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High score, low GPA nightmare - Seeking advice for college list please?


Replies to: High score, low GPA nightmare - Seeking advice for college list please?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,578 Senior Member
    thumper1 wrote:
    3. Sometimes kids with very high IQs can't organize themselves out of a paper bag. Does this boarding school expect the student to independently learn and use organizational skills....or do,they work with students to learn and use these skills? It sounds like your son needs the latter of these options.

    Since he is taking actual college courses, these require and expect more self-motivation and organizational skills than is usual in high school. That could be an issue if he is not well developed in these aspects.
  • SybyllaSybylla Registered User Posts: 1,570 Senior Member
    But this DE program is early college set in a boarding school setting, it isn't like he is an independent student, right? I get there is rigour, but not independence. In fact boarding school sounds a lot more structured than normal HS with rigour and someone other than a parent enforcing the rules. Sounds fabulous.
  • LBowieLBowie Registered User Posts: 1,726 Senior Member
    I think that he is a 16 or 17 year old kid behaving like one, not a kid with any kind of disorder. Kids can shock and disappoint, and it can happen to the best of us :-). And from a big picture view this doesn't fall in the category of anything even close to a nightmare. But I do get where you are coming from. I do think it can be tough for kids who know they have a high IQ because of the sense or fear of not living up to expectations. For my brother, this was and continues to be an issue.

    I still don't think there is a huge disconnect between grades and scores, given the nature of the courses. I'm confident he will do alright both in the college search and life in general.
  • KMichKMich Registered User Posts: 58 Junior Member
    I would say Cornell and UMich would be a huge reach, they both pay attention to GPA. Michigan only looks at unweighted and even if he did get in, he wouldn't get any merit money. I think Purdue needs to be moved up a category as well as because a 3.3 unweighted likely would be a reach. I am only speaking to the ones that I know anything about. There are a lot of really great schools out there and I would strongly suggest that he also look at some LACs as they do give merit money. As stated above, he should really check the dual enrollment transfer possibilities for each of his chosen schools, it may not count.
  • LBad96LBad96 Registered User Posts: 3,499 Senior Member
    Why would UMass be a match, yet the stronger VTech be only a safety?
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,212 Senior Member
    Your son's situation sounds pretty typical of what happens when a smart kid encounters an environment where more is required than just catching on quickly, which has often been enough to generate good results. It also sounds typical of what happens to many kids in a BS environment that offers more independence). Boys, in particular, often have a hard time organizing their work and not procrastinating. While some BS do offer structure, many, particularly for upperclassmen who are doing fine academically (even if it's not what you think is fine!) give them far more leeway than you might given them at home.

    In terms of lists, schools (and these tend to be smaller ones, especially LACs) that have holistic admissions, would give him a better opportunity to explain what he's learned from this challenge.. Ones that are more stats based won't afford him that opportunity. And if he gets a chance to explain, he should also be able to show that he's learned from it. If he can do well his first term senior year, he will have the ability to explain what went wrong and how he addressed it. This, btw, suggests that NOT applying ED could be to his benefit. The CCs at our school recommend that students on a recovery like this avoid ED (or at the very least, schools which don't defer most of the ED applicants.)

    I would also talk to the college counseling office at his BS. It may be that these grades are not particularly bad given the way grading is done there and that colleges are familiar with the school/the rigor/the grading and adjust accordingly. Maybe you can see this yourself by looking at Naviance?

    Lastly, any opportunities -- contests, AP exams, math competitions, etc. -- that he has outside of school to show that he's mastered the material and is capable of being exceptional - could help the application. At my son's BS, for example, it was not at all unusual for kids who got a B- in a course to get a 5 on the AP exam, and this went a long way in demonstrating that the grading was in fact tough but that the students had learned the material. (This is preferable to getting an A and a 3, which suggests grade inflation.)
  • hopeyhippiehopeyhippie Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
    Your son's match schools may be closer to low reaches considering his GPA. WPI in particular places far more importance on grades than test scores. The disparity between his grades and SAT/ACT scores also could create a problem, as AO's may conclude he is a bit of a slacker.

    My advice for Purdue is that he apply as early as possible.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,483 Senior Member
    Never apologize for having a gifted kid! I am low end gifted and son in your mid-upper range son's (he graduated from our public HS at 16, so doing college work at your son's age). I was involved in the excellent local parents' GT committee and learned a lot back in the day. Some of the characteristics of being gifted appear similar to those of ADHD and some kids are both. We let the school test son back in first grade- he was not ADD, just a bored young kid.

    Boredom and perfectionism can play a role in grades. The tales I could tell. However, getting good grades counts a lot for college admissions. Your son could be the outlier schools take a chance on but they may see the potential but poor work/study skills that indicate possible failure. Some kids work very hard to get top grades, others don't need to to get top grades and some gifted students are simply too bored to do the work needed for A's. Regular HS, AP, college- if he's ready for them he can do it.

    Very important for you to know your son's feelings on schools. Is HE interested in taking time away from academics for a gap year? Son got tired of school after a bachelor's degree and was able to find intellectually challenging work. But just a HS diploma doesn't get you into those jobs. My son also realizes years later how he should have done better in HS (falling grades later- had potential for keeping a 4.0, sigh) to be at an elite, not just top tier, school. Your son's maturing may also lead to similar regrets.

    Be sure to discuss with your son's guidance counselor. They should know (especially at a private school) good options for someone with his innate ability and grades. Some schools you list (and other comparable schools) will have too many applicants with both test scores and grades that your son won't make the cut. His HS should know of those he has the best chances for that also offer majors that interest him. Sometimes kids do better when they finally get into a college with others like them. I would wonder about a STEM oriented kid in a liberal arts environment even though a school is top tier and offers the majors. Honors programs at many flagships could be an option because there will be many students who have the brains but not the money to go OOS.
  • LeastComplicatedLeastComplicated Registered User Posts: 617 Member
    FWIW, I personally do not see the problem with this kid's academic performance since he will graduate with 60 DE credits in what sounds like an extremely rigorous curriculum. He got all A's while taking the most rigorous High School AP courses, and then has moved on to even more difficult university level courses and has "Oh, my" been receiving B's!!. If this was my kid, I wouldn't think it was a nightmare, I would be very proud! The only problem that I see here is that, yes, he probably won't get into the most selective schools, but I can't see that he wouldn't have a huge list of very good schools that would gladly accept him. Maybe I'm being naive, but I don't think so. I think he will be fine. He's smart enough to know that his grades aren't going to get him into an Ivy so he must be OK with his the consequences of not being perfect.
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom Registered User Posts: 649 Member
    I don't think the OP is concerned about the Ivy. I'm afraid the rest of the schools on the list look like reaches as well. Consider the other thread on acceptances for kids in the 3.0 to 3.4 range.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,733 Senior Member
    I don't think your kid is necessarily going to flame out in college, as he's doing okay with a full load of college level courses and playing too many video games. But you will have to lower your expectations for where he's going to get in. Grades matter. Many CS type kids will do fine in college where the majority of courses are things they are interested in. But if they are not motivated by grades they may still do a lot of damage to themselves.

    You may need to look for places where he's guaranteed to be able to major in CS if that is what he wants.

    I was lucky in that my kid (similar profile) went to a high school that was easy enough that he got great grades and still had time to play with computers. (Not just games, he also worked, did some Opencourse ware stuff and other things.) In college after one term on the Dean's List he let slide a lot of stuff he didn't like. History papers got handed in late - and were appropriately grade reduced. He forgot to go to a midterm... The good news is that he was still smart enough to get a great job and has been gainfully employed since college. He still plays too many video games in our opinion.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 32,010 Senior Member
    I would look into smaller (private) universities and especially LACs with holistic admissions where there'll be more structure, more contact with professors, and fewer ways to fall through the cracks.
    Avoid universities that weed in the first year or where admission to his major isn't guaranteed.
    I'm not sure applying ED to Cornell is the right strategy but since it's his Dream School...
    Apply to universities with honors colleges and between August and October. send in applications to all universities with EA or rolling admissions, so that, if he's rejected by Cornell, he has a softer landing due to several acceptances.
    Can he take fewer classes next year, perhaps 4+4 instead of 5+5? It wouldn't diminish how competitive his application is but it'd definitely help him not get overworked/overloaded.
    I may have missed it, but do you have a budget?
  • Shiprock1976Shiprock1976 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    I hope this helps. My son applied to several of the same schools on your son's list as CS major. He had a 34 ACT (35 super score), 800 Physics, 750 Math II, 3.33 UW/ 3.55 W GPA at beginning of junior year with steep upward trend. Hispanic. Average EC's. Back story of overcome adversity in his home life in his first two years of high school. His results were as follows :
    Purdue -Accepted Admissions as a CS major
    Umass Amherst- Accepted as CS major
    University of Rochester -Accepted

    I think what helped my son beyond the good test scores and URM status was that he had a good explanation for his earlier lower grades and that after sophomore year he never received a grade lower than A- in a math or science class. After the end of sophomore year when his living situation changed, he turned into a very strong student. Although his cumulative GPA was relatively low, his report card from the second half of high school looked like a sea of A's with an occasional B in a humanities class. If he had continued to get mostly B's in math and science classes his junior and senior year, I don't think his outcome would have been as good. After his sophomore year, I strongly encouraged him to not over do it on his EC's and concentrate on improving his grades. In his case, I definitely think, the interviews my son had helped him in the admissions process. My son did not interview everywhere but was accepted everywhere he interviewed.
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