How bad is a 3.89 GPA for princeton? I'm estimating my final high school GPA. Please be honest, as I am really worried. My SAT score will probably be in the range 2350-2400(based on my previous scores, and since I am still young and have one or two more years to prepare). Please keep in mind that I'm an asian male(I know that will have a huge effect)
GPA is only one factor in the equation. I don't think your GPA would put you immediately into the decline pile, especially considering your projected SAT scores. Marks simply get you past the threshold that enables the admissions committee to seriously consider your application. The bigger part of your application will be your "bent" - who you are as a person, how you have made your mark on the world, and how you would potentially make that mark on Princeton.
So many of these posts focus on marks. The reason Princeton requires a minimum level of proficiency is not to simply boast that they choose the best, but because the bulk of their courses are really difficult and they want to admit students who will succeed. I think students would do well to realize this when considering applying to the school. If you have taken a very challenging courseload in highschool and coupled it with deep involvement in something beyond the classroom while maintaining a high academic standing, you may be a good candidate for Princeton.
Also keep in mind that your school profile is taken into account. For example, my high school was quite rigorous, and AP's, honors, etc were not weighted higher than regular courses (so the best possible GPA was a 4.0, not a 5.0 or anything). Thus, anything like a 3.9 or above was extremely impressive for my school.
I disagree. I definitely did not tie with my peers. In fact, my scores were way below where they should have been. My essay is what got me to Princeton.
And telling someone to participate in "some strong ecs" for the sake of the college admissions process is terrible advice. Top-notch schools can tell when you are doing something because you're passionate about it, or because you want to pad your app.
I agree with alexcuad...the admissions people have a good sense of what is authentic. I asked my freshman son the other day what is the most prevalent quality among those he has met so far this year, and he said that while they are all smart and accomplished, he noted what a great sense of humor most of them had.
As for what you do to prepare, if you focus on being your best "you" and work hard to express who you are in your essays (your own voice is important) you help the admissions people have the clearest picture. EC's should always reflect what matters to you, and the more passionate you are about what matters, the better.
By strong ecs I meant whatever you do, do it well. You don't have to win the math Olympiad but whatever you do, music, sports, research, win something or prove something. And I apologize Alex, seeing as you're already in Princeton you probably know more haha but you can't deny having better stats improves your chances. However a good essay like you said puts a personality on those stats. And personality is what many 2400, 4.0ers sorely lack.
@Ilovediana: May I disagree with you on this statement? "Please keep in mind that I'm an asian male(I know that will have a huge effect) " So am I.
The huge effect will neither be your gender nor your ethnicity. It'll be whether or not you can distinguish yourself -- i.e. not be boring. The anti-asian line is BS in my opinion. I applied to several top engineerng pgms and two Ivies. All accepted. My GPA was similar to yours, my SATs were about the 30th percentile of my fellow students at my eventual HYP alma mater. But I had an unusual and compelling narrative along with my proven academic potential and drive (most rigorous curric from an inner city magnet school). Can you be interesting? That's the real question.
A 2400/4.0 alone will do you nothing. You have to stand out/be interesting as an applicant. You can do this various ways in your application, but the most obvious way is the common app essay/supplement essay. And I feel like a lot of applicants overlook this, for what ever reason...