I got rejected from all my colleges except my safety schools, and I feel like a complete failure.

As the title implies, I applied to a total of 12 schools. The only schools I got into were Rutgers New-Brunswick and TCNJ. I honestly am so depressed right now because I thought I had a chance to get into at least one of these other schools that I applied to.

I got rejected from Northwestern, JHU, Rice, Wash U, Emory (both CAS and oxford), UMich, UNC Chapel Hill, Boston University, and Brandeis. I got waitlisted from Northeastern. Can you please review my stats and tell me how bad of an applicant I am or where I went wrong so that I can do better in college?

Demographics- Asian American male, Middle class, NJ resident

Intended Major: Biology

GPA- 3.51 (Unweighted) 4.22 (Weighted)

ACT- 34

Subject tests- Bio (800) Math 2 (800)

EC’s and Awards:

•In band/orchestra program for 4 years as principal chair clarinet for all 4 years

•Marching band for 3 years as a soloist and section leader for junior and senior year

•Received numerous awards for clarinet performances and performed at various recitals

•Performed for the pit orchestra at the local community college as paid opportunities

•Studies clarinet privately and is a clarinet mentor who teaches new players

•Volunteered at a Dialysis center for 3 years

•Volunteered after school tutoring kids in biology for 2 years

•National Merit Scholarship letter of commendation

•National Biology Olympiad (USABO) semifinalist for 2017 round

•Worked under a Princeton professor conducting genetic engineering research

•Winner of the Protein Data Bank Video contest (received recognition from the NIH Associate directors for this)

Thought my essays were very strong, unique, and creative, but I guess those months of work were all for nothing.

Rec letters from AP bio teacher and AP Lang teacher.

If it matters, the EFC on our CSS was not too high, less than half the tuition for the colleges. Not sure if that matters, but might as well.

I am sorry you feel bad about the outcome. As a NJ resident going to Rutgers is not as glamours, but it is a a great school. TCNJ is a great campus, has a small LAC feeling. My daughter spent a summer there for the NJ Governor’s program.

The schools you applied to were all reach schools. Your GPA was on the low side for those schools. Many students with 4.0 UW GPAs were rejected from those schools.
You can try to get off the Northeastern WL by sending them additional LORs, transcript, continued interest essay, etc.
At the same time, if I were your parent, I am not sure if I would pay for Northeastern over Rutgers as an in-state. You could transfer if you do well after a year.

Your GPA is not that high (3.51 = 87.7%), SAT2 are great but ACT is just average. Northeaster waitlist is a bit surprised, maybe LORs are not strong. Are you going for pre-med? If yes, Rutgers/TCNJ may actually be a better choice to get high GPA. JHU can be too tough to handle even if they admit you.

@Andorvw ACT of 34 is much, much higher than average. There is very little way to tell why someone is rejected or accepted.

To the OP, I’m so sorry that you are disappointed. Most of those schools are high reaches for everyone. When I visited BU with D1 a few years ago, the admissions officer stressed that for students with mid ranges stats (your GPA would fall in that category) you really had far less of a chance without ED. They pushed ED hard. We came away feeling that she would only have a chance if she applied early decision. With regards to Brandeis, were you able to visit and show all the “interest” that schools seem to need these days? That could be a factor.

Every other school on your list would have been a huge reach even for people with perfect GPA’s. You really shouldn’t think of yourself as a failure at all. College admissions has become a real nightmare lately.

Try not to be too upset. You have two excellent schools and you can get a great education at either one.

That is tough luck. BTW, I live in the midwest and two of the best junior colleagues I have worked with in recent years had undergrad degrees from Rutgers.

Your negatives are:

  1. Relatively low GPA. How rigorous are your classes? How is your HS?
  2. ORM
  3. Possibly relatively weak recommendation letter(s). It could explain all the rejections if you have one poor or unenthusiastic recommendation.

@1NJParent I took all honors and AP when possible. As much as I hate complaining and making excuses, I almost always got the teachers that were considered “poor teachers” and “harder” for each and every subject. I tried hard, but I would just barely miss the cut for an A in several classes, which attributes to my lower gpa. My counselor is well known for being horrible so his recommendation may have been bad. I thought my bio teacher would have wrote a good rec for me as I won a competition under his guidance, and my ap lang teacher did like me as a student. Also what does ORM mean?

@200iqgamer OR=Over-Represented

ORM= Over Represented Minority. Rutgers and TCNJ are great schools. It looks like the schools you applied to were all reaches. Students with great stats get rejected by them all the time. Good luck with your decision!

GPA is the primary factor, I suspect. You have some nice ECs (I was a clarinet player who especially loved pit orchestra, and your USABO finish is also great!). It is pretty clear you are going to land on your feet and be successful. You do have college options – it is tough right now, but you can get a great education at the schools that admitted you. You have to put it aside, figure it was their loss, and move forward to succeed (which I am sure you will) at the school you select.

GPA. I’m only surprised by NEU and Brandeis. The rest, your GPA, without a hook, made you much less competitive than the general accepted applicant.

You did not apply to any real target schools in between? If you are pre-med, either of your remaining choices are good ones. You will do just fine in college. Don’t let the admissions cycle define your college experience.

First: I am sorry. It is really really hard to get so many rejections. And your ECs show a lot of application (anybody who has done orchestra and/or marching band knows how much sheer time that takes!), commitment and leadership. I hope that you are happy with at least one of your choices, and that once you get over the sting of rejection you can celebrate that you have actual good choices. And I hope that if you prefer Northeastern you have contacted them (in writing) to let them know that. Imo, you are not a failure.

I wonder, though, if you got good advice in building your list. Just on stats, most of the schools on your list were serious reaches. JHU (3.9 avg), UMi (3.8), and Emory (3.8) are all explicit that they value GPA > standardized testing), and yours puts you in the bottom 3-10% of accepted students, and at middle 50% of ACT.

UNC-CH has a hard cap on OOS students of 18%, so the admissions stats are misleading- the stats for OOS students are much higher than IS. For Wash U & Rice (who both turn down more than 80% of their applicants) your ACT is middle 50%; that with a 3.5 GPA would make them reaches as well.

At BU 70% of admitted students have a higher GPA than you do. With ~30% acceptance rate it is pretty much a match- so that could go either way.

I’m more surprised about Brandeis, where the average weighted GPA is 3.88 and ACT is 30, and a 33% acceptance rate- that would seem a like a pretty reasonable bet. But a 33% acceptance rate still means a 67% rejection rate.

I don’t know if that helps or makes it worse- I hope that it helps make it clear that you are not a failure, but when schools have to say no to 70-85% of their applicants they have to find ways to cuts, and stats are one way to do it.

Read this post from MIT admissions: http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/applying_sideways, especially this:

So, for college you keep on doing that.

(but for tonight, if you were my chick, I would be giving you a mom hug and getting out the ice cream, b/c even though I can tell that you will be just fine, I know it hurts).

My friend who also had really high stats was rejected from a couple of the same schools (Boston and Northwestern). Apparently the applicants to Boston University doubled this year and Northwestern had an increase in applicants as well. I do know someone who got into Rice with similar stats to you though. I want to say she got around a 1450 to 1500 on the SAT but she definitely did not have as many extracurriculars.

“GPA- 3.51 (Unweighted)”

I think that this was the biggest issue, along with your list of schools to apply to. Your were applying to schools for which you need a lot more A’s than B’s to get in. Being ORM didn’t help you either.

I think that you are going to find either Rutgers or TCNJ to be more challenging than you are expecting, particularly when you get to upper year classes. Also, if you have any intention to get into highly ranked graduate schools, then you are going to want to do significantly better than half A’s and half B’s as an undergraduate student.

You should try to figure out how to get A’s when you go to university. Always pay attention in class. Always stay ahead in all of your classes. Be willing to study and do homework between classes, on weekends, and whenever else you have time and any homework to do. Seek out help when you need it.

It sucks now but you’ll get over it.

Sorry to hear about your disappointment with admissions.

Beyond reassuring you that Rutgers is a fine school, I will echo others that have said that you can think about transferring if you are not happy there.

I’ll also point out that there may be other options available to you when the NACAC list comes out in May – schools that have unfilled seats in their freshman classes will accept applications on a rolling basis until their classes fill. There are some unexpected schools that appear on there sometimes (e.g., Beloit). I’m not sure how much FA there is available for some schools at that late date, though…

So sorry you are disappointed. It will pass, and you will enjoy wherever you land.

Here’s a story: My friend’s son was devastated that he did not get into a few highly selective schools and ended up at a mid-ranked LAC that he wasn’t excited about. Fast forward five years out of college, and he’s married to a wonderful woman he met in college and has a unique career that he landed in due to an internship he got through the college. He says it couldn’t have turned out better.

What are your goals after college? If you are planning on medical school or some other type of post-undergrad study, you are better off at Rutgers or TCNJ.

As for why you didn’t get into those super-competitive schools, I think your GPA was not competitive. The high standardized test scores do not compensate for the GPA. As someone else upthread said, applicants with the same test scores and 4.0 GPAs get rejected from those schools.

Please read the book Where You Go Is Not Who’ll You’ll Be by Frank Bruni. You’ve got a lot of great things going for you. Your success in life will NOT be determined by where you go to college.

GPA is the most likely culprit. Of the schools that didn’t (or haven’t) say Yes, I would have had Northeastern, BU and Brandeis pegged as high matches for you. Which means (in my book) a 25-40% chance of getting in. The rest were reaches.

In Rutgers and TCNJ, you have two really good options and a decision to make: do you prefer the larger, more research-oriented school that offers more majors and classes and D1 athletics (Rutgers), or the smaller LAC-like atmosphere of TCNJ? If you let your preferences guide you, you will make the right choice.

Northeastern is still a possibility, but I wouldn’t pursue it if it’s a lot more expensive than Rutgers or TCNJ. And the list of schools that did not fill their classes (mentioned upthread) may be worth a look as well. But if nothing ensues from those, you do have two fine choices, schools that wanted you. Schools that think you can make them better. So pick one, and do that.