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How I Got Into a Top 25 School w/ Zero APs Before Senior Year

FrontElevationFrontElevation Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
So for starters I'll just lay out where I got accepted to. I got accepted into NC State and Emory University and got waitlisted by UNC and Boston College. Only got denied by Cornell and UPenn. I had taken ZERO AP classes until senior year, despite my school offering many for me to take.

I wanted the easiest high school experience because school was easy for me and I wanted to spend my free time doing extra-circulars (very important as you'll see). My senior year however, I actually realized I wanted to go to college in a year, so I took 4 AP classes (AP Physics C, AP Euro, AP Calc AB, and APES). I worked my ass off and got As in all those classes and my English Honors (just as hard as the rest of them). I also got all 5s on my AP Exams except AP Euro. My SAT was a 1380 and my ACT was a 28. I'm not going to be naive, so this most definitely aided my ability to actually get into a top 25 school. However, what really got me there was my ECs.

My ECs were very good. I volunteered for three years on a music event production team, running cameras and directing; I started a real estate photography business that got ranked one of the best in my city of 1M people, I worked for an NBA team as an assistant equipment manager for 3 years and I intricately planned a business that cuts health care costs in half for about half of Americans. I wrote my essays on this plan.

Emory had a 25% acceptance rate for my class, and I'm sure they turned down many people with perfect SAT/ACT scores and double the AP classes I took. The thing that got me into Emory and actually got me a shot/waitlisted at BC was my ECs.

So the moral of this story is to show that ECs can get you FAR in the college app process, and if you have genuinely meaningful ECs that show grit, determination, passion, a willingness to try new things, and to put it bluntly, are flashy or impressive, you can get into schools that people with far better academics will never get into.

Side story that furthers my point: my friend my age who has managed a multi-million dollar hedge fund and done TED talks actually applied to Duke (btw he has FAR worse academics than me- he failed out of calculus) and within a week, they emailed him and said essentially this: "we can't accept you this year, but we like your ECs so much that please apply again next year and we will most likely love to accept you."

ECs can get you VERY far in college land, so start early with big dreams to change the world and you will be able to get in places that far exceed what most people think you should be able to get into.


Another random side not that I've wanted to share to help somebody out there trying to figure out what to write their essay on: A prompt I wish I had used that (probably not for me) could definitely be the kind to get somebody into all 8 ivys is this. I would've written about my biggest failures. Not traumatic experiences or eye opening changes in your life (colleges get thousands of those), but the times when you've flat out failed so epically you thought you never wanted to try anything new again. For me I would've written about the many times I got turned down making cold calls for my photography business, when I essentially got cheated out of a $1k photography gig, when I should've gotten fired from my NBA job, and when my hedge fund I raised $125k for fell flat. Of course, I wouldn't just leave it at where I failed, but what I learned and how I actually did get back up and keep trying. That could be the best essay your college admission reader has ever gotten. They certainly don't get many of those kind of essays and i'm leaving this here so somebody out there can use it and get into all 8 ivys. Please give me a shoutout if you do!

I'd love to answer any questions y'all may have.

Thanks for reading!
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Replies to: How I Got Into a Top 25 School w/ Zero APs Before Senior Year

  • citymama9citymama9 Registered User Posts: 2,635 Senior Member
    If it were only that easy
  • shuttlebusshuttlebus Registered User Posts: 420 Member
    Just curious what your business plan is that cuts health care costs in half for half of America?
  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN Registered User Posts: 3,155 Senior Member
    You do have interesting ECs. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
  • FrontElevationFrontElevation Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    edited September 2018
    @TheBigChef How so? Do you think I'm lying or something?
  • FrontElevationFrontElevation Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    @lostaccount The only one of my ECs that I didn't pursue completely on my own (ie no help from anyone I knew) was the NBA job. Also, people at my school had taken 4 APs before senior year so I was behind the curve for my school and people at public schools around me had taken as many as 8-10 APs before senior year. I was never saying that people shouldn't focus on course rigor, I was saying that ECs can swing things in your favor if you don't have an aptitude for school and/or haven't taken a very rigorous course load up to the current point.
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,102 Senior Member
    edited September 2018
    I thought (probably my old age and being late in the night for me) that this post was how I got into a top-25 college with zero APs, all four years. Taking 4 APs senior year and honors courses before that is not that uncommon, even for top-25 schools. Many HS only have a handful of APs,some may have none, and many don't allow APs till senior as policy.
  • TheBigChefTheBigChef Registered User Posts: 441 Member
    "How so? Do you think I'm lying or something?"

    Multi-million dollar hedge funds are not run by high school students. Duke does not call applicants a week after receiving their application and tell them that, although we can't accept you this year, "we would most likely love to accept you" next year.
  • mimibeemimibee Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    Although there are clearly some fairly serious flaws with OP's argument/story, it is an interesting subject in general (APs vs. Honors, ECs vs. test scores etc.). There seems to be inconsistency around APs in general - some schools don't offer the course in English junior year, for example, but students can still take the test and a good score "proves" that they are equally prepared to APers; some schools offer college credit for AP coiurses regardless if the students actually take the test at the end of the year or not, so their metric is not equi-reported, etc. I'm interested in THAT discussion...
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 3,154 Senior Member
    Do I believe you are lying......absolutely.
  • FrontElevationFrontElevation Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    @theloniusmonk My school offered as many as 6 AP classes I could've taken before senior year. I was way behind the curve for my school.
  • CTScoutmomCTScoutmom Registered User Posts: 1,891 Senior Member
    So you were behind the curve for your class - on average how many APs did your classmates take before senior year? Just because up to 6 were available doesn't mean most of them took all 6. And for those that took more than you, and were higher in the class rankings, where were they accepted? The school environment you're coming from makes a huge difference. Those students taking 8-10 AP classes before senior year are often taking less rigorous classes, either because the AP classes are designed to be less rigorous, or because the way their schools teach them are less rigorous - not all, but many. Consider - AP physics 1 & 2 are a slightly more rigorous version of a typical honors Physics class, and if each is a year long class, they just covering the same material in more depth over 2 years. (AP Physics 1 does not prepare you for the SAT Physics test as well as a typical honors physics class does). AP Calculus AB covers a single college semester of physics in one year. If your Top 25 school doesn't offer credit for those 6 AP classes you "skipped," they probably are just as happy to see you take other honors level classes, and probably consider them just as rigorous.
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