My chances at an Ivy, or equally selective school?

I want to begin by saying that I have a spike in journalism/writing.

Grade: rising senior, ethnicity: Arab/African American, sex: male

Gpa: 3.5, hoping to get it up to 3.8 by the time I apply to colleges. Freshman: 2.8, sophomore: 3.3, junior: 3.5

Sat: 1475, Act: 32. I want to retake both, hopefully getting up to a 1500+ and a 33.

AP classes: Out of 12 AP classes offered, I am taking 8 between my junior and senior years. Junior year I only took AP Lang, apush, AP human geo. Senior year I am taking AP lit, AP calc, AP bio, AP psychology, AP gov. My junior year, I had all 5s on my exams.


Clubs: cross country for two years, soccer for two, track for all four. Journalism team (state qualifier), junior advisory board, nhs, yearbook, scholastic bowl, newscast and I organized and supervised a club were kids from a nearby middle school can come to my Highschool and play soccer.

My junior year, I participated in a yearlong program at a nearby university to learn advanced journalistic and filmmaking skills. We learned the arts from journalism majors and even pro journalists. This program took place at one of the best universities at my state, and is one of the most selective universities in the nation. I will be participating in the program again this year.
Also, this summer I participated in a highly selective, 5 week journalism/multimedia camp at another highly selective university.
I have interned for one major newspaper publisher (I had a connection to one of the editors there, and I was able to reach out to him personally and get an exclusive internship) and one local newspaper publisher. I have published articles on two very large online news websites and a local one. My freshman year, I was manipulated and traumatized by an aunt(reason why my freshman grades were so bad). One of the articles I published to a major outlet detailed accounts of male sexual assault survivors and shared their stories.

I have 80+ hours volunteered an a hospital.

So clearly I have a pretty good spike in journalism, but was wondering if I did enough to set me apart from other applicants. I know that Ivies prefer steam spikes , but I’m more interested in humanities and arts and I figure that a journalistic spike is less competitive than say, a computer science one. Also, I’m interested in applying to Princeton, Stanford and Georgetown.

Your ECs are fantastic, but they may not make up for your GPA at the tippy tops, not even with URM status. If you can get your GPA up to a 3.8+/4.0 UW that would increase your chances, but that doesn’t seem possible, at least for the overall GPA, especially by the January deadlines. Don’t “hope” - do the actual calculations.

I would pick only one of those three colleges you listed as a “high reach” to apply to (that’s your lottery ticket: the place with 1-10% acceptance rate). Pick your other reaches from among the colleges with 20-40% acceptance rates. Make sure you have several match and likely schools.

Those look like unrealistic reaches with your GPA (3.2 overall, 3.4 for 10th-11th).

Just as important as finding colleges which are realistic for admission with a 3.2-3.4 GPA is to check with your parents about what the budget is. For most potential college students, this is the most important factor in selecting a college.

Georgetown also strongly recommends 3 SAT subject tests.

The schools are going to be reaches/almost impossible with the GPA unless you are a recruited athlete.

Look to your in-state school as a match.

If journalism is a potential major, the University of Missouri has a top program and is in reach with your current GPA/scores.

I’m not seeing how those GPAs average to a 3.5. I’m thinking apply to one Ivy for fun if you want but your odds are slim to (more likely) none.

First of all, I am so very sorry about what happened with your aunt and the impact it had on you. If you have a good college counselor at school, their recommendation could include a line about your circumstance affecting grades. Beyond that, identifying as African American (not sure Arab carries the same weight, but going on identifying as African American) is an Under represented minority status. That will help ALOT. Any other hooks? First generation college student? Your SAT scores are good. Look to get near perfect grades this year and put a lot of time and effort into your essay, activity list ect. Make it flawless. Have a teacher check grammar/spelling. Do NOT list an expensive college program on your application. This hurts your application not helps it. It means nothing that the school itself is a selective school hosting it. Only if you received a scholarship to these programs should they be listed! Your internship means MUCH more. list that. Yes, Georgetown recommends 3 Subject tests. But I know students who have gotten in with only top AP scores. Apply to your state schools as well as some other easier admit schools, but it’s fine to try some super hard schools too. That URM status makes your situation different. But you have to work hard this year. Sounds like you have taken too much rigor. GPA is very important.

Also, neither Georgetown, Princeton, or Stanford have renowned journalism programs. The only T20 school that has a top rated journalism program is Northwestern and that is just as big a reach as your original choices.

There are a lot of public schools that have much better programs for your potential major and have a better return for your investment.

Don’t use a undersubscribed/less desired major as a backdoor if you’re more concerned with prestige. If you are dedicated to journalism, go for the best possible school for the major at the cheapest option.

Having been through the application process myself to top schools (Harvard, Yale, and Chicago), your candidacy will come down to two factors. First, you will have to continue your upward trend in GPA. The second, and perhaps more important part will be your personal statement and how you present yourself, your life, your story, and your passion for film making to the admissions committee.

Given the filmmaking interest, I would suggest USC and NYU as possible targets to consider as well. The GPA is still low for those particular schools, but they are more reasonable reaches than Princeton/Stanford.

So there seems to be a lot of warranted confusion and scrutiny to my grades. And sorry for the late response, but I honestly forgot I posted this.

Anyways, what I posted was my cumulative gpa throughout high school, not what I got that said year. My sophomore year I had a 3.8 and as a junior I earned straight As, a 4.5.
I was hoping that schools would overlook my terrible freshman year grades because of my circumstances and how I was able to rise up from that situation by using it to give a voice to others in a way that correlated with my intended major. That, coupled with a strong upward trend in grades and a high sat score would hopefully excuse any below average grades.
I know that Stanford recalculates your gpa so it doesn’t have your freshman year grades, meaning I would be well above Stanford’s 4.12 average. Stanford is also know to choose the more “compelling” applicants rather than those with perfect academics.

You can also consider UChicago, they are aggressively recruiting students from underrepresented populations, and their application includes a short video where you can shine.