Please Chance my Test Less application to UW Madison


I’m a rising senior in PA.
I go to high school in an urban public school system.
I have registered for the August SAT but that’s up in the air so this is assuming I submit an application without an SAT.
My #1 school is UW Madison.

I have a 4.5/3.7 GPA, having taken at least 10 honors courses and 6 AP Courses. This upcoming year I am registered for 4 AP Courses and have been accepted to take 2 undergrad courses at the University of Pittsburgh as a part of their Accelerated High School Program (Not full time Undergrad).
My extracurriculars/Volunteer work includes

A. I’m a high level admin for a travel soccer organization that represents youth soccer in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh and surrounding area). I handle rostering players, creating teams, assigning teams to regional leagues, as well as handling the rostering of many scholarship players.

B. I’m 1st Trumpet and lone sousaphone in both Marching band and Concert Band for my high school (I wrote the sheet music for many of our Marching band stand tunes).

C. I play Trumpet for the University of Pittsburgh pep band at Pitt basketball/volleyball games.

D. I have studied Piano at the Carnegie Mellon University music program for all of high school and can play the toughest work of the best composers (Chopin, Rachmaninov etc.)

E. I’m a licensed US National Soccer Federation referee and and ref ages up to U18 for clubs across Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

F. I’m team captain of my club soccer travel team, of which a majority of the players letter varsity for my High School (I chose Music over Varsity sport, although I would’ve made varsity).

G. I’m in Model UN and have represented my high school in competitions at the University of Pittsburgh, CMU, and Duquesne University.

I’m half Taiwanese half Ashkenazi Jewish (Is that an advantage considering Asian Jews aren’t in large quantity? Also UW Madison is only 6% Asian American).
My preferred major is either Chemistry or Political Science.


hello! i was kind of lurking around in the university of wisconsin-madison threads (i live in wisconsin) and then i found this thread haha. i still have some years until college apps start, and hence, i’m undoubtedly unqualified, but i can try to give you some feedback based on what i know from people who have attended uwm.

first of all, i don’t think anyone can necessarily “chance” others for college, college admissions are super random. it also really depends on your essays and teacher rec letters, there are a lot of factors involved.

the main thing that i will say is that the majority of people at uwm are from inside the state, and the university leans toward accepting and providing heavier financial aid towards those in state. if you do make it in, though, it’s a really amazing school, and i think you would like it!

What’s your parents’budget?

Will you contact the coaches or the band?

Why UWisconsin rather than Pitt, PSU, or Temple?

My family would be able to afford OOS tuition for UW. My dad is active service and essentially half of the tuition gets paid for.
Pitt is up there too, but I’ve lived a block away from the campus my whole life and I want to experience a new environment for 4 years. I really liked Madison when I visited.

@BL031976. Your gpa is low for OOS. However, course rigor is very important to Madison so you might have a chance. In addition, there is quite a bit of students from Pennsylvania that comes to Madison so don’t know if that is a plus or minus for you. I would try to take the ACT/SAT and try to score in the low 30. Most OOS students admitted to Madison have much higher GPA and ACT/SAT scores than in-state students. A few students from my daughter’s school have gpa of 3.75-3.80 and ACT in the 27-29 range got admitted but they are in-state. My suggestion is to continue to have an upward trend in your gpa and see if you can take the SAT/ACT.

Thanks for Your Response!
I understand my GPA is below the average, but do you think my course load is impressive enough to make up for it?
I also left out some major information regarding extracurriculars and awards (I was exhausted when I made the post)

In addition to being the administrator of the regional soccer club, I’m a commissioner of u14/15/17/18 Pa West (Section of US Soccer) travel leagues, as I Handle scheduling and Score input for Clubs across Central and Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Over the summer I switched to Sousaphone in my marching band and just got voted section leader.

Regarding Awards and Honors (Which I forgot to put):
High Honor Roll every year,
I won the “Pgh Public Schools Multilingual Award” as I studied both Spanish 4 (I can speak at a semi-fluent level) and the highest available level of Chinese (I was in Chinese 5 and am fully fluent).

I just finished my common app essay, and talked about how my life as a “Military Brat” living overseas in Germany and UK (1 full year), Japan and South Korea (1 full year), Taiwan (1 Full Year), and Indonesia (3 years), in addition to talking about my life as a half Ashkenazi Jew half Taiwanese American, and how it defines me. I’d say it’s a well written essay, and I think my International Background could Benefit me as an aspiring International Relations Major.
I’m working on my UW Madison essay, but so far I’d say it really conveys my interest in the University (I really wanna join the Badger Band)

Do you think this extra information + Course load can overcome my Lower GPA?
(My August SAT is now cancelled so I’m forced to apply Test Optional)

@BL031976. Per UW-Madison common data set for 2019-20, Rigor of secondary record and application essay boxes are checked as very important.

  • Assuming that you took 10 honors and 6 AP classes already, are you getting mostly A’s? You are expected to do well in these classes regardless as you are competing against many in-state and especially OOS students. Most of them are getting A’s in them honors and AP classes since Madison is one of the top 50 public institutions.

-extracurricular is marked “considered” under Madison data set point. Unless your are a recruited athlete, donor kid, come from a famous celebrity, recruited URM, it will probably not make it up for a low gpa.

Asian(Taiwanese)-Jews probably is not considered URM at Madison. It considered Africa American, Hispanic and Southeast Asian Students (Hmong, Laotian. and Vietnamese) as URM.

You can get a good idea of what UW-Madison is looking for in prospective students by googling “common data set uw madison”‘ and click on the latest academic year.

As an alumnus and many happy cousins/friends/siblings of UW-Madison, my suggestion is for you to apply EA since that’s your #1 school but have safeties. More than likely, you will get deferred to regular round but you may get accepted too. You won’t know if you don’t apply. Continue to do well your senior year, especially in those AP classes, and write a killer essay as UW Madison considered it very important. Best of luck to you and hopefully “Uw-Madison Class of 2025” from you.

P.s. you wrote uwm and that’s the wrong school when you are referring to Madison. We have a Public University in Milwaukee, WI and it goes by the name “UWM”. When referring to UW-Madison, most people will say “UW” or “Madison” but never uwm.

@BL031976. Sorry about the last statement about uw milwaukee vs Madison. Got u confused with another person.


Oh I know I’m not a hook, I just think my life overseas gives me good material to work with for an essay.

I received far more A’s in my APs than B’s. I actually did worse in my Honors courses, which explains my low GPA, but a massive majority of my Bs came at the end of Freshman Year, when both my Aunt and Grandma (Both of whom I was extremely close with) were diagnosed with cancer. My Aunt thankfully was able to Get through it, but unfortunately my Grandpa’s health worsened exponentially during the first few months of sophomore year and passed away around that October. I actually I had a bunch of Cs in my first quarter of Sophomore year but was able to raise them to Bs.
I believe I had 7 Bs (All Honors) during that time, which really took a blow to my GPA.
I’m choosing to not include it in my essay as it doesn’t relate at all to my theme, and I’m guessing many people experience deaths during High School so idk if it really explains my poor academic performance during those two semesters.
Do you Think it would’ve worth it to try to explain in my Application, or have my Counselor talk about it in her Recommendation.

Also idk if this means anything but according to Naviance, there have been kids From my high school with similar (or worse) weighted GPAs than mine who have gotten accepted, and with SATs well below the 1400s (some even around the 1200s but that student was waitlisted/accepted). I honestly don’t know what this means for me but it gives me some hope.

@BL031976. Probably best if you have your counselor briefly talk about It and how you overcame it. That will be up to you. I don’t think it’s going to harm your chances.

Being a nice and kind person is very important so don’t forget to ask your recommenders to talk about your personal traits aside from academic. Many people forget this part.

Thanks for your advice!

Your background sounds excellent for UW Madison. My son from NJ was high school class of 2010 and he attended Madison for 5.5 years to end of 2015 (he added a major and a certificate kind of late and needed some additional math courses to prep for grad school). He played on their club baseball team. He loved his time there and made great friends who are still friends 10 years later. Living in Madison was an awesome experience. We, the parents, loved it there also and went to a football game each fall. The whole town is wonderful! Everything there seems exciting! Kids party but everyone works hard at schoolwork. Kids are ambitious. I imagine things are a bit ‘off’ during this covid era which is unfortunate but maybe, hopefully, next year will be better. In your essay, show the love. Schools love for students to love their schools! Best wishes! Apply early. Ask me any questions and I can try to answer. P.S. Naviance is very useful and can guide you.

I’m glad you think my background is a good match for UW Madison. I really enjoyed it when I visited a few weeks ago. But since you’re someone who’s had experience with out of state admission, do you think my statistics are good enough?

Yes, absolutely, you have more than you need! Tell them about your visit and how much you can see yourself there. It really is some kind of privelege to go there. Another thing, a positive for you since you are part Taiwanese, is that Madison is not super diverse racially. However, over the 5.5 years we visited there, I can tell you that it was changing and you could see it on the streets - there was a definite increase so it is on the rise which is good for you. When my son first went there, I remember he said - where is everyone (having come from a diverse school district). By the time he left, it looked noticeably different to me. So, it’s your advantage. BTW, Madison is super liberal but outside of it in Wisconsin less so. We miss Madison and hope to visit again some time.

P.S. one more thing. You mention the SAT. BTW, Madison seemed to be an ACT school place. My son submitted SAT but everyone he grew to know there had submitted only ACTs. But no worries, your grades and ECs will carry you just fine. Show the love!

Thanks, I appreciate the advice!

You are expected to take rigorous classes and to do well in them. A rising gpa is good- better than the same all years. One bad semester can hurt the overall gpa but if it is a blip in the otherwise good record it can be overlooked. Remember- all the extracurriculars done will not make up for lesser grades. I state this for the sake of other HS students reading this thread. For you, the OP, all you can do now is apply and continue to do your best your final year.

I retook my SAT and got a 1340 (660 reading, 680 math). Do you think you could chance me with the SAT for International Relations?

Btw here’s some other information in my application:

UW GPA: 3.7. I was affected by some family struggles (both grandma and aunt diagnosed with cancers within the same month, unfortunately my grandmother passed away) in the 2nd semester of freshman year and 1st semester of sophomore year, my counselor talked about it in her LOR for me.
By the end of senior year I will have taken 10 Honors courses and 9 AP courses, I have a 4.488 weighted GPA.

My extracurriculars include being commissioner of interstate soccer league, section leader for marching band, Service dog trainer, president of school Chinese culture club, United States soccer federation referee, and smaller stuff like being in a University pep band, concert band, study piano at Carnegie Mellon University, member of a club soccer team, and member of model UN.

Something I’m really proud of is my common app and supplemental essay. I hear they’re really important for UW Admissions. For my common app, I talked about how because of my father’s service in the US Air Force and job as a physician, I’ve lived in the UK, Japan, South Korea, Guam, Germany, and Indonesia, and then I related it to how prideful I am of my unique Taiwanese Jewish identity, and used that to talk about how I can relate to different cultures and have a good understanding of political struggles.
In preparation for my UW Madison essay, I did intense research including contacting professors, and I also gathered a lot of specific information about joining clubs like the Badger Band. The whole time I basically talked about my fit within UWisconsin and my aspirations for what I’m going to do there rather than focus on the campus (as beautiful as it is).

Again, I’m out of state so I hope the essays (which I worked really hard on) and workload In addition to decent grades and test scores can get me in. Also I don’t think International relations is as competitive to gain admission to.