Non trad needs help!

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: March 2003 Archive: Non trad needs help!
By Movingonup (Movingonup) on Sunday, March 23, 2003 - 12:36 am: Edit

To make a terribly long story short, I did not do as well as I could in high school (I graduated with honors in 1997 from a competitive public high school) because I was horribly bullied and suicidal a lot. I always wanted to go to college but lost the courage after years of being told by peers (and some teachers) what a loser I was. I am a member of Mensa, thanks to an IQ test in elementary school. I want to go to one of the following schools but do not know how to prove I can. Any tips are welcomed. Below are my overall stats. I always took honors courses and had dozens of ECs. I have also worked as a professional writer.


Algebra I C, B
English B, A
Religion B, B
Spanish I B, B
World Hist. C, C
Health, P.E. A, B
Earth Science C, C


English A, A
Religion A, A
Journalism I A, A
Keyboarding A
Computer Sci. A
Biology C, B


English C, A
U.S. Hist. C, B
Oceanography B, B
Psychology C
Sociology B
Journalism II B, A


English C, C
Government B, B
Chorale A, B
Journalism 3 B, B
Geometry A, A
Business Math A, A
Psychology D

My high school GPA ended up being about 3.3. It was not nearly what I was capable of. My guidance counselors told me I was too stupid to go to college and not to bother trying to take higher language, math, science, etc. I am by no means stupid. I fell through the cracks, and was in too much personal pain to do my own research.

Some of my ECs are (I can't remember them all)

Habitat for Humanity
Girl Scouts
Newspaper editor
Yearbook editor
Literary Magazine
president of Library Club
hundreds of hours of volunteering at museums, youth service programs
Writing for local newspapers.
Who's Who all the way through high school.
co captain of Debate Team
Model United Nations
Future Educators of America
Science Club
Drama Club
Key Club
Principal's Advisory Committee
Student Ambassadors
School Safety Committee secretary
Local rec center teen planning committee secretary

SATs were not too good.

1st try, 1996.

Verbal: 560
Math: 480

2nd try, 1997.

Verbal: 600
Math: 480


Literature: 540
Writing: 590
U.S. Hist: 500

Now, some of you may laugh, but I want to go to one of the following schools:

UC Santa Cruz
UC Santa Barbara
Mt. Holyoke

Wellesley, Brown, Smith, Mt. Holyoke all have programs for non traditional students who are evaluated by different though stringent standards.

I live in California now. As some of you probably know, the UCs give preference to California residents coming from community colleges, then state schools.

I figure on this mixed up grade report, I have a few options:

1) Go to Princeton Review. Retake the SATs.
2) Take summer school and extension classes at the UCs, Ivies.
3) Go straight to community college without passing go.
4) Try to go to a CSU and transfer.
5) Retake the SATs and BEG.

I have no idea what to do. If anyone has the slightest clue how I can make my academic picture better and how to get a good education, please let me know. I am afraid if I get A's at a community college the Ivies will not really take it seriously.

If you read all this, thanks.

By Hildegard (Hildegard) on Sunday, March 23, 2003 - 12:48 am: Edit

Hey Movingonup,

If I were you, I would send my applications while enrolling at a community college. If you get into any-- great. If not, try to transfer from the community college.

I know of several people who have gone to Ivies and top schools from community colleges; people who are very much in your situation. Their high school grades weren't great, but they got very good grades at the community college (3.5+), did extracurriculars, and got good references.

I know of a girl who began at a community college at age 27, did two years getting a 3.9gpa, and a 1320 SATI, and then got into Yale and did pretty well.

On another note: I find it shocking that your high school counselors told you that you were stupid! Why would they do that? I cannot believe people in high school would be capable of such a thing.

I guess you need to write about your situation in your essay when you send your applications and explain why you have been out of college for so long. I would not mention the suicidal part because that can scare the admissions officers off. But by all means explain what the circumstances were during your high school years.

Do retake the SAT. You still have time to improve it, and that can help.

Well, good luck and write back. Let us know what you decide, and don't give up, you don't have to be perfect to get into a decent school. Especially if you have overcome adversity and are motivated to achieve, you have a great chance.

By Pjk (Pjk) on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 03:17 am: Edit

Don't get hung up on going to a "name brand" school. There are plenty of excellent colleges out there who would take you in a heartbeat. I had a high school GPA under 2.5, a relative dearth of activities, and a good-but-not-great SAT score, and I got into an obscure but very respectable liberal arts college.

I'm hardly alone at my school, either: both of my closest friends are high-school dropouts with GED's. One is doing a year abroad at Oxford and planning on applying to elite grad school programs, and the other is a transfer from another small but very respectable liberal arts college, and he will no doubt be doing good work in grad school as well.

It's certainly possible to go from community college to the Ivies or the equivalent, but at the same time, a person with brains and ambition (both of which you seem to have, at first glance) can get an excellent education at a lot of places besides Harvard and Stanford and Brown.

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