Average GPA; NMSF w/ solid SAT - need suggestions!

<p>I posted this on College Search and Selection but was told I should try here too.</p>

<p>Son is a senior and finally seriously looking at colleges. His gpa is now 2.9 due to a meltdown last year (I know I know - the worst time) - he has a 1360 SAT I, (won't retake) taking II's in November; National Merit Semi-finalist - no ECs to speak of - he marches to his own drummer....not sure of major - considering pysch or maybe comp sci - wants an area close to a major city, but not necessarily in the city - doesn't seem to care about size of school - </p>

<p>We live in CA so he will be applying to the CSU's and UC's but need other suggestions - especially East Coast...(we are from CT) </p>

<p>Also, we will probably not qualify for need based aid but are hoping that his National Merit Semi standing and solid SAT's might overcome the GPA (for example he got a 4 on the US History AP exam, but nearly failed the course because he wouldn't do homework!!) Also, I hope that his first semester this year will show vast improvement - he has three AP's this year and is doing well in all.</p>

<p>Obviously he has a great brain and can do exceptional work when he wants to...he realizes he made some bad mistakes last year but seems to be on track - hoping it is not too late...</p>

<p>Anyway, he may wind up at home going to a local cc or nearby CSU (and that may be best for him) , but I'd sure like for him to have some choices...hoping that all you great CC folks have some thoughts...surely some of you have had experience with similar situations...thanks in advance!</p>

<p>On the surface this doesn't look good. "Solid" SATs with a very low GPA(compared to the selective pool, where many kids are 4.0 and with weighted grades 4.5 etc) screams "slacker" to adcoms. They MUCH prefer high SATs and a high GPA <strong>OR</strong> at the very least, OK SATs but very high GPA. Your sone has the worst of all possible worlds.</p>

<p>NMSF won't help. My cousin's daughter was almost identical to your son (NMSF with very low GPA) and she was rejected everywhere she applied. </p>

<p>Also, "no ECs to speak of" doesn't bode well. He must have private interests and passions even if he doesn't join anything.</p>

<p>I know I sound negative, but I am just trying to be realistic. I have a lot of experience (many years as an Ivy interviewer and also volunteer college counselor with many friends in adcom offices). If he is interested in CT, maybe Fairfield or Quinnipiac. If he does well in college he can try to transfer to a better school after a year.</p>

<p>I know of someone who ended up at Univ. of Rochester with similar stats.</p>

<p>I know of one student at NJIT with similar stats, and another at RIT with similar GPA, but somewhat lower SAT. The one at NJIT had, I believe, a shot at STevens Institute, but couldn't afford it. (He had a lot of ECs, though.)</p>

<p>He doesn't sound THAT bad to me. But, I'm not a professional in the field. What's a 2.9? It's a B average, right? So, he's a B (pretty good!) student with SATs far above the natnl average (great!). The worrisome part is the lack of ECs. What does he do in his spare time? Does he like school? Why wouldn't he do the homework? (as though they need a reason, right?)</p>

<p>I work with a woman who has a son with similar stats (SATs slightly lower). She complained all last fall about how lazy he had been and how she thought he wouldn't get into a "good" college. Her husband was more optimistic about it and encouraged the son to apply wherever he wanted....while ensuring that he developed interests and applied to a few "realistic" schools. He is now a freshman at CMU (waitlisted and then accepted). He was also accepted by Rutgers in NJ and Pitt . He had no ECs. (she said he was a video game fan and wanted to eventually design games for Sony, etc-he played games in his spare time-and wrote his essay about them). </p>

<p>I've heard many parents on here mention the book "Colleges That Change Lives". I haven't read it. But, it seems to be a book that recommends colleges for kids like yours....kids that need something a little different to get them motivated.</p>

<p>If he makes NM finalist you might want to look at the state schools that give full or almost full rides to finalists. There are several threads here about which schools actively recruit NM finalists. Good luck.</p>

<p>I second Loren Pope's book "colleges that change lives." It is geared toward kids like yours. When you mentioned psych I thought of Clark University in Worcester, MA. They have an excellent undergrad psych program - very diverse school. Some of those east coast LAC's would be looking for geographic diversity as well as a male to even out that male/female ratio!</p>

<p>My daughter was in a similar situation - similar SAT, a little better GPA, same amount of AP's, above average but not outstanding EC"s, bad jr. year, good sr year - and she found a place for her. </p>

<p>You have what I have: a student who has innate intelligence but is maybe taking a little longer to get on track with buckling down and showing that ability. There are definitely schools out there that accept that type of student. Try Pope.</p>

<p>The question we must always ask ourselves is what is best for our children and it is one that is rarely asked here at CC. It may be irrelevant what colleges he could be admitted to. With your help he must honestly understand why he had a "meltdown" last year, why he has chosen not to be involved in HS life, what his near term goals are, and where he sees himself in 10 years. Is he merely late in maturing or does he have emotional issues that even he may not be aware of? Is he ready to begin living independently from his family? Would a gap year be a benefit? How is he getting along socially? Would he rather be a carpenter than a computer programmer? Is he happy with his life now?</p>

<p>I certainly do not know the answers to those question and perhaps neither do you. However as his parent you owe it to him to try to find those answers in order to help his journey into adulthood. Don't worry about college right now though I realize that he needs to begin those applications soon if that is what he wants to do next year.</p>

<p>Thanks Everyone! Just a note - son is also a video game and computer "nut" (game design is one of his possible career goals) - and spends most of his spare time in those activities (a self-described "geek") - </p>

<p>Momsdream...oddly enough, his teachers love him even tho' he has homework issues...his reasoning is "I know the material,why waste my time practicing what I already know" - a bit arrogant and immature, but that's his attitude...and he typically gets "A's" on tests and quizzes - but when homework is 30% of your grade, those zeros are killer...I'm just hopeful that he is a late bloomer and his emotional maturity will eventually catch up with his intelligence...that being said, he's a good kid - no behavior issues - just hates high school and wants to be OUT!!</p>

<p>Over 30 - saying prayers for NM finalist - know he got a VERY strong rec from his counselor, so maybe there's a chance - </p>

<p>Please keep the suggestions coming...you guys are so great and helpful!</p>

<p>originaloog - thank you for reminding us all that our children's welfare is foremost...In my son's case, part of the problem was caused by a girl...which caused some depression...which caused him not to care about anything..which casued him to get behind in school, etc. etc....also, khe started on a new medicaiton toward the end of the year for his ADHD which made a difference in his overall outlook, I think and has helped in other areas as well...sometimes it is hard to accept that kids have to find their own way, with all the bumps in the road, and we parents can't always make it better...</p>

<p>Just a few thoughts - The UC's use their own GPA system. I'd suggest you recompute his GPA based on that system to find out where he might stand in terms of UC admissions. (A 2.9 UC GPA is the bare minimum to apply to the UC system). You can find complete details at <a href="http://www.ucop.edu/pathways%5B/url%5D"&gt;www.ucop.edu/pathways&lt;/a> under freshman admissions. This will also tell you what type of SAT II scores he's going to need in addition to that SAT for UC admissions. </p>

<p>To be honest, with a UC GPA in the 3.0 range and no extracurriculars to speak of, he's going to have a tough time getting into the most selective UC's like UCLA, UCB, UCSD. Mid-range selective UC's like UCSB and UCD are also going to be iffy. UCI has a wonderful computer game software program but it is highly selective as well. He might have a shot at UC Riverside or UCSC if he does well on the SAT II's.</p>

<p>If he received a "D" or "F" in any of the UC a-g requirements and did not make up the grade over the summer, he may also have problems if he hasn't fulfilled all requirements (A D or F is not accepted for fullfilment), so make sure you look to see that he has met all requirements accredited for his school (on the ucop page)</p>

<p>So, I guess my first thought would be to really look at the UC admissions requirements before you start encouraging him to even think about the UC schools. Don't mean to be discouraging but it might be best to see where you stand in terms of the UC's first.</p>

<p>Not all the way east coast - but maybe look at Allegheny College in Erie PA. Very good CS program (2 of our programmers from there), wonderful atmosphere. Also, RIT - son's friends that have visited have liked it a lot. He also could look into Case Western - GPA would be an issue, but they admit a high percentage of students, and his SAT's are ok. Online app is free. </p>

<p>University of Delaware might also be worth a look - good science, reasonable size, nice campus. </p>

<p>Good luck in your search; something good will come up!</p>

<p>Another possibility to check out would be Goucher in Maryland. They sometimes will take males with lower GPAs because they're trying to even out their male-female ratio. They have a decent computer science program for an LAC. You might also take a look at Marist in NY or Quinnipiac in CT.</p>

<p>RPI is very good in computer science, and they're well-known to take scores more seriously than grades. And you're close enough that your son can go interview them and see if they have what he wants. They even sometimes have merit money for NMSF types.</p>

<p>My DH didn't quite graduate from RPI (started his own co instead) and so we know a lot of RPI alums--and a few current students as well. It's in a pit of a location and has a hideous campus--but seems to graduate great engineers who really learned a lot.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone - great suggestions - I hadn't thought of Goucher because I didn't realize they had gone co-ed , but have requested some info from them...had not heard of Allegheny so will look into that as well as Delaware - </p>

<p>We went thru a bunch of college stuff last night and threw away a ton of brochures, etc. that were either unrealistic or not of interest. So at least we are whittling things down...we will probably wind up applying to a variety and visiting the schools that accept him. </p>

<p>Carolyn -thanks for your comments about UC's - I am pretty sure he meets (barely) the UC requirements for a-g courses,but am double checking with his counselor.
We live in the Central San Joaquin Valley, so likely he will apply to UC Merced as well as CSU Fresno, both within commuting distance.</p>

<p>dmd - son had considered RPI but since he is not sure he will pursue comp sci, and didn't like the location, he decided against it. It had been very high on his list because of the Minds and Machines curriculum which he found intriguing.</p>

<p>One other question for you knowledgeable parents, do you think son has a snowball's chance of advancing to NMS finalist with his 2.9 GPA? I told him I thought he blew it -but that he should be happy to be Semi as it is an honor in and of itself.</p>

<p>Thanks again for all the great input!</p>

You sound much like me four years ago. Son was very talented, strong SAT and terrible GPA. He also loved the computer and programmed some of his own video games. Long story short he got into a state university only to fail out after 1 1/2 years. I pulled the plug and demanded he get a job. He found a computer gaming company, offered to work for free for 30 days and has been there for four years. He is the Lead Test Engineer , loves every moment at work and is moving up the ladder quickly plus has been recruited by other gaming companies. College is not for everyone. He actually brags that he graduated next to last in his class and has framed his transcipt and it hangs on the wall in his office. Encourage those gaming skills!! (not everyone sees value in those boring math and english requirements)</p>

<p>He does not sound bad to me, either. A 2.9 is a B average. As far as no EC's he must do SOMEthing outside of school. You said video games? If he is interested in that field of study then it could certainly help his EC issues, write about it in the essay. </p>

<p>Just to let you know. The UC's upped their gpa requirement to 3.0 , so a UC gpa of 2.9 would make him ineligible to go. BUT...the UC's compute their gpas differently. You have to go and do the UC gpa to see if he qualifies. Some peoples gpas go up and some go down with the UC computations. Since his transcript includes AP's his SHOULD go up. The higher the gpa the lower the SAT1 and have to be. So his relative index will probably be okay as long as he has a minimum 3.0 UC gpa.
The Cal States are terrific schools that emphasize their teaching. I would not discount any of them and they may actually be better for him. </p>

<p>Also, many kids hate high school, but thrive in college. If he knows the material, but refuses to do the homework because he doesn't need to then he is fairly typical of many immature, bright students. Bright kids do not always play the high school game very well. They learn soon enough that you have to do a lot of garbage to get ahead in this world. He'll figure it out.</p>

<p>My gut feeling is that a small environment would be better for him then a large school. Someone who has had trouble being motivated can very easily get lost in a large impersonal school whereas a small school where the professors are accessible can make all the difference.</p>

<p>He should write about his issues in Junior year in his essay and mention how he is doing this year. If you took out his Junior year grades and computed his gpa is it significantly higher? And remember, MOST high school students never take any AP classes. The fact that he has taken some is to his credit. </p>

<p>I would hesitate sending a kid across the country to a college and paying all that money when they haven't proven that they really want to do that and haven't proven they are ready to do their homework. Sometimes a year working in the local fast food joint or a year living at home and going to the local Community College is all that is needed to motivate a person.</p>

<p>Even so, I think a small, CA private college ... like Chapman, for example, could be a great thing for him. Chapman has some programs he may be interested in.</p>

<p>citrusbelt and maryland mom - thank you thank you! I feel better...it's just that knowing he is so bright and would be stellar if he just played the game", it's frustrating - he informed me today that he is now leaning more toward psychology - he's taking AP Psych and I think it has piqued his interest some...we shall see...as I said, he definitely marches to his own drummer...and it is <em>very</em> hard for me to accept that his father's and my dreams for him are not necessarily his dreams (I don't think DH has accepted that yet) - or even what's best - rude awakening!!!
citrus - not familiar with Chapman - I'll check it out..thanks!</p>

<p>Hi There:
There are many schools that are dealing with more female students than males who might take a chance on your son and overlook his GPA. In my state, Mary Washington is an excellent school in a historic town not that far from DC and it suffers from a paucity of male applicants. Often on Overlooked Jewel lists. You can catch a train to DC for seven bucks and the campus is very handsome. There are many Middle Atlantic state kids there as well as Virginians and the location means the Speakers and Cultural events are quite good. Perhaps they would love to have a West Coast kid with his test scores. Also in the South...College of Charleston (wonderful city), Furman University (my alma mater with average SATs of 1285 and an effort to recruit strong test score men and increase students from outside of the South. Furman has a gorgeous campus and all full Profs all the time and the computer building is very modern. Maryland's honor college is St. Mary's and it is small and isolated with SATs only a little below his...but with excellent sailing and full professor contact. It is a bargain price for out of staters. We wish you luck!</p>

Another option is Marymount. It is a two year private college with housing in SoCal and has a good reputation of successful transfers Junior year. Lots of personal attention there. I actually know two students who have gone there. One is a sophomore this year and the other transferred to USC Junior year.
<a href="http://www.marymountpv.edu/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.marymountpv.edu/&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>If his gpa computes out to 3.0 or higher UC you may want to look at UC Riverside. It is a great UC! Somewhat smaller than the others, a little more personal and easier to get into. They love high scorers whereas at some of the others the average gpa is near 4.0 with SAT's around your sons. They have the best dorms, too. :) UC Santa Cruz is an option , too. More arty than Riverside.</p>

<p>He should have no trouble getting into any of the Cal States save perhaps San Luis Obispo, but he should try SLO. It is just as prestigious as the UC's actually. Not that prestige matters a whole hill of beans. </p>

<p>He has lots of options! Try to remember that. We all have dreams for our kids and usually they knock them down pretty well. He is obviously smart and independant in his thinking. It sounds like his teachers like him as a person. Those are not bad qualities to have in the grand scheme of life.</p>