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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

4.1 GPA and rejected – What else could have gone wrong?

Just found out someone from another school with a 4.1 GPA got rejected from their dream college. This has me worried. Does anyone know what could affect admissions besides GPA? How can I make sure I strengthen those other parts of my application?

7 months ago

I understand your concern after hearing about someone with a strong GPA being rejected. Admissions decisions are influenced by many factors beyond GPA—GPA is an important piece of the puzzle, but ultimately still just a single one. For example, if that GPA was earned while taking courses that aren't known for being particularly challenging, colleges may have been concerned about the student's ability to thrive with a much higher level of academic rigor.

Also on the academic side of things, while many colleges are test-optional now, a strong SAT or ACT score can still boost your chances significantly. If this student didn't submit a score, or submitted a score that was lower than the middle 50% of accepted students' scores at that school, that also may have been a factor.

Another critical area is extracurricular involvement. Depth and leadership in a few areas, where you've made a significant impact, are invaluable, as colleges want students who will contribute to their communities and leave a mark on the school, not just get good grades. A subpar extracurricular profile can be hard to overcome, even with a great GPA, as lots of students out there have great GPAs and it's often your extracurriculars that set you apart.

Letters of recommendation are equally essential as they offer a more personal view of your character and work ethic. Strong essays that reflect your unique voice and experiences can also set you apart. Finally, demonstrated interest can sometimes be a factor, so engage with colleges by visiting, emailing admissions officers with thoughtful questions, or attending virtual events. Especially if this person was applying to an especially competitive school, if any of these areas were lackluster, that could have been the reason they weren't accepted.

As hard as it is to hear, it's also possible that this student did everything right, and there just weren't enough spots in the class for them. While it's natural to want to be able to point to one specific reason why someone didn't get in somewhere, so you can avoid that fate, schools receive thousands and thousands of applications from highly qualified applicants, and sometimes the only reason someone doesn't get in is truly just the level of the competition.

This might all sound daunting, but remember that a rejection does not define your potential or worth, and that if you work hard and focus on putting your best foot forward, there will be a school that recognizes the value you'd bring to their campus. Stay proactive and focus on crafting a well-rounded and genuine application, and good luck!

7 months ago

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