Given the popularity of sites that gauge your odds of being admitted into a certain school based on your quantitative credentials, I figured that there are a lot of people who are interested in reading about other kids who made it into certain schools, hoping to figure out what it takes to get in. Obviously, a certain SAT/ACT score or GPA isn’t going to singlehandedly get you in the door and there are many other factors considered, but it can be helpful to see what a successful applicant looks like. It is for this reason that I’m making myself a case study and disclosing all of the details of my life according to my Common App–to show that you don’t need to be perfect to get in (unless you’re going for MIT or Stanford or Harvard, in which case, I really can’t help you).
- weighted: 102.225 (Pre-AP classes add 7 points to cumulative GPA, AP classes add 10)
- unweighted: ~95.818 (Only including core subjects: English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language)
Rank: 20 out of 630
Honors classes (PAP) taken: 13 (I took about 8 classes each year; 6 during junior and senior year)
AP classes taken: 9
AP classes offered at school: ~22
*Note about my school: It is a large public school located in an affluent suburb of Dallas, TX. It was named the largest exemplary school district in North Texas (I believe?), but is definitely not nationally ranked or renowned. The class of 2014 is about 630 people.
Test scores (Best only):
- Reading: 720
- Math: 730
- Writing: 770 (Essay subscore: 10)
- Subject, Math II: 740
- Subject, U.S. History: 760
- Subject, Literature: 780
- Reading: 36
- English: 36 (w/o essay)
- Math: 34
- Science: 35
- Writing subscore: 10
- World History: 4
- English Language: 5
- U.S. History: 5
- Calculus AB: 5
- Environmental Science, Statistics, European History: TBD
Ballet: Reppin’ classical ballet since 1998! From 7th grade on, I attended class and rehearsed about 4-5 nights per week, which added up to about 20 hours. We emphasize performances over competitions but participate in Youth America Grand Prix (one of the biggest ballet competitions in the world) each year. In 2013, I won 2nd place in the Senior Classical division of the semi-finals and advanced to the final round in New York City. In 2012 we traveled to Montreal for the National Regional Dance America Festival (ironically held in another nation), and in 2013 we toured Austria and performed in multiple cities as part of the Young! Tanzsommer festival. Ballet basically takes up all of my time and energy. To watch a video of me: http://youtu.be/sLjHoHa6vq4 . I also choreographed a piece this year! http://youtu.be/HsEA8gzLSn4
National Charity League: Mother-daughter charity organization. I volunteer through them and participate in fundraisers (our fashion show this year raised upwards of $100,000). This is where I got to add LEADERSHIP! I was president in 7th grade (though I just said “previously” since that was kind of a long time ago and I didn’t mention that I got the position by a random draw), “organized” a cultural event (by selling tickets to one of my performances), and was elected Vice President of Senior Presentations this year (at least it sounds legit).
School related things: National Honor Society, National French Honor Society, French Club. None of these required extensive (or any) involvement.
Recommendations: I asked my junior year math teacher and junior year U.S. history teacher to write me recommendations, both of whom are aware of my heavy involvement in ballet. I also asked my sophomore year English teacher for a letter–I thought it’d be a relevant addition since I’m a prospective English major. Though I waived my right to read the letters, my counselor told me they were all glowing, which is not surprising because I felt confident that each teacher was very supportive of me. It sounds like common sense, but I would recommend you seek out the teachers that you know think highly of you.
As you can see, I was not valedictorian or volunteer of the year. I didn’t take an outlandish number of AP courses, though I suppose 9 could be considered outlandish depending on how many AP classes are available. I was not involved in school in the least. Yet somehow, some Ivy League admissions officer decided I was worth it (hallelujah!) Just be earnest in your application–if a school doesn’t want you, it’s likely that it’s not meant to be.
I almost didn’t apply to Cornell; I applied with a “might as well” attitude and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made all year (or ever). Because I’m a sappy person, I can’t help but feel it was meant to be. My point is, things will come together in ways you can never predict. Don’t lose faith in yourself, your abilities, your worth, or your accomplishments, even if you feel like you could’ve done more. Trust me, I’ve felt that way. It’s not productive. Or maybe you’re completely confident in your application, in which case I envy you. As a control freak, it was excruciating for me to be in limbo for those few months, but the feeling of relief is a totally underrated emotion… It feels fantastic being past the admissions process and knowing where I’ll be next year. I’ll post part or all of my Disneyland admissions essay soon. Thanks for reading, and hope this made you feel better somehow.