Can you still get into an Ivy with a lower GPA?Answered
I am very interested in Boston University and UPENN, but my gpa is a 3.4. Math caused my gpa to go down a hefty amount, but writing is my best subject. Are there any other tips for getting in with a lower gpa besides the standardized tests and the essay?
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While BU is an excellent university it is not considered Ivy League but a Top 40 School. I think they are #42 in this year's US World Report College rankings with an 18.3% acceptance rate. UPenn is 1 of 8 Ivy League colleges with a 5.68% acceptance rate. Both school stats show much higher UWGPA averages. BU is about 3.71 UWGPA and UPenn about 3.91 UWGPA.
While all colleges regardless of rank admit students with 3.4 UWGPAs it's rare for an Ivy to do so unless you qualify as an exceptional D1 Varsity College recruit or a development candidate whose family has contributed say $10-20 million to the university. I highly doubt that even Legacy candidates would get into UPenn with a 3.4 GPA these days.
You do not mention what grade of HS you are in. If you are a 9th or 10th grader, you have some time to get your GPA up. You can augment your UWGPA by taking more classes over the summer and getting As in them. Also if you took AP classes that would show evidence of course rigor. Also, speak to your HS counselor about whether you can take more classes during the normal school year if that helps your GPA.
If you are in 11th grade, then you don't have much time to improve your UWGPA, I would still aim to take some classes over the summer and take a full load of honors or AP courses during your 12th grade if you can handle them.
I don't know your reasons for wanting to attend those schools so I have some parting thoughts.
1.) Where you go to college doesn't define you. It's what you know and what you can do. And to some degree who you know and what kind of relationships you can foster and maintain with key people.
2.) There are literally hundreds of excellent colleges that will be happy to educate you and help your spike and love of writing turn into something tangible for you. For example, you don't want to go to UPenn if you are struggling to keep up with the other cohorts and find it so competitive and difficult to maintain your grades there that you have no time to do other important things like maybe join the College Newspaper, submit your poetry to creative writing journals or have time to read for your personal enjoyment. It would be much better to get into Skidmore or Bennington or Union College and thrive in an environment that supports you. Remember 4 years go by quickly and it's a mere single chapter of your life. You can still apply to more rigorous Grad Schools like the Columbia School of Journalism for instance. And lastly, you can always transfer. Pres. Obama started off at Occidental College, thrived there for 2 years, and transferred to Columbia. And then went to Harvard Law School and became the editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Don't create a situation for yourself that is not going to fully embrace and support what you can handle.
3.) Focus on finding colleges that seem like places that will be fun, happy, places for you. Don't pick a school because of its name, brand, or clout. I looked at both BU and UPenn and really didn't like where they were located. BU has no central campus, it's basically 20 blocks of Boston buildings, there's no lake, no rolling hills, it's very urban and impersonal. I felt UPenn was the least attractive Ivy I visited for the same reasons. I didn't like the endless city blocks of UPenn's campus. While some buildings were old and historical, I didn't want to be a number and go to school with a lot of people and feel dwarfed by the experience. Vassar, Colgate, Hamilton, and even Trinity College in Hartford CT are what I consider happy college campuses.
Thanks for reading my answer and I hope you take your time to enjoy the college process and pick some schools that really fit your personality and serve your needs.
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