Preparing for College

Will New and UNimproved SAT Scores Mean Denial?

Question: I applied to my dream college in September and had my spring SAT scores sent. They contacted me a few weeks ago and said they had made a preliminary decision on my application, but were waiting to see my new SAT scores from October 5 before they made a final decision. This made me very nervous that my scores would determine my acceptance. Today the October scores were released and my heart sunk when I noticed that my overall score didn't change at all (English stayed the same, Math dropped 10 points and Writing increased 10 points). I know my scores are right about "average" for their freshmen last year. Do you think they will deny me because my scores are not higher? Why else would they wait for the retake? The school I applied to is Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. It's a small private school. My total SAT score both times is 1400.

It sounds like you are a borderline candidate which is why the college was waiting for new SAT scores. But it doesn't necessarily mean that they will deny you just because your scores didn't improve significantly. It's possible that, if your new scores simply confirm your old ones (i.e., they didn't get worse) then you could be okay.

However, while you're waiting for your decision (i.e., NOW!) it would be wise for you to send a letter (email is fine) to your admission rep (the staff member who oversees applicants from your high school). Explain that Eastern U. is your top-choice college, and be sure to spell out WHY. Be as specific as possible. Reasons such as "It's always been my dream school," "Your campus is beautiful," and "You have my major" don't cut it (unless your major is an unusual one. In THAT case, it's a GOOD reason!).

Your letter should also point out that, although you were disappointed with your new test results, you have OTHER strengths that you want to be sure will be considered. Then you can list some of your academic highlights. These could include getting a great grade from a teacher who is known as a tough grader, improving significantly in a class where you'd been struggling, or simply falling in love with a particular subject so much that you were inspired to study it in the summer or read up on it outside of school.

If the admission officers know that Eastern is your top choice, it could help your chances. Everyone likes to be loved ... including college admission officers, as intimidating as they may seem! And colleges also love high “yield” numbers (the percentage of admitted students who actually enroll). So if the admission folks know that you’ll enroll if accepted, it could push your application off of that border and into the “In” pile.

(posted 10/25/2012)