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I'm considering sending a transfer application to Amherst. I'm debating whether I should bother; I would really appreciate it if you could go through my information - long as it is - and offer me your opinion. I'm from India and attend college there, but I lived in Saudi Arabia between the ages of seven and eighteen. I went to a small U.S. high school there that really didn't have much to offer in terms of academics and extracurricular activities, limited by its conservative location and meager funds. I have decent numbers and extracurricular achievements, but nothing stellar. I believe my reasons for seeking a transfer - my current college's lack of professionalism, organization, and academic freedom are strong.
SAT: 2300 (CR:780 M:720 W:800)
HS GPA: I honestly don't remember. I was valedictorian, with straight A's except for two A-'s in art and history, and one wretched very unfair B+ in technology.
College GPA: 71.5% (68% in one course and 75% on another). Three-quarters of the final percentage comes from the exam, while the rest comes from classwork. My grade, however, is tentative because the university screwed up our results. According to what I've heard, anything above 70% translates to a 4.00, but I'm not sure exactly how colleges in the U.S. will take it. I attend one of the most competitive liberal arts colleges in India; the highest score in class is 77%. I'm still trying to adjust to the Indian system; I went through a lot of emotional stress last term, largely due to the environment and the stark disparity between my college dreams and what I was forced to settle for.
Recommendations are going to be difficult because my teachers barely know me; neither does any college official. The relationship between teacher and pupil is quite weak in India. One professor knows I'm responsible and hardworking and that I write well. An assistant professor knows I'm involved on campus and in class; she also knows that I really like her. But that's it. And I have a feeling anyone I approach with the news that I want to transfer is going to be appalled because my college is very prestigious; no one would be able to fathom why I'd ever want to leave.
My principal extracurricular activities are writing and community service, especially environmental and animal activism. I rescue animals; I'm vegan. I spent many hours volunteering in high school as secretary of student government and as an English tutor. I also performed lead roles in a couple school productions. I served as captain for four varsity volleyball and badminton teams throughout high school, three of which placed first, second, or third in various intra-kingdom tournaments. At college, I'm the founding editor of a campus newspaper and class representative. I haven't won significant recognition for anything except high school academics and athletics; I was consistently on the High Honor Roll and received awards for leadership, Most Valuable Player, and Best Student Athlete.
The thing is, I entered my current college choosing to study English, but one semester later, I've figured out it's not what I want to major in. I'm desperate to study an environmental program like environmental studies; I would also love to take courses in creative/journalistic writing or communications. Unfortunately, at my current school, I have none of these options. I can't change my course of study; even if I could, it wouldn't make much of a difference because my college doesn't offer any of the programs I want. To complicate things further, students can't choose courses from varied academic spheres in the system here; we're given a focused one-track curriculum made up almost entirely and exclusively of required courses. I can only take seven courses this year, out of which six are part of the English discipline. Because of this, I'm worried that I won't be qualified enough to transfer to the environmental program, which inevitaby emphasizes science. Harvard, for instance, told me that the courses I've had to take may not be adequate, and would put me at a disadvantage unless I take S.A.T. tests in science and mathematics.
Phew! That is way too much writing, but I didn't know how else to get all that across. With all of my background considered, do you think I should apply? Would it better my chances to apply as an English major, after which, in the unlikely event of acceptance, I could switch to environmental studies when I get there? Thank you so much for your time and advice!