College? Oops, we're still looking
April 1, 2019 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Much to our surprise, my college-bound child failed to get into any of the schools to which he applied. What possibilities are left?

I'm looking for decent colleges that are still accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. It would be nice (but not necessary) if they were somewhere between Richmond and Philadelphia, and cost less than $50K per semester, but the most important thing is that they're decent and still accepting applications. We live in Maryland, so you can leave Maryland schools off the list as I'll be researching all of them anyway, but if you have one you particularly want to recommend, by all means do so. His mom still owns a house in NY state, so NY Universities may also be a good choice, but there are so many of them!

The child in question has good but not stellar grades (GPA > 3.0), but in the International Baccalaureate program, which is quite difficult. He did well (1360) on the SAT. He wants to be a veterinarian, so he'd love some sort of pre-vet program, but that's not a necessity. He applied to four schools, but one was wishful thinking and another went broke, and he was wait-listed at Sarah Lawrence (though I don't think we should pin all our hopes on that and oh my god, it's $80K per year). We were counting on U Maryland (main campus), but found out this morning that he didn't get in, so it's time for Plan C and we don't have one. Any suggestions would be welcome.
posted by ubiquity to Education (52 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not very fluent in the US university system but I wonder if a gap year would be the best move, to do a reset of expectations, get a bit of work experience, possibly with animals or in a stem-oriented position, over trying to find a school at the last moment that will accept a late applicant? Just a thought.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:00 AM on April 1 [28 favorites]

No help, but sympathies -- my kid was also applying this year, and while he did get in one place, had much much less success than he was (I think fairly reasonably) expecting. He tells me it was a weirdly competitive year -- all of the schools he applied to accepted a significantly lower percentage of applicants than in prior years.
posted by LizardBreath at 10:02 AM on April 1

There are still a lot of open applications: here’s a list at college . (Note I have not tried to verify any of their dates).
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:04 AM on April 1 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure about a plan C but somewhere down your letters of plans should be take general electives at the nearby community college for a year and plan on applying as a transfer student. It will save you money and give him a chance to improve his grades enough to have more options in another application cycle.
posted by raccoon409 at 10:04 AM on April 1 [96 favorites]

I think he's missed most of the SUNY schools formal deadlines, but I also have the vague belief that they're flexible (that is, I know I've heard late application stories that have turned out okay.) I might look for whichever SUNYs are best for pre-vet, and telephone admissions offices and see if they can stretch a point to take his application.
posted by LizardBreath at 10:09 AM on April 1

Check your MeMail.
posted by cheapskatebay at 10:14 AM on April 1

There are some good schools on The Agents of Chaos' list, but you haven't told us anything about your son to help narrow it down from there.

FWIW and for complicated reasons, I ended up ringing every college between New York and Boston in June to find out if they would still take an application. A few would -- people who accepted and then changed their minds have generally withdrawn by then -- and I went to one.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:22 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]

One of the SUNY branches might be an option for him. The official SUNY admissions site says there is no hard deadline, but some schools have their own; I just checked the deadlines for the branch of SUNY where I'm finishing my undergrad, and it's listed as July 15 for Fall 2019. They have a great "find your major" tool here, which might help him narrow down a SUNY program/school.
posted by okayokayigive at 10:31 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]

Definitely seconding community college for the first year, if not the first two years, especially if he's looking to improve his overall GPA before the next admissions cycle. (Full disclosure: I work at a CC.)

Not only do they have open and (usually) rolling admissions and are super affordable, but there are also some great resources that are only open for CC students, especially if he stays at an in-state CC. Depending on the school and the transfer program, some four-year schools have specific scholarship opportunities for incoming transfer students, and if your child gets involved with the school chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa CC honor society, there are some great opportunities available through that as well. This will obviously vary wildly from school to school, but it might be worth investigating if this sounds like a potential option.
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:31 AM on April 1 [13 favorites]

SUNY Purchase in Westchester County, NY: "Fall: March 1, 2019 is recommended. Admissions is on a rolling basis and will accept applications until institutional enrollment goals are met." Near enough to Sarah Lawrence that transferring in the second year wouldn't be too daunting.
posted by xo at 10:32 AM on April 1

Penn State also has rolling admissions till they fill up, but limited to whatever majors are available.
posted by xo at 10:40 AM on April 1

Seconding community college if at all possible; I had been brought up to consider it failure, but wish now that I had planned to attend there first all along, and not just for financial reasons.

You've probably seen this already, but pre-vet is easier to find if you look a bit west/south of your parameters. Many schools have rolling admissions. Of the bigger names, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa State, Ball State, Calvin, Ohio Wesleyan, and Clemson have pre-vet programs, I think. For non-vet schools, I had a couple of friends who had an excellent experience at New College of Florida, and Warren Wilson College's work requirements would allow him to have hands-on experience with livestock, if he has an interest in large animal veterinary care.
posted by notquitemaryann at 10:45 AM on April 1 [8 favorites]

Check your memail, but yeah, taking a gap year and getting really good vet-related experience would be an option. My sense is that a lot of pre-vet student don't have a good sense of what vets really do, and working in a vet's office while taking a couple of classes at community college could really strengthen his eventual vet-school application, or alternatively help him figure out that he doesn't want to be a vet, which would also be a win.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:45 AM on April 1 [26 favorites]

Chiming in to recommend community college. Did it and it changed everything about my future. Besides, if he goes to whatever school will take him late, he’s not likely to find the right fit. Give him a year or two to do that.
posted by OrangeVelour at 10:50 AM on April 1 [6 favorites]

The Maryland Transfer Advantage Program will be a pathway from a community college to UMD.
posted by mccxxiii at 10:53 AM on April 1 [14 favorites]

I don't have good answers for the OP but I want to push back at community college - maybe it's different now but 15 years ago it was for the losers. And me. Which made me feel like a loser. At least that's how I saw it as an 18-year old and no adult was convincing me otherwise. And it did a number on my self esteem to see my peers go away to school and have these experiences of more independence and adventure and parties and relationships and here I am with my life basically about the same as it always was. If your kid doesn't land somewhere appropriate to his potential, then maybe some non-school gap year program - especially one that gets him living elsewhere - might be healthier in a way, because he can have some independence and growth and responsibility, even if it sets him back a year academically.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 11:02 AM on April 1 [12 favorites]

Have you considered a Canadian university? University of Guelph [pre-vet program] is the best agricultural/veterinary university in Ontario. Full-time tuition for an international student (which your presumably non-Canadian son would be) is CAD 22,091/year = USD 16,598/year or about 8.3k per semester. Just a little bit farther north than New York state...
posted by heatherlogan at 11:19 AM on April 1 [11 favorites]

Gap year (or gap semester, a number of people I know started school in the winter) or community college makes sense to me, and community colleges are not for losers! One of the best interns I ever had was in a community college program, in one of the feeder programs to her state school after 2 years. She was doing this for financial reasons, which is pretty common.

Re Maryland, I notice Hood College is still accepting applications, and that is a place to definitely consider. The Canada suggestion is also something to think about.
posted by gudrun at 11:23 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]

I don't have good answers for the OP but I want to push back at community college - maybe it's different now but 15 years ago it was for the losers. And me. Which made me feel like a loser. At least that's how I saw it as an 18-year old and no adult was convincing me otherwise.
You know what's for losers? Losing! And quitting! Now you get up off your ass and learn more than any of those losers in that damned college and make me proud!

Which is what someone should have cared enough to say to you. But, certainly any situation can be a bad fit for some folks. I certainly don't regret going to an affordable school for my undergrad (back in the Stone Age, state schools could be "affordable") vs. being stuck with a bunch of debt. I don't greatly regret my "gap year" (actually six years, which is the failure mode of gap years). But, community college--like any other college--is worth what you put into it.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 11:24 AM on April 1 [16 favorites]

Evergreen! We are still open for fall 2019 applications and would love to read yours soon. If he was interested in Sarah Lawrence, he might like Evergreen (at least they were two of my top picks, a very long time ago). Much, much cheaper than the schools you were looking at. Also much further away than you're hoping.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:26 AM on April 1 [4 favorites]

As someone who wanted to be a vet at his age, I would very strongly suggest working or volunteering at a veterinary clinic for at least a few months before going through the extensive education needed to be a vet. Sometimes advertised as "veterinary assistant" or similar (not technician, which you need education for).

My experience doing that was positive, I really enjoyed it, but also clearly showed me that being a vet wouldn't make me happy. It's very difficult to figure that out without knowing what it's really like "behind the scenes" at a vet clinic, and taking a gap year (or semester) would allow lots of time to do that.
posted by randomnity at 11:27 AM on April 1 [25 favorites]

I will also add that the vet colleges I'm familiar with are extremely competitive, at a similar level to med school, so he will need to have a strategy to significantly improve his grades in college, as well as a backup plan if he doesn't get in. Most people I've known have gotten worse grades in college than in high school.
posted by randomnity at 11:31 AM on April 1 [11 favorites]

If he's serious about vet school, a gap year working at a vet clinic would be very valuable. Vet education is quite expensive and many vets struggle under the debt load. He would be well-advised to get a close-up look at whether he likes the work before committing.

Community college is certainly not for "losers"--but, at the same time, the Mefi recommendation of CC, like its enthusiasm for the trades, often has the whiff of unreality about it. I think there are a couple people here who have actually worked in CCs, but most of us have little to no practical experience with them. It's better than nothing, but even the best institutions have serious limitations. A student body largely free to concentrate on its studies is just going to be a more engaged and high-performing student body overall than one where a big proportion of its students are just as young and immature as students at other schools, but also struggling with big life responsibilities like childrearing or full-time jobs.
posted by praemunire at 11:35 AM on April 1 [15 favorites]

Re Sarah Lawrence: One downside about being wait-listed, is that the good financial aid offers are being given out to currently-accepted students. There might be a tiny amount of aid left, if he comes off the list. But, definitely not as much free money. So that $80k might really be $80k.
posted by ElisaOS at 11:38 AM on April 1

also, I wanted to suggest Lawrence College in Appleton, WI. They are still recruiting for Fall. It's a nice campus, very smart students, and has a Pre-professional Vet program.

@LawrenceUni on Twitter.
posted by ElisaOS at 11:46 AM on April 1

Maybe not a community college, but a lower-prestige satellite school to a state's public flagship? And then transfer. I knew a bunch of kids who started out at UNC-wherever, worked hard on their GPAs, and transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill to finish their degrees. It seemed to work fine, and without much disruption to our social lives.

And I think a gap year is a great idea. I had a friend who took a Rotary Club scholarship and spent her gap year in Chile, and emerged a very strong candidate and student at the school of her choice. It also seemed very cool to me, her peer, that while I was packing up to go to college, she was able to travel and become immersed in another culture.
posted by witchen at 11:47 AM on April 1 [2 favorites]

I'm short on suggestions but wanted to chime in and say we're in a similar boat at our house, too. Mine is applying at a directional state school with an eye on transferring after freshman year, which is not what any of us had expected.

Hopefully your situation will be resolved soon - but wanted to mention that shortly after the May 1 commit day, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling will release a self-reported list of schools that still have openings.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:57 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]

Came to suggest the Maryland Transfer Advantage Program.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:16 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]

New Jersey has some good schools, both public (NJIT, College of NJ, Rutgers, Rowan) and private like Georgian Court that may have some programs that would fit a pre-vet curriculum and the general grade/SAT profile you provided. I do not know their deadlines, but some are rolling admissions.

Going South, you may have luck with UNC, as well.
posted by rich at 12:23 PM on April 1



(not: I saw Georgian Court has an Aug 1 deadline, for example)
posted by rich at 12:25 PM on April 1

Here is a list of rolling admit colleges in 2018 from Prep Scholar, which was recommended on another forum.

It is a very long list but if you copy it to a spreadsheet you should be able to filter by states if you are looking for something reasonably nearby. There are a number of flagship public schools - eg University of Maine, University of New Hampshire or West Virginia University - as well as quirky liberal arts colleges like Evergreen State College or New College of Florida. It looks like public in-state options include Bowie State, Coppin State, Frostburg State, Towson, UMD-Baltimore County and UMD-University College.

If you cannot afford $75k a year for college (which is how much full freight at a private college can be), then I strongly suggest that you run net price calculators before applying. At this point you really don't want to end up only having acceptances that you cannot afford.

Community college is an option, but it is not the only one, and it may not be the best one if your son really wants to have a more conventional freshman experience. Your son would probably welcome the opportunity to choose at this stage in any case.
posted by plonkee at 12:29 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

McDaniel College is in Westminster Maryland. It's one of the "Colleges that Change Lives." It's a lesser-known gem, a historic liberal arts college that bats way above its national name-recognition in terms of quality of education it offers. The faculty are really great, cough cough. Kids who have some initiative can do just about anything here; kids who need a little extra personal attention can also find that here. Also the school offers scholarships and financial aid, so don't treat the sticker price as an all-or-nothing.

Outside the very tip-top rank, with a lot of places you may be able to apply a bit late and still be considered. I'd think about getting in touch with the admissions department even if deadlines have passed and see whether that's possible.
posted by socksocksock at 12:46 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]

Here is a list from admissionsmom on the r/applyingtocollege subreddit.
posted by vespabelle at 12:50 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]

Just as a counterpoint to everythings_interrelated, I attended community college for a year and it was a good transition into a larger university. I was surrounded by adults trying to better themselves and they were great role-models, but also a reminder that it's easier to do school as a young adult and not someone with a full-time job or kids. Many community college classes will be in the evening and it leaves space for a job during the day. There's less campus life for sure, but I still made friends. YMMV according to the quality of campus, but it's a good place to get general electives out of the way.

Your son's feelings about this and his ability to manage will mean a lot. This has got to be humbling to a degree, but I hope he is interested in being the one to choose what's next. The outcome be better if he is the one to take the initiative.
posted by Alison at 12:52 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]

Nthing community college and transfer after his first or second year. We have a program designed exactly for that in MA and it is taken seriously by the state schools who accept students from that program. The student still gets 2 years of the good ol' college experience (whatever that is and for whatever that's worth) and gets a bachelor's degree from an accredited 4-year university after completing it.
posted by carrioncomfort at 1:09 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

Yeah, community colleges are interesting if he knows what he wants, as well as for those who are still sorting themselves out.

For example, I work at a multi-state university with a campus in Charlotte, and we have a ramp for local CC students to zoom right into our Bachelor's-level culinary program when they finish their Associate's degree:
posted by wenestvedt at 1:21 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

I'll also say, if we ignore the wishful-thinking one and the one that went broke, your son basically only had his application turned down by 2 schools. That's a very small data set. There's no reason to think it really tracks his ability to handle college right now. By all means take a gap year or go community college if that's what he wants or thinks best; those are both excellent plans that can help students figure out what they want. But only two schools is a very small sampling, and not by itself a reason to give up on getting into a four-year college this year if that's what he wants.
posted by socksocksock at 1:26 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]

I know the student in question well and I'm sure he can handle college and also strongly suspect that he would have gotten into a school of similar selectivity to some of the ones he applied to if he had applied a bit more widely.
posted by grouse at 1:38 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

My mother was a community college transfer specialist, and she regularly told me success stories about kids who went through her community college on to prestigious state schools -- which often had programs directly funneling in successful CC students once they got their Associate's degrees. The only thing that really matters a few years after graduating is 1) the friends he made at college 2) college alumni career connections. Oh, and DEBT. Do your best to avoid his going into debt.
posted by tooloudinhere at 2:28 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]

As a college student currently studying health science, work/volunteer experience in my field has been the most helpful for getting internships and also figuring out what I do / do not want to do as a career. Whether or not he ends up going to college this year, I'd highly highly recommend doing some experiential stuff.
posted by zima_lengneui at 2:43 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

I went to McDaniel, when it was Western Maryland, and had a great experience. I was able to create a self-designed minor that helped me figure out what I wanted to do after undergrad, which turned out to be library school. The caveat is it is private and expensive. I went because I got an academic scholarship. Feel free to memail me.
I also know multiple people who started at community colleges and are now in PhD programs so YMMV.
posted by amapolaroja at 3:30 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]

Seconding or thirding community college. CCBC is so much better than when I was in that phase of life and it may be the spring board he needs to jump to U of Md.

What if he tried to go to UMBC for the first year?
posted by tafetta, darling! at 3:59 PM on April 1

Is international study an option? It's not cheap, but easier to get in in some ways. I mention this because your budget made me think of how my tuition as an international student in Australia was about $8k/semester and I stayed in a residential college (think a kind of dorm) for a year and a half which helped with housing. Student health insurance was not bad and covers a LOT. The visa might be annoying, but since you're American you'd be able to skip IELTS and get a faster response.

I also second the recommendation of a gap year.
posted by divabat at 5:14 PM on April 1

To add to the community college discussion, I was a successful honors student in IB courses and I went to community college in the mid-2000s. I completed my AA in 1.5 years and transferred to a desirable university where I continued to perform well and ultimately got into a very competitive MA program in my chosen field.

Compared to my university experience, community college was superior in nearly all aspects- more attentive professors, better group work dynamics, smaller class sizes. The quality of instruction didn’t differ at all and I tended to work with the much older students in both settings because they were more reasonable about time management and more responsible.

I will say that at the time, I was not thrilled about being in community college and I thought a four-year school would be more challenging and engaging, but it really wasn’t. And I definitely wish I had appreciated it more at the time.
posted by dearadeline at 5:28 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]

I've been a tutor for high-school students in Chicago schools, both public and private, for coming up on ten years, and I am here to tell you that community college is absolutely not for losers. It's a terrific way to build a bridge from high school to the more "desirable" universities. An Associate's degree shows the university admissions team that the student is committed to their education-- and can succeed at it--in a way that a gap year does not. The student should use community college to max out on stellar grades, look for an internship with a nearby vet, and then re-apply with an AA or (more likely if we're going the vet route) an AS under their belt.
posted by tzikeh at 6:53 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]

A 3.0 in high school does not bode well for vet school. It's much more competitive than med school and realistically you need a 4.0 college GPA, 2 years of experience working with a vet or livestock and excellent references from practicing vets plus you need to interview well and be like totally, zen monk, committed to the vet lifestyle. Anyone who tells you otherwise has not applied to vet school.

If I were your kid I will get a job as a vet tech or similar. There is a real shortage of livestock vets in the US so livestock work is good experience too: horses, breeding operations, poultry farm etc. But meet some vets and intern or work as a grunt or tech and start building those relationships now. Taking a gap year is fine, now or later but use it to get experience. Then go to community college and get straight As in all the science pre reqs he can. Then transfer to a TOP veterinary feeder school and keep getting straight As. Penn, Davis, Colorado State, Iowa, UW etc. Probably a land grant university or one with a vet school so he can begin to volunteer there his first day on campus.

Once he has the required classes apply to vet school without matriculating, you can do this and it's good practice. Sometimes you even get in as a sophomore or junior. I know two people who did. At the very least he should be getting interviews. If not then re-consider. It is THE most competitive grad school program and they want people who ate committed and have some real life experience and will be vouched for. Having worked for one or two practicing vets for an extended period is huge. He needs that, plus the grades.

If all else fails, go to Ross. It's not cheap or prestigious but it counts like anywhere else.

Anyway that's my primer on how to get into vet school and afford it. If things like the freshman experience are more important to him, well he may not be cut our for vet school.
posted by fshgrl at 7:48 PM on April 1 [13 favorites]

Lots of people have suggested community college, as they always do.

A 1360 score puts your son in about the top 8% of students nationally. This means that, even if it doesn't feel like it right now, he has really good options and you should be trying to keep those options on the table.

Overall, there are three choices.

Attend a 4-year college in 2019 that still has places available. A large public universities (including the kinds of places fshgrl is recommending) that is slightly less competitive than UMD-CP may have places available for someone with his scores. Or if he's more interested in somewhere like Sarah Lawrence, there are private and public LAC taking applications still that will offer him a similar-ish experience. Substantial financial aid is less likely to be available than it was early in the process so you may need to cast a wide net to get a place you can afford. I and others have offered various suggestions and lists in these answers that you may find helpful.

Attend a local community college in 2019 and transfer later. Most community colleges have rolling admissions, particularly for general transfer programs. A strong student like your son should be able to do well, if they are committed to doing so and could transfer either after 1 year or after 2 years. This is likely to be an affordable option particularly in the short term, but financial aid is much less generous for transfer students so you should be clear about how you will fund the last 2-3 years.

Take a gap year and reapply to college to start in 2020. While I understand that these are not as commonplace in the US as they are in other countries, a well planned gap year that he wants to do could give him a really good headstart in applying to vet school. It also gives the opportunity to rethinking his approach and have another go at college applications, casting a wider net. If finances are a serious concern then it is likely to be the best approach to net a decent merit scholarship, if he is willing to apply to somewhere where he would be a top applicant.

In your position, I would want now to keep these options open for him to choose from, as he will be more successful if he is committed to his own choice of action. Each of them has their pros and cons, and done well will lead to the same overall outcomes assuming some level of costs. Without some specific offers on the table there is no obviously 'right' approach, but any of them will be the wrong approach if he himself thinks it is not right for him.

When he's made his mind up about what he wants to do, this will be a small blip. Like a lot of flagship public universities on the coasts UMD-CP has gotten more popular as the costs of college rise and so harder to get in to. He will not be the only excellent student in this position and there will be all sorts of places eager to have him - either this year or next year - where he can enjoy a great and productive college career.
posted by plonkee at 5:11 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

fshgrl's advice aligns with what my colleagues in our agricultural college say about getting into vet programs: They're tremendously competitive - more than medical schools - and experience counts for a lot. So getting an entry-level job in the field may be a good idea both as a way to spend a year (or more) in a paying job and as a way to get practical experience (either "this will help me get into a vet program" or "I have learned that I don't want to be a vet").
posted by ElKevbo at 9:46 AM on April 2

For reference four of my college roommates are vets now and about 4 or 5 other people we knew. But I know probably 30 or 40 people who couldn't get in, despite undoubtedly being smart and motivated enough. It's tough and worth striving for but you have to start now. Get as much animal experience as possible.
posted by fshgrl at 2:22 PM on April 2

We sat down tonight and applied to five universities:
  • Towson (because it's close and his high school guidance counselor thinks he has some pull there)
  • University of Iowa (because farm animals!)
  • Evergreen State College (their plot-it-yourself degree plan may be just right for him)
  • University of Texas San Antonio (close to my hometown)
  • SUNY Oswego (his hometown)
He was attracted by U AK Fairbanks and U Edinburgh but I ruled out Fairbanks as too cold and inaccessible, and he was daunted by Edinburgh's 10% acceptance rate (as was I - my other son went to Cambridge but that has a 20% acceptance rate!).

I have good feelings about this round, but if they all fail, we'll probably do the Maryland Transfer Advantage Program, hoping for a year at Baltimore County Community College and then a transfer to U Md College Station.

Thanks for all your suggestions. I'll let you all know how it goes.
posted by ubiquity at 7:09 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]

U Md College Station

Uh, College Park. Oops, giving away my roots...
posted by ubiquity at 5:01 AM on April 5

And the winner is... University of Iowa! We are all quite happy.
posted by ubiquity at 2:25 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]

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