3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Do I meet the academic threshold?

In college admissions forums, I hear a lot about the "academic threshold." I have a few questions about this.

1. Does a 1480 SAT (800&680) and 3.8 UW GPA meet the academic thresholds for Princeton, Harvard, and Yale? Is such a question even important in this process? (White male, affluent area, public hs)

2. With the stats listed above, should my priority be increasing my stats or strengthening my ecs?

Thanks so much!

P.S. I already read the academic index blog and that helped as well :)


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago[edited]

Five years ago, perhaps such stats would put someone from that demographic in a good position. Today, the same 3 schools are 50% harder to get into with admit rates of 3.98%,3.43%,4.62%. Unless one is applying as a recruited athlete, I'm not sure I can offer any other higher probabilities than the college vine chancing engine. I'm guessing that even with good ECs, you are going to get around a 10% range. You should fill out a chancing profile and verify this for your own benefit.

https://toptieradmissions.com/resources/college-calculator/ explains what an Academic Index is and you are tier 5, or average with a 221.

Each Ivy has its own scorecard and what they consider an academic threshold. For the most part, they are all going to consider your 1.) Grades, 2.) Course Rigor 3.) Test Scores, and 4.) Intellectual curiosity/vitality and give you a raw score of 1-5. Only a few admits ever get a 1 rating. Most of them are 2s and 3s. A 2 is a Magna Potential with superb grades, high test scores and a Cum Laude has excellent grades and high test scores. Each admission cycle these thresholds are adjusted and not published. I would guess you are a 2-, 3+ or 3 at Harvard. I would depend on you presenting evidence of original scholarship or some academic accomplishment done outside of High School like taking college courses, doing independent research, or having your work published.

This scorecard exists for the 5 additional categories as well.

1. Interview Rating

2. Athletic Rating

3. Teacher recommendations

4. Personal rating

5. ECs, Community involvement, employment, and Family rating/

Although academics are the most important rating, using the holistic review process, up to 200 additional data points are entered into the mix before the committee votes on an applicant.

Therefore there is no simple answer to your question. You have to score high in all the categories.


1 Unusually appealing personal qualities Unusual Effervesence


Strength of character


2 Excellent Excellent personality, mannerisms, and shows maturity

Excellent conversationality

Shows examples of character

3 Very Good Very good person

Easy to get along with

Very good track record of balanced work

4 Good Nothing outstanding about this candidates resume or academic record

Nothing outstanding about ECS, experience or viewpoint

5 Marginal No redeeming benefits to institution


1 Outstanding- superior bravery and courage in the face of insurmountable obstacles

Proven leadership and citizenship

Best living example of genuine kindness, selflessness, humility

Unquestionable integrity, resiliancy, spirit and camraderie with peers

2 Very Strong- Excellent human qualities and personality

Has overcome some obstacles with graciousness, graditude

Humility and humbleness

Overall good person

3 Generally Positive- Easy to talk to and communicate

Has clear moral compass and good attitude toward goals

Strong work ethic

No particular personality spike

4 Bland or somewhat negative or immature - Signs of entitlement, superiority or chip on ones shoulder

No filter, doesn't take life that seriously

Not very engaging or skilled in the art of conversation

5 Questionable personal qualities - Not self aware and shows undesirable traits such as narrow mindedness

Not a compassionate or kind person

6 Worrisome Personal Qualities - Someone with undeveloped personality and negative traits

EC/Community/Employment/Family Rating:

1 Summa Potential - Unusual Strength in one or more areas.

Possible National level achievement or prof. experience

A potential major contributor at Harvard

Truly unusual achievement

2 Magna Potential - Strong secondary school contribution in more areas such as

Class president, newspaper editor etc

Local or regional recognition, Major achievement

3 Active Participation - Very good school constribution without distinction

Good community service or volunteering

Some talents in art, music etc.

4 Little or No Interest -Respectable achivement and participation

Light service

Team orientate

5 Substantial activity outside conventional -No significant achievement or particiption

EC Participation family, term-time work Little of no extracirricular activities

6 Physical condition prevents significant activity - Can't participate due to health or mental issues


1 Strikingly unusual support -The Best Ever

One of the Best in X Years

Truly over the Top

2 Very Strong Support -One of the Best in X Years

The Best This Year in X

3 Above Average Positive Support -Very Good Student great potential

4 Good to Marginal Support - Average student with unrealized potential

5 Very Marginal Support -Can't support one way or the other

3 years ago

Your stats are MORE than fine. 1480 SAT is amazing and if you got a 3.8 UW then you must have gotten a 4+ WGPA. Focus on your extracurriculars now. But if you are in your senior year right now, you can't do much about extracurriculars now unless you have been doing one for more than a year or two. SO basically don't start any new ones and focus on writing your essays too. They will impact your application a lot.

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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