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Old 02-08-06, 05:16 PM   #1
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Do you really need straight A's to go to college?

I was talking to my english teacher today about what i want to take next year, and the class in general. He started talking about how i should look at technically oriented schools, like mit and similar. I agree whatever i do beyond highschool will be related to a technical subject, and would prefer a school that has an emphasis on this. I dont find myself going to New England institution of art for example.
But sometimes he, among other teachers, make it sound like you need straight A's to get into a good college. For the most part, I am an A, B student. I usually do very well on my finals and midterms though. Now part of me is saying, I doubt everybody who goes to college got straight A's throughout highschool...But then the other half says, "What if he is right?". So what is it REALLY?
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Old 02-08-06, 05:22 PM   #2
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I think that depends upon what you want to go.
When I took the IOWA basic tests and the NASVAB I always scored higher then 97% of the peoplle in America

of this 97% of the population that are tested across the board in America probably 50%-90% of them can get into college of some sort. I severely doubt that grades really have anything to do with getting into most colleges.

Grades help getting into prestigious or uppity universities
There is always the sports athletic directory who can't get past 3rd grade SVA that most sports personnel and players do.
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Old 02-08-06, 05:26 PM   #3
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well MIT is tough. Real tough. Not only do you need good grades, consistently(i dont mean like a+ studying forever and a day kinda thing, but solid marks) and something, maybe a lil more important is how well rounded you are. Sports are a big plus, and if you get recruited for a sport that can help you get inot a college you wouldnt otherwise. Also clubs, community service, and teacher recommendations help a hell of alot.

In short, you need to be a good solid student with some other qualitys that makes you stand out from the rest of the thousands that are applying.

And, im 16, and I have been told there is a college for everyone. So there is one out there for you.
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Old 02-08-06, 05:27 PM   #4
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NO, but it does depend on the college. Harder to get in to MIT(top five) than NCSU(Which rates in the top thirty for engineering on many sites) Your SATs and extracurricular count to. Also depends on how much money you are willing to spend.
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Old 02-08-06, 05:27 PM   #5
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So you believe that standardized tests like that are more significant? Personally, i would think things like that and finals would be more significant. Because a final for example, is a test at the end of the course, of how much you really know. How much knowledge you have really retained, not just crammed in the night before a test only to forget it a week later.

Honestly, I am unsure of a specific place I want to go to. Only an idea the type
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Old 02-08-06, 05:30 PM   #6
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I know in my state, standardised tests (ACT/SAT) are more important that grades. I'm a perfect example; I have a horrible GPA (I don't do work in science or math classes), but I did exceptionally well on my ACT. I got into the leading teaching school in the nation without any problems.

MIT is an entirely different story, though.
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Old 02-08-06, 05:33 PM   #7
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Depends what you mean by "good college", but even with Ivy League caliber schools, I doubt that a 4.0 is mandatory (though it wouldn't hurt). If you're thinking about a school like MIT or CalTech, they probably won't give you a second look if your GPA is below a 3.5, unless you go to a top level high school or your SAT scores are exceptional. MIT and CalTech are just as difficult to get into as most of the Ivy League schools.
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Old 02-08-06, 05:37 PM   #8
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My GPA ranges from 3 to 3.8. Depends if I am taking honors courses, next year i will be taking at least 2 so that boosts the gpa a tremendous amount. Im a sucky athelete....so thats way the hell out of the question. Unless a wants to start a cycling team

I want a place with *reasonably* small classes. I dont want to feel like 1 out of a million, but im not looking for a class of 25 either...
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Old 02-08-06, 05:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantomcow2
I was talking to my english teacher today about what i want to take next year, and the class in general. He started talking about how i should look at technically oriented schools, like mit and similar. I agree whatever i do beyond highschool will be related to a technical subject, and would prefer a school that has an emphasis on this. I dont find myself going to New England institution of art for example.
But sometimes he, among other teachers, make it sound like you need straight A's to get into a good college. For the most part, I am an A, B student. I usually do very well on my finals and midterms though. Now part of me is saying, I doubt everybody who goes to college got straight A's throughout highschool...But then the other half says, "What if he is right?". So what is it REALLY?
What's more important is that you are motivated and have good study habits. Once you get into a college, nobody gives a rat's rear what your gpa in high school was. And nobody after college cares what you got in college. I've never had anyone ask for my gpa.

Your counselor just doesn't want to you to slack off and goof off like I did. If I had taken a semester of PE instead of study hall my junior year of high school I could've graduated early. Instead, I had major senioritis. Still did very well on the standardized tests and got A's and B's. I could've gotten a partial scholarship to UMC but instead got a full ride to Westminster College in Fulton, Mo.

Just stay motivated and study every night so that when you do get to college, you won't get behind and hurt your gpa which could hurt your scholarships.
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Old 02-08-06, 06:24 PM   #10
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Depends a lot on the schools you want to get into.

In California to get into a community (junior) college all you need is to be 18.

To get into Cal Tech figure 4.0 in math and science (or very close to it) and at least 750 on the math part of the SAT and the same for Math, Chem and physics in what used to be the achievement tests to go with it. For any top level school also expect to need good recomendations from teachers and others. Likely also essays and very likely an interview (or more than one).

The standardized tests are not what get you into a top level school, but they can keep you out of one.
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Old 02-08-06, 06:33 PM   #11
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Well I can soundly say, testing is a strong point of mine. This is good. Heres what puzzles me.
From what it sounds, you send in an application in the beggining of senior year. Why? Why not wait until after senior, so you can see if you have actually passed the AP exam, your final averages, all of th at.
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Old 02-08-06, 06:37 PM   #12
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AHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA no.
Then again, if you want to go to MIT, lemme put it this way, the lowest non-minority (except Asians) grade accepted to MIT from my high school was something like an overall average of 94 with 1500 SAT's. The average was around a 97 avg with 1600 SAT's.
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Old 02-08-06, 06:58 PM   #13
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I'm ancient (34), so this reply may be irrelevant to the modern college scene.

I scored 1210 on the SAT, and 30 on the ACT. My HS GPA was in the area of 3.2-3.3, and I took most of the advanced courses my school offered. My extracurricular activities were limited to football and one year of track. I applied to, and was accepted by, Princeton, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, and Hofstra, as well as several state universities. Didn't try MIT, even though its in my home state.

Point being, a 4.0 is great, but isn't necessary. Don't be pressured by a teacher to think otherwise. A solid GPA, coupled with above average scores on standardized tests, will get you in most schools. Probably not with a full scholarship, but that's what loans are for, eh?
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Old 02-08-06, 07:17 PM   #14
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Thanks folks. Im not going to stress myself too much over grades. If I can keep the gpa above a 3.3ish, I am happy. Next year that will be very easy to do, in fact i will probably get a high 3 or even 4 since the advanced course counts for so much, when in reality, its not an enourmously difficult thing to endure.
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Old 02-08-06, 07:29 PM   #15
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And if you have any problems a summer of community/volunteer work would look good. Would look good even if you didnt have a problem.
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Old 02-08-06, 07:43 PM   #16
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If you focus on the Harvards and MITs of the world, you can drive yourself batty over grades and still not get it, especially if you're a white, male, non-legacy (alumni child) applicant. Harsh but true.

That said, there are lots of schools that will admit a solid A/B student with decent SATs. It's pretty much a numbers game. You can find publications that will allow you to grid your GPA against your SATs and give you a pretty accurate picture of whether you will get in to any given school.

If you're a techie and want a small school you might look at Haverford or Swarthmore outside of Philly. Both are small, very competitive and very good for the natural sciences. I'm not sure I'd go to either for engineering, though others might have better info than I do. Some good engineering schools a notch down from MIT/Caltech include Stevens and Rennsalear (I hope you don't want to date much).

As an old fart who started out as a techie and then went into law I can tell you that there are a lot of very successful people in the world who don't have perfect resumes. What they all have in common is that they all worked hard, consistently. I can also tell you that the best education that I received came from the least prestigious school that I attended.
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Old 02-08-06, 07:46 PM   #17
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phantomcow2,

Have you seen you school's guidance counselor? They should be able to answer all your questions and more.

Secondly - check out US News & World Reports' annual college guide. It covers most of the schools in the country and gives you a wealth data. Including the average GPA and SAT of freshman who were admitted. Will give you a ballpark on what grades you need. Your schools library will have it.

Thridly - consider going to small school rather than a large state university. I went to a small school and every class was taught by a associate or full professor. No TA's. A few classes I had were 50 - 60 students, most were < 25, and all my major's classes were < 15.

In a small school the professors are expected to teach - not research. And they are evaluated as such.
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Old 02-08-06, 08:43 PM   #18
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Weird thing about Harvard is, once you get in, you're almost guaranteed a 4.0 gpa. Some of these schools have pretty much thrown grades out the window. I went to Tulane as a graduate student and their undergrad chemistry program sucked compared to that of U. of New Orleans. And cost 10 times as much. But if it were any cheaper, nobody would go to Tulane. Does that make sense?

Nothing worse than teaching a organic chem. lab class full of pre-meds from NYC or Encino or Pacific Palisades.

Where I went to undergrad, the largest class I had was Marcro Economics, at 35 people. I took classes where it was just two of us and the prof. No TA's, no teachers that couldn't speak English. I took an advanced chemistry course where I was the only student. P-chem was just two of us. Analytical was just three. Organic was just nine the first semester and 5 the second. My second semester Freshman English class was just us 5 brave souls with Dr. Wilkerson. Man, he was tough, but he would've been the inspiration for "Dead Poets Society".

Google up Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri. It's where Churchill gave his "Iron Curtain" speech. When I was there, VP. George Bush, Jeanne Kirkpatrick(ambassador to the UN), Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and Sec. State George Schultz all gave speeches. After I left, Gorbachev and Reagan gave speeches.

Westminster was about 70% male but about 6 blocks away was our sister college, William Woods, which is all-female. We shared class schedules and our parties were usually 2 girls for every guy. That's not bad.

Advantages of big schools is more different types of classes and more research oppotunities for undergrads. Downsides are overcrowded classes taught by TA's that don't speak English well, professors you can never track down, and long-ass lines at registration and absolutely no parking to speak of.

The trouble with U.S. News' guide is that schools have figured out how to boost their rankings in that survey, usually by boosting student's gpa. That sounds great and all until you realize you are being taught like a 5 yr. old.
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Old 02-08-06, 09:06 PM   #19
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Just to throw it out there. College is not the be-all-end-all. Tech school can be a very good alternative. You are into machine work. Qualified machinist/prototypers that can do more than make motorcycle wheels are getting pretty rare. As are many of the other high skill trades people. A lot of them are retiring and few are coming into the field because of the "gotta go to college" hype. You might be able to end up in something you really enjoy without spending tens of tousands for a degree you don't use(One of my coworkers has a PHd in Chemistry that saw about two years of real use, now he manages a bike shop)
The trades also tend to pay pretty good.
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Old 02-08-06, 09:18 PM   #20
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It sounds like you are in your junior year at HS. So you have some time to research and select. Here is what my son did this year. He applied to a school he knew he would be accepted to. After that he focused on schools he liked. If you have the funds, apply to the top schools you dream about, but have a sure thing lined up and maybe a better school that isn't too difficult to get into along with your top choices.
If you're applying to top schools, apply to a large number and as was just said, apply early! If you are inclined to go to an Engineering school, I think Rev.Chuck made a good recommendation, North Carolina State is an excellent school that is somewhat difficult to get into, but not impossible. And your grade average is consistant with the students they accept. Hope everything falls your way.
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Old 02-08-06, 10:25 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantomcow2
I was talking to my english teacher today about what i want to take next year, and the class in general. He started talking about how i should look at technically oriented schools, like mit and similar.
MIT, CalTech, and similar schools are for really exceptional students. I've got a feeling they're not for you, as I suspect they wouldn't have been for me. My uncle, who got a masters at MIT, told me that you shouldn't go to MIT for your bachelor's degree, unless you're planning to go on and get a master's. Their undergraduate program simply isn't well geared toward getting a traditional job after graduation. They are very theoretical and graduate school focused.

That said, I think you should look at schools with strong technical programs like your teacher said, but not the MIT type. I would say it would be a good idea to apply to a couple of state schools and a couple of public schools, visit them, maybe sit in on a few classes, and get a look at some of the projects they do. Private schools are spendier, but the scholarships are generally more generous, classes are more personal, and (I may be biased on this part) the faculty tend to be a little better.

I also agree completely with what Rev. Chuck said.

And fill out the FAFSA. Merton knows what he's talking about!
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Old 02-09-06, 08:20 AM   #22
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If you aspire to MIT, you need the grades but you need something to catch the attention and make you stand out. Grades are great but there will be dozens of applicants against you for one spot who all have transcripts exactly like yours. You need that extra edge.
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Old 02-09-06, 08:29 AM   #23
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One more thing, depending on the type of school you go to, your guidance counselor might not always give you the best information.
I went to a magnet school where reputation meant a lot so they actively discouraged people who were borderline being accepted into schools like MIT from applying since any type of rejection would lower the application/acceptance ratio for the school.
Mine was practically on her knees begging me not to apply to Caltech and MIT.
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Old 02-09-06, 08:40 AM   #24
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The best advise I got about grades was this... Don't get straight A's when you first start high-school or college. That way you don't need to worry about maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

I got good grades college (3.8 or so overall), but that B in Calculs I studied so hard to get the first semester of school took the weight off of worrying about running the tables with perfect grades.

I knew several people who got ulcers worrying about keeping that perfect 4.0 GPA in college (and a few who were competing to get the best higher-than-4.0-GPA in high school, which had an honors grade weighted at 5.0 for certain courses)

Good luck.
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Old 02-09-06, 09:00 AM   #25
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Funny that you brought grades up, they handed out transcipts at school yesturday.
im a junior in highschool with 36 credits
27 A's
8 B's
1 C
GPA=3.703

but im going to the university of idaho, aka the easiest full time university to get into in the galaxy, but not with out the one of the best engineering programs on this side of the country. If you have over a 3.0 your in reguardless of tests.
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