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Q&A: Should I apply to Stanford? What are some things I can do by next year to improve my chances?

by tom44 on June 9, 2013

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Question by Hollow Sunsets: Should I apply to Stanford? What are some things I can do by next year to improve my chances?
I am a junior, currently, so I have a great deal I can still improve.
What do you suggest for me to change to improve my chances from now?

Also, would it help me if I applied Early Action? Or would it be better for me to apply Regular? I’ve been told that Early Action is best for EXCEPTIONAL applicants only, and I cannot say by any means that I am exceptional in light of other applicants.

I am also planning on applying to UW Seattle (likely safety), UCLA and UC Berkeley. I am unsure about my other choices as of now.

Female, Asian, lives in Washington
Middle class income.

GPA: 3.79 UW Expected GPA 3.85~ UW by EA application time, probably 3.88 by RD.
(This dropped a huge amount after I bombed my finals due to some extenuating circumstances. My dog Mishka passed away on the day of my last four finals and thus I ended with 3 B’s and a C+. I know it’s not a good reason, and I’m not expecting any college or program to accept it as one. I haven’t talked about it on applications up to this point..and honestly, I don’t feel comfortable citing my dog’s death as an excuse for my irresponsibility.)

SAT: 2280, 1st sitting..could probably get it up to 2300+ but is it worth it?
ACT: 34
SAT II: Math 2 800, planning on possibly taking two more
Class rank: No class rank, top 20% <---this is also determined by unweighted GPA (we don't have valedictorians or anything at our school) Senior Schedule: Philharmonic Orchestra AP French AP US Government AP Calculus AB (we don't have BC, unfortunately) AP Chemistry AP Physics B (no Physics C either) AP English Lit Taking 8 AP tests this year. Expecting mostly 4's and 5's due to extensive studying. ECs: 500+ volunteer hours (do colleges even care about this?) BioQuest Academy UW Math Academy Washington Aerospace Scholars Volunteering at UW Medical Center and Seattle Children's Hospital Varsity Swim (3 years), Swim Captain. Also did summer league and club swim for the duration of my high school career. Varsity Tennis (2 years) Orchestra (8 years), I play the violin. -Also was in local symphony orchestra and honors orchestra for a few years -I tutor middle school kids in violin as part of this program called East Hill String Lessons. I've done this for roughly 5-6 years. Piano (4 years) on my own time. I also do some tutoring for this, but not as part of a program, just as volunteer work. National Honors Society (2 years) Key Club (dedicated member) Generic school award (top 10% award) Generic scholar athlete awards, some state and district level awards for swim Rotary Youth of the Month TEEN Cert Program..not sure if this counts. Planning on trying for National AP Scholar. Might as well, since I'm taking 8 AP tests this year. @Doc Martin, 10% is a better chance than most people. Honestly, I'd take it. Best answer:

Answer by Doc Martin
Your credentials are mediocre. You have less than 10% chance of being accepted to Stanford.

I have not been reporting your Answers (though I do downthumb long-winded unctious one-up postings).
Signing your postings “~ skylark” to attract votes is a bit high school…

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!
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One thought on “Q&A: Should I apply to Stanford? What are some things I can do by next year to improve my chances?

  1. Skylark ? says:

    Stanford is a reach for everyone due to the tremendous number of qualified applicants applying for a small number of spots, but you genuinely are a good candidate. Your ACT score is fantastic and above the median for admitted applicants, and your SAT is also very impressive. As you’re already aware, you need to pull up your GPA to have a stronger chance at admission, but it’s not necessary to load up on weighted AP classes since your unweighted GPA is the most relevant. From a strategical perspective I can understand why you would think taking six AP classes your senior year would boost your odds, but it could actually be to your detriment. You’d be taking some of the most demanding courses available at the high school level, and each one requires a significant amount of energy and time outside of class in order to succeed. I spent more time on AP Physics than I have on classes at Stanford, and I’m a straight-A student here. In order to make all A’s in those courses and be a leader in extracurricular activities you’d either need bionic powers or the willingness to neglect your health and be chronically sleep deprived.

    Stanford actually doesn’t value AP classes as much as many high schoolers believe they do. They state this on their Academic Preparation guide. They’re also quite persnickety about accepting AP credit from the exams. You do need to take your core subjects (math, English, science, history, foreign language) at the most challenging level available at your school, but for electives you should opt for something that truly captivates your interest. Unless something went awry earlier in your high school year, you should have fulfilled most of your main requirements and have more liberty for electives. I’m not suggesting that you drop AP Chemistry for a gym class, but if there’s an elective that could truly teach you something useful and new, consider taking it instead of one of the APs. To give you an example, I dropped AP Environmental Science to do a year-long independent research project culminating in a 51 page thesis, and swapped AP Computer Science for a special architectural engineering class offered that year. Explore your options.

    Your success in your extracurriculars demonstrate that you have artistic and athletic talent. You might want to consider submitting the Arts Supplement if you’re an accomplished violinist. Yes, your volunteer service does bode well for you, though it’s not a significant factor in the admissions decision. If you do decide to keep the course load you’ve outlined here next year, edit your extracurriculars to the ones that you are the most personally involved in. Being a leader in one or two areas is better than being a participant in a dozen.

    Spend the upcoming summer productively. You do not need to attend an expensive program at a college campus or go on a Habitat for Humanity trip or anything else that is elaborate in order to make the time meaningful. You could get a job, intern, take classes at a community college, or volunteer. If you already have an idea about what you wish to major in, look for any opportunities over the summer that would give you a little experience in it. For example, if you were interested in medicine, you could see if there’s a teen volunteer program at a local hospital.

    I would recommend applying RD so your entire fall semester will be complete when you submit your application since you’re aiming to bring up your GPA.

    I hope this answer is coherent and not jabberwocky and potholed with typos. I’m writing this at 3:50 in the morning, after a party, and am half-asleep. I’m posting a link to a blog post with important information for applicants to Stanford that I compiled from the admissions site.

    ~ skylark : )

    Edit – Someone is in the habit of reporting my answers when I include a link to my blog, so I’ll c&p this answer to Notepad. Message me and I’ll send it if this answer vanishes.

    Edit 2 – DM, I haven’t had any answers reported since Y!A told you to leave me alone in October, but I still c&p’d this answer as a precaution. You petulantly thumbs down all answers, regardless of their quality, when your answer gets a thumbs down, so I never take offense. You tell everyone asking about applying to Stanford that they are mediocre or have no hope even when that’s inaccurate. I write out tailored answers with the intent to help. I’m kind, but honest. I did not give an unctuous answer, and I would have written the same response regardless of yours. I sign off on answers because it feels like a signature; there’s no other motive. Most people vote based on the answer, not the user anyway. As for high school behavior, let’s not have the pot call the kettle black. Besides, as you’ve pointed out when demeaning me, I’m just out of high school. You’re middle aged.

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