Complicated application

I’m going into junior year and I have a very (unique?) situation

I am the captain of the debate team and have been ranked in the top 20 debaters (now top ten) in the state since freshman year.

I took my diagnostic act and got a 32, and a 1450 on the sat, which means my predicted scores will be 35/36 and 1550/1600

Here comes the catch

My gpa sucks
Freshman year I got c’s and b’s, and this year I only got one A
I started having seizures this year and was hospitalized for half of the year on academic leave. My low gpa can be attributed to this, but I’m worried when they see a gpa of 2.9 or a little better they will throw my application out before even considering.
What do you think I should do? Should I consider less selective colleges than Skidmore or Claremont McKenna or will smaller colleges look more at character?

Shoot your shot at your reaches but I think you are going to need to take the weakest part of your application, your GPA, to find your safeties.

Have your guidance counselor address the hospitalizations in their LOR.

I hope your seizures are well managed now and that your health is good. That’s the most important thing. You can be successful at almost any college!

Best of luck to you.

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You might also see if your school will replace grades if you retake a class. If you could re-take a couple of the C classes (maybe online so you can go at your own pace) for A’s that would make a huge difference in your GPA. My son was in a similar situation but luckily he managed to maintain a higher GPA (but still not anywhere near where he would be if he wasn’t sick). Another thing that helped was getting a 504 plan so he couldn’t be downgraded on late homework. Before that we were stuck in a never ending cycle of sick/miss school/good enough to go back to school but still struggling and then it requiring huge effort to get extensions on stuff and assignments in and he usually was sick again before he got back on track. All that to say, if you are still struggling, talk to your school counselor about across the board accomodations.

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You really have wait to see how your Junior year grades actually are before you make any choices. Grades are the most important criteria. Until you demonstrate that you can get high grades, selective universities are not in your future. If you get high grades in your Junior year, you may want to consider a gap year so that you have your full year senior year.

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I respectfully disagree with the post stating grades are most important. Colleges look at a combination: grades, courses, standardized tests, and personal essays. You will have the chance to explain your grades (sort of); on the other hand, your grades for junior year and first half of senior year are vital. Colleges like to see an upward trend. Do you think you’ll do well? If so, go forward with your application plans. There are so many factors at play - schools want a certain number of males vs. females, specific athletes, international students, legacies, sexual orientation, etc. So, yes, grades matter. But, don’t let that stop you from applying; you never know what they’re actually looking for. Good luck.