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What are my chances of getting in vs. my friends' chances?

QUESTION: My two friends and I are applying to Duke. I have a 4.25 GPA and better SAT scores than both. My extracurriculars are tennis, student council, volunteer work, and much more. One of my friends has a 4.35 GPA and equivalent activities. The other has a lower GPA and SAT scores than both of us with the same amount of activities but her dad is on the alumni board. What are my chances of getting in over them? Signed, Friendly Competition

Dear Friendly Competition: Let’s take a look outside of the friendly competition that is going on between you and your two buddies and see the bigger picture. We don’t mean to scare you, but in addition to your two friends, there will probably be over 13,000 additional applicants to Duke. What’s more important than how you stack up against your two peers is how you compare to these thousands of students from across the country. Your grades and SAT scores point to the fact that you’ve dedicated yourself to academics, which is the most important factor in admissions. It also appears that you’ve been highly involved in a number of extracurricular activities, another plus. We don’t know much about your friends’ backgrounds and we can’t predict the future, but with a strong application, essays, and recommendation letters, we think you have a high chance of getting into very selective schools like Duke. Spend time on your applications, write a powerful essay, and keep up the good work.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.