I'm so stressed out...

<p>I just got out of freshman year in high school, and I really want to get into a top college. I live in an overly-populated cowtown, and I've noticed that almost EVERYBODY lives in-state their whole lives. It's a vicious cycle:
Most high school kids want to get out of our city, but either our grades are too poor, our schools suck too much, or we just can't afford it. So we always flock to our (crappy) in-state colleges, regardless of how good their grades are; get crappy jobs; and live the rest of their life here. I need to get out, and I want to be one of the few people who can prove themselves to be someone amazing while still coming from here.</p>

<p>My mom is extremely poor, and divorced. She won't give me the income she makes, but I'd guess it's around $15,000 right now and we're living off food stamps and welfare. Hopefully when she finds a decent job the income will go to somewhere around $35,000-$40,000.</p>

<p>As for me, freshman year I was tied for first in class amongst 575 students. 4.0 unweighted, took as much honors courses as I could, etc. I became extremely involved in theatre second semester, even though I want to be an astrophysicist. Next year I intend to be even more heavily involved in theatre, create an astronomy club, join National English Honors Society and French Club, etc. Maybe in the future get leadership positions. I don't volunteer that much, though I do have a small volunteer position at my library right now. All these things alone make me a bundle of sleep deprivation and anxiety during the school year (our theatre department needs dedication--during plays we stay after school up to 7:30 pm, and later during the performances). Coffee is the only way I can stay awake.
Most people say that I'm doing great, and I was confident that I could continue at my pace and get into some place like Harvard, Stanford, or general Ivy League schools. But then I discovered CC, and now I'm horribly worried. People ask for their chances and post AMAZING grades and test scores. And their extracurriculars are out of this world and go on forever. They list themselves as being president of three clubs, VP of two, national athlete, nationally recognized academic achievements, many essay awards. And volunteer hours through the roof! Lists that I feel are far beyond my capabilities. And then people say that they have a "slim" chance, or that it's a "far reach."
I'm nowhere near those peoples' statuses. There's no chance in hell I could be president or even vice president of more than one club, I can't even begin to think that I could ever win a national competition, or rack up hundreds of volunteer hours. I'll be lucky to have 20 volunteer hours by the end of this summer!
I feel so mediocre. I'm trying almost as hard as I can, but these expectations of top colleges seem impossible to me. And I feel so pressured to do good. And it makes it harder that I absolutely need a full scholarship if I ever want to go to college out-of-state.
Can anyone give advice, or help me in any way? Thanks.</p>

<p>A few things about this place. A lot of people use chance threads to brag about their stats (not all, but you can usually tell), and some people like to tell them they have little to no chance, to get back at them for bragging. I don't know which you're talking about, and there are a lot of honestly outstanding people out there, but just something you should know.</p>

<p>Also, you sound like your grades are good, and being a leader of one club is fine, as long as you show that you're dedicated (better than a bunch of clubs, without doing anything serious, just to write it on an application). I sympathize with you with the low income and trying to achieve what you want academically, so you should know that if you keep going on like that academically (4.0 UW, top of your class, good courses, some volunteer, a couple clubs), you'll have a good shot at some great schools. And with your mother's income, you'll get a free ride on financial aid from many places you get in (Harvard gives a full ride to students whose families make under $60,000/year, and families pay little for a while above 60k, too. Many schools have great financial aid, too, and you could pick the best schools for astronomy/astrophysics). Dedicating yourself to things and even founding a club in your area of interest sounds like you have that section down well. As for now... it's summer; relax, dream great dreams, and never lose sight of your goals.</p>

<p>There is life beyond the ivy league.</p>

<p>Don't get too wrapped up in grades(but dont slack off the entire year:) ) and enjoy high school</p>

<p>You'll get out of your cow town. Don't worry</p>

<p>1) Relax. I fully believe that you are stressed because you want to be the best you can be, and that is awesome. The happiest people you find in life are those that are in the process becoming who they want to be. You give every indication that you are doing fine, but remember to take a deep breath every few days or so :D How about starting right now..</p>

<p>2) Realign your vision and keep it in sight. I know how you feel wanting to leave a cow town. I am from a cow town too, and now am involved at a prestigious college in California (across the nation from where I grew up). Most of my friends went to the local state college, and will live their lives 'happy' or 'pretending' from here on out. From early high school I was actively and clearly defining (in my mind and on paper) what my goals and dreams were. I kept reinforcing my drive to do my best, and eventually have reached many of the dreams I had in high school.</p>

<p>3) Do your best. Period. In life, no one can ask anything from you other than your best effort. Do you agree? I know you do. If we expand this idea a little bit further, it has some further implications for your situation:</p>

<p>-Your best isn't defined by others. You know this instinctively because you see your cow-town peers and know that they do not define YOUR best. In the same way, people on a forum do not define your best either, and you should (do your best to) not let them get into your head. There is no such thing as a perfect person anyways.</p>

<p>-Stressing out too hard core isn't doing your best. Stress is natural, healthy, expected, and normal, but obviously too much can take you off of your 'dream path' and make you a less effective person.</p>

<p>-Doing your best is independent of your current situation. Like, your financial situation. I too am coming from a low-income family, who have not paid a dime for my college education. There is money out there! For real... If you want to calm your fears, do a couple google searches for college financial support.</p>

<p>Anyhow, hope that helps....Thanks for posting on the CC forums</p>