Is it hopeless to apply to Upenn?
After thinking a lot and learning my school will allow me to apply to more than I've already chosen, I would like to apply to Upenn Early Decision. I originally wasn't going to consider it because I am not a top top student, but I am now. I currently have a 3.6 GPA (my school doesn't give GPA or class rank but I calculated as much as I can) and have not taken the ACT yet. I have been doing Varsity Track, indoor and outdoor, and XC, along with both instrumental and vocal music for all of high school. I am super interested in neuroscience and have done an independent study on a neuropsychiatric condition (alone, no college professor). UPenn has a top pre medical program, and I am genuinely interested in having a career in medicine, not because of greys anatomy, but because I am passionate about it. I have been told applying ED is the best way to get in. It will not be the end of the world if i am rejected; as long as you work hard, you can get into a medical school and do well. But I am worried it will take away from me easily being admitted to another school ED such as Northeastern. Should I even bother EDing to UPenn or should I just ED to Northeastern and leave it? Thanks.
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You should take either the SAT/ACT this August and if you get a good test score say >1450 or >33, then I would submit the test scores with your ED application to UPenn. If you don't get good test scores then you can decide whether or not to apply. I don't think anyone here can really weigh in on what you presented as your data points and make a good recommendation at this time. Like all Ivys your ECs will be weighed against others in terms of whether you competed on a National, State, Regional or District level. So plug in your data into the CV chancing calculator and see where you are right now. You can simulate your chances better by stubbing in your future test scores. If you get like 25-35% on UPenn it might be a good move to apply ED. If you are at 5-15% with > 1450 or > 33 then maybe not so much.
The way ED works is you should only apply if you already have a reasonable chance of getting in. It doubles your chances, but doesn’t take you from an automatic rejection to an automatic in. It takes you from a likely acceptance to a guaranteed acceptance. Baseline your GPA is really low for UPenn so I don’t think applying ED would actually help you much; a lot of people misunderstand this and use ED on the school they have the worst chances with, but that is basically a waste of money and time. You use your ED on a school you’re either a sort-of-yes or a maybe-yes-more-yes-than-no. I agree w @CameronBameron that you should take the SAT/ACT and apply; however, I will say unless you get above a 1500/33 don’t submit the scores since they will just be another component of your profile that is lacking. If you do excellently (1550+, 34-35-36) you should definitely put the score on since it can help make up for your GPA. I would not apply ED with those stats alone since your GPA is significantly under their “benchmark” (same as all ivys- low 3.9 high 3.8) so on that basis alone unless you have some really stellar narrative crafted through your essays it would be a likely rejection. I would recommend you apply to Northeastern instead and apply to UPenn RD and kinda see what happens. I recommend you apply to many other schools as well (couple of safeties, couple of targets, and maybe 1-2 more reaches besides UPenn).
Also - just checking, how did you calculate your GPA?
I’m building off Cameron’s point about applying to UPenn and their stats and focusing on the ED part of your question.
So to be frank it sounds like you love NE but love UPenn more and unless you get great SAT/ACT that will not compensate for your very low GPA (in ivy terms) and you will be rejected even if applying ED so even if you wanted to chance it you can likely apply to 2 safeties if the average app fee is $40 or less. Or if you already have safeties lined up just save $75.
Hope this helps and please comment if you need clarification. I’d be happy to help!