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With my grades and SAT mostly set, how can I improve my application as a Junior in HS?
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I'm a Junior in the Class of 2021, attending a public HS in suburban CA (supposedly its a pretty good one).

GPA: 3.68UW, 4.0W (my predicted grades for the end of this year, accounting for the current situation. I'll likely end up with a 4.1 or so by the end of senior year.)

SAT: 1320, 660/600 (I was also signed up for the June SAT and that got cancelled, more on that later)

I will have taken a total of 11 APs by the end of my senior year. I'm also an Eagle Scout (where I led the construction of a patio, raising over $15k and coordinating a contractor and about 50 volunteers) and am a moderately successful Speech and Debate competitior with a leadership position for my next (senior) year.

My goal is to get into schools like a mid-tier UC (Davis, Irvine, SD, SB), a high-tier CSU (Cal Poly, etc), or into a mid-tier private school with good aid. I'm planning on studying mechanical engineering.

My two questions:

1. What should I do about standardized testing? I'm applying in the fall, so my options are a summer ACT (which I've never taken before) and one of the fall SATs. My 1320 is a little on the low side for the schools I want, but I also don't know what the situation is going to look like.

2. How can I improve the rest of my resume now that my grades are mostly set? Is getting a summer job worth the effort? WHat other activities might be worth giving a try over summer?

classof2021
engineering
SAT
junior
ACT

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Accepted answer

your scores are more than fine for Davis and Irvine, and they're not terrible for SB or SD, just kind of middle-of-the-pack. if you've never taken the ACT or studied for the ACT before now, i wouldn't force things by trying to take it in the summer—that would take a lot of time, and you wouldn't be guaranteed success in any case. i would wait and see what the fall ends up looking like for SATs; if you can improve your score, then that's awesome, but if you can't, it still shouldn't prohibit you from getting into any of these schools.

as for summer activities, yes a job would be good if you can find one, but there's no way of knowing what seasonal employment might look like this summer with the pandemic. if you can, see if you can use the time to pursue one of your interests—maybe something related to mechanical engineering, like taking an online course or designing some kind of simple project.

Hi, your advice is really helpful! I'm also in somewhat of the same/worse situation: I have a 3.63 unweighted gpa, and a 3.88 UC weighted gpa. My school only lets us take weighted classes in junior and senior year (so only junior year is factored as weighted in the UC gpa). This year only 1st semester was factored in. I did get a 1520 on my SAT and I have decent EC's (. UCSB is my dream school, do you think I still have a decent shot at getting in? I'm really worried. Thank you in advance!
@Cadence The UC's take into account "educational opportunities" when it comes to weighted GPA. So that shouldn't be a big deal, if you're worried I believe there's a spot on the application where you can say this. Good luck, we'll get through this together!