Any possibility for a renaissance girl with no AP science classes?

<p>Hello, all. I'm very interested in taking a closer look at MIT, given the information provided on its website re cognitive science/psychology -- I was totally energized just reading the descriptions of the fascinating, dynamic research taking place there. However, given my parents' belief in a solid, classical high school education, combined with the theology requirements of my high school, I have not had scheduling room for any AP science classes. I took Latin through level 3 (Cicero) and French through the AP level. I'm currently a junior and will have taken Honors Bio, Honors Chem and Honors Physio/Anatomy by the end of this year. I was unable to take any science courses my freshman year, which put me behind (on the science track). Next year I'll take Honors Physics, but probably not any of the AP science offerings (only AP Chem, Bio and Environmental are offered).
I've won some awards for science and math on the local level, but nothing national - in fact, I was not even aware national competitions existed until recently. Lets just say my high school (all girls, private Catholic) is not very science-oriented. My grades and PSAT/SAT scores fall well within the MIT range, but I have no significant math/science extracurriculars.
Also, as part of our "education," our parents have insisted we get real (paying) jobs to learn to interact/deal with people as well as earn our own spending money (so we can "appreciate" what it means to show up on time for work that is often boring and doesn't pay very well). I work in a retail store 15-20 hours per week - and indeed managed to save several thousand dollars since last summer.
This summer I'm going on a 10 day service trip to work with people living in profound poverty, and hopefully will line up work (unpaid) in a lab involving psychology and the brain at a local university.
I'm a vociferous reader and passionate about learning - I love math, literature, science, the human brain and behavior, etc. - but, given the scheduling and time constraints, feel I'm somewhat late to the game regarding actually doing something concrete in these fields.
Is it even worth spending any more time exploring MIT and its offerings given the dearth of activities on my part? There are many excellent college, and I don't believe any one school has a monopoly on education/knowledge, yet I feel inexplicably drawn to the engaging, vibrant, thought-provoking work going on at MIT.
Thanks for any insight, folks.</p>



<p>I think, yes, it is absolutely worth your time to keep exploring to see if MIT is a place you'd like to study and live. My daughter was accepted EA back in December, and she had even fewer math/science accomplishments than you do. She's also younger than a typical college student, so that was a wild card. If she, God forbid, had come to CC and posted a Chance Me thread, I'm quite sure she would have been told she had no chance by some of the people who post here. She worked very hard to put together a strong application showing that she understands what MIT is about and why she would like to be a part of the community. It worked. </p>

<p>I'd encourage you to spend time on the admissions blogs to get a glimpse of what life at MIT is like, attend an admissions event if there is one in your area (shout out to Tiffany Meertins who did an spectacular job at the event we attended last summer) and, if at all possible, visit. We had a visit that was extended by the lovely Irene and it proved invaluable. She went skeptical that MIT would be a place she could be happy, but came away convinced it was just the kind of place she would love.</p>

<p>Thanks so much for your reply, Podvigs. May I ask whether your daughter took
AP science classes in high school?</p>

<p>No, she didn't, but her situation is not typical. She's cyberschooled. She took Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics and Calculus at a local college. We hoped that would show her ability and readiness to "kick it up a notch" (haha, I crack myself up; she loves Starkid), and I guess it worked. Just do the best you can with what you have, and be yourself in your application. Don't try to be who you think MIT (or any other school) wants you to be.</p>

<p>^^Can you take a university course over the summer? It's one thing to believe in a classical education, but you are really going to be behind if you haven't taken any AP's. The problem is that you will essentially be taking like four difficult AP's as a freshman in college. </p>

<p>I think your parents philosophy may be paradoxical if you are planning to be a scientist. I agree that a broad liberal arts education is valuable; however, it is mostly valuable in that you get training in critical thinking. If you are taking calculus, physics, chem, and/or bio as a freshman for the first time at a level exceeding a high school honors class (as you would as an MIT freshmen), I have doubts whether you would be able to have time to really think about what you are learning. Things are not supposed to be intuitive when you learn them the first time. You are supposed to question them, think about them in relation to everyday events and/or make analogies. It is possible to do this with the MIT courseload if you have mastered most of the fundamentals in high school.</p>

<p>So for these reasons, I suggest you either try to bulk up your science/math courses, take a university class in the summer, and/or choose a college where the pace isn't so extreme.</p>

<p>If I were to order the classes in terms of importance to cover at an AP level before college, it would be this: math through calculus, AP Chem, AP physics, and AP bio.</p>

<p>If you get in, you should look at MIT Concourse. Check it out, it's pretty cool. It is an integrated learning experience at MIT.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone for your insightful replies. My school does offer and I will take AP Calculus-BC next year.
I'm wondering whether I should take AP Chem in lieu of AP Statistics next year. Collegealum314, wouldn't your analysis apply to any selective school I might attend, or do you think MIT is uniquely challenging? </p>

<p>Also, I have the AP Chem teacher this year for Honors Chem and she's lousy.</p>

<p>Generally I would recommend taking AP Chem instead of stats, but because the teacher is subpar, you might think about taking a university course. Harvard and other universities have a summer session in which high school students can enroll. </p>

<p>My analysis does apply somewhat to all good schools, but MIT is uniquely challenging, and unlike the ivies/stanford, you are expected to take all of the fundamental classes (GIRs) as a freshman. That means calculus I through multivariable calculus, physics (mechanics and E & M), chemistry, and biology. That is six technical classes spread over two semesters, especially daunting if you've never seen anything before.</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice. I'll take the college-level Chem this summer - I'm concerned about insufficient preparation regardless of where I end up. I feel lacking in basic laboratory skills.</p>

<p>I totally agree with collegealum's post, and would only add that I, personally, came to MIT with no science APs and only the community college equivalent of Calc AB, and freshman year (particularly first semester) was very, very difficult for me. I would join collegealum in encouraging online coursework/self-studying/community college courses/summer classes/etc, especially in physics, chemistry, and calculus.</p>

Thanks for the advice. I'll take the college-level Chem this summer - I'm concerned about insufficient preparation regardless of where I end up. I feel lacking in basic laboratory skills.


<p>Don't worry as much about the lab skills. The theory is what people don't master. A lot of smart people take AP Chem and get an "A" and can't get a 5 on the AP test. (I suspect an "A" in a college class will be harder to get, and would probably be tantamout to an 5 on the AP chem test.) If you are taking that class, really try to ace it. It'll pay off down-the-line.</p>