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What are my chances/what do I need to do to improve my chances?

NS120272NS120272 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
Hi. I am currently a Junior in high school going into my second semester; I am still working towards better grades and test scores, and I have not yet applied for any colleges. However, I have toured over 10 colleges and I have multiple universities that I am interested in:

Emory, Vanderbilt, Harvard, Duke (all of which I know are far reach schools and somewhat improbable), University of Florida, and University of Virginia

As it stands currently, my stats are as follows:

SAT (breakdown): 660R, 630M = 1290 total (I do plan on retaking the SAT twice more to bring up those scores)
ACT: 27 (I also plan on retaking this one more time)
Weighted GPA: 4.02

IB Diploma Candidate (taking HL English Lit A, Latin, History, and Theatre as well as SL Math and Biology)

Extracurriculars (place leadership in parentheses):
Theatre National Honors Society (Treasurer)
Drama Club
Latin National Honor Society (President)
Latin Club/NJCL
English National Honors Society (President)
Varsity Water Polo

Job/Work Experience: Mcdonalds for 8 months (as of current)

Volunteer/Community Service:
Volunteering at a local Elementary school helping children learn English/Math

Recommendations: Have not been written as of current, but I do know of multiple teachers/counselors who have said they will write me a strong letter of rec

Race: White/Caucasian
Sex: Male
Economic Status: Middle class


As everything stands, what would my chances be of getting into the schools I mentioned I had interest in? I am well aware that I still have a ways to go as far as test scores and GPA go, but what else could I do in the second half of my junior year/beginning of my senior year to strengthen my application and my overall chances? I am very much looking forward to college, and I want to have as many options as possible when it comes to my college choices. Thank you so much!

Replies to: What are my chances/what do I need to do to improve my chances?

  • NS120272NS120272 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I forgot to mention my intended major: considering a double major in Biology/Classical Studies
  • aunt beaaunt bea Registered User Posts: 9,525 Senior Member
    Focus less on your EC's and more on your academics and increase those SAT/ACT scores.
    Even with perfect scores, Harvard is a no.

    There are not a lot of seats left at the ivies.
    Every Valedictorian and international student applies to Harvard. There are roughly 37,000 High schools in the US. So picture yourself trying to compete with a minimum of 40K students who have a hook.
    You have to have a major hook to every be considered, for instance:
    1) a recruited athlete (top 10 in the country). Olympic level of accomplishment.
    2) a celebrity status (Malala, Obama children) or accomplishment on an international level.
    3) top ten artist/musician.
    4) your family donated a building to a university.
    5) URM status with a hook

    Reality bites. You should consider those universities that are in-state and that your parents can afford.
    Trying to go out of state will be expensive, especially if your stats are not stellar.
  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 5,009 Senior Member
    Choose SAT or ACT instead of trying to improve on both.
  • NS120272NS120272 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    edited January 5
    @aunt bea Thank you so much! I kind of knew that Harvard would be way out of my league, but what about the other schools I'm interested in? Were you saying that (considering I bring my test scores and GPA up) I'll still only be good enough for state schools?
  • ab2002ab2002 Registered User Posts: 637 Member
    What state are you in?
  • NS120272NS120272 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    @ab2002 I am living in Florida (which is the main reason why I'm concerned about University of Florida, as they have recently been tending to select more out of state students as to increase the diversity of the school)
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 190 Junior Member
    The average SAT of UFL students is 3.76,and the average SAT is 1310. Since you are only a Junior, and are working to improve your SAT scores, I do not think that 1310 or higher is out of your range. So, I would consider that UFL would be a good choice, and at very least a match. UVA, with an average SAT of 1365 and average GPA of 4.27 looks like more of a low reach at this point, though an improvement in your GPA and SAT scores could easily make it a match school.

    Forget about Harvard, while for Emory, Vanderbilt, and Duke, you'd need to bring your SAT scores up quite a bit to make it worth spending the application fees. You can also look as schools which do not require SAT scores at all.
  • CaviteeCavitee Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    UVA average SAT last year (class of 2018) was 1420 - 1530 for OOS. So more like 1475 than 1365...
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 190 Junior Member
    @Cavitee Are the differences between OOS simply the result of self-selection or because of preference for In State?
  • RayMantaRayManta Registered User Posts: 42 Junior Member
    edited January 8
    Hey. Congrats on all your hard work. The feather in your cap is the IB diploma--don't discount it. The IB program is universally considered the gold standard for rigor and many, many schools have a clear preference for students that earn the IB diploma. Roughly ten years ago a self-reported study was performed by IBO that reveals some really amazing data about the admission rates for IB students vs all applicants for about 150 different colleges and universities. It's pretty much disappeared from the web, but I stumbled on it here: https://www.rjuhsd.us/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&ModuleInstanceID=13340&ViewID=7b97f7ed-8e5e-4120-848f-a8b4987d588f&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=16706&PageID=7234. Click the link, and it is the middle document on the following page.

    The caveat, of course, (besides being self-reported data), is that as far as I can tell this study was performed ten years ago (you can tell by the overall admission rates among the Ivies) and there's no guarantee that some of these schools still give a preference, or that the preference is the same as it was.

    Still, my recommendation is to peruse this list and find some schools in your wheelhouse score-wise that love (or loved, I guess) IB students. It's an incredible resource--if only they did it again!

    My other recommendation is to try to get an awesome summer job that connects to your interests. If your primary interest is theater, can you get a summer job working for a local theater company, to get a full behind-the-scenes experience? Only people who are truly dedicated will build sets and sell the tickets, and it may be a way to demonstrate that passion, and you may be able to flip the experience into an essay about your appreciation for theater and the production process. Just spitballing.

    Incidentally, my daughter is a junior IB student in FL. My impression is that, with a 4.0 weighted GPA, you should get in without any trouble unless you have red flags elsewhere. Good luck!
  • CaviteeCavitee Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    @MWolf The student body is 65%IS and 35%OOS as per the school's guidelines. The in state numbers are also high - SAT 1330 - 1490 with 38% acceptance. That was last year and they had a 15% jump in EA apps this year so I suspect it will be slightly higher for the class of 2023...
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 190 Junior Member
    @Cavitee Thanks for the info.
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