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Will 5B's destroy chances to top colleges?

alpha178alpha178 3 replies3 threads New Member
Fall semester Junior Year took a turn for the worst. I believe it was just lack of time management and dedication (no special/extenuating circumstances), but I ended up with ALL B's (3 AP courses, 2 Honors courses). My GPA dropped from a 4.5 to 4.41. I also took 3 Bs sophomore year, but all A's freshman year (also all Honors courses, with one AP each in 9th/10th grade)

Im even taking AP Econ to recover the mess from last semester and set me back on 4.5. Im working extremely hard to get all A's this semester. If get all As fall senior year (5 APs- calc, chem, bio, lit, stats) too, what are college admissions officers going to think of fall semester's pitfall (especially Northwestern, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Case Western, Washington University)?

I have decent EC's (debate (state finalist last year), extensive volunteering, research at university, club leadership position). Im hoping to get 1550+ on SAT and 800s on Math2/Chem subject tests.
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Replies to: Will 5B's destroy chances to top colleges?

  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6288 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Honestly, that may be too many Bs for those schools. It seems that as the coursework got harder, your grades slipped a bit. From a college's POV, the more closely the work came to college level work, the worse you did. Not the best light for an applicant.

    There will be AOs who will appreciate that you took a risk and pushed yourself. Do what you can to turn things around. See your teachers, figure out how to study better, organize yourself. If you can pull it together, at least you will have that story.

    Don't stop trying but do look for some schools where you will be a strong candidate. You have a lot going for you.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5986 replies1 threads Senior Member
    I agree with @gardenstategal. It looks like when you got to more rigorous classes your grades dropped from A to B.

    The thing about highly ranked universities is that their classes are in most cases tough. The classes will take another jump up from the rigorous classes that you are taking now.

    I think that you need to rethink the list of schools that you want to apply to. There are a lot of very good universities. There will be some that are a good fit for you. They will probably not be on the level of "Northwestern, Brown, Johns Hopkins".

    It also would be very valuable for you to figure out what it takes to do well in these more rigorous classes. Learning how to do well in these classes will be very valuable in the long run.
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  • MAmom111MAmom111 239 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Agee with the above posters. You are doing great with a very rigorous course load. The problem with those schools is that most kids will have almost all A’s. Just planning on doing better next semester and senior year is not going to make it happen. What do you plan to do differently? Not sure increasing your AP’s next year will help your UW GPA. Have you considered using tutor(s)? Not at all saying that B’s are not good grades but if you want A’s, something needs to change besides just “wanting” to do better.

    Have you done the PSAT or real timed practice SAT’s? Just wondering how you are projecting that your scores will be in the 1500’s. You will have an amazing selection of schools to choose from, as long as you look more for fit and less for prestige.
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  • alpha178alpha178 3 replies3 threads New Member
    @MAmom111 ,
    I plan to go afterschool more for tutorials and have a structured study schedule so I can ask the teachers as many questions I have about the unit of study as possible.

    I actually took the SAT in October and got a 1490, so I believe it's a good start. PSAT was 1340 though so that's a bummer.
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  • alpha178alpha178 3 replies3 threads New Member
    @gardenstategal ,
    I will definetely do my best to implement a strategy to be successful this semester. However, in the application process, should I explain why I had a dip in grades junior year or should I just let my performance speak for itself?
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  • MWolfMWolf 2049 replies14 threads Senior Member
    The problem is that you are thinking in terms of Top Colleges. There is no such thing as objectively Top Colleges, whatever the Ivies or USNews wants you to think. There are only Top Colleges For YOU.

    The issue is not, as other posters have written, that you will not be able to keep up with the classes - there are athletes who are accepted with worse academics to those colleges, and they succeed. The problem is that those colleges are set up to be comfortable places for students who actually enjoy being challenged.

    Based on you performance, based on your admitted issues with time management and dedication, I do not think that you would actually enjoy yourself at NU or Johns Hopkins. While I am sure that you could keep up, you will not be thriving while you do do, and if you succeed, it will cost you.

    Ask yourself "what do I want from a college?". Don't think about the prestige of the college, think about what you would enjoy doing in college. Think of what parts of high school you like, what do you think was lacking in high school which would have made it a better place for you, and choose a college which will provide you with those things.

    Succeeding in college does not mean "being accepted to the most prestigious college which will accept me". It means "finding a college at which I will thrive". There are literally hundreds of excellent colleges out there. I am sure that there are dozens at which you will thrive and succeed.

    It's not the Bs that are the problem, really. You can easily have a GPA which will make you competitive for at least Case Western Reserve or WashU (though the downward trend in your GPA without a good reason may count against you ). It is the fact that, as others have pointed out, the more challenging the courses got, the more difficult it was for you to manage your time and find the dedication you needed.

    In my experience, it is often the case that, when teen have difficulty with dedication and time management, it means that they are not really enjoying themselves. The point isn't whether you are able to get all As in the fall semester of your Senior year. The point is whether you will actually enjoy yourself during any of them. If you won't, why try to attend a college where, to fully thrive and succeed, you really need to enjoy most of your classes?
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6288 replies10 threads Senior Member
    If you write about any part of it, it should be about what drove you to change what you were doing. But this should also be something that is really central to who you are. It's possible that a teacher could cover this in the LOR, leaving you with more options for your essay besides this.

    FWIW, @MWolf has given you great advice. If the slippage of grades was a maturity issue, fix it and move on. If you can knock it out of the park from here on out, there will be AOs who will like that story. There are students, especially boys, who are late to the game in terms of applying themselves when the work gets harder and the raw talent that got them As up to that point is no longer enough. But know that these are generally not the students who get into Brown, for example.

    And there are students who prefer to put their energy into things outside the classroom. Whichever it is, there are plenty of colleges for you.

    If you can get As, you can apply to those schools. You may get in. You will need great essays and LORs. But you probably won't (because they are so selective) so you really should focus your efforts on finding schools that are less of a reach.
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