Am I still competitive for an Ivy (stats wise)

Hi all I am a junior who just finished the SAT and got a higher score than I had expected to receive. I got a 1560 on the SAT (770 Math, 790 ELA) and now I am looking into admission at schools I originally was not looking at. My GPA is really sagging behind though and I am afraid it will pull my application into the reject pile. Currently I am at a 3.77 UW GPA caused by 7 Bs I received in freshman and sophomore . From 9-12 I will have taken 10 AP classes and 5 Honors. I took AP Psych sophomore year and got a 5 I haven’t taken my AP exams yet this year but I am expecting 5 APUSH, 4 Lang and Comp, 5 AP Macro, 5 AP Comp Sci P. I won’t go into awards, or ecs, or essays/lors I just want to know if my stats are good enough.

Without being in a special category (URM, child of a wealthy donor, etc) or having an incredible EC achievement that the Ivy wanted, you might not have been competitive, even with straight A’s at highest rigor, and a string a 5s on AP exams.

Congratulations on that excellent SAT score! I suggest that you focus on identifying matches and safeties, and plan to throw in a few reach applications too, but don’t expect that the SAT score is going to get you into them.


My daughter (HS Class of 2018) got a 1560 (but reversed 790 Math, 760 ELA). She had a 4.0 UW/4.7ish weighted with all honors and 6 AP classes at a highly rated public high school in our state. She had typically good ECs and LORs. She was rejected from:

  • Penn
  • Cornell
  • Georgetown
  • UVA
  • Tufts

waitlisted at:

  • Lehigh (my alma mater, eventually offered spot off waitlist but didn’t take it)
  • Bucknell

admitted to:

  • Univ of Maryland (Honors College with $12k annual scholarship)
  • Penn State (In-state for us, with $5k annual scholarship)
  • Ohio State (max annual out of state scholarship)

Even if you had NO deficits in your application the admit rates for these schools are so low that they reject many many candidates with higher on-paper stats than yours.

You should focus on finding solid safety and match schools you can afford and would be happy to attend. After that you can assess fit with any of the 8 Ivies and apply to those that seem like a fit.



The truth is, with 95% rejection rates of similar candidates, the term “competitive” doesn’t really apply any more than it does to your state’s lottery. At this point, outcomes are essentially arbitrary.

So it’s not a reflection of your academic achievements and future capabilities, but of the “oversubscription”. You can throw you hat in the ring, ideally ED, but do focus on finding out good things about so many other great colleges with excellent programs and good repute, where you’ll also be happy to attend.


Yes! Said another way, the average stats of the rejected pool will be the same as the accepted pool and nearly are passed over at highly rejective schools.


Are you competitive?

Perhaps if you are at an elite prep school. Otherwise, not.

Are you impossible? No

Would it be different if you changed your 3.77 to a 4.0?

You’d still be far unlikely.

btw - why do you want Ivy - there’s 8 - so if I said Cornell is ok but Columbia isn’t…I mean, one is rural, one is urban.

Other than the name and chasing prestige, what is the appeal to you?

Find a college where you can thrive. You will be there four years, day after day after day.

And read @adlgel comments again - and know it’s even “harder” today!!!

Not sure your major - but everyone is applying to the top.

Find your school well underneath - get a great education and get paid to go there!!!


Unless you are talking about an elite prep school with severe relative grade deflation, a 3.7 and a high test score will not stand out relative to peers at an elite prep school.


Look into other schools besides Ivies. College rejections say nothing about you as a person.

Find many schools you like and would be happy to go to. Expand your horizons!

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Hard to tell without knowing your circumstances. Each ivy school will shape their class. If you fill a niche through your “distinctive achievements” then a 3.7 UW might work. I would say that with a good story, stellar ECs and a LOT of LUCK, you might be ok.

You might have a chance. Its hard to say without knowing more details. Your grades and scores are “in the range”. But then after that its very difficult to say whether an admissions officer will want you.

Things that can help your chances:
Being at the top of your class (1-2%) esp valedictorian, salutatorian
Donor child
Faculty child
Recruited athlete, with support from the coach
Amazing ECs with national/international recognition
Applying in early decision round

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And take into account that it’s only gotten MORE competitive since 2018! These results are pretty typical for students who have top GPAs and top scores, even those who are legacies. It’s now about having something that the top school wants - money, prestige, fame, an incredible EC achievement. Frankly, I’m shocked that Adigel’s daughter was wait-listed, not outright accepted, at Lehigh and Bucknell, 4 yrs ago, with such stellar stats.

These are all great replies. The truth is you have no chance unless you are on the list that sgopal2 created and I would remove the top of class criteria and the ED must be in conjunction with another line. I’ve seen a parade of flawless applicants rejected from these schools this year and the only ones I have seen accepted are in “the list”. The ivy’s are not a real destination for anyone else and really, who cares. So many other great options and I’m not sure they are really about the “best of the best” anymore.

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We too fell into the trap of thinking that a kid with stats like hers was bound to get into Lehigh/Bucknell and hopefully also one of her reaches. The good news is she has had a wonderful experience at Univ of MD where she ended up:

  • she made lots of lifelong friends
  • studied hard (graduating with just shy of a 4.0 due to one A- in a 1 credit course)
  • had tons of fun
  • has a great job lined up in her field after graduation (Env. Science and Policy major with Business minor who will be working as a Climate Policy Analyst in DC)
  • and grew into a functioning, well-adjusted young adult

And we spent a lot less money than we would have spent at any of those other schools which might come into play if she decides to go to grad school.

She’s one of many poster children for the oft-used CC mantras “love the school that loves you back” and “bloom where you are planted”.


So many amazing kids are attending the flagship state U’s, either their own state’s, or another, usually with merit money that brings the price close to what their own would have been in-state. These kids usually wind up being superstars there, because they would have been anywhere that they matriculated. One of ours went this route, and had the same excellent experience.

For what its worth, my son got a 35 on the ACT (a perfect 36 in science). He is not even applying to any T50 schools. The higher cost, the higher pressure, and the “name” is of no interest to my son.

Applying for prestige alone is not a good reason.

I cant in good faith encourage anyone to apply to an Ivy unless it directly relates to a specific goal or major and they have visited and feel that environment would be useful to their own personal growth.

Save your $75 application fee. I will tell you for free that you are valued and that you will do good things and be successful. You dont need an Ivy diploma to feel self worth.


I am not as negative as everyone else here. I would suggest trying to work on the GPA; your SAT is fine, but focus on having INCREDIBLY GOOD essays.

Hey there, I know I’m replying late, but you are absolutely competitive. I had a 1520 and 3.8 GPA, and got into two T20s and a T30 this past admissions cycle.

Write good essays, get standout extracurriculars, and ignore the cynics. I’m ORM by the way in a STEM major. I went to a public school that is considered a top one in my state and nationally, but by no means a feeder.

Make sure you ED… and I highly reccomend that you “shotgun”.