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Choose a university for me!

AmicusPlatoAmicusPlato Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
I'm Canadian and have my eyes fixed especially on American universities (though if you have some stellar recommendations regarding Canadian ones, I'm all ears). Up until a few months ago, I didn't think university out of the country was a viable option for me, so I hadn't given it any serious consideration. Now that I've started looking I feel rather overwhelmed due to the vast array of options present. I took the SAT with essay Dec. 2nd, and only have 7 (if I understood correctly) more days to utilize the four free SAT score submissions, so I need to decide soon which those are.

So, relevant details:
#1, I'm dead-set on majoring in philosophy, and have acquired something of an expertise in the field (I'd wager my knowledge is equivalent to a bachelor's degree, and suspect I could teach first/second year courses). I have extensive experience teaching philosophy, both online and through a youth group (the latter of which I've probably spent a thousand~ish hours with). That all provides me with great material for application essays.

#2, My school didn't offer AP classes, and didn't do class ranking, nor did it specify what my GPA was, but I think I was in the top 5 students, and the mean of my classes was 95% (so 4.0?). My teachers - especially my English teacher - were quite impressed with me, and I expect solid letters of recommendation from them. I'd like a school that's fairly selective so that I have better assurance that my peers will be academically inclined and rigorous.

#3, I don't know what my SAT score is, but my last practice test two on Khan Academy was 1320, and the real SAT felt even easier to me, so I think my score will be high 1300's. The English portion made up the bulk of my score, likely 760+, so my math was deficient, but long story short (was out of school for years, no easy way to study math) I think I can make a good case for why that shouldn't be held against me and why I can get my math up to par easily Essay went well, but I was tired (4 hours of sleep) and had a brain fart - I'm pretty sure I used a word incorrectly, thinking it had the opposite meaning.

#4, I'll need generous financial aid. My mom's disabled, hasn't worked for years, and can't really contribute anything.

#5, Beggars can't be choosers, so I'm not fussy; I don't care whether the campus is rural or urban, large or small, liberal or conservative, Christian or secular.

What four universities would you recommend? Also, would you advise trying to apply to more than four? If so, could you tell me a bit about the process of ordering more SAT score reports from the College Board?
Thanks in advance, I really appreciate any and all help, especially with the January 1st deadline fast approaching!

Replies to: Choose a university for me!

  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 38,213 Senior Member
    High 1300s isn't very good for what you want. Practice practice practice!
    Most Catholic colleges are good for Philosophy, so if you could get a higher score, I'd recommend Fordham and Holy Cross. St Olaf would be another one to look into.
    American, Bryn Mawr if you're a girl, Grinnell?
    St Michael's, UScranton as safeties?
    Honors Colleges that have generous merit aid would work... but there aren't any for 1300s.
    Basically, as an international who needs a full ride, all of this is a non starter if your score is in the 1300s.
  • boudersbouders Registered User Posts: 2,234 Senior Member
    I agree with the previous posters. Don't write an essay about how you could teach an undergraduate course. Just don't.

    Most schools in the US will take your inability to pay into consideration. It will count against you.

    U of T is excellent for philosophy. There's a wide range of courses. There's also quite a few majors that incorporate philosophy.

    You can always send your SAT scores after the 7 days, for a fee. Your major expense isn't going to be paying for the SAT scores, it's going to be paying for the applications. The Common App runs applications outside the US through a different company, which charges double what students in the US pay. My experience 2 years ago was that each application cost in the range of $100-$140 USD. It was highway robbery.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 38,213 Senior Member
    No, most international applications aren't more expensive than for US residents, except at highly demanded public universities. I agree that $100-140 per application is highway robbery and am wondering which universities you applied to, since I've only seen it practiced by so few. It was very unlucky.

    Anyway, if OP is lower income, s/he will check "application fee waiver due to economic circumstances", which will have to be verified by the GC. And then s/he won't have to pay for application fees (and of course there are lots of "free to apply" colleges).
    In addition, SAT scores should be listed and uploaded by the GC.

    Amherst would be a good college but the SAT would need +150 points.
  • boudersbouders Registered User Posts: 2,234 Senior Member
    @MYOS1634 She applied to about 10 colleges, some top 10, some top 50, one top 100. It didn't matter that she was a US citizen and had a US-issued credit card. In Canada, a GC wouldn't be able to verify economic circumstances nor would they have access to SAT/ACT scores. The GC at DD's Canadian high school could barely handle uploading the transcript. I had to contact her about that when it was overdue.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 4,377 Senior Member
    "Probably not the answer you are looking for but your best choices are likely to be in Canada. UofT, UBC, McGill, etc."

    I was going to suggest pretty much the same thing. Of course Canada is big and spread out. Thus which schools to recommend might depend upon where you are and where you want to be.

    Generally speaking, university in the US is very expensive for international students. There are a few that meet full need, but this is the need as interpreted by the school, which is not necessarily the same as need as interpreted by you or your parents. Also, the few universities in the US that do meet full need are very competitive, and 1320 is not going to be competitive for most of them. US companies hire people who have the legal right to work in the US, and getting a degree from a US school does not give you this right -- it is generally assumed that international students will return home after getting their degree. Canadian companies prefer to hire from Canadian universities. Also, if you are majoring in philosophy then you will need some sort of graduate degree, so using up your college money in undergraduate school is a very bad idea. Admission at schools in the US is very hard to predict. Admission at schools in Canada is largely based on stats and your GPA is likely to get you in anywhere in the country. Finally, there are many very excellent Canadian universities. We live in the US and both of my daughters were born in the US, but one is currently studying at a university in Canada because that is where a lot of great reasonably priced schools are.

    Definitely Toronto, McGill, UBC, Queens and McMaster are great options that are worth considering. If you want a small school then there are some very good ones in Eastern Canada such as Mount Allison, Acadia, and St Francis Xavier. Somewhere in the middle Trent and Lethbridge are very good. U.Victoria, Calgary, Western Ontario, and Waterloo are also good. There are a bunch more. I think that you should check out the philosophy programs at several of these.
  • AmicusPlatoAmicusPlato Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    @MYOS1634 You're right, high 1300's is low for what I want. I'll definitely spend some time over the next few months before starting university (whenever and wherever that'll be) practicing math, because I don't want to end up having to take math-based classes and absolutely hating my life or failing them because of a lack of proficiency. However, "practice" is pointless for college entry because the next SAT is March 10th, and by then the admission deadline to most (all?) American universities will be long past, and I *really* don't want to put off university for another year.

    I was hoping to avoid having to explain my circumstances, but to expand upon what I said initially, I didn't study math past the sixth grade. I entered grade twelve last last year to attain my high school diploma, and while I took some math then, it wasn't enough to make up for the years I missed. Considering my meager background in math prior to starting grade twelve, I was quite pleased with myself for achieving a 94% in physics, more pleased still to know that was higher than most of the other students in the class who not only took years of math before that, but 90% of them had taken grade twelve physics before and were merely retaking the class to upgrade their mark. Add to that the fact that most SAT scores are not as wildly asymmetric as mine; students typically do nearly as well on the EBRW as on the Math, and male students (of which I am one) especially tend to do better at the latter than the former. Am I really an unexplained oddity, cursed with an innate ineptitude for math? Doubtful; I excel at logic, and have what it takes to do well at math (the foundation of which is logic after all), and I don't find math to be particularly difficult honestly, it's just that I haven't familiarized myself with all the different equations and rules required for solving equations. What tripped me up on the SAT Math portions was lack of time; I'm good at solving puzzles, so even without being taught math formally, I can figure out much on my own, but it's a lengthy process. I know the SAT is meant to measure how prepared for university-level material one is, or how talented the student is, but taking the aforementioned facts into account, I think I can make it clear to the admissions committees of universities that I'm far from having realized my full potential, and can easily make up for what I lack before entering university. I apologize for the long-winded explanation, but I want to make it clear (not just to you) that I have reason for thinking I'm capable of more than might be first expected by a perusal of my SAT. I'm very grateful for your recommendations, thanks!
  • AmicusPlatoAmicusPlato Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    @porcupine98 Thanks for the reminder. I feel like I'll have to walk a thin line in my essays; I don't want to sound arrogant, but most people give the advice that you have to think of yourself as a product you're trying to sell to the university, and how am I to do that without some good advertising? Additionally, I've heard that universities like to see that you're passionate about a field and have some knowledge of your intended major before you begin classes. Further still, they'll want to see I haven't been wasting my time in frivolous pursuits, no? It should come as no surprise to them that someone who's been studying philosophy since they were fourteen should have acquired an extensive knowledge of it. Even better: I could assist my classmates when they take philosophy courses. Fortunately I do have two recommenders who can speak (to varying degrees) of my knowledge of the subject (useful because I didn't have the chance to take the SAT Subject Tests like I planned).
  • me29034me29034 Registered User Posts: 1,549 Senior Member
    What you should say us that you love philosophy and have studied it in your own for years, and that your favorite philosopher is X and tell why. Don’t say that you have an extensive knowledge of philosophy and can tutor people. Do you see the difference? One shows a passion, the other looks arrogant and ill informed about what studying in college is all about.

    On your math situation, it sounds like you may have a score in the high 500s. That isn’t terrible, but won’t be good enough for top rated schools which are the ones with the best financial aid. I know you say you have the ability and will pick it up but colleges expect you to arrive with a certain level of knowledge. They aren’t equipped to teach remedial math, even to someone who may catch on quick. That score will be a problem.

    I have to agree with others that you should probably just look at Canadian schools.
  • AmicusPlatoAmicusPlato Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    @me29034 Yes, I see the difference, I'll keep it in mind. Re. math: I'm not expecting them to tutor me and offer remedial courses, I'm planning on catching up independently. The American academic calendar seems quite distinct in some ways from the Canadian one, so it seems I wouldn't be starting classes down south till Fall next year if I do, which leaves me quite some time. I'm actually friends with a math professor at the local university, and he's quite open to offering me assistance, I just haven't had time for it recently.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 38,213 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    I'd recommend starting right now with your math professor friend and asking him to write you a letter of recommendation after a few sessions. That recommendation should be uploaded by January 10.

    How old are you if you stopped math in the 6th grade and just jumped into 12th?

    Is there any chance you can simply stay in the 12th grade, taking more advanced classes and retaking math at precalculus level?
    (American colleges will expect to see your curriculum for the 4 years preceding your university entrance. They'll want to see 4 units of English, units in French and/or a foreign language, math through precalculus, bio/chem/physics + 1 more science, art/tech, 4 units in History/social science).
    Based on your interests, one would expect a few DE classes in Philosophy/religion/theology.

    Please PM your essays, I'll try and see if you struck the right note.

    In "Additional information", you'll need to explain your circumstances and detail your philosophy studies (books read, papers written, etc.) It'll be a key element of your application.
    Have you taken philosophy classes in a college? Theology/history of religion? Do you have any external assessment?
    Apply to St John's in Anapolis or New Mexico. They have pretty good financial aid and are ideal for philosophy.
    Check out St Olaf College and The Great Conversation.
  • AmicusPlatoAmicusPlato Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    @MYOS1634 Thanks so much for the generous offer to read my essays! I'll just reply to your questions (along with the essays) via PM. I was meaning to ask someone to read them but forgot to bring it up, and I see you're quite experienced here.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 4,377 Senior Member
    @AmicusPlato I think that you might want to seriously consider spending a year to study math before going on to university. If you can get through geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and precalculus, then this will be a big help down the road and would allow you to take calculus in university. This is a lot to get through between now and September 2019 but should be possible if you focus on it. Math is a major cornerstone for a LOT of subjects and IMHO it would be a pity to have everything that is based on math ruled out for the rest of your life. To me this looks like a serious deficiency that you CAN overcome.

    Other than an eager desire to get rid of an extra US$200,000 (or C$250,000), I don't understand why you want to go to the US for university.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 38,213 Senior Member
    An issue is that many universities won't even consider your application if you don't have thepre-req classes they want. A basic minimum will include Algebra1+2 and Geometry, 3 years of English, Social Science/History, and 2 years of Science and foreign language - this would be for a less selective university. Anything else would require you to go the Community College -> 4-year route (for CC you can attend a college or a Cegep in Canada.)
    An example for St John's, which I think would be a good fit:
    For admission to St. John’s, you should have a solid college-prep background, including two years of algebra, one year of geometry, and two years of a foreign language. Additional work in mathematics and foreign language is advised, as well as two or three years of natural science. We recommend taking the most challenging courses in your school.
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