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Small town Curriculum.

magicmike2013magicmike2013 Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
edited October 2013 in College Admissions
Hi, I'm curious if my chances of getting into Harvard or other Ivies will be lessened because of lack of curriculum at my school of 850 students. We have no APs/Honors. And our GPA is not weighted. I'm taking the hardest curriculum that we offer basically: Spanish III, Calculus, Physics II, Chemistry II, AP Biology online, English, World History. (Mid year I'm switching to College Chemistry II through Indiana University). Senior year will look somewhat like this most likely: English 12, Art, Spanish IV online and ... all through Indiana University: Calculus I, II; Organic Chem I, II + lab, College Physics I, II + lab. So I'm taking advantage of my resources by working in order to pay for these classes because I'm rather impecunious. So will the lack of APs because we have none hurt my chances of schools such as Harvard?
Post edited by magicmike2013 on
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Replies to: Small town Curriculum.

  • MrMom62MrMom62 Registered User Posts: 3,488 Senior Member
    Weighting means nothing to colleges. They all rescore GPAs to whatever system they use if your school doesn't use a standard unweighted system.

    In general, colleges do not hold you responsible for not being able to take classes that your HS doesn't even offer. All everyone is expected to do is take the most challenging curriculum available to them.

    Never use the word "impecunious" again.
  • T26E4T26E4 Registered User Posts: 24,274 Senior Member
    In these cases, superior ACT/SATs come into larger focus. Based on other posts, yours, while solid, aren't earth shattering. Reasonably matching you to schools with under 20% accept rate wouldn't be wise.
  • magicmike2013magicmike2013 Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    So you're saying it's not wise for me to apply to anywhere like Harvard, Brown, Northwestern, Cornell, etc?? I mean I'm taking hard college classes next year that I'm paying for.
  • magicmike2013magicmike2013 Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    And I do have a 4.0 GPA and plan to keep it.
  • SikorskySikorsky Registered User Posts: 5,851 Senior Member
    Weighting means nothing to colleges. They all rescore GPAs to whatever system they use if your school doesn't use a standard unweighted system.

    Well, not "all." Dartmouth, for example, doesn't.

    It's true that weighting isn't important to most colleges and universities because there's such wild variation in the ways that high schools weight grades. But a number of selective colleges and universities feel confident in their ability to assess your transcript without recalculating your grade point average.
    So you're saying it's not wise for me to apply to anywhere like Harvard, Brown, Northwestern, Cornell, etc??

    It's not wise for anybody to expect to get into colleges or universities that are that selective. Whether you apply is ultimately up to you. You've taken hard classes. You've made good grades. You've got a very good, but not top-out-of-sight, ACT score. If you can afford it, you can apply and see what happens. (But if you're applying to Harvard, you'll need strong scores on SAT subject tests, since Harvard is one of the few colleges that won't accept ACT scores in lieu of subject test scores.)

    But if money is going to be an issue for you, the most important part of your college search should be looking for colleges or universities that are a good fit for you and are likely to be affordable, either because their cost is lower (usually, this means the flagship university in your home state), or because they often give good merit aid to applicants with your stats. Harvard is a rich university with really great financial aid...but only if you get in.
  • billcshobillcsho Registered User Posts: 18,405 Senior Member
    UC GPA actually has weighting, do it does mean something at least for some schools. Also, many schools do not recalculate GPA no matter it is w or uw. But it is true that you would not be hold accountable if your school does not offer those advanced classes. Indeed, for a student from a small town with the same credential as another student from a metropolitan feeder school, the former may have an advantage in getting into prestigious schools.
  • T26E4T26E4 Registered User Posts: 24,274 Senior Member
    Hi Magic: it's great that you're maximizing your school and area offerings. When applying to competitive programs, that's an absolute MUST -- especially if you've maxed out what your HS can offer you.

    Top colleges, seeing kids like you, will then refer to other objective measures -- such as test scores and rec letters. I believe you've mentioned that you're scoring ~ 30-31 on practice ACTs with a goal to get to the 33-34 range. That may be problematic in the context of schools such as Harvard. Since your HS transcript rigor can't be useful in determining extraordinary academic ability, it won't hurt you. However, they'll be forced to look at SAT/ACTs, and frankly, place more emphasis on those. Unless you're really shining, this becomes a mill stone -- especially at a place like H with under 7% admit rate.

    Can you apply? Should you apply? That's your decision. But without superlative SAT/ACT/SAT2s, your competition bests you in a big evaluative factor. Not saying test scores are everything -- but the reality is schools with -20% admit rate have thousands and thousands of ultra qualified applicants they need to reject.
  • MrMom62MrMom62 Registered User Posts: 3,488 Senior Member
    Here's the one way where a 31 ACT would be impressive to elite schools - everyone else at your school is averaging 20 and only 15% head off to a four-year college. It's all about context. A 31 coming out of Phillips Exeter is nothing special, a 31 coming out of East Podunk or Urban Tech can be good enough to get in some pretty good schools.

    We don't know your exact situation, but doing extremely well in a non-traditional situation will be looked on rather favorably.
  • magicmike2013magicmike2013 Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    To all: No, not a 31 ACT, I'm talking about when I take the ACT in February or March for the first time. After studying, I plan on at least a 33, if not a 34.
  • MrMom62MrMom62 Registered User Posts: 3,488 Senior Member
    Let us know when you actually have that score. We all wish for many things, they don't always turn out that way.
  • magicmike2013magicmike2013 Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    True, but I'm studying on a regular basis with the help of my Calculus teacher. I mean I just did a Barron's ACT- Which I've heard from many that it's slightly more difficult- I got a 35/40 Science, 68/75 English, and 54/60 Math, and I have plenty of time, so I'm expecting my scores will improve from now until February and March.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,545 Senior Member
    Why are you worried about lack of AP courses when you are taking actual college courses (including some that are more advanced than AP courses) at a respectable university?

    A record full of college courses with A grades can only help, although schools like Harvard should be considered reach for everyone, where you probably need top end academic record (which you have), top end SAT or ACT scores*, and a high (state or national) level of award or extracurricular achievement or some other very compelling story.

    *You may want to try both, because some students do better on one than the other. Also, some highly selective schools want SAT subject tests as well.
  • magicmike2013magicmike2013 Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    Plus, what I have compared to most, is a life of extreme adversities, similar to the girl in the movie "Homeless to Harvard". I've done all of this, and maintained a 4.0 and will be maintaining it through extreme adversity since age six.
  • magicmike2013magicmike2013 Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    Yeah, I thought about SAT, and I'd be well-fit for the vocabulary on it since I used to study the dictionary on a daily basis for two years. Who knows, but I plan on taking SAT II Math 2 and Chemistry, and maybe biology?
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 40,117 Senior Member
    ACT and SAT scores are looked at "in context". Based on what you said here, you'd be a great candidate for all the best schools in the country (Top 20 national universities, Top 10 LACs). However remember that the odds are not in your favor no matter what, and apply to a variety of schools in the top 30 national universities and top 50 LACs plus your state flagship's Honors Program (get fee waivers from your guidance counselor).
    Did you apply to Questbridge? It sounds like you would qualify if you combine high achievement and extreme personal adversity. It'd really help you - questbridge candidates have roughly 1:2 odds of getting into schools where even the best applicants only have 1:5 to 1:8 odds.
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