As you can see there are some significant weaknesses in this academic record, i.e. 4 Bs this semester and a low class rank. On the other hand, notice that except in AP Chemistry (on which he scored 4 in the AP test), everything else on which he got a B, he scored a 5 or 750 on the AP test/ SAT subject test. So will adcoms see his high school as deflating grades or see the kid as academically weak?
Spring Semester Junior Year grades with (end of year AP scores or SAT Subject test score):
B (SAT Math II 750), Pre AP PreCalc,
B (AP score 4), AP Chemistry,
B (AP score 5), AP Biology,
B (AP score 5), AP English Language,
A (AP score 5), AP US History
A (AP test not offered), AP Computer Science II,
A Pre AP Physics.
Standardized test scores:
PSAT / NMSQT: CR 74, W 76, M 69
SAT Subject Math II: 750
SAT Reasoning: To be taken in Oct
SAT Physics subject test: To be taken in November
GPA: weighted 4.04 (A is worth 5 for AP and Honors, 4 for Academic classes)
Class rank: Top 25 percentile. Attends a competitive high school: 4 kids to Stanford, 2 to Harvard and 2 to MIT this year. Top 10 NMSF producer in the State of TX.
Awards: Likely National Merit semifinalist. National Merit Hispanic Scholar and some others.
Ehh, it appears a little deflated but of course there are possible reasons for that. Maybe the teacher made the exams quite difficult, or the student didn't do all of his/her homework. My mom went to school in HK where a 50% was usually considered passing, and she was the top in her class even with an 80-something %.
Sure, tests can be too difficult, if touching on material that was not covered in class. Then teachers may refuse to curve. I think President Obama touched on this subject too, when his daughter came home with a C. Also, it is possible that there may not be enough time to complete some assignments if a school gives lots of homework with short deadlines when a student is taking a rigorous course load with limited time to devote to each subject. (In this case 5 fairly difficult AP classes in junior year, in addition to Pre AP PreCalculus and Pre AP Physics). However, wouldn't applicants look like they were whinning if these things were mentioned in an applicantion? So, would it be enough to just point out that Subject Tests and AP scores confirm that the material was completely understood, as measured by college board standardized tests, even if the school grades were B?
The difficulty of your son's high school should be mentioned in things like the school profile, the guidance counselor recommendations, and teacher recommendations. Additionally, if your sons's high school consistently has people applying to MIT every year, which it seems like it does, then I'm sure MIT is familiar enough with your son's high school to take his grades and class rank in context.
The problem I see is class rank. If grades are deflated, the actual grades should reflect that (i.e. more B's than A's, etc), but class rank should be higher. This is because if grades are deflated, everybody's grades should be low and if your student is truly exceptional and strong in the subject, then he/she would be near the top of that curve even with a B. As shown, this is not the case.
Therefore, here's what an adcom would think. The student has high test scores (sometimes they don't even consider AP scores in admission because some people went to high schools that didn't offer AP, only offered IB, international, etc.) but he/she didn't try his/her best in school. This is disadvantageous to you because schools don't want students who don't give their best effort, even if they had perfect test scores.
@ptontiger16, I do not know how many kids took similarly rigorous course loads and ended up with better AP scores and gpas at his school. However, that would certainly be a good way to compare and understand his performance, in my opinion. I think sharavas touched on this and it makes sense.
There are some other reasons for that low class rank. It has partly to do with transferring to this high school after attending low income URM neighborhood elementary and middle schools. Essentially, he dropped to a B and C student in freshman year at this highly competitive high school. This is reflected in his school rank.
Last edited by perazziman; 08-09-2012 at 08:43 PM.
So how will he make the transition to a top tier college like MIT? That is the question you need to answer for adcoms. MIT is highly competitive and only accepts those students it thinks can thrive on its campus. Prospective students need to be able to adapt and still be able to handle the coursework (and the coursework is tough!).
Here's what would be the limiting factor in admission: You have a student who is obviously intelligent (based on AP/SAT scores), but may not do so well in a classroom setting. As I said, if B's were the norm and the student is at or near the top, then class rank should reflect that. But it does not. So adcoms are left with the question of whether this student can manage MIT coursework. Sorry if I sound pessimistic, but I'm just trying to help.
As I said, if B's were the norm and the student is at or near the top, then class rank should reflect that. But it does not.
No offense taken. Certainly, if adcoms believed that only those students who have consistently done well throughout high school, are academically qualified, then our kid is in trouble. I would agree, then class rank would be a good indicator for identifying all academic stars. On the other hand, if adcoms also felt that students who have demonstrated an ability to overcome serious academic challenges are academically qualified too, then there could be room for another kind of student. This would be someone with a very strong postitive GPA trend and Junior year performance/ rigor, who had overcome obvious academic challenges, but may not have the class rank one would expect. In these cases it could be more important to compare Jr year performance (GPA and rigor) of the stars with these rising stars than class rank.
Last edited by perazziman; 08-10-2012 at 03:27 AM.
If the school sent 2 to MIT last year, seems to me that your son also have to be at least in the top 10 to stand a chance?
I do not know their class ranking. I am simply repeating what the counselor office told me. There were also kids who were admitted to CalTech, Yale, Princeton. In addition, the office said several kids were accpeted to other Ivy schools such as Columbia etc.
Therefore, here's what an adcom would think. The student has high test scores (sometimes they don't even consider AP scores in admission because some people went to high schools that didn't offer AP, only offered IB, international, etc.) but he/she didn't try his/her best in school.
I think it is quite unlikely for an adcom to think "he/she didn't try his/her best in school."
As I said before, he graduated from elementary and middle schools in poor Mexican American neighborhoods with inadequate preparation for the rigors of a mainstream high school and college education. These were the type of schools that had never seen a graduate go onto earn National Merit semifinalist status at their local high school. Perhaps 10% of the graduates, ultimately made it to college (including community college). I think, any adcom can see from his high school transcript that this was a top student at his poor Mexican Amerschools, who was completely under prepared for the academic challenges at his mainstream high school. Infact, it is quite possible that the adcoms may wonder, if this kid could could work this hard and get to where he is now, in three short years, then why haven't all the top kids at his high school, who had a regular education, done considerably better than him in Junior year?
ps thank you for the discussion.
Last edited by perazziman; 08-10-2012 at 09:26 AM.
MIT admissions is based on a lot more than grades. Make sure he shows his passions in his essays and applies his interests to his community during his senior year. Volunteer, take some college classes (and get As in them) if that's possible, maybe do some research with a university professor if that's possible. Best of luck.