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Articles / Applying to College / Will Low SAT's Keep Student Out of Dream Colleges?

July 10, 2011

Will Low SAT's Keep Student Out of Dream Colleges?

Question: I am a Black female with an SAT score of 810 (math,reading); 1200 (math,reading,writing), I take IB classes with a cumulative GPA of a little bit over 83 and I'm involved in extracurricular activities such as Upward Bound. I want to know if I can get into really good colleges like NYU, Fordham University, Albany University etc. When I look at these schools' SAT score requirements it makes me feel like I shouldn't even waste my time applying. I'm normally an optimistic person, but when it comes to finding that special college for ME, I feel like bad luck is written all over me. Please be honest and tell me if I could possibly have a chance of getting into at least 1 of these schools. Thanks

"The Dean" does not usually give admissions "chances" because there are too many factors that determine college acceptances and thus it would be irresponsible to predict your outcomes without knowing a lot more about you.


However, based on what you've told me here, it seems like Fordham and NYU will probably be out of reach for you. In spite of your challenging classes and extracurricular successes, your GPA as well as your SAT's are low when compared to the typical admitted freshman at those colleges.

You are a little closer to being in the running at Albany, although, again, your SAT''s are well below the norm, even for the Educational Opportunity Program (known as EOP here or, in many private colleges, as HEOP). More on that in a minute.

Do you come from a disadvantaged background or have you overcome significant obstacles in your life? If so, you may find a sympathetic admission officer who will go to bat for you. However, even the most sympathetic admission officers don't want to put students in a position where they are likely to fail. They want to make sure that the college you attend is the right fit for you, even if that's not necessarily your top choice.

So here are some things I suggest you do:

· Contact the admission office at the colleges that interest you. Ask for the name and email address of the staff member who oversees multicultural admission. Then write to him or her, explaining your strong interest as well as your worries about your admission chances. If you do come from a disadvantaged background, be sure to say so. Ask what you can do to strengthen your admission odds.

· Retake the SAT's in the fall. If possible, spend some time preparing for them. There are lots of free resources on the Internet. (Let me know if you need help finding them.) If you come from a disadvantaged background and can hit 900 (for math + reading) then you might be eligible for EOP admission at SUNY Albany. Seehttp://www.albany.edu/admissions/eop.php (Different colleges have different standards for HEOP/EOP eligibility.)

· Try College Confidential's SuperMatch questionnaire. Go to http://www.collegeconfidential.com/college_search/ and enter all of your college preferences (location, size, major, etc.) Under “My Scores," enter your SAT's and GPA and then answer the question, “How important is this to you?" with “Must have." Your “Results" list will provide the names of colleges that should be good matches for you and where you should have a realistic chance of being accepted.

Try to maintain your optimism. This crazy process often ends in a “meant to be" kind of way. So even if you don't land at one of your “dream" schools, you may find yourself at a place where you are very happy. Whether a college is “good" or “bad" really depends on what you put into it … and get out of it.

Good luck!

(posted 7/9/2011)

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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