Scared about college admissions help!

I really want to go to Cornell or John Hopkins they are my top choices, I need help because I’m stressing about my course and extracurriculars, etc. Stats(only mentioning advanced classes I took): freshmen yr I took honor eng and earth sci, I was a math behind in algebra applications but caught up by taking geometry over the summer. Sophomore year: honors in eng and bio. Junior yr: honor chem and ap Lang. Senior yr: ap environmental, ap phyc, ap gov, ap art, ap lit. I’m worried colleges will see I took most Aps senior yr or didn’t take enough. My school offers a lot of aps around 15-20 but u have to qualify for a lot of them wih previous classes. Extracurricular: job all 4 yrs(assistant manager)over a 100 volunteee hrs, member/leader of non profit(3yrs), debate(3yrs), indoor track in 10th grade, stopped in 11th instead did cross country, will continue both senior yr, NHS, SNHS, Medlife, science Olympiad(leader/member), (did these ones in junior/senior year), research with professor independently and looking for internship(both this summer of junior yr). So pls tell me what else I should do I’m scared. My gpa is 3.85 but should go upto 3.95 hopefully by the end of junior year.

What you should do is fall in love with a safety because both Johns Hopkins and Cornell are reaches for everyone due to their low admissions rates. Apply to them and do your best, but have other options you like too.

What is it you like about those two? They’re very different from each other. If you tell people what you like and what you want to major in (or what general field), they can come up with suggestions for you to consider.

Another important note… is your family comfortably full pay or are you hoping for need-based aid?

ps Note the “s” on the end of Johns for Johns Hopkins.


It sounds like you have a strong record that wouldn’t keep you from getting into your top choices. I’d look forward and start composing your essays and doing whatever your school recommends for requesting teacher recommendation. Your essays should go beyond showing that you’ve checked all the boxes for entry to an elite school.

Do you have any test score results?

You might take a look at the Common Data Set for your target schools (not just Cornell and JHU but the other ones that you will add to your list at some point), and look first at Section C7, which tells you what academic and non-academic factors are considered for admission and how each school weights them. Next, I would look at Sections C9-C11 of the CDS, which should give you some statistical information on how your statistics compare with those of recently admitted freshman.

As @Creekland stated, lower your sights and start compiling a list of safety and match schools, considering affordability as well as potential admissibility; this may involve some frank talk with your parents about money.

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Deep breath.

No reason to be scared

There is absolutely no reason for you to be stressed.

With a 3.85 GPA there are hundreds of great colleges out there where you would do very well, and be very happy. You are highly competitive for all but maybe 20 colleges, and you have chances at most of the rest as well.

I mean, with your profile as it is, you are highly competitive for places like Wisconsin, UIUC, UMN, Ohio State, and a long list of other top universities and colleges.

However, focusing on Johns Hopkins and Cornell is not conducive to your mental and emotional health. While you may be accepted to one of these two, that scenario is not likely.

Also, in all seriousness, I cannot imagine that a person would have these two very different schools both as dream schools. Why are you fixated on these two particular colleges?

You seem to be getting into the unhealthy mindset of “how can I get colleges to choose me”. What you should be asking instead is “what do I need from a college, and how do I choose colleges that will provide me with these things that I need?”

If a colleges is providing you with what you need to do well at college and later in your life, the name and the ranking of that college are irrelevant.

With that in mind, make a list of colleges which will provide you with what you need, and divide those into reaches, targets, and safeties. If all are reaches, you should reevaluate your needs and see how many of them are, in fact, not “needs” but “wants”.

BTW, since you have already finished freshman, sophomore, and the first semester of junior year with a UW GPA of 3.85, how are you going to raise that to an UW GPA of 3.95?

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No disrespect to the OP, but this is an average record for those schools. They will have MANY fold the numbers of candidates that they can accommodate with as good or better records. If the OP happens to strike a chord with the adcoms then they might have a chance. The thing is, there’s no way they can know what that chord is. The cold play a FABULOUS G chord, but if they’re looking for any other, they don’t get in. Thus, it becomes a bit about luck. I’d suggest, as others have, that the OP hold these out as reach schools, expecting not to get in. That is what the averages tell is. Then build from the bottom up with safeties and matches.

To echo wiser minds, don’t fall in love with schools that are reaches for every single student. It’s great to have reaches and, yes, there is a chance you’ll be admitted to one of those BUT, the odds aren’t in your favor. Any school that is rejecting 90+% of applicants is going to be tough, regardless of how accomplished a student you are. Find some matches and safeties you really like and put them on your list. And, relax, none of this is life or death.

I’m going to alter this a bit, because the word “tough” conveys a chance for an applicant to be tougher. In reality we have to acknowledge what many parents and students on CC can’t…luck.

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Agreed. There is a definite element of chance (plus various hooks) and timing that can mean an applicant would be accepted one year and not the next - you just never know.

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Rule #1. Don’t get attached to any school.

So figure your hot buttons. As someone said these two are different. What’s your hot buttons? Major. Size…will assume mid to large. Geography ? Sports/Greek?

What can you afford ?

How much are your parents willing to pay ?

Never fall in love with a school. You might have a wonderful opportunity at a school you didn’t want to consider due to money or a special program and change. My daughter was fixated on American. Got in but dad eliminated it due to $$. Now she’s going to College of Charleston as a fellow and is giddy…as is dad with the cost.

Cornell has two programs a bit easier to get into. Hotel and ILR.

There are many schools out there for you. It’s fine to reach for the stratosphere but also have your targets and your safeties.

Many schools will be lucky to have you and vice versa. It will all work out.

Because you took no AP til Senior year and the school offers many your rigor seems low.

Again reach for the stores but I’d say with your rigor there’s near zero chance at your dream schools. A stretch might be Rochester or Brandeis, that type of school.

A target …perhaps your state flagship. A UMass, Delaware, Pitt, Miami Ohio, UVM, U of SC.

Lots of safeties…mid size such as Elon, Ithaca,college of NJ, UNH. Not sure your state of residence.

Don’t be scared. Get prepared. Apply to a wide range of schools.

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OK, time for some introspection:

Why do you feel scared? What’s the worse that can happen if you don’t get in to one of those 2 schools? Will you lose your family? Will you get thrown in jail? Lose your home? Will your government turn totalitarian and you lose your rights?

Think long-term and broader (about what else is going on in the world).

Yup, average elite schools so OP doesn’t have a record that likely disqualifies them from admission so there is a chance. And, the way to maximize that chance is to look at what they can control and submit very strong essays and make the most of their teacher and counselor recommendations. My take was the question was more about how to I get into my dream schools rather than how to a make a list of matches and safeties.

And, yeah, definitely make sure to have a robust list of matches and few safeties to ensure admission to a school they will be pleased to attend even if it isn’t their current dream school.