Super low ACT - NYU???

I really really want to go to NYU. I don’t think I have a chance though but thought I would get your feedback anyway. I go to a very rigorous private high school and my GPA is 3.55. Not very good but not horrible. It’s actually really hard to get a high GPA at my school. But the real problem is my ACT score - I’ve taken it 3 times now, and each time I scored 21. So embarrassed by this. I have test anxiety (no I’m not disabled). When I do my practice test (all in one sitting with 1 short break just like the real test), I score 29 to 32.

The only saving grace to my app is that I have a business that I started. My business is doing really well - about $500,000 a year in sales. I have 15 employees. My college counselor says that I should apply ED anyway because i have a lot to offer. I’m so afraid that one look at my ACT and admissions will just laugh - like how dare I apply to such an elite school with a 21 ACT! Do you think I should apply? I don’t want to waste my ED if I don’t stand a chance. (BTW, I don’t need financial aid) - thanks a lot. HELP

NYU is test flexible. Are there any other of the options it offers that might work better than ACT for you?

What about taking 3 subject tests? Choose the subjects that you’re most likely to do well in!

Not quite as easy as that, for SAT it generally has to be one STEM, one literature and humanities, and one language; Stern and Tandon have their own requirements. (If using APs then there are a few more options other than languages.)

Yes, but there’s a choice between literature and History for Humanities, and math 1, Math2, physics, Biology, or chemistry for math& science. Certainly OP has done well in one of those subjects! Then, the last choice can be any of those or Foreign Language. Much more flexible than the act!
Finally, I find the 3*1 hour format easier to handle than either the sat or act format.

Thanks – The problem I’m realizing is I don’t do well in ANY test! I just get major anxiety and my results are so bad. I’m going to try ACT again this month.

Hmmm. Yet you do well enough on tests/finals in school to have a 3.55. Something seems out of sync then with your internal voice telling you that you don’t do well on ‘ANY test’. Perhaps you can try to somehow shift or disrupt this thought pattern.

Good luck on your next ACT, if you are well prepared you should have good confidence going into it.

Seriously. Try three sat subjects. How can it hurt?
The ACT clearly isn’t “your” test. Try the regular SAT, some do better on it.
But sat subjects are the closest to a classroom test (albeit multiple choice).
Keep in mind that if you submit your act score when there’s a test flexible policy, the assumption isn’t that you took the same test 4 times but rather took different tests and that’s the best you could do.

Also, why NYU? Why not, say, Fordham?

Are you a senior? If so I don’t think you have time to take more tests before the ED deadline. Taking 3 subject tests makes sense, especially if you aren’t finishing sections on the ACT. But then it seems you would have to apply RD.

Have you run NYU’s NPC to estimate affordability?

So here’s the thing: NYU just had its most selective year in school history, admitting 16% of applicants according to its press release. According to that same press release, that’s up from 35% just five years ago!

According to Princeton Review, its ACT composite range is 29-34. According to its press release which I cited above, its average SAT last year was 1480, which the SAT/ACT concordance says is ~33 on the ACT.

My guess is that for a school which is super hot right now, a fantastic extracurricular might help a student who is toward the bottom of the admitted student range, absolutely. But I feel like 21 is not in the same ballpark.

Happily, I think there are a lot of NYC-based and NYC-adjacent schools where your credentials might give you a better chance than you will have at NYU.

How about
Eugene Lang at the New College?
Pace University?
CUNY Hunter College?
CUNY Baruch College?
Marymount Manhattan College?
Sarah Lawrence?

Even though NYU is test-flexible, it is so competitive that I feel based on our experience not submitting a (high) test score will hurt your chances. I would also think your GPA is not the most competitive for that school. Apply but don’t put all your dreams on NYU. Plenty of other great schools around. Good luck!

What about Pace? Fordham? Or Marist, or SUNY New Paltz (a bit farther away but easy ride into the city?)

Fordham’s middle 50 on ACT for class of 2022 was 29-33 admitted, 28-32 enrolled. (FYI NYU 2022 was 30-34 enrolled as per NYU website.) Fordham is not going to be anywhere near easy with a 21 ACT either.

My daughter got an ED admit to NYU last year with a similar GPA to OP, coming from a highly regarded public school with no grade inflation, but her ACT was in the range (and though she wasn’t traditionally “hooked” she had an angle that probably helped).

OP, I really think you need to consider a different testing measure to submit to NYU, or possibly you should consider test optional schools. I am unsure if it is New York that appeals to you, or the big urban school vibe. If the latter, maybe a school like GWU which is test-optional is worth looking at.

Bates GWU and some other test optional schools. Look them up on line. They are fantastic

American U is test optional too.
Temple (Philadelphia) also!
And, if money’s no object, look into Pace.

^ i’d forgotten AU was test optional. Very good chances of admit if ED.

You are a perfect candidate for test optional schools and that’s where you should focus. NYU will be lucky to have you for graduate school some day but I think the test anxiety thing will scare them off right now.

Thanks everyone! Looks like my ACT gives me no chance at NYU!!! Sounds like I should really focus on test optional schools. Any recommendations?

I started to put together my list but not sure if my GPA is too low for these schools…

Univ of San Francisco

Any advice would be great! Thanks.

But, no. Your business will not tip you in. It’s not something that represents the academic and EC skills/traits in a college community.

If the lure is a solid college in NYC, posters are right to suggest the other colleges.

Since you attend a grade-deflated high school, your guidance counselor there will be much better able to help you calibrate your targets than anyone here can. Colleges will be looking at your transcript in the context of your school, so what you really need to know is how previous applicants from your school, with similar stats, have fared.

It does sound as if test-optional is your best bet; but then, that puts even more weight on your GPA, so you need an informed and unvarnished opinion of how that 3.55 from your particular school will look to these colleges.

Are you planning to major in something business/entrepreneurship-ish? If you really want to float a reachy ED application, maybe Babson would be worth a try - they’re not test-optional, but they do value the kind of EC resume you have to offer, and have a moderate ED-bump. Particularly if your HS is on their radar and you have strong recs, it might fly - it’s a much smaller applicant pool than NYU’s so it could be reasonable to hope for a holistic review.

Safety-wise, U of Houston has a strong entrepreneurship program in the 5th largest city in the US. College of Charleston has an innovative Center for Entrepreneurship as well.

But, it’s hard to tell what you’re looking for in a school, from your list. Pitzer is a great school but not business-y at all. (Also not really convenient to the urban part of LA - honestly I can’t think of a single quality that would make it a good backup for someone who really wanted NYU. Occidental might be a better test-optional target if the idea of a small LAC in Los Angeles appeals.)

I doubt that Bowdoin would be realistic - they’re not only highly competitive (8.9% acceptance rate last year), but also need-blind. Since you’re comfortable going full-pay, your odds will be a little better at need-aware schools, and even then, schools with single-digit acceptance rates probably aren’t in the cards.

Union College in Schenectady NY could be a good addition to your test-optional list. Also Trinity in Hartford. Brandeis also has an option to submit an analytical writing sample in place of standardized tests.