Many Close Calls. Choice-making Assistance Needed

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Discus: College Search and Selection: September 2003 Archive: Many Close Calls. Choice-making Assistance Needed
By Toeleightoe (Toeleightoe) on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 12:33 pm: Edit

I (obviously) need some help with a few college decisions, but there are a few extenuating circumstances, so PLEASE consider the following information with your response(s):

I'm a Sophomore in High School, but I've also been doing some high-level research in Astrophysics and Cosmology. I've published 3 papers in various journals, most notably Scientific American (the latest of them). The most recent paper inspired my main mentor to do some work which puts him in the running for next year's Nobel Prize. I've got a 3.9 from a top-5 (nationally) Private School, and have been heavily recruited by MIT, Yale and Stanford (though MIT was the only one that seemed really serious). All 3 have given me unconditional offers, if I want to go there next year (as has NYU). I took Graduates' School courses at NYU in Mathematics last year, and plan to do the same this year. I'm in honors English and History, as well as College Physics (at Columbia).

Basically, it's a situation which I'm happy (happy? THRILLED!) to find myself in, but leaves me with a few major decisions:

#1: Do I decide to stay in High School, or should I take the jump right away?

#2: If I go straight to College, where do I go? Do I choose a well-rounded school, or do I go with a Math-and-Science school? Where would I get more research funding?

#3: If I stay in High School, how do I stay on the radar screens of these (and other) Universities? Will my continued work be enough to sustain my position?

I really appreciate the help.

By Toeleightoe (Toeleightoe) on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 05:26 pm: Edit

Sorry, I really need advice soon, so I'm bumping this. I know it's annoying, and I apologize.

By Adxj220 (Adxj220) on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 11:01 pm: Edit

Wow, I've never met a highschooler who's inspired nobel worthy work! With your accomplishments, definately talk to the departments at these schools about research you can participate in. if they're actually recruiting you for your research, I'm sure college can only broaden your horizons. At your level, I'd reccomend MIT. They have tons of science related research going on there. I'd go to college only if you confirm beforehand (talk to professors in your area of interest) that you can keep doin'what you're doing. Only thing is if you want to be around people your age...only you can decide if you're ready to go socially. You might also enquire about some sort of deferred enrollment possibility...

By Toeleightoe (Toeleightoe) on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 04:08 am: Edit

Thanks for the tips (and compliments, my head is growing by the minute), adxj, but I have a few questions about that:

1. How do I talk to the departements? So far, it's just been them telling me "We think you could do great things at [insert school here], and if you want to come, we're here to help." I don't really feel comfortable grilling them as though they're second rate institutions that need to prove their merit to me.

2. What IS deferred enrollment, and how do I do it?

By Stephenpmi (Stephenpmi) on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 10:39 am: Edit

2. Deferred enrollment is when you commit to a particular school, but request that your enrollment be deferred by (usually) one year.

By Shennie (Shennie) on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 10:37 pm: Edit

Toel: I don't think you need to feel like you are grilling them. Think of it more like going out on a first date. They are obviously interested in you but you won't know if you are interested in them if you don't talk to them first. Find out who you would be working with as a mentor. What kind of research could you do at each school? What kind of financial support are they talking about? Take a parent with you. It is OK to have your mom or dad help you ask the hard questions, but you really need to know what kind of experience you would have before making this jump. The schools will not mind you asking the questions at all. In fact, they will probably expect it.

By Toeleightoe (Toeleightoe) on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 05:05 pm: Edit

Thanks a lot, just a few more clarifications needed:

#1: What if they refuse to give me deferred enrollment?
#2: What if they don't know who I'd be working with as a mentor? The talk so far has been that I wouldn't have a mentor for the first year, and would instead have a lightened course load to allow me to do some basic research (and the like) during my spare time (as I've been doing now, though I've been working with a few people over the summer) and then have a mentor for my second year. Would you reccomend that I push for them to get me one a year early?
#3: Is it really appropriate to ask them how much money they're willing to cough up? (That's not in reference to financial aid, but rather to research funding).

The last few questions are best put in paragraph form, if you don't mind:

My parents are involved (financially) at Yale (there's a building named after them), and I wasn't planning on including that in the information, but it seems like it can't be avoided. First of all, the admissions office hasn't made the connection yet, but I doubt that's going to last. Do I mention that to them, or do I let them find out? How does that effect my decision? (Do I take it into account and does it help or hurt my desire to go there?) My parents are against me going anywhere but Yale. What do I do about that?

I appreciate any help you can give.

By Toeleightoe (Toeleightoe) on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 05:09 pm: Edit

Bump. Sorry.

By Misterbobbit (Misterbobbit) on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 08:37 pm: Edit


1. High school (for many) can be a very, very fun experience. You've probably got some very exciting events coming up for you, including Senior and Junior proms (if you're into those). Perhaps you'd like to stay and experience these unique events?

The second question I think you need to ask yourself is, "Am I ready for college?" i.e. Are you ready to leave home and travel to a place full of strangers, where you'll have to rely on yourself? I know a few years ago I definately wasn't and got terribly homesick when I went overnight somewhere where I didn't know anyone and didn't have any friends.

2. My recommendation would be for MIT if you wanted research funding. (In case you're interested in business and business management, MIT also has a great Business school). MIT's UROP program allows you to work with grad, post-doc, and professors on their research. I've talked to a chair chem-E professor and he said that most UROP programs may be menial, but with a great proposal you may receive UROP funding, and perhaps even invited back for summer work if the professor likes you.

3. I don't really have an answer for this. But in my opinion, if the schools are recruiting you, they're not going to forget you in two years. You already have a very impressive profile and it can only get better.

Hope these opinions help.

By Mike (Mike) on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 01:05 pm: Edit

If I or Mike were you my advice would be if you are enjoying High school stay and if not go. Some kids do better with a more mature peer group.

Mike did not have a great time in grade school with peers. A thearpist friend told me to relax that HS would go much better and he might do best in college. He was right Mike looks forward to going to HS as opposed to dreading grade.

Mike's Dad

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