6 months ago
Admissions Advice

advice for low gpa and low sat?

So I am a Junior and over the years my grades have gotten higher and higher. Last semester I had a 4.0 but when adding all 3 years together I have about a 3.0 which is not good. I also have a very very low sat score and I am working to bring it up but my first sat was a 950 so I don't know how much higher it could get. I am looking at mostly schools in the top 60-100 and lower but should I look at schools lower than that? I don't have a crazy amount of ecs but it's not bad. My school does not have much so I mostly do stuff outside of school. Is there anything I should work on specifically to get into at least a few schools. I am looking at schools like Temple/FIU/FIDM/Georgia State etc. My highest reaches are Spelman and Umiami but I am trying to find schools that are more of a target or safety.

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2 answers

6 months ago

Since you’re a Junior you have a little bit of time to raise your GPA a bit more, so don’t get too discouraged! Also, 3.0 is a good GPA and there are plenty of great schools out there that’ll accept that.

In some cases, a higher SAT score can compensate for a lower GPA so if you can, work on raising that. Khan Academy has free resources and practice tests. After you’ve spent some time on there, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses so you can get organize a study plan that works for you. Wishing you luck on your college admissions process!!!

6 months ago

I am basically in the same boat you are in. I see you've already thrown out the idea of going to an Ivy or Top 20, which is an important first step. Schools like that tend to prefer almost perfect school/ test records, so there is no chance you could really get in. When you start looking at schools with acceptance rates beyond 40%, you start seeing a shift from academic perfection to "eh, you get a C, who cares?"

1.) Try to raise your SAT score. When your GPA is this low this late into high school, kiss raising it goodbye. You could raise it to a 3.3 if you load down on APs but... That isn't a promise and you would need to maintain a perfect grade in that class. Take a practice SAT and write what confused you the most in your weakest area. Focusing on this is the quickest way to raise it, which means the biggest gains in the shortest time. Get a good textbook and a review book (I recommend CliffNotes in the correlating subject) as well as plenty of practice questions. I'm more used to the ACT, but a good rule of thumb is to remember formulas for math. This cuts down on time, giving your more chances to review your answers and be confident in them. Just google good SAT texts and try to see if you can get one or a few (or try one of these websites: https://milanaryal.com.np/a-list-of-the-best-sites-to-download-ebooks-for-free/). Set aside an hour a day to focus on each subject or if you can't do that, try to fill in free time with it. Sitting at a lunch table alone? READ AN SAT BOOK. Just watching TV? DRILL FORMULAS. You'd be shocked how much wasted time we all have waiting for things or sitting around. This is time you could be just casually studying. If you have enough time, try to read books. There is plenty of evidence showing being familiar with a variety of texts improves SAT scores. If you aren't in the mood to sit down, grab a college-level Literature textbook that just has a bunch of short excerpts and review questions. (I like Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum.)

2.) Hone down on your extracurriculars. Aim for more prestigious things. Think about your future major and think about ecs that would help improve it the most. The rarer, the more you show you are a good fit and your grades don't show everything.

3.) Essays. Focus on your essays more than ever. Try to sit down once a week and write a single essay prompt. I suggest sitting back and making up a narrative to follow which helps a lot. For example:

"I want to improve the lives of my community in any way possible."

This is what you should write at first. This explains your motivation, your everything. Make it broad so you can tie in a lot of stuff. With that example, you could tie in literally anything. "I got into Journalism to report on this community since it is often underrepresented." "I got into Biology since the region is gorgeous and needs to be protected." This list goes on. This motivation also helps when writing the activities section of the common app.

You can also use this to explain your dip in grades. You may have a disability that wasn't entirely addressed at your school, or you suffered abuse/ bullying, etc, etc. Don't make shit up. Ok? Lying about these things is not ok and if there is no tangible reason for your low grades, don't make one up. Keeping up a lie like your parents are abusive will be really hard to do for four years if your mommy shows up with cookies. Don't build a completely false narrative. As controversial as this statement is, lying a little bit is fine as long as it isn't MAJOR like your ethnicity, region, sexuality, or etc.

4.) Demonstrated Interest and Interviews. Showing your passion will help a lot! Colleges want to see you have the drive, you have the passion, and they want to make sure you actually attend the school since millions will be brought in. Check your college list and make a note of which ones actually take this into consideration. This takes time and there is no point to it unless it counts!

You need to also tailor the interview. Become familiar with the school, memorize it like if you can't recall a lot of facts about the college, the world will end. Try to tailor the interview to the college's mission statement/ vision. Again, this comes back to yield. If you are a good fit for the college and showcase a lot of its values, you will be far more likely to stay and GIVE THEM MONEY!

5.) Wait. This isn't popular by any means but just waiting will do a lot. If you want a traditional college experience, taking a gap year can improve your portfolio and allow you to treat Senior year as your Junior year. If you want to compete in an International Olympiad or something that you won't know the results of until the end of the admissions cycle, this is a very valid strategy. You can also learn a language, study abroad, etc. If you go the gap year route, have a plan. If you are going to sit around, watching Netflix, no.

You can also apply as a transfer. Many colleges do have a transfer program where as long as you take the required courses and GPA, you get admission. This is especially true at smaller, less selective colleges.

6.) Your actual college list may be a problem. Audit it. Try to aim for smaller (for me, that is 10,000 or fewer applications per year) and less prestigious institutions. This makes them less selective, as well as having more time to review your application.


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