Best college options for a high school slacker?

mfinncoin101's picture
Rank: Monkey | 37

Until very recently (just finished junior year) I did not take school as seriously as I should have. I live in NYC and go to a prestigious specialized high school. My GPA is 3.2 but after this semester should be 3.3. I have 1400 on the SAT but will start studying this summer to get a higher score. I would like to work in business/ finance but don't have a specific field in mind. Nothing special for ECs besides being treasurer of a 100+ member club. Also, note I have an upward grade trajectory which I hear can help.

That said I am looking at school like Loyola, Quinnipiac, Fairfield, Baruch, and Lehigh (big reach). I appreciate all recommendations and would prefer if you all used the conservative estimate (GPA: 3.2 and SAT:1400) because I don't want a false sense of hope.

Comments (24)

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Jun 9, 2019

I would look at state schools where you would have to be top of your class to get good offers but it's possible (Indiana and university of Illinois)

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Jun 9, 2019

Would prospects be better at one of those then Baruch or one of the colleges that I listed in OP?

Jun 20, 2019

Be sure wherever you go you can transfer into the business school and its not only direct admit. Also be aware that for some schools that offer direct admit, it is hard/impossible to major in finance if you transfer in.

Jun 20, 2019

I would look into Syracuse, Penn State, TCU, or Michigan State if you are looking for a big school atmosphere.

2017 Acceptance rates and SAT 25th/75th percentile are listed below:

Syracuse: 47%, 1160/1350

Penn State: 50%, 1160/1340

TCU: 41%, (Only ACT listed, 25/30)

Michigan State: 72%, 1100/1320

Each of these schools has at least some presence in finance, and the big school atmosphere would give you a multitude of finance clubs as well as a bigger alumni base to network with when the time comes.

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Jun 20, 2019

Go to your flagship state school, kill it freshman year, then transfer to Cornell.

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Jun 20, 2019

You aren't in a great position for the top schools, but there are still some pretty decent universities you could get into. If your elite HS carries some weight then you should still get into schools like IU, Iowa, Wisconsin, and UofI, Penn State, but don't expect to be a direct admit to the business school (I would still try though). I am honestly a little out of the loop, but my expectation is that the college admissions process has only gotten harder. My advice would be to cast a wide net and apply for some reach schools as well, it can't really hurt and if you pick 2-3 it won't take up an insane amount of time. Now, when it comes to safety schools, apply to those in a big city. I attended a non-target in NY/LA/CHI but worked almost every semester and it paid off. I was able to work at a search fund, a PE fund, and three different investment banks for an average of 6 months because of this, and it was what led to solid FT offers despite going to a mediocre school. There are always firms hiring year round and you have a much better shot at getting off cycle experience. Plus, more internships helped me decide what I wanted to do upon graduation. Best case you get into your reach schools and follow the normal path. worse case you have to network like mad but if you do it right you'll end up getting additional experience. Either way if you work hard the outcome should result in a solid FT job and options upon graduation.

Jun 9, 2019

Thank you for the advice. I hear Penn state mentioned only with regard to the Nittany lion fund and was wondering how hard that is to get into. I wouldn't want to go to a school that is only viable if you get into an exclusive club. As for the state school you mentioned IU, Penn, and Iowa all seem attainable but wisc is very out of my league unless you know something I don't about admission. Thanks again.

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Jun 20, 2019

Talk to your HS's college counselor. But maybe best to shoot for colleges in the North East that would be familiar with your HS and equate your 3.2 GPA to something higher for a typical applicant (any of these take a large number of your graduating class each year?). I would think Syracuse, Rutgers, and Fordham would be well within reach and pretty good options. Binghamton is also a strong SUNY school.

Then work hard and try to transfer to something better after your first year, if not to get in then just a motivating factor to get off to a strong start and score a good internship.

Jun 9, 2019

Those schools pop up all over this thread so I will certainly take them into consideration. I would prefer a small school, how do smaller places compare in terms of career prospects to the massive state schools that are often brought up here? For example, I have heard good things about business/ finance at Loyola Maryland but on WSO that school would never be mentioned. Same goes for babson, bentley, etc. Thanks for the advice.

Jun 20, 2019

At the top level, small LACs (top ~20-30) and larger universities (top ~50) are pretty on par. But at a mid tier and below, larger schools would have better opportunities. Not because of difference in the actual education prospects, but more because of name recognition and scale as others have mentioned. That said, some small LAC's within reasonable reach might be:

Union
Marist
Sarah Lawrence
Dickinson
Muhlenberg
Gettysburg

But again, your HS college counseling office will be your best resource, as sometimes they have special relationships with particular admissions officers etc. that they can leverage. Also don't discount your essay as a chance to tell a compelling story and make yourself sound interesting or have specific goals and interests you plan to pursue to make up for the lack of extracurriculars (which, TBH, I think may hold you back more than grades at this point**). But do work your ass off for the fall semester because they'll look at your fall senior grades as though they were a year's worth of grades rather than just a semester even if not reflected in your GPA.

**Edit: when I say this I mean that I think your grades (in the context of your HS), especially combined with your SAT scores, are actually pretty solid and well within reach of more competitive universities and LACs. But when you get to that level you need to have some sort of a hook that distinguishes you via either a story or an EC. This is why you hear stories of people focused only on getting perfect marks (and nothing else) getting rejected from everywhere they applied.

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Jun 20, 2019

The better you do on your SAT the less your GPA matters. I'd highly recommend trying for University of Indiana and then trying to get into Kelley after the fact, U Wisconsin is good. Penn State works well too. Of yours, Baruch is the best for investment banking.

Array

Jun 9, 2019

Do you think that Baruch would be better than Penn State/ Rutgers/ UI? Thanks for the advice.

Jun 20, 2019

Not it's definitely below them

Array

Jun 20, 2019

Eh I'll be honest, I went to a target/semi-target and there were a bunch of kids I knew there who had 3.3s or so in high school, but they had gone to top high schools. If you do go to one of these great high school, definitely don't leave T25 schools off your list.

Jun 9, 2019

I go to one of the best specialized high schools in NYC but since Stuyvesant is in its own league I feel obligated to tell you I don't go there. For most T25s my SAT is fine and will be even better when I retake it but my GPA is just awful. I don't know how schools weigh those things but if they care about GPA even a bit I don't see how I'll get in. Thanks for the info.

Jun 20, 2019

Yes your GPA is low, but I've seen from so many people at my school who had a mediocre (or even less than mediocre) GPA but high standardized test scores. If you don't apply, you'll never know where you'd get into

Jun 21, 2019

I haven't seen it mentioned that GPA is incredibly relative when applying to college. 4.0...3.4...2.8, the number doesn't matter. The 3.4 could be bottom 50% of the class, or the 2.8 could be top 20%.

I had a 3.5, 99th percentile ACT when applying to college, but the kicker was that my 3.5 was in the bottom 50% of my class (3.99+ was top 20%). It was incredibly difficult to get looks from a decent school with a GPA in the lower half of my class and was rejected by a lot of colleges that have been mentioned on this thread.

OP, I would strongly advise you to post your class ranking, which would give a much better indication of where you may be a competitive applicant. If you are similar to my bottom 50%, shoot me a PM, I would be happy to give you some advice on where to apply.

Best of luck to you.

Jun 20, 2019

Very good point

Array

Jun 21, 2019

Southeast has some great liberal arts options if you're open to Atlanta or Charlotte. Furman, Wofford, and Sewanee May be worth a look.

TCU as well as SMU are great options if you're open to the DFW area. All have pretty deep alumni networks in the area.

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Jun 25, 2019
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