BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
My application has been rejected by several top colleges, and I am upset. I have a 4.26 GPA, a 1450 on the SAT, and I rank fifth in my class. I have yet to hear from some schools in the Ivy League, but my safety school is the University of Michigan, and I have a reasonable expectation of acceptance there.
What more could I have done to ensure admission to top colleges?
Signed, Upset Student
Top grades, test scores aren’t the only considerations for college acceptance
Dear Upset Student,
This is the season when college acceptance letters are coming in for high school seniors. I receive a number of emails at this time each year asking the same question you did. What more could I have done?
Your GPA indicates that you earned a few Bs and B+s in you high level classes and As and A+s in your mid-level classes. A 4.26 is a good GPA. A 1450 SAT score puts you in the 97th percentile of the students taking the test last year.
While you have done very well in school on the basis of your grades and test scores, this represents only a small fraction of accomplishment compared to students from around the world who are competing for the few slots at premiere colleges and universities.
A few colleges do allow you to appeal a rejection, but barring a procedural error in your admissions materials, a successful appeal is not likely.
Your GPA performance was measured against the insular world of your high school classmates. The quality of your application essays and your extracurricular activities are also taken into consideration along with your grades and test scores by admissions offices. When you apply to college you are competing against a wide spectrum of students, a global composite with resumes of achievement approaching near perfection. There are students with firsts in everything, and that is only the beginning.
I have found that students who are admitted to top colleges generally have a deep dimension in the quality of their personal accomplishments — both in the classroom and extracurricular. They have a profound level of maturity, competence and confidence that separates them from other students.
It is important that you have researched your colleges of choice to make sure that the schools are a “fit” for you. Admissions officers can tell if you will thrive with the academic experiences that they offer. Your application needs to be targeted to the particular strengths of the institution you wish to attend.
The fact that you have a reasonable expectation at the University of Michigan is great news as it is among the elite colleges. In the 2018-19 school year, they had an acceptance rate of 22.8 percent and 64,917 applicants.
You do not say what your eventual career goal is, but the U of M offers outstanding programs in business administration, economics, biology, and psychology and is ranked among the top ten in virtually every engineering discipline. The school is used as a safety school for many elite applicants such as yourself and is sought after at the graduate level because of the programs they offer.
If you do decide to attend the University of Michigan, make sure that you take advantage of all of the opportunities that they offer beyond the classroom. The school lists 1,438 student organizations, so you should be able to find activities that will enhance your classroom experience.
All is not lost if you do not get your top choice. I always tell my clients that their college experience is what they make it. Opportunities abound if you keep your eyes open.
Gerald Bradshaw is a top US college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
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