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To be accepted to top colleges like Harvard, do you need to have straight As?
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I have a few Bs on my transcript and I don't know if that will be accepted.

Also, do you need to be in sports to be more likely to be accepted? If you start your own club that is local, does that give you a boost even if you don't play sports?

Is it too late to play sports if you start in junior year?

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sophomore

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Accepted answer

To be accepted to top colleges like Harvard, the most successful applicants have a 4.0, some have a lower unweighted GPAs like a 3.8 or 3.9 but it's because they got a B or two in a hard class like AP Chemistry, AP Physics, or AP Calc BC.

I'm assuming you mean Top 20 or Top 25 colleges right? Most of these school will consider your academic record as the following:

1.) Grades - Close to 4.0 unweighted scale and did you take 4 years of Math, English, Science, and 3 years of Social Studies, 3 years of Foreign Language.

2.) Course Rigor - did you take the most challenging courses offered (like 50% of the AP/IBs, etc)

3.) Test Scores - SAT (1450+ min/ACT 32+ min/(with essay to be safe on both, aim for 20, 10 respectively), SAT II subject tests (at least 2 with 700+ scores), mostly 4s and 5s on your AP tests. Others will say 1500+ or 33+ but I'm including schools like Cornell, Notre Dame, Dartmouth also

4.) Love of learning - Do you have evidence that you pursued your academic interests outside of the classroom like a.) taking dual enrollment college classes, b.) online college classes for credit, c.) personal research projects, d.) academic internships.

ECs.

Sports are not important if you haven't been on a Varsity team already. Starting in Junior year and playing a Sport for 1 season or possible 2 seasons prior to applying doesn't align with being a recruited athlete, nor does it speak to someone who loves their sport. Most kids have grown up playing one sport or the other and love doing it. It doesn't sound like sports are your thing. If anything, they will see through the attempt as a means of checking off a tick box to pad your ECs.

Similar to sports, if you start a club for the mere purpose of padding your CV and having more ECs that's not very useful or effective.

Top schools whether its' MIT, Yale, Stanford, etc desire students that want to make the world a better place and have various narratives that support their interests in combining their academic pursuits and their personal goals of helping people, communities, and the world. Therefore, your number one goal should not be trying to getting good grades or making your file look like someone else's. You should have a long think about what moves you and want the kind of person you are and want the kind of person you want to be. We are all a work in progress and some of us are further along than others but all of us are not where we are supposed to be nor have reached our peak heights in accomplishments or experiences.

Therefore, college admissions want to see that you have a story to tell and they want to know where you are on the timeline of your story. Are you someone that just discovered something that you are absolutely bonkers over or someone that's been practicing a talent for 15 years and won National competitions for your passion, whether that is rock climbing, Ballet dancing, or winning the Intel Science fair? This self-inquiry will guide you as to what you really need to be focusing on because between now and when you apply you only have 500 days or something like that. Make each day count and do something that pushes your narrative forward.

If you find this exercise too complicated and challenging, ask your friends and family for help. Better yet, try to find a mentor that will invest time and energy into your narrative and help be a sounding board for your thoughts and ideas.

Best of luck to you in your college admissions journey.