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Pressure for the Ivies

anxiouswreckanxiouswreck 292 replies34 threads Member
Hello everyone! I'm currently a senior that is wrapping up her college apps and I really am stuck in a dilemma. Currently, I'm the valedictorian of my class and in a lot of extracurriculars, so I have a reputation as the nerd. My brother, several years older, was the valedictorian who got into 2 ivies and MIT, which adds on to my reputation and the expectations people hold for me. The valedictorians and salutatorians at my school end up at places like JHU, Brown, Dartmouth, Princeton, etc. etc. Everyone, including my parents think I'm pretty much entitled to get into Harvard or something, but I'm really not. Everything is such a crapshoot and my application is weak, my ECs don't stand out, and I tried really hard on my essays but I'm just not interesting enough and I can't write with that quick wit and brilliance that gets kids into top colleges. The competition at my rival schools are crazy too, the top kids there are much more qualified than me and are applying to the same places. I've already accepted that I'm going to Northeastern or UConn, but I don't know how to deal with that socially. My parents are surely going to be disappointed because I suffered quite a lot to get where I am, and now they won't get to brag to others how they have a son from Harvard and a daughter from like Yale or something. My mom said if I go to Northeastern she won't tell anybody about it and only talk about my brother... lol. And I feel like everyone at school is going to be mean about it, just like they were to the salutatorian last year who was brilliant and is currently at a school like UConn because he got rejected from Dartmouth and MIT. When people hear I applied to Harvard, they always go "oh you'll get in! your grades are awesome and you're so well-rounded!" and I just never know how to break it to them that it's not enough. I got deferred from Harvard, and my mom added a slew of colleges to my list just hoping that I'll get somewhere she can brag about.

So the bottom line is: how do I deal with all this crazy "top college" pressure? I'm cool with not going to a top 20 school and being the "less cool" sibling (I've been overshadowed all my life anyways :))). But it's like everyone is expecting something so fabulous from me and I need to somehow tell them that I can't really deliver. And yes, everyone will know where I'm going to college because they announce the Top 10 at a ceremony in front of the whole school in May.
34 replies
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Replies to: Pressure for the Ivies

  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13237 replies247 threads Senior Member
    I'm cool with not going to a top 20 school

    Good. I hope you have schools you love and are already into - Northeastern?
    My mom said if I go to Northeastern she won't tell anybody about it and only talk about my brother... lol

    I hope she was kidding.

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  • twogirlstwogirls 7778 replies7 threads Senior Member
    Wow.... I am sorry that you are dealing with this. I...too... Hope your mother was kidding.

    What's important is that you have schools that you like, get into, and can afford. As for your mother having bragging rights... maybe she can find something more productive to fill her time.

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  • yucca10yucca10 1417 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Tell them it's a lottery and tons of perfectly qualified kids get rejected from the Ivies every year. Otherwise, try to ignore. And you may still get into one of the top 20-30, if not necessarily Harvard. There are lots of very good schools where you will shine. And don't sell yourself short. Whatever your brother did, you don't have to compete, your achievements are your own and don't let your parents convince you otherwise.
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  • dancinginastormdancinginastorm 98 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Hey there! I just wanna say that I feel the same way! I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders as well... my dad was basically devastated when I got deferred from MIT lol. I agree with @yucca10, you can only do so much to be noticed by the top schools and usually, you need a bit of luck to get in. My advice would be to just take a deep breath, realize how hard you've worked, and tell yourself no matter where you end up you can achieve your goals because you've already come so far. There's no harm in trying your best, so just take a few hours to relax, and crush those college apps! You can do this! And remember, this is your life, so don't others' misconceptions about prestige and school names get in the way of your happiness and success!
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  • PostmodernPostmodern 1160 replies91 threads Senior Member
    In our home, sometimes the children are far wiser than the well-meaning parents. Sounds like it is that way at your home also. You have accomplished incredible things and any reasonable parent would brag about those and ignore events which are beyond your control.

    While no one admission can be 100% predicted, your accomplishments pretty much guarantee you something great, whether it is Yale or Northeastern or somewhere else. What you are working on right now is stressful for every single student. Results will be the same whether you are fretting or cautiously optimistic, so I recommend you try to be the latter.

    Please come back here in the spring and update the thread with what will certainly be good news!
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  • kalonskalons 625 replies21 threads Member
    i'm not sure why your mother said that... kids who could be/are accepted to schools such as the ivy league, stanford, etc. and choose to attend a school such as a state flagship end up making the same amount starting out as they would have if they graduated from an ivy or other schools, lol.
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  • My5KiddosMy5Kiddos 125 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Sorry to hear your mother is pressuring you. Sounds like you would have a great shot at UCONN honors. We live near UCONN and the past few years the top students have chosen uconn over other schools because the cost is a factor and its freedom to graduate with little or no debt. NE is not shabby at all! BTW, UCONN is a top 20 (18) public university and a tier 1 research institute. Congrats on your accomplishments!
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  • amNotarobotamNotarobot 264 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Wow, such a nice, wise, humble person that you are. Any school that you apply to should be lucky to have you as its student, and if it doesn't accept you, it's there lose, not yours.
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  • NotTypicalNerdNotTypicalNerd 19 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Same boat... well, except students at my school have a seem to be kinder when it comes to hearing about rejections. I found that the less I focus on other people's expectations the better off I usually am. Then you don't feel overshadowed. Be you. :D
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  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids 1100 replies89 threads Senior Member
    My family was shocked that the kid from our high school with the perfect ACT score who is student council president and a bunch of other things didn't get into Stanford. I told them that lots of perfect scores with good EC's get rejected every year.
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  • ab2002ab2002 606 replies46 threads Member
    Luckily, my parent's don't pressure me to go anywhere huge, they're fine with me going to OSU if I wanted to (great school). Just because you don't go to an Ivy doesn't mean that you're a failure, I know, hard to believe. Thankfully, I am the one overshadowing my siblings school wise (even though they think they're entitled everything), but I know how it feels to be viewed as the lesser of the siblings attention wise. I think you'll be surprised at where you get into and where you don't, it's super unpredictable with the top schools. I hope this helped, good luck! :)
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  • tk21769tk21769 10710 replies27 threads Senior Member
    It sounds like your parents might be recent immigrants, or possibly Asians?
    In any case this country is full of pushy parents who want what they think is "the best" for their kids.
    It's quite possible you won't easily change their attitudes toward education and social status. You may have to develop a thick skin and sense of humor about it. Suck it up as good practice for when they start pestering you about getting married or cranking out grandbabies.
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  • happy1happy1 24198 replies2428 threads Super Moderator
    One of my favorite quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt is, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Try to remember this when your mom is throwing crazy expectations your way. Don't allow her to to make you feel badly if you don't happen to get into one of the schools she deems sufficiently prestigious to brag about. Wherever you end up at college, make the most of it and come out a success. You have the right attitude. Best of luck.
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  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 508 replies8 threads Member
    Tell mom if she's so concerned with how things look, she can buy you a BMW with the money she won't be spending on an Ivy! Sorry to be silly, but she's just too caught up in this college thing. Sounds like she's filling her own old wounds with her ambitions for you. It's probably out of love, but it's misguided. You'll need a healthy sense of humor to go along with your brilliance and grace. Hang in there! You are doing the right thing!
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  • rickle1rickle1 2683 replies23 threads Senior Member
    Sorry you're having these challenges. As other posters have said, it's your life, not theirs. Hard lesson to learn but very valuable. The reality is you'll be quite successful in life based on what YOU DO, not where you do it. There are many great schools with brilliant, high quality kids like yourself. Wherever you attend, you'll find that group and chart your course. That can be done from a state school or a top private. Can't tell you how many mega successful people I know that did undergraduate at state U. Some went on to Harvard Business School. Others became successful entrepreneurs without and advanced degrees.

    The ivies basically are a crap shoot. Don't let that define you either way. You likely "deserve" to get in, but so does the next person who will get declined.
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  • moooopmoooop 2204 replies17 threads Senior Member
    How do you cope? If you moved out of the Northeast, nobody would think it even slightly weird that a valedictorian went to a large state universitiy.
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