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Do I have a shot for ED?

keneeekeneee 8 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
edited July 20 in Duke University
Applying for Trinity, business-focused.
Hopefully, some of you can shed light on Duke's admission practices - how holistic are they, can good ECs overcome a subpar transcript
GPA: 3.6 but 3.7 (92) excluding gym which I almost failed due to tardies, B+/A- freshman year, A+/A sophomore year to B+ average in junior year - family & medical extenuating circumstances - just a bad year overall

SAT: 1560
SAT IIs: haven't taken yet
PSAT: 1490
Rank: not provided

I go to a sought-after private school that sends many, many (60%) kids to top 20s with a class size of under 100. Does not offer APs, but the classes are designed to be as difficult. I'd imagine I'm in the top half rank-wise because of my GPA.
Region: Northeast
Rec #1: from the best writer in the school, the head of the English department, probably good
Rec #2: from physics teacher, have some rapport, most likely average to decent
Counselor Rec: Not too good, parents made a big fuss with her and tried switching counselors twice, hopefully she at least covers my extenuating circumstances

Business ECs:
1. Founder & President of incorporated tech startup with team of ~10 for three years. Crowdfunding campaign led to $10k raised. We're working on getting some local press and competing for design awards.
2. Financial manager of web-based music review/analysis startup. Liaised with design company for a 5-figure deal, play an instrumental role in the development of the startup. It's run by ivy-league college students, if that matters.
3. Co-President of our school's entrepreneurship club, oversaw, mentored and helped fund a simple successful education-based startup that is used in two schools in our district
4. Developed a free inventory-management app for online vendors
5. Intern at venture capital firm - work directly with branch on researching and analyzing potential investments. Copyediting a book on venture capital written by branch head, to be published next year. Possible recommendation letter from him.
6 (?) Co-founder and President of financial literacy project for a specific community/demographic; we have created workshops that are undergoing review and curation by people in the finance industry whom my friend and I know personally, however, we haven't accomplished anything yet. We do have a website
7. Remotely volunteered (more like an unpaid internship) at a non-profit that provides resources for entrepreneurs in underprivileged communities
8. Unpublished chemistry-related research + paper + presentation in symposium at a renowned private research center
9. Selective STEM program, selective CS summer program, selective business program
edited July 20
21 replies
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Replies to: Do I have a shot for ED?

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6614 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    ECs will not "overcome" GPA for any top school. Both need to be stellar.

    That said, talk to your school GC. That person will be way better to give you advice if you have a shot at Duke than we can. They know the rigor of your school and the past acceptances.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28767 replies56 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Duke is relatively formulaic. Difficulty of courses, class rank/grades, recommendations, ECS, essay and Test scores. If you take SAT1, they want 2 SAT2 tests. For most applicants, the SAT score has the swing vote.

    If your school doesn’t provide a class rank, they compute one looking at your school profile. You should look at your school Naviance or any other college accept info your school has, and see what kind of grades are getting UNHOOKED applicants into top colleges.

    A problem with schools like yours is that it is difficult to assess who has a hook in the admissions process. Some of these schools have a lot of kids who have development, celebrity, legacy, friendship as well as special skill hooks that are not obvious to casual onlookers.

    What courses are you taking, what are your grades? Did you take any AP exams? A lot of these rigorous private schools do not have Courses designated AP but they still take the AP exams and do well on them. Are you one of such kids

    Your ECs are typical of what kids from high income and schools and area are showing.

    Your SAT scores will certainly give you a top mark. I don’t know if the subject tests scores are grouped in with test scores or course rigor/grades.
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  • TigerkatTigerkat 65 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited July 20
    Wow, you have amazing ECs! You should be proud of your accomplishments.
    edited July 20
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  • keneeekeneee 8 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited July 20
    I see. No, kids don't really do that in my school.
    My extracurriculars are typical? That's interesting, I have not seen such breadth in terms of leadership and involvement in other applicants to this tier of school. I am half URM and can be considered first-gen - did not include that in my original post to see where I stand unhooked. It's a very small sample size (~20) on Naviance but in the past 3 years no one under a GPA of 93.5 got in. My grades in math, physics and english are A- while history, spanish, health and PE grades are suffering at B+/B in junior year. straight As last year. I'm taking SAT2s next month. My courseload is the 2nd most rigorous possible as I will be taking the equivalent of AB, not BC, calculus next year. However, 3 of the 4 kids that got into Duke this year took that math class, so take it as you will
    edited July 20
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  • Nocreativity1Nocreativity1 1093 replies54 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 20
    I would read and watch this...

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/troyonink/2014/12/19/dukes-dean-of-admissions-who-gets-into-top-colleges-and-what-makes-the-difference/#1a8685983034

    My son was accepted two cycles back and we attended accepted students day. The Dean was very clear that it all starts with a pre screen on grades and then test scores before candidates are compared in relative holistic terms. He estimated about 50% of kids are eliminated before this second review. I believe he echos this approach in the video (haven't watched in a long time). Unfortunately your GPA looks a bit weak and not sure if the extenuating circumstances will carry the day but if so your ECs look great (consistent with kids at schools such as Duke).

    FYI my kid opted to go elsewhere but was extremely impressed with Duke. Great school! Good luck.
    edited July 20
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  • keneeekeneee 8 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited July 20
    @Nocreativity1 Thanks, that was very informative. Do you think it would be worth shooting an e-mail to the admissions office/my regional rep about grades/extenuating circumstances or is that considered cheeky?
    edited July 20
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  • Nocreativity1Nocreativity1 1093 replies54 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Informed advice on CC suggests that your guidance counselor address any special circumstances. I have read repeatedly that the student should not. I would think given the quality and size of your school that advice is particularly true.

    I am not however an expert.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33094 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Special circumstances are best addressed when the counselor can then boast how you "triumphed, despite." For TT colleges, with their number of highly accomplished applicants, just encountering challenges may not be enough.

    You listed ECs as if a job resume. Try not to do that on the college app. As for what you do show, it's not enough to solely list what pertains to the major, they all like depth *and* breadth. And a sense they're dealing with "a real kid," who'll fit and thrive, not just be aggressive in his own field.

    And, when you want a tippy top college, it really behooves you to scour the website for pertinent info. How else would you learn? So it pains me a bit to have to share this:

    https://admissions.duke.edu/application/overview
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28767 replies56 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your ECs would have been unusual 5-10 years ago. Now, I’m seeing many like your. No, it does not stand out, unless the results from them are truly outstanding. Most high school kids’ are not. They sore wonderful but not something assessed outside of a high school level as amazing.

    A lack luster LOR from the school can be damaging. I don’t know what your extenuating situation is so can’t say how much weight it will have. If you think it’s a game changer , have it mentioned in your teacher LOR.

    You either are URM or not. It is determined by the school based on what boxes you check on the application. At some schools Asian is URM. If you did not identify with those groups when you took your PSAT/SAT, it can bring up some question. Your test results are high enough that you should qualify for National standings in some of these ethnic groups. Also for Native American , tribal affiliations information could be requested. Depending on what URM you are, it could be a strong hook
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  • keneeekeneee 8 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited July 21
    asian and black, did put on all tests & in naviance

    also, for perspective, are you a parent, student or admissions officer?
    edited July 21
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28767 replies56 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I’m a parent of many children. Went through the process with each of them. Also have gone through the Admissions Process with a number of family members and acquaintances. Been on this forum for many years. Have read literally thousands of application profiles and “chance me” threads and hundreds of applications. I worked in an admissions office and financial aid office of a top 20 school many many years ago as a student assistant.

    Black URM status often is a hook and a game changer especially paired with good academic preparation and decent grades and test score.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33094 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    OP, the question isn't whether we have direct or insider experience. (I do.) That comes across as a bit defiant. YOU are the one who will apply and you need to be better informed. You should be trying to learn what Duke looks for. And making amends with your GC.

    Fact is, junior year is one benchmark. Courses get tougher (whether or not a hs offers AP) and top college adcoms want to see continued strength. There's no question of "how holistic" a tippy top is or whether lower grades get a bye if scores are strong. Oh, and based on some backstory about a family problem that caused those lower grades. (You still had time for those ECs.)

    The ECs are no doubt impressive in your hs. That's not what gets one into a TT college.

    And never forget that TT adcoms see tens of thousands of apps each year. Not only can they see through a lot of hs brags, but they know what they're looking for. It's not a job app.

    Make nice with your GC pronto. Not for an excuse, but for guidance and true support.
    Your choice
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  • OctagonOctagon 178 replies5 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @lookingforward I think it would be helpful to OP and the CC community to understand what you mean by "depth *and* breadth." I have been to admissions presentations and read that colleges don't want well-rounded kids. They are admitting a class of specialists of all sorts. So when you say breadth - can you elaborate on what you mean?

    Also, when you say that it isn't a job app - can you elaborate on that?
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33094 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Octagon , I can't imagine any top college ever saying they don't want "well rounded." What they DO say is, not the helter skelter of a string of random ECs, when a kid just assumes more is better. OR, when just picking activities thinking that founding something or getting some title is all it takes. "Leadership" is a quality, not titles. Or kids who skip activities related to their possible major, in favor of a string of non-related, because, "it's me."

    Depth obviously means how much you've done with your interests, Breadth boils down to more than just unilateral. You can read what even MIT says about unilateral. They're building communities and want kids who get past their own narrow academic or future career interests. They're putting kids together who have disparate plans, hoping they will engage with each other, try new things, grow.

    For a tippy top, not a collection of specialists- that can be a serious issue in your review. No hs kid is a specialist, anyway.
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  • MAmom111MAmom111 109 replies8 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I guess my question would be how did the extenuating circumstances effect your grades so dramatically but not your EC’s? Or did your EC’s take a hit junior year as well? My D had a major medical
    Issue sophomore year. She was able to maintain her grades, but had to drop her EC’s in order to do so. She just didn’t have time for all of her medical appts, rehab, homework and EC’s so she decided that her grades and her health had to be her top priorities. It also seems like your EC’s are heavily focused outside of your school, I’m not sure if Duke will wonder what you can add to the school.

    Again, I think your biggest hurdle will be getting past the first round with your grades. But if it is your top pick and you can afford it, there is no reason not to try. Unless you have another possible ED school where your chances might be higher. Good luck, it looks like you have accomplished a lot.
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  • keneeekeneee 8 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited July 22
    s
    edited July 22
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  • OctagonOctagon 178 replies5 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @lookingforward Thanks for the helpful clarification.
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  • keneeekeneee 8 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited July 22
    @MAmom111 Please DM me if you're interested in knowing
    edited July 22
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  • SchoolLover22SchoolLover22 19 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Can someone please tell me what naviance is?
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2333 replies5 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    "You can read what even MIT says about unilateral."
    It would depend on your definition of unilateral, MIT accepts a lot of kids who are well rounded academically sure, but unilateral when it comes to ECs, activities, and other things outside the classroom. They focus mostly on stem-related work - science fairs, Olympiads, research.

    "For a tippy top, not a collection of specialists"
    Well Stanford has a lot more specialists than generalists on campus. Whether it's the top-10 track and field sprinter or swimmer or top math, cs, literature students, they're specialists, and that's pretty much what they do when they're at Stanford.

    Anyway as CPT mentions, the OP has to get to the holistic review at these places, the urm/first-gen could do it anyway.
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