Mass, so it would be nice to be close but I would go anywhere in the country if the school was a fit.

Now my list: note, that I haven't visited all these places, and do not know a lot about some of them except that they are all very good schools, have a good physics program, and each has their perks.

Stanford (EA?)

Cornell (kind of middle of nowhere)

UC Berkeley
Johns Hopkins

BU (legacy)

My stats are here: I am only going to be a junior, so my sats will be this oct (should be around 1480), and my com service will go up. I assume to continue with all my clubs. Assume things get a little better over the year, as far as ECs, awards and grades(upward trend). I am going to try and get some research experience. I could be a national merit semi-finalist, and an AP scholar with honors.

By Familyguy24 (Familyguy24) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 11:54 pm: Edit

My opinion, I get rid of Johns hopkins, princeton or harvard, and cornell. I am not sure though. Any reasons to keep them over others? Also that doesn't narrow it down enough.

By Familyguy24 (Familyguy24) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 11:48 am: Edit


By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 02:44 pm: Edit

I'd say drop Duke, Johns Hopkins and Northeastern - nothing exceptional in physics at any of these. Johns Hopkins is also not the best choice for folks who need lots of financial aid.

Also, I'm not sure I agree with how you've classified the schools on your list. As an out of state applicant, UC Berkeley should definitely be considered a reach not a match. You also will NOT get much financial aid - if any - as an out of state student but you WILL be looking at paying close to $30,000 a year. I'd say also drop UCB if you need lots of financial aid. I'd rather see you keep Harvard or Princeton on your list instead due to the money issues.

So, that would bring you down to 9 schools. However, I think your list is still VERY heavy on reaches. For example, Dartmouth is a reach. You need a few more solid matches and good safeties, especially if you're hoping for a large financial aid-merit package. So, you do need to take a closer look at your list of reaches and weed out one or two in order to add those.

Also, you say you'd prefer a smaller school yet most of the schools on your list are quite large. Here are some smaller schools that have excellent undergrad physics departments. Most of these schools also tend to be generous with financial aid or, in the case of safeties, merit awards.

In the northeast:
Swarthmore (match/reach)
Haverford (match)
Dickinson (safety)
Franklin & Marshall (safety)
Bates (match)
Amherst (match/reach)
Middlebury (match)

Elsewhere in the country:
Cal Tech (reach)
Harvey Mudd (CA) (match)
Reed (Oregon)(match/safety)
Carleton (Minn) (match)
Macalester (Minn) (match)
Lawrence University (Wisc) (safety)
Trinity U (Texas)(safety)
Occidental (CA) (safety)
Oberlin (match/safety)

And a few larger schools with excellent physics programs and fairly generous financial aid that might be good choices for your list:
Case Western Reserve (safety)
Rice (match/reach)
Wake Forest (match)
Brandeis (match/safety)
Columbia (match/reach)
University of Wisc-Madison (safety)

Before you can finalize your list, you really need to get out and do some visits. Try to visit at least two reaches, two matches and one of your safeties as well as some smaller and larger schools to get an idea of what you really want.
Good luck!

By Familyguy24 (Familyguy24) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 10:43 pm: Edit

Yeah I may have aimed high but idk I still think I have enough schools that even with rejections I should have enough acceptions to make good choices. Northeastern must stay because there is a big scholarship that our school offers to go there. Even out of state you think UC berkeley is a reach? Can someone comment on this more?

By Xandero1227 (Xandero1227) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 11:07 pm: Edit

Well, UCB is a public university and I THINK they only accept 2% out of staters...meaning that it would be near IMPOSSIBLE for anyone outside of Cali to get in. I could be wrong though. Anyhow, if I am, someone on this board will correct me soon enough. I don't think you can go wrong with U of Chicago for physics. You should check out Reed too. That would be a safety btw.

By Familyguy24 (Familyguy24) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 11:52 pm: Edit

Right now i've visited MIT, BU, and Northeastern. I am going to visit Dartmouth on Monday. Obviously MIT came out looking the best, but the other two were acceptable. I doubt I'll get to any of the ones on the west coast. But I will take a look at Harvard and Duke too.

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