Moved from Great SAT's/ EC's, Low GPA--- advice

<p>Well, as the title suggests, I'm a junior with good SAT's and EC's but a low GPA wondering how to present myself in the best light (I know it's a bit early, but I want to apply early to an LAC and I'm gone all summer). I have around a 3.6/7 unweighted (went down in the middle of this year due to personal issues my gc will explain in his rec), which my gc seems to think will bar me from the schools I want to attend. However, I also am student rep to my district's board of ed (first junior to ever get the position), gettin the IB program started at my high school, on my district's curriculum council, working on starting a science research program at my hs, All- State/ All- Eastern singer, and harpist. I'm also doing the NJ Governor's School in International Studies this summer. My SAT's are 800w 800v 600m (retaking in october for the math). My b's are in math and science, which I have a shaky background in. I'm wondering the same thing as stresseddad: will my gpa kill me at the more selective schools? Sorry to hijack the parents' forum :)</p>

<p>Guidance counselors, while often meaning well, are often dead wrong. I would urge you to follow your own radar and seek out the schools you want.</p>

<p>If D had listened to the GC at D's high school, she'd be at a mediocre school. The GC hadn't a clue about her ECs, nor her awards or talent, nor her personality --all GC was concerned about was placing the kids into any college so that she didn't get yelled at by the head mistress. </p>

<p>The only thing that is meaningful, besides applying to your favorite schools, is to find a true safety school with which you would be happy. This is the truly hard college to find.</p>

<p>College admissions are getting crazier and crazier and it all depends which brass ring you can catch (or so it seems). BTW, your gpa is perfectly fine--nothing to be embarassed or ashamed.</p>

<p>Good luck and go for it.</p>

<p>First thing to do is to work with the stats you have, because regardless of your gc's opinion, that is your reality. Do your own research. You may end up agreeing with your gc, and you may not. Rather than looking at your GPA as dragging your application down, look at your SAT's as boosting your application up. Your stats are your starting point, so pick a cluster of schools that are reasonable matches given your stats and other criteria you are using such as location and etc. (see the other current threads on 25th-75th%) Then, using your guidance department's "book" or scattergram site, find examples of accepted students from your high school to try to "prove" that you could get in at each school. Use only average stats and above; don't be encouraged by the occasional acceptance with much lower stats. And don't start at the top echelon with Yale and co, even if you believe yourself to be Yale material. Start in the middle and work up and down from there. Let the numbers speak for themselves, even if you don't like what they are saying.</p>

<p>Find a cluster of foundation schools you like. Make sure your stats hit their ceiling. </p>

<p>So you've got your foundation schools and some very conservative match schools. Now the fun begins, which is figuring out how high you want to shoot and how to accentuate your strong points. Obviously you are quite accomplished with the EC's you listed, and who could argue with those SAT's. Looks like you are not headed towards a math or science major, so I wouldn't stress too much about the 600m and the math and science B's (though, as you're aware, it wouldn't hurt to raise the math SAT). What you want are schools that will "understand" and appreciate your areas of excellence and not be overly concerned with a B average in a subject you're not planning to pursue in college. The same school is more likely to "understand" a rough quarter in an otherwise strong transcript. </p>

<p>Remember that even people with perfect stats of 800's and 4.0 are denied every day. So even if your GPA were higher, it would still not be a guarantee. For the highly selective schools, you would still need to present yourself in the best light. Here are some ideas to consider:
1) crank out amazing grades senior year, because the transcript is important and you want to demonstrate that you've rebounded and restored
2) organize your activity list in a manner that highlights you. For instance, you have strong music accomplishments and have shown initiative and ambition in starting the IB and research programs. Make such things jump out. Reinforce them with other elements in your application. (see "nickname" threads)
3) get recommendations from administrators you've worked with, in addition to the regular recommendations
4) get very specific with what you are looking for in a school. This will help to reduce the number of high reach schools.</p>

<p>Go ahead and apply to a few high reaches... you've got a ticket. They are a reach for almost everyone. But focus on your matches. After years of productivity and accomplishment, I hate to see students end up feeling diminished by the process and the "what-if's". I hate to see kids who have so much to be proud of, be made to feel that even though they are running on 4 hours of sleep each night, everything they did was just not enough. Listen to the gc. Try not to listen to relatives who are more familiar with 1970's admissions... they hear you have 800's and they're off to the races. Be conservative and be realistic, and dream a little bit too, just don't live in a dream state. In the end, make your own decisions. </p>

<p>PS- Did your gc give you specific reasons why your GPA will "bar" you? Or is he/she just speaking in general terms? I'd look into that a little. Good luck!</p>

<p>Thanks for the responses:) Your advice is very helpful.</p>

<p>LL, Speckedegg has given you some great advice. Don't despair, don't focus on the past or situations that you can't control. You have some great scores (work on that math!), great EC's and your GPA is not all that terrible. A few B's WILL NOT keep you out of top schools. (Just like a few 800's won't get you in.) You'll get into some fine schools; just be sure to have a balance that includes some sure bets.</p>

<p>I don't know what the "personal issues" that you allude to are, but I would caution you to be careful about how your counselor explains your grade dip. College admissions committees are sympathetic but they are also pragmatic. If they think there's a chance that you may bring your "personal issues" to college with you it may be reason to deny. </p>

<p>How are your grades for the second half of junior year? If you're planning to apply ED showing improvement in this segment is key.</p>

<p>LL, most schools just report year end grades on the special transcripts they generate for the colleges. That was particularly advantageous to my boys who had some roller coaster grades within the year, but managed to average out reasonably well at the end. If your junior year grades show a dip from the past couple of years, the midyear grades senior year take on a great importance. In fact, many kids have their first quarter grades sent to the college. </p>

<p>There will be schools where your grades will keep you out. The top schools have to cull with anything they can find, and the grades and test scores are the easiest things to use. The transcript is the most scrutinzed single piece of info for the colleges. But your grades will be viewed in terms of the school you are coming from, the courses you have taken and your peers from that school.</p>

<p>I am not saying that you should not apply to reaches that interest you. Admissions often has some unpredicatable results, but I always advise that students also select some schools that will accept even taking into account the lowest part of the student's profile.</p>

<p>I think it's likely that the GPA will harm your chances. You are in the situation that my son was in, and we handled it this way. He applied to about a dozen schools. One was a large state school that was selected as a "pure safety". About 4 others were selected from the admissions office book, looking at where other students had been admitted with similar GPAs. (Yes, they mostly had lower scores than he did). Finally, he picked about 6 or 7 schools that were more selective than the ones to which his grades pointed. He was admitted at one of those schools, and attends it. </p>

<p>If you have this type of "mismatch" between your grades and scores, pick 4 or so schools to apply to based on the lower of the two measures, and then work up from there. You don't have to give up on any dreams.....give the schools a chance to say yes to you, but be realistic and apply to some where they are very likely to say yes also. Good luck. If you are a very good harpist, this could help you some, I suppose, but there are probably some other harpists out there with very good scores and grades too.</p>

<p>I think Dadx' s strategy is wise. We did pretty much the same thing with our kids with mismatches between scores and grades and ECs. It is really unpredictable who is willing to take a chance and take you.</p>

<p>Dadx's strategy can work out; happily, it did for his son. However, not every kid would be able to invest the effort in completing essays and applications for those 7 reach schools without convincing himself that he belongs there. Sometimes magical thinking kicks in, especially when the reach schools are highly appealing. What was a reach in October starts to feel more like a match as the months roll by. Then if denied at all 7 reaches (which really were reaches to begin with), the student feels devastated and has a harder time feeling good about happy acceptances at his match schools. </p>

<p>Any student who pursues a top-heavy list would do themselves a favor by chanting "reach, reach, reach" until the decisions come in. Parents can help by reigning in their impulses to overtalk the reach schools, and to try to always speak of the match schools with respect. Applicants need to assess whether they are emotionally equipped to shoot high and hope for the best, while at the same time, prepare for possible disappointment.</p>

your GPA will likely hurt your at the most selective schools (say 30% and less admissions), but certainly won't kill you everywhere. You will need to be a little more careful of having good safeties - but don't give up. I would recommend that you put most your enegy into schools that accept at least 40% of their applicants, and aren't too, too focused on grades. Certain apply to your favorite reaches - just make sure you have a good foundation.</p>