A variation on an age-old question...

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: August 2003 Archive: A variation on an age-old question...
By Roosh (Roosh) on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 05:10 am: Edit

Hey guys. I just finished reading the "Please tell me!!! How important are standardized test" topic, and it has driven me to ask advice on something that has been bothering me.

Everyone is familiar with the paranoia surrounding a downward trend or a "dip" in grades which might affect acceptance into a selective college. Well I'm wondering about something in the other direction.

For reasons that we won't go into here with much detail, my freshman year of high school was not particularly great. I will say though that there were some family problems as well as the fact that my study skills were severely lacking; I never had to study for anything in middle school and I had always expected/got straight As. So I pretty much had to relearn how to be a student.

I started school with the most rigorous schedule possible as a freshman and ended up with mostly Bs and Cs. My rank at the end of that year was around 180/380. Sophmore year was a large improvement with the same level difficulty of classes but with mostly As, a few Bs, and still one or two Cs. My rank at the end of sophmore year was 55. This past year, my junior year, I finally got back to the level of success I was used to as a child. Again, taking the most difficult classes, I maintained straight As, except in AP US History in which I had a B. My rank as of now is 18/380. <--- (Quick note: all of these rankings reflect a weighted scale. Trust me, the unweighted rankings are a scary sight...)

My question, if it isn't obvious, is this: how much does an upward trend, this being a very large upward trend, affect admissions? Also, as you know, gpa is cumulative, so although I am at a much higher academic level now, my gpa does not necessarily show that, so will they take my trend in consideration when looking at my gpa? I know that I may be able to talk about some of this stuff in an essay, but how important is this, if at all, to those reviewing me?

Another important thing that I must mention is my whole ordeal with math. Through middle school, I was involved with a math program that some of you might be familiar with called EPGY, through Stanford. Although not as successful as I had hoped, it did help me bump up a bit in math, as I took Advanced Algebra with Logic and Proof at my high school as an 8th grader, and I completed AP Calc BC this last year as a junior. I would have done it earlier but my school makes us take a crazy abstract geo course before we try calc in addition to the other pre-reqs. Anyways, as the head of the math department at my school has said, I had several "gaps" in my fundamental understanding of math as a result of not having an actual math teacher for many years; my teacher was a prerecorded voice on a cd with the occasional email with one of the people in charge of the program. This caused a lot of problems for me, namely as every single one of my math teachers besides my calc teacher had told my parents, I dominated all classroom activity with my knowledge and understanding of the content, but fumbled when it came to test time. I just could not take math tests. To make a long story short, all my math grades, except for one semester with a B+, until this last year were some sort of C. The fact that they were all honors courses is besides the point as that does not neglect the fact that they were indeed Cs. This year though, I pulled off an A- in both semesters of Calc BC, got a 35 subscore in math on my ACT, an 800 on the Math IIC, and got a 5/5 on the actual AP (5 BC/5 AB subscore).

I must also note that science was never a part of this problem, having attained 2 Bs freshman year in Bio, and straight As/A+s from then on in all science courses.

Well, I really, really, really, (that's three reallys =P) would love to hear what you guys think about all of this. I sincerely thank anyone and everyone that took the time to read all this, and I hope you guys can help me out a little in figuring out where I stand as of now. Thanks again.

Quick review of progress:

Frosh: 180/380
Sophmore: 55/380
Junior: 18/380

Current GPA equivalent to something around a 3.4.

AP scores:
Calc BC: 5
AP US History: 5
Chem: 3

ACT score: 34
(32 english, 35 math, 34 reading, 33 science)

SAT 2s:
800 MathIIC
720 Chem
680 Writing

Decent amount of ECs, but this isn't a stat check so I won't list them here. =D

By Clickspring (Clickspring) on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 11:47 am: Edit

Upward trends look good.

Some schools don't even consider the freshman year, including the University of Michigan and the various Universities of California.

By Roosh (Roosh) on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 07:33 pm: Edit

Ok, thanks Clickspring, but how "good" is good? I'm particularly interested on how an upward trend would affect the way my gpa is looked at.

Please, I'd really appreciate some more feedback from you guys out there.

By Gianscolere (Gianscolere) on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 08:12 pm: Edit

An upward trend is of course looked upon favorably but keep in mind you will also be competing with students who have had 4.0 GPAs throughout all 4 years of HS. Some schools like Princeton and Stanford don't even consider freshman grades but they take into consideration your cumulative GPA which might be a problem since it reflects your freshman grades. But keep it up...you've done a good job raising your class rank.

By Roosh (Roosh) on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 08:19 pm: Edit

Thanks Gianscolere. But I must let you know that I am not really considering the hyper selective schools all that much. Sure I might apply to a couple just to see what happens, but I'm mostly looking at school right underneath Ivy and Ivy caliber.

Any ideas on schools that you think I might be able to get into based on my first post that excell in the science/pre-med fields would be greatly appreciated in addition to more responses. Keep the comments coming fellas! =D

By Roosh (Roosh) on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 06:09 am: Edit


By Roosh (Roosh) on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 10:45 pm: Edit

bump, bump, bump it up!


that was a tad fruity...

By Asphodyne (Asphodyne) on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 10:55 pm: Edit

Don't know much about schools but I would ask your counselor to explain your math situation. You may also consider an essay on your freshman grades if the circumstances were unique enough--I don't think just "I had to relearn how to be a student" will work.

By Roosh (Roosh) on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 02:54 am: Edit

That's a good idea. I think I'm going to talk to my counsler about something like that. Maybe instead of specifically about math he can talk about the whole upward trend thing and that I'm only getting better, blah blah.

By Roosh (Roosh) on Thursday, August 21, 2003 - 05:09 pm: Edit


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