Chance me for: Phillips Exeter Academy, Phillips Andover Academy, IMSA

Hi, I’m a freshman in Chicago, Illinois.

My interest areas are Computer Science /competitive programming/IOS development/ Unity development/Android development (predominately), Math, Leadership/volunteerism (e.g student voice committee, volunteering in a car wash).

The grades I received 7th and 8th were extremely bad, I’m talking a few D’s, couple C’s, mostly A’s and B’s. Right now, I’m a 4.0 student who’s taking the “hardest” classes my school offers, one AP (all my school offers for freshman), and all other Honors classes. I got 102% in one of my classes, as well as 99’s in almost all my classes. The lack of rigor is making school boring for me, once I started trying in school and doing my best, I realized school is just about determination to do good, and not about talent or IQ. I’m planning on taking a few courses at Northwestern CTD that interest me.

I have amazing writing skills according to my Honors English teacher, am historically underrepresented, and is a really hard worker.

But, obviously that’s not enough. My USAD team that I’m apart of usually comes 3rd in the state (this year we’re second place in the state), yesterday we had a scrimmage and I got 3rd place on one of my tests, also, I scored the highest in my school, even though I didn’t study for it. If I did study I have no doubt in my mind that I would’ve gotten first, I have another one coming this following Wednesday.

My awards are quite inconsiderable, but I’ve been practicing extremely hard for the United States Computing Olympiad where I feel like I would advance to silver, and be platinum this year, or next. I’m learning Swift currently preparing for the Apple WWDC, forming a team of talented computer scientist to compete at local hackathons. I’m an expert on codeforces. Fast computational thinker and coder in general, I type 103 WPM on average. Practicing for AMC 10, expecting a perfect or near perfect score.

Are you taking the ssat?

Yes (hopefully), I did multiple practice tests (I can’t even count), and the quantitative section seems really easy. The vocabulary is the only one I’m working on. Reading doesn’t seem to worry me, I enjoy reading, and on the practice tests I was doing good on it.

By the way I meant Phillips Academy Andover, I just noticed.

@ExtraPursuit101 I love your enthusiasm for pursuing a new path, and there are definitely some interesting aspects to your profile! And, you won’t know unless you apply. I do have some concerns about multiple C’s and D’s. I have the concern for two reasons. One, of course, that’s not great to have on your application. (Although maybe you have a compelling reason for those grades? FWIW, I do not think “I wasn’t challenged enough and I was bored so I checked out” will be a compelling reason.) But more importantly – these schools you are suggesting are VERY rigorous. Even kids who have spent their entire lives on dean’s list (even while bored or not studying) find the workload sometimes overwhelming. I say none of this to hurt your feelings, but to say: are you sure you would truly be happy in the kind of environment where people spend 4 or 5 hours of homework a day?

For a moment, let’s forget grades and SSATs. Let me ask you this: have you spent your entire life being considered the smartest kid in the class in just about every classroom? I am not asking for you to answer to us, but to yourself.

No matter what the answer is to that question, I would HIGHLY recommend adding some schools to your list. There are SO many amazing school options out there where you would get a truly top-notch education. The schools you have listed have very low admission rates, so if going away to prep school is important to you, then I would widen the net.

(Also: I have zero wisdom in IMSA.)

Cheering you on from the sidelines!!

@Calliemomofgirls Thank you so much for the feedback.

With regards to the C’s and D’s grades, I’ve heard of a student on Quora who got in to Phillips Exeter Academy with the same struggle as me. PM if you would like to know who. I think I would be happy in a challenging environment with lots of homework, simply because I love challenge. I’ve been challenged my whole life, with issues at home like getting my homework done everynight with a loud, obnoxious family of 10, being the best player on the team in basketball, scoring high on national exams without much resources, and what not. The point is the fact that I changed the outlook of my grades from those to these in these circumstance shows that I’m willing to put in the work to earn grades I’m happy with. My school counselor, as well as my teachers can vouch for the fact that their classes are simply a walk in the park for me.

If I were to measure my IQ right now, and compare it to everyone in my school as a matter fact, I would probably do significantly better (Not to be arrogant, but I do live in a minority/immigrant community), my test scores ever since a child was above the 90th percentile, on the NWEA, SET, etc. My parents actually never made enough money to afford even some of the material for school, I had to stay after school for help, because I didn’t have a computer at home, now we have a little more money because my father got a better job. Before, I had to walk about a mile from my house to the library to read books I liked, and wanted to read everyday. Now, I have a computer, bookshelf/books, and many other resources.

These are some of the other schools I want to go to, Groton, Deerfield, University of Chicago Laboratory School, Milton Academy, Stanford Online High school, Trinity School, The Lawrenceville School, Lakeside School, The College Preparatory School, Harvard-Westlake School, and maybe others. I just named Phillips Academy, Phillips Exeter Academy, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, just because those were the ones that I want to go to the most. I’ll be happy with whatever school accepts me, the name is not everything.

I’m eager to ask, these schools that I’m applying to hold a holistic approach so wouldn’t they look past those past grades, and see what I scored on the SSAT and the SAT for IMSA to see that I’ll do well academically at their schools?

On a serious note, some of the things I’m saying kind of sound like I’m bragging and I truly don’t want to come off that way, I don’t know how else to phrase it because on the application you want to show schools why they should accept you. And, another thank you, I might sound a bit antithetical to your statements, but I just want to know more. I know a bit about how schools approach admission to certain schools, they put people into brackets, Illinois has a problem with getting students into the ivy leagues, and on top of that, I don’t think that many students from Illinois apply to M10 schools, also, as a historically underrepresented student my plans for these schools consist of telling them about our history, and creating a strategy to commit a big change to something that common private school students deal with. I add diversity to the school, and I have good communication skills, and that’ll show in the interview. On my essay I’ll have help from my sister who’s a professional writer and upcoming book writer, I won’t have her write anything for me, but I’ll ask her for advice on writing styles, and tips.

Would you say I still have a good change?

I just saw the application material on Gateway, and Phillips Exeter Academy only needs first quarter grades, so they won’t see my past grades.

And that’s my first choice.

Unless something has changed. PEA requires grades from current year and last year. I would be very surprised that they would make a decision with only 18 weeks of grades.

On another note, which I say to be helpful, your writing just oozes hubris, despite your protests to the contrary. That will not be perceived as a positive.

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Okay, thank you! I’ll definitely take heed to that.

@ExtraPursuit101 You don’t have to convince us, and frankly Quora is not “proof”. It’s the admissions office that you’ll have to convince.

The thing is, 1 quarter is not a pattern. So your story has to be compelling. And avoid phrases like, “Not to be arrogant, but I do live in a minority/immigrant community.”

Where do you think you would compare against kids who have a pattern of A+s coming from schools where the majority of students are “immigrant/minority”? You are competing against every kid who has a hard luck story and who still has straight A+s, and whose teachers have been predicting since early elementary school will be a future president or valedictorian. Your application might be compared to that of the kid who scores in the 99th percentile on the state tests even though they’re at a low performing school where 80% of their classmates are “not proficient” at grade level reading skills.

These are important things to realize when applying. (Especially if you need financial aid.)

Also, if “the name is not everything”, then why are you applying to PA and PEA?

Yes, I realize that you are applying to other places, but PA and PEA are in far too many “chance me” thread titles. They’re good schools but they’re not good for everyone.

Okay, thanks! I’m applying to PEA and to PA because I want to live in a community of people who are motivated and driven by their interests, I want to have a conversation with someone I don’t even know from these schools and ask them about their interests, and be mind blown by how passionate they are about it. I want to have people around me that will push me and motivate me to do my best even when I’m feeling discouraged. What would you say would need to happen for me to gain admission? Side-note, I’m not applying for FA.

This describes Deerfield, Choate, Loomis…literally every top boarding school.


I am not sure I understand all the parts of your story but I appreciate your enthusiasm and resolve. You have a lot of plans and motivation and those plans are realized you might be a great candidate. I’d assume any quality school would want to see at least a solid year of excellent grades to show your resolve. First quarter is not enough. You need to show a pattern. All or some of your plans need to be fulfilled instead of planned and/or dreamed: take those Northwestern classes don’t consider them, complete the AMC, complete the SSAT, etc. then reevaluate your choices. Consider applying next year for a repeat tenth grade year.

I don’t understand the economic narrative at all and all the components don’t seem to support each other.

The longer I’ve spent on CC the more humble I’ve become about my own 99%er. And the more I’ve come to appreciate how many really excellent schools there are. The completion will be fierce will kids who have excellent for a long time.

PS Harvard-Westlake is located in Los Angeles and does not board students.


The University of Chicago Lab School might be a great fit with you, especially if you live nearby. I suspect that’s where most U. of C. faculty send their kids, many of whom are likely gifted and high-achieving. Probably a great school.

The College Preparatory School is a day school in Oakland, Cal. No boarders.

I love your enthusiasm, too. I think you need to apply it to some deep research on the many great school options out there, and forget about the brand names for a moment. They are holding you back.

It feels like you are just at the beginning stages of figuring this out. There is a lot to learn about what schools have to offer, and what YOU need from a school. You will have a better result if you invest in your research.

I honestly appreciate that you guys went out of your way to help me, I was thinking yesterday that I might stay at my high school for tenth grade, ensure strong grades and then apply again for boarding school and expect a fair chance. Right now, I’m focusing on gathering achievements so that I can show my passion for what I do. This year, I don’t think that I will get into my top choices, and that’s okay, I’m honestly okay with it. Since I’m taking AP Calculus BC, I’ll take Linear Algebra with differential equations, and Multivariable Calculus over the summer at Harvard Summer School since my school doesn’t offer past Calculus BC, I forgot to say, but, the schools I’m applying to have higher math for me. Andover has high levels of math, as well as Exeter, and all the others Next year do you think I should repeat if I’m going to be taking predominately AP classes and one college class: differential equations 2?

you have great extracurriculars but I am worried about the grades. Broaden your schools selection which might help. The schools which has large acceptance rate.

Alright… I got waitlisted at Andover :sweat_smile: rejected and waitlisted from the others sadly.

Thanks for the update.

Consider looking into schools that have rolling admissions. For example, Cranbrook in Michigan considers students, as space permits, post M10.