Rate my chances for University of Chicago, Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, UT Austin.


Attended a large highly competitive high school in the suburbs

GPA: UW-3.86 W-probably at least 4.9(our high school weighs differently)
total 6 b’s- Honors biology and honors geometry(freshmen)/ Honors English, honors chem X2, orchestra(sophomore)
Total: 15 ap classes: all 5’s except for two

SAT: 1580
Subject tests: 800 math level 2, 800 Korean


Debate- Captain and varsity state champion
Business Professionals of America- State champion and nationally ranked for economic research
Mock Trial- Executive Board/ ranked top on state and nationals
National Honors Society-officer
Internship for state representative
Internship for a trucking company
2 International Serving trips
Lead a small group of middle school students at church
CFO, cofounder, and networking director for a nonprofit organization
Led a partnership between my church, my nonprofit, and a school in Costa Rica
Bank of America student leaders program
Mentored students with disabilities
Private orchestra
Varsity soccer

Letters of Rec- written by two great teachers of mine that are super close to me/ hoping to get my district representative to write an additional letter

I am planning to apply ED to UChicago for their economics and pre-law(law, letters, and society). I know the biggest flaw to my application is my grades and gpa. Is my gpa and grades bad to the point that it will kill the rest of my app?

What is your class rank? Or if that’s not given, what do you estimate it to be?

On the face of it, 6Bs is a lot, and seems disqualifying at Chicago (my daughter attends there). But if you tell me you are still in the top 5%, then you may have a shot. I like your ECs.

my school does not report class rank, but I can estimate it to be from 5-10%

I assume your counselor has good data on UChicago and the qualifications of students accepted from your school. What does s/he say about it?

From what I see, your ED application can be used elsewhere with much higher probability. Georgetown perhaps or WUSTL.

If you still have your heart set on UChicago, a good test to check for fit is to look at the the uncommon essay. One of them should speak to you, and you should be able to write a good first draft quickly.

Thanks for your reply! Do you believe that with an exceptional essay I have a shot at uchicago( at least 30%?)

Inviting some other current UChicago parents for their opinions:

@CU123 , @JBStillFlying , @BrianBoiler, @milee30 , and @FStratford. Would you like to weigh in on this student’s chances at UChicago?

Hard to say. On the one hand, six B’s (five of them in “solids”) is problematic. On the other, OP seems to be advanced a year in the honors science and possibly the math sequences but isn’t necessarily a STEM devotee given the EC’s and majors specified. Junior and senior grades and course load will be crucial. Having a bunch of 5’s in hard subjects (bio, chem, physics, calc, lang/lit, apush/euro) will help anywhere.

OP should probably speak to his/her guidance counselor about UChicago versus other schools of interest to discuss best fit. It’s tempting to use the ED round in order to maximize “odds” at getting into a top school, but IMO that’s a mistake in strategy. Admit rates fall out of the selection process; they don’t translate into personal odds. UChicago and other top schools get a lot of right-fit candidates who self-select into the ED round, and they outright reject a good number of kids with stellar credentials. Using ED wisely is the best way to maximize odds. Agree with @hebegebe that the essays are helpful in figuring that out.

ECs are super. Am intrigued by the trucking company internship!

All you can do is apply and see what happens. It doesn’t help to speculate about your chances. With reach schools, getting in is only half the battle. You have to pay for it too, and most people can’t afford private or out of state colleges. Keep a good list of target and safety schools.

@rgtech ,

Please create a separate thread so that people can help you. This thread is to help gobears1234.

I’m not too great at these threads. I really can only talk about the stats portion, which appear on the low end for gpa. JB raises some good points.

That being said, I believe your stats get you a review and everything else is what closed the deal. Write your essays to address how you fit UChicago’s mission. Ask your teachers to tailor their reps to show how you fit UChicago. Lot of great kids out there, and ED1 gives you some hook like characteristics.

Do you need aid? I know they are supposed to be need blind, but who knows now.

If you want my call on a percentage, assuming your essays and LORs are in line with what I say, I’ll give you 40%. You won’t be a immediate reject and say 70% of a deferral or acceptance.

My son had better grades, but a lower SAT/ACT. (1540/34). He was also a recruited athlete and applied ED1.

thank you for the reply! So would you guys recommend me to ed to Uchicago or somewhere else(Cornell, Dartmouth, Georgetown, NYU Stern)? I know @hebegebe touched on this, but to get some more perspectives on the table.

All else being equal, your best chance at getting into UChicago is through ED.

What makes you fit into the crowd at UChicago? What is it about your application that would make you stand out? If you have good answers to these two questions, then that will show in your essays… and it will show in your recommendations if your letter writers know that you are a real good fit.

Your grades are on the margins… but I am trying a slightly different take on your grades. It seems like the B’s are from 1st and 2nd year. Is there a good story to explain that? How did you get from getting Bs to getting As in your latter years? If so, that might make for a great essay, if not use a supplemental essay to explain that.

SATs, extracurriculars are strong enough and they allude to a potentially interesting essay about yourself and why UChicago.

Anyway, If I am putting a finger in the air and making a guess, your changes are about 30%-40%, if your essays are superb (did your English writing skills improve… I see it’s one of the classes where you have a B?) then you may push it up to above 50%, and that is really where you want to position yourself because…

If you want to go into Econ (even though you’re not really applying to a major) your cohort, based on academic interest will be very competitive.


I infer that you are Asian (apologies if I am wrong), and although you wont be treated like how you will be negatively treated if you were to apply to Harvard with its alleged de facto quota of Asian students (if the news were to be believed) your demographic cohort is also highly competitive.

So to answer your question:

The pragmatic answer would be: check out Georgetown or Vanderbilt to increase your chances at ED’ing to a school that you like and will likely give you equivalent opportunities after graduation.

The optimistic answer would be: if you are really set on UChicago (which means your essays will be awesome…yes you will know right away if they are awesome) and you just know you would not be happy if you did not even try (having already written that awesome essay), then swing for the fences! As they say, if you don’t apply, your chance of getting in is zero

(Just make sure you have a solid safety, otherwise your results will be suboptimal)

Good luck!

I agree with others, ED1 to Chicago is your best shot. If its your top choice, then go ahead and apply.

But if you’re going to apply to the LLS major, please note that they do their best to weed out pre-law students. Its one of the few majors that you have to apply to get in (during 2nd year). If you’re going to cite LLS as an interest in your app, then don’t also mention that you’re pre-law. There is no set requirements for pre-law students, you can major in nearly anything.

Besides the name, why do you really want these colleges? If you want law school your best bet is a super high GPA & a high LSAT. Neither UChic nor Cornell are especially famous as a place for super high GPAs.

Georgetown is specific that there is no admissions advantage to applying REA.

Unless you worked extensively and directly with the rep AND they can add something meaningful about you (that your 2 teachers & GC won’t speak to), don’t.

Some of these schools are pretty different in vibe and curriculum (among other things), and all reaches. Do you have some matches and at least one affordable safety on your list?

I can’t chance you, but are these schools affordable for you/your family? Have you run their NPCs? If not do so…don’t apply anywhere ED that does not look to be affordable.

Note if you apply Georgetown EA you can not apply ED anywhere. https://uadmissions.georgetown.edu/applying/early-action/#

I have a different take on this because I don’t think your grades are necessarily an issue. But the fact that you think they’re the issue… is an issue.

UChicago uses your transcript to figure out if you have the capability to do the work. Beyond that, I don’t think grades get much discussion. They’re not sitting around the table deciding that Applicant X gets in before Applicant Y because Y had two more Bs. Once they’ve determined both X and Y are capable of the work, they’re looking to see which one shows the fit they’re looking for. IMO, if you’re not accepted it won’t be because you had some Bs or didn’t have a 1600.

If your essays and description of the ECs (don’t forget how you describe things is key) shows these are check-the-box type activities vs. a demonstration that you have the curiosity and drive they want… that will be your issue. If you waste any space at all explaining away the Bs, that will be an issue. You need all that space to show how interesting and fascinating your ECs and you as a person are, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown and will continue to grow.

Much of what you’ve listed appears to be a checklist of things that Tiger Parents want their kids to do, not necessarily things you did because you were curious, interested or fascinated with them (that could be wrong and just a function of the way people tend to list things on this forum, so if that’s not the case, don’t be offended, use that information to know how not to present them on your app.) If your app reads like a checklist of what you thought would make for a good app, that approach tends to fall flat at UChicago. So you need to make sure you communicate why you did these things and how that fits with the UChicago goals and desires. They’re not necessarily looking for the person that checks the most boxes, they want to know why you chose those things, what you learned, what advances you made, how you grew, how you impacted the organization.

Have you done some in-depth research on the UChicago culture, what the college values, what it is trying to achieve? If you’ve done that and you know you are a fit, you are what they’re looking for, this is what you need to show in your app.

One question - your list of colleges is eclectic. Can you give us some insight on how and why you chose these colleges?

Not yet mentioned is your level of demonstrated interest. Have you visited any of these schools? That could be a key ingredient in answering the underlying question, “Why here?” My son is a senior this year and because we live within driving distance of Chicago we took the opportunity last fall to register and make formal visits to both Northwestern and UChicago. My son walked away from UC and decided the vibe was wrong and therefore not worth the time and effort to apply…especially knowing their essays are quirky and take extra time.

Lots of schools like to talk about the collaborative learning environment and describe themselves as “student-focused” but once you visit a bunch of schools you’ll see that comes into sharper focus in some places more than others. So, I’d also take the time to examine what kind of learner you are? Do you thrive in a cut throat atmosphere or do you want something more collegial?

At the end of the day, you need to assess fit. Just because you’ll thrive academically doesn’t mean you’ll be happy spending the next four years of your life there. Make sure you do that and can articulate it.

@milee30 Thanks for your reply! To answer your question, I value geographic location and the overall academic “style” of a college. For geographic location, I prefer urban colleges due to the multitude of career experiences, jobs, and internships. With the academic “style,” I respect UChicago’s motto of “Feeding the mind” which makes the institution much more appealing.

Then how/why are Dartmouth and Cornell two of your six top choices?

And how do you demonstrate on your UChicago app that your mind needs to be fed?

You look like an excellent candidate for an economics major in pre-law. I like your list of universities, and just recommend adding a couple that are clear admission safeties and financial safeties. To answer your question, No, your GPA will not stop you. You have proven yourself academically with your other academic achievements.

My daughter is pursuing a PhD at a prestigious university with a five-year fellowship package, and her undergraduate GPA was around 3.4. It didn’t matter next to her international, national and university awards and honors, her extensive experience in her intended degree area, and stellar recommendations. Just focus on your strengths.

I recommend checking out University of Minnesota. It is located in the major metropolis of Minneapolis-St. Paul, one of the top five places with the most Fortune 500 headquarters, and also the state capital, providing lots of opportunities in both business and law. It would be much more suitable than Dartmouth and Cornell, which are in the middle of nowhere. Emory University in Atlanta is another place in a capital city, with lots of law-related and business-related opportunities.