((this is a repost from a prev deleted one since I tagged incorrectly.)
hi! i’m a hs junior studying in india and completing 11th grade right now. of course, i’m very early in the college search process. to be honest, i’m making this post because i’m very unaware of the college landscape abroad and i thought some advice would be nice. (looking at fall 23)
i would like some recommendations based on my grades and interests - although i know this website primarily discusses colleges in the US, i’m open to suggestions located in other countries as well. i still have a year or so before i have to apply to colleges, so i’d also like input on what would look good on my profile and other extracurriculars that i could do that would align with my interests and strengthen my application.
(this is a long post, so i apologise in advance)
*location: india; more specifically south india
type of high school : i changed school recently after clearing my GCSEs and am in a local CBSE school right now. it’s quite competitive but doesn’t really offer much support for going abroad for studies (it focuses more on entrance exams in-country and those are very technical and don’t really appeal to me. i plan on sitting for a few law ones anyway but the specialised tuition required is… extensive.)
gender/race/ethnicity : i’m a cisgender female who’s mixed race. i’m unsure if mixed heritage indian parents count as mixed race but i’m aryo-dravidian with different religions and culture on both sides (my mother’s family hails from bangladesh, settled in bengal but my dad is based in south India)
other special factors *: i’m a national level swimmer. my parents both did their bachelors in a popular college in india, and my grandfather studied and taught in humboldt for a while. if you can’t tell by now, i’m trying to include whatever detail i can because i’m unsure what would end up being important.
this is again something i’m not sure about. things that i’m considering/ find interesting include 1) sexuality, women and gender studies, 2) educational studies, 3) creative writing, 4) political science, 5) developmental studies, 6) anthropology and sociology, and 7) journalism. of these, the only ones i’ve done previous work in are 1), 3) and 7). the others have been tangential to my interests at some point, and i keep finding new things i’m passionate about. to be honest, it’s a bit of a mess. any suggestions here would be great. CS is something that’s popular among people my age, and while i like it and even consider myself good at it, it’s not something i could see myself doing unless it meshed with some of the other fields i’m into.
GPA, rank, and test scores
- unweighted HS GPA: i’m an A*, occasionally A student. i passed my GCSEs with physics, chemistry, intl. math, french and FLE with A* in all subjects and >97% for the maths and sciences. unfortunately, my average class scores are lower than my final exam scores- probably because my work ethic wasn’t, well… the greatest. i still maintained it at As until i entered 11th grade and CBSE where i got depressed and slumped so badly i got 50-60% marks in 3 of my subjects. that’s my latest exam mark, but it’s only one internal midterm. if i get high enough marks in the finals, it hopefully won’t reflect too badly on my report but with COVID one never knows. i’m not sure how to fix this.
- class rank : we didn’t have class ranks at my old school for some reason, and i’m not the top student at my new one due to my abysmal grades. i was awarded an award for an above 98% overall in the assess 360 marks for 10th grade though. and a lot of useless academic achievement certificates from primary levels.
- SAT scores : i took my first SAT in November and got a 1530 (780 M, 750 EBW). my math score is decently high in comparison to the practise tests i took, but my English score is significantly lower (i was averaging 780-790 in the practice tests i took). i’m thinking of taking another SAT, maybe i could superscore and get a higher score.
i’m a CBSE student, so there aren’t AP classes offered at my school. i’m planning on taking the English Literature and the Comparative Government and Politics APs through online courses and out of state exams. i’m not sure when to do this, though. are these enough APs to take? are they good choices?
i took an online course on edX, the HarvardX Justice one about political philosophy, and completed it with a 96% score and a certificate. i found it very interesting.
i’m not sure where this goes but i’m fluent in English, literate in my father tongue and conversant in my mother tongue, and i studied french for five years. i know 5 coding languages but i prefer Python.
quite a few best dels for local and national MUNs, and a honourable mention for the HMUN. i’m still a beginner MUNner so i’m planning on doing more.
i have a lot of medals from my swimming, a few individual champions and i hold 6 records for my state right now. i’ve won 2 national medals and multiple zonal medals including golds and was selected to represent my country once for the South Asians but that competition didn’t work out due to political disputes (i was heartbroken).
i won a special mention for a national writing competition. i want to enroll in more writing competitions because objectively, i do feel my writing is good enough for me to take further.
i won a few olympiads back in primary, including international ranks but after moving into middle schools i didn’t have an opportunity to do any others.
i have many in-school essay and science fair awards, if that counts. and interschool swimming ones.
i’m aware this isn’t much, and i do think i should have more certifications for the skills i know i have, but i don’t. it’s probably presumptuous of me to think this way, which is why i’m on the lookout for competitions right now.
MUN => i’ve been trying to specialise in committees about gender issues/education or more broadly human rights type things.
writing => i’ve had a blog for about 8 years now. i’m not a regular poster but i’m trying to compile it as a sort of portfolio. i mostly do short stories and poems but i’m working on a full length play right now (and several novellas that i most certainly won’t ever complete).
reading => i do book reviews but i don’t ever post them. i’m planning to, in the future.
social project i’m in the midst of about LGBTQIA+ in my country and especially teenagers in regard to it. i’ve collected data already and am working on putting it together. i do have a team that i’m leading.
i have 60 volunteer hours for flood relief work and do monthly volunteer work with a local NGO which works on gender and child welfare. i’m not sure how many hours that would be, since i’m dumb and didn’t think it’d be important to log them when i first started. i have been doing that since this year, though and hope to figure it out?
this is hard esp. because schools don’t really mandate and offer guidance on social work here, because it isn’t really required for colleges in country.
i’m doing an unpaid internship on sexual assault legislature.
i was an editor and a journalist for a national children’s newspaper back in primary.
i can obtain a few LORs from my middle school teachers and my middle school principal too, and i think they’d have good recommendations about me- i did engage in class and was on good terms with them + was a topper. they all like me. i don’t know abt my high school teachers since i’m in a new school and am still working on building relationships.
i’m a good essay writer, i think? i can probably figure that out.
cost constraints / budget
this is probably where my expectations are the most unrealistic. my parents can’t afford much + i have a younger brother. at most, maybe $8K per year. if i get admission at a really good college maybe they could stretch out another 5K but i’d feel really guilty about it. this is why i’m also looking at germany. the cheaper, the better.
i’d have to get a large amount from scholarships/grants, but i’m not sure if i’m accomplished enough for that. a lot of people that i know do say i’m smart enough, but they’re probably biased, and besides, accomplishments count more.
i’m early in my college search still. i’ve placed amherst and vassar on my very high reach longlist, but i’m overwhelmed with the number of options. i’m particularly taken with amherst - the small classes and the open curriculum is exactly the kind of learning atmosphere i like. but these choices are highly unrealistic. i’d really like your help figuring out some safetys/targets from in US and out of it. any other advice is also highly appreciated.
thank you for your help.