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Feeling inadequate compared to other applicants

TheHappinessFundTheHappinessFund 74 replies7 threads Junior Member
So, I've been reading through the chance me threads of other applicants from previous years, and all of them seem to have done so much more than me, extracurricular and academic wise. Does anyone have any advice on how to stand out as an applicant who's not absolutely spectacular? Or should I just give up on being admitted to top schools at all and aim lower?
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Replies to: Feeling inadequate compared to other applicants

  • MercurriiMercurrii 113 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited October 13
    broski Shush I read those threads too but there are people with perfect scores that got rejected because all they do is study and they aren't fun at all and you're not like that from when I talked to you. Like you have so may good ECs and things going for you and IDK if it's cuz we're so similar but I get this feeling from you like I feel like you could be friends with a lot of people and just be you dude like you'll get in.
    edited October 13
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 192 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Honestly, chances for a “top” school are slim for EVERYONE except the highly recruited, “pointy” kid.

    You need to understand that schools admit kids for reasons we will never understand. In my daughters acceptance letter they talked about aspects of her interview that had ZERO to do with her accomplishments and everything to do with her Innate personality.

    Apply to a range of schools. You need to do this if you really want to go to BS.

    Realize that school rankings are largely viewed as a joke by people “in the know.” Also realize those rankings change frequently and for no apparent reason.
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2342 replies3 threads Senior Member
    "Top" school is just a matter of subjective interpretation. Rankings are misleading and useless, yet high school kids latch onto them like some sort of religion. All they amount to is a popularity contest, which doesn't do you or the school any justice. Just pick a good affordable school that works for you and don't worry about what the other kids are doing.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 192 replies9 threads Junior Member
    You also don't need to go to a top school to get a great education. This is why visiting a school and understanding it's culture matters so much. I went to a private school that wouldn't be considered top but got a great education. Went on to a great college (one considered "top") so please please don't get hung up in rankings when you apply or there is a good chance for disappointment.
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  • PrepDad2018PrepDad2018 82 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited October 15
    @TheHappinessFund, CC is a curse as much as it is helpful if you let yourself go down the rabbit hole. As people wrote, 80% of "amazing" candidates will be shocked with a big Thanks But No Thanks.

    Family friend......perfect 99% SSATs, straight As, nice kid, significant family issues (had to grow up fast, compelling story) rejected across the board at "top" schools.

    Family friend...middle of the road SSATs, pretty good grades, nice kid, significant family issue for compelling story, applied to "middle of the road" schools and was accepted with HUGE money. Fantastic boarding, educational, and athletic experience.

    I disagree with people who say "top schools" don't matter. IRL anyone would prefer Harvard over generic State U. BUT anyone can take advantage of State U and be more successful than Ivy grads.

    I went to a random State U no one outside of my state has heard of and was VERY happy and pretty darn successful as an adult. BUT, yeah, life would have been a little easier with a Yale diploma.

    So a long way of saying, don't worry about the "perfect" candidates, most will be rejected. You can take one of "their" spots with your interview, skills set, or community service....or whatever makes you, you.
    edited October 15
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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 151 replies5 threads Junior Member
    What matters for admissions cannot possibly come through in a chance me thread. Are you nice? Do your essays reflect someone who is authentic and engaged? What are you like to have a conversation with? Will a school enjoy having you on campus? Do you fit a particular niche they happen to be looking for? All the awards and accomplishments in the world don't get someone admitted if they are a jerk.

    This is SO true! We went to an admitted student day with my daughter and asked a professor about the "collaborative" environment all the students gushed about. We asked how it was possible to enroll such high achieving kids and not have them feel some competition with one another. I can't remember his exact words but he basically said it was because they tried to admit nice kids. Looking back at my daughter's essays to this school I realize that her niceness probably really did shine through.

    My point it not that you should write essays that suggest you're nice person. Heck, maybe that's NOT what helped by daughter at that school. Or maybe it hurt her at other schools. My point is that it's NOT all about the numbers or a specific activity. Sometimes it's just that something about you stands our or speaks to an admissions person. Just do your best to let your uniqueness shine though in your applications and you will hopefully end up at wherever is the best fit for you!
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 192 replies9 threads Junior Member

    I disagree with people who say "top schools" don't matter. IRL anyone would prefer Harvard over generic State U. BUT anyone can take advantage of State U and be more successful than Ivy grads.

    But does it matter as much for high school?

    I totally agree that HYP and maybe Williams/Amherst have a certain, get you in the door name.

    I take the "name" doesn't matter to mean more that if you only apply to the HYP of the boarding school group and don't get into any you are left with public school but if you apply to a range, some less well known and get into those you will still get a great high school education.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 192 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Oops. Before anyone goes nuts. There are certainly great public schools that provide an outstanding education and, in our area, much better shot at Harvard than the boarding schools!
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  • vegas1vegas1 573 replies2 threads Member
    I have to say that this exact point is true in college admissions. Our daughter who just graduated in June, was accepted to almost all the colleges to which she applied- surprising her and her college counselor. She certainly had solid stats, but it was her voice that came through in her application that made all the difference. When we went to a busy admitted students day, we met the admission officer who had read her application and he very clearly remembered details of her essay (this was at an Ivy with 7% admissions.)

    Her essay was written in diary form chronicling her internal growth on a trip abroad. It was simply written, not over polished, but described a minor victory she worked hard for and the feelings she experienced when she succeeded. The AO’s recall of the essay confirmed it was a differentiator and I imagine her recommendations were as well.

    I think this is the hardest and most frustrating part of the admissions process. It is really hard for young kids to have the ability to self reflect in a meaningful way. It is sometimes helpful to get family to help you with this step. It is also important to consider your unique qualities and how they would contribute to a particular school community.
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  • SevenDadSevenDad 4267 replies135 threads Senior Member
    "I disagree with people who say 'top schools' don't matter. IRL anyone would prefer Harvard over generic State U."

    The issue is that the BS mentioned with any frequency on this board are generally "Top XX" type schools anyway. But so many people are focused on getting into 2-5 of the most selective and consider any other school not even worth attending. A more fair analogy would be "Havard or Williams".

    I'm nearly 10 years away from being a prospective BS parent, and am not that active on the forum any more. But I used to bang the drum loudly for "casting a wide net". I encourage the OP to do so...and also to get the heck off of CC. Neither of my kids was active on the site during their BS application process.
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  • 417WHB417WHB 73 replies4 threads Junior Member
    SevenDad wrote: »
    "I disagree with people who say 'top schools' don't matter. IRL anyone would prefer Harvard over generic State U."

    The issue is that the BS mentioned with any frequency on this board are generally "Top XX" type schools anyway. But so many people are focused on getting into 2-5 of the most selective and consider any other school not even worth attending. A more fair analogy would be "Harvard or Williams".

    I disagree with this analogy, because unlike with college, with HS you have a free option, and depending on where you live it may be a very solid choice, if not quite as amazing as the BS. So it is perfectly fair to say let's see if I can get into Andover or Exeter but if not, let's save the $60K+ a year and go to LPS and spend some of the money on ECs instead. There are certainly plenty of BSs that are not worth the money for most families, unless you have no good public option or money to burn. Of course there are kids that get significant FA and pay very little which changes the equation. But if you are not very wealthy but full paying applicant I think it is perfectly fine to be very picky and have the top BS or bust attitude.
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  • SevenDadSevenDad 4267 replies135 threads Senior Member
    edited October 16
    @41WHB: How are you defining "worth it"? How are you defining "top"?

    I think that's where I differ with many on this topic.

    Of course it is anyone's choice to take the "go big or go home" approach to BS. I just don't share that POV. I would also argue that these folks are 1. overly impressed by name/prestige; and 2. prioritizing the wrong things in a HS experience/thinking of the BS "ROI" in the wrong terms.

    Also to go back to my quote you cite, the OP is talking about "top schools vs. 'aiming lower'"...NOT Exeter vs. Local Public School. If you're going to tell me you think a school like Episcopal or Thacher [or insert any BS mentioned with any frequency on the forum that is not Andover or Exeter here] is the BS of "generic State U", well, then we'll have to agree to disagree.
    edited October 16
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4412 replies18 threads Senior Member
    I don't do the prep school for advice normally just kids looking at certain colleges but geez, you all put so much pressure on yourselves at such an early age.

    There will always be someone prettier/more handsome , taller, smarter, faster, have more money, drive a nicer car, wear nicer clothes then you! Just a fact of life. As someone said... Just do you! I tell my kids to also take chances and bet on themselves. Don't let anyone tell you, you can't.

    Lastly, you can't change what you can't control. Be the best person, applicant you can be.

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