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Discus: What Are My Chances?: February 2003 Archive: How??
By Haithman (Haithman) on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 09:14 pm: Edit

Hi iam a highschool freshman from the subarbs of baltimore maryland.
my first quarter grades were Biology-A, Govt.-A, Phys. Ed.- A and Keyboarding and apps-A
My second quarter grades were, Biology-C, Govt-C, Phys Ed. A, and Keyborading and apps- A
Last week i finally realised that i wanted to take my school-work extremely seriously. Therefore i knew that i wanted to get into an Ivy-League school.
I just wanted to know how and what i could do to get in, for example what classes, and especially the extracurriculars that i have never even heard about, how can i learn more about those?
i haven't taken the SAT's yet and only have one extracurricular activity that i am exceptionally good at and that is Vasristy Men's Soccer.
I also feel that i am gifted with using computers and am considering taking certain computer classes at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) which is in close proximity to my home.
The rundown of classes that i will take next year are (are not written in stone therefore can be changed). Chemistry Honors, World History Honors, Algebra II, and English honors.
Sorry for all of the questions but I really need help in choosing my classes and EC's if i want to get into a Ivy League mainly Yale, and Dartmouth, or possibly Carneigie Mellon.
Is it too late to turn my ways around or do i still have time to get into an Ivy?
Thank you for taking the time and reading this post.

By Dadster on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 09:34 pm: Edit

Haithman, being a freshman leaves you plenty of time to demonstrate your ability. Princeton, for example, ignores freshman year. Other elites don't ignore it but subjectively look at the trend in your performance.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of other great schools - the Ivies are fine, but other colleges offer great, or even superior, opportunities. CMU is one example, but there are fine liberal arts colleges, outstanding public universities, etc. Good luck!

By Haithman (Haithman) on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 10:40 pm: Edit

yea i was reading about the EC's other people were doing and i can't even understand them, that lowers my hopes, iam intelligent but i don't know how i should go about learning about and participating in those activites.
My school is also not the place to go and find "scholars" most of the people that go there are from "blue" collar famalies and do not really value an education and this scares me because maybe an institution will look at the schools rank and students only to reject me.

By itsok on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 12:56 pm: Edit

no not really, i wouldnt think so anyway. if that was the case they would be rejecting all the international applicants ever from schools that they have never heard of. Dont worry about it so much. Give it ur best shot. Its a trick that always works out.

By aw on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 07:18 pm: Edit

Haithman, Haithman, Haithman, get hold of yourself. You sound like a person of determination and strength. Don't look at what a bunch of other kids are doing and lose your nerve. Most of those kids are coming from a different socio-economic situation. Their EC's apply to them. Do not try to copy them. You are coming from a completely different situation. Here is my advice to you:

1. Take the hardest courses your school offers. Your counselor should help you with this. Tell him/her your college goals. You'll be taking courses with basic sounding names: English, American History, Chemistry, Trigonometry. I say this because some kids get sucked into the pre-med, pre-law sounding courses with fancy names, when in fact these courses are more vocational (i.e. helpful only if you are NOT going to college and are instead going to be an EMT, legal secretary, etc). You need to be taking the college preparatory courses. I suggest English courses for most of your electives--or courses where you do lots of writing and reading.

2. Don't sit around idly this summer. Get a job (doesn't need to be a fancy job; if you have significant childcare responsibilities at home, that counts as a job) or do something academic (ask counselor about programs available in your area). And start studying for your SATs. Put in an hour or two a week. We use CRACKING THE SAT by the Princeton Review. You can get it at the bookstore. Has lots of practice tests. You are starting early, so take it slow. Don't panic that you don't know many answers. Math section will require knowledge of trigonometry for some answers. Again, you are starting early, so no pressure. Just do what you can. How do you eat an elephant? Lots of small bites.

3. Your EC's from here on in should reflect what you like to do and what you HAVE to do. If you have to work, no problem. A job is ALWAYS a good extracurricular activity. It might even be the best extracurricular activity. I love a kid with a job. But if you like sports, then play sports. If you like rockets, then do rockets. What is most important about EC's is that you show commitment and depth. You are WAAAAAYY better off having two or three activities that you do well and often than a silly long list that makes it look like you've spent four years running around like a chicken with its head chopped off. Most of the kids I interview have lists that are too long.

Above all, you should know that getting into a top college isn't about tricks. Some people think it is, but they are mistaken.

By aw on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 09:26 pm: Edit

Haithman, made special trip back to computer because I forgot to tell you one more thing: Read. Read as many books as you can get your hands on.

By Haithman (Haithman) on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 02:27 pm: Edit

thank you for all of the reply's
does anyone else have any ideas of what i could do?

By Haithman (Haithman) on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 02:36 pm: Edit


By Amom on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 06:41 pm: Edit

Haithman; aw gave you excellent advise. I can only add the following:

In addition to depth and concentrating on your strength's/preferences in EC's, attempt to produce a theme which demonstrates consistency. For Ex: My son, who was just accepted ED to an Ivy, likes French. He, spent a summer in France, took the most advanced courses possible in French, currently takes french at the local university having gone beyond the level offered at high school and emphasized in his app his intention to study in France as a Junior. Another example: He likes debate, so in addition to being a 4 year member of the mock trail team (Co-Captain for 2), he took a debate course during the summer and emphasized in his app that he is likely to pursue a career in law. A third example: He is motivated by environmental concerns, so he spent second semester junior year at an environmental based program, is taking AP Environmental Science as a Senior and volunteered(over 100 hours) at the local Audobon as an environmental education assistant during the summer before his senior year. These are three examples of theme. Its not important to pour money into the commitment, just try to carry the theme through a number of different activities, so that you "present yourself" as a particular type - it doesn't matter what type!

Also aw could not have been more to the point when (s)he told you to always take the hardest courses available. Not only will you learn more and test better, your counselors and recommenders will surely note this academic committment in their recs which are EXTREMELY important. This is probably the one MOST important point. ALWAYS take the hardest course load. Double up on a dicipline that you are good at: for example take double math, or double science during one preferably two years of HS. This will catch the adcom's attention.

Working is great. Many applicants pursue expensive summer acitivities which, while educational, are quite common. Adcoms like to see an applicant's committment to good old sweat labor. A recommendation from an employer is also great to add to the application, assuming that the recommendation is outstanding, because it gives a different perspective on you.

One last point - make an effort to get to know a few teachers very well starting your junior year. You will need outstanding recommendations for elite schools and knowing a teacher well will help. I'm not talking brown nosing for the sake of a good rec - tachers will smell this a mile away. But a genuine rapport with a teacher who knows your work ethic will be extremely advantageous. The teacher recs, however have to be from junior or senior year. If you plan on applying ED you will need those recs from junior teachers.

Good Luck.

By stress on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 07:20 pm: Edit

your freshman year means either nothing or next to nothing at most schools. just work hard and raise your grades over time. you'll be fine. don't stress!

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