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09/04/2019

Why did I get accepted to this University?

QUESTION
Why did I get accepted to this University?
I have a 2.9 GPA and a 1380 on both of my SAT’s that I took, but if you take the highest scores it comes out to a 1430. I was not very studious in high school nor did I participate in any extracurricular activities.

I applied to Penn State University, Harrisburg campus, and got admitted into the school.

My sister had all AP classes beginning 11th grade until she graduated, she had I think a 3.6 GPA, along with close to 1700 SAT. She got accepted two years ago, she is currently a sophomore.

I looked at their statistics, there were people with 3.3 GPA and like 1600 SAT who got declined numerous times, but they accept me?!

ALSO, I got $8,000 scholarship for first 2 years, my sister only got $6,000?!?! THAT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME!

Could it be: I have been to 3 different high schools and lived in different places along with English being my second language, or is that excuse rendered useless when applying to schools?

My sister wasn’t in the same situation as me; its a long story.

If it matters(I’m 17, black (African born), male, know 3 languages – Sousou, French, English.)
I know some Arabic because I’m Muslim, but not enough to count.

ANSWER
First, Penn State branch campuses will often accept people with fairly low academic qualifications, especially if one is a resident of the state of Pennsylvania. This is partly because the branch campuses have the capacity to admit additional students, and partly because Penn State is a state school.

Second, just because someone has a high GPA or SAT score, does not mean they merit acceptance. People who are otherwise seemingly well-qualified can get rejected because they write an atrociously bad essay that suggests they’re not college material, for example. Furthermore, because Penn State is a state school, out of state applicants need significantly higher GPAs and SAT scores to get in than do in state residents. That’s just how it works.

Third, you’re an underrepresented minority (URM) student, and a minority to which affirmative action applies. This significantly increases your admissions chances everywhere. You’re also fairly different than many other applicants, given your unique background of moving around a lot, speaking multiple languages, and being a Muslim (which also makes you am URM, aside from just being black).

It’s impossible to say how much of each reason played a part in the reason you were accepted, and some of the other applicants with higher scores were rejected. Just be happy you got in, and make the most of your time in college. After all, why you got in doesn’t really matter, what you do from now onwards does matter.