Big difference between GPA & ACT

<p>My son has a 2.6 GPA but scored a 31 on his ACT (first time). How do most colleges deal with a discrepancy like that? He is involved in all the possible music/theatre/speech/debate activities possible and excells in these areas. He was a Nationals Debater as well as a 3X Iowa All State Speech. Should we apply to the selective schools (we were looking at a possible St. Olaf, Carleton, Gustavus Adolphus) or is that setting our sites too high?</p>

<p>Thanks for any insight!</p>

<p>Some LACs (Carlton?) are looking at applications in a very individualized manner, and may forgive his low GPA if he shows outstanding commitment to the subjects he is passionate about. I am sure he can write good essays, which will help. Rec. letters from teachers that LOVE him will be very important. Generally speaking high standardized test scores combined with low GPA are bad -- it's a sign of a slacker that does not work up to his potential. But you will never know how things may turn out, unless he applies.</p>

<p>Most colleges would view the difference as him being an underachiever, which isn't great. Use the selective schools as reaches and then find a couple of good matches. Are his grades evenly balanced or does he excel at some subjects and barely make it through the rest? Has he taken honors classes? All things to consider during the process.</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice. I guess you could view it as an "under-achiever" or a "slacker". Of course I hope they wont! My son typically does very well in anything he has an interest or passion in. Anything he likes he excells at. He does great on tests in EVERY class - its the daily work that has been his downfall in classes that dont interest him. Hopefully admissions views that the way I have - he has the knowledge, but has trouble carrying through with the day after day repetition of concepts he already knows. I will indeed encourage him to get recommendations from teachers who are well acquainted with him and appreciate his best qualities. Its hard as a parent to see your child realize that you were right all along and the grades from "stupid classes" may indeed come back and bite him in the butt! :) We will hope for the best and be happy for all advice!</p>

<p>i think im probably very similar to your son. I have a 3.6 and a 32 on the ACT which i know isnt bad, but i could have had perfect grades but the daily work doesn't suit me lol, anyway, i find myself panicking about getting into the schools i really wanna get into</p>

<p>Good Luck to you as well! A 3.6 is quite a bit different then a 2.6 however, I am sure that you will have little trouble! Yes, my son has always scored way above average or off the charts on standardized tests. I am not letting him off the hook for not doing his work, but on the other hand I think kids like him and yourself get bored with the persistent repetition and the teaching to the lowest common denominator that often goes on in some of the public school classes. We have a great school district, but too often modifications are made for the resource kids but the system just expects the brightest kids to follow along with classes and lessons that are below their ability levels. After a while they lose interest and motivation and that often results in lower grades then they are truly capable of. There - I can get off my soapbox now!</p>

<p>Forget about Carleton. They are waitlisting kids with 3.8 gpa and 1400 SATs.</p>

<p>But as Fosselover says, some selective schools could be realistic reaches, and the list can be filled out with less selective options. Gustavus is an underrated school and would be a solid choice. St. Olaf is getting more and more selective and would be tough, but if your S visits and likes it no reason not to give it a shot. Might be a very good place for your S to be frank about his high school record. </p>

<p>Hamline University would be a very good school to investigate, with strong programs in political science, global studies and history and the resources of the Twin Cities for internships. Theatre and music are decent there though departments are small. In Iowa, Coe and Luther (excellent music there) are solid LACs.</p>

<p>BTW - if your S could knock out a much-improved GPA for the current semester that would help anywhere.</p>

<p>I know how it is. 1600 SAT and 3.5 GPA here. Like your son, I'm into music - will probably be a double music/math major. I'm applying to Harvard EA (though if I get in, it'll only be because of legacies), and then probably LACs RD: Vassar, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, etc. (Also Yale RD, but the sky will fall before I get into Yale.)</p>

<p>I haven't applied yet, but I've been told by (quite good) college counselors that a good idea is to explain the discrepancy a little, tell them how I learn best, and come off as responsible by taking ownership for my mistakes and tell them what I'm doing to improve. A great essay and recs could help, as could a good first semester of sr. year.</p>

<p>Iowadirector said: "Hopefully admissions views that the way I have - he has the knowledge, but has trouble carrying through with the day after day repetition of concepts he already knows.</p>

<p>Ouch! This is EXACTLY what adcoms DON'T want! As they say, if you can't bother to be faithful in little things, why should we trust you with big things? Adcoms would MUCH rather see a high GPA and lower scores than vice versa,
though of course high scores and high GPA would be best!</p>

<p>The problem is, with 200,000 kids in the top 10% of their class (assuming 2 million kids graduating), there are sure to be thousands upon thousands of kids with great scores AND great GPAs. You would have to convince the adcoms that there was something really special about your kid to have them bypass the NON-slackers for him....</p>

<p>Sorry, just being realistic (as a former Ivy interviewer still doing college counseling, I would not recommend your son to my school, barring some really amazing thing that you haven't told us yet).</p>

<p>Really? I guess Ivy admissions officers are more divided on such things than I thought. I read in Michele Hernandez's "A Is For Admission" that admissions officers would rather take a chance on a kid like Iowadirector's son than a dull kid who works his butt off but has no intellectual firepower.</p>

<p>Who says these kids are "dull?" SATs are not set in stone,and are not the sole (if they are at all) signifiers of "firepower." Adcoms know that a specific number just represents a range, often of 50-100 points either way; a 1400-scorer and a 1600-scorer are not really that far apart! (And note that even valedictorians with 1600s are routinely denied entrance to top schools - sure, at a lower rate, but still, it is no guarantee). In fact, we often find that some 1600 scorers are the dull ones and some 1250-1450 scorers are brilliant! I had the highest GPA ever recorded at my Ivy grad school (of course I tied with a few others from other years) and I did not have perfect board scores. In fact, four of my grad teachers told me I was the best student they ever had and knew more about certain things in my field than people who had been in the business for 30 years. My son was clearly, by almost any measure, the most creative and brilliant kid at his high school, and a truly, TRULY dull noncreative buddy somehow scored much higher on the SATs, (and yes, my son got into a top ten school while the other kid is at a regional TTT).</p>

<p>Be careful about mistakenly ascribing to the scores of a three-hour multiple choice test that is meant to predict freshman performance more weight than it can possibly bear. Some of the greatest intellectual firepower in history was not likely to "dial tollfree" (800/800), especially in the humanities. There is more than one way to creatively and correctly answer an analogy, as just one example. It is a TREMENDOUS fallacy to assume that SAT scores are the mark of firepower.</p>

<p>I think that the opinions of the admissions officers at colleges are going to be just as varied as those on this board, so you shouldn't worry about finding a good school that will be willing to take your son. I, for one, have a somewhat similar profile to your son's - I barely barely barely graduated in the top 20% of my class, yet I had a 35 on the ACT - I'm sure that the schools I applied to thought of me as an underacheiver (which I sure as hell am...) but chose to take a risk in the name of potential. I'm sure many schools will do the same for your son.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Who says these kids are "dull?" SATs are not set in stone,and are not the sole (if they are at all) signifiers of "firepower." Adcoms know that a specific number just represents a range, often of 50-100 points either way; a 1400-scorer and a 1600-scorer are not really that far apart! (And note that even valedictorians with 1600s are routinely denied entrance to top schools - sure, at a lower rate, but still, it is no guarantee). In fact, we often find that some 1600 scorers are the dull ones and some 1250-1450 scorers are brilliant! I had the highest GPA ever recorded at my Ivy grad school (of course I tied with a few others from other years) and I did not have perfect board scores. In fact, four of my grad teachers told me I was the best student they ever had and knew more about certain things in my field than people who had been in the business for 30 years. My son was clearly, by almost any measure, the most creative and brilliant kid at his high school, and a truly, TRULY dull noncreative buddy somehow scored much higher on the SATs, (and yes, my son got into a top ten school while the other kid is at a regional TTT).

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<p>How about kids who scored 1170? My case is somewhat odd, I took 1 AP exam during my junior year and 4 durring my senior year (2 of them i taught myself the topic). I got 2 threes 2 fours and 1 five.. Can your AP exams make up for a pathetic SAT score???</p>

<p>I personally can recgonize with your son. I am very passionate about the topics that interest me. The SAT does not interest me, so i do very poorly..</p>

<p>P.S. I do plan on retaking it even though I did already graduate from HS (ego reasons :)).. Kinda embarassing.</p>

<p>I am the opposite of your son... I have high gpa/class rank but low ACT score. I have a 3.94 u/w GPA and a 4.5 weighted GPA and 5th out of ~350... taken mostly all APs and college courses but can only get a 28. </p>

<p>Good luck and it will work out for the best!</p>

<p>Wow - isnt it wonderful that there are so many people with so many varied opinions in the world! Thank you for all of the advice and varying viewpoints! I would have to say that even tho it is my son I am talking about, I agree with a little of what everyone is saying! Yes, I would say that in some areas he has been slacking. I would also say he is one of the most intelligent, charismatic, intelligent people I know - adult or otherwise. And on the other hand, he can drive me crazy with his lack of organization and routine in his study & personal habits. I know how very talented he is, and that as long as he is involved in things that he is passionate about, he will do well. Neither he or I or his father have any aspirations towards him getting into an Ivy League school. What I DO want is for him to be able to get into the school that he is most enthusiastic about. After todays visit, that would be Gustavus Adolphus - we were all impressed. I hope and I will do my best towards it all working out for him, but I have adopted a new attitude. Since school started this fall our area has lost one 19 year old girl to a car crash and we have an 18 year old boy who is currently paralyzed from the waist down from another tragic accident. I consider myself blessed that my child is healthy - we will do what we can to get into whatever college he prefers, but I hope we can keep the whole process in perspective.</p>

<p>Iowadirector,
You have a good attitude. Best wishes that your son lands in a college where he feels encouraged to fly with his interests and talents.</p>