Girl Accepted By Yale And Columbia Despite Only Having A 3.8 GPA Had One Thing On Her Application No One Else Did

It just goes to show how skewed towards the privileged the college admissions process really is.

young woman accepted into college XiFotos, YinYang, FrozenShutter / Canva

At this point, most of us are aware that the college admissions process is arbitrary, inequitable and most inscrutable — and it only gets worse when you start talking about the Ivy League.

But one recent student's admission story underlines just how wildly unfair that process really is, and how privilege and access to elite influence can open doors for some people that would remain firmly shut to nearly everyone else.


A girl was accepted by the Ivy League with a 3.8 GPA because she had one extra credential most kids have no access to.

Every year, it seems to become harder and harder to get into college in the US, in part because more students are choosing to go to college than ever before.

According to data collected by Common App, college applications surged 21% from 2019 to 2022, even as college enrollment itself dropped by the largest amount since 1951. This is in part because students are applying to far more schools now, because it's become so hard to get accepted.

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This has resulted in myriad stories of over-qualified kids getting rejected from not only top-tier schools but second-tier ones too while the privileged get admitted with comparatively subpar credentials.

TikToker @limmytalks uses his platform to demystify this process and help students navigate the thorny journey of applying to colleges. And a recent video he made about a young woman with a 3.8 GPA who was accepted by top Ivy League schools underlines just how stacked the odds really are when it comes to college admissions.

The girl was accepted to Columbia and Yale with a 3.8 because she had a letter of recommendation from her country's president. 

Well that's certainly one way to stand out, isn't it? And from the sounds of it, she needed it. Her respectable 3.8 GPA is of course much lower than the typical 4.0 or above usually needed to attend an Ivy League institution, and her SAT score of 1390 is below what Ivies typically consider viable.



This girl is no slouch academically, obviously — a 3.8 and a 1390 are far from mediocre. Limmy also revealed she is also the winner of "multiple national debate championships," holds an international title in chess, and has raised thousands of dollars for cancer charities.


Still, with constant stories of kids with scores that are orders of magnitude higher than that routinely getting rejected, it doesn't quite add up. "You might be wondering, how do I get into Yale?" Limmy said in his video. "Here's one thing I can tell you: get a recommendation letter from your country's president."

Oh, is that all it takes? It should go without saying that almost nobody has the option of getting that kind of vote of confidence to grease the wheels on their college application. It's pretty much only the most elite of elite kids who know their country's president. Sure, maybe her dad is the president's janitor or something but... well, this isn't a movie, so that's probably not the case.

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Studies say the influence of privilege on college admissions is only getting worse, especially following recent Supreme Court decisions.

According to a 2023 study by Harvard-affiliated Opportunity Insights, the so-called "Ivy-Plus" schools, which include the Ivy League universities along with Duke, Stanford, the University of Chicago and MIT, are more than twice as likely to admit a student from a wealthy background than lower- or middle-class students. 


The study found that this is because of the usual suspects like legacy admissions, as well as how certain non-academic credentials are evaluated in ways that tend to favor rich students, and factors like athletic recruitment, which also tend to disproportionately favor wealthy kids. 

The situation is expected to only worsen given the Supreme Court's decision in the summer of 2023 to hobble affirmative action practices in college admissions that helped to level the playing field for students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. However, some institutions like Wesleyan University have sought to counterweight this by abolishing legacy admissions altogether.

Here's hoping more follow suit, especially since Opportunity Insights' study found that it is most often privilege and privilege alone greasing the wheels for these students. They found that legacy students were no more likely to be admitted to other universities where their legacy holds no sway, "indicating that they do not have stronger overall credentials."


In closing his video, Limmy advised his followers to not let the story of this girl and her presidential recommendation make them "[feel] anxious about the fact that you might not get into a good school," urging them to "just be patient and trust the process." But until more institutions make a concerted effort to change their admissions process like Wesleyan has, that's a pretty big ask.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.