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Asian with Bad Grades: Am I Screwed?

Cornellian2000Cornellian2000 26 replies5 threads Junior Member
Hello, I'm an Asian from a upper-class family coming from a state in the Mid-Atlantic. The odds are already not in my favor.

On top of that, my grades are far from perfect. I have a SAT in the 1400s, and while my school weighs GPA strangely, I think my weighted GPA is around a 4.2. I had a really rough freshman year following a death and struggled for a while to stay afloat, especially with other household issues going on, overcommitting to activities I've since dropped, and working at a restaurant. I definitely don't see that as a complete excuse because I know plenty of people who have gone through worse and still managed to do much better, but it really did shake me up. However, I know for a fact that if I were to redo high school right now, my grades would be completely different. Each year there has been an ascending trend, but I don't know if the upwards trend is steep enough.

My extracurriculars are decent. I created a nonprofit, have a position in the local government (not school), hold multiple leadership positions in a few clubs that I genuinely care about, I'm on track to be the only person from my team (in my event) to qualify for forensics nationals since the creation of the team decades ago (and basically rejuvenated the team), etc. I've also worked different jobs. I was purposely vague because of identity purposes, but I feel like my activities do reflect my interests in the social sciences, which is what I picked as my field.

My essays are pretty great too. I feel like they could have been even better, but I think they're still pretty decent. They touched on the struggles I underwent and how I've gotten better since then and grew from them. I also had a slight push for how I'm not the typical asian, but I don't know if they'll catch it.

My rec letters were probably okay. My 1st teacher's was probably an 8/10, my 2nd probably a 6-7/10, and my 3rd was probably a 15/10.

Will they even look at my application beyond seeing my grades and my ethnicity? I know they have a holistic review process, but if they're sorting through thousands of applications, I don't see why mine wouldn't just be dropped as soon as they find those two red flags. I have mediocre grades and no hook – not a URM or a legacy.

Sorry, just feeling really deflated. This whole process has been incredibly rough and I know it just sounds like I'm whining and I know everyone else is going through the same process, but I just feel like I've been spending the past years trying to climb out of the whole I dug my freshman year, but it's just not going to amount to anything anyway. I really want a fresh start because I intend on thriving and working my butt off in college, especially without having to worry about previous years pulling down my cumulative GPA. I know Harvard is going to have that type of environment that is going to push me to keep working harder and learn new things. I really don't want to come to a stall like I did in some of my years in high school.

I'll try to stay positive though. (#newyearnewme) Good luck to anyone else out there. I know the rest of the people applying to Harvard are probably much more qualified. Regardless of whether you get in or not, you're still all of the top students out there whether it be through academics or something else. Hope my post gave you a confidence boost as you compare your stats to mine, lol.

8 replies
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Replies to: Asian with Bad Grades: Am I Screwed?

  • angryeggoangryeggo 18 replies8 threads Junior Member
    i applied to harvard and my sat is 1410 lol but i have decent extracurriculars and GPA. we'll see what happens
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  • Materof2Materof2 260 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Good luck with Harvard. :)

    Meanwhile, did you exhaust other opportunities? I say that because even the perfect GPA + perfect SAT plus president of their senior class plus Captain of their varsity team students aren’t a shoe-in for Harvard.

    You may want to ask for advice here about other colleges to which the experts here would recommend. If you are a second semester HS Senior, and you want to add a few more colleges to your list, time is of the essence.
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  • Cornellian2000Cornellian2000 26 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @Materof2 Thank you! Yeah, I applied to a good mix of different schools. I've already been accepted to all of my safeties/schools that I would be alright with going to if I weren't to make it into some mega reach like Harvard.
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  • Cornellian2000Cornellian2000 26 replies5 threads Junior Member
    oops I meant hole*
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  • compmomcompmom 10924 replies77 threads Senior Member
    It's good that you have applied and been accepted to safeties, that you would be happy at. Don't stress about Harvard. Your position in local government sounds interesting. Human beings are not ranked hierarchically according to GPA- or admission to Harvard! Focus on what school you would attend without Harvard for now, and if a surprise comes in April, great- but no one can expect it.
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  • plurispluris 3 replies0 threads New Member
    My dad died my junior year. Though it didn't really impact my grades, my dedication to extracurriculars, work ethic, and relationships with my teachers suffered.

    I was hesitant to lean on the whole "deceased parent" thing in my college apps because I didn't want to sound like I was playing the pity card. However, I did mention it in my Harvard application and interview. After I was accepted, my admissions officer told me in a letter that she appreciated the sentiments I shared about my dad.

    Admissions officers are human, and they know that you're human too. Don't dwell on bad grades. Spend more time making sure your essays are authentic and compelling. Your government position, work experience, and club leadership all sound impressive. Good luck :)
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  • PianoWinterfellPianoWinterfell 189 replies16 threads Junior Member
    I totally feel you! We r literally in the same boat. My grades are also mediocre because of my family issues. I'm an international and transferred to a very hard high school in MA in 10th grade. But my ECs and essays are pretty decent. I'm so stressed out right now after going through this crazy process.... I know that Harvard has a holistic review process and Harvard alums have told me that Grades/Tests are 25% of what Harvard looks for, but I have a feeling that I don't have a chance considering how competitive the applicant pool is... Good luck to you though! Your ECs certainly look interesting!
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  • JerryjinJerryjin 16 replies0 threads New Member
    @PianoWinterfell @Cornellian2000 WE ALL ARE ON THE SAME BOAT !! I will be applying in the later years, wish you the best !
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