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Low GPA, strong ECs --> STEM Unis like UC Berkeley, Cal Tech, Stanford, MIT even a possibility?

iiiooiiiiiiooiii 0 replies1 threads New Member
Here is some more context:

Intended Major: Engineering + I'm international

I'm a junior so my GPA hasn't been calculated yet but here are my grades:
Grade 9: Low 90s
Grade 10: Low 80s, 1 60 in science ;(
Grade 11: 2 70s, I estimate my other 5 grades will be low 90s
Grade 12: (I'll shoot for mid-high 90s)

APs Junior Year: Calc BC, Phys 1, Phys 2, French
Will take more senior year.

- Multiple tech internships at robotics and AI companies, quantum computing companies
- Spoke around the world in Paris, India, Portugal and more about my work in tech to students and big tech companies like Microsoft
- Participate in girl STEM mentorship programs where i mentor girls around 7 years old
- Mentor startups in a deep tech accelerator and help them with their tech

Test Scores:
- Will write SAT when coronavirus is over
- Should I even write the SAT Subject Tests, a lot of universities say they're not looking at them this year


preface: Honest brutal criticism would be appreciated

- Is shooting for a competitive stem school like cal tech or MIT even worth the shot. I feel like I've messed up my grades from focusing on ECs too much and unis aren't forgiving when it comes to a low gpa with an international kid

- Even if I have messed up my chances, what can I do to improve my profile? I'll be increasing my GPA and continuing to work on ECs but what am I missing?

10 replies
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Replies to: Low GPA, strong ECs --> STEM Unis like UC Berkeley, Cal Tech, Stanford, MIT even a possibility?

  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3637 replies85 threads Senior Member
    edited May 21
    Why those schools? There are so many other schools to choose from. Your low grades in a few courses would probably keep you out of Stanford and MIT. Others can comment on Berkeley.

    You ask: What am I missing?

    What you're missing is perhaps looking at the many other schools out there. I see that you're female and are interested in engineering.

    You might want to consider--
    - Olin
    - Northeastern
    - University of the Pacific
    - Santa Clara
    - Many of the other UCs
    - U of Maine at Orono has ABET engineering and funding for international students, and an airport near the school
    - Womens colleges--Smith has engineering and it has merit money but I'm not sure how much funding it gives to international. At Smith you can also take classes at UMass Amherst to broaded the engineering courses

    - Bryn Mawr--You can do a 4+1 program with UPenn in engineering
    - Bryn Mawr is also part of a consortium with Haverford -- also has 4+1 program with UPenn. BMC is also in consortium with Swarthmore--which has its own engineering program
    - Rose Hulman
    - South Dakota School of Mines https://www.sdsmt.edu/
    - New Mexico Tech -- https://www.nmt.edu/

    There are so many other wonderful schools to choose from.

    Use the website College Navigator to find programs that you like
    edited May 21
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  • bremcclareybremcclarey 17 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @iiiooiii I go to Northeastern University and as @Dustyfeathers mentioned, I would recommend you look into Northeastern! We have a very strong engineering program, and around 20% of our student body is international. I know the school is also looking to add more women to STEM fields. Your extracurriculars look fantastic and I know NU really values this (I work for the office of undergraduate admissions). If you're interested in speaking more about NU feel free to reach out!
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  • nomoodnomood 296 replies27 threads Member
    You got a D in science in 10th grade - do you need to retake it?

    Here's a GPA calculator for the UC system: https://rogerhub.com/gpa-calculator-uc/
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  • cartierjeansbruhcartierjeansbruh 2 replies0 threads New Member
    your gpa is hovering over the 3.0ish range im guessing. Cal Tech needs complete academic perfection from applicants. This is the same with MIT. Stanford is a bit lenient if the ec's are insane but that is only for gpa's above 3.5. BTW: Probabaly 99.9% of cal tech's upcoming class has straight A's.

    Look for schools like UMass Amherst, ASU, Texas AM
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2139 replies18 threads Senior Member
    None of the schools you mentioned are in contention for you. Even if you won a major science prize and were an olympian, you wiuld not get innwith those grades. These schools have ten of thousands of kids with perfect records and amazing EC’s. You should consider the reality of where you are now. It’s possible you will excel in college and can then attend an elite graduate program. My sister did that and ended up quite successful in life.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2263 replies36 threads Senior Member
    If those scores align with typical US grades, you have slightly below a 3.4 now and at best a 3.45 at the time of applications.

    Grades are the top factor used by most college admissions offices, including those you list. EC’s are typically 2nd tier considerations, good at breaking ties and putting you ahead of others with similar academic profiles, but they won’t make up for gaps in the most important tier.

    Unfortunately, a 3.4-3.5 GPA is extremely unlikely to pas the first review at the four schools you mention.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6537 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "Is shooting for a competitive stem school like cal tech or MIT even worth the shot"

    No. Classes at MIT and Caltech are aimed at students who were very close to being the top student in their high school in math and science classes.

    "Honest brutal criticism would be appreciated"

    There are a lot of universities that would be a good fit for you. "UC Berkeley, Cal Tech, Stanford, MIT" are not them.
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10337 replies71 threads Senior Member
    Can you afford those schools?
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  • momtogirls2momtogirls2 989 replies7 threads Member
    I think others have made it clear that the schools you listed are realistically not ones you can anticipate getting into.

    Rather than focus on prestigious sounding schools focus more on safety/match schools that you can afford. in the long run that is more important than hoping to get into a school that is too advanced for you academically.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43226 replies471 threads Senior Member
    What's the scale at your school? In other words, is a 70 a pretty good grade while not stellar (as it'd be in, say, Italy or Ireland) or is a 70 bad enough to keep you out of contention?
    Second: do you need financial aid and if so what's your Parents' budget?
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