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Can someone give me brutal advice on my chances?

CollegeApplier57CollegeApplier57 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
Can anyone weigh in on if they think I will get in? I would appreciate the input. BE BRUTAL. I know I will not get in, but I want to give it a shot.

From NJ
Middle Class
One parent is disabled, so only one is working and earning a wage.
I attend a well regarded High School

GPA: 3.7 Unweighted (I had a fairly rigorous schedule, not the hardest, but also not the easiest)
SAT: 1250 (The weakest point of my entire application)
Intern with State Senator
Intern with Congressman
Eagle Scout
NJ Boys State
NJ DECA Chapter President
Model United Nations - Member, Competitor, Secretary
NJ American Legion Oratorical Contest Winner on County level
NJ U.S. Presidential Scholar - National and State Nominee

Anticipated Major: Government (You can honestly probably assume by looking at my application, I believe my interest in government and actual experience within it is my "spike")

I have volunteered extensively with Scouting and other organizations. I would say that all told I probably have over 300 hours of volunteering.

Summer Activities:
Intern with my State Senator

-I got a rec letter from my DECA Advisor, I had him for a Business class as well. He speaks very highly of me so I think it was an amazing letter.
-My other letter was from an AP Gov teacher from Junior year. He was really great and liked me in class. I think this rec letter was a good letter (not as great as the one above).
-I got a 3rd rec letter from my State Senator that I interned with. He was really great. I worked really hard (I basically became a part-time staff member because I worked so much. Other staffers said that I was basically staff too). I hope this letter goes a long way with Harvard.
-I have a great relationship with my Guidance Counselor and I think she wrote a great recommendation.


I wrote an essay about Boys State and how that experience, before and after, made me a better person. I also discussed how the lessons I learned from Boys State have made me a better person.

I am writing a supplement on how hard I worked as an intern and how my initiative made me successful in that position.

My other supplement will discuss how I play a political game in my free time with people from all around the world. The game requires a lot of strategy and political knowledge to be successful. The game has over 2000 people play it probably, I was the leader of a country within the game that had 500 people in it. This is a quirky experience of mine and probably a little risky but I think it adds to my personality and shows my deep interest in government.

My last supplement will discuss my leadership experience, my leadership style, and what I would plan to do as a leader at Harvard. I really want to stand out with this essay so if anyone has any recommendations I would greatly appreciate it. I need something to stump the admissions board, so if you are willing to give some suggestions on how to do so I am open to anything. I see a lot of people become salty or jealous of kids who "do not deserve to get in", and I might get the same comments but I am almost certain I will be rejected.


Replies to: Can someone give me brutal advice on my chances?

  • aunt beaaunt bea Registered User Posts: 9,530 Senior Member
    SAT is 1250 which will limit where you can get in. Harvard will be a reach because of your score and narrowness of ECs.
    Your EC's are all government based except for the Boy Scouts.
  • CollegeApplier57CollegeApplier57 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    edited December 2018
    @aunt bea does just the narrowness of my EC's limit my chances? I would think that while my experience is narrow its breadth and density would actually make it better. I would understand narrow EC's if I only had a few but I have quite a few.
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 582 Member
    Well, its possible with an SAT 1250, but difficult. You literally have to be a national level political activist like David Hogg. He was accepted by Harvard REA last week after he took a gap year with political campaigns.
    He was rejected by UCLA and several other schools last year with an SAT 1270, but reapplied to Harvard REA this fall with a better resume, and was successful.
    Good luck to you.
  • CollegeApplier57CollegeApplier57 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    @jzducol I am no national activist and if I get rejected from Harvard I have no plans to take a gap year. I have heard of others get into Harvard with a 1240 SAT but I do not know any other information from their application. Did that persons parent donate money? Have amazing Extracurriculars? Or was just a truly good person and deserved to get in? I do not know for sure, but that is why I am seeking the advice of others.
  • CollegeApplier57CollegeApplier57 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    So, my rec from my State Senator will not help in your opinion? I guess for me to be a “hooked applicant” I need to have something on myself. Well, I am not a recruited athlete and neither of my parents are doctors. Do you think they will almost instantly throw out my application due to my SAT score. I know they may not “throw away my application” but I only mean that metaphorically.
  • suzy100suzy100 Registered User Posts: 5,504 Senior Member
    I also think the SAT score will be very difficult to overcome.
  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,584 Senior Member
    edited December 2018
    So, my rec from my State Senator will not help in your opinion?

    No, it will not help. When Admissions receives such a letter, it often demonstrates how "well connected" the student's family is, rather than say anything meaningful about the applicant.

    For example: Are you a student that constantly raises your hand, or are you a shy student that makes insightful comments but needs to be called upon? Do you lead classroom discussions? Does your writing go beyond the constraints of the assignment? Are you respected by your peers and teachers? Are you wise beyond your years? Are you the kind of student who will be remembered for years to come after you graduate? Are you the kind of student that might change the world?

    Those are the key questions that Admissions seeks to learn from your LoR's. Can your State Senator answer any of those questions? What will they say about you? "@CollegeApplier57 was an intern for my office and s/he answered phones (or whatever you did) and I highly recommend them to Harvard." That kind of letter is not helpful. In fact, my suggestion is to not send a recommendation letter from your State Senator, as it demonstrates that you don't think your teacher recommendations will be strong enough and are searching for anything that you think might give you an edge.

    Do you think they will almost instantly throw out my application due to my SAT score.

    Selective colleges use test scores to gauge how well an applicant might handle the reading, writing and math work load on their campus. The HIGHER your test score, the LESS likely an Admissions Director will question "If I admit this kid, will they struggle on my campus?"

    A 1250 SAT score indicates you would struggle to keep up with the work load on Harvard's campus. A 1250 SAT indicates you would not be an 'A' student or even a 'B' student, and most likely would be a 'C' or 'D' student. Admissions is going to have big-time reservations and will not want to set you up for failure. So, IMHO, they will set your application aside and not consider you a serious applicant for the college. However, increase your score 300 points and Admissions is not going to have those same thoughts.
  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 Registered User Posts: 798 Member
    With your stats, I would look at American University or George Washington University in DC for political science/government.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 4,723 Senior Member
    I agree with others that your SAT is very low for Harvard. Your unweighted GPA is sort of okay, but is not going to make up for the SAT.
  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl Registered User Posts: 2,765 Senior Member
    You are setting yourself up for disappointment, be kinder to yourself! You already know your chances are miniscule, you said it in your original post. This appears to be a dream for you and there is nothing wrong with that but be realistic. The chances you will be rejected are 99% imho. Why do that to yourself? Even if you were to get in,you are going to have difficulty finding academic peers, difficulty struggling in classes, again...why do this to yourself?

    For reference only, my D had considerably better stats, Girl Scout Gold Award, attended Girls State, and from all accounts had great references. She was rejected by several schools that fall a tier below the IVYs (none of which she applied to btw). You're a smart kid, look at the numbers.

    Congrats on your Eagle Award and your other accomplishments, don't dismiss how well you've done to this point but don't confuse your dream of Harvard with reality.
  • CollegeApplier57CollegeApplier57 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    @NEPatsGirl Do not get me wrong, I know I am going to get rejected. My post is really just to gauge where I stand, but my SAT score is going to screw me over and I am aware of that. I will not be disappointed when I get rejected because I am already almost certain it is going to happen.

    @gibby Well, I am not well connected at all. My family has no political ties or interest in my community. I worked really hard to get the internship, and I worked really hard during the internship. I did not even consider asking them for a rec letter because I thought it was outside of the realm of possibility or that it may hurt me in the admissions process as you said, but then they offered to write me one and I could not pass that opportunity. Is there any way that I can explain that to admissions? That I am not politically connected and essentially founded these connections on my own?

    Also, I think that the REC letter from my State Senator can answer a lot of the questions that you mentioned. I do not mean to sound like a dick, but people I worked with at the Senate office said that I was "wise beyond my years" or "an old soul". In fact, in one of my prompts, I discuss how I was not like any other intern, I was given many of the same responsibilities as other staff members. Also, I think that my teacher rec's will be very strong, but I feel like the Senator's rec can show my determination and work ethic outside of school.

    I also tend the be the student who makes insightful comments, but I do not always make them (In all honesty, it depends on which class I am in). I also feel that I am pretty well respected by my peers and teachers. I always try to be a conscientious and hard-working student, and I believe people respect me for that.
  • aunt beaaunt bea Registered User Posts: 9,530 Senior Member
    edited December 2018
    I will not be disappointed when I get rejected because I am already almost certain it is going to happen.
    Is there any way that I can explain that to admissions?
    You have not convinced yourself that you won't get in.

    If you already know you will be rejected, why are you pleading with people ^ to reverse their opinions on this forum regarding your chances, SAT and your LOR?

    There are only so many seats at Harvard.
    Most of them have already been taken by hooked applicants: recruited athletes, legacies, celebrities, donors and URM's.

    Most of the HS valedictorians will apply (I believe there are 37K HS in the US). Every international student who believes he/she deserves a spot at Harvard will apply.

    . . . can someone give me brutal advice on my chances?

    The BRUTAL advice is that you don't want to hear it.
    Reality is that your SAT is low, and the class level of performance, at Harvard, is at least 300 points higher.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,188 Forum Champion
    edited December 2018
    I don't think you are listening. Nobody here is disparaging your ability as a student, your conscientiousness, your work ethic, how well respected you are or anything like that. However, you asked one question and it was about your chances to get into Harvard. The facts are:

    -For last year's class Harvard admitted 2.024 students out of 42,749 applicants for an acceptance rate of 4.7%. This means that over 95% of applicants were not admitted.

    -Harvard does not have enough room for to accept all of the exceedingly well qualified applicants. Every single part of the application needs to be truly outstanding to have a real chance of admission.

    -Your standardized test score of 1250 puts you well below the 25th percentile for Harvard.

    -Elite colleges such as Harvard will want to see your guidance counselor check the box on the letter of recommendation saying you have taken the most rigorous schedule available at your HS. Based on your first post, your schedule will not fall into this category.

    --Even for colleges that practice holistic admissions academics are tremendously important. Barring a major hook (such as being a recruited athlete) strong ECs do not make up for academics (to include GPA, course rigor, standardized tests) that are below average for that particular college.

    So for these reasons it does not appear that you will have any kind of reasonable chance to be admitted to Harvard. If you want to apply that is your prerogative-- go ahead and give it your all. But IMO your time and energy should be invested in finding a more reasonable reach school or two as well as a number of solid match and safety schools that appear affordable (run net price calculators) and that you would be excited to attend.
  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 Registered User Posts: 798 Member
    To be honest, if the goal was to give yourself a chance at Harvard, i would have cut back on some of the ECs and used that time to study for months on your SAT to get that score up into the 1500’s.
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