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i'm worried i'm too average - what are my chances at top schools like ivies?

moonlitpoemsmoonlitpoems 24 replies1 threads Junior Member
I’m a current sophmore, and I'm curious about where I stand when it comes to top schools. I'm really worried that I’m too average.

I want to go into a STEM field, so my major will probably be something with engineering. I'm a bisexual, Asian female, and I might include my sexuality in my essay, as I've heard it can be useful.

Stats:
GPA: 4.76 weighted, 3.8 unweighted.

I got a 1490 on my PSAT. I’m planning to take AP tests for AP Computer Science, AP Statistics, and AP US History, and subject tests for physics and math 2. I’m very good at all these subjects, and have already started studying for the tests and have great grades in the class.

Awards/ECs
-One national poetry award from Scholastic Art and Writing
-4 golds, 6 silvers, 8 honorable mentions, and an American Voices nomination from a region-at-large program for Scholastic Arts and Writing and won a few other contests
-Attended Interlochen Arts camp and part of Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth
-Published thrice in my school’s literary magazine
-Part of the school’s Speech and Debate club
-Mu Alpha Theta (math society) club
-Science National Honor Society
-National Honors Society
-DECA club, won districts for my event
-Violin for 10+ years, done many concerts and won awards for it, part of a prestigous Youth Symphony in my state
- Very active volunteer at a hospital with about 4 hours per week and volunteers as a mentor for homeless and disadvanted children
-Camp counselor for disadvantaged kids
- Takes extra classes for Computer Science at community college, long history of being involved in Computer Science
- Pre-IB student, all classes I have taken are IB, Honors, or AP

I’m also looking to get my poetry published places … we’ll see how that goes.
So.. can you please tell me a little about my chances? And if possible, could you give me some advice about where I can improve?

Thanks for your time!
19 replies
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Replies to: i'm worried i'm too average - what are my chances at top schools like ivies?

  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 1151 replies112 threads Senior Member
    edited February 18
    There is nothing wrong with being average. However, you are far from average. You are easily among top 10% of bright and hard working youth of this world.

    If you keep doing as well as you are, you are more than likely to get in a couple of T20 colleges.
    edited February 18
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6416 replies1 threads Senior Member
    Do not worry about being too average. It sounds like you are doing what you want to do and doing it very well. That is exactly what you should be doing.

    You should however think hard about what you want in a university or college.

    You should also find two schools that are good safeties. Often it is easier for very strong students (such as you) to find reaches since your reaches are likely to be very famous universities. However, good safeties and matches are also important.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    Hard to tell. There’s a lot of info here on activities but not much on coursework, which is much more important.

    The weighted GPA being nearly a full point higher tells me it’s a non-standard weighting system so it’s hard to tell much. A 3.8 would be below average for most Ivy applications.

    It’s also very early to be developing any solid predictions.
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2885 replies8 threads Senior Member
    One way to get poetry published is to sing it with a heavy metal guitar :) Either way you're doing great. These schools have a 5% admissions rate. It's worth an application, but it's nothing to stress over. If you manage to get in, there's also the question mark of affordability. You can't rely on generous financial aid to pay for tuition. If a school wrote off 200k for every student that couldn't afford it, they'd be bankrupt in a single semester. These schools cater to the wealthy, not the brilliant.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2527 replies21 threads Senior Member
    I appreciate the title of the thread. Three points:

    1. You're doing great and clearly have a deep interest in your ECs. Those will help you attain admission into a great school, but do them for you. Don't be consumed with what you think a school wants. If they want you, they want you, but give them you. You'll enjoy life far more doing what you love.

    2. Although it's important to think about college, don't be so focused on your future that you forget to enjoy your present. High school can (and should) be a great time in your life. Unfortunately, so many kids are hyper focused on the next thing, they don't get to enjoy what they're doing. Try to keep at least one foot firmly in the current bucket and you'll have fond memories later in life. (a little secret - you're the type of person who will ultimately get where you want to go anyway. Enjoying the present is just a lot more fun along the way - and fun is important!)

    3. Ivies and top schools are so selective, and appear to be quite random. You can't control that. Each yr they will decline many kids with perfect grades / test scores, interesting ECs, etc. Your future isn't tied to or defined by admission into XYZ School. A Harvard AO stated H could replace the entire admitted class with the next group (that wasn't admitted) without losing any academic rigor, accomplishment, etc. So, it's basically impossible to navigate how to gain admission to these schools.

    Just continue doing excellent work, stay active in the things that bring you joy, and enjoy the ride. It will all fall into place because you determine your success.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10420 replies574 threads Super Moderator
    OP, you’re a strong student, so keep up the good work and you should have plenty of nice options for college. As you know, most applicants to top colleges will be strong students. Being bisexual is not a hook, and being Asian makes you ORM. Without some other compelling reason for mentioning your sexuality, how is it relevant to your application? Being LGBTQ isn’t a tip these days and there’s no box to tick on the application to indicate your sexuality.

    I think it’s a little disingenuous to say you are too average, as you are clearly a talented writer, and that’s what I think you should emphasize in your app.

    @CupCakeMuffins , telling this poster that she is “more than likely to get in a couple of T20 colleges” is not helpful. As it stands, the OP has no official test score yet. The GPA is good, but for tippy top schools, many successful applicants will have higher UW GPA’s. The OP is a sophomore and has her whole junior year ahead of her. Currently, she’s in a great position, but it’s still going to be critical to apply to a balanced range of colleges.

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  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 1151 replies112 threads Senior Member
    edited February 19
    Lindagaf wrote: »
    @CupCakeMuffins , telling this poster that she is “more than likely to get in a couple of T20 colleges” is not helpful. As it stands, the OP has no official test score yet. The GPA is good, but for tippy top schools, many successful applicants will have higher UW GPA’s. The OP is a sophomore and has her whole junior year ahead of her. Currently, she’s in a great position, but it’s still going to be critical to apply to a balanced range of colleges.

    She qualified for CTY at Johns Hopkins so likely scored well on 7th grade SAT and she recently scored a 1490/1520 on PSAT. She should be able to score well on SAT or ACT. She is a writer so can produce decent essays, looks strong in maths, doing well on EC front.

    As everyone else, few safety and matches should always be a part of a target list but if she keeps doing as well in academics and ECs as she has been, she is poised to break into T20 circle. Best of luck @moonlitpoems
    edited February 19
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3771 replies51 threads Senior Member
    You're on the right track. But there are no guarantees. Instead of focusing on the ivies, shift your attention to colleges where you are a good fit. LGBT will help if you frame it properly. Being ORM can sometimes be a detriment at the Ivies, as you've probably heard.
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  • udgam.yoloudgam.yolo 14 replies2 threads Junior Member
    There's nothing wrong with being average however, you are easily a student that is par average and with this work rate and commitment, I think you're set for one of the better schools in the country.
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  • cardsin20cardsin20 12 replies0 threads New Member
    Thanks to a combination of excess test prep ("Tommy has been a client since 8th grade) and immense parent snowplowing (not sure how you scored that bioresearch study with a two parent doctor household) there is an immense level of "achievement inflation" amon high schoolers. The 35+ ACT, 1550+ SAT and 4.0 GPA trifecta don't get you as far as it used to. As for NMS, max award now down to $5k - achievement inflation in action. And you can't impact whether you have a demographic diversiifer or tragic circumstance card to play. All you can do is be your genuine self and insure your effort and authenicity come through. These are the traits that are truly "above average"
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 2599 replies10 threads Senior Member
    look for schools where you can grow both the engineering and creative sides of you.

    Not OP but wondering if you (or others) have suggestions about good schools, reach and match, for someone like OP that you think would fit that description?
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  • sherimba03sherimba03 144 replies8 threads Junior Member
    edited February 22
    "As for NMS, max award now down to $5k - achievement inflation in action."
    @cardsin20 not true; DS21 is chasing a full CoA ride at University of Florida based on his NMSQT score. Lots of schools give full NMS rides or full tuition.
    edited February 22
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  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 1151 replies112 threads Senior Member
    NMS can still fetch several full ride or full tuition awards. However, none or little at top colleges who are focused on need aid.
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  • cardsin20cardsin20 12 replies0 threads New Member
    @cupcakemuffins - thanks - that is an important point -interestingly NMS didn't garner full ride in my state (about 75% total TRB). Have receive some unsolicated invites with offer of full ride from some other oos state schools and am taking a closer look now.

    You're right about increasing focus on need aid (like this weeks USC story free tuition for those unde $80k) Unfortunately this trend squeezes out the middle and mostly limits top tier schools to the elite and the impoverished (unless you want to pay $150k out of pocket over 4 years). Schools have gotten really good at pricing - then discouting (xyz $30k merit award) their total costs so the final sticker is in mid 30's. Tried NPCs at about a dozen oos colleges this winter an amazing how they all came within a few thousand$$$ of each other between $30-$40k. Those college administrators are a shrewd bunch.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3244 replies74 threads Senior Member
    Colleges are far, far more interested in what turns you on intellectually, rather than what turns you on sexually.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1968 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Really not average at all. It's pretty rare to have such a strength in the arts coupled with high grades and stats. I think you would do fine in the top 20 schools range. The ivys are a stretch for all.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    edited February 23
    She qualified for CTY at Johns Hopkins so likely scored well on 7th grade SAT and she recently scored a 1490/1520 on PSAT. She should be able to score well on SAT or ACT. She is a writer so can produce decent essays, looks strong in maths, doing well on EC front.

    The totality of which adds up to zero for college applications, let alone “ more than likely to get in a couple of T20 colleges.” The cutoff to “qualify” for CTY courses from a 7th grade SAT is 840.

    Actually take the tests and score very highly, write some very good essays, then T20s may be slight reaches (as they are for pretty much everyone).
    edited February 23
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  • moonlitpoemsmoonlitpoems 24 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited February 23
    @Lindagaf @Groundwork2022 @collegemom3717 I realize reading my post now that I didn't phrase this right or explain it, that's my bad. My coming out story and experiences being bisexual is very emotional for me, and has influenced my writing and art in several ways, and I was going to focus on that aspect of it more in my essay. The "it can be useful part" was supposed to convey that I've heard that colleges generally don't discriminate based on the sexuality of the applicant, but I realize now it was quite poorly worded.
    edited February 23
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