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How big of a deal are A minuses?

margeumargeu 38 replies20 threads Junior Member
Hey everyone,

I was deferred SCEA to Harvard. I have the highest GPA in my class, with only one A minus in my high school career so far (everything else being an A or A+, even in challenging classes). But this year, my classes grew to be significantly harder/not my strong suit (I'm a prospective Social Studies major), and I now have A minuses in AP Calc BC, AP Physics C, and Honors Creative Writing. I have just over a week left of the semester and raising these grades doesn't seem likely. Will this significantly harm my chances of getting into Harvard or other highly selective schools? (Since my deferral, I've acquired a pretty powerful letter of rec and am about to submit my letter of continued interest). Thanks!
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Replies to: How big of a deal are A minuses?

  • brobdingnagian17brobdingnagian17 75 replies19 threads Junior Member
    edited January 7
    Well, I got into Harvard REA with 46 A's, 5 B's, and 1 C as semester grades in my freshman through junior years (no excusable explanation, downward trend). So, I'm pretty sure they won't ding you for an all A-/A/A+ track record. You're pretty impressive, actually!

    Remember, Harvard scores you in the academic portion based brackets, so an A- wouldn't really change much.
    edited January 7
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  • NuancedNimbusNuancedNimbus 12 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited January 9
    Harvard values leadership above all else.

    I would say that you have a good academic profile, good enough to be considered for Harvard. What really matters now, however, are your essays and your extracurriculars.
    Did you show strong leadership in anything that Harvard will know about? Did you highlight a passion and take it forward (through leading an activity or something)?

    These are among the things that you should be able to say "Yes!" to, and if so, then you have a good chance. Of course, it all ends up going to chance in the end, but these are the things that can push you a little bit further in the process!

    So, no. Those A- grades won't make that big of a difference.
    Good luck with everything!!!
    edited January 9
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  • QuestarQuestar 92 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Agree with the above.

    Also, there are dozens of other universities that can offer you what Harvard has to offer, minus the merest tincture of cachet, but really - so what?

    Admission to any top 10 university has a substantial element of luck-of the-draw associated with it for most candidates, even those accepted.

    No one should ever see this as a shortcoming.
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  • compmomcompmom 11028 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited January 11
    If you are worrying about A- grades, you may not be happy at Harvard, where your grades may do down. Please do not measure your worth or your admissability in terms of half steps down in a grade. You are just missing the point of admissions.

    Admissions is not about some imaginary hierarchy of worth among individuals. It is about assembling an interesting class. It is about what you can contribute to the mix, not whether you have the highest grades. It is actually not a contest.

    Leadership may or may not be an important factor in an application. There are many possible factors. Excellent grades just get you into the ballpark, and I don't think anyone cares if your grades are the best in your class.

    Things like character and values count too.

    If you were deferred, you really need to start thinking about another school or schools. There are so many great colleges out there.
    edited January 11
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35100 replies398 threads Senior Member
    edited January 11
    It's not just leadership, above all else. There's nothing H says to support that. And certainly not about a few A-. Nor is it simply "passion."

    Harvard wiI look at your entire app. That's more than just transcript or a resume of some titles. It does have a lot to do with the right level of thinking, in the first place. Then, how that's reflected in your choices, through hs and in your app. Or not.

    Plus they value geo diversity, variety in majors, etc. You can't control for that.


    It's Yale that mentions leadership. Lol. But even they qualify it as leader thinking, leader qualities. Thinking any old title proves leadership is a huge mistake. Not the sort of thinking....

    Good luck. But yes, look at your other happy options.
    edited January 11
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2582 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "Harvard values leadership above all else."

    They actually don't as the analysis done by data10 and other posters on the Harvard lawsuit shows. But the things they do value, athletes, legacies, development, child of professors/administrators known by the ALDC acronym, along with URM, first gen, low income, geo, major diversity as l/f mentions is not something you can change in high school.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1612 replies25 threads Senior Member
    Believe it or not, they actual do look at grades....

    An A- is worse than an A. It’s impossible to say “how much”, but in the context of application with 50+ semester grades, test scores, recommendations, essays, etc., it’s relatively small (though 3 is more noticeable than 1).

    Any attempt to quantify the impact won’t change anything you should be doing, so my advice is to keep working hard and doing your best, forgetting about how “big of a deal” it is.
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  • racereerracereer 298 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Many school systems don't use a +/- grading system so it will depend on what an A- really means at your school.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35100 replies398 threads Senior Member
    Don't obsess.
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