2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Merit Scholarships black/white

For some reason, I feel like all these merit scholarships are all or nothing. I was wondering if anybody else felt this way.

Based on my academic profile I have received a full ride to both the Honors University of Mississippi and the Honors University of Alabama, along with a partial scholarship for Auburn. Despite this, almost every other school I have applied to will not offer me any money (GW, Richmond, Wake, W&L). I know that obviously, these schools are more difficult but I feel like there have to be some schools in the middle that are a little more challenging but will also grant me a scholarship. Any school suggestions to look at?


Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

2 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]


Congrats on your full-ride scholarships to Miss and Alabama. They are great schools.

I disagree with how you are thinking about this as well as the other answer provided.

The main reason that Ivys, Elites, and Top Liberal Arts Colleges like Pomona don't offer full-ride scholarships is not a supply-and-demand issue at all. At such colleges that have acceptance rates between 3%-8% where 92-97% do not get in regardless of how wealthy they are, the real issue is that practically everyone is a genius, to begin with. One can argue that recruited athletes are not smart but I would disagree. If you spend 20-25 hours honing your sport, to me its' still remarkable that these students can keep up with the rest of their peers on less sleep and less time. If they didn't do a sport, they would be right in the sweet spot of the rest of the cohorts. But colleges want D1 or D3 athletes because that's tradition. So the bottom line is that T25 college would rather give out full rides to hooked applicants that are Black, LatinA, Indigenous, or marginalized that are also low-income, or the first generation. It's not a dollars and cents decision, it's a moral decision.

The next band of top schools that offer Merit scholarships is the T25-T50s like UVA, UofRichmond, W&L, William&Mary, Davidson, Wake Forest, etc. They used to have lower thresholds but now with grade inflation, everyone has a 3.9, and with amazing test prep out there, lots of students can get 35s/36s and 1550s on their SATs compared to 5-10 years ago. So your grades and test scores are not impressive for these schools anymore. They were 5-10 years ago not today. I would argue that getting a full ride from Syracuse or UPitt would be just as hard these days and you probably need a 3.9 / 1520 to get one from those schools as well.

Higher education has a trickle-down effect. 10 years ago when NYU had a 35% acceptance rate that was safety school for some people, now at12%, it's a reach for everyone. So what that means is the same people that are applying to Ivys and Stanford are also applying to schools like NorthEastern, NYU, USC, and Tulane, even if 5 years ago the same sorts of applicants would never consider it. This means the competition for T25-T50 is worse than ever as well. NYU has 110,000 applications instead of 50,000 so they are getting tons of super highly qualified applicants. When the admit pool increases tremendously, the Merit Scholarship pool becomes more and more competitive. So like I said, you might have been in the sweet spot for a scholarship 5-10 years ago with a 3.7/34ACT, but not anymore. There are just too many high-achieving kids applying for the 20-25 full rides. I would even argue that getting a full ride from a T25-T50 on MERIT is harder than getting into an IVY for stats alone.

I think if finances are a major concern for you that you should pick a full-ride school and make the best of it. They want you there and there is no reason to believe you are going to get a superior education at a T25-T50 school. I don't think the outcome will be different. I do think you if you keep your grades up and graduate with Summa or Magna cum laude from Miss Alabama, you will have just as good of a chance to get into a great Grad school for Law, Business, Medicine, or something else.

Where you go undergraduate to college is less important than what you do with the opportunity and where you end up. It's far better in my opinion to be really smart in a large school than be struggling to keep your head above water in an uber-competitive one. Case in point. MIT. Let's face it, they are all STEM geniuses but 1/2 the students are struggling mentally, sleep deprived, and in serious pain. Make the most of your college experience, join clubs, become a campus leader, travel abroad, learn another language, and join a Frat (I'm assuming you are a male).

Good luck.

2 years ago

You figured it out. Elite/near elite schools don't need to offer scholarships to attract top talent. It is simple supply and demand, people want to attend and are willing to pay full price, so why spend money on scholarships?

Schools looking to improve their reputation/rankings are trying to attract better talent, so they throw money at people with great grades and test scores. So if a full ride is really important to you, focus on the tier of schools where you are above their median scores.

Do you mind sharing your GPA and SAT/ACT scores? That would help with more specific recommendations.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works