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09/04/2019

Can I get into a good college?

QUESTION
Can I get into a good college?
I’m a lower class Asian-American female sophomore in high school.
Due to family problems, grades haven’t been my first priority, and I have a GPA of 2.35. Due to my bad grades in classes, I’m in a few honors classes at my school, but I’m in very few top-level classes.
However, my grades for my last quarter of school were almost perfect (my quarter GPA was 3.96) and I took a pre-ACT test (the PLAN test,) had a score of 30, and was in the 99th or 100th percentile for every section.
If I continue with my grades the way they are, and get high SAT and ACT scores, would it still be possible for me to get into an Ivy League school as an undergraduate, or at least a state school so I could go to an Ivy League school as a graduate?

ANSWER
First of all, don’t trust the practice tests for the ACT/SAT. They’re not always accurate. They were pretty accurate for me, but one of my friends who scored almost perfectly on the PSAT only got an 1800 on the SAT. Another one of my friends who only got a 150 on the PSAT got in the 2000s on the SAT.

If you continue to get good grades, your GPA will rise. Your 2.35 GPA will bring down your rank which is very important, but colleges really look at your junior year grades and senior year course load. Just try to be in the top 10% of your class and you should be all right.

I think that there’s a possibility for you to get into an Ivy League for undergrad, but I don’t think you have a great chance. Around 50% of kids in Ivies are rich white kids from prep schools, therefore lowering chances for all the public school kids.

If you keep up your GPA, get 2100+ on your SAT, write a spectacular essay (perhaps on your family problems which are the reasons why you have a low GPA for sophomore year. Just make sure you show the admissions officers something about yourself that they don’t already know. They don’t want to know cliched things, like how happy you were that you won that basketball game because you believed in yourself.), get great recs from your teachers (find the right teacher for this! Look for one that will really work on your rec and one that knows you well.), and get some leadership positions for your extracurriculars, you have a chance at the Ivies.

But it seems like you’re looking only at extremes here. I feel like you’re saying that if you don’t get into an Ivy, your only option is a state school. While some states, like New York and California, have great public schools (Binghamton in New York, UCLA in California), you can get into some great private schools, like NYU, Boston U, Boston College, GW, Villanova, Tufts, Georgetown and others, depending on what you want to study. For example, if you’re looking into business, NYU Stern and Carnegie Mellon are good.

And if you don’t go to an Ivy League for undergrad, you can go for grad as long as you keep up your grades. But you don’t HAVE to go to an Ivy League school. Ivies are great (I’m hoping to go to one for grad school myself) but you don’t HAVE to go to one.