Chances at Specific LACs

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: August 2004 Archive: Chances at Specific LACs
By Intheory (Intheory) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:23 pm: Edit

I figure, the more opinions the better

Schools i'm looking at:
Mount Holyoke
Bryn Mawr

My stats are as follows:

So if you're willing, i'd love some analysis/advice...if you could classify them as reach, match, and safety, i'd appreciate it

By Penguinzchaseme (Penguinzchaseme) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:38 pm: Edit

Hey your from Fort Worth! we're neighbors! what was your computer science project?? I'm not really into science fairs right now but I'm curious because I'm really into comp sci. Ever do UIL??

By Intheory (Intheory) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:16 am: Edit

The Computer science project is alittle too complicated to explain here- basically it involved speed and processors. I'm moving away from computer science and toward environmental and social sciences with my research now

UIL as in UIL Computer Science competition? No (didn't know there was one) but i've done alot of others

what high school do you go to?

By Penguinzchaseme (Penguinzchaseme) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 01:59 pm: Edit

well I don't live in Fort Worth, but close. Midlothian High School(right outside Waxahachie). And ya there's UIL computer science. It involves a written test as well as a hands on team competition if you make it to regionals at least. What other UILs have you done?? I've done number sense, math, and comp sci.

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 03:08 pm: Edit

Organize the mock election and add to the EC's. Otherwise:

Amherst (reach)
Smith (match)
Mount Holyoke (match)
Oberlin (safety)
Wellesley (match)
Pomona (match)
Bryn Mawr (match)
Haverford (match)
Swarthmore (reach)
Grinnell (match)
Rice (50% chance)

I think you have a good list. With that many matches you are bound to get into one. I would add Williams and Dartmouth too, because they seem similar to the other schools. Dartmouth is a little bigger, but has much of the community of the others.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 03:22 pm: Edit

I think that not only do you have a great chance at a lot of good schools but potential to rake in some bucks as well.

Mount Holyoke will most like be your safety, especially since they are now SAT optional. Based on your grades and EC's, I would think that you would be a shoe in and probably eligible for their leadership award which is a $15,000/year scholarship.

Also look into STRIDE Scholarshi, @ Smith which also has and an opportunity to do research:

Dora Windes Zollman Scholarships, the college's highest academic scholarships, are awarded to fewer than ten first-year students based on their exceptional promise for Smith. The scholarship is equal to half the cost of tuition. Zollman scholars are also invited to participate in the STRIDE paid research program.

STRIDE Scholarships offer students with outstanding academic and personal qualifications a close working relationship with a faculty member during their first two years at Smith College. This scholarship of $2500 per year for four years is awarded to approximately 35-40 students per year. In addition to the scholarship, students are also given an annual stipend of $1700 per year for two years that is linked to paid research with faculty members.

All the best.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 05:52 pm: Edit

Hey there Intheory...

I agree with Sybbie about Mt. Holyoke.

I think that Grinnell is a safe bet (match/safety), as is Oberlin (safety) and Smith (Match/safety). Amherst (reach) and Swartmore (reach) are always hard to get into, although you have many other great choices. Wellesley (match), Bryn Mawr (match), Pomona (reach/match) and Haverford (match) are a fit for you academically.

Rice is a match for you as well.

In all a good list. :)

By Dave72 (Dave72) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:04 pm: Edit

Sorry, but Grinnell and Oberlin aren't safeties for anybody. Any school that only accepts 35% of its applicants shouldn't be used as a safety.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:12 pm: Edit


Being in the top 1% (4 out of 505) and a weighted gpa of 4.69 and a good SAT score (740V/720M, which is near the 75%) is not enough to consider Oberlin and Grinnell Safeties??? Nevermind that she would add to the geographical mix at those schools???

I hope you look beyond the 35% and 42% acceptance rates for Oberlin and Grinnell. If she has good recs and essays, it is likely that she will get in to those colleges. She is a strong candidate.

BTW, you can't always rely on rate percentages to assess whether a school is to be considered a match or safety. For instance, some SUNY's have low acceptance rates, but that does not mean that for a good student, it is difficult to get in. Many NY kids use the SUNY system as a back-up even though it's acceptance rates are low. More applications, sometimes cause the lower rates.

You need to study the transcripts, scores, recs, essays to get a feel for what schools are reaches, matches, or safeties. Intheory is at, near, or above the 75% of the applicants for Oberlin and Grinnell, thus they are a relative safety for her, while they would be a match or reach for others.

Just my thoughts. :)

By Intheory (Intheory) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 12:19 am: Edit

Penguinzchaseme- as for UIL i've done Journalism, Swimming, Orchestra, and Biology...and i'm pretty sure Science Fair competition is classified as UIL too- if you're into comp sci, you really should consider doing a science fair project in that catagory- besides the experience, they give nice cash prizes

Slipper2002- thank you for the advice- i visited Williams and though it's great, i ruled it out because of location (among other reasons), plus it's just another unlikely reach and i know that i personally would probably choose Wellesley or Smith over it. I haven't looked into Dartmouth that much, but it sounds interesting...i'll have to see about that

Sybbie719- thank you, especially for the scholarship info- i'm definately hoping for atleast a STRIDE if i go to Smith (i hear Zollmans are ultra competative)

Blaineko- very kind words, thank you for that- definately feel much better about my chances after reading your post

Dave72- i do believe it's possible to feel relatively safe at a school with basic numbers, though i'm also sure anything could happen- they are both good, competative schools

By Par72 (Par72) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 12:32 am: Edit

Might want to look at Duke. Also some safeties like Colgate or Holy Cross-both very strong LAC's that might offer more merit aid.

By Intheory (Intheory) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:01 am: Edit

visited Duke- lovely campus, certainly a great reputation...only problems are it's political atmosphere isn't as "on target" with mine compared with other schools on my list and it made Princeton Review's list for discrimination towards gays...which matters to's a great place, but i think i might fit in better elsewhere

Colgate also seems nice, but i worry about the drinking/frat scene- any comments towards that?

don't know much about Holy Cross- i'll have to check into that one

thanks for the recommendations

By Dave72 (Dave72) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 11:46 am: Edit

Blaineko and Intheory:

Maybe we just mean different things by "safety." I presume it means a school that you're almost positive you'll get into. Applicants with Intheory's stats do, fairly often, get rejected at Grinnell and Oberlin, so I don't think they should be considered safeties.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 12:41 pm: Edit


Not typically, for someone with her stats. I'd be shocked if she did not get in to one of them. Maybe Grinnell and Oberlin might be considered reaches or matches for other applicants, but for her, it is likely that she'll be admitted.

'Safety' is not absolute, at least for my definition. No school is a sure thing (even at colleges with a rate above, say, 60%). That being said however, it is 'likely' that she will get in. That is why some people prefer the reach/possible/50-50/likely categories, while others use reach/match/safety and the like. Safety and likely are similar in meaning at least with college admissions.

It would seem, to classify possible admissions as either 'likely' or a school as a 'safety' or as a 'reach' for that matter, that it would depend on standard measures to see where in the pool an applicant is, NOT how selective an institution is in general.

Thus, someone like Intheory can place Grinnell and Oberlin in the match/safety or safety category based on the credentials of this past years class. For someone near the 25% with respect to SAT scores and grades, the two schools would be a reach, reach/match, or match depending on other characteristics, essays, and recs.

The 'safety' label does not mean that it would apply to Grinnell or Oberlin consistently, or that chances for every applicant would be 35% or 42%. For example, if I am a hispanic male applying to Grinnell, I would multiply total applicants by the percent of hispanics in the pool (say 7%), then multiply that by the percent of men in the pool (say 45%), and then multiply that by a rough estimate of where I stood with respect to the SAT scores (say 25% have better scores), then multiply the results by the top-10% percentage (say I'm in the top 10%, so 64%). Then multiply that result by how many students are from outside the Midwest (say 30%) and the number of people competeting with a similar profile are a lot smaller than the overall pool; thus, the college may take a larger proportion of the applicants that fit this particular profile than as a whole.

Other factors like recs, EC's, grades and plus factors come in also, but if the applicant has very good to excellent recs and essays, I can't see how that would DECREASE the likelihood of getting in.

Because Intheory is at the 75% for scores and in the top 1% of her class, with probably very good to excellent recs and strong essays, it would be more likely that admissions to Grinnell and Oberlin would be hers to lose, by not taking the application (i.e. recs and essays) serious. Others who are at the 25%ile would be under greater pressure to focus on the application. They would have to win, by beating a top applicant. That is usually less likely to happen.

Again, just my 2 cents.

By Medusa2003 (Medusa2003) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 06:31 pm: Edit

Grinnell's website says that their admission decision weights high school transcript 50%, standardized test scores 25%, and other factors 25% ( essays, extracurriculars, recommendations, etc. ) Being in the top 1% of your class with a rigourous course load, SAT scores well above the Grinnell average of 1370 for the class of 2008, and strong extracurriculars, the originial poster could consider Grinnell a match/safety unless she gets very poor recommendations which seems unlikely.

By Intheory (Intheory) on Friday, August 06, 2004 - 11:40 pm: Edit

good to know about the safeties

another question- how much would going ED w/ my application to Amherst help my chances (if any)?

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 11:38 am: Edit


It will help to ED at Amherst. The acceptance rate goes from 18% to 36% according to the college newspaper. I'm applying to Amherst ED, and I have stats similar to yours (i.e. 760V/730M, 750+ SAT II's, 3.93 unweighted gpa, 3rd out of 401).

I would suggest that if Amherst is your clear first choice, then by all means ED. Just be sure it's where you want to be. Smith and Mt. Holyoke would be great safeties for you if you like the five college area or ethos.

ED will help you by doubling your chances at Amherst. You have strong stats, grades, etc... Good luck. And, keep me posted as we both might be at Amherst next fall (crossing fingers). :)

By Intheory (Intheory) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 12:41 am: Edit

thanks Blaineko- fingers crossed that we both end up where we want in the fall :)

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 04:39 am: Edit


You have the class rank, SATs, and ECs to be a solid candidate at every school on your list.

Amherst and Swarthmore would be the toughest (not really sure bets for anybody). However, if you put together a really cohesive application highlighting your ECs, I think you have decent shot. I don't think either of these schools is an unreasonable reach.

For example, your "gay marriage" political activism could be a very strong "fit" on a Swat appication as would your science stuff. There is lots of historical emphasis on women in science at Swarthmore (four of the first five women to win NSF research grants were from the same class at Swat back in the 1950s and the chairman of the Physics deparment is a woman). There is also a strong historical tradition of political activism (see Alice Paul of women's suffrage fame).

If Swat or Amherst is your first choice, I would strongly consider Early Decision, depending on finances (i.e. do you need to get colleges competing with aid packages?) Early Decision is a signficant admissions advantage at LACs.

At the other end of the admissions scale, I would say that Holyoke, Smith, and Oberlin are pretty much sure bets with a solid application. Again, your class rank is strong and you have 7better than 75th percentile SATs at these schools.

I think that most of the other schools on your list are solid matches. I don't see any schools where you wouldn't be a pretty likely acceptance with a good application.

The key to selecting your first choice school (and getting in) is to really research the overall ambience of each school -- what makes it unique. Then, match your interests and personality to that. If you find a match and communicate it effectively, you'll get in.

BTW, if Williams wasn't your cup of tea, then there's not much reason to look at Dartmouth. Dartmouth is even more remote, more conservative politically, with a more prevalent drinking culture. I'm a Williams alum, but my daughter is headed to Swarthmore in the fall -- a choice I am in total agreement with for many reasons including location, culture, heavier emphasis on social responsibility, and reduced emphasis on varsity athletics.

By Intheory (Intheory) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 03:23 pm: Edit

Thanks Interesteddad- i am seriously considering going ED to Amherst, though the "women in science" emphasis at Swat makes me want to think alittle more on that...

as for Dartmouth, it's similarity to Williams was my understanding as well- someone quoted on this board "if Dartmouth burned down (god forbid), all the students would go to Williams", and yeah, i got to reading and saw their political leanings aren't quite what i'm looking for- their over-emphasis (in my opinion) on athletics was somewhat of a disappointment to me as well, though it wasn't surprising since they have a reputation for being a school for "smart jocks" (although Amherst does reserve spots for recruited athletes as well)

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 03:32 pm: Edit

Interestingly, I just read a Dartmouth poll with 76.5% Kerry and 17.5% Bush if that gives you an idea...its changed significantly from a conservative school that it was in the 80s. In fact, I have about 5 to 6 liberally minded friends per conservative. As for athletics, in fact Dartmouth gives some of the least admissions favors to athletes in the Ivy league, unfortunately for our sports teams (football hasn;t been over .500 in years, same for b-ball, etc).

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 03:34 pm: Edit


I'm actually looking at Haverford as a match school. Almost the same as your Amherst-Swat choice. I did apply ED at Amherst becaus it had the other four schools to explore. Haverford, with the Tri-college community and UPenn, is number two or three on my list.

Middlebury fluctuates with Haverford, although the Philly location of Haverford is far less isolated than small town in VT. It's always been a top school for me because of their dance program, so it's hard to keep athe 2-3 position stable.

I do need some aid, so it will be interesting to see Amherst's package. If I do not get in, then a decision will be made because of aid considerations.

Oh well.

Aloha. :)

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 03:48 pm: Edit

Although its no vassar or might be right, there is a jocky element, but there is also a huge non-jocky element too...

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 04:37 pm: Edit

>> i am seriously considering going ED to Amherst, though the "women in science" emphasis at Swat makes me want to think a little more on that...

I'm not as familiar with Amherst as I am Williams and Swarthmore. The last time I visited Amherst was as high school junior 35 years ago, before chosing Williams. After learning about the school through my daughters eyes over the last two years, I wish I had visited Swarthmore back then.

Novelist James Michner wrote in an essay that the equal participation by women was one of the four most important things that shaped Swarthmore. I agree with that and I think it is an important distinction.

To me, there is a qualitative difference between a school that was coed from the day it opened its doors and a johnny-come-lately that didn't admit women until Richard Nixon was president. There is also a qualitative difference between a college that has a male-dominated Board of Directors and one whose original bylaws have always required equal numbers of men and women on the Board of Managers.

Here are a couple of essays from famous women Swat alum that may be iteresting:

Go to this webpage:

Scroll down the list at the left side of the page and read the two essays by:

Maxine Frank Singer '57

Nancy Roman Grace '46

Here's the website of Amy Bug, Chair of the Swat Physics department. If I were a female interested in science at the school, I would e-mail her with questions and/or to set up a meeting/tour of the science facilities.

There is also a Women in Science Club that my daughter got to hang with a bit during pre-frosh visit days last April. They held a rocket-building and launching activity for the prospective freshmen.

By Intheory (Intheory) on Saturday, August 14, 2004 - 01:27 am: Edit

wow InterestedDad...thank you

By Intheory (Intheory) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 05:29 pm: Edit


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