Discussion in 'Community' started by MP2, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. MP2 macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Right now I'm a sophomore in high school. My parents, friends and councilor have started talking about where to go for college and what you need to do to get in to them like GPA, SAT, after school activities, AP classes, etc.

    My question is what college/university did you go to? What was your GPA? SAT? ACT? What did you go to college/university to do, and what did you end up doing?

    I also want to ask, what kid of college would I be able to get into? I know that question is very broad, but it's worth a shot. I've currently got a 2.90 GPA, haven't taken PSATs, do a lot of after school activities (JSA, band, Latin club, Key club, chess club, science club, and have a part time job cleaning dishes :eek: ). My interests are mainly to do with technology in general, computer repair / service / maintenance and programming.
  2. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
    i guess it depends on what your ambitions are like as far as schools go...

    but i'd quit some of your activities and boost your gpa. and pray for a stellar SAT score.
  3. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    I had a 3.4 high school GPA, a 650 verbal and a 740 math SAT. I wanted to be an economist, and I got into the University of Chicago, probably the best economics program in the country! But that was 20 years ago -- those numbers would never get me in today -- I'd need more like a 3.9 and a 700/780.

    But as it turned out, it didn't matter. I switched to English, and now I'm a writer. My main suggestion is to go to a school where you feel comfortable, and where you have plenty of options. I now have a master's degree from UNC Charlotte, which practically anyone can get into, and I feel I got a very good education from them as well. Your education is what you make of it. The main difference between a top school like Chicago and an average school like UNC Charlotte is that at Charlotte you can slide through and learn practically nothing. At Chicago, you'll either learn or get kicked out of school.

    Many students at places like Charlotte work hard, find good internships, and get great jobs after college. That's the key!

    For now, I'd say you might want to cut down on the NUMBER of activities and work on making some ACHIEVEMENTS. Which activity do you enjoy most? Chess club? Then focus on studying chess openings and endgames so you can start winning tournaments. Band? Audition for all-city or all-state band. You need just a few activities that will enable you to demonstrate achievement -- that will get you a lot more recognition than a laundry list of clubs you participated in.
  4. themadchemist macrumors 68030


    Jan 31, 2003
    Chi Town
    I would echo others' suggestions about your GPA. That's GOT to get up to the mid threes if you want to be competitive at all. Why do you think your GPA is low? What could you do to improve it?

    And do more than pray for a good SAT score--make it happen. You still have plenty of time. I'd spend some time with study books (Princeton Review & Kaplan are the best, I think) and software (Princeton Review, Kaplan, The Learning Company, a few years ago when I took the test). Also, do LOTS of practice tests. Buy books just to get practice tests. The exam is different now so make sure you're buying material covering the new SAT. Don't be afraid to take it more than once, because if I recall correctly, most universities look at your highest combined score. If you take it fifty times, that might look bad, but two or maybe even three isn't a huge a deal. I personally took it four times, but the first two were in middle school so nobody even looked at those scores. Then, I took it once Sophomore year and once Senior year.

    Study hard for the PSAT. If you can be a National Merit Scholar (or at least Semifinalist), that would help a lot.

    What the others have said about activities is true...I did a whole bunch of activities in high school, as well, but I focused in on a few in which I really wanted to excel. For example, I was in Key Club, too, and I was a Lt. Governor. If you like that stuff, you should consider district office. Plus, politics requires much less talent than playing chess well. ;)

    Give us more details about your activities!

    As for my grades and stuff. I had a high GPA and SAT score and ended up in Northwestern's Honors Program in Medical Education. Grades aren't everything, though. A certain threshold is necessary and higher definitely helps, but you won't get into the schools of your choice without being involved in activities (you seem to be interested in that, but maybe could use a little fine tuning) and having something to write about in your essays. The great news is that you're a sophomore--plenty of time to make yourself a really competitive applicant. If you want more details on my approach to this, though it's by no means the one that is necessarily right for you or even all that brilliant for me, let me know.
  5. debo macrumors regular

    Jan 9, 2004
    I had a 3.5 gpa and a 1430 on my SAT. I just graduated from UNC ....

    But I didn't get in out of high school. Had to transfer from Appalachian State.

    You can always just go to an ok college and make very good grades there to transfer to a top institution.
  6. pigbat macrumors regular

    Jan 18, 2005
    Debo makes a very good suggestion. The GPA is going to hurt you, but you do have time to work on it. My daughter is in your same situation. She is a very bright kid who has a lot of fun at school but her GPA sits at 2.9. I don't want you to feel like a 2.9 is something to look down on but there are so many kids with high GPA's going for the bigger schools. Sometimes starting off in a small college and transferring is a great idea.

    If technology is a key interest there are many small colleges that will get you started. Once you're in school start applying as a support desk technician. Many companies hire students and the hands-on experience will be very valuable.
  7. MP2 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Thanks for the advice everyone, I will look at the books you recommended themadchemist. I will defiantly talk to my counselor about the suggestion debo made.

    I take so many after school activities because I enjoy them much more than school, and I think I get more out of them.... i.e. 'real life experience' but I realize that if I don't get my GPA up, that won't matter much anyway. I do also stay after school with teachers or for student study sessions.... 2-3 times per week for ~2 hours; though I suppose that could be improved.

    And I keep hearing that I need to get into a 'good school'. What defines a 'good school'? That's probably what confuses me the most.... how do I know where to aim and how high to go?

    If anyone has any more comments they would be greatly appreciated. :)
  8. jasylonian macrumors regular

    Sep 25, 2003
    3.58/4.13, 740/740 -> The University of Michigan. I, too, wanted to be an economist from The University of Chicago, but they wait-listed and finally denied me. Everything that everybody has said thus far is fairly correct. There are some things that I would like to add:

    1) Getting into college is similar to the BCS in the sense that strength of schedule is extremely important and which high school you go to actually plays a significant role.

    2) Ratings are overrated. Certain publications are in the business of publishing rankings of college which are almost completely meaningless. Yes, we all know that there are freaking awesome schools out there with monster reputations, but after the top few, rankings get to be a little meaningless while the reputations of individual departments become more important. Simply stated, don't go to a place because it was ranked higher in a magazine than another place.

    3) I've come to believe that geography matters. I wanted to work in California, therefore, Michigan was probably not the best decision that I could have made. Alumni associations matter, and alumni have this tendency to cluster near their alma maters. If an undergraduate degree is not your final destination, this doesn't matter as much.

    4) Private school and out-of-state tuition is really freaking expensive.

    5) Junior College is always a good way to compensate for a lousy high school GPA. It's almost as if high school never happened.

    6) Just because junior college is a good option doesn't mean you should bail on high school. What you learn in high school can make higher education much easier. Also, bad habits are hard to break.

    7) Diet Coke does not a lunch make. I'm getting dizzy. Ugh... someone bathed in the perfume and it's making me nauseous.
  9. parrothead macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2003
    Edmonds, WA

    Every one is saying that you need to boost your GPA and I agree, but do not despair if you cant get it up high enough. You can always go to a backup state school (or one that is relatively easy to get into) and study your butt off for a semester. Then you would be able to transfer with a high college level GPA to the school of your choice. That being said it is preferable to just do it right the first time and study your butt off in high school.
  10. mlw1235 macrumors 6502

    Jul 16, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    As a HS Junior and very deep into finding a information on this subject.

    Couple of tips I have come across:

    1) Join clubs, but instead of joining a million, join a few and become very involved plus get to know the advisor well. ;)

    2) Been said, but that GPA should probably go up a little, someone said mid 3's, thats about right.

    3) Get involved in student government. Plus, you get to meet the coolest people and make good friends.

    4) Take Honors/AP classes. a B in an honors/AP looks alot better than an A in "moron" history (as I like to call it :p ) AP classes are hard, but are so rewarding in the end (in terms of credit)

    5) Talk to your counselor, they can give you good tips too.

    Edit: I have taken the ACT 3 times now since 8th grade-- 18, 21, 26. Am a 4.0 student with 2 AP right now, and 1 under my belt. I took the PSAT and hit the 91st. I am also the vice-president of my school's Student Senate. Classical HS Overacheiver huh? :D :D
  11. CubaTBird macrumors 68020

    Apr 18, 2004
    don't forget u could do two years in junior college and transfer to a state or uc college..
  12. MP2 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Thats the thing.... 80% of the 10th graders in my school right now are taking biology, geometry, and middle age history (800s-1500s). I'm taking algebra II, chemistry, and recent history honors (1500-current); and most juniors are taking the same classes as I, so you could say I'm pretty much a junior. Except for English, which I'm taking normal 10th grade English.

    I was encouraged by my councilor that it would look better on a college transcript if I shoot for higher end classes and make Cs, rather than taking normal 10th grader classes and make Bs.

    The reason my GPA is low is because I'm taking harder classes than most. Do colleges take that into effect or do they just look at your GPA?

    And those are very impressive achievements mlw1235.
  13. aloofman macrumors 68020


    Dec 17, 2002
    I had a 690 math/610 verbal on the SAT, and a 31 on the ACT. And a 3.87 GPA at one of the top academic high schools in California. I did key club, german club, drama club, baseball team. I went to UC San Diego and was also accepted at two other UC campuses. I didn't get in to Stanford or Georgetown.

    As others have mentioned, get that GPA up. It's not the ultimate factor, but many colleges consider it a better indicator of your high school achievement than one test that you could cram for for a couple months. If your GPA doesn't get at least into the low 3's, you will need a LOT of special circumstances to get into a top university. Competition is pretty fierce.

    Of course, I went to a four-year university, which is not necessary. If you were unsure of your career direction, you could put up great numbers at a city college and have very good chances with four-year schools.
  14. Toppa G's macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2003
    The exurbs, MN
    I got a 4.017 or something close to that (honors classes with 5.0 As), a 32 on the ACT, was in an armload of extracurriculars (FBLA, swim team, DECA, Key Club, volunteer coordinating, etc.) and am a student the University of Wisconsin-Stout. (Wisconsin schools require a minimum ACT score of 22, with a GPA above 3.0, I think)

    I was accepted to Madison, and I'm sure I could have gone to other schools, but I chose Stout based on the major it offered (Graphic Communications Management). Getting into a major you are interested in is one of the most important things about going to college, and sometimes can make your choice for you.

    Also, just because state schools (smaller 4-year campuses) aren't Division I, Ivy League, etc., this doesn't mean they aren't good schools. Some smaller schools are very good for specialized degrees.

    Those are just some thoughts I had while perusing this thread.
  15. ahamilt2 macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2004
    Bellingham, WA
    what scale

    is that on the 4.0 or 5.0 scale? It makes a difference. That's still really low on either scale. You'll want to be getting a 3.5 by your senior year if you want to get into a good college.
  16. Yarrrr macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2005
    I did my first two years at a junior college to save money and ended up with a 3.875. I transferred to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, which is an excellent school if you are looking at computer science. I think I had a 32 on the ACT. From my experience, this worked quite well. The university had no problems transferring credit as long as the grades I had were B's and above, so I would recommend going that route unless money is not an issue.
  17. Steven1621 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2003
    get really good at a sport or activity, and you can get in anywhere, providing you have decent grades. to the great annoyance of the many kids that do a ton of work in high school, you'd be suprised that an elite college will care more about your athletic or musical ability. my college is amongst the most selective in the country and there are quite a few students that had admissions standards lowered for their special abilities.

    good grades and SAT's are a given. remember that there are a lot of smart kids out there. be special!

    (BTW, i had a 4.1 GPA (weighted), was 4th in a class of 331, 1400 SAT, all the usual leaderships and club junk, but i also could run a very fast half mile on the track...just to give you an idea)

    Also, remember that you are keeping with students from really public/private school. Take the absolute hardest courses possible. I think it's better to get lower grades in harder classes, and college admissions agree as well.
  18. JediL1 macrumors member


    Apr 12, 2003
    3.76 GPA SAT 710/790 Verbal/Math
    800 SAT II Physics, 800 SAT II BC Calculus, 770 SAT II Chem, 700 SAT II Writing.

    I'm currently a junior at Northwestern University double-majoring in Industrial Engineering and Economics.

    I think it depends on what your high school was like. Mine was super-competitive and with that GPA I was only in the top 30th percentile. That's what happens when you go to a school where 16 people had straight As through all honors and AP classes. Geez, I felt dumb.
  19. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    i had around a 3.3 in high school, probably a bit higher. my saving grace was my 800 on my verbal sats, and 780s on two of my three SAT IIs.
    I went to Brandeis University, graduated in 2003. The statistic, give or take some percentages, is that up to a 1/3 of the graduating class, if we re-applied, would not have been accepted. Just to give you an idea of how difficult it is becoming to get into decent, "ivy reject" schools.
  20. 18thTomorrow macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2004
    The Alpha Quadrant
    I'm currently studying Computer Science in the Honors College at Grand Valley State University. It's my sophomore season. During high school, I had a 3.7 GPA and took courses at the local community college. I got a 30 on the ACT and 1245 on the SAT.

    My advice to you is what many others have said: focus in on activities that really matter to you, so you can shine and have some great achievements for your college resume. For example, I suck at sports but I played in 2 honors orchestras and a string quartet. I'm not terribly hot at math, but I won a fiction contest. Work on your GPA to ensure admission into your school of choice. Pick a school with lots of options and room to explore, in case you're still searching for your niche. For example, going into college I thought I was all set, but I've gone through 3 majors already. My first was music, but then I had an injury that pretty much will prevent me from having a viable career as a full-time musician. Then I was graphic design, but I couldn't stand the art program. Now I'm CS and loving it.

    Good luck.
  21. DanTekGeek macrumors 6502

    Nov 11, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Im a sophomore. I hate all this pressure that is put on us to get good grades, go to a good school, etc. My only goal is to learn as much as possible. I could care less if I fail a class, if I have learned something. My outlook is that even if I dont get great grades, I can go to a medeocre school and transfer somewhere I really want to be. Relax! youll have more fun this way!
  22. MP2 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Thanks for all the great suggestions so far guys and gals, this will give me plenty to talk about with my councilor and what I need to focus on.

    Once again, I find this the best and most helpful forum on the great interweb. :cool: Kudos.
  23. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    Haha! Sweet thread guys. Lets all try to feel important in the world by bragging about our school achievements in an effort to quench your fear of the ridiculously stupid American higher education system.

    Here's a little info:

    SATs are bull****. Some may not be englightened, or resist enlightenment regarding this, but it is true. They are a mere measure of how good you are at sitting in a room for three hours and thinking about ultra-bland questions that have nothing to do with anything important. The only downside is that since the SATs are inconvieniently tied to college admission, people who are good at sitting for three hours and thinking about bland things tend to do well.

    Regarding a 'good college': it's pretty damn hard to find a 'bad college'. There are a couple little advantages that big, popular colleges offer, which are a) Connections. There's a good chance that some of your friends at Harvard will be *very* powerful someday.... b) References "I went to harvard!" c) Good resources. Depending on your major, bigger, better endowed universities have better facilities, and better reknowned research labs etc etc.

    One last thing that people seem to get *really* hung up on: Nobody gives a **** about what you did in high school once you get past college.
  24. nbs2 macrumors 68030


    Mar 31, 2004
    A geographical oddity
    what do you want to do is more important

    What you want to do is going to determine what you need to do. If you want to go to Julliard, I suggest maybe a music class or two :). A lot of what happens will depend (I assume I'm just repeating the other responses) of your test scores. I graduated HS with a 2.6 (which I am proud of) and did well enough on my sat/act. I ended up getting in to most schools I applied to, and was happy. Graduated college with about a 3.2 or so, did ok on the lsat and am in law school. right now i've got a 2.7 that is working its way up :D.

    I don't have a lot of authority, but I'd suggest keeping up with the extra stuff - it'll make up for your gpa as long as your tests go well enough. mostly though, don't stress yourself and don't limit yourself. The intersts you listed were computer heavy. find other stuff. when you're in college, take up an absurd, expensive sport. Two of my best friends and I took up rock climbing, snowboarding and scuba, respectively. It makes life fun.

    So, in closing, now that I've rambled for too long - have fun, do what you need to, but don't stress. No matter what happens, life has a way of taking care of itself. No matter how much you stress about something, the world does it's own thing, so why worry. good luck.
  25. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    That's what I did. Worked great for me. Got my AA and transfer degree and am now working on my BA for Graphic Design.

    Edit: And I did not know what I wanted to study so, going to a big college and spending lots of money only to find out what I was really interested in was not offered did not make sense to me.

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