Would I Have A Chance?

I’m currently a junior in high school, and Carleton is one of my top choices, especially as it’s in-state and I’ve heard lots of great reviews from old friends of mine. ! However, I have not gotten the best grades until now, primarily because of mental health issues that I’ve worked on, and are no longer impacting my schoolwork. I currently have all As in my hardest course load of high school years, and I’m hopeful and determined that it will carry on to the end of my high school career. Here are my stats:

Background: African American, Muslim, First Generation student coming from a low-income household and suburban public school in Minnesota

Honors/AP/IB/Dual Enrollment Courses:
Middle School+Freshman Year: Honors Intermediate Algebra, Honors Geometry, Honors Advanced Algebra, Honors English 9, Honors Physics, Honors Precalc, Honors Civics

Sophomore Year: Honors Spanish 3, Honors English 10, Honors Chem, APUSH, AP Stats (missed AP exam, will be taking junior year as self-study),
(I took AP Calc ABC, but had to drop because of schedule changes and low grade, will take the AP exam as a senior)
AP Exam Score: APUSH-3

Junior Year: Honors Orchestra, IB English 11 HL, IB Biology SL, AP US Gov, IB Spanish 4 SL, IB Theory of Knowledge, Honors African American History, AP Euro/IB History HL 11 (counts as the first year of IB History while being AP Euro)

AP Exams: AP US Gov, AP Euro, AP Psych (self-study, not offered), AP Stats (self-study, missed AP Exam)

Senior Year Courses: Honors Orchestra, IB English 12 HL, IB Middle East/African Studies HL 12, IB Spanish 5 HL, College Honors Microeconomics, College Honors Public Speaking, AP Physics 1, Honors Debate II, Physical Geography (@ local CC), Drugs & Health (@ local CC)

IB Exams: IB English HL, IB History HL, IB Spanish HL
AP Exams: AP Lang, AP Physics 1, AP Spanish Lang, AP Calc BC (self-study, missed exam/class), AP Environmental Science (self-study, finish lab requirement)

I will also receive a bilingual seal in Spanish from the state of Minnesota

GPA and Rank: will end junior year with a 3.1/3.2 unweighted (out of 4) and a 3.2/3.3 weighted, still probably in the bottom 50%

Chamber Orchestra (most selective orchestra of my school, rehearsals in the mornings, ensemble contests, and small gigs)
Presidential Volunteer Service Award Gold(3x)
Debate Team (Varsity/Unofficial Captain for 3 years)
Lacrosse (nothing worthy, sophomore-senior year, interested in playing club lacrosse for the school)
Part-Time Job as a Barista (since 2021)
MN Teen Activists (my nonprofit, 501c3)
I’m one of the co-founders and the secretary, started in 2020, raised over 100k for businesses after riots in Minneapolis (2020) and Brooklyn Center (2021), organized a state-wide walkout for racism in schools and for Daunte Wright’s death with over 200+ schools participating! We also plan to create a council with the state attorney general’s office soon and continue to advocate for educational policy reforms and students. I promise we aren’t one of those fake nonprofits lol.

ACT: only taken PACT, with a score of 30, with recent practice tests on my own, I am scoring 32-34 so that’s my goal.

Intended Areas of Study: International Relations (major), Economics (major), Spanish (minor), Computer Science (minor?)

You have a lot going for you as a candidate that could offset questions about your earlier grades? If you can keep up your As this year and through app season next year and get that 34 that may answer some of their academic questions. Could your counselor be any help since you are local to Carleton? Would they know how Carleton might view your situation? Also since I think Carleton highly values fit, if you can get to know your counselor and they can write a strong rec that can help. They can also verify how substantive your non profit is, too. Applying ED can help too.

I think Carleton wants more interesting candidates like you as long as you can demonstrate that you can do the work.

Good luck! You are an impressive candidate no matter how it turns out.

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The reality is no.

Btw self taking AP exams will likely not get you anything. You need the class, grade.

It’s alwYs great to have reaches and Carleton is that and then some for you. But make sure you have targets and matches.

If you are trying to stay close to home (you said in state which doesn’t matter at a private) look at UMN Morris and the 3rd tier LACs plus schools like Coe in Iowa and Augustana in Sioux Falls. Or if you want an LAC expand your reach go farther.

Keep up the great work.

You have accomplished a lot but Carleton would be a reach given your GPA. Absolutely apply and give it your all – it is good to have a couple of reaches on your application list. But you also should seek out colleges that are matches and safeties given your academics.

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First off congratulations on your accomplishments and keep that trajectory going upward. @smiles2122 has got it right!!

I would give you four pieces of advice:

  1. Stay on top of and aware of your mental health and consider it as you make college decisions. Meaning pressures and stress are unavoidable but need to be managed. You sound like you have the awareness and maturity to understand this but keep reminding yourself of those things that are important such as happiness, sense of self worth, a willingness to get help, etc.

  2. when implementing an application strategy be aware that you need to weigh and consider an early application option versus the benefits of schools seeing your steady academic improvement. As a URM you would typically benefit from an ED (if affordable) but given your academic history and prospects you are a likely deferral so prospective colleges can validate and ensure your continued improvement. Time is your friend assuming you work hard. Don’t get frustrated if that happens see it as an opportunity to show your ability.

  3. Have a balanced list of schools including some good fit safety and match schools.

  4. Ignore or even better get inspired by those that tell you that you can’t do something. They don’t know you, haven’t walked in your shoes and don’t have any idea what you are capable of. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you are or aren’t capable of, instead tell them NO you can’t impose limits on me.

Once again congratulations on what you have done so far. You will need to keep up the good work, get great LORs, write great essays, be strategic and balanced and lastly be a little lucky but you can do this and if not in the process you will have opened up other opportunities. Stay healthy!!

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Why not try? In state?..my son goes to CC and he did an in person interview, which was optional, for admission. I’d recommend the same for you. It would give you a chance to show your growth. You sound a lot like a CC student. But apply other places as well. Others in the CC vein are Grinell, Macalester…but if you aren’t committed to a liberal arts school, Univ MN Twin Cities or UW Madison. Safer schools in state would be UM Morris, St. Olaf, Duluth, St. Thomas, Hamline, Augsburg or Gustavus. Also, I used to teach at Saint Mary’s in Winona and it’s a lot better than people realize.

Carleton is too much of a reach.
Try Macalester ED1.
If that doesn’t work out, Oberlin ED2.
Midwest: Lawrence, Knox, Beloit, Kalamazoo, Earlham
East: Clark
West: Whitman, Willamette, Lewis & Clark

You are a really interesting applicant, and I can tell just by reading your bio and comments that you are probably even more interesting and charismatic in person. You are a renaissance person with a variety of interests and passions, make sure that comes through in your applications.

I think you already know what the strengths (EC’s, interests, personal history) of your application are and what are your weaknesses (GPA). You have a decent shot at Carleton as you are now, but finish up your junior year as strong as possible and do your best to maximize your standardized scores this next 6 months, and I think you will have an even better chance. If you can bump up your GPA even a little bit and aim for a 32 composite ACT or better, I would be optimistic about your chances. And if there is any way you can ED to Carleton, that would definitely improve your odds.

College/university admissions departments can become smitten with unique, interesting candidates and you seem to fit that mold.

Good luck to you, and please let us all know next year what happens to you. I am sure some people will remember you, I know that I will!