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Low GPA but okay test scores and ECs: where do I look?

mohagenkamohagenka 11 replies12 threads Junior Member
Hi! I wanted to drop my stats, ECs, etc. on CC and maybe get some opinions from others on where would be realistic fits/matches for me.

I have two older sisters, both of whom attended Cornell, and for the longest time my parents sort of lumped me in to applying there too. I love Cornell, but it is obviously selective, and I'm looking for school suggestions that would be more realistic matches than reaches.

Rising senior, will graduate with 11 APs (2 Sophomore, 4 Junior, and 5 Senior year) and 6 Honors.
Cumulative GPA will be around 3.6 UW and pretty high W because of APs. **I know this GPA is a bit low but I failed a class sophomore year and got a bunch of B's because I was out of school for 1.5 months for medical reasons.
33 ACT (36 36 Reading and English, 29 29 Math and Science)
Took SAT IIs but still waiting for results

Editor of school news magazine
Treasurer last year and editor of school literary magazine
Forensic speech and debate club
Managing editor of a midsize print + online magazine (not going to name for privacy lol)
Arts and culture staff writer for large online magazine
Paid contributor/writer for large entertainment website
Poetry won National Silver Medal w/ Scholastic Art and Writing Awards + National American Voices Award and multiple Gold Keys regionally
Poetry published in smallish literary journals
Work: I write product descriptions for a glasses company lol
Volunteering: Children's Museum, and a nonprofit that teaches special needs children to ride horses
Athletics: Horseback riding for 8 years

My GPA is pretty low for most selective schools I think, but I feel like my ECs and test scores aren't TOO bad. I would like to study English in college.
I considered ED at Cornell but I think my grades are a little low.

Where are some good matches for me with this gpa/score combo? I have considered Emory as a super reach, and U Miami, Bucknell, Syracuse, and Rochester as slight matches.
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Replies to: Low GPA but okay test scores and ECs: where do I look?

  • aquaptaquapt 2449 replies51 threads Senior Member
    It seems to me that you have recovered well from the earlier dip in grades and done well with a rigorous courseload. If you have a strong counselor recommendation that explains the medical reasons for your earlier setback, your sophomore grades may not hurt you that much. But anything that makes your record/situation more unusual introduces more uncertainty into the equation, so it's smart to assemble a list of colleges you could be happy with, at a range of competitiveness.

    Is it important that your school have equestrian programs?

    It seems to me that your current list leans a bit toward schools that are strong in STEM, business, and pre-professional programs. When you say you want to major in English, are you thinking of it as a pre-professional major (i.e. law school, business school, etc. after undergrad)? Are you hoping to do some sort of writing for a living? Or do you hope to be a literary scholar, pursue a PhD track, teach, etc?

    Are you particularly drawn to mid-sized or larger universities, as your list would suggest, or might you consider smaller LAC's?

    How do you feel about women's colleges? Even if a larger U is what you want, you could also achieve this by applying to schools like Barnard, which is part of Columbia. (And NYC could be a great place to be if you want to get internships in editing/publishing.) Scripps, Smith, and Mt. Holyoke are also members of larger consortia, which Scripps being particularly closely integrated (both campus-wise and cross-registration-wise) with the other Claremont Colleges. These can be particularly great places to study literature and writing.

    FWIW, looking at a list of undergrad institutions that produce future PhD's (can't post link because of CC's overenthusiastic spam filters) the top PhD-feeders in English are:
    St. John's
    Bryn Mawr

    There are quite a few schools on this list that you'd be competitive for even *without* an explanation for the weak spots in your transcript. Some other possibilities to consider would be Macalester, William & Mary, UMichigan, Hamilton (esp. for creative writing), and Colorado College. Earlham College, which has the only student-run equestrian co-op http://earlham.edu/equestrian/the-cooperative/ could be another nice safety, in addition to Rhodes from the PhD list.

    I honestly feel that if you have strong counselor and teacher recommendations to back you up, and essays that demonstrate
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    All good above. It does include a range from safeties to reaches. I'll second, in particular, Kenyon, William and Mary, and Rhodes. Also Macalester. Just hung out with a friend whose daughter does equestrian at Connecticut College. Richmond is fairly in line with the schools on your list. Good luck!

    P.S. Google Kenyon College famous alumni--the list of writers is pretty incredible for a small LAC.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2449 replies51 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    (Whoops, very end of my post did not save, and too late to edit. But you get the idea. Essays that demonstrate your potential as a writer, etc.... you will be a strong applicant.)
    edited June 2018
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  • mohagenkamohagenka 11 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Thank you both for the suggestions!

    A lot of those schools / pretty much all of those schools are ones that I had actually previously considered but wrote off for being too selective. It's nice to see that you guys consider them matches for me lol makes me feel a little less doubtful. (I also did happen to visit Barnard this past spring break and really loved it.)

    Do you happen to have any suggestions for larger schools? I do like the LACs a lot but also wouldn't mind at least looking for/applying to some larger schools (not even necessarily huge research universities)

    Thanks again!
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  • merc81merc81 11875 replies203 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    This article on "literary" colleges includes both small and large schools and might offer you a few ideas: http://flavorwire.com/409437/the-25-most-literary-colleges-in-america.
    edited June 2018
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    William and Mary has over 6000 undergrads! The English department is in Tucker Hall, which is a cool old building on the old quad, which is nice. It would be something of a reach--can't really say how much--but it would certainly be reasonable for you to apply. Unlike most public universities, it is ED, not EA. I really like Ithaca, but Williamsburg is nicer (just sayin'). Visit if you can!

    Oberlin is a little bigger LAC, I think. Cleveland is really a pretty good city for students/young professionals. Vassar has reasonable access by train to NYC. Reed is a small LAC but Portland has LOTS to offer. Another one, Holy Cross in Worcester. It's a college town with HC, WPI, Clark, Becker, etc. Has improved a lot in last decade or so with lots of redevelopment. I can't speak to English department specifically, but in general academics are as good as ANY school. Hour or so by commuter train to downtown Boston.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2449 replies51 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    Well, if you like NYC you could also look at Fordham and NYU.
    And BU could be a good choice if you like Boston.
    And USC in LA could be worth a try.
    (As well as Emory, which is definitely worth an application, particularly if you apply to the Oxford College option as well as Arts & Sciences, to maximize your chances.)
    edited June 2018
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  • jamesk2014jamesk2014 289 replies0 threads Junior Member
    check out smu - you'll get scholarship and I also considered similar schools.
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  • mohagenkamohagenka 11 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Do you think BU,USC, NYU are too far of reaches? I know it doesn't hurt to try, but i feel like USC especially is kind of out my reach.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2449 replies51 threads Senior Member
    Paging @CADREAMIN - thoughts?

    USC isn't *quite* as selective as Cornell, which dropped to a 10.3% admit rate this year.
    They do make a fair number of spring-admit and guaranteed-sophomore-transfer offers, and you might be the kind of applicant they'd go that route with, since your ACT is right about at their median and your GPA is below... and those alternative admit paths let them accept an applicant without counting their stats in the entering class stat-pool.

    Also, unrelated thought, but as to writing product descriptions for a glasses company... I feel like there's a really good essay in there somewhere...!
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