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How to get into top colleges?

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Hi, I will be a senior next year. I’m planning to apply for Yale or Brown in early decision, but until now, I have only taken 1 AP class. Next year, I’m going to take three, and 4 SATs (regular and 3 subject tests). I have a fairly decent GPA (3.84), but from what I’ve heard, I have to take many AP classes as much as possible, which scares me a lot. I moved to the US when I was still a freshman (half freshman), but I didn’t know much English back then, so the normal classes were like the AP classes to me. And I clearly didn’t think about applying to ivy or other top schools when I was younger. Until my school was closed, I thought a lot about my career and the college that I want to attend in the future. Then ivy and other top schools came to my mind, and I am really, really want to go there. So I hope you could help me with any advice or tips, I would really appreciate it. Thank you for taking your time reading this!

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answered on
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Hi, here are a few comments hopefully they will be helpful for you. You don't mention whether your GPA is weighted or unweighted. Nevertheless, it's on the light side for Ivy League admissions. If you want to be competitive you need to bring your unweighted GPA up to a 3.9 so you should be focusing on taking weighted classes in 12th grade. In some schools, both honors and AP classes count for weighted classes. Some schools don't differentiate between the 2 in terms of weighting while others give .50 bump to honors or a 1.00 bump to APs. To get the maximum benefit you will need to take perhaps 4-6 weight classes during senior year and get As in them. If your weighted GPA is 3.84, then perhaps trying to get your weighted GPA above a 4.00 is possible. If you can take honors with the same bump effect opt to take those because the APs aren't really going to give you that much-added benefit to the reader of the application. 1st of all, you only have taken 1 AP class and you haven't stated whether you received a 2,3,4, or 5 in that 1 AP class. Secondly, AP tests are given in May 2021 with test scores in the middle of July 2021. By the time your add'l APs scores will be available, none of the Test Scores will matter because your college decision will have already been finalized. No one will retroactively use July 2021 results in your college decision so that's why I suggest taking honors classes first if those are weighted the same value. Given that most of to Top 100 colleges are now test-optional, you do not have to submit a test score or SAT subject test. If you don't submit a test score, then there will be more scrutiny on your GPA, course rigor, APs scores, and other academic achievements in your ECs like research papers, or club activity related to your spike or passion. If you have a 1450+ SAT score or a 33+ ACT score already, I would highly encourage you to submit those marks on your application. Barring that, I would not submit a test score lower than the 25% percentile test scores for that college. If you have the opportunity to take the SAT or ACT or retake them, I highly recommend that you do that with the goal of achieving a test result that puts you squarely in the middle 50% percentile for that college. The same goes for Subject II tests. If you can achieve a 720+ score for the 3 you said you are taking, submit those, otherwise don't submit them. Given all this information lastly, I don't see any value for applying Early Decision to an Ivy League school because you are doing it from a position of weakness, not strength. You obviously need to improve your stats and you can't show that improvement if you choose to apply early to any of the Ivy schools. Your 12th-grade fall grades will not be released by the time you apply Early nor will your SAT/SAT II tests depending on when you take them. Therefore use this time to help strengthen your chances. You might benefit from retaking the SAT/SAT II more than once. Many Ivy EA or ED applicants are either recruited athletes, legacy applicants, or development applicants or a 4th category (the college dean's list of preferred applicants). Traditionally, if you fall into these categories you apply early because that's just protocol. I've read multiple books and articles explaining that certain Ivys like UPenn and Harvard expect such candidates to apply early. Therefore unless you are a top candidate or someone that qualifies as that kind of candidate I would NOT apply EA or ED to such schools. I think Stanford as a similar pattern as well. Also if you have time to read Frank Bruni's book "Where you go is not who you will be". Its wake up call to stop thinking that the only place you can get an excellent college education is an Ivy League college. Remember there are only 8 but there are at least 25 other schools that are just as good.

Hi, thank you for replying. My GPA is on a 4.0 scale so I guess it would be an unweighted GPA??? Can my essay really boost my chance of getting into these schools if I have bad stats (bad for these schools)?
Work on the GPA and stats first, your essays will only be helpful if everything else looks good, not the other way around IMO.
Thank you for answering my questions!
answered on
2
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Hello! For the AP Classes, it depends on how much ap classes are offered at your school but also you don't have to take many ap classes as much as possible. I believe that you can write about your circumstances about the ap classes somewhere in your applications. You can do alternatives like take classes at a local community college, and this way is more beneficial since as long as you pass the class with a C, the credits will be transferred to universities you apply (you will have to check which classes apply to your university or college). Is your GPA unweighted or weighted? If it's weighted, you might have to work on it a bit more. Also, don't focus on your SAT subject tests alot unless it is required by the university or it is related to your major since I believe instead of focusing on SAT subject tests, you can shift your focus to your essays since essays are a huge important factor for your admissions in which you should start working on it now since you will be a senior next year.

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My school offers somewhere between 13-14 AP classes. I want to load my schedule with 4-5 of AP classes (out of 6), but other than core subjects, I can’t find any electives that fit my schedule. I am committing to art class since I have taken it for 3 years; I also want to take Latin II because most colleges I want to apply to require 2 years of a foreign language. Considering I am a foreign student and fluently speak 2 languages, do I really need to take another foreign language?
I see, it's great that you took art class for 3 years. For the foreign language, that will depend if you took your AP exams so they can count towards college credits! If you took it and pass it, you will not need to take another foreign language.
Thank you for answering my questions!