Submit 32 ACT score to Northwestern Early Decision?

My daughter is very interested in applying Early Decision to be a journalism major at Northwestern. Very good GPA (like 3.9 unweighted) at one of the top public high schools in the state, lots of AP classes, great extracurriculars including a ton of journalism related, and great recommendations. But only a 32 ACT superscore. Know that is below 25th percentile for Northwestern, but wondering if it still makes sense for her to submit considering got 35 and 36 on reading and english which are most related to journalism, and applying Early Decision. Not submitting scores worries me because as much as schools say it doesn’t hurt you hard to believe that they won’t assume worse scores than she got. And seems a shame not to submit the very high scores she got on the two sections most related to her major. Thoughts anyone? Appreciate any advice.

So sounds like her math and science are in the 28 range? I will note that the science section is more of a reading section than a science section.

For her to make a determination, she should look for information from the following:

-What her HS GC recommends

-NU’s guidance in their virtual/live admissions sessions as to what scores to send(not sure they offer this guidance in those). If your D hasn’t done one of those, she must.

-It would also not be unreasonable for her to contact her AO and ask whether she should submit these scores.

I would hesitate to send a score below the 25%ile mark (Class of 2026 mid 50% range was 33-35, I don’t see Class of 2027 data)…but I don’t have a full picture of her app, so I defer to all those sources above.

Good luck.


OP: You understand. You have identified the issue & relevant considerations.

@Mwfan1921 has given great advice in my opinion.

If you submit, be sure to highlight the top scores in Reading & English and their relation to her major.

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Thanks - appreciate all that advice. Will definitely do this. FYI - her math and science scores are 27 and 29.

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Can she take again?

78% are submitting a test - so that tells me you need to send it - many not submitting are likely athletes. But the math and science are well below - not just below - the 25% which would give pause in sending because they stand out in not a good way.

It’s not an easy decision.

Hopefully you have Syracuse on your list too for ED2 - similar school, a little bit easier.

For our daughter, she had a 32 as well and was really proud of it and she sent it to all schools except Rice - even those where a 32 wasn’t great. I think she didn’t get into those where maybe she shouldn’t have sent the test- two WLs (which in most cases is a rejection and two rejections) - and we’ll never know why.

But as she was proud of it, she wanted to send it - and you might put a similar onus on your daughter - letting her make the decision - and it’s not an easy one.

And if she doesn’t get in, you’ll never know why - and you can’t assume it’s the test. Fortunately, there’s a lot of great J schools out there.

My daughter did ask the AOs should or shouldn’t I and always got some form of, if you’re proud of your score or you think it adds to the app, then send it. They were not giving out - if it’s not this, don’t send. Perhaps today they’re more definitive into yes or no.

I wish her luck - whatever she decides.

Thanks. Unfortunately she can’t test again before early decision apps due. Just got her scores from Sept test (her third time) and remained at 32. Definitely looking at Syracuse and other schools with good journalism programs. Boston University right now right there with NW in her rankings. Thanks again.

I vote for send it ED. Her passion will be clearly illustrated in her essays, which I believe matters more than math score.

Interesting on BU - vastly different school.

Best of luck to her.

She should apply to Mizzou too.

Safety school and for journalism strong. UMN, KU, IU, Ohio U, Elon, ASU all solid journalism safeties.

BU and NU reaches. SU may be a reach. But journalism today is even more varied and some depends on what type the student wants to study.

Note to OP - make sure they pick up a second major.

I would go test optional, with those scores.

Agreed - I just worry they have such a high submit rate.

NW definitely a reach but I would think BU would be a target for her with a 32 ACT since that is right at their average and she has high GPA and would apply ED 1 or 2. Would think Syracuse a safety for her since their average ACT is 28. Is that not correct?

BU would be a target if you ED, not RD.

SU Newhouse School is more like NU than BU and is far superior to BU for journalism (if you want to go by rankings which frankly mean little)- although one could argue that for Journalism - where you go doesn’t matter. As one who attended journalism school and knows people who want to various, I’d large agree with that - and to ensure a second major.

A year ago (so class of 26 - can’t find class of 27) - BU admitted 14% - and many ED so in RD much less. That said, they also yield protect - so there are kids in at MIT rejected here. They don’t want to be second fiddle.

Bottom line - for your student - I’m not sure I would submit the test scores. The composite is there but not the math and science - I’d take again and study. But BU is a reach.

What does she want to study in journalism? SU Newhouse is maybe high target, low reach - you can’t judge Newhouse by SU stats.

You need other schools and there are fine ones for journalism - but the realty is journalism is not a major based on prestige. You’ll see certain schools represented because they have #s (quantity of students) - but one can end up in journalism from anywhere. I’m a failed SU alum but my friend who couldn’t afford it and ended up at Montana, just left after 30+ years. I remember in her class - all 20 kids got jobs whereas in my Newhouse class of many hundreds, few did.

a) You need a second major (or at least a minor) and it’s personal choice - but if it was me - I wouldn’t break the bank pursuing a journalism degree - it’s not worth it - at all!!!

But lots of well reputed schools outside of NU, BU and Syracuse - private and public - that would assure admissions (as a backup) - but I do think your ratings for your student’s chances are a bit overstated - but that said, maybe I’m wrong.

Good luck.

Does she go to a Chicago CPS selective enrollment school? You said one of the top public high schools in the state and there is a reason I ask.

Just a quick note for your consideration, I’m not saying it is/isn’t the right choice to sign up to take the ACT again, but Northwestern allows ED applicants to submit scores from the October 28th test date to be submitted after the application deadline. Ie: you submit your app and they get those later and say they will add those in with the rest. The caveat is that you have to add Northwestern as a recipient from the MY ACT portal before the test date so that they get them quickly which means that if you don’t do well on that test… well too bad because the scores have already been sent by the time you’ve seen them.

Best of luck! I’m considering ED at Northwestern as well!

2020–24 Testing Policy: Undergraduate Admissions - Northwestern University.

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