Lost high school junior...Should I transfer or take a gap year?

<p>I've suffered from chronic depression for years and so high school has been a struggle for me. My depression is a result of a tumultuous home life (parents divorced when I was 6, my mother is quite poor, in and out of work, tenants in and out, hostile stepmother, little half-sister, entire family struggles or has struggled with depression, having literally no good friends in 9th/10th grade, etc) I was known as the "smart girl" throughout elementary and middle school...straight A's, teacher's pet, and the like. I know what I'm capable of and so it's very frustrating to feel so unmotivated and to be earning average grades in average courses. I have just started seeing a therapist again and might be put on medication.</p>

<p>Should I go to a community college or my state school (UCONN) and then try to transfer? I have read that transferring from a CC puts many at an advantage. Is this true? I'm also interested in taking a gap year. Perhaps if I took a few college courses during that time and earned high grades, I could further prove my academic abilities... I'd also love to live and work on a kibbutz or an organic farm somewhere. My dream schools are: Dartmouth, Yale, Pomona, Bowdoin, Brown, Vassar, and Williams. I am aware that these schools are very prestigious but they fit exactly what I'm looking for...it's not the name that I'm concerned with.</p>

<p>My parents have never been tough on me or very supportive in terms of any of my endeavors (academic and non) but I have always set very high standards for myself. Unfortunately, my depression gets in the way of my ambition/focus. At the end of my sophomore year I had a pseudo breakdown. I fell asleep at around 10 a.m every day for about 2 weeks. It began with sleepless nights tossing and turning and feeling absolutely nauseous at the thought that I wouldn't be admitted to an elite college. I switched to a well-regarded private school in my area this year and have made some great friends. I look forward to going to school now but switching schools obviously has not fixed my personal issues.</p>

<p>I have many interests and haven't yet found my passion...I don't know what I want to do with my life. I love writing, theatre, literature, antiques/vintage, music, singing, photography, nature, fashion, working with children, traveling/different cultures/learning new languages, volunteering, museums, hiking, psychology, philosophy, marine biology, astronomy, sustainability.</p>

<p>During the summer going into 10th grade, I worked as an unpaid intern at a television production company. I had called about 15 local businesses that sounded interesting to me and this was the only one that was willing to accept a 14 year-old. Last summer, I found another unpaid internship working with the head of my city's recycling department. I gave presentations at a number of summer camps to promote recycling/reusing.</p>

<p>I'm currently very involved in my school's theatre department.. Since I won my school-wide round, I will be competing against 25 or so other students in a regional Shakespeare competition in a couple of weeks, and if I win that round, then I will perform at Lincoln Center for the chance to win a scholarship to participate in an Oxford summer theatre program. I played the lead role in a student-written and directed short play this past winter. I was chosen to play the lead role in my theare's class performance of an old radio play this spring and will also be playing a stepsister in my school's production of "Into The Woods". </p>

<p>My Honors English teacher who is also the head of her department and is a graduate of Middlebury and Oxford, thinks highly of my creative writing (mainly poetry). I am on the staff of my school's literary magazine and will applying to be a co-editor next year. I'm also on the staff of my school's newly-founded art magazine. I'm one of only two juniors on the staff so if I want to, I can probably be editor or co-editor next year.</p>

<p>By the time I graduate high school, I will have taken about 10 Honors courses, 1 or 2 AP courses and a few college-level courses. My cumulative average will most likely be a B+.</p>

<p>I took the PSAT in my sophomore year. Without preparation, I earned a 650 in CR, 640 in W and 490 in M. My parents haven't yet signed me up for an SAT prep course and I feel sort of guilty asking them to spend money on one but I worry that if I try to self-study, my depression will take over and I won't be able to concentrate.</p>

<p>So, what do I do? I want to have a top-rate education and a wonderful undergraduate experience but I feel that my chances of admission to top schools are shot.</p>

<h1>1 you need a supportive environment. If your depressed a high stress competitive college would be the worst thing to do if you haven’t got a reliable source of support. Go to a honors college at a state U that offers allot of advising and a learning community.</h1>

<p>If you take a gap year make sure it is well structured. Having a pet would help.</p>

<p>Thanks for your response.</p>

<p>I have chronic, low-grade depression. I haven’t tried therapy or meds yet… They might make a big difference. I thrive in challenging environments. Also, I’d really like to attend a smaller college.</p>

<p>You have some very interesting talents. Best of luck to you! </p>

<p>Stop by the Guidance office - perhaps they have some ideas (or maybe even scholarship) for SAT prep classes.</p>

<p>The first thing you have to do is take care of yourself. You need to get treatment for your depression. </p>

<p>As far as the SAT prep, try to focus on bringing your math up. Those are great CR and W scores for a soph! </p>

<p>As far as specific colleges or a gap year: money may be a big factor. The schools you listed are reaches and I am not sure of the opportunities in CT. If you’re female, you may want to look at some of the women’s colleges but I think you should really consider a large school. You have many diverse interests and there may be more opportunities for you at a big university. If you get involved in theater or a small department, you may be able to combine the best of a small community with the opportunities of a large school.</p>

<p>I noticed that you said it was not the name (of the school) that you were concerned about, but then you said you had sleepless nights obsessing about getting into a prestigious college. Can you clear up this contradiction?</p>

<p>You have a lot of activities, interests (wonderful long list!) and accomplishments, and an unusual ability to pursue and talk your way into opportunities, for a person with chronic depression. Is it possible that you are bipolar? Do you know anything about bipolar disorder? </p>

<p>Many, many students go on antidepressants during these years of transition. It might be worth a try. (For those with bipolar disorder, antidepressants can cause problems, but for depression, they may help).</p>

<p>Do you exercise at all?</p>

<p>Don’t blame yourself for your mood issues: it sounds like they are genetic.</p>

<p>I think it would help if you could learn about schools that are not “top schools,” and how wonderful many of them are. I am not saying this because I think that you won’t measure up and get in or anything. I have had two kids in “top schools,” and my third child applied to schools that would not be considered super selective. I am so relieved. So many students at top schools seem unhappy, and driven by the wrong motives.</p>

<p>I like books like Loren Pope’s “Beyond the Ivies” or “Colleges that Change Lives.” There are so many schools you might like. Folks on here can make suggestions.</p>

<p>It sounds like you have been affected by the idea that your self-worth is measured by academic accomplishments, and by where you get in for college. Don’t buy into this, or depend on it for self-esteem. Instead, work on your feelings of self-worth and then many colleges will fit the bill.</p>

<p>And unless you can manage your depression, it will be hard to go anywhere and thrive.</p>

<p>Are you going to be a 1st generation college student? If so, does your school have a program like Avid or Questbridge? Talk to your Guidance counselor about colleges that might be right for you. He/she can also give you guidance about financial aid. </p>

<p>And, keep seeing that therapist. Don’t start college until your psych issues are stabilized.</p>

<p>I appreciate your replies. Thank you.</p>

<p>Compmom: Those “sleepless nights” were a year ago but I do still obsess over getting into a good school.</p>

<p>I don’t believe that I have bipolar disorder. My therapist agrees, but we’ll see.</p>

<p>I don’t exercise except for about 20 minutes of walking every day to and from the train station. I know it’s not healthy…I just don’t find the time/place.</p>

<p>Megpmom: I will not be a 1st generation college student but thank you for your suggestion. My mother attended Penn State and my father attended a school in Canada (he’s from Morocco).</p>

<p>I fear that I will always deal with mild depression.</p>

<p><em>I have chronic, low-grade depression.</em></p>

<p>I would like to make a plug for regular vigorous exercise and a full 9 hours per night sleep. For low-grade depression, these tactics sometimes can dramatically change your life! It is hard to be self-disciplined about it, but it is worth a try :)</p>

<p>I know many students say they cannot get a full 9 hours sleep (too much homework), but if you can possibly approach that, you might find that you feel so much better, that your priorities realign a little bit, as far as getting to bed earlier. And you know, at your age, you need that much sleep, according to medical experts. Exercising regularly and intensively, can lead to deeper and more satisfying sleep.</p>

<p>If it is more intense than chronic low-grade, of course, 1st step would be to get to a doc experienced in depression.)</p>

<p>I am happy for you now having good friends in school. That always makes life better!</p>