Chances: Do I have a shot? How can I stand out more?

<p>I'm a junior and I'm very nervous about whether or not I have a shot at Harvard, or any Ivy League school for that matter. My school doesn't produce Ivy material whatsoever- it's hard to say given most people do not pursue academic success in my school. My guidance counselor and others are saying I have fine chances, but I don't think I have them. I know CC knows best in terms of what I can do to boost my chances. </p>

<p>I can't provide a lot of information, but I was wondering if there was something that could make me stand out. I haven't the money to take trips or be in an exchange program or start big, expensive projects. My parents don't support me financially or academically, and they cannot provide much for me in pursuing my dreams. I don't have the proper resources to visit the Ivies, either. It's not their faults, they simply don't know what to do and they aren't educated themselves. They don't have much involvement in my life. Anyway,</p>

<p>Personal/Economic Statistics (just to throw out there):</p>

<p>Sex: Female
Race: African-American, Native American (officially enrolled in tribal affiliation)
Income Bracket: <$20,000
School: Public, extremely low-end, low graduation rate
Community: Small, urban, mostly economically impoverished, very disreputable.
Family: None has ever went to college, high school ed. or lower. Live with one biological parent and grandmother and siblings, other bio parent has been incarcerated most of my life and does not support. </p>

<p>GPA: Around 3.8, I believe. Unweighted. Working on boosting it, will retake a few courses over the summer that will replace the last high eighties grade.</p>

<p>Rank: N/A</p>

<p>SAT I: Took them for the first time today, no idea. I'm considered an early bloomer; most people at my school take them for the first time at the start of their senior year.
SAT IIs: N/A</p>

<p>Freshman Schedule (this was the toughest they were willing to give, NO APs offered and no options given):
English 9ACC, Geometry 9ACC, Earth Science, MOS (computer business course), World History 9ACC, Concert Band</p>

<p>Following Summer: Health ACC, Media Productions I</p>

<p>Sophomore Schedule (only ONE AP available sophomore year): Chemistry, Physics, Algebra II and Trigonometry, English 10ACC, Symphonic Band, AP World History</p>

<p>Junior Schedule (current): AP English Lit, Wind Ensemble, AP U.S History, AP Chemistry, AP Music Theory, Pre-Calculus</p>

<p>Work Experience:
-Paid Internet-based ghostwriter for articles, short stories, and essays (usually for adults seeking Internet marketing assistance) since 10th grade.
Otherwise, nothing. </p>

<p>EC:
-Band (9, 10, 11): Marching Band, Pit Orchestra, Pep Band, volunteer in the freshman band. Won NYS Band Director's Association Award in 10th grade, not that it's a big deal. I was pretty proud, though. I'm very passionate about music, I harbor versatility in a few instruments.
-Varsity Bowling Team/League Bowling (9, 10, 11)
-Varsity Track (10, 11)
-Key Club (9, 10, 11) Current Vice President, will move up to President next year as I will be the only one in my grade who has stuck with it and helped out so much.
-Environmental Club (9, 10, 11) Only person in grade involved, President to be
-National Honor Society (9, 10, 11) Elected as officer, position TBA but I am also the only person in this club that takes an active role.
-Scholastic Bowl (10, 11)
-Masterminds <a href="10,%2011">another form of Quiz Bowl</a>
-Astronomy Club (11) Founder and president, I rounded up around 20 kids. My passion lies in astronomy, astrophysics and space engineering.
-Local School District Television Station (9, 10, 11)- Work in spare time to help film and produce things for the channel, reaches out to about 60,000 homes around the county. Also work every school morning on the announcements show. I am a frequent, experienced anchor and I help in the background when I'm not on air.
-Grassroots Leadership Program (10)- Was a free one-year opportunity. Did a lot of public speaking and community project involvement.</p>

<p>My ECs are not special, but they are extremely time-consuming and I love such universal involvement in the school. I am very well-trusted and known around my community, I love making such a positive impact and trying to encourage kids to take pride and initiative in their environment despite disadvantaging odds. </p>

<p>How can I improve? I don't look like anything special, and I feel I don't necessarily have the opportunity to. I'd like to start something, but I'm not sure what. Any ideas? What should I prioritize at this point?</p>

<p>How can you stand out?</p>

<p>As an economically disadvantaged AA/NA high achiever, you already stand out. A lot. Focus on academics. Look into Questbridge.
QuestBridge</a> Home
Good luck!</p>

<p>Really, sherpa? I didn't really know I'd stand out based on those factors- I mean, I know my situation isn't a typical applicant's situation, which they would notice, but I didn't think it would matter to them. Thanks a lot! :)</p>

<p>I second the suggestion to look into QuestBridge.
Also, take a look at the Common Application to see what is required. Then you can begin to fill in any holes this year and begin thinking about who will be writing your letters of reference, etc... Since you can't visit a lot of campuses check out all the videos that are available on youtube, college ***<strong><em>, *</em></strong>, etc...</p>

<p>You have some great experiences and solid academics. I noticed you included the district television show and grassroots leadership at the bottom of your list and wondered why they were so far down there. As you begin to think about what makes you unique consider ways to re-order the list. A lot of students participate in the ECs at the top of your list, but the ones at the bottom are quite unique. I could see a couple of great essays coming out of those two activities (particularly your role as an anchor). </p>

<p>While Harvard is a wonderful university, keep yourself open to other possibilities. Given your background and interests, Northwestern comes to mind. Also, Stanford has some great programs and resources for students from Native American backgrounds. The Robertson Scholarship through Duke and UNC might also be a good fit. Good luck!</p>

<p>For you, it will really, really, really depend on your SAT/SAT IIs. You're a star given your background and your school, but Harvard's best indicator of whether you can also shine here--since it will be an academic order of magnitude harder than your high school--are those standardized tests. If you get a 2200 and write good essays, your chances are very high. If you get a 1500/2400, Harvard will wish and wish they could admit you, but the numbers will force them to turn you down, because somebody with that low a score probably isn't going to graduate.</p>