Can near-perfect A-Levels make up for no senior year at all?


<p>I am not going to lie about this. I was never a very good student, in that I never did my best in high school. I was much more interested in questions that we did not cover in any way at school and spent a lot of my time figuring things about life in general. I observed human behaviour a lot and spent a lot of time pseudo-philosophising and writing fiction. Fact that I have ADD didn't help at all either, I suppose. </p>

<p>In spite of that, I was in the top 20-30 of a class of 200 (usually an average mark of ~80%) without doing much and I was happy with that. I didn't complete year 12, transferred to an IB school and re-transferred to an A-Level school, and not feeling challenged in either of the two schools, I decided to do my A-Levels on my own. </p>

<p>My question is as follows: is there any way for me to make this look "acceptable" if not, "good"? If I were to achieve A<em>A</em>AAA-AAAA in maths, physics, chemistry, french and perhaps english lit, would it be okay if I didn't do so well in my last high school year? I was thinking of writing a polite explanation in ~200 words to account for my haphazard last high school years.</p>


<p>I don't know anything about A-levels so I don't know where these scores put you in terms of the larger student body. It's important to know that Chicago reviews applications holistically, meaning that your performance in high school is only so important, but this means your college entrance examination scores, essays, and leadership activities will all have to be very strong in order for you to be admitted. Ultimately you'll have to convince the admissions counselors that, in spite of your previous poor performance, you would flourish in Chicago's heavily academic environment.</p>

<p>Get the highest score possible in all of them.</p>

<p>Write a killer essay that proves you've gained something from your high school years.</p>

<p>Then you have a chance.</p>

<p>I skipped junior year (spent it abroad) and never tried in high school because I went to a crappy high school that didn't require effort. I still got in by writing a really good essay and being incredibly passionate about certain things (namely traveling and languages). At least, that's what I think got me in... who knows, really. Don't worry too much. As Oxalis said, it's holistic, so your transcript isn't everything. Neither are your A-levels, for that matter...</p>

<p>Thanks a lot guys. It's great to have some insight from applicants and as well as admitted students. :-)</p>

<p>My main concern is really "how do I convince them that I'm not an idiot and that I have what it takes to graduate with BS/BA from their university?" and the way I see it, me changing schools so often and doing not-so-good in the later year or two raises quite a few alarms.</p>

<p>For what it's worth, I'm getting progressively more involved with my activities (math and education) and hopefully things will work out.</p>

<p>I bet 70+% of the people who apply here are academically capable of graduating. Maybe even higher. Graduating isn't hard, graduating and going on to bring fame/endowment to the university is harder.</p>

<p>Well, the goal of UChicago's admissions has never, ever, ever been to attract students that would get rich and donate to the University. That's the primary reason why we were having severe financial troubles back in the 90's.</p>

<p>Don't focus on your ability to bring in money. That's important at Harvard, but not so much here. You want to show your admissions counselor that you have what it takes to engage with our curriculum. Dropping out of school is not the best way to go about doing this, but that doesn't mean things are hopeless. You just have to A) perform as perfectly as possible on these A-levels, B) take the SAT and get as perfect a score as possible, C) write essays that are as perfect as possible, D) participate in some sort of activities, and E) secure great recommendations. I suspected the last two of these will be hardest for you since you're no longer in school.</p>

<p>Basically, you can either submit an application that says "my record shows that I am unable to commit to schoolwork and you can be certain I won't survive here", or one that says "hey, I know high school didn't work for me, but that's because it failed to keep me engaged academically. UChicago will keep me engaged." Obviously, you want to say the latter.</p>

Great! :D</p>

<p>Yeah, that's what I've been shooting for - "hey, I know...". I just felt a little hopeless for a while, not really knowing many persons "on the other side" who'd be willing to look into the matter. </p>

<p>Thanks a lot.</p>

<p>Oxalis, don't get caught up in the secondary purpose I listed and focus on the primary -- fame. The purpose of any quality university, including UChicago, is to bring in students that will go on to do great things in their field. My overall point was that they're not looking for a student that can manage to get through and graduate (that's easy), but someone that will excel and be a good representative of the school in their field (maybe win a Nobel?).</p>

For what it's worth, I'm not an imbecile and I am actively involved in improving education in my country. Okay, maybe country is an overstatement but that's my main aim. As of right now, it's just a local thing. The amount of children who cannot speak English properly is, frankly, just saddening. I intend to further expand this and hope that by the end of the year, this "Saturday-afternoon school" will be able to run without me, in a few different localities. If I don't work in education, I will go down the scientific route, i.e, go to grad school in physics/math/neuroscience and take things from there. Whether I'll be going to industry or the post-doc hell is another issue, which I will address if or when the time comes.</p>

<p>The bottom line is that being a "student that will do great things in x field" is not a concern. I do not want to come across as an a$@ but I know for a fact that I can do something of note. Not just because I can (I actually believe that most people can accomplish something if they want it enough and work hard enough, which depending on the field and one's natural ability at it, might require more or less effort than usual) but because I want. I'm actually working towards this <em>now</em>.</p>

<p>Just saying...</p>

<p>Then you should have a good shot :) Just make sure you show your passion and how it defines your life in your application. I wasn't trying to single you out and say that you didn't have those things, I was just stating that good grades/scores aren't enough.</p>