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What should I do?

AriAnderssonAriAndersson 4 replies1 threads New Member
Hi there!

I'm an international student from Sweden currently attending 9th grade (in Sweden) and interested to study in the U.S. after my high school graduation. In Sweden, we need to apply to high school (it's called "gymnasium" in Sweden). Since it's impossible to take AP exams in my country, the only choice I have is the IB-program. I've visited all the IB-schools in my city (Stockholm) and I feel that none of them is a good fit for me. I found out that it's possible to self-study for the AP-exams and take them abroad. But the AP exams are very expensive; is it really worth it? I checked if it's possible to take some courses at a community college, but it's impossible in Sweden without a High School Diploma. If I do it privately and ace the AP test(s), will it make my profile stronger for admission officers? Is there any other way to challenge myself? Or is it better to concentrate on the TOEFL, SAT and my EC:s?

All the best and thanks for the help!

PS. I apologize for my bad English.
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Replies to: What should I do?

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6846 replies60 threads Senior Member
    better to concentrate on the TOEFL, SAT and my EC:s?

    Yes. APs are made for US students. They are *not* necessary for admission to *any* US college/university even for US students, and certainly not for international students. You will be evaluated relative to other Swedish students.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2351 replies44 threads Senior Member
    Getting a high GPA in challenging courses is the safest route. The IB path appears to be the best way you have available to you.

    Colleges will judge you based on what is available. So they won't expect you to take AP classes or AP exams if they are not offered. However, IB is available, so the highest ranked colleges will want to see you in that program.

    Self-studying for AP exams is okay, but it is considered inferior to actually taking the class. Colleges value class and group participation. If you think self-studying is just as good as being in a classroom, colleges may wonder, "What do you need us for?".

    Top colleges will expect high GPA in IB (since AP is not available), as well as high SAT and TOEFL scores, plus excellent-to-superior ECs. They want it all. They also give the best financial aid to international students. If you don't have an IB diploma, they will get plenty of applications from students who do.

    If you don't want to go with the IB program, you will still be able to get accepted to many excellent colleges, but they are likely not going to be in the top 20. You will probably have a higher cost of attendance, but if you can afford it, you will have your choice of places to study within the USA.
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  • AriAnderssonAriAndersson 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for the advice! Another option that I forgot to mention is "math-specialization": I can choose a program with a college-level course in math (only in math, the other subjects will be on a standard level). Is that an option or is it still better to go for IB?
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2351 replies44 threads Senior Member
    I'd go with IB. Again, it depends on what colleges you are hoping to attend. If it is a very competitive college, they'll want to see a rigorous course load all around. An IB can deliver that. It keeps more pathways open to you. If you are okay with a small, less-known tech college, can afford it, and plan to study STEM for sure, then the math specialization is going to be fine.
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  • AriAnderssonAriAndersson 4 replies1 threads New Member
    edited October 5
    I'm hoping to attend MIT so I guess it very very competitive... However thanks for the advice, it seems that IB is the best option available...
    edited October 5
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6846 replies60 threads Senior Member
    I am going to disagree: I don't think that the fact that IB is available at some schools and you don't choose it will be held against you. Nor do I think that you will be limited to 2nd tier colleges. I am a fan of IB, but it is not always the best path. Follow the normal Swedish model, take the highest level options available to you at your school and shine. I have a cousin from Sweden who is currently at Harvard. He did not do AP or IB, just the usual Prep program in Natural Sciences (although at a very strong school)- with top marks and brilliant ECs.

    MIT is indeed super competitive- think 1% chance for an international- but it can happen. Go read their admissions blogs, and learn more about what they are looking for, and consider if that is you. Either way, you need to assume that it won't happen and decide what your Plan B is.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5612 replies1 threads Senior Member
    My best guess agrees with @collegemom3717. Top schools in the US will expect you to excel in the environment that you are in. If you want to have a chance to attend MIT, then you will need to be very close to the top student in your high school, at least in math and sciences. I don't think that they expect you to seek out different high schools to attend.

    I went to a high school that did not offer any AP classes. I still got into MIT as an international student. One daughter attended a high school that did not offer any AP classes. The top three students went to an Ivy League school, a well known top "liberal arts college", and a very good university in Canada. The point is not that they took AP classes (they didn't). The point is that they did very well in the environment that they were in.

    Remember that MIT is a very high reach for the top students, and probably out of reach for everyone else. There are a lot of very good universities. Keep in mind that MIT is exceptionally demanding and a LOT of work, that students there are mostly one of the top two students in their high school and discover that they have suddenly become average when they show up, and that you have to want to work very hard for four full years with no let up if you go to MIT.

    Finally, remember that university in the US is very expensive, and MIT does not offer any merit based financial aid.
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  • AriAnderssonAriAndersson 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for all the replies, it helps a lot! And again; I apologize for my bad English...
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5612 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "I apologize for my bad English"

    Your English appears to be very good. Your original post could have used a couple more paragraph breaks, but I have seen this same issue with posts from students who live in the US and who only speak English.

    Of course practicing your English is a very good idea. You will need a good TOEFL score if you want to consider universities in the US.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 42060 replies453 threads Senior Member
    You state that the IB programs available to you aren't a good fit : can you explain why?
    (In the US for instance in some schools it's not worth doing the IB for STEM students due to the he graduation requirements added).
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34534 replies383 threads Senior Member
    I'm betting your TOEFL will be fine.

    "...excel in the environment that you are in." A little more specifically: be the sort of person who can excel at challenges, seeks to stretch and is curious. (Not in everything, not about a list of titles or awards, but that energy, vision, and follow-through, some impact, etc.)

    Yes, ECs/extracurriculars matter.

    The math track is nice, but not at the expense of rigor in other core subjects. Not for tippy top US colleges. But also consider what works best for Swedish unis.
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  • AriAnderssonAriAndersson 4 replies1 threads New Member
    The problem is not in the IB-program itself, the is in the schools available. I've visited all the schools with IB-programs, and none of them seems to be a good fit for me. Teachers and the students at those schools appear to be unfriendly, old very worn buildings and a poor amount of available courses.
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