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sorry, chances at amherst

JuliaRachelJuliaRachel Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
edited September 2006 in Amherst College
I know that amherst is my first choice school and I'm planning to apply early there this year. My other option would be to apply to Wellesley early. Is there anyone that has any advice?
White, Jewish, Female
Freshman and Sophomore grades are mediocre...mostly B's thru A-'s
During junior year I hit my stride and finished the year out with a 4.23 gpa.
My senior year schedule includes:
Alg 3/ Trig
Comparative World Religions and Literature AP (a double credit course reserved for the eighteen top english students in the class)
Spanish Literature Honors (already took AP)
US Government and Politics AP
20th Century Literature AP

Clearly, I am a strong student in the Humanities.
My SAT's are
Math: 600
Verbal : 730
Writing: 630
I'm taking them again in october.

SAT II's
US History: 700
Spanish: 710
Literature: 690

AP's
Spanish: 5
English Language: 4
US History: 4

EC's
Classical music is my big thing. I am a student at Manhattan School of Music's Precollege program, which requires me to travel to New York City every weekend. I'm a voice student there, and I'm also very involved in the music program at my school.
In addition to that I work with my school's service group that orients new students and gives tours to prospective students.
I also have been given the responsibility this year of coordinating my school's peer tutoring program, which requires me to set up students with tutors that suit their needs. This is considered a real leadership position in my small, private school.

Any advice anyone has or input on my chances would be greatly appreciated.
Post edited by JuliaRachel on
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Replies to: sorry, chances at amherst

  • JuliaRachelJuliaRachel Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    anyone? anything?
  • GIMEurSTRESballZGIMEurSTRESballZ Registered User Posts: 1,470 Member
    nice rising trend. overall you probably will look like a very usual applicant other than your musical skills. the early application will show interest luckily so you have a fair chance I guess. amherst is always tough to get into though so its still a large reach. good luck
  • JuliaRachelJuliaRachel Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    thank you so much
    anyone else?
  • AnaisVAnaisV Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    What's the context of your GPA? (rank, etc.)
  • JuliaRachelJuliaRachel Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    my school doesn't rank. i go to a private prep school so basically all the classes are hard and everyone wants to go to college. it's very comepetitive.
  • JuliaRachelJuliaRachel Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    anyone else?
  • LemonjelloLemonjello Registered User Posts: 453 Member
    I agree with what's been said so far. The academics are in the range for amherst, but they don't stand out. Rising trend is good though. SAT's are probably in the lower range for white non-legacy/athlete applicants, so retaking could help. You should really emphasize your music to help distinguish yourself. Best of luck in the application process.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    JuliaRachel:

    I think it's important to be realistic. So let's look at how an adcom will review your folder:

    a) White female from suburban NYC. This is the largest single market for applications for a school like Amherst.

    b) Probably high socio-economic status, based on private prep school and private music school. Adcoms raise the bar for affluent suburban kids.

    c) Curriculum. Solid in the humanities and languages. But, adcoms at top schools like to see math through Calculus and four years of science. Not taking science senior year and not taking calculus will be viewed as less than the most rigorous schedule.

    d) GPA: Looks OK, but the B's are going to hurt. 90% or so of accepted Amherst students are in the top 10% of their class.

    e) Test scores: Below the 25th percentile for Amherst. Math scores are really low. Verbal and humanities scores maybe midpack for Amerst. No science.

    f) ECs (outside of music): So so for Amherst. They'll like the peer tutoring, but not enough to award brownie points. Giving tours to prospectives at your prep school? Not so much.

    g) Music: I can't evaluate. If you are world class and submit tapes when you meet with the music department, this might be your best shot.

    Overall, I think Amherst is probably a pretty extreme reach. If you were my daughter, I think I'd probably advise you that it's probably too big a reach.

    What does your guidance counselor say?
  • JuliaRachelJuliaRachel Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    well, i'm from PA not NYC, but that really doesn't matter.
    The counselor at my school said that I have as good of a chance as anyone because admittance to a school this competitive is a crapshoot.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    The counselor at my school said that I have as good of a chance as anyone because admittance to a school this competitive is a crapshoot.

    Arghhh. I hate that kind of advice. It's such a cop-out. I don't think admissions at these schools is that much of crapshoot. It's possible to figure out what they are looking for. The crapshoot part may come into play depending on whether they need a flute player or an oboe player in any given year.

    Having said that, if your guidance counselor can point to students with your SATs and GPA from your prep school who have been accepted at Amherst or similar schools, then that would be a valuable piece of information.

    I know that you'll put together a smart list of schools covering a range from Amherst to some sure bets and end up at a great school no matter how it works out.
  • LemonjelloLemonjello Registered User Posts: 453 Member
    This is true interesteddad. From my recent experience in applying to college, my college counselor had all this information available, but did not share it with the students that were being advised. Probably because he was afraid of the possibility that a student with better stats than past students who got into the school not getting in. Saying that it's a crapshoot is a cop-out, but it is partially true. However, you will have to face reality eventually, so finding out additional information couldn't hurt.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    Saying that it's a crapshoot is a cop-out, but it is partially true.

    It is true on one level. But, it's not that difficult to see where you stack up in your specific applicant pool and assess the odds of even getting to the crapshoot stage.

    For a school like Amherst, a white affluent applicant should ideally have a top class rank (top being defined in the context of the high school), better than midpack SATs, no question marks on the transcript (four years of language, four years of math, all the sciences, etc.), plus something in the EC category that stands outs.

    Are there exceptions? Sure. But, the more places you fall short of the mark, the more you will need to REALLY stand out in the EC category.

    I honestly think that Julia's shot at Amherst would be if they really value the music interest. I just think there are too many test scores below 700 and too many Bs on the transcript and too many missing checkmarks (math and science courses) to get the kind of Academic Rating that Amherst usually looks for in an unhooked applicant.

    If she's also really excited about Wellesley, I would give serious thought to applying ED there unless her high school has an incredible track record of getting similar students into schools like Amherst and/or her music is something that is going to blow the Amherst music department away.

    I've studied Swarthmore more closely than Amherst, but I think the two are pretty much identical from an admissions standpoint. The odds at Swat would not be good unless the music really wows them when she visits and plays for the music professors. I am a total idiot when it comes to that, so maybe she is world class in that arena.
  • DeanchhswDeanchhsw Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    I'd have to agree with interesteddad on this one, too. 1960 in the SATs is drastically too low for amherst, even wellesley. I think this is the point where you'd need to work the most for october. I also agree that No high-level math or science factor as well as the white-jewish-affluent-female factor are going to be red lights on your application. ECs are relatively weak as well, I know there are many things related to music but it seems to me that there aren't that many actual accomplishments to be given brownie points(forgive me if I'm wrong).

    Overall, I think interesteddad gave a rather accurate judgment on this one.
    I think you'd need to raise your SATs to 2100~200s and a killer essay(which isn't always easy) to be considered an average applicant.

    I'd like to recommend as well to not to use the ED card on Amherst unless you really want to be here. It's too far a reach at this stage without major improvements on your SAT scores. Wellesley is still a big reach, but it'd be slightly easier than Amherst.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    1960 in the SATs is drastically too low for amherst

    Just so we don't scare people off. There are applicants who will be accepted with SATs below 2000. But, you have to remember that SATs are viewed in context. An affluent white student from a prep school will be judged differently than a first generation college applicant from a rural public high school. Or than a Cambodian immigrant who knocks the math SAT out of the ballpark and sucks on the Verbal SAT because English is a second language. Or, a kid who held down an after school job throughout high school to help the family and didn't benefit from test prep courses or three shots at the SAT. Or, than a starter on the ice hockey team because, frankly, they are more interested in ice hockey skills.

    It's the whole application. How is the academic transcript? What are the test scores? What are the special EC interests? How is that viewed against the opportunity the student had? Is there a hook? Sports. URM. Low-income. Legacy?

    You don't have to be superman or superwoman. But, you also can't have many question marks or deductions when they review the package.
  • JuliaRachelJuliaRachel Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Thank you all for your advice. It's pretty clear that the general opionon on this message board is that I would be wasting my time applying to Amherst early. I'm actually on campus now, visiting the music professors. I'm still considering Amherst but I have taken to heart the advice that has been given here. I also can't imagine how Manhattan School of Music Pre College is a boring EC. But, I'm sure you all know much more about this than I do.
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