Carving a Path to College

Download and print the “Carving a path for college” activity

Activity: How Do Your Stats Measure Up?

Your high school transcript reveals all the academic work that you’ve completed from freshman year to senior year. Most importantly, it answers the question, “Have you consistently challenged yourself academically?” Admissions officers care about this because they want to gauge your level of college-preparedness by looking at the courses you have taken as well as the amount of effort you put into them.

Let’s assume for a minute that two students are applying for one of 500 slots at a highly selective college. They both have 3.5 cumulative GPAs and scores of 1900 on the SAT. Their cumulative GPAs for each year of high school are listed below, as well as some of the courses they have taken.

 

Student A Student B
Freshman Year GPA: 3.0 Freshman Year GPA: 3.8
Sophomore Year GPA: 3.3 Sophomore Year GPA: 3.6
Junior Year GPA: 3.6 Junior Year GPA: 3.3
First-semester senior year: 3.8 First-semester senior year: 3.0
Courses (10 APs, 4 IBs, 6 honors courses) Courses (4 APs, 12 honors courses, 4 regular courses)

 

1. Which of these students would you admit? Why?
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2. Do you think that both students had an equal chance of gaining admission?
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While on the surface, both applicants seem strong, Student B’s transcript will raise some red flags for admissions officers. Though a 3.5 cumulative GPA is impressive the downward trend in his year-by-year cumulative GPAs is not. Moreover, admissions officers will wonder whether this student has taken the most challenging courses his high school offers. Is this student capable but lazy? Do his grades reflect a slacker trend that will continue when he arrives on campus?

Now it’s your turn. First, go to www.princetonreview.com to research the GPA range for students accepted to your target schools. Then answer the following questions:

1. Is your current cumulative GPA within the range of students accepted to these schools?

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2. Has your cumulative GPA improved from year to year?

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3. Do the courses listed on your transcript reflect the most challenging courses your high school has to offer?

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If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you have a good chance of being admitted to the college to which you are applying.

If you answered no to any of these questions, you need to sit down with your college counselor immediately to figure out what you need to do to improve your high school record. You also need to do some more college research and find other schools you might be interested in attending in case you don’t gain acceptance to your target schools.

Download and print the “Carving a path for college” activity