3 years ago
Admissions Advice

I have a 3.4 unweighted GPA? What are my chances of being accepted into a school like Chicago or Yale?

I am a junior. I have very strong extracurriculars but my GPA is on the lower side and I will be applying test-optional. I am also a first gen and low income. What should I do to improve my chances? Can I get in with a lower GPA if everything else is good?

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago

Hey @AntoniahEtienne,

Being first-generation and low-income has its plusses and minuses, but I think that it should work out to your benefit in the college application process. Your situation may compensate for your GPA in the eyes of admissions officers, especially if you express it in your application (Ex. the areas where you can "explain" why you have this or that stat, etc.).

The typical thing that most people, regardless of situation, do to make up for lower GPAs is earn high SAT Scores. With everything going on this year though, admissions officers should understand that this option might not be possible for you.

Another obvious way to improve your profile is with strong extracurriculars that create a "spike" or "hook" factor. In your situation, initiatives that help students in situations similar to yours and the community in general are quite valuable.

This is also highly dependent on ethnicity. For instance, many South and East Asians in your situation still manage to earn high GPAs, while other ethnic groups may average lower.

My best recommendation to you would be to research your situation and what others with your socio-economic status and stats have done to improve their chances. The CollegeVine & PrepScholar Blogs are great places to start; I've linked a few other articles below as well. YouTube is also very helpful as you can treat the acceptance stories that you find on there as case studies; I've also linked one of those below. When you do find people like you (especially on YouTube), I recommend reaching out to them for advice and learning more about their story.

As a note, your intended major also plays a big role. If you didn't do well in English/Humanities courses, which lowered your GPA, but you're planning to major in a STEM-Related Field and did well in STEM courses, then it won't be so bad (at least that's what I think).

At the end of the day, remember that the process is HOLISTIC. The admission officers will take your unique situation and challenges into account, but you have to make sure to share it with them. That being said, don't go overboard and make excuses for everything, but do find a balance.

Hope this helps!

CollegeVine Article: https://blog.collegevine.com/how-does-being-a-first-generation-college-student-affect-my-application/

College Essay Guy Article: https://www.collegeessayguy.com/blog/first-generation-college-student-low-income

Possibly Helpful YouTubeVideo/Channel: https://youtu.be/lzfJ0pDAYTQ

Article on PrepScholar (Compensating for Low GPA): https://blog.prepscholar.com/low-gpa-how-to-apply-to-college

3 years ago

It is unlikely you can gain acceptance to UChicago or Yale with a 3.4 UWGPA. Their average UWGPA is 3.90+. I think UChicago's avg. weighted GPA is over 4.45+

If you are low-income first-gen then my best recommendation to get into a good college would be to try to get matched through the Questbridge College Match Program. It's already too late to apply to the Questbridge College Prep Scholars program. But even QB average UWGPAs are in the 3.9 range and many students who apply have pretty high test scores as well. I would also try Posse. And look at Project Greenlight for information on where to apply.

You will have to accept the fact that you only have 1 full semester to improve your GPA prior to applying so the most you can expect is to get your GPA up to a 3.5 if you get straight A's the first term of senior year. That will not be enough to make a difference in applying to Ivy League or elite colleges.

There are plenty of great colleges that may accept you and give you good financial aid like Occidental, Skidmore, Berea College, UIllinois/Chicago, Oberlin, and if you live in California, the entire UC system.

Good Luck

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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