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Mid-Level GPA, High SATs?

ThePinkoThePinko Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
I'm a junior in a selective private high school. My school doesn't rank, but if it were to, I would probably barely make it into the top 25 percent.

2300 SAT (800 CR, 700 M, 800 W)
3.78 GPA UW (School doesn't weigh)
Course Rigor: My school's courses are AP-level in all but name. We send three or four people to Ivy League schools every year. Our curriculum is very rigorous, and almost all colleges are aware of this.
Extracurriculars:
Started a discussion group outside of school for Film, Poetry and Books with a membership of over 20 people from ages 15 to 22.
I am the president of my Junior Statesmen of America chapter.
I have participated very actively with a local political organization for two years.
I was a leading role in my school's musical.
I have a blog on philosophy, ludology and plays with over one hundred lengthy posts.
I have made a fully-functioning story-driven video game based on a work by Plato.
I don't know if this counts, but I am remarkably well-read for my age and am thoroughly well-versed in the Western Canon.
I founded my school's Quiz Bowl team which, in the year of its founding, ranked second in the state.
I am, by all accounts, a fairly talented visual artist, though this is not a talent I very much wish to pursue.
One hundred hours of community service at the city I live in's largest library branch.
Member and participant in Communist Party of America.
Either spent summers in India, simply soaking in culture, or working full-time at a grocery store. Worked part time during the year to help pay bills for my private school.
Prolific (but unpublished) filmmaker and writer. Four short films of ten to twenty minutes, countless short stories and philosophical essays.
Rudimentary knowledge of programming, Python language.

Interests: I am interested in the humanities, specifically philosophy.

I was wondering if, 1. My GPA would be extremely detrimental to my chances at most schools, and, 2. Which colleges any of you think might be a good fit for me.

Thank you very much for any help you may offer.
Post edited by ThePinko on
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Replies to: Mid-Level GPA, High SATs?

  • SeattleBulldogSeattleBulldog Registered User Posts: 1,152 Senior Member
    Your GPA is perfectly fine, in fact I think you can get in to some Ivy League schools.
    Schools to consider:

    Harvard( best philosophy program in the WORLD)
    UC Berkley
    NYU
    Princeton
    UMichigan
    Rutgers( good philosophy)
    UT Austin
    Brown
    UNC Chapel HIll
    UPitts
  • WaverlyWaverly Registered User Posts: 2,669 Senior Member
    A private school that sends three or four to ivies, even if the class size in 30, is not among those considered very competitive.

    If you are top 25%, you are not looking at ivies, and anything top 25 will be a reach. Even when schools don't rank, they give grade distribution data which all but tells your rank.

    You will get into very solid schools, but not very top ones.
  • ThePinkoThePinko Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    Hold on, I'll be more specific, and I'll include Stanford in my listing. Each class consists of about fifty students.

    One to Stanford.
    One to Brown.
    Two to Columbia.
    One to Penn.
    One to Dartmouth.
    One to Cornell.
    One to Yale.
    None to Harvard.
    None to Princeton.

    So my estimate was actually quite inaccurate. Eight out of fifty students went to Ivies or Stanford, just in 2011. But my school's tendency is toward the counterculture. As such, many students prefer to avoid Ivy League institutions, opting instead for schools like Carleton, which receives five or six acceptances a year, or Williams, which receives two to three. University of Chicago is also popular, accepting about four students yearly. One of the downsides of attending a school with such a small class size is that thoughts and opinions may often become inbred, leading many students to apply to the same or similar colleges. But I ramble. Thank you for your thoughts.
  • WaverlyWaverly Registered User Posts: 2,669 Senior Member
    That's very competitive certainly, but there are many private schools sending 35% to ivies plus (plus being Stanford and MIT). I was a college counselor at one of those schools for a decade. Being top 25% did not get our kids into very top schools. Very good schools like Carleton, but not ivies, Amherst, Williams top.

    At most elite private high schools, a large number of those getting into top schools are legacies, recruited athletes and URMs. It's very, very competitive for the unhooked.

    And yes, at elite privates, the kids all apply to the same few schools. Multiple your school by a few hundred and the top 30 Universities and top 25 LACs see a LOT of kids who are from schools very much like yours. The Carletons, Mac, Bates, Colorado Colleges will go very deep into the class.
  • ThePinkoThePinko Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    I see. Thank you very much for your input.
    I believe my essay will be the strongest part of my application. Would you be able to help me determine how much sway the essay may have, especially with my less-than-optimal grade point average? Any help would be much appreciated.
  • WaverlyWaverly Registered User Posts: 2,669 Senior Member
    Essays are the tie breaker for those with the stats. Every top school has a ton of top 2%/2350's they have to reject.
  • ThePinkoThePinko Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    Again, thank you very much for your help, and I appreciate the contribution of your unique insight on the subject.
    I will be frank: I do not want to go to Carleton.
    My top choices as of now are all highly selective, and after many hours of research, I believe I can compete with other applicants in every area excluding my grade point average or class rank. Is there any way that I could, with the seven or eight months left before I begin the application process, make myself a competitive applicant for top-tier schools?
  • WaverlyWaverly Registered User Posts: 2,669 Senior Member
    The bottom line truth is rank is king in college admissions. I'm doubting you can get into a top school next year. BUT, you are the type of student who makes an excellent transfer to a top school. A couple of years at the best school you can get into (which will be pretty darn good) and transfer to a top 10.
  • ThePinkoThePinko Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    Another thing I was considering was taking a gap year and living in Hyderabad, India at the YMCA, simply reading, participating in an orator's club and developing intellectually. Would a gap year and essays rewritten expressing my newly-acquired knowledge be helpful, at all?
  • WaverlyWaverly Registered User Posts: 2,669 Senior Member
    Why don't you take 2 gap years and start a national program that brings the great philosophers to inner city children across the nation? Recruit a couple of hundred students, write a curriculum and roll it out. Then you may have something.....
  • ThePinkoThePinko Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    I'm sorry, but I don't think sarcasm was entirely necessary. I apologize if I was irritating or came off as desperate, but your post gave an impression of overt rudeness!
    I'm honestly hurt.
    I've learned all I wish to learn from you. I would prefer our correspondence end here.
  • WaverlyWaverly Registered User Posts: 2,669 Senior Member
    I was quite serious. What I described was sincere and my thoughts on what might get you into a top college.
  • SDonCCSDonCC Registered User Posts: 2,373 Senior Member
    If you can get (or stay) in the top 25%, then I think you have a great shot at any school with about a 25% or higher acceptance rate. Unless you offer some uniquely desired demographic or recruited skill if you're not in the top 10% then the unis and LACs with the highest selectivity are out of your reach, IMO.

    Before you set your sights too high OR too low -- have you checked your school's Naviance?

    Your stats also show why class rank (or general percentile) are really important and not just GPA -- in our school district, your GPA would easily put you in the top 10%, and even higher if we ranked!
  • ThePinkoThePinko Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    Yes, I have seen my Naviance. Kids with my stats have gotten into basically all the Ivies excluding Yale, Harvard or Princeton, and (I know them personally, since it's quite a small school) were not "hooked" in any way.
    However, it will certainly be more of a struggle to get in with my class rank. My SAT score is probably the highest or in the top three of students from my school this year, and I hope to up it further with a retake in May.
    I would obviously address the fact that my ranking would only put me in the top 25 percent in my essay or application, and I've maintained a 4.0 for Junior year, and plan to maintain one for the first quarter of my Senior year. I don't know if you can call it an upward trend, but after a very largely apathetic (A-Minus Range), effortless Freshman and Sophomore year, I finally began to understand the importance of putting the extra effort in; I realized it would be very important in the college search process. I feel that it is clear from my test scores (and will be clear from my essay) that I HAVE acquired knowledge from my studies, probably more than my peers. I simply did not put in the effort necessary in terms of class assignments or participation (my assignments were almost always late and I spoke infrequently in discussion) to turn my A-'s into A's.
    Quite honestly, I'm frustrated with the entire system. GPAs don't solely show a student's academic performance. Favoritism runs rampant in the grading process, and someone who is simply earnest in their attempts will be able to rank very highly. I, for instance, know a student with a 4.0, but 1500 SAT and 22 ACT, with comparably low scores in the subject tests of the very subjects he/she had gotten A's in! I find it somehow... unjust that simply due to a mild apathy and an arbitrary minus here or there that some schools may consider me less intellectually wealthy than my peers. If my school were to rank SAT scores, I would be in the top 5%... but, alas, they do not. Consider this overlong sadsack moping fit finished.
    O woe is me!
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 36,037 Super Moderator
    I find it somehow... unjust that simply due to a mild apathy and an arbitrary minus here or there that some schools may consider me less intellectually wealthy than my peers
    It seems that the person with the 4.0 has less apathy and is more engaged in his/her education. Why should a top school choose you for a slot when you are apathetic? You intend to choose schools based purely on perceived prestige. And you're a communist? How does that reconcile with your prestige focus?
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