2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Is my GPA and extracirricular good enough for Ivy league schools, or should I improve them?

I'm a sophomore and my unweighted GPA is 3.81. I'm in the process of joining the UIL Science club at my school and I'm part of stage crew for the play at my school. Next, March I'm volunteering to help with premature babies at a hospital. I'm just worried this isn't good enough for Ivies and should I do more or improve anything?


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Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

In general, your 3.81 unweighted would not be a very compelling GPA for any of the 8 Ivy League colleges. So you can do one of two things. 1.) Get your grades up as well as your course rigor, intellectual vitality and test scores like the SAT or ACt. 2.) Have the most compelling EC narrative that is WOW FACTOR. This can be either starting your own non-profit and making lots of impact in your community or being a Varsity Recruited Athlete in an Ivy sport like swimming, water-polo, lacrosse, sailing, fencing, hockey, soccer, track, XC country, skiing, golf, football, basketball, volleyball. But you have to be recruitable, just playing on your varsity team doesn't really account for much.

Grades remain the #1 most important determinant factor in college admissions. And this is especially the case when most Ivys are test optional. So Ivy college admission application readers are going to scrutinize your applications for meeting certain institutional thresholds such as a numerical score on the academic index or something similar. Remember that at a school like Harvard about 3/4 of the admits have perfect 4.0 Unweighted GPAs and the remaining 1/4 are a mix of ALDC and hooked applicants. ALDC stands for recruited athletes, legacies, development candidates ($$$$ rich donor kids), and fac-brats (children of faculty), and hooked means Black, LatinA, Indigenous, and or low-income, first-gen or from any other marginalized group like someone disabled or LGBTQIA. So if you fall into one of these categories and the rest of your app is stellar, then a 3.81 is okay.

Hope you understand that around 1/4 of Ivy admits with lower GPAs make the cut but they have some other tag(s) to their application that gives them a non-meritocratic bump because of their status, demographics, or talent.

There is a steep cost for wanting to get into an Ivy that in most cases will cause a lot of future trauma so don't set yourself for some unrealizable goal if it's going to screw up your work/life balance and mental health. Let's face it 95% of applicants who apply to the Ivys do not get in. And many of them are highly achieving and highly talented. Think of this more like copping a Travis Scott Nike Dunk shoe drop or your mom having to wait for 5 years to get a Hermes Birkin bag if she is rich enough to afford one. No one is less of a person because of what brand of clothing, shoes, or bags they wear. And the same is true of adults and colleges. No one is less than a person because they didn't get the Golden Ticket to attend an Ivy. After all, it's not a meritocratic process. It's luck, it's connections, it's even the color of your skin and your zip code. It's nice if you get to go, but 1/2 the people at Harvard don't even mention they go to Harvard or graduated from Harvard unless you press them because they know that Havard is a bastion of entitlement and how someone arrived at Harvard NOT because of they excelled at intelligence tests but rather it made sense for Harvard to fill their 1650 seats with this shaped pool of applicants as if they were putting on an Academic Circus.

The Ivy League is like 8 private golf clubs. Anyone can apply, but it helps tremendously to have all your credentials and someone to vouch for your talent, intellect, and potential. That's where interviews and recommendations come into play. You can get a perfectly excellent undergraduate education at any of the say top 75 colleges. I don't think there is much of a difference in the outcomes if you go to Wake Forest, UVA, Duke or UNC, Vanderbilt, U of Richmond, or any of the 8 Ivy League schools. The value of your Ivy degree matters more if you attend an Ivy graduate school like Harvard Law, Harvard Business, Yale Law, Columbia Law, etc. And you have just as much chance of getting into a graduate program from any of the say 75 schools as long as you have high test scores and a high GPA.

It's good and normal to ponder and think about your future potential and talent. But also think of long-term goals because your undergrad degree is only 4 years out of your long life. You can excel at other chapters in your life like grad school if it's too daunting and complicated to get into an Ivy right off the bat.

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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