Real chances at an ivy (or similar) without test scores

Hello. My daughter is a rising senior, class of 22. We have been visiting several colleges and in every information session we hear the same “test optional - holistic application review”. I am a little uneasy about it…
Here is the story, DD is an excellent student, (kind of scary, doesn’t take it after me for sure), from long island NY, Hispanic, first generation, 107.2 weighted GPA, IB diploma candidate and by the time she graduates she will have 16 AP/IB classes. She is president of MUN, president of honor society, president of Mock trial and vice-president of ethics bowl, heavily involved in school and county level activism, and is the director of highschool democrats of America Latinx caucus. She is an AP scholar, and a college board Hispanic recognition program, Volunteers at a special needs program and holds a job, good in paper right… here is the issue, she does not have SAT scores to support her application, she took the SAT back in march without any kind of preparation (just to stablish a base line she said) and got a 1390 (780 english, 610 math, she sucks at it!!!) has been preparing and doing tutoring for almost 6 months, registered for the August 28th one, we drove 3 hours to get there, only testing center we found, got there and found out they didn’t have her accommodations ,she has a vision impairment and gets enlarged font (16 font), a tracking device and no scantron. she was forced to take the test without accommodations, she had to take it in a different order because by the time they figured it out the first session was almost over, so a test that is meant to be 4 hours took almost 6. Needless to say the results were horrific, she couldn’t read the test!! we got college board to issue an apology letter but other than that she was told to register and take it again. The only site we found was 6 hours from us, in November!! so she would miss ED. so… she is frustrated and “done” with it and wants to send her applications without scores. I have been hearing a lot about “test optional” but we have yet to come across anyone who made it into a top school without scores. She wants to major in history and her dream is Georgetown (they want all the scores), Princeton, swarthmore or Colgate. any input would be appreciated!!

I would contact the admissions offices at the schools she wants to attend and let them know what’s going on and ask for advice. A screw up at a testing site, especially one that affects accommodations, shouldn’t end up messing up your daughter’s chances at her dream schools.

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Go test optional, at least for Georgetown (is she planning on EA? Do they still have EA?). Either on the additional information section or the counselor rec letter, I’m sure AOs will understand.

I can only speak for Brown, but I know a few freshmen who got in TO.

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Georgetown is not really “test optional” they want to see all the scores or a valid reason why she didn’t take it, in her case she will have to send the letter from college board and her 1390, which is not really great.

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Exactly. Georgetown requires all scores if an applicant took a test or tests. No test optional option, no score choice, same as always. All they did was add a path for students who could not test to still apply.

OP and the GC can certainly mention in the app and counselor letter the reason why this one test score was low, not having the accommodations available is ridiculous, and I would hope GTown would disregard that score.

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My D21 applied without test scores (couldn’t test at all) and was admitted ED1 to Hamilton, a so-called Little Ivy. Your daughter has a stronger package than my daughter did.

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I would never say that about her score. Georgetown required test scores last year and if I am not mistaken her score still falls in the 25th percentile of students who enrolled. If that is her dream school, since they have not gone TO to my knowledge, she will have to submit it. However even with the best test score, there are never any guarantees. Make sure the recommenders are thoughtfully selected and her essays are on point.

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If her dream is G’Town, she shouldn’t be applying ED. They only have EA. EA is no real benefit at G’Town. She should wait to apply RD with the November score. If she has any lower level safety schools that have EA and TO, she can apply to them. Did the College Board delete the score that she didn’t have the accommodation? If not, that is what I would be working on now (only because she has G’Town on her list). Hopefully she didn’t use one of the free score sends. I would be putting in an EA app at Fordham just to get something back early. Not sure what your finances are but she would likely get a full tuition scholarship there. It is one of the common backups to G’Town (with GWU and AU).

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I’d be working on another “dream school” (gosh, I hate that concept) ASAP.

Sure- Georgetown. But there are likely 15 other schools (maybe 20) she can fall in love with where the testing would not be an issue.

What financial constraints do you have?

Strong history departments- Brandeis, Rutgers, Dickinson. If she loved Swarthmore, take a look at Bryn Mawr. Smith, Mt. Holyoke. If she can’t see herself at an all-women’s college, Conn College, Vassar? Most of the Jesuit colleges are strong in history- Holy Cross? Fordham?

Georgetown may not be as holistic as you need but surely a student as strong as she is can find a fantastic history department at a college which would be delighted to take her!

Your story is crazy and sad- but your D will be able to put forward a strong application even if she doesn’t take the tests again.

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Keep in mind that I’m offering advice from anecdotes, but I personally know two kids who got into Ivy (or similar) schools last year without test scores, one into Stanford, the other into Brown. You daughter sounds a lot like the Stanford kid (your daughter is perhaps even more impressive, at least on paper). The Stanford kid is amazing as a person and a student, but a poor test-taker. So because test optional was an option, she went for it. I know she believes she would never have been admitted if she had given Stanford her scores. The young man who got into Brown never managed to get a test date, so he no choice. Just acknowledging that it’s possible to make happen.

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No, college board did not delete the score, they deemed the test “valid” because there was no corrupt material, (for someone that could see it!!!), or any irregularities with the proctoring of the test, they said that she made the decision to take it without the accommodations and she should have considered the implications that doing so could have. Basically what they said in the letter is that they recognize that there was an irregularity with her test, that they apologize for the inconveniences she might encounter because of that and that they recommend she takes it again but it is her responsibility to find a spot.

Trust me i hate the “dream school” concept too, and honestly i strongly believe that things happen for a reason.
Financially we are in that category that makes too much for financial ed, but too little to pay full tuition, but she is our only one, so we’ll figure it out.
We visited vassar, she didn’t like “the vibe” much, too artsy she says, but she likes Holy cross, Fordham, Trinity, Boston college and Colgate and i feel that she has a strong chance into any of those schools without the SAT and she will be perfectly happy, it just breaks my heart after all her hard work.

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She will find a good school, and I still encourage her to apply to Georgetown.

As a URM she is ‘expected’ to have a lower score too…so you need to take that in to account when deciding whether or not to apply test optional, work with her HS counselor on those school by school decisions.

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I kind of get their point, but she ( and whoever was with her) was under a lot of stress. You could try to appeal the decision somehow. I have no idea if you can submit any type of supplements (non art) as part of the application for G’Town. If you can’t attach it directly, I would send a pdf of the letter to the AO. This is one of the rare cases that the worse she did on the test, the better. I would still wait for the RD round.

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We were in a similar financial position. After all of the results were in, G’Town was near the bottom of the list. It just wasn’t worth 80k/year vs 15k at State Flagship or 20k at Fordham or 40k at T10 or 50k at T25 or …

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Given OP’s daughters qualifications, plus URM status and first generation, she is probably in a better position than most Ivy-level applicants even without submitting test scores (or submitting a 1390 to G-Town). Also OP, just out of curiosity, what kind of weight does your DD’s HS apply? I have never heard of such a high WGPA. At my kids’ HS, the Val typically has a WGPA in the 102’s.

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I wish you luck and your D will end up in a good spot but “figuring it out” isn’t a good strategy. You really need to pin down a budget so your D knows where to target and spend her time wisely with apps and essays. We’re a donut hole family. I get it. Both sons had to hunt for merit.

Reach out to AO’s and ask about scholarships for a female URM. Maybe look at schools outside the box that might be looking for a 1st gen URM. Have you looked at outside scholarships?

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Just another thought. Your D has 16 AP/IB classes. That’s a lot of potential credits to carry into college. Some schools are generous with AP credits. Typically public schools.

Three years to graduate might be on the table. Not recommending it but an option. S20 will probably graduate in 3 years from Georgia Tech. He’s fine with it. Not for everyone though.

Maybe schools like UNC, UVA, or Michigan might be worth a look?

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My 20 year old is graduating a year early as well, applying for her 3 year DPT program now. That year saves a lot.

What are her safety schools?