I, for one, would love to hear what you have to say about this. It is off topic, though, and I don’t want to hijack. Can you say in a nutshell/DM/address in a different thread?
Hurry and read before I am flagged!
Some colleges are good, but get so popular that they reach “ivy” level admissions. Vanderbilt IMO is just more popular than it is good. I am not saying it is not a great education or in a cool city, but I am saying it is not top 10 - and that is where admissions difficulty has placed it. If you can get into Vanderbilt, you might as well go to Brown. Average accepted applicant is pretty similar.
This is harsh. As a caregiver, sometimes situations arise where you need close family to help, because there are things to be done that other people don’t know how to do or don’t want to do. Having just experienced a two week stay at a sort of nursing home, because I had to leave on an emergency trip, my spouse would assure you, that the care there is nothing compared to what your family can give you at home.
In any case, what I have read about schools, freshman year is practically a write off. The only thing going against 5his student is the sheer number of applicants to these schools. Being full pay though, they definitely have an advantage at schools without huge endowments. (Just finished reading “Who Get’s In and Why,” which was an eye opener).
Your family parentified you, and this isn’t okay. It is not your responsibility as a child to fill in a role that is much more than what you are capable of as a minor. This isn’t okay.
I think there’s only so much Monday morning quarterbacking that we can do here. I agree that these responsibilities sound like a lot for a 13-14y/o, on top of school… and school suffered as a result. But OP also found great value in being the one to step up for a beloved family member and doesn’t sound as if they’d do it differently if they had it to do over. The only harm it has done in the long run is an early blemish on the HS record. Perhaps schools that can’t overlook that are just not where OP needs to be. They are obviously a high-achieving student who will do just fine at whichever excellent college they attend.
OP might or might not have gotten into Rice, even with an academically-perfect freshman year. They might yet get in. They might not, and we’ll never know whether better freshman grades would have changed it. It’s water under the bridge, and OP has a bright future whether they attend Rice or not. They’ll almost certainly have multiple excellent options in the UC system (where freshman grades won’t affect the recalculated GPA). So, if Rice is the dream, OP should put their best foot forward in the ED cycle and hope for the best. But in the end, if it doesn’t work out, they’ll be no worse off than many, many equally talented and deserving students in the UC system, who aren’t at T20 privates because they either couldn’t afford it, couldn’t get in, didn’t see the point in paying twice as much, or actually liked the UC’s better, as many do.
Applying ED is smart because the application will get a closer read in a smaller pool, in addition to the “bump” in acceptance rate. Emory is likely a smarter choice for ED2 than Vanderbilt, unless Vandy is truly The Dream 2.0. Another option would be the top Canadian universities, which also don’t consider freshman grades (and which have fewer distribution requirements and more focus on the chosen major - possibly desirable if OP is very focused on their major path and research, and not as much on the breadth requirements of typical US/UC GenEd’s.)