How do I handle this?

Hello everyone. There’s been an issue that has been particularly bothering me recently so I’ve decided to share it.

I’m a seventeen year old, a rising senior and someone with strong ambition and drive to excel in this world. Eventually, I long to be a public interest attorney at the Institute of Justice or another politically motivated non profit. In correspondence with this, I also long to be a public intellectual, someone who’s words and research have an impact, who can galvanize certain elements of the country, participate in public debates and so on.

To further pursue these goals I have aspired to go to an Ivy League school, most notably Princeton or Harvard. The problem that has been dragging my mood - and my will - into the gutters are the extradionarily slim odds of such prospects being birthed into reality.

I say this upon the grounds of the following:

I have a 3.5 unweighted GPA.
23 cumulative score in the ACT (the main subjects that dragged me down was science and math, I have a learning disability in math. I exceeded the English and reading sections, garnering a 28 on the English and a 33 on the reading)

My extracurriculars are lacking, although this summer I finished an internship with the District Attorneys office and have acquainted myself with them to the point where a few ADAs are willing to pen letters of reccomendation for me.

Point is, my resume is not that of the quintessential Harvard candidate.

And that’s depressing.

Yes, you could deride me for not “working hard” (although, two Cs in my freshman year in physical science and math are the only reason my GPA is as low as it is, and I busted my butt in both of those subjects)

But the point is, I have been in an environment for the past three years that is not conducive to my intellectual growth. Even many of the adults in my school do not entertain a lot of my thoughts, which is beyond frustrating for me.

Infact, I distinctly remember one of the adults I confided in imploring me to “slow down” and “take it easy” because apparently I’m “everywhere” in terms of my interests and I can be hard to follow. This is not the first time I’ve been told this, and it most likely will not be the last.

I have heard that at an Ivy League school like Harvard that has weekly visits from prominent people in the world, famous professors, intelligent students that someone like me would flourish.

I’m afraid at a state school or a smaller private university in my state I would be greeted with the same responses of anti intellectualism, pleas to “slow down” and so on.


Maybe my emotions emerge from a point of incessant ambition and emotional immaturity, but I long for many things in this world. I know I will be able to get them at an Ivy League school. But sadly I won’t get into one.

The school I am looking at the moment is Mercer University (for those of you who aren’t familiar, here:)

I have the grades and interest, but I can only wonder if I will be able to derive the same satisfaction that I would from an Ivy.

What do you guys think of this? Am I overreacting? Am I right to be concerned about my prospects?

Thanks for reading.

“I have heard that at an Ivy League school like Harvard that has weekly visits from prominent people in the world, famous professors, intelligent students that someone like me would flourish.”

-This is worded a bit strangely…I don’t think I know what you mean by this…if you were to clarify, it would help us better understand what you want from a college.

Sigh…I really hate to say this…but I think you are right about one thing…you do need a bit of a reality check. You have a learning disability…how do you think you will be able to make it at a top school, where most of the students there are 4.0 valedictorians in the most rigorous classes, with 33+ ACT scores, and extracurriculars strong enough that they could skip college and just join the workforce without much of a problem. Ultimately, do you think that you would be able to handle that environment? It will be 10 times harder than high school. Are you confident that that is what you want from a college?

I think you need to do some more research into what it is you want from a college. If you truly want IVY league material, then you have a lot more work to do before you can begin to think of college. Retake the ACT. Get a study book, and go through it over and over again. That’s how I improved my score by six points. Think about the difference between a 23 and a 29. That;s the difference between being accepted and rejected.

“But the point is, I have been in an environment for the past three years that is not conducive to my intellectual growth. Even many of the adults in my school do not entertain a lot of my thoughts, which is beyond frustrating for me.”

Sounds like you are blaming others. You can not afford to do this. Blaming your high school is the known among admissions officers to be the epitome of immaturity. The adults at your school did not get that ACT score. You did. So please stop saying that your school is not conductive to your intellectual growth. It sounds like an excuse, and it doesn’t make you look good.

If you think you were lazy, then now is the time to make up for it. Get a better score on the ACT. If you are as smart as you seem to state you are, than you will be able to do better than a 23. I hope that you took AP’s and extremely hard classes in highschool, because that’s the best way to explain a 3.5. You better kill it the first semester of your senior year.

Retake the test. Get as close as you can to a 30. Pull straight A’s your first semester of senior year (if you get a B in math only, it isn’t the end of the world). Then let’s talk about getting you into a college that you believe will satisfy your need for intellectualism.

I think you will get out of any university what you put into it. Even Mercer will have an abundance of opportunities for you to challenge yourself and to help you achieve your goals. It is your decision whether you spend your future sulking about what is unrealistic or living in the moment and making the best out of every opportunity. I hope you chose the latter.

Yes, I have a learning disability in a specific area. Yes, going to an Ivy League school wouldn’t work in my favor pertaining to that specific area. But just because I have a learning disability doesn’t mean I am dumb, incapable of excelling intellectually or anything of the sort.

If I let my condition decide for me what is possible and what isn’t possible, I would’ve dropped out of high school my freshman year and id be somewhere sulking in self pity, moreso than I am already. But I refuse to let my disadvantage state in a single area (Winston Churchill and many other prolific leaders were abominable in math, notably) decided my future.

I have had duel enrollment classes from my sophomore year to my junior year, taking classes at my local community college half of the day and high school half.

I will try to reiterate what I want out of any university (regardless of its arbitrary status)

  1. An environment conducive to intellectual growth.
  2. Internship opportunities that'll allow me to connect with people in the field I am.
  3. Being situated in an opportune place that'll allow me to eventually join a public interest law firm (NAACP, Institute for Justice, ACLU so on)
  4. Being situated in a place that'll more readily allow me to become a public intellectual.

Also, I don’t blame my high school for where I am. I blame my high school for the hardships it’s produced for my intellectual growth. Yes, I am willing to foot the blame for my physical science C in freshman year. Although, that C is mostly due to the very challenging final and, frankly, my lack of interest in the topic.

But I haven’t made anything below a B since my freshman year. I changed and I worked hard, and I’m still in the same spot.

So don’t let where you go to college decide your future either. There are 3000 colleges and universities in the United States, and hundreds, even thousands, of good ones. Look for schools that fit your stats as they are, not as you wish they were.

While you in are college our country will be going through another election cycle. Find a college in a state where the primaries are early or will be a battleground state in the general election. There will be opportunities for students to engage with the process, get involved at the local level, and hear many candidates speak. Off the top of my head I am thinking of Iowa but I little digging will find you more.

Chance me threads are generally useless, but in this case I’ll speculate. Unless your parents are large donors or you’re a recruited athlete, you won’t be admitted to an Ivy. It’s condescending to imply students outside the Ivies will be unintelligent.

If you want to be an attorney you will have to go to graduate school, meaning that even if you go to mercer or another school for undergrad, you can still attain your goal of going to an ivy league by going there for graduate school. That being said I would try to raise your ACT score by taking it again this fall, focusing on what your weaknesses(math and science in your case, which science is really like the reading section and I’m sure you can raise your math if you work hard enough) and then applying to a state school. You didn’t mention which state you are from but many states have very good universities with notable alumni(examples being UNC Chapel Hill, UMich, UCLA) and plenty of oppurtunities. If you work hard and maintain your grades you may be able to go to an ivy league for grad school(or at least the top 14, which aren’t all ivy leagues)

I’m from Georgia, currently my options are UGA, Mercer, or Emory. My grades aren’t too good for UGA, not entirely sure Emory is my style, and I’ve been very communicative with the Mercer admissions counselors for over the course of a year.

Is the learning disability diagnosis a self-diagnosis, or were you evaluated by a professional? If it is the latter, then you do have certain rights when it comes to test taking. I heard of kids with ADD as well as those with test taking anxiety who are automatically given extra time to take the exam. This includes ACT and SAT as well as school exams.

Yes you’re overreacting and you come off as somebody who has been sheltered from the real world for your entire life. Your post reads as if you’re an undiscovered poet that fancies himself an intellectual. Unfortunately, it just isn’t true. You haven’t had the life experiences yet to even come close.

I’m curious why you believe you have the grades for Mercer. With all due respect, Mercer’s 2017 class profile, found [url=<a href=“”>]here[/url] is a 3.90 GPA and a 28 ACT in contrast to your 3.50 and 23.

I also have to warn you about Emory. I was rejected with, again please pardon me for being harsh, FAR better stats and ECs than you. You need to start looking at lower statted colleges.

A 3.5 overall GPA is in no way a direct result of two Cs. Unfortunately, Ivy league students rarely get A-'s let alone generally never making “anything below a B”.

If you want an environment for growth, pretty much any college can provide that. If you want internship opportunities, that is mostly up to you to find for yourself, no?

My advice to you as somebody ever so slightly older is to stop saying the word intellectual. You used it 10 times in 2 posts and frankly it makes you sound like a condescending narcissist. At the very least, do not call yourself an intellectual in a college essay.

Because the minimum GPA for Mercer is 3.25, and multiple people from within the institution have affirmed that my 3.5 and 23 ACT is enough to get me in the door, but not enough to get me merit scholarships. Therefore, I’m going to work to get a 28 or 29 on the ACT (I intend to take it in August)

As far as the self imposed label or the label you think I’ve imposed on myself, I don’t call myself an intellectual. I don’t have the credentials, accolades or knowledge for such a label (yet, I believe in myself enough to know in the future I could) Infact, the only context in which I use the term intellectual is to refer to the growth of my mind and insight, which I do not believe high school is conducive to. If you want to be negative, that’s fine. I deal with that everyday, but it’s less likely for me to take your opinions seriously.

The first guy who posted was stern and honest, but his comment has motivated me to study even harder for the ACT and in senior year. You’re attempting to demoralize me.

So let me make this clear, I’m not a narcissist, I don’t see myself as superior to others. I just have ambitions and goals that I want to reach, that is all.

As far as the learning disability goes, yes if is diagnosed. So much so that the ACT agreed to give me extra time for my test. (My assistant principle reached out on my behalf, filed paperwork showing that and they granted me that time.)

You don’t need to go to an elite UG to do non profit work.

Not everybody pops out of the womb highly motivated and goal-oriented, lots of people are late bloomers. It’s really, really, 100% okay to go to whatever college accepts you. Excel there, and get into a competitive law school. Future employers will care much more about what law school you eventually go to, than where you did your undergrad. This is your beginning.

Law School is what matters to be get a great placement as an attorney. It is my understanding that it is a rather numbers driven game, with the LSAT being the most important part of the application (and making perhaps 50-75% of the admission decision), with GPA coming in second, and other factors third (like school atended, extracurriculars, etc.).

Oh dear. Where does one start?

I hate to pile on, but you’re not getting into an Ivy. Not even close.
I don’t know who you spoke to at Mercer or exactly what they said, but your ACT score puts you in the bottom quarter of last year’s freshman class and your GPA puts you in the bottom half. Generally, with numbers like that you’d need to be a recruited athlete or someone with something else very, very valuable to the school to get admitted. Work on improving your ACT score and knock it out of the park for your grades first semester and you’ll improve your chances.

Please oh please stop writing the way you do. Use plain language. Definitely don’t write your essays that way. You’re clearly trying for fancy, intellectual, impressive language and I’m sorry to say, it’s falling flat. It sounds forced and awkward and your usage is often a little off. Use plain, clear language and let the power of your ideas come through.

Now, as for your ambitions. Wanting to go into public interest law and also to be someone whose opinions are influential are worthy goals. The advice I’m about to give you is based on the fact that I’m an attorney and that I went to NYU Law School, one of the country’s best and well known for placing a lot of people in the sort of public interest jobs that interest you. Between now and then, here’s what you want to do. Go to a college that is appropriate for you, one where you can be challenged but where you won’t drown. Get incredibly good grades. Nothing below a B isn’t good enough. Anything below an A- should be very rare. When the time comes to take the LSAT, do a prep course and prep like crazy. You want a very, very high score. Your goal is admission to one of the country’s best law schools, let’s say top 10. And once you’re there, again you want fantastic grades. You want to be among the best in your class. The reason you’re aiming so high is that good public interest jobs, despite paying peanuts, are incredibly competitive. You want to work for the NAACP or the ACLU? So do many, many very accomplished and qualified law students.

But for now, focus on improving your grades and ACT score and on putting together an appropriate list of colleges to apply to. Don’t forget matches and safeties along with your reaches.

Good luck.

I agree your stats don’t corroborate that acceptance acceptance is assured. Be sure to include safeties inline with your stats. Good luck.

From Mercer’s CDS.

Percent who had GPA of 3.75 or higher - 58.4%
Percent who had GPA between 3.50 and 3.74 - 27.8%
Percent who had GPA between 3.25 and 3.49 - 8.9%

If you plan on going to grad school you should pick a college where you can rise to the top of the class, which in your case would not be an Ivy.

My older daughter had a learning disability that wasn’t diagnosed until her senior year in high school. Her comprehension IQ far exceeds her performance ability. Went to a state school. Is now a highly respected teacher and serves on the curriculum committee for her state.

Younger one has 150 IQ and went to very mediocre private school because of generous financial aid. She is a PA and for two years now is in top 5% of all PAs in the country evaluated by the leading evaluation service for medical practices based on patient responses.

Top schools are not always needed to get to where you want to be. The personal interaction with professors and support offered for struggling students can be a huge asset. A large school where you might struggle to keep up might prevent you from reaching your goals.

Problem is, this is all about what you want and tippy top colleges choose the ones they want. It doesn’t seem you have the first idea what that is.

You think, “…at an Ivy League school like Harvard…someone like me would flourish.” But the ones the tippy tops think will flouish, the ones they choose, are those already achieving at high levels and ready for the immense competition there, in classes and more. These kids show that via their actual hs records, in full.

Not kids who want the prestige and claim that, once they’re, they’ll turn around. How do you show them you can, when the competition is so fierce that tippy tops can cherry pick among kids already achieving at the highest levels?

There is nothing wrong with a slow but steady start. Find the colleges where you match, use the time to grow.

And it’s always good for rising seniors to put effort into refining their writing, aiming for concise.