Preparing for College

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. See (Different colleges have different standards for HEOP/EOP eligibility.)

· Try College Confidential's SuperMatch questionnaire. Go to 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)