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Meet one of Swarthmore first admits this cycle

Often regarded as one of the top 10 colleges in the U.S., Swarthmore only admitted about 7% of applicants in the last application cycle. This elite private liberal arts college boasts a 7:1 student to faculty ratio and a hefty endowment per student that ranks 11th in the U.S. This week, New Yorker and future lawyer Kayla Nicholas with a 99.1/100 GPA and 1300 SAT, shares highlights from her path getting into Swarthmore's Class of 2026.

Dear Socrates, Feature


What GPA Do Colleges Look At?

GPA matters to colleges because it's the best predictor of your child's success in college. People used to think that SAT and ACT scores gave more accurate clues into students' college academic performance because they were standardized. However, studies show that this is not true. GPA is still the most heavily weighted aspect of college applicants. In some cases, it's the only factor. When your child is applying to college, you might see different GPAs on his transcript. Among the options, the GPA that matters will depend on the college.

The Skinny

Special Reports





Admitted to Harvard, Cornell, and NYU! A Preview of 2022’s Top Admits

IT’S BACK! Top admits to Harvard, NYU, Cornell, and Swarthmore! These high school seniors are among the first in the country to get into the colleges admitting only 3-20% of applicants this cycle. How did they do it? What do they wish they knew before college application season? How did their families help or hurt their process? From a bachata-dancing researcher who presented for President Bill Clinton and a soccer-playing class president who managed construction, here is a sneak peek into 2022’s Top Admits Series.

Feeling nervous about EA/ED results? Try this.

“Congratulations! You’ve been admitted…” It’s every student and parent’s dream to read those words upon clicking that Status Update button. As Early Action and Early Decision results come out this week, your home might be filled with emotions: elation, disappointment, shock, regret, pride, and more. It can also be an anxiety-inducing time for parents and applicants. We share tips from mental health experts on how to be okay no matter what happens during the first round of college admissions decisions.

Money Tips from UCLA, U of Oregon, and Boise State

New interviews! The average public college grad owes about $30k in student loans — and growing, if you include the interest. That can be paralyzing for any entry-level worker. So how do students avoid hefty student loan debts? We chatted with UCLA, University of Oregon, and Boise State financial aid advisors to hear their tips and perspectives.


The Skinny

Driving Students’ Performance & Top Business School

  • A university dumping SAT testing doesn’t guarantee an equitable system, experts say
  • Student stress levels increased and performance decreased during the pandemic. This study reveals how much.
  • Which university just ranked among the best business universities for the second time in a row?

Is the Test-Optional Trend Increasing?

  • An Ivy League university received its second-largest applicant pool ever. Which one?
  • Another university goes test-optional. Which one?
  • A university just ended its legacy admissions. Which one? Will others follow suit?



Should my student take the SAT or ACT?

Should your student take the SAT or ACT? Both standardized tests are equally accepted by U.S. colleges for admissions. While they look similar, they’re not the same. Read our advice on how to choose one over the other.

GPA Requirements: Don’t trust the first link on Google

Can we really rely on Google to figure out average admitted GPA’s of colleges on our list? Google links aren’t always ranked in the order of accuracy or recency. This week, using a case study on San Diego State University’s average admitted student GPA, we present “dos” and “don’ts” when researching average GPA’s. Here’s why we find numbers ranging from 3.6 to 3.77 to 3.81 to 3.97.

Am I likely to get accepted if I’m deferred in Early Decision?

How likely is it to be accepted into a college after you’ve been deferred in Early Decision/Early Action? This might surprise you. Let’s use MIT, Boston College, Stanford, and Washington University in St. Louis as case studies. Here’s what the admissions officers from these institutions say.

Does attending Harvard guarantee wealth?

Read about the Yale grad found himself broke and jobless, the daughter who, years after graduating, was still looking for a job, and the son who worked 3 days a week creating special effects for George Lucas.

Why Your Student Will Be Okay No Matter What

Your student has submitted her college apps. And now, the stress of actually completing the applications has turned into anxiety about the impending decision.

Instead of biting your nails, worrying your butt off, and predictive-analyzing college decisions, let’s hear why admissions officers think your student will be okay no matter what — accept, deny, or waitlist.

A Powerful 2-Step Process to Writing Supplements

When your favorite food is pepperoni pizza and your friend asks why, you can easily say, I don’t know. I just like it because it tastes good. When colleges ask applicants to write 500 or fewer on “Why do you want to major in XYZ?”, applicants find themselves staring back at the computer screen: I don’t know why. I just like it. Isn’t that enough? No, it’s not. Going to college is not exactly like eating pepperoni pizza. So what exactly are colleges looking for in applicant responses? It’s easier than you think and only involves 2 steps. Let’s break it down.

What is a good GPA? Well, it’s subjective.

I won’t beat around the bush. A good GPA is a 4.0 unweighted with all honors and AP/IB classes. But that’s irrelevant to most of us who aren’t picture perfect. A good GPA doesn’t matter. What matters more is having a GPA that colleges like. This week, we explore why a 3.6 gets you admitted into Washington State but rejected from Berkeley — and all the implications of your GPA.