I’m currently a sophomore attending a small public high school, I’m based in NYC which is a pretty competitive region.
race: asian female
first generation/low income
Here are my stats:
cumulative avg: 93/100 (4.0). school dosen’t do weighted/unweighted
class rank: 29/116
founder/president of one program/startup that has members from around the global. about 80 active members
founder/president of my school’s key club (volunteering elective). 70+ active members
i currently have 50+ community service hours on the same thing
I’m wondering if I have a shot at top colleges (acceptance rates < 30%), and my dream school currently is Barnard.
yea you have a pretty good shot. Get a good essay in. Also I’d say work on some more extra circulars, like some awards or something because getting that might prove to colleges that you are fully committed to this and not just doing for apps.
Yes, it does. The good thing is that you are planning, thinking about college this early on, so there’s time to do something about it.
Your class rank is not good, especially for a NYC public school. The only NYC public schools where a class rank of top 25% MIGHT be adequate, would be one of the highly competitive, highly rigorous NYC exam schools. You need to try to improve your grades, and hence your class rank. The level of schools that you are talking about would require being in the top 10% of your class, at a minimum, unless you had some extraordinary achievement that they would make an exception for. So study hard, do your best, and take honors and AP classes if they are available to you.
Another area where you can show academic ability is the standardized test. It’s early enough for you to be able to really raise your score by prepping for the test. I imagine that if you are first generation, that English is not your parents’ native language. So, you need to reinforce your English skills. Reading challenging English literature helps, but you also might want to consider focusing on the ACT, rather than the SAT. The fact is that most people find the ACT English section less challenging than the SAT English section. Take a free practice test for both the ACT and the SAT, and see which test seems more to your liking, then start getting ready for it, either through Khan academy online or through a test prep book. If you do really well on the practice SAT, then consider aggressively prepping for the PSAT, because if you could make National Merit, that’s a big deal for some schools, and for some merit aid.
You need to have some extracurricular activity that shows extraordinary achievement. Preferably something that might be related to a potential career interest, or at least a future field of interest. For instance, if you were interested in going into medicine, perhaps you could organize a campaign for some important health issue in the Asian community. If you were interested in going into politics, perhaps you could work on a local campaign. Your service commitment is there, but is at the school level. You need to convert this into something that is at least at the citywide level, preferably state/national/international. Are you fluent in your parents’ language? Have you learned to read and write in that language? This may be something that would help you to find an impressive EC in service to that immigrant community.
Imo, not “extraordinary achievement.” Rather depth and breadth, what that shows that colleges like.
Founding things is a topic we often cover on CC. It’s not enough to just go start some org or activity, designate yourself leader- expecially not when other pre-existing ECs are available. And it begs the question, what else are you doing?
Nor is it especially impressive to call something international. Better is hands on vol work for those in need, locally. Somehow. But more than the easy things at school, eg, tutoring peers. An issue with Key Club is so many kids just go do something/anything for an hour or two. It’s good, but doesn’t represent any personal commitment or even a high level of awareness of what the needs are, around you.
And this is Barnard. If colleges go back to requiring scores, yours will need to be solid. Have you been looking into ranges that colleges report? Put some time into that. The mid 50% SAT CR for Barnard is 670-740 and for M it’s 670-770. It’s not just about stats, but they, along with activities and the rest of your package, are what forms an impression of you.
Yes, the NY high schools can be quite competitive, often a level of savvy not found in the suburbs. Those kids ahead of you in class rank can matter, they and their standing/their involvements are your competition.
You sound like a good “potential” applicant for somewhere strong, but early to know for Barnard. When you say “school doesn’t do weighted/unweighted,” are you suggesting that they have 1 level of class for all? Assuming that is not the case, would you please share your course level and grades by subject for 9th and 10th grade? Even if 1 level, please share the grades by subject. These and your associated rank will be critical, so give those all you have going forward. 93% feels a bit low to me, but will know more after you share more. Your EC’s seem ok, but deepen your involvement in 1 or 2 things you love. Describing them the way you have makes them feel faceless and that may mean you have not found your real passion, or maybe you just wrote a quick post. Love Barnard, too, so I hope you get to attend. Yes, rank matters IMO.
We’re not savvy on Stuyvesant/Bronx Science kids currently. But we are savvy on the NYC magnet schools in a particular interest that requires hard work not easy to get into them - these are highly competitive admission schools, based on audition/portfolio. And what we’ve been told by attendees is that they are NOT academically competitive, that a large proportion of the students there are NOT engaged learners. So if this is what is going on in these magnet schools, imagine what’s going on in the rest of the NYC public high schools. For this reason, an applicant from these schools needs to have very high class rank, and excellent standardized test scores to be competitive.
You are thinking of this early, which gives you time. If your semester isn’t over yet, if your midterms aren’t until mid January, then redouble your efforts to study very hard to improve your semester grades. If first semester was over before Xmas, then I suggest you focus on taking a practice test for both SAT and ACT, and see which one you’re better suited to, and begin test prep for that test. Barnard is most definitely a possibility for you, but you’re going to need to move your class rank into at least the top tenth percentile, and you will need strong standardized test scores. Plus at least one extracurricular activity that shows unusually high achievement - the more you stand out in that one activity, the better. And it shouldn’t be something like standing out in the number of hours spent - it’s got to be a standout based upon quality, innovation, achievement. That’s why I suggest that you think about some sort of service campaign to help your ethnic immigrant community, especially if you speak the immigrant language, and the older people in your immigrant community don’t speak English well. There’s a wealth of possibilities there, and it’s probably right at your fingertips.