Chance Me (for top schools, oof)

Schools I’m applying for (Most reach to target-reach):
Phillips Academy Andover
Phillips Exeter Academy
Lawrenceville School
Hotchkiss School

(I didn’t know they were all top schools so bear with me :’))

3.8-4.0 GPA (Haven’t fully calculated, all A’s except 2 B’s from 6th Grade)
Haven’t taken the SSAT yet but my first try (practice) was 74% percentile and I am going to prepare as much as I can for the next months
I’m in all Honors Classes (Including LA, STEM (not official) (It’s called Introduction to Engineering Design), Science (not official), and Math (Geometry I), I’ve been accepted into Honors Art but was unable to go due to taking Honors STEM)
Math Olympians Club for 4 Years
Stock Market Event for 2 Years

ECs & Job/Volunteering:
Played piano for 8 (to be 9) years:

  • 5 awards:
  • 5 state awards
  • 1 national award
  • Currently going into an international contest and aiming for top (practice a lot good luck to me lol)
  • ABRSM Level 5 Pianist
  • ABRSM Level 5 Music Theorist(?)
    Played cello for 4.5 (to be 5) years
  • Solo performance at School concert
  • First chair for 2 years in School Orchestra
  • Small Group/Chamber Ensemble Cellist, performance at local Church
    Art for 7 years
  • I have collected a resume with my best artworks in place of awards (I have none, sad. )
  • Resume:
  • Anime Art (which is an eek)
  • Pencil Sketches (my best art)
  • Acrylic Paintings (not the best)
  • Renders & Photoshop (not even sure if this is art)
  • Digital art (my worst art, they’re basically doodles that I really like)
  • Currently working on a mural in my house (bamboo, river, and mountains)
    (This is kinda volunteering)
  • Taught children art at an International School over the summer (12 weeks)
  • Tutor for children in China, taught English (~60ish hours a year)
  • The Art thing above ^^
    School Positions:
    Absolutely None, which is a big minus, unless straight A student roll counts, which it probably doesn’t.
    Also absolutely none, which is also a huge minus and I don’t know if I can make it up. I have experience in swimming and tennis, but I don’t have any awards or anything to prove I am in any way good at them (which I’m not), but I want to get back into swimming (COVID stuff)

Information (yay super interesting):
Asian-American (Full Asian tho, sadness)
Applying for 9th grade (oof competitive) and currently in 8th grade
She/Her (Cis Female)
13 years old
Public Middle School
New Jersey (oof)
Financial Aid :’(

Essays - I’m working on, also should I make them more eccentric (and like me, who plays video games and finds education in Minecraft) or more organized and formal?
Interview - I plan on focusing on the fact that I’m going to these schools not to spit out information to a test, but to learn from others (not just teachers) and improve myself (personality, doing more for the community, stopping procrastination, etc.) as well as opportunities in these schools I won’t have at home, and how a school is unique. I’m not sure how I’m going to tie in how I’ll fit in though…

Interests (Not Yet Explored): Fashion Design, Architecture, Game Design & Web Dev, YouTube (It’s my dream and my passion but I’m not sure how helpful it is to the application process, I want to start a history channel, like Oversimplified or something)
Interests (Explored a bit): Computer Science (Python, Java, C++, I made some simple games in python and I’m currently working on Minecraft Server Plugins, but haven’t started anything on C++), Animation (I make 2d animations and I’m currently working on making advertisements for a small company), World History & Culture
Interests(Explored): Piano, Cello, Art

Why I’m applying: I want a challenging enviornment but I don’t want to be just memorizing then spitting information onto a test, just to be forgotten later. I want a place to connect with my peers and be able to learn from everywhere, in and outside the classroom. Living on campus will make me feel more engaged in learning as well as put me into an enviornment where I am fully immersed in the learning experience. I’m not here to simply put a 4.0 on my GPA or just because I want to go to a nice college, but because I want to be able to learn from people around me and find memorable ideas I will never be able to think about from myself or from a teacher telling us to memorize, receive opportunities I’ll never get in my local school, and find out who I really am through connections with other students and improving myself throughout my high school career.

Also questions:
If I get a test optional do I submit a bad test score?
Should I ask for recommendation letters from 8th grade teachers I barely know or 7th grade teachers who probably forgot me by now?
What is a good SSAT score? I know it varies school to school but a general idea would be nice

Sorry if this was long, hope I can get some advice

Also, I was in the Math Olympians Club for 2 years, break, 2 years. (4 years total)

You sound like a great kid and a strong applicant. No one here can really tell your chances beyond that.

A couple of things, I believe average SSAT scores of accepted students for those schools are approximately in the 85th percentile plus. If your score is much lower, no don’t submit it.

Also, all have low acceptance rates. Do you have a good back up plan if you don’t get admitted? If yes, no problem, if no you might consider applying to some less selective schools.

I know they have low acceptance rates, but I’m not extremely pressed to go there. (I do still really want to go though, but it’s okay if I don’t) I already attend a pretty good public school (not the best, but it’s not bad) and I’m thinking about maybe reapplying for sophomore year if I get rejected from all of them (likely lol) My baseline was the 74th precentile but I’m currently working on the ssat really hard (~1-2 hrs a day) and trying to gather resources for the interview and application in general. Thanks for your reply <3

You need to widen your net and include schools that have less of a focus on sports.

Yes, they exist. There are even schools that don’t have mandatory sports requirements - they just aren’t part of the dominant culture in this forum community.

Even prep schools not in the top 20 offer more opportunities to be challenged academically than in public school.

So do some more research. Include some schools that don’t make you exclaim “oof”, but rather something closer to, “I feel like I’m coming home.”

If you like art, make sure that you include schools that are art-friendly.

Also, include some all-girl schools, like Dana Hall (MA) or Westover (CT).

I agree, but I’m not sure if it’s too late to look into schools by now. Also, do you have any suggestions?

@pearlescentrose Too late? NOT AT ALL! We added schools to our list in mid-December! Especially in this fully remote year.

Thank you for telling me :slight_smile: It’s making me feel less stressed

One thing I might point out is that the four schools you are applying to are only on Gateway. The schools that would round out your application list nicely might be more likely to accept SAO (in addition to, or instead of, gateway). Which would be a GOOD thing, in my opinion, because that would mean ONE more application essay set that could go to several schools, rather than a bunch of Gateway applications (which require their own set of essays).

It is much easier to give your recommenders two recommendation forms (gateway + SAO) to fill out at the start than it is to circle back around later and ask for another recommendation. Which means: if you are going to expand your list (which I think would be wise if you want to go to BS – the list you have may not result in options), I might think about getting some SAO options in there sometime before you think about asking for recommendations (usually in November). It will just give you more flexibility, and it will make the incremental work of adding a school to your list much lower. (And BTW – if on March 11th you regret not applying to more schools, you can very easily apply to some SAO schools at the click of a button – many great schools accept late applications, so this is a nice option to have if you don’t get any acceptances and suddenly really regret not applying more widely.)

Expand your list. Even with everything in order (statistically) all BS’s have far more applicants than they can accept.
We dropped a school in December and added one in the late Fall as well. YOU know if the school isn’t a fit. I know Covid can make it much more difficult.

Thanks for all the advice :slight_smile: I’ll take everything into consideration <3

A “good” test score is usually considered something around the schools average.

Recommendations are not your choice. They are specifically your 8th grade math and English teacher and your principle or counselor. Then you can submit extras if you want to.

@one1ofeach Just a small tweak on the recommendations – some schools ARE allowing 7th grade recommenders this (Covid) year.

to the OP: To keep it simple, I would probably just do the 8th grade recommendations across the board because some schools will probably NOT allow the 7th grade recommendation, and then it becomes a HUGE logistical thing to manage two sets of recommendations by school (especially with Gateway, etc…). So unless you really, really have a compelling reason to go to last year’s teachers that would justify the additional hassle, I would stick with 8th grade. (Unless ALL of your schools are allowing 7th grade recs – but then that also requires you to email them individually and confirm that.)

If you really felt strongly about a 7th grade teacher, then have them write a separate recommendation by letter and ask your AO’s if that could be submitted (by email from your teacher to the AO.)

@Calliemomofgirls lol I almost wrote “unless everything is different now” and then I thought, but it can’t be THAT different. Haha. Now I’m an old timer with no useful info - haven’t applied to school during a pandemic? Don’t know anything. ?

@pearlescentrose Ok so fair warning that I am about to be a total mom here. And you can 100% ignore anything that doesn’t sound right for you, because of course I’m A mom but not YOUR mom. But I bring this up here because I don’t think you are alone in maybe benefitting from hearing this thought: I don’t love the negative language you are using to describe yourself. Just the little digs on yourself – yes the “oofs” and the “no award -sad” and the “good luck to me lol.” Your ears hear that. Your heart hears that. You will start to believe what you say about yourself. Yes, this is just a post on a random website, but you are SO AMAZING!! You have so much to offer a school! And if you carry this tone, this casual dismissal of yourself in the name of “humility” with you into the interviews or the essays, then I think you will be selling yourself short. You are special and amazing, full stop. No need to apologize for the rest. Yes, be humble. Yes, realize that you don’t have every bell and whistle known to mankind. No, don’t be a jerk or brag-gy. But those little digs are not what being humble is.

The application process is a truly special opportunity to dig deep, get to know yourself, and in the process, I hope, fall in love with your truest self and the future that awaits you. When you know something well, and love it deeply, it is SO easy to talk about that in a way that is compelling and natural. (meaning in this context: in essays and interviews)

You are young and full of potential, your future is truly bright, and I am completely in your corner here! I hope this is only helpful, and if it isn’t – remember you can ignore all of it. I’m just one lady on the internet.

1 Like

In addition to Gateway and SAO, OP might check out Ravenna.

Yes, yes, yup, uh huh. Per usual, so well said. Those oofs are not what humble is. Cut them out and allow yourself to shine. My daughter always dimmed herself for her friends and I hated it, I also think it hurt her mental health.

I was going to say that, rather than having too little, you have way too much on your “resume” here. You need to pare it down to the things that really matter to you and that you want to highlight and showcase in your applications. Just listing everything you have ever done does not look good, it looks, not “desperate,” but like you are throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping it sticks. You need to craft an application that makes it clear to an AO who you are and why they want you - spaghetti on the wall is too much work for an AO, you need to give them a nice pasta dish, complete with garlic bread and wine.

@Calliemomofgirls @one1ofeach Alright, I’ll focus on becoming a more positive person, I’m just super used to comparing myself to my peers and feeling inferior, I will try my best to improve. Also, I’m not sure what to put on my resume to make it look like a pasta dish, instead of two strands of spagetti or throwing spagetti on the walls. Any suggestions, please? Thank you <3

On what level of repertoire are you working on piano and cello? For example, on piano, are you playing intermediate stuff well, or are you performing concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, etc.? On cello, are you performing Haydn concertos, Boccherini, Saint Saens concerto? Have you succeeded at an international music camp, like Interlochen or something similar?

@pearlescentrose I love your willingness to hear some input and be open to it. Really – this is going to be a fantastic skill to have as your grow. And just know: you do not need to become a blindly-positive person. You are lovely exactly the way you are. I just want you to see what we see: beauty and hope and future.

The second question: how to make sense of who you are, and find the narratives – that is a big one. I have thoughts. (Natch. I always have thoughts.). I have to go feed the family. But you are welcome to scroll through my comments to others over the past year about this very topic: how to find your narrative and discover yourself and love what you see so you can clearly share it with the people who need to know you. Or, I can answer another time when I have a blank page and keyboard in front of me.

One thing I’ll share quickly before I go: do not be afraid to let a few things stand for who you are. You do NOT need to “impress” as much as “make clear” with your narrative. Ok more later. (by later I mean another day)