2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Low GPA for international student, should I skip?


I am an international student and I have graduated high school with a 85.8% overall average in finals ( we have % system in our country ), however during the junior and senior years this used to be 95%+ in every semester. The reason behind this is medical issues - COVID namely, I recovered from COVID just few days before my final exams began.

I have always wanted to attend Cornell university and I was planning to apply without SAT score ( since its test optional for my intended college now ) and I will also have to apply for financial aid. I believe my ECAs are good enough for the university - includes a remote software developer job ( had/have a full time job offer in Europe ), a SaaS startup ( my own brand in building but very early and not generating much revenue to be able to pay for tuition fees ), a national certificate and prize for winning a musical instruments competition, a public discord bot being used by almost 90k users, my recreational athletics and sports and some other insignificant activities. I have honestly been a very good classroom student and an employee, I am sure my teachers and employers will write me very good LORs.

But my finals score which was published sometime back is troubling me and has taken away my confidence. Do I still have a chance or I should skip applying to American universities? ( getting financial aid is necessary for me, so I am aiming at universities offering need-blind/ need-aware admissions even to international students )

Thank you so much!

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Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Well thank goodness you are recovered from COVID 19.

First I want to say that Cornell University is not a need blind but need aware for International Students. And neither is UPenn. Only the other 6 Ivys are need blind.

An 85.8% is a very decent B GPA. But since most applicants who apply to Top 25 or Top 50 schools in the US have strong A averages or GPAs between 91-100, with most around 95%, I don't think you are a compelling applicant for these school and applying for financial aid.

When you do not have the best grades, then submitting evidence of other intellectual vitality, course rigor or test scores, only helps make your case. Since you do not have a high SAT or ACT score and were thinking of applying test optional, I think that will only hurt you further.

There maybe some universities in the US that will admit you with financial aid and low GPA but I'm not sure which ones those are. Maybe a Berea College, Skidmore College, SOKA, U.of Alabama.

I don't think applying to Ivy League colleges with an 85.8% and no test scores is going to be a good use of your time.

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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