Chances, please? Strange circumstances

<p>Hi, I was hoping some of you who were accepted to Princeton with stats outside of the typical HYPS applicant could offer up a bit of advice. I'm a poor applicant (one working parent, making $30,000 a year) living in rural Missouri. I've had quite the unorthodox high school experience, and have been through some very rough times recently. Our family was hit extremely hard by the recession; both my parents lost their jobs and our income dropped from over 100k to almost nothing in a matter of months. My mom was luckily able to find a job, but my dad has been drifting about for years now with no luck (he was in construction).</p>

<p>In addition to all of this I've switched around schools three times, with a possible fourth this year. I started off as a freshman in our horrid local high school, but my mom pulled me out for homeschooling 3/4 of the way through the year for various reasons. Over the summer she procured a job at an upper middle class school district a little under half an hour away, and I attended there for 2 years. Now I may be reverting back to homeschooling through the University of Missouri online and Northwestern's gifted program.</p>

<p>This summer I was diagnosed with a learning disability in math, as well as depression, which has been plaguing me since freshman year.</p>

<p>Now, here's one of many potential kickers (and I'm extremely embarrassed to admit it), but I failed Algebra I twice and barely made it through Geometry. My parents simply thought it was a byproduct of all the personal issues, but clearly that's not the case, per the diagnosis. How will Princeton react to this? Would they allow me take a gap year and work on my math?</p>

<p>Anyway, here are my stats:</p>

<p>Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White
Location: Rural Midwest
Intended Major(s): Either History, English, or Comp Lit
Intended Minor: Something to do with Languages</p>

<p>GPA: 3.1 (I do have an upward trend, if that counts for anything...)
SAT: 2260; CR: 780; Math: 680; Writing: 800 (I spent hours slaving over math reviews for that score)
SAT IIs: Literature, 780; US History 750
APs: US Gov, 5; Comp Gov, 5; USH, 5; English Lang, 5</p>

<p>ECs: Political Group (10-11); "Character Education Committee," per principle invitation, organized community events like Veterans ceremonies and so on (10-11); Renaissance (10-11); Peer Mediation/Tutoring in English (10-11)</p>

<p>Nothing special to speak of, huh? No leadership positions, as it's hard to accrue merit when your moving around.</p>

<p>Awards: Summa Cum Laude on National Latin Exam; AP Lang teacher nominated me for national writing contest, results will return in September; AP Scholar with Honor</p>

<p>Again, nothing special.</p>

<p>Recommendations: From my Latin and English teachers, will be phenomenal.
Essays: Will be excellent as well.</p>

<p>I received steady Bs and Cs throughout the AP courses I took, however I obviously knew the material as demonstrated by my scores. Would the university take this into consideration, what with personal issues and all? I also took AP Psychology, but we were unable to afford the exam fee for it. As we are not tax payers in the school district, they wouldn't help subsidize the costs of the exams. Will Princeton deduce that I had a mastery of that content as well from the scores in other subjects?</p>

<p>I love languages (both foreign and English) and history as well. I began self-studying French over the summer and was able to digest a years worth of work in a little over 3 weeks. I'm currently seeing how far I can go with the second year text. I would be perfectly content to do nothing but learn languages and immerse myself in history for the rest of my life, and certainly the rest of my college career. It would be a fantastic reprieve.</p>

<p>Do I stand any chance? I know Princeton is holistic, but how far they take it I do not know. Am I forever doomed to walk the halls of a community college because of fate's royal shafting? Please help.</p>

<p>I don't think you stand out as a applicant academically with your low GPA and the AP grades you mentioned. Moreover, your ECs aren't centralized around one concentrated passion that you might pursue in college. You should look at Princeton as a reach school but apply to more match schools that fit your stats. Good luck.</p>

<p>Obviously the GPA is just atrocious; I know that. But what's wrong with the AP scores? Every one I've taken I've received a 5 in.</p>

<p>As for ECs, like I said, things have been rather tumultuous, so it's been hard to settle down a bit and get involved with things. Do you think Princeton will take this into account?</p>

<p>And I'll certainly be applying to schools that are not of Princeton caliber.</p>

<p>It's probably better to accept early on that you aren't as smart and wonderful as you think you are, so that you may work hard on improving things about yourself that you actually <em>can</em> improve, and improve drastically. Get your head out of dreamland and focus on real goals. You'll probably actually be happier that way.</p>

<p>Btw I attended 4 separate high schools through my 4 years so I understand what you can gain from those difficult experiences, but certainly don't use that as a crutch.</p>

<p>"Smart and wonderful?" I don't recall ever stating such a thing. I can also assure you that I am working hard to improve (as if it were your place to express such sentiments). I fail to see where these inferences are being drawn from. There is no need to be presumptuous.</p>

<p>It is not uncommon for individuals to apply to reach schools. I have been lead to believe that Princeton is one of the more holistic highly ranked institutions in the country. I've no delusions of grandeur, or thoughts that I will be a shoe-in at such places, as you seem to believe. I'm merely inquiring as to my prospects. </p>

<p>Please, if you're not going to be constructive, do not post.</p>

<p>Sorry Plymeth, I don't think Princeton will take it into account. You have to understand that the admissions office recieves upwards of 20,000 applications a year reflecting students with stellar ECs so they won't want to hear your "sob story" about how you couldn't be as brilliant an applicant. Trust me, many people are in the same boat as you! But it never hurts you apply anyways. Ivy league admissions are a crapshoot - you never know you might get in! Perhaps you could make up for it with some kickass essays?</p>

<p>Thanks, elbeeen. I figured as much, and I know that there are MANY more applicants with MUCH better resumes than me. I'm also astutely aware that, unfortunately, my situation is not an anomaly in this country.</p>

<p>I don't know about kickass essays, but (for fear of trying to sound "smart and wonderful") writing is my strong suit. Does anyone know how Princeton weighs various aspects of the application? Are essays considered more important than ECs?</p>

<p>You may want to check out the Princeton RD results thread...I remember seeing one applicant from a very disadvantaged family who had a low GPA and only a 28 (!) on her ACT. I definitely did a double-take when I saw that she had been accepted. Comparing yourself to previously admitted applicants might give you an idea of what type of chance you may have. Also, have you checked out Questbridge?</p>

<p>P.S. I'm fairly certain that newest newb is a troll so don't worry</p>

<p>Hi, YellowDaisies. I have looked at Questbridge, however the site said that they wanted high achieving low income students. I don't find a 3.1 GPA to be very high with regard to achievement. Would I even qualify?</p>

<p>And I will check out the thread, thanks.</p>

<p>I am actually not very familiar with Questbridge so I can't answer that question. I would advise at least applying though...it can't hurt! Plus they have essay sections (which I would assume are almost asking for "sob stories"...sorry not sure exactly how to put that :) ) so you would more easily be able to explain your situation to them than you would on your college apps (which are not conducive to excuses/sobstories/etc.)</p>

<p>Long story short, QB is meant for low-income / people with challenging situations. With your somewhat low GPA for Ivy League stuff, it would probably be your best bet for getting in somewhere. Also, QB is meant to give people with outstanding personal problems / economic issues an opportunity to give a school a better understanding of a student's accomplishments within context.</p>

<p>A bit of a warning that I've seen, which makes sense, is to avoid discussing depression. I have depression myself, and the point I've seen made is that it may be an indication to adcoms that you may have problems making friends or that you could be mentally unstable, ala VT/Columbine sort of thing. Definitely a good essay about overcoming your learning disability would probably be helpful, especially to explain why your GPA might have been negatively affected because of it. Living in rural Mississippi is also most likely a geographical boost, as I'm assuming that there aren't many ivy league graduates coming from your area. </p>

<p>TL;DR: Look into QB, good place to discuss your unique issues and overcoming them, and it also allows you to apply free to QB partner colleges if you're a finalist during RD. And your AP scores certainly prove that you have academic ability, and mean more than a grade, because they are a standardized score. So, give it a shot, see what happens. All you'll be out with QB process is some time.</p>

<p>Hakushaku, thanks for the information. I'll certainly check it out, and the free applications would be great.</p>

<p>Oh and for the record, I live in Missouri, not Mississippi. I'm not sure how much, if at all, that affects anything.</p>

<p>Well, I looked at the site and I must say I'm rather discouraged. Whereas the average SAT was around a 1950, 98% of finalists were in the top 20% of their class. I can just about guarantee that is not my situation, although I haven't looked at my ranking.</p>

<p>Shame US schools don't have a more UK-esque application process, where GPA is viewed as arbitrary and artificially malleable and standardized test scores are seen as the best way to judge an applicant's potential.</p>

<p>Why don't you apply to schools in the UK?</p>

<p>Oh wait, you seem to scorn reasonable and logical advice.</p>

<p>I'm strongly inclined not to reply, as the sheer tonnage of absurdity in that statement has left me quite taken aback. However, I feel I would be doing a disservice if I were not to educate you on money: what it is, and how it works. </p>

<p>One might start by perusing this Merriam-Webster article that defines the word (which I have taken the liberty of linking for your convenience): Money</a> - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Upon finishing your reading, contemplate where you have heard discussions of this word before. Take into account the circumstances in which said discourse(s) occurred. Perhaps talk with your parents about how they earn income (if you have no knowledge of this term either, I would be more than happy to impart further knowledge), and how they manage it. Take as much time as is necessary for all of this to sink in.</p>

<p>Now, reassess your statement. Consider everything you have just learned. Does it make sense for an individual with one working parent, making less than 40,000 dollars per annum, to attempt to study and live abroad for 3 consecutive years? Make sure to take into account travel expenses, tuition, collegiate fees, and necessary spending money. </p>

<p>Surely the same conclusion has finally dawned on you now that was instantaneously apparent to me: Your previous proposition is little more than asinine nonsense.</p>

<p>I'm glad I could be of service. Please do not post here again, unless, of course, you need further education. In such an event I will be more than happy to accommodate. Good day.</p>

<p>Plymeth - Don't try to reason with the troll; it will only frustrate you. You haven't made any "smart and wonderful" claims and you're not scorning reasonable and logical advice. You're looking for help. That's a good thing. </p>

<p>I think that your chances for Princeton are not good, but that you are an overall compelling applicant who can gain admission to and hopefully good fin aid at some very good schools. QB might be your ticket to finding the right one.</p>

<p>Good luck.</p>

<p>Thanks sherpa. I'm not holding out much hope for Princeton, but I figure it is worth an application. Hopefully QB will prove to be helpful.</p>

<p>I agree it would be worth applying; just don't let your dreams of Princeton close you off from finding and loving a somewhat less elite dream school. A lot of kids fall into that trap. I'm not saying that you are, I just hope you don't. Whether it's Princeton, U of Blank, or XYX College, strive to be happy. And don't feed the troll. I think you'll be fine.</p>

<p>Look who's acting high and mighty now.</p>

<p>Someone who offers a dissenting opinion is a troll, eh? Such closed-mindedness does not really fit with the eloquence with which you seem to discuss economic matters. If what you wanted was moral support you should have titled your thread accordingly.</p>

<p>The truth of the matter is, you have very little chance of getting into Princeton. I just happen to say this with much less sugar-coating than sherpa, and hence you think I'm specifically targeting you - don't flatter yourself, you aren't that special. Yes, you're poor.* Yes, you've had "personal issues" or whatever. But - yes, your academic record sucks. Many people have faced life situations of equal or greater difficulty, and yet have come out of them performing much better than yourself - and without the excuse-making, condescending attitude that your life experience seems to have taught you. And those are the kids that end up at Princeton et al.</p>

<p>In essence, the message I am delivering is no different fundamentally from sherpa's. Realize now that this is really a stretch. Apply if you want (and if the application fees are not out of your means). But be realistic and apply to somewhat less elite dream schools as well.</p>

<p>*In all honesty, however, you yourself stated that you at one point had a household income of 100k+. You are not poor by any reasonable standards.</p>