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Articles / Applying to College / Harvard Chances with B's?

Oct. 24, 2013

Harvard Chances with B's?

Question: Hello Dean, will Harvard reject me if I have B's in my transcript? Can the SATs, subject tests and activities cover my low GPA? I am of Chinese descent and am the VP of mandarin club this year, and the founder of my school chamber orchestra. I played the violin for 11 years and attended three other outside adults orchestras. I also attended a series of summer music enrichments with a famous US orchestra member and numerous quartets and concerts. Will my passion to music cover the flaws of my low GPA? Do I have any chance to get accept into Harvard? And I speak fluent mandarin too.

“The Dean" does not do “chances." If you would like to pay $150 for a professional College Karma “Stats Evaluation," I think you will find it money well spent. Go to http://www.collegekarma.com/college_counseling/college_counseling.htmand look for “Stats Eval" near the top of the page. The evaluation will give you your “chances" at Harvard and at any other college you name on the Stats form. It will also give you suggestions on how to improve those chances, when possible, and will provide recommendations of other colleges that meet your profile and preferences.

Although it is irresponsible for this “Dean" to offer you admission odds without a lot more information, what I CAN tell you is that that Harvard is swamped with Asian applicants who have top test scores and very strong music accomplishments on their applications. Many speak Mandarin and other languages fluently as well. So you haven't shown me anything that will distinguish you in this hyper-competitive crowd. You also haven't told me if you have just one or two B's on your record or many. Although Harvard does admit only outstanding students, there is some wiggle-room for less-than-perfect grades … especially when other achievements overshadow them. However, from what you've said, your accomplishments are impressive but hardly unique.


BUT … as I said before, I have too little to go on here. You can consider a Stats Evaluation to get another professional opinion that is based on more information, or you can give Harvard your best shot and see what happens. I've been in this business for three decades and, each year, there are always admission decisions that surprise me.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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