What else should I do to get into targets?

Hey everyone,

16 yr old HS sophomore here. I come from a middle class family and I've always dreamed of a finance career. I'm working my ass off rn so that I can get into a good target school, but there is just so much competition. For reference, I go to a large competitive public high school in the midwest.

My unweighted GPA should be 3.92+ by the time I'm a senior. Pandemic caused a drop in grades for me in BC calculus, AP Chem, and a retarded computer class (B in all). My weighted (which is what school only records) GPA of 4.2 puts me comfortably in the top 5-10% of class, and if I get straight As next year (which I can if there is no pandemic), I should have a 4.5+ GPA which puts me up very high. 

SAT wise, I haven't taken the test yet but practice tests tell me that I'll get a 1550+. I'm not too worried on that end. AP tests should all be 4 or 5s, and I will take at least 13 AP classes by the end of high school. I am on a very rigorous track compared to other students so ig that helps.

Anyways I'm more worried about my extracurriculars. I do MUN a lot and I'm really good at it with a ton of awards. I also do science fair and have done quite well (no ISEF but a ton of prize money). I also made commercialization plans. The rest of my ECs aren't as important but include TedX organizing and a few other irrelevant school clubs.

I have plans for next year including starting my own conference and doing research with a target prof but what else should I do? I'm gonna work a fuck ton on the conference and use it to show business skils. Are my stats gonna fuck me up? Should I take calc 3 and other calc classes at a local uni to make up for the Bs? Do I need business ECs? I can work on creating a business out of some science fair research I did. Assume that essays/recs are decent. 

What else should I do? Is there a secret sauce I'm missing? What do you think I should do? Any help is good help at this point

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Comments (53)

Funniest
May 23, 2021 - 6:59pm

My child, you need not to worry about whether or not you'll get into "targets," but whether or not your soul is right with Allah. Your post sounds very anxious and stressed, and reading and listening to the Quran daily will help refresh your heart and mind. 

أمنيتي الوحيدة: جنسي مثلي الجنس العربدة وقذف القضيب

I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

  • 31
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May 23, 2021 - 7:05pm

Cure the cancer in your own heart and no one can reject you.

أمنيتي الوحيدة: جنسي مثلي الجنس العربدة وقذف القضيب

I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

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  • 1
May 23, 2021 - 7:15pm

It sounds like you're on the right track. Keep working hard and results will come. Do you play any sports? 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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May 23, 2021 - 7:20pm

suspiciousachiever

I play a pretty niche and non-NCAA sport that I'm not too talented at, but it's Varsity.

Oh ok that's cool - everything helps.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

May 24, 2021 - 9:19am

Couldn't agree more. Everyone helps with the homeless, everyone has a high GPA with high test scores. It actually makes me angry how entitled these people feel too when it comes to acceptance from the top colleges. You need to stand out and a great way to do this is through individual research and competitions. The more well-known the competition the better.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
May 23, 2021 - 7:22pm

Glad to give some insight. I also came from a similar background (competitive, large high school) and found it nearly impossible to break into even a T20 school with 1500+, good GPA, extracurriculars, etc. I ended up at my flagship state school and killed it since I was decently driven and smart and transferred out to a T10 after my freshman year. Personally, I think that you should give it your best to get into a good school but don't take transferring after your first year out of the question since it seems you have competitive stats and it will be easier process than straight out of HS if you create a good story and put some effort through the process. TLDR; relax, you're chillin regardless of what happens and will have a good chance at IB/PE if you continue putting in work.

May 23, 2021 - 7:23pm

Glad to give some insight. I also came from a similar background (competitive, large high school) and found it nearly impossible to break into even a T20 school with 1500+, good GPA, extracurriculars, etc. I ended up at my flagship state school and killed it since I was decently driven and smart and transferred out to a T10 after my freshman year. Personally, I think that you should give it your best to get into a good school but don't take transferring after your first year out of the question since it seems you have competitive stats and it will be easier process than straight out of HS if you create a good story and put some effort through the process. TLDR; relax, you're chillin regardless of what happens and will have a good chance at IB/PE if you continue putting in work.

Yeah this. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

May 23, 2021 - 7:25pm

I wish I found WSO at 16 - you're set dude.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
May 23, 2021 - 7:28pm

Sports are by far the easiest backdoor into targets. Become one of the best in the country at any collegiate sport at the hs level and you will be able to get into target schools with objectively worse stats than non-athletes. 

Note, this is not relevant if you ride the bench in JV basketball, I'm talking about getting recruited. I will bet money that the student athletes at all the targets had way lower standardized test scores compared to the average student. 

May 23, 2021 - 7:42pm

suspiciousachiever

I wish, but the only sport I play is a non-NCAA sport. I think it's too late for me to start a new one given that I'd only have a year to get good enough to receive any offers

What about Cross Country - can you run?

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 23, 2021 - 10:13pm

Please go research this question in r/a2c or College Confidential. The advice you'll find here will only give you a false sense of confidence because most people here got into target schools in a far different era. Look at the acceptance rates today--even Vanderbilt is 6% now. A 4.0/1550+/some random sport is no longer even close to enough for admission to top tiers.

To your question, look into developing a "soft spike" on your applications. Your essays, ECs, and awards should all reflect that spike in one way or another. And remember that essays are the most important part of your application; make sure you nail them. I had a 4.0 and 1600 but my ECs were very mediocre; I got into multiple T10s through mainly essays, though I will admit this was ~5 years ago

May 23, 2021 - 10:53pm

I had a 4.0 and 1600 

-

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

May 24, 2021 - 9:17am

Build a spike in whatever you're interested in. If you're interested in Finance since there's such a large shift towards Quant/Algo/HFT for trading and analysis/research I'd highly recommend participating in Stock Trading Competitions, pursuing advanced mathematics topics and participate in as many competitions as possible(You're in BC as a sophomore. I took it as a Junior and that was the earliest we could take it so I assume your senior year math would be very interesting), Colleges accept applicants based on whether or not they look like a winner and often times it's very hard to tell so give them some help and have a proven track record of performing and "winning". I graduated 26th in my class but had a spike in my application towards computing and was accepted to more competitive schools than the top 3 students since they looked like every single other perfect student - Volunteer clubs, high GPA, top 5% test scores, etc. We all ended up going to the same school at the end which was a top school but the look on their eyes when they said they were straight-up denied from Stanford while I was waitlisted was hilarious and they were wondering how "someone like me" could even get waitlisted.

May 25, 2021 - 1:15am

Agreed, admissions officers prefer kids with a spike to well-rounded applicants. They craft a class nowadays so you want to be able to be branded "that kid who was really good at X" and not a generic guy with good stats and a mission trip. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 24, 2021 - 9:58am

You'll be fine, I couldn't give a damn about academics or my future career when I was your age and everything worked out perfectly fine. Remember to take some time to be a high school kid and when the time comes enjoy college. If you only focus on school and don't develop any social skills no one will want to hire you anyway.

With that said, you're definitely on the right track - I wish I had started thinking about my career at your age.

May 25, 2021 - 9:45am

A few more things to consider: you still have time to build meaningful relationship with faculty at your desired school. Spend time this summer researching faculty academic interests and try to identify if any are performing research in an area you enjoy! If so, reach out and volunteer - one reason athletics is such a great ticket is because someone from inside the institution is pulling prospects in. You may be able to re-create that pull factor in another way. You also mentioned that you play/participate in a non-NCAA sport. How good are you and is it realistic to become highly ranked (within the top 50 or recognized on a national/international level) before your apply to schools? Have you considered top LACs (and state Ivies) in addition to HYPSM? For example, many NESCAC and UAA schools (D3 sports conferences) also place many graduates in Finance. Best of luck! 

May 25, 2021 - 9:58am

Do you think that getting close with a faculty member would be a ticket for my way in? Do they really have that much sway over the adcom? I'm already planning on doing research so I'll cold email a ton of profs then.

There really aren't any ranks but I can play in some high level tournaments. LACs aren't really my cup of tea (too small) and I def have considered public Ivies like UMich, UVA, UCB, etc.

May 25, 2021 - 10:18am

No guarantee but being creative should be part of your strategy. Profs are more influential than most give them credit for. Admission is also a lot about the academic/artistic/athletic needs of a school! Also, building those types relationships does communicate your determination/grit in the eyes of the selection committee.

What size is to small? Many of the most rigorous schools have relative small student populations - Northwestern, Pomona (Claremont College consortium), WashU, UChicago, W&L, Georgetown. You are absolutely right to point out the importance of fit though!

May 25, 2021 - 11:09am

do CS

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

May 25, 2021 - 8:41pm

Do something weird. There's a small army of good grades, AP students with cookie cutter extra curriculars trying to break down the door to every good school. If you play it this way, you're leaving your odds at a bout 10% with no real control over the outcome.

However, if you do something very different than your peers (doesn't have to be actually impressive, just something that makes the reviewer go "Haven't seen that before"), your odds skyrocket (assuming you met the grade benchmark).

Maybe you like to beekeep, Maybe you work 40+ hours a week in a rough job while in school. Maybe you spend time collecting fossils. All it has to be is a niche activity that you do because you like it, not because the college admissions officer might like it or your parents bought it / made you / etc.

tldr: Don't be boring, get good grades, take on a niche hobby that is differentiated. You don't have to cure cancer, you just have to be different.

"one for the money two for the better green 3 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine" - M.F. Doom

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  • Analyst 3+ in Risk Mnmgt
May 25, 2021 - 11:40pm

Do this. If it doesn't get you into a target school. It'll make your life more fruitful and make you stand out during recruiting. If you've been around WSO you know that you can still get in to the right position without a target degree. And, there are plenty of people from targets that cry abbout the non-targets taking stealing their jobs.

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