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Very worried about college

CaptainAtomCaptainAtom 4 replies1 threads New Member
Hello everyone,

I'm a junior this year and am super worried about college applications next year. I have pretty high expectations, but I fear my GPA will really hurt my chances at admission.

I have a 3.5 GPA. I have a 35 ACT. I am Full IB, and I think I have pretty good extracurriculars (lots of volunteering, starting groups within school, sports).

Another problem I have is foreign language. I did not take a language my freshman year but taught myself Spanish the next summer and took IB as a sophomore. This year I am in IB II, and I have no desire to continue Spanish next year. Will only two years of foreign language hurt me as I am applying?

I know people on here always scoff at the non-seniors looking for advice, but as senior year gets closer I am getting very worried.

Thank you all for your help :)
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Replies to: Very worried about college

  • JBSeattleJBSeattle 1057 replies14 threads Senior Member
    I would try to take another year of language. You are doing fine and will have some good choices! Discuss finances with your parents and what they are willing to pay.
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  • CorinthianCorinthian 1806 replies62 threads Senior Member
    You will be fine as long as you are not targeting the most highly selective schools. My D has a 3.6 GPA, 35 ACT, average EC's, and only took 2 years of online Latin as her foreign language. She's gotten into ASU Barrett Honors, Northern Arizona, Colorado School of Mines, Wooster, Ursinus, Eckerd, Hope, all with merit scholarships.I think that plenty of schools are fine with 2 years of FL as long as you otherwise have good course rigor on your transcript.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9905 replies538 threads Senior Member
    Having “pretty high expectations” is your biggest problem. Do yourself a favor and aim for “reasonable” expectations.

    If your high expectations include very selective schools, you need more FL. Frankly, your GPA will be your biggest issue, so work super hard to keep your grades as high as you can.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    No one out here scoffs at juniors. I agree that you should stick with the language.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30017 replies181 threads Senior Member
    Have you had the money talk with your parents? Do that first. Until you have a notion about your budget, it will be hard for you to know where to start.
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  • CaptainAtomCaptainAtom 4 replies1 threads New Member
    My dream school has always been Georgetown. Do you think I have a shot?
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  • pickpocketpickpocket 432 replies3 threads Member
    edited February 2019
    My Son was also 35 ACT and about 3.6 GPA at midpoint junior year, also with minimal FL. He did not have your level of ECs or IB. He did get straight As second semester jr year and first semester sr year bringing him up to 3.75 uw. This was good enough to get him acceptances at such schools as U Rochester, RPI, WPI, Northeastern, and CMU (where he enrolled and is happy there). Schools in this tier are really wonderful and are definitely in your reach. Write a killer essay. You can still apply to a couple tippy tops and maybe win the lottery, but don't stake your hopes on that. Your future is bright. good luck.
    edited February 2019
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  • aquaptaquapt 2281 replies47 threads Senior Member
    3.5 is unweighted, or weighted? (And whichever it is, what is the other number?)

    Your chances at Georgetown are not zero, but it is a reach for most unhooked applicants and your GPA makes it more of a reach. Your ACT is in the top quartile, but grades do make a big difference. Getting in is possible, but you need matches and safeties. (As does *any* applicant to G-town and similar schools unless they have it nailed down because of athletic recruitment or other hook.)

    Why is G-town your dream school? Is it the DC location? The Jesuit philosophy of education? The strength of certain programs/majors? What are your academic interests and goals? What's your home state? What's your budget, and are you eligible for need-based financial aid that's in line with that budget, or will you need merit aid or an affordable "sticker price" to make college affordable for your family?
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  • CaptainAtomCaptainAtom 4 replies1 threads New Member
    The 3.5 is unweighted. My school doesn't provide a weighted GPA, but if I had one I'd assume it'd be higher.

    I understand that a school like Georgetown is quite a reach. The quality and reputation of the School of Foreign Service is mostly what interests me, and the location is also a huge plus. I'm not coming from the East Coast (born and raised in the Midwest), but ideally I'll go to school there. I understand that more realistic goals are important in this process.

    My budget is pretty flexible, but I'll be looking for merit-based aid wherever I can find it.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2281 replies47 threads Senior Member
    That's good - colleges will usually do their own weighting calculation anyway. It's just that sometimes students on CC will report, for example, a 3.5 GPA when that's their *weighted* GPA and they really have a 3.2 unweighted; and that would make a significant difference vs. your situation.

    However... from the G-town admissions website: "Language or Foreign Service Program. Students interested in the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics or the Walsh School of Foreign Service are recommended to have a background in a modern foreign language or Latin." They don't drill down on how much background exactly, but it doesn't appear that you should be skimping on foreign language if this is your goal.

    Is there an improving trend in your grades? One thing you could consider is doing a post-grad year abroad, thorough AFS or another similar program. This would have the dual benefit of adding your senior grades (and AP grade-bumps) into your GPA calculation, if they're stronger than your earlier grades, AND strengthening your foreign language and cross-cultural experience and credentials. Just running the idea up the flagpole, since high school classroom language study doesn't seem to be your favorite thing, and I sympathize with that.

    Another option would be a summer language class for college credit. You could even do this at Georgetown: https://summer.georgetown.edu/programs/SHS04/college-credit-courses/coursefilterlist
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 3307 replies62 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    For Georgetown SFS you should stick with Spanish senior year, even if you take a Spanish class over the summer. Also for Georgetown admissions you should have 3 subject tests with scores of 700+ in order to put together the most competitive application you can. https://uadmissions.georgetown.edu/firstyear/preparation

    If you want DC, obviously consider George Washington U and American U as well. You need to demonstrate interest for American, so make sure you sign up for emails, go to local rep sessions, meet with rep at your school, visit the school if possible. Of course it makes sense to do all these things for any school on your list, but American values demonstrated interest highly.

    Georgetown does not give out much merit aid, only $200K on the last CDS, see Table H1 https://georgetown.app.box.com/s/3azkfk30zxabxqccj0osp0lrhhy2p1s9

    Generally merit aid comes from schools that aren't a reach, one where the candidate is in the top 25% of GPA, test scores and other factors such as ECs.
    edited February 2019
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  • RayMantaRayManta 218 replies8 threads Junior Member
    So, I'm a little confused. My understanding was that four years of a foreign language was a required element of the IB program. Could you elucidate?

    I will have a longer post next.
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  • RayMantaRayManta 218 replies8 threads Junior Member
    edited February 2019
    First, a disclaimer. I don't pretend to know what admissions committees think and how they make their choices. My only (recent) experience is in investigating possible options for my older daughter, who, like you, is a junior IB student.

    Also, I've posted much of the information and opinion that follows in other "chance me" threads, so the dedicated posters here should please forgive me if this sounds repetitive.

    OK. What I find interesting is that in your second paragraph above, you bury what I think is the important piece of info: That you are an IB student. Those who are not familiar with the program don't know what that entails and all the hard work that goes into it. But I do.

    And, colleges know, too. Don't discount it. The IB program is universally considered the gold standard for rigor and many, many schools have a clear preference for students that earn the IB diploma. Roughly ten years ago a self-reported study was performed by IBO that reveals some really amazing data about the admission rates for IB students vs all applicants for about 150 different colleges and universities. It's pretty much disappeared from the web, but I stumbled on it here: https://www.rjuhsd.us/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&ModuleInstanceID=13340&ViewID=7b97f7ed-8e5e-4120-848f-a8b4987d588f&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=16706&PageID=7234. Click the link, and it is the middle document on the following page. [EDIT: That link seems to be down, but hopefully it is just temporary and hasnt been removed]

    The caveat, of course, (besides being self-reported data), is that as far as I can tell this study was performed ten years ago (you can tell by the overall admission rates among the Ivies, which is lower today) and there's no guarantee that some of these schools still give a preference, or that the preference is the same as it was.

    Still, it is eye-opening. Schools LOVE IB students. Completing the program shows that you are hard-working, achievement-oriented, and (I think most importantly) you are very unlikely to drop out before graduating. You're ready for college. Again, the data is ten years old, but some really good schools were accepting over 50% of the IB applicants! And in many cases, the acceptance rate among IB applicants was 20-30% higher than the overall pool of applicants! This is phenomenal.

    Of course, we don't know what the credentials were of those IB students, so there are a bunch of assumptions we have to make. But just read through the list. Take a deep breath. You'll get into a good school--top 70, maybe top-50 for sure, depending on the rest of your application package, of course. It's an incredible resource, if only to give IB students the confidence that all their hard work will be recognized and won't have been for nothing. I only wish they did it again!

    Remember, too, that your GPA is just one piece of the puzzle. Focus on the other pieces, too, and I don't just mean your test scores. Try to make an effort to speak up in class and get to know some of your teachers, planning ahead on who you will ask for a recommendation--make sure they will know you well when the time comes. Also, start thinking now about your essays--specifically, how to improve your writing. There are a huge number of writing guides. My favorites are by Roy Peter Clark, who has some amazing advice on how to improve writing technique. One I like is called, "How to Write Short." Work on improving those skills so the rest of your package shines as much as possible.

    My other recommendation is to try to get an awesome summer job that connects to your interests, maybe an internship with a professor at a local college. The top schools seem to want to see that you have a specific passion and are pursuing it, as opposed to being well-rounded. Well-rounded people have never changed the world. What do you like to do? Show them.

    You'll be fine. Look at the document I linked to, and breathe deep.

    edited February 2019
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9905 replies538 threads Senior Member
    Your predicted IB scores will be important, and yes, the IB diploma is a lot of work, but your grades are still going to be very important. Georgetown wants three SAT subject test scores too, and is highly selective. You need a list of realistic options.

    @RayManta , what do you mean by “well-rounded people have never changed the world”? I totally disagree with that. One doesn’t have to have “pointy” interests to make long-lasting and significant contributions to society. The ordinary actions of unsung people change the world every day, simply by the fact that people do these things day and and day out, without going to Harvard or becoming famous. Firemen, nurses, teachers, volunteers, and many others might be interested in many different things. They are changing the world just as much as Steve Jobs did, but they are doing it collectively.

    Most top schools these days do not say they want to see one “passion”, because they don’t have a formula for getting in. Show them what you like to do, absolutely. Do not feel compelled to exclusively pursue debate, or football, or whatever it is. I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating, because so many people overlook it: colleges want to admit people they like. Be a good person, be genuine, do things you enjoy doing. Good grades and test scores will get a lot of people to the gate, but getting through the gate depends on the rest. Be yourself.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 42352 replies455 threads Senior Member
    Georgetown expects a good level in at least one Language. You'll need to take it as a subject test.
    Are you in Spanish ab initio?
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  • RayMantaRayManta 218 replies8 threads Junior Member
    I thought I was clear, but I'll explain further, limiting my thoughts just to the application process. Don't get hung up on trying to join as many groups as you can and being a leader of this and that, playing a sport, being in as many competitions as you can, and doing something artistic, just so you will appear well-rounded on your application. No one is interested in everything, and, more to the point, no one is good at everything. Focus on the things you like to do, and show you have a passion for it. The kid who works on a farm in the mid west and helped develop a more efficient irrigation method, or the kid who manages the inventory process for her family business, isn't going to be hurt because he or she doesn't participate in the school play or play an instrument or can't throw a ball. Too many people seem to believe that they have to mark off a checklist: a sport, a leadership position, something artistic, etc. Do what you love and demonstrate that you love it. It doesn't have to be academic--maybe your love is gardening, for example.
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  • CaptainAtomCaptainAtom 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Here's a little more about my situation with language: I'm pretty sure I'll be able to score well on a Spanish subject test. As I was learning, I started a job at a Mexican restaurant, spending as much time around native speakers as possible and working by myself for eight months to learn everything I could. I am confident with my skill in the language, but I have no interest in Spanish anymore. I don't really like Spanish classes, but if I really had to I would take another... the problem is that this year I finish the Spanish curriculum offered at my school and there isn't room in my schedule to take one at the university next year. I hadn't considered taking a class over the summer. My Spanish teacher has suggested I start French, and I'm still thinking that through.

    I've gotten so many helpful responses. Thanks again to everyone for your help! @Mwfan1921 , I have looked at George Washington and American. Can you elaborate on the "demonstrate interest" part? Is that something American requires or stresses? Should I be doing this for all the schools I hope to apply to?

    @RayManta , I don't think four years of foreign language is a requirement (and if it is, I'm in trouble). I'm testing in Spanish this year (I took IB I as a sophomore and am taking IB II as a junior). @MYOS1634 , I am in Spanish ab initio
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 42352 replies455 threads Senior Member
    Take the Spanish subject test in May or June and see if you can score 700+. Hen you'd be good.
    However why are you interested in SFSif youre not interested in foreign languages? In order to do well you'll need to become fluent and apply one Language at least.
    There's are Summer Intensive programs at Concordia Villages (fun), Middlebury (top-notch, very selective), Penn State....
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 3307 replies62 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Can you elaborate on the "demonstrate interest" part? Is that something American requires or stresses? Should I be doing this for all the schools I hope to apply to?

    Following is a link to American U's Common Data Set (CDS). Most schools fill this out annually, it has a wealth of information. In the table in C7, last line, you can see that American considers level of applicant's interest as Very Important. Off the top of my head, I am not sure I can think of another school that rates applicant's interest as Very Important. https://www.american.edu/admissions/experience-au/interviews.cfm You can look at the same table on Georgetown's CDS which I linked to above and they say level of applicant interest is not considered.

    For American, do the things I listed in my earlier post, as well as reaching out to your regional AO and engage with that person, whether at your school, on campus, by interviewing, and/or by emailing. When interacting with the AO ask questions that show you are educated about American, and ask questions that can't be answered via a simple website search. American takes a significant proportion of their class thru the ED round, applying ED is the ultimate expression of applicant interest.

    Regardless of what the CDS's say, it makes sense to do these activities with any school, because that is how you learn about the school, its programs, culture, etc. Only by learning these things, and ideally a campus visit, can you gauge whether a school is a good fit for you, and you for them.
    edited February 2019
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  • CaptainAtomCaptainAtom 4 replies1 threads New Member
    edited February 2019
    I very much enjoy languages, but Spanish no longer interests me. I'll look into the subject test.
    edited February 2019
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