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are my ECs + awards strong enough for ivies/top-tiers?

inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
edited October 6 in What Are My Chances?
Hi! I'm currently a sophomore, so I know it's a bit premature to ask this, but I want to have time to improve/change my extracurriculars if they're not strong enough. I also know that it's a lot harder to answer my question since I can't really provide other stats (I haven't taken any standardized tests). Anyway, I just want to see if anyone has any advice.

freshman year W GPA: 5.6/6.3 (my school uses a weird scale, and AP's aren't available until junior year, which is why my GPA is unimpressive)

notes (if these help):
- I'm trying to present myself as a "storyteller" (focus in art/illustration and creative writing)
- caucasian, jewish, female
- from a highly competitive suburb
- I'm a legacy to Cornell and UPenn, sibling at Tufts
- dream is the Brown-RISD Dual Degree Program, also dreaming of Harvard, Yale, and Cornell

- virtual high school literature class (honors) - I'm currently taking this half-year class in addition to my regular course load at school (so I have to do all the work at home plus my 6 in-school classes), and as of now I have an A+

- national english honor society founder/president - my friend and I founded NEHS at our school this year and it will be officially up and running next year when we're juniors

- (paid) online peer ambassadorship (can't reveal website name bc it's too identifiable) - for 5 months, I am serving as 1 of 6 international teenage ambassadors to an online writing website; responsibilities include writing weekly peer reviews, conferencing with fellow ambassadors and website execs, and serving as exemplars for prompts

- varsity tennis athlete - team won our league, placed second in state championships this past year; I plan on participating for the next 3 years

- NaNoWriMo - every year I participate in and complete National Novel Writing Month, a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days

- instagram artist - multiple times a week, I post original digital art I've created to my art instagram account

- RISD teen certificate program (2D) - I've attended various teen art classes hosted by the Rhode Island School of Design. I only have one more class left to complete in order to earn my certificate, and I have A's/passes in every course

- local art studio - I've taken painting classes at a local art studio since elementary school. In addition to my own class, I am an assistant in a class for little kids

- local library volunteering - once a week I volunteer at my town's library, where I help with activities and do general housekeeping work

- habitat for humanity - I'm currently the secretary of my school's chapter, so I help manage forms and logistics and volunteer at the local ReStore


- High Honor roll every term so far
- Student of the Term freshman year
- one of my novels has won multiple community-hosted awards/competitions on a writing website
- my novella was longlisted in an international contest; in the same contest, it received an honorable mention from the community and was added to the ambassador's pick reading list
- on a writing website, I won Best Peer Review
- I am a "winner" of NaNoWriMo (and I plan to participate in the coming years too)
- honorable mention in a local essay contest
- I'm entering YoungArts with my novella and Scholastic Art and Writing with my novel + various art pieces, but results are not released until early next year

To anyone who bothered to read this far, sorry for boring you haha, but thank you so much! <3
edited October 6
21 replies
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Replies to: are my ECs + awards strong enough for ivies/top-tiers?

  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
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  • tdy123tdy123 860 replies16 threads Member
    As far as your GPA goes, highly selective colleges don't really care about how your HS calculates weighted GPA. They look at UW GPA, whether the "most rigorous schedule" box is checked by your GC, and for further context they look at the HS class report that comes along with every transcript giving details on how many kids take the more advanced classes as well as class grade and standardized test grade/score distributions.

    All your arts ECs are great for a first semester HS sophomore. What will they be like, and how will your portfolios look compared to RISD applicants (you have to be separately acceptable to Brown and RISD, so you need to be at the top both in academics and arts) in 2+ years? No way to know at this point.

    Even if they are and assuming you nail the academics over the next few years (at UPenn, for example, the average UW GPA is 3.9/4.0, 85% have a UW GPA of 3.75 or better, 96% were in the top tenth of their HS class, and the 75th percentile SAT is 1560) you are going to have a dilemma. If you pull down these stats, the legacy boost is real, but it only helps in the ED round. So, with numbers like that you'd probably have around a 30-40% or better shot ED at UPenn (and similar at Cornell) v no better than high single digits at the other schools RD. On the other hand, if your ED application is accepted, you'll never find out if you would have been accepted at the other schools.

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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks! As of now, my UW GPA is a 4.0 since I have all A's. Sorry to bother you with another question, but how can I determine if my GC considers my schedule "most rigorous"? Here are the classes I've taken so far:

    Freshman year classes (only allowed to take a max of 3 honors, no APs):
    Honors Painting (half-year elective)
    Honors Mandarin Chinese
    Accelerated Geometry (in my school, accelerated math is a level in between standard and honors, but it still feeds into AP Calc AB)
    Health/Gym (graduation requirement, half-year)
    Honors Physics
    World History

    Sophomore year classes (this year, max of 6 honors, still no APs offered):
    Honors Chemistry
    Honors World History
    Honors Drawing (half-year elective)
    Health/Gym (half-year graduation requirement)
    Honors Mandarin Chinese
    Accelerated Algebra
    Honors English

    Next year, only 2 AP's are allowed, so I plan on taking APUSH and possible AP Human Geography? Honors everything else except for math, which will still be accelerated level. Senior year I'm thinking of taking AP Calculus AB, AP English, AP Mandarin Chinese, AP 2D Studio Art, AP Psych, and either AP Bio (if I like it next year) or Honors Environmental Science.

    Yes, my issue with applying to UPenn or Cornell ED is that I want to apply to Brown early since it's my dream school (effectively getting rid of any potential legacy advantage, I'd assume).
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  • happy1happy1 23042 replies2276 threads Senior Member
    1. Please don't ask people to chance you as a sophomore. You just have one year of a GPA and no standardized tests.
    2. Your guidance counselor is the only person who can tell you if you are on track to have the "most rigorous" designation.
    3. FWIW Penn only gives an advantage to legacy applicants in the ED round (not sure about Cornell).
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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Hi! I know it's way to premature to ask for chances as a sophomore. I was really just trying to ask if I'm on the right track for the future, not if my stats right now are good enough to get me in.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7818 replies65 threads Senior Member
    You are on the right track.

    Note that for Cornell you will lose the legacy bump if you don’t apply ED.

    IMO you shouldn’t be focused on pinning your hopes on schools with such long admissions odds. Having a dream school is a recipe for disaster. Enjoy HS. Do the activities that speak to you. Next year start thinking about and exploring creating your match and safety list. There are plenty of amazing schools out there where you can thrive and be successful.
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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for your advice! Even though I have high dreams, I know that they're very unlikely based on admission odds, and I'm still going to enjoy high school and my activities either way.
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  • 1stTimeThruMom1stTimeThruMom 286 replies7 threads Junior Member
    I agree you are on the right track. Have you taken a look at the Brown CDS and their common app supplemental essays? Those would also give you a head-start. Read all you can about Brown to see if there are any tips that could help you. Do you think you could be a recruited athlete? If so, that would also help with admissions. The international peer advising sounds awesome! Think about challenging yourself to continue in a leadership position where you may have an opportunity to win a national award. Congrats on all your achievements!
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34803 replies392 threads Senior Member
    You list no hs activities except NEHS (no tip) and tennis. Ok, there's Habitat, but will you help with building? What shows engagement with peers?
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1605 replies30 threads Senior Member
    I actually like that you have goals and a target college. It keeps you focused and committed to being the best you can be in high school. Even if Brown doesn’t accept you in a couple of years, you will have challenged yourself to the fullest and this experience will stay with you into college and beyond.
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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for your feedback! I do participate in a few smaller clubs (Book Club, school's art and writing magazine, art for charity club) that I didn't list because they're not significant commitments. I agree that it's important to stay connected with my community, so I understand where you're coming from.
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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks! I don't think I'm good enough at tennis to be a recruited athlete, so, unfortunately, I don't think it will give me any boost in admissions (besides maybe making me seem more well-rounded). And hopefully I'll be able to ascend into more leadership positions once I'm an upperclassman.
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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thanks! I totally agree. I think having a dream school can be really motivational, as long as you realize that there are still tons of other possibilities.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34803 replies392 threads Senior Member
    edited October 13
    Also, the Brown RISD dual program takes very few kids. 15, for fall 2018. And Brown will want the right rounding.
    edited October 13
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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Sorry, what do you mean by the "right rounding"?
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2413 replies3 threads Senior Member
    That's a long list of ECs, and that has me worried. All too common, "Harvard motivated" kids pressure themselves to get perfect grades and be all things to all people to get a competitive edge. With only 24 hours in a day, the result is always the same. There's no time left for family or health, and you reach the law of diminishing returns. It's a very toxic way to live. There's only so much stress the human mind and body can handle before psychological and emotional trauma occurs, especially when kids haven't emotionally matured yet.

    Health is more important than dream colleges. I recommend scaling back the ECs, so you can keep balance. Even for an adult, that's hard to do. It's MORE important for you, because you're still maturing. There's over 1,000 colleges to choose from and there's always one that will be a great fit for you.
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  • inflorescentinflorescent 45 replies3 threads Junior Member
    As someone who sees a lot of my peers overworking themselves (or being forced to by their parents), I totally understand where you're coming from. Even with my EC's, I still try to have a good balance of free time (it's one of the reasons I chose not to go into Honors math; I knew it wasn't worth the stress, especially when I plan on going into the humanities in the future). So I appreciate your concern and advice, but I'm not too worried.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1799 replies11 threads Senior Member
    Continue what you're doing, make sure that your curriculum fulfills the requirements of a wide variety of colleges, and challenge yourself. You seem to be doing that already, so I would say that you should carry on, and focus on enjoying your present life. You only get to be young once, you know.

    You seem to be most interested in creative writing, which is good. There are a wide array of excellent programs in creative writing, in colleges with a aide range of acceptance rates, with the acceptance rate not being directly correlated to the quality of their creative writing program. So your dream college doesn't have to be one to which your chances of being accepted are slim to nonexistent.

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  • jym626jym626 56027 replies2918 threads Senior Member
    Do things because you enjoy them- not because they will look good on a resume.
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