If I can't get into my dream schools, what are my options?

<p>So it has recently come to my attention, in a rather unpleasant manner..... looking over other people's "chance me's" and being absolutely dumbfounded by some AMAZING credentials (I'm talking EC's and AP's up the yin-yang) that I VERY well may not be able to come even close to attending something like the HPYS league, or even, if worse comes to worse, the top 20.</p>

<p>This isn't the "chance" forum, but I will nonetheless just give a brief summary of myself, before I ask my question. Skip it if you don't care (really).</p>

<p>Summary: I enjoy studying for fun and being challenged constantly, I absolutely adored the one AP class I took last school year, AP Psychology (it was the only one I could take as a sophomore), and got a Five on the exam. Because I enjoyed being challenged so much I decided to take on AP Statistics, AP Physics B, and AP Calculus AB (my school doesn't have the C or BC courses, respectively). Right now I'm getting ahead by studying calculus in my textbook, and am doing quite well at it. I am very confident that I will be able to, with enough practice, take the BC test even though I'll just be in Calc AB. The same applies for Physics, but I'll save Physics C for senior year, since its Calc based and the hardest AP of all.</p>

<p>Right now, I do about 6-10 hours a day of self study (almost solely calculus right now), the time in between eating and reading (currently I'm reading Feynman's "Lectures on Physics"), and the rest browsing the web for tidbits of advice to help me on my journey. </p>

<p>I obviously really enjoy learning, but don't have any particular "love" or passion. Which makes narrowing down my studies difficult, meaning I won't be able to "master" anything. I'm kind of a jack-of-all-trades type at this point.</p>

<p>Anyways, I don't have any EC's at ALL, and don't really plan on taking any right now. This is bad, I know. But I don't want to take an EC just because it looks good for college, I want to take one if, and only if, it will be enjoyable for me and/or be interesting. Preferably both. Otherwise, there really is no point. And since my school currently offers nothing like that (we have sports oriented EC's, the rest just suck), I don't plan on taking anything else.</p>

<p>I guess you could say my only EC is self-study at home. Which, doesn't really cut it now does it? Even though I spend about 3/4 of my free time pursuing that passion of study, I doubt that it would be considered on a college application, and I HIGHLY doubt that it would be for the HPYS leagues.</p>

<p>This has lead me to become extremely concerned with the prospect of getting into one of my preferable schools. Even more so, after seeing others with AMAZING EC records be told that "its not enough". That just aggravates me beyond belief. If 10 EC's and a bajillion awards "isn't enough", then how do you think I feel with a big ol' 0 EC's and 0 awards.</p>

<p>So, does anyone have any advice for me, I mean, really, about anything at all. Absolutely ANYTHING would be appreciated.</p>

<p>Moreover, (and here is my main question), assuming that I don't get into a college of choice (which seems to be a greater and greater likelihood), is there any way that I could, say, settle for a state college for a year or two, get stellar grades, and then transfer out?</p>

<p>I mean, I wouldn't mind doing that AT ALL. I have the drive to self study for fun, so that will likely be VERY useful in college :) , and I figure if I use that drive to preform extremely well and take a large course load that I might, just MIGHT be able to transfer to a preferred college.</p>

<p>The question is, can I actually do that? And if I can, how hard will it be assuming that I do pretty well (I don't want to pretend like I will be able to take 6 courses per term and get all A's, I haven't been to college so I wouldn't be able to judge something like that). </p>

<p>And if it were true that I could go to say, University of Oregon, or Oregon State, for a year or two and then transfer to a place like Stanford or the like without TOO much trouble, then, wow, I will never feel like I can't actually do it ("do it" meaning, get into a top college). But it just seems to me that, right now, given the fact that my EC's don't exist, it just doesn't seem like a possibility.</p>

<p>Thank you for reading, and thank you for any feedback! I really appreciate your time! :)</p>

<p>"there any way that I could, say, settle for a state college for a year or two, get stellar grades, and then transfer out?"</p>

<p>Maybe I didn't understand correctly, but this seems to be your question. And the answer is, as you surely know already, yes. What you said there is the very definition of college transfer.</p>

<p>You are heading into your junior year of HS. It is not too late to find an EC that you love that could help you achieve admission to a top 20 school. If you are self studying calc and reading the Feynman lectures perhaps entering math or physics competitions would be for you. Check out MAA</a> American Mathematics Competitions - AMC and AAPT</a> PhysicsBowl . My daughter is studying physics at Harvard, and while she did not do these competitions in HS, many of her classmates did. If your school does not already participate in these types of activities, go talk to the department heads at your school to find out if they will help you get it started. That kind of initiative is also appreciated by the top 20.</p>

<p>As to your question, yes it is possible to transfer from Oregon or Oregon State to a top 20, but keep in mind that transfer admission statistics to the top 20 are often more daunting than freshman admissions. It is preferable to find a college that you can be happy with for all four years than to go to a school with the intent of transferring. Perhaps a school like Reed could be a good fit for you. Others, more familiar with schools in the west than I, can suggest other schools for you to look into. </p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Since you enjoy doing math for fun, take a look at Pomona College's math talent search:</p>

<p><a href="http://www.math.pomona.edu/talentsearch.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.math.pomona.edu/talentsearch.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Take the chance me threads with a grain of salt. Most of them are high school students and don't have a track record.</p>

<p>Take advantage of the next year to develop a strong EC with perhaps an honor society. Don't go EC nuts to try to compensate. Dig in deep to something academic that interests you. Continue next year to show dedication.
Don't read or post in the chance threads. What you have in cc are the highly motivated students who are not a good sample of general students. Look at your schools Niviance for an idea of stats from students admitted from your school to top universities. Check colleges common data set to get an idea of what they consider most important in admissions.</p>

<p>tiptop colleges do not want book worms, they want a person that is good in acadamics as well as dedicated in some passion that is different. They are looking for a dynamic person with many interests and can make a difference in the society with compassion. That is where EC's come into play. I know some kids who did not have sterling grades got into top 10 colleges because they did some thing stand out. Activities such as work as a Mortition aid for entry to a Direct Medical Program. Donate personally hand weaved blankets to premature babies in hospital got an admission from HYP class of schools.</p>

<p>It is not too late for you to start an EC program that makes you stand out and gain an entry to the dream school you want. You do not need a lot, but one really close to your hart and is your passion.</p>

<p>Good Luck.</p>

<p>Please remember that colleges select students they think will contribute something to their community. While your passion for intellectual pursuits is admirable, of course, realize that your contentment with a solo journey may detract from your application. No man is an island!</p>

<p>So, building on the other good tips you've received, here are a few others that come to mind. Participate, and if you like it, take a leadership role--you will be asked about leadership in your applications. (Now is a great time to preview the Common App and school supplements for some of your fav schools. This will give you better insight into the process of presenting yourself, including an awareness of the fact that if your app is all data and nothing else, those blanks will jump out.)</p>

<p>If your school doesn't offer any of these programs, consider starting one--as another poster said, founding something "looks good," but should also bring you some satisfaction of providing more academic-oriented ECs at your school. It's common for kids like you to look around your school and feel like there's nothing there for you. But if you feel that way, there are at least a handful of others similarly situated. So find a sympatico teacher who'll be your activity sponsor and go for it!</p>

<ul>
<li>peer tutor</li>
<li>Mu Alpha Theta Mu</a> Alpha Theta or other math society/club</li>
<li>Quiz Bowl National</a> Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC</li>
<li>Junior</a> Engineering Technical Society (JETS): Welcome </li>
<li>Model UN if politics, history, policy, etc. are of interest (also shows breadth of ability)</li>
<li>write a wacky math or science ala Bill Nye column for your school newspaper</li>
</ul>

<p>Extending some of these ideas into your community, consider starting your own tutoring biz (with parent consent, safety issues resolved, etc.) or becoming employed by your local Kumon math center, volunteer tutoring or producing an after-school "math is fun" club for your old MS or Jr High, writing on math or science for your local paper (peruse the NYTimes online for ideas--look at Steven Strogatz's math columns, they are awesome, and I'm not a math person!)...you get the picture.</p>

<p>Do you play chess? bridge? are you into the great Pac NW outdoors scene = The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, local hiking group, geocaching, etc. (and if yes, consider founding an Outdoors Club for your school)? are you ripe for computer programming? is there a college nearby where you could take classes, ideally for credit, but if not, just for the intellectual challenge (and proof of college readiness)? and if's there's a college nearby, check out their community events, public lectures, etc.--often, they make outreaches to interested young people.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Dude pick up an EC that you really enjoy; though I'm really glad you made the explicit comment that you don't want to do something JUST because it'd look good on your application to colleges... however, it sounds like you need an EC anyway because you seem to be a very passionate person who could contribute a lot to a group that you find interesting.</p>

<p>You seem to have a pretty good perspective on yourself, your qualifications, and what 'top schools' are looking for; however, remember that there are a lot of schools that you haven't seen yet. You're in Oregon? Check out Reed College. Start a thread on what you're looking for in a college and see how many helpful, knowledgeable parents and students respond with schools you probably hadn't even thought of.</p>

<p>Honestly, yeah, come to think of it, look into Liberal Arts Colleges. Maybe I'm biased (though a year ago my top choices were Penn, Hopkins and UVA and when my counselor told me to look at Swarthmore I actually laughed in his face...)... But could you maybe through out some criteria for what you're looking for in a school? Granted you're not going to be a senior next year but junior year is a good year to visit because I found that senior year I was way too busy to fit in all the visits I wanted to do.</p>

<p>Transferring is totally an option; it's always an option. But don't let that possibility stop you from looking at places that aren't HYPS!</p>

<p>You can always start at a state U and transfer but those same top colleges are just as difficult (or more so) to get into as a transfer. For instance, Stanford had 1300 applicants last year and admitted 25. That's <2%.</p>

<p>Before you spend one more minute worrying about this, sit your parents down and have them run the EFC calculators at FinAid</a>! Financial Aid, College Scholarships and Student Loans and at College</a> Calculators - savings calculators - college costs, loans Then talk with them about how your family will pay for your education. Are they able and willing to meet your EFC? If so, how much more than that are they able and willing to pay? If not, how much are they able and willing to pay? How much college debt are they willing for you to take on? (For some fun reading on college debt, see Project</a> on Student Debt: Home ) How much money do they expect you to earn for your school expenses by working during the school year, and during vacation periods? Once you know more about the finances, you will be able to better frame your college list.</p>

<p>If your profile is decent, there may be significant merit aid available for you either at your home-state public university or at another college/university. Pop on over to the Financial Aid Forum to find information about those kinds of options.</p>

<p>Lots of students transfer every year. There is an entire Forum dedicated to just that. Click on "Discussion Home" in the upper-left of this screen and scroll down to find it.</p>

<p>I see that you live in Oregon already. Why not try Reed in Portland? Reed looks for people different from the common Ivy-fare. Reed is a school that would take an intellectual curious student like yourself over a "well-rounded" prospect anyday. And it's easily one of the top schools in the country.
Definitely check it out.</p>

<p>Transfer admissions to top schools are extremely competitive because of their high retention rates. But a T20 university may not be the place for someone as single-mindedly academic as yourself; their admissions tend to focus less on academics than on personal qualities and initiative/promise shown through ECs (which isn't to say that academic "requirements" for admission to top schools aren't stringent, but that they aren't the focus). A LAC may be a much better place for someone who really loves learning rather than doing.</p>

<p>Still, there are plenty of ECs that would appeal to a more academically-minded person. As others have mentioned, math/science competitions are a great way for you to demonstrate your prowess/creativity/devotion outside of your school curriculum.</p>