Chances at Brown U. with an Unusual School Situation

<p>I've got a problem. A very, very, VERY big problem.</p>

<p>This past year, my school, which was ill-equipped to begin with (offering 3 AP courses and a smattering of Honors), received a $17 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to convert to "small learning communities," in an effort to raise our failing test scores. Basically, our school has been divided into three "small schools," each with no more than 400 students. Each school is completely autonomous from the other two. No students are permitted to take classes outside of their particular school. There are mentorship courses every morning, in which students meet with their counselors in a classroom setting and discuss their options.</p>

<p>All sounds rather peachy, does it not? Well, except for this: only certain schools offer certain classes. For example, School A offers Spanish and French, but only School B offers American Sign Language. However, School A is the only school offering trig, so if you wish to take both ASL AND trig, you're out of have to choose one or the other. </p>

<p>Complicating matters still further: Honors and AP no longer exist. We have no accelerated classes whatsoever. No AP English. No calculus. No...anything, actually. We have no clubs--all clubs have been disbanded, since interaction between the three schools is prohibited. </p>

<p>And, to complicate matters further STILL: I'm a senior.</p>

<p>Our graduating class is caught in the meat grinder. No one seems to know what's going on. We've protested, we've pleaded for answers, but no one has them--the administration is keeping us completely in the dark, because they don't know what they're doing THEMSELVES. I mentioned this to my counselor--she shrugged, and said, "I'm sorry. The class of '06 is just going to have to suffer with the short end of the stick, I'm afraid."</p>

<p>So. To combat all this, I went full-time community college. I'm taking 18-20 credits a quarter, which is over the traditionally accepted limit for Running Start students. I'm making every effort to make my application look reasonable. However, as our school was weak to begin with...I just don't know. I've taken the absolute most rigorous coursework our school offers--but, on paper, it looks outright sad. </p>

<p>In addition to this, my counselor has refused to fill out my Secondary School Report. I do not know why. As you can imagine, this is going to prove EXCEPTIONALLY detrimental to my admissions chances, since I'll have to find another school official willing to do it--likely one who's never spoken two words to me, not to mention one who'll put a cheery face on the new program rather than expose it for the harmful, hurtful thing it really is.</p>

<p>I want to go to Brown. I've taken the hardest coursework offered. I try to participate in ECs as much as I can. My grades are reasonable. I'm working on my test scores as we speak.</p>

<p>So, from my unusual standpoint, I ask you: What are my chances?</p>

<p>GPA: 3.969 (one B, junior year, first semester trig)
Class Rank: 2 of 210
SAT: 2000 (730 V, 580 M, 690 W, essay SS 10, re-taking 11/05)
APs: 1 (English Lang., 5)
SAT IIs: Taking 12/05</p>

-Varsity gymnastics (3 years, lettered all three, 1 of 6 chosen to represent our school in the WCD championships last winter)
-Varsity swimming (2 years)
-ASL Club (3 years, President junior year, organized fundraising drives and other ASL-related events)
-Statewide Sign-Off Competition (soph. and junior years, 4th place individual statewide in grade 10, 3rd place group statewide in grade 11)
-National Alliance for Autism Research (all four years of H.S., team captain and chief fundraiser for annual walkathon in June all four years, youngest delegate to recruit at FCC on behalf of NAAR, spoken in front of the Women's Council of Realtors twice on behalf of NAAR, selected as 1 of 24 2005 National Young Leadership Award winners nationally for NAAR)
-ASL Interpreting Internship (11th grade, one of two students selected, spent one hour weekly at nearby elementary school doing solo interpreting for a class of deaf 5th/6th graders)</p>

<p>Brown has been my top choice school for quite some time; I aspire to, at some point, become a pediatric neurologist. What are my odds? And, if they're as low as I think they are, is there anything I can do to improve them...before time runs out?</p>

<p>Please, I'd appreciate any help you can give.</p>

<p>I suggest that you enclose a letter of explanation saying that your school just developed a new program, and explaining how that has changed your options for classes and clubs. Do not say that the program is terrible, just emphasize what you're doing to take advantage of the opportunities that exist, and create new opportunities for yourself.</p>

<p>"since I'll have to find another school official willing to do it--likely one who's never spoken two words to me"</p>

<p>While it looks like you'll need to find another school official, it's not necessarily true that the person won't have talked to you that much. If you're charming, you should be able to wrangle your way into an appointment long enough for the person to talk to you and learn about you well enough to write a decent recommendation. Believe it or not, at many schools, students barely know their counselors and may even get a new counselor senior year. I also suggest that when you meet with the administrator do not complain about the school situation or the GC. Highlight your strengths. Bring a brag sheet, etc. Emphasize the positive about you.</p>

<p>Have you considered writing the Gates Foundation and enlisting their help in establishing procedures to keep your class from getting the short end of the stick? Since they've given your school a sizeable grant, it seems the foundation would have every reason to want a good outcome for all of the students.</p>

<p>Bump bump bump...</p>