Scheduling advice needed! EC leadership vs. Rigor!!

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Scheduling advice needed! EC leadership vs. Rigor!!
By Z00b (Z00b) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 10:40 pm: Edit

As usual, it appears that the overly complex scheduling mechanism at my school has taken the parts, blended them together, and spit out something that is quite unlike what I had expected. Rather than bore you with the technical details, I present my problem:

I've been actively involved in the school newspaper for three years, now going into my senior year. Last year I had to fight to be able to take the course independent study, working with teacher in a time other than when the class meets. This year, I was one of two candidates suggested for (co)editor-in-chief.

Newspaper isn't in my schedule. To add it, I have to sacrifice IB Physics I and II. Spanish V is also sacked for French 1. IB Psych can no longer be taken. This would leave me with Bio, two years of chem, and a year of physical science as my only sciences. This seems like a huge sacrifice.... I would no longer be able to complete the IB diploma either.

My question is.... is it worth it? Do colleges really value "leadership" as highly as these forums suggest? Will the tradeoff be too great?

I'm fairly active in school organizations.... 3 years quiz team, 4 years speech/debate 4 years business club, varsity sport... but may only have a "leadership position" or two, as club president, in one of these activites and/or team captain. I've won numerous awards at the state level in all of these, and am quite dedicated to them. I am, however, in an official "leadership position" of a small club (Ping pong) though I sure hope colleges don't base their reviews on this facet.

I think I can continue to write and actively contribute to the paper after school, through an independent study etc, but without the possibility of a "leadership position." Pardon my cynicism.

If I don't add newspaper, I have IB English, IB Physics I and II, IB Bio I, IB Psych, Spanish V, IB World History and maybe some nice art classes.

Also, regarding math courses, I've already maxed out the math curriculum at my school (Calc I is the most advanced course). However, I don't consider myself a "math person." Many of the schools I'm looking at strongly encourage 4 years of math. Should I actively be looking for online/college courses? Will they understand that my peers will have completed the same curriculum I have, but will have simply earned one more credit b/c they took Geometry in high school instead of middle school?

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 01:07 am: Edit

Adding your stats and some of the schools you are interested in would help responses.

My gut feel is complete the IB program and write some good stuff for the paper after school. Your math situation isn't a problem, but won't be a plus if you are planning an engineering or science degree at a highly selective school. If you plan a science major, I guess I would definitely sacrifice the paper course for Physics.

By Z00b (Z00b) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 01:32 am: Edit

4.0UW 1 of 430ish 1490(780V) 800 us history 770 chem 760 math iic 760 writing

Looking into selective schools in the mid-atlantic/Northeast, including Swarthmore, Penn,Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Yale, Tufts, Georgetown. Also, UC's out of state, Michigan Pomona, Stanford, etc.

Poli Sci/Econ/Business/International Relations major

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 02:15 am: Edit

Z00b, congrats on your fine record. Given the little that you shared, even without the editor position, you are a good candidate for those colleges, though nobody is a sure thing at highly selective schools. But you have a decent chance. I have a daughter with similar "stats" and several of those schools were on her list and she got into some of them as well.

Onto your questions. My thought is that it is not worth the sacrifice in your coursework to do the newspaper group class just to be co-editor. More important will be the rigor of your courseload, than one leadership position. And in this case, you had to give up your IB diploma, fifth year in a language and science, way too great of a difference from what you would take otherwise and in fact, matters more in the scheme of things, since obviously academics are important. As far as newspaper, I see it as that you can still continue with that EC (so that looks good, long term committment, etc.) but just not be editor. When you annotate your "resume", you can mention that while you had an opportunity to be co-editor, it conflicted with your other courses in your schedule and you opted to take the more demanding courseload. Meanwhile, you could pursue something else this year with journalism such as submit articles to your local paper or something like that, which shows initiative and then in the annotation, mention that you opted to pursue further challenge that way, since you could not be in the group meetings at school.

My D also exhausted the math curriculum in 11th grade with AP Calculus. Normally, accelerated kids at our school, get that in 12th grade. Since she is strong at math and did not want to do no math for a year (and it relates some to her possible college major of architecture), she chose to do a long distance online math course through Johns Hopkins, but scheduled a period each day at school, for the most part, to work on it and got high school credit and it is on her transcript as well. Things like that show the college that you found ways to challenge yourself beyond what is offered at your school. If you are thinking of going into anything that uses math, it might be a good idea. She actually now placed out of a few math courses in college so that she could take some courses in things like engineering or physics that had those math courses as prerequisites. That is a nice upshot too. If you are not pursuing anything related to math, it might be ok if you do not do math this year. Your curriculum at your school, being IB and all, already looks good to colleges. We do not have IB here, nor tons of AP courses, so I think her going beyond what we have (did this in a few areas) was viewed positively. That is not as much an issue in your case, however.

Again, I would opt for the more rigorous courseload and find ways to keep doing journalism activities through indep. study and various other things like your local paper. Achievement in an EC need not be a "title". Getting published in your local paper might be just as much an achievement than the title of a position. I can think of achievements or leadership things my kids have done that did not necessarily have a title attached. So, do not get too caught up on "editor" or bust.

You're doing great. Good luck!


By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 01:13 pm: Edit

I also think you should stick with your studies. I've heard 'your hs transscript is the most important factor..." at more info sessions than I can to think about. You don't have any holes in your transcript, GPA, SAT's or class rank. You do plenty of interesting things, and should be capable of producing a compelling essay. Congrats - in advance - on your IB diploma. That is a worthwhile accomplishment in and of itself.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 01:23 pm: Edit

Agreed that the transcript is the most important thing, especially since you have other impressive ECs, including state level awards. Instead of being editor, can you write a column and include some clippings with your app? I would also ask your GC to mention in the rec that you were invited to be co-editor but chose instead to stick with this rigorous courseload because of scheduling conflicts.

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