How to Get Into & Pay for College


What are my chances of getting in with good grades but no school extracurriculars?

QUESTION: I am a junior at a suburban high school that sends almost all of its graduates to college. So far I have a 4.0 unweighted GPA in all honors classes and will participate in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program in my junior and senior years. I've been involved in baseball since grade school, volunteer at a local hospital and have worked. I haven't participated in school related extracurriculars because none of them appealed to me. On SAT practice tests, I've scored in the 1300 to 1400 range on the critical reading and math sections. My top college choices include UC Berkeley, Cornell, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke. Are these choices realistic or should I focus on less selective colleges? Signed, High Ambitions

Dear High Ambitions: With your solid academic record and commitment to athletics and volunteering, you are definitely on the right track toward these colleges. The first question that admission officers ask when reviewing applications is whether or not you can handle the academic courseload. Your record so far reflects that you can.

However, we cannot stress enough how important it is to have backup schools. We suggest that you choose the top three or four colleges that you have listed, and apply to them hoping for the best, but not necessarily expecting acceptance. In addition, choose two to three colleges to which you are pretty sure you will be admitted. Finally, apply to two backup or safety schools, schools to which you are almost certain you will be accepted. This way, you can be sure to have a solid set of colleges to choose from.


Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.

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