Chance Me: Great Rank, Not so Great SAT


  • US domestic *
  • State/Location of residency: PA
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers): Small Public, Class Size around 150
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): F White, Asian
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): N/A

Intended Major(s) Business

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.9
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.5 ( 5 for AP, 4.5 for Honors,)
  • College GPA (for transfers):
  • Class Rank: 1
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1380 SAT

*FROSH: 4.0 UW, All Honors
SOPH:4.0 UW, All Honors

(Include leadership, summer activities, competitions, volunteering, and work experience)
2 part-time jobs, essentially full time between the two (over 40 hrs/wk in the summer)
Class President
3 yr Student Council Officer
4 yr varsity swim, 2 as Captain
Other random leadership positions/clubs

(Optionally, guess how strong these are and include any other relevant information or circumstances.) average LOR, decent writer so somewhat strong essays
Cost Constraints / Budget
*$40,000 have a TAP account, so a bit up in the air

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability) Penn State, Pitt, Temple
  • Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable) U of Richmond
  • Match UVA, Bucknell, Villanova
  • Reach Georgetown, Rice, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth

You can always not send your SAT score. If not, try bringing the score up.

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I think Richmond should be in the same category as Bucknell and Villanova (match). UVA is a reach for any out of state student. Have you run the net price calculators for the schools on your list? Obviously, Penn State, Pitt, and Temple would be under $40,000 for an instate student. The others are all private schools (except for UVA, which is expensive for an out of state student); all have “sticker prices” above $65,000.


@fishergy, what have you done WRT foreign language? Your match and reach schools will regard that as a core subject…if you haven’t completed at least level three in a FL you may have difficulty with the more selective schools on your list. Many applicants to your match/reach schools will have gone through level 4 and/or AP FL. There’s less need to double up on history senior year…most applicants will have taken either AP Euro or AP World, but not both. Consider taking another year of the foreign language you have previously taken, even though it looks as if you have skipped at least a year. It’s a global world now, and competence in FL would be a real asset for a future business major.

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Look at this exensive list of test optional schools (or schools that don’t emphasize tests)
FairTest | The National Center for Fair and Open Testing

I have 2 years of Spanish, signed up for Spanish 3 last year, but wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule. Will likely have the same issue next year, seeing as their is only one period it is offered.

Will I be regarded as less for going test-optional?

No. But if you want merit aid, schools often want scores.

These schools are serious about being test-optional, and mean it.

Is there a community college or nearby state university where you could take the equivalent of Spanish 3 next year (or even this summer?) If I were you, I would still request Spanish 3 next year in case it could fit into your schedule. If not, the guidance counselor at your school could explain in the GC recommendation letter that you requested the class twice. Admissions officers don’t penalize students for the deficits of their schools, but if they don’t know that you tried to take Spanish 3, it will be a weak point on your application for your match and reach schools. @MYOS1634, can you help?

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I checked the latest common data sets I could find for several of the schools on your list. Section C of the CDS has info about entering freshmen (I.e breakdown of GPAs, test scores) and admissions requirements and priorities of the college. Included in this is the required and recommended number of high school core courses expected of applicants.

Unless there have been changes, Villanova and Brown require three years of FL and recommend four. Dartmouth doesn’t list any minimum number of classes but recommends four years in each of the core subjects, including foreign language. Richmond, Bucknell, Pitt and Georgetown require two but recommend four. Applicants to very selective schools should think of the required minimum as just that…the absolute minimum…you would have to show a significant strength in another area to offset any weakness in course rigor in the cores. When you apply to schools that reject more qualified students than are accepted several times over, its important to understand that checking off the minimum Is usually not enough unless there are extenuating circumstances (the school did not offer it) or you have some outstanding characteristic or achievement in other areas that the school especially needs. It’s worth an email or call to your guidance counselor (they usually work at least part time in the summer) to see if Spanish three can be worked in instead of one of your history classes. You’ll find that applying to all these colleges is a LOT of work (selective schools often have additional essays to write and expect other time-consuming ways to show interest and understanding of the school) and it’s hardly worth the money and effort to apply unless you give yourself a fair shot!

BTW, just tweaking your list… I believe Richmond is a more difficult admit than Bucknell these days.

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I would submit that score. A 1380 is really solid, and will definitely keep your application competitive. I think it would be a hard case to justify not submitting a score in the 94th percentile.


Agreed - I laugh that people say it’s not good.

It’s not top 20 good - but it’s dang good.

Are you constraints self imposed or governmental defined? I ask because I want to spend no more than $40K doesn’t mean you’ll get aid to make your cost $40K. Look at some net price calculators.

In the meantime, you may add Washington & Lee - and apply for the Johnson Scholarship. Other than your in-state schools, the likelihood of $40K anywhere on your list is slim - unless you qualify for need aid. You might hit colleges that provide merit - Miami of Ohio, U of South Carolina, Florida State, College of Charleston, etc. where you’d get a Charleston Fellow and get a great deal. you may also look at Delaware and Dennison.

If you qualify for aid, then my list doesn’t matter - but many say they can afford only x $ but that doesn’t mean they’ll qualify. Gtown and the Ivies have no merit - so if you get no need based aid, no reason to apply…hence check the NPC.


Hey just wanted to say that I think your info may be a bit out of date. As a Dartmouth student who only studied a foreign language freshmen year of HS, an who was looking at a number of other schools like it, and who knows a lot of people at those schools, none of these schools has a requirement that you study a foreign language prior to applying. They may recommend certain years studying each core area, but in my experience, if you’re not planning on majoring in a language or related field, foreign language is the least important of those core areas to admission.

(That is, with the exception of georgetown’s foreign service program which does require foreign languages in high school)

Dartmouth has a foreign language program, which is excellent, and required for those who didnt do it in high school. Hundreds of students take foreign languages to fulfill that requirement every year. It’s very common not to have extensively studied a foreign language prior to admission at a number of these schools. The same is not true for any of the other core areas, which are generally deemed necessary. But that’s usually not expressed as any kind of requirement.



Hey, just a couple of other comments. Assuming you’re applying for econ at Dartmouth and Brown (both of which don’t have business undergrad majors), I would hope some of your work experience or extracurriculars can be tied back to econ/business.

But for Dartmouth and Brown especially, you would want to demonstrate interest in other subjects as well somewhere in your application. Just to show you are into the whole lib arts experience (which I hope you are).

Also, all your reach schools have expansive aid programs, and i know Dartmouth offers full tuition scholarships without loans to families with standard assets whose household income is less than 125k per year.

Also, as to your SAT score, you will be compared against previous and current applicants from your area and school. Is your SAT score near the top of the pack for students in your school/area generally (like, say the top 10% or so)? If yes, submit it. If not, don’t, as it will count against you. All the top colleges will want to see that you can achieve and be at the top relative to your peers specifically. Your rank works in your favor, but make sure your SAT score will too.

Dont take both Ap World and AP euro. Choose one.

Take Spanish 3. Even for your safeties it’ll be useful.
If Spanish 3 doesn’t fit into your schedule:
See if you can take Spanish 1 at a local CC this summer for a quick review; then CC Spanish 2 in the Fall. College Spanish 1 covers high school 1+2, college Spanish 2 covers HS Level 3, that would meet most colleges minimum expectations, and depending on whether you get into your ED college it may be worth it to take CC LEVEL 3 if it’s offered.

Btw Level 4 is the expectations at your matches and reaches, with AP level common. Some students may have taken only one year in HS but passed the AP exam then, in 9th grade. You can of course start a new world language from scratch (Korean, French, Swahili…) but it’s very time intensive and difficult.

Just to give you an example from one of your safeties:
At Penn state, most applicants have reached level 3 or 4. The Level 3 students automatically place into College Spanish 2 Fall freshman year and continue to Spanish 3 in the Spring. That class is 4 credits and each class period requires 2 1/2 hours of work (so, 8-10 hours of hw) that you can’t easily get out of because there’s an online lab that clocks your time and records what you do or don’t do. Participation (=attendance with active listening and speaking) is a big part of your grade, too.
So, most students want to place as high as possible, ie, have reached HSlevel 4 and place into College level 3, or AP and place into 201 or 202.

With HS Spanish 2, you automatically place into College Spanish 2, too. Except you’re nowhere near as prepared as students who had HS Spanish 3 more recently. You can go back to Spanish 1 upon instructor permission, generally after getting a D on your first test, hopefully before the end of drop/add or you’re stuck with 4 credits missing from your schedule and you need at least 12 to get FA. Or you can register for an intensive class that covers everything through the intermediate level in one year (the equivalent of 4 years of HS foreign language in 2 semesters, 6 hours class+12 jours hw a week).

Btw my advice would be to apply DUS not Business at Penn State if you want it to be a safety. Smeal is one of the hardest colleges to get into and you’re just premajor. Only apply to Smeal.directly if you think you have a shot at Sapphire. If applying to Smeal directly, it’s a high match. Psu DUS is a safety due to your gpa×scores.

Apply to honors at Temple.

Is this based on specific knowledge of these reach schools? If so, please tell me. Since I took NO AP language, only took one language class in freshman, and managed to get into Dartmouth. I know PLENTY of people here, and at other top schools, who got in without foreign language in HS AT ALL. No doubt having a FL would be helpful, but I don’t appreciate people acting like it is a requirement. It needlessly freaks out the OP. In fact, many of these top schools have specific language requirements for people who didn’t extensively study foreign languages in HS. And the intro classes in these departments are built around having such students in them. That alone should tell you that it is not only possible, but fairly frequent for students without FL experience in HS to get into these schools. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be a positive, but it’s definitely not a requirement - provided your intended field of study is not a foreign language or closely related field.

Though I do agree taking AP World and AP Euro in the same year isn’t particularly helpful. You don’t NEED to replace with a lang, but should substitute for a non history AP, especially since your intended field of study is not history @fishergy

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Yes, it IS based on specific knowledge of these schools.
You’re the exception that confirms the rule – it’s good for you but it’s not appropriate for most applicants. (There must have been something in your application that made lacking 2 or 3 levels in a core class okay : either your school didn’t offer them, or you had specific circumstances justifying this, etc.) The fact you could graduate HS without 2 levels in a foreign language is highly unusual, for instance.
Foreign Language is one of the 5 core subjects. We’re not “acting like it’s a requirement”, it IS an entrance requirement, separate from the college graduation requirement.
Because students come with different levels of preparation and because not all students want to continue the language studied in HS nor is it the most relevant to their major or career choices, there’s always a choice in college. As a result, students can either continue with a foreign language they started in HS and generally take a placement test to determine how many semesters they’ll have to take the language, or they decide to take a brand-new language. This graduation requirement assumes the student will start at the appropriate level and reach either Elementary 2 or Intermediate 1 level in the appropriate number of semesters. Typically, students with an AP score get that requirement waived, except at some highly selective universities.
Not all colleges require foreign language for graduation, but many of the most selective do and there’s always a large choice of foreign language courses, covering several European and non European languages, unlike high schools (most US high schools offer Spanish, many offer French, fewer offer German, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, depending on geographical location, ie., Oregon v. NJ, or type, ie., parochial schools typically offer Latin but very few publics do.) Foreign language graduation requirements can also vary depending on major or college within a university, ie., the Colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Nursing… usually have different requirements than Science, Business, and Arts.
Generally, the college graduation requirement is 2 or 3 semesters, more rarely 4 (Tufts being an outlier with 6), as expressed in achievement reached rather than number of semesters taken.

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First off, there were NO extenuating circumstances for not taking language classes in my case. I stopped taking them because I didn’t want to. Period. Also, did you miss the point I made about knowing many people at my college and others who got in without any fl experience? Do you actually have personal real experience with many people at these schools?

Furthermore, graduation requirements means language requirements that must be fulfilled by the time you finish college. Not prior to college. Keep that in mind. I took language classes throughout my first year, in a language I only then started, to fulfill that graduation requirement.

Furthermore through family friends, and taking language classes at college I know several language professors at these schools, I know 100% that the vast majority of the hundreds of students in the intro lang classes are taking it for the graduation requirement which they have to fulfill since they have no fl hs experience.

These top colleges generally require you to have experience in all the core areas prior to graduating from them (as seen in the GRADUATION requirements). Not necessarily prior to admission.

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Students may have no experience in the foreign language they take at level 1, it doesn’t mean they don’t have any previous foreign language experience.
For instance, most HS offer Spanish. A student who wanted to study French or Korean or Norwegian or Russian or Italian or Swahili in HS… couldn’t. So, they took Spanish to fulfill their HS graduation requirement/college entrance requirement, but in college they take the language they really wanted to take all along, and take 2 or 3 semesters of French or Korean or Norwegian or Russian or Italian or Swahili. They start at level 1 because they never took it before, but they do have skills from previous language study. Then they follow the sequence till they meet their graduation requirement (vast majority) or till they’ve met other goals (such as grad school entrance recommendations or personal interest).

The college graduation FL requirement isn’t “since they have no FL HS experience” but rather to assess proficiency: you can reach level 3 by taking 1 course at level 3, 2 courses levels 2 and 3, or 3 courses levels 1, 2, 3, depending on personal choices and previous study. Students who take Level 1 typically haven’t studied that language previously. Students who take Level 2 typically have taken 2 or 3 years in HS (depending on the college and the rigor of its FL sequence) or have knowledge through other means. Since you took Level 1, you would logically know students who didn’t take that specific language previously but in Spanish 3 your observations would be different. (I did read you know students who didn’t take FL in HS.)
Considering the vast majority of US (and international) HS require FL through elementary level for a college-ready HS diploma to be awarded, I “didn’t take FL in HS” may mean lots of things, such as “took it in MS”, “was in immersion”, “am a heritage speaker”, “scored a 4 on FL AP freshman year”, “moved here from abroad”, not "I knew nothing in ‘FL’ before I got to ‘highly selective college’ ". Those who truly didn’t study any FL at the secondary level are a tiny minority at most highly selective colleges. I am sure you know an equal number who “placed out” of their FL graduation requirement to those who had no previous knowledge whatsoever (different from “started at level 1 at Dartmouth”) and in real numbers those who “place out” far, far outnumber those who had no previous knowledge whatsoever.

You should feel proud you got into Dartmouth without a FL because you are certainly exceptional.

I’ll stop here because this side discussion is derailing the thread.
(However, you should know that if I was “called@” to this thread wrt to the OP’s foreign language situation, it’s because I do know these colleges and I know a lot about FL education at the HS and college levels.)

Class rank and GPA make you a slam dunk for PSU-DUS, Pitt, and Temple Honors (Pitt focuses more on test scores, PSU more on GPA/rigor). Schreyer and Smeal are too selective to predict but DO apply as you stand a chance. For Smeal, evaluate whether you’d qualify for Sapphire (if so, mention you’d be interested in Sapphire in your statement; if not , consider applying DUS.)
URichmond is a reach, so you need more matches. Consider Dickinson and Denison (“International management” and “Global Commerce” majors are their business majors). Start showing interest.
Can you consider Economics rather than Business? It’d open more possibilities but the subjects and the way the majors are structures would be quite different.

As I said previously, I mean specifically no fl in HS, not just none in the one they started at level 1. Your right in that there are an equal no. who placed out, but the fact is over a third of the student body had not studied fl extensively in HS, meaning at best about two semesters. And many had none. Another thing, only 25% of US high school students study foreign languages in high school, and only 20% across K-12 (Just 20 Percent of K-12 Students Are Learning a Foreign Language). Keep that in mind, it’s not a requirement at the majority of US high schools.