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LA Colleges that consider "upward trajectory"?

calycanthuscalycanthus 8 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12 New Member
My son had poor to luckluster grades his first two years at an intense NYC public high school (Stuyvesant). (Average was 85, but all over the place--a few Cs, others in the mid-90s; he would work hard when the course interested him, then blow off stuff like health and art that he found boring.) Combination of anxiety and idiocy. Junior year, average is in the 90s. SATs 780, 800. He's also a baseball pitcher, hoping to play college ball. His top-choice schools are Oberlin, Vassar, Wesleyan, Macalester. Most of those places probably accept kids who have straight As. But does anyone know if any of those are likely to accept a kid who started slow but got his act together?
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Replies to: LA Colleges that consider "upward trajectory"?

  • hophop 957 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 959 Member
    Check out some the schools Colleges That Change Lives site.
    For those schools already on his target list, remember that many school love an 'upward trend.'
    Your son should start considering how he might demonstrate interest in the school, even if it's just to contact the coach in his sport.
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  • CorbettCorbett 3434 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited April 2018
    My guess is that he would get serious consideration at all of those schools. Yes, he would competing against other applicants with higher GPAs at all of these school, but the upward trend plus the stellar SATs and baseball experience could compensate. So I don't think that the GPA is disqualifying. On the other hand, all of these schools reject most of their applicants, so I wouldn't say that acceptance is "likely" at any of them.

    My advice would be to apply to those top-choice schools, but look for additional options as well, including some that are less selective. Based on the top choices, your son seems to be leaning towards the artsier/funkier end of the LAC spectrum. Possible additions might include Reed, Occidental, Skidmore, Bard, or Connecticut College. A couple other points to note:

    1. Some LACs have a shortage of men in their applicant pool and give them a boost in admissions. Vassar, for example, had a 27% overall acceptance rate for Fall 2016 -- but it was really 23% for women and 38% for men.

    2. LACs typically value geographic diversity, but most applicants want to stay close to home. So schools like Vassar and Wesleyan are flooded by highly qualified applicants from NYC and the associated LI/NJ/Westchester suburbs. They will (informally) set a higher standard for NYC applicants, in order to maintain some geographic balance in their class. In contrast, a school like Occidental or Macalester would love to enroll more students fro NYC.
    edited April 2018
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  • merc81merc81 9917 replies144 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,061 Senior Member
    His top-choice schools are Oberlin, Vassar, Wesleyan, Macalester. Most of those places probably accept kids who have straight As.
    I'm not sure that this is true. Wesleyan, for example, states through their CDS that they enroll 40% from outside the top 10%. Still a tough admit, but maybe possible?
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  • CorbettCorbett 3434 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    Still a tough admit, but maybe possible?
    Top private colleges tend to draw from very competitive high schools -- e.g. private prep schools, public high schools in affluent suburbs, and urban "magnet" schools (like Stuyvesant). These schools have so many high-performing students that they can't all fit in the top 10%. So the privates tend to less concerned about GPA and class rank than many publics (e.g. the University of California system).

    So yes, Wesleyan is a tough admit for everyone, but I think it's worth a shot in this case. Nothing wrong with applying to reach schools, as long as you also have matches and safeties.
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  • calycanthuscalycanthus 8 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12 New Member
    Thanks so much, everyone. I gather then that it's perhaps not laughable for him to try for the four I mentioned (all of which we've visited). And we've got Reed, Oxy, Bard, and a couple Colleges That Change Lives on our "next up" list (Clark, maybe Whitman). Point taken about possible higher chances at the Midwest schools. Thanks again!
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