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Hi I'm new I guess (and very confused)

BohseonBohseon Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
Every forum has it's ins and outs, what to do and what not to do. Assuming I'm following the basic expectations of being civilly-mannered,
Hi, I'm a skinny asian rising Freshman acne ridden kid who has no idea what's going on.
Last month, my very proud and dare-I-say overconfident parents brought me to a tour to 3 different Ivy League Universities (Princeton, Yale, UPenn). Before then, I never thought about college just like any other mindless middle schooler/freshman, but this sudden amount pressure and previously not-known information (including several abbreviations), all leading up to my future college path.
I come from a community where Asians happen to be the majority of demographics in my county, which happens to be in Virginia (I'm assuming y'all know where I'm talking about), where it's quite common to see skinny acne ridden asian kids like me stress over SAT scores and Ivy League schools during high school (or so I thought we were the only special nerds). This all changed when I saw people from college tours and the College Confidential community, to see that alot of people here have seriously impressive ECs, leaderships in Model UN, NHS, and alot of very intimidating, yet impressive stuff.
With that being said, my parents told me to not worry about it, considering I haven't even entered high school yet, which these long 4 years would ultimately be the largest factor in shaping my college path. Previously, I would think that one or two leadership positions, volunteering at churches, and maybe a successful audition in a major arts group would almost automatically land you in some prestigious Ivy League school as long as you had killer SAT scores and a good GPA, in which I later found out after a long time of looking at University Acceptance result threads.
On the topic of my major, or the general direction of my education after high school, my family has a peculiar history of education amongst the stereotypical strict "You need to be doctor" asian family (which is surprisingly very common where alot of my friend's future decisions are almost completely influenced by their parents), my dad was a computer software engineer and my mother was an opera singer (no doctors or lawyers here y'all). My parents were very lenient in the topic of choosing my career. But when I visited my grandparents in Korea, my grandfather said "The Park family must and always persevere in math!", which actually pissed off my mother, with my mom lecturing me the very next day on why math isn't everything. And surprisingly, math isn't my "favorite" subject (although I'm told to say that I "LOVE math" when an elderly person asks me what my favorite subject is) just like everyone else. It's actually towards the side of Civics, politics, law, etc. My parents were very glad to hear that their son wasn't interested in something like music, and would rather have their son become a lawyer rather than some kind of starving musician. After hearing that, I googled hundreds of times (in which I'm not saying this in a hyperbolic manner), on the "Top schools for Law", only to find out Law schools were for people who finished being an undergrad (you can see I have a pattern of literally knowing nothing about the ins and outs of Universities). So I turned to the next best thing for an undergrad for me, which was political science. After being told I was forbidden to be interested in schools anymore further than Michigan, I settled on places like Georgetown. My parents were very discouraged to see me "underestimate his ability and his potential" and suggested me schools like Princeton, Harvard, or Yale. This confusion plagued me for the next month, asking if my parents really thought I had potential, or were the stereotypical parents who think their kid can do everything and complain to the teacher to give him better grades.

So yea, that's my very short story so far, feel free to ask me any questions! Sorry if this was very confusing itself, as I tend to get off topic sometimes.
(All credible information is greatly appreciated)
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Replies to: Hi I'm new I guess (and very confused)

  • philbegasphilbegas Registered User Posts: 2,895 Senior Member
    #1: Aside from trying to do well in school and have fun with your ECs, try not to worry too much quite yet about the exact colleges you're going to apply to.

    #2: Also, make sure your parents understand that even perfect 4.0 students get rejected from Ivy Leagues, so you need to have a good balance of easy, reasonable, and difficult schools to apply to.

    #3: Make sure they keep in mind how much college costs. The COA for schools like Ivies is well over 60,000 a year.
  • koreanstudentkoreanstudent Registered User Posts: 185 Junior Member
    I hope you don't feel pressured to go into the law field just because you don't want to disappoint your parents. That being said, you do not have to major in anything related to law or politics to go to law school after graduation. You could literally major in biology and still go to law school and become a lawyer.

    Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are obviously excellent schools, but asian parents tend to focus on only the "Big-Name" schools like the Ivies. I know this too well because I too am asian and grew up in Korea. The whole "Ivy or Die" attitude that a lot of asian parents have is because they haven't done much research on colleges yet. Doing some research with them and making a college list together might help them realize how many other excellent schools are out there. Georgetown is not an Ivy, but its international relations or politics programs are just as prestigious as any Ivy League school's, and it has the added benefit of being located in the heart of the US political mecca. Cornell is an Ivy, and it is higher ranked than Georgetown, but it's not known for its politics program and it's not in a location convenient for political internships. As you can see, many schools have their pros and cons and each student feels differently about each school. Even if two kids with the exact same grades and major got into Johns Hopkins, one of them might be perfectly happy there while the other one doesn't like it there at all and decides to transfer out later. It's all about personal fit. You will gain some more insight on this as you go through high school and gain more insight and tour more schools.

    You are still barely going into freshman year and it is very early to be thinking too much about college. It should always be on the back of your mind, of course, but don't worry about making college lists yet and don't do extracurriculars just because you think it will help you gain admission to an Ivy. Do things because you think they will be fun and you want to do them. Get good grades and don't stress about Ivy Leage admissions until junior year. And... leave college confidential. Come back late junior year. This website will only give you anxiety and make you nervous. Good luck!
  • happy1happy1 Registered User Posts: 17,566 Senior Member
    edited July 25
    It is way too early to think about specific colleges (especially the hyper-competitive ones). You don't have a HS GPA and you have no standardized testing. Admission to Ivy colleges is generally under 10% and there is not enough room for colleges to accept all of the well qualified applicants. For this reason the top schools are a long-shot for any unhooked applicant.

    You and your parents need to recognize that the most successful HS students view HS as an experience in and of itself -- a time of learning and growth and not just a 4 year college application prep class. It is good to take school seriously and know that college will be on your horizon, but it is too early to start planning for specific colleges. I would highly recommend that you get off of CC until your junior year of HS.

    For now you should focus on:
    --Working hard, learning, and doing as well as you can in the most challenging curriculum you can manage.
    --When the time comes study for standardized tests.
    --Get involved in activities you care about and work towards making meaningful contributions to those activities.
    --Enjoying spending time with your family and friends.

    In your junior year of HS you should asses your academic stats (including GPA, standardized tests, course rigor) as well as your financial needs and apply to a wide range of reach, match, and safety schools that appear affordable (you will have to run a net price calculator for each school you consider) and that you would be happy to attend. You will need to expand your horizons and recognize that there are many wonderful schools out there where you can have a great 4 year experience and get where you want to go in life.
  • monydadmonydad Registered User Posts: 7,426 Senior Member
    edited July 25
  • BohseonBohseon Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Thanks for the considerate reply. If I forgot to make this clear in the original post, my parents are very very flexible and accepting compared to other parents nearby. They have indeed confirmed they have no intention to pressure me into getting into Ivy schools, nor will they be disappointed with the outcome (generally), they just think it's more convenient if it did indeed happen.

    As for college choices, I completely agree that it's too early to worry about these things, but I generally think it's good to sometimes keep in mind, but that's coming from a completely naive freshman. My middle school orch teacher, who happens to frequently give wise lessons on life, tells the dominantly asian school body that they should aim for the schools that fits one's passion, not for the popularity of the name itself. The reason why I did mention these Ivy League schools is because it doesn't hurt to reach as high as you can, especially when no definitive stats have been determined yet. High hopes are better than mediocre hopes.

    Thanks for the advice!
  • svlab112svlab112 Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    I'm glad to hear they are flexible and not myopic with their views. As a rising freshman, visiting 3 ivy leagues seems a bit contradictory to that statement. As a parent, it can be hard to find the balance between aiming high and tempering expectations.

    That being said, my younger S (now a senior) tagged along to lots of college visits and over the last several years, we would visit campuses if we found ourselves in the area. My advice would be to do the same.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 28,847 Senior Member
    Your parents probably just want you to at least have an idea of what is possible. I know one of my kids worked harder after an initial college visit (soph year for her) once she understood what colleges care about.

    You sound like you are pretty lucky that your parents aren't saying just one major or one school is best. And your orchestra teacher is right.

    Just a suggestion to make it easier for us to follow your posts, paragraph breaks are a great idea. :)
  • LeastComplicatedLeastComplicated Registered User Posts: 480 Member
    OP, I think you have a bright future ahead of you. For a freshman you are articulate and seem very likeable and genuine - I really enjoyed reading your post! But of course you don't know what's going on - you're a freshman! I think it's good that you are looking toward your future and asking questions - a lot of kids wait too long and end up not being well prepared when it comes time to start taking standardized tests and applying to colleges. However, I do agree with the others who have advised you to slow down a bit and put off worrying about WHERE you'll be going to college for another couple of years. You need to just concentrate on doing well in high school for now and thoughtfully develop a four year course plan that will prepare you well when that time comes. I think Happy1's advice is very good, but I would add that if you have any particular strengths and any inkling of your career goals, to be sure to take courses that align with those, and take electives in subjects that that spark your interest - that should help you get a grasp of what types of EC's that you might want to participate in. Also don't be shy - dive in and get involved in clubs and activities. My daughter is a rising junior in a county a bit south of you and she was kind of shy, overwhelmed, and intimidated for her first two years and didn't really take advantage of the EC opportunities that were available to her and I think she regrets it now - she realizes that she let her self consciousness get in the way of being more involved in her school community and that would have benefitted her socially.

    Good luck to you in high school!
  • VeryapparentVeryapparent Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    I loved your post. Consider writing as a career.
  • websensationwebsensation Registered User Posts: 912 Member
    You may not be aware but you write extremely well especially for a freshman. Just try to do some activities that develop self confidence and finding your interest. My kid felt lost and unmotivated as a freshman but kept on exposing himself to various activities until he found his interest area -- and voila, he got into Stanford REA. Try to look outside high school activities if necessary. Be creative.
  • techmom99techmom99 Registered User Posts: 1,748 Senior Member
    I agree that you write well. You might want to consider joining the school newspaper or literary magazine as an EC. The school paper was my EC and my original college major was journalism. I was also told that I should love math and do mathy things. I rebelled and deliberately did poorly in math - that is not a path I recommend to anyone else.

    As for law, the up thread posters are correct that you can major in anything and become a lawyer. I was a poli sci major with a history minor, my H majored in psych. I have attorney friends who majored in the following: theater/acting, classical languages (this person went to Harvard Law), engineering, elementary education, international relations, accounting, history, english, and on and on.

    Right now, concentrate on enjoying HS and doing your best in classes. There is a college for everyone.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 2,368 Senior Member
    @Bohseon: You are a freshman. At this age many of your classmates already know what they want to do with their lives. In six months they will want to do something different, and in another year something different again. Your interests will change as you become aware of more of the many possibilities that exist, and as you get exposed to what it actually means to study "biology" or "physics" or "computer science" or "history" or something else.

    @philbegas has some good advice above. Have some fun in high school. Participate in ECs that are interesting to you. Pay attention in class and keep ahead in homework but don't stress out about being the top kid in the school. When the time comes to think about universities be aware that there are a LOT of very good universities in the US (hundreds of very good ones), and in the US you don't have to go to a very tippy top school to do very well in life.

    Many kids go to a good state university for undergrad, save a lot of money and get a great education. You have some VERY good ones in Virginia. After graduation some get jobs and some go to very good graduate schools and some go on to a very tippy top school for graduate school. I am pretty sure that when I was a graduate student at one of the tippy top schools there was a student in my program from UVA, and whether or not there was one or two from Virginia Tech was probably strictly a coincidence regarding who happened to apply that year and/or who I happened to know.

    You will have a lot of options and will do well. For now keep ahead in your classes and have some fun.
  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 2,232 Senior Member
    Even if math is not your favorite thing, four years of math looks very good for college admissions, so stick with it.

    Indeed, now is a great time to think about what your four years of high school classes will look like. There is a difference in the classes needed to apply to an Ivy versus a moderately competitive school versus a non competitive school.

    Here are some basic guidelines which work for a broad variety of future plans:

    Try to do four years of English and Math (your high school probably lays these out in tracks for you), three years each of the same foreign language, social studies (including US History for sure, other options include world history, ancient history, economics, etc.), and science (take bio, chem, and physics), and one year of fine arts (music or studio art, some schools offer more here than others).

    Use extra slots in your schedule for additional classes in your area of strength (so an extra year of science for STEM, an extra year of history for pre-law, etc) or to do electives that interest you or are required (many schools require a semester of health, for example).

  • BohseonBohseon Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    @websensation

    Haha thanks, I tend to be the one who likes to "overkill" in anything that includes writing, using somewhat "over-complicated" words and phrases, which tend to aggravate my peers, but enough of the egotistical "writing abilities" lmao

    On the topic regarding finding one's interest. Compared to other individuals who already wanna be a "astronaut" or "a video game designer", I do not currently have an extremely "compelling" interest that I want to devote my life to. I do play the violin, in which I'm slightly afraid to say that I play "fairly well", but based on the statistics, being first chair/top 3 chairs in middle school as well as playing in an arguably well known youth philharmonic orchestra, (again, my apologies for making it seem like I seem to be self-centered and indulging in self complimenting), it seems like I do not have a passion for it, even as far as that it feels like a chore bringing me down, especially due to somewhat high expectations among a very competitive group of Asians, letting several people down if something goes wrong, as my mother's side all went to prestigious schools as a music major (grandmother went to Seoul University). I'm not afraid to say that my family from Korea has been one of the "richer" ones, residing in the far upperclass of the economy in Korea. My grandparents both graduated from the number one university of Korea, my father graduated from the "Ivy Leagues" of Korea. This, in turn has put a very pressurized expectation on me, who happens to be the only child within the Korean family, the last one to bear the last name considering there are no other boys who happen to have that. As primitive as this sounds, alot of pride and pressure is placed on this matter. Recently, my grandfather promised to pay for my college education ONLY IF, I major in computer science or anything related to math, and was told that our family specializes in math, and strongly discouraged against things like politics or anything related to social studies (ironically, my grandfather himself, was a history teacher).

    With that being said, my parents are very compassionate in my freedom, even going as far to letting me choose something other than math. I do acknowledge that it's not the time to be deciding these things, as because of the fact that I'm still a freshman, but it's gonna come faster than one would expect. Several other Korean families in our church are already destined and ordered to focus on math, bringing the stereotypical "Asians must study" attitude with them (although it seems like a stereotype, this is actually very common where Korean highschoolers spend a large majority of their lives in extra-curricular schools). But with all that being said, my parents are beginning to encourage the path of technology, which genuinely scares me, due to the prediction that all this encouraging will suddenly be more aggressive, to the point of enforcing it in the future. But all that is just a scenario that the mind has created to scare itself.

    Lastly, on the topic of finding interests through after-school activities, I already planned what I would do once interest meetings start in a week, Key Club or NHS would be a definite yes, as well as Model UN, which I have done before, and probably something else to fill in on a Tuesday.

    Once again, my genuine apologies for making this painfully long, I do tend to have alot to say hehe.

    TDLR: Things are starting to look unsure.
  • BohseonBohseon Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    @techmom99

    Right now, concentrate on enjoying HS and doing your best in classes. There is a college for everyone.

    Thanks, I do consider to write and contribute to the school newspaper. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles that discourage me from doing so. This takes up a slot for class, and although one would just say to sacrifice an elective, looking at my four year plan, taking out either Latin or Orchestra would never be considered. Another reason why writing for the newspaper is unlikely is due to my "serious" and "boring" nature when writing, which does not appeal to the teen population within the school body, as for years, the newspaper only writes about new trends or football teams, as both do not appeal to me. Any attempt of me writing for the newspaper would be unpopular and discouraged by the staff and population, although it never hurts to give it a try, the risks are far too large and would as said before, be highly ineffective.

    As for law, I recently found out majors like International Relations or Political Science aren't the only ones that lead to a law path, but several other majors I would've never guessed actually lead to a path in Law, such as the ones that you listed.

    And yes, I'm currently enjoying HS and will do well (hopefully) in classes :)
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