How do I distinguish myself from other applicants?
I am a junior (class of 2021) and here are my stats!
- unfinalized GPA: weighted=4.18/ unweighted: 3.97 (only 1 A-)
- taking 8 APS (centered around science AP)
- have not taken any AP tests yet b/c I am taking 4 junior year and 4 senior year; planning to take 4 AP exams in May
- 1340 SAT from DEC. 2019 (wanted to see how i would do w/o studying; planning to take one in March but corona!)
- bunch of ECs (NYU med. internship, volunteer @ hopsital, 3 leadership positions, dance for 12 years, marching band, honor societies, etc.)
basically my fear is that i am going to get rejected from colleges/potential tuition scholarships, due to an average SAT score and kinda lowish GPA. my school did not offer any APs freshman year (freshman is still part of middle school); sophomore year I had no space in my course credits to include an AP class since I took honors chem & honors bio as a prereq for AP Bio/chem in the future year. now, my school is going on a pass/fail system but only giving a letter grade to AP courses that are 80% finished. out of the four APs i took this year, only two will boost my GPA and (sadly) I ended with an A- in both courses (AP macro & lang). my other two APs were high As but i won't get the chance to improve my GPA with those because I was halfway through them (they will be shown as pass on transcript).
so my concern is that i need something to compensate for my low GPA (relative to more selective schools) and low SAT (relative to selective schools). my questions are:
- should i send my SAT score to selective schools like NYU, Johns Hopkins, Penn, duke, etc?
- should i send my SAT score to state schools like penn state, UPitt, drexel?
i want to qualify for scholarships but i feel like it won't happen b/c of SAT score.
my other question: what are some suggestions of activities i can do during quarantine in order to build my resume/set me apart from others? i just want to enhance my resume with hopes of shadowing my SAT score (if i send it?)
this is so long but it would be extremely helpful to get some advice. i hope everyone is staying safe during these tough times, and i wish fellow juniors luck with the college app process.
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Your SAT score is definitely strong enough to send to schools like Penn State, UPitt, and Drexel. Because this year is so topsy-tuvry, I can't say how much they'd help you, but those would be decently strong scores to send those schools in a normal year.
I would not send your SATs to NYU, Hopkins, Penn, Duke, etc. (and I'd lump in any school where the 75th percentile is above a 1500). Those schools will likely have test-optional policies this year for students whose prime testing dates were affected by COVID-19, and considering that the rest of your application is very strong, I would take advantage of those policies. After all, you didn't really get a fair shake at the SAT considering you took this one just as a kind of diagnostic.
I also wouldn't worry about your APs—it sounds like you're taking the most rigorous schedule possible at your school, and that's what really matters to colleges when it comes to course rigor. The most reliable way to assess how colleges might see your academics is usually by looking at unweighted GPA compared with course rigor (since weighted GPA is calculated differently by different schools), and your unweighted GPA is about as strong as it can be.
In terms of activities you could try—I would see if there's anything COVID-related that you could get involved with, honestly. Donation drives, volunteer work, etc.; there are people doing that kind of work right now, and they can always use more help. Especially if you're interested in medicine (which it sounds like, based on your other ECs). That would go a long way in showing that you understand the roles and responsibilities involved in the more human side of medicine.
I'm not entirely sure about your SAT situation, but I think you should still turn in your SAT score anyways. My teacher, who has connections with someone who reads applications for a Cal State, said that it looks better for applicants to show they tried on AP tests and submit all the scores they had rather than not submit any. So it may work the same way. Also, I heard from many of my teachers that colleges will take into account that you couldn't take any APs freshman and sophomore year. Hopefully, that gives you a little peace of mind.
As for your extracurriculars, you could probably find a student to tutor online through your past teachers or current teachers. I also know some of my friends are making masks at home and donating them to local hospitals for patients and retirement homes if you want to try your hand at sewing. That's all the ideas I have, though. Good luck and stay safe!!
I think your stats are great! My son got into NYU but didn’t submit his SAT score because he was told by admissions not to if it was less than 1500 (he applied to Tisch and SAT score is not required). His friend got into Duke and I believe his SAT score was close to 1500 or more. Look at the the colleges average GPA and SAT scores and try to be in the top 25% to be competitive for scholarships. My son got into Penn State main campus with a 1340 SAT so definitely send yours. It’s strong and if you plan on studying and bringing it up, then I’d say you’ll be fine to send it to Penn State (I’m not familiar with UPitt or Drexel).
As far as things you can do while in quarantine- I’ll give you examples of what my son and his friends are doing. My son started a virtual film club. He reached out to his teacher to moderate a film club and together they vote what movies they will watch and discuss every week. Other kids have started a donation drive for the local pantry. They asked several businesses to be a drop off location for canned goods. They are left outside and picked up and dropped off to the pantry every week. Think about your interests and see how you can connect with others through a blog or YouTube channel perhaps. Or if you like to write for example, you can write notes for children in hospitals who can’t have their parents visit right now. If you do something you genuinely enjoy which also helps or inspires others, the passion will make you stand out on your application. Best of luck!