Need knowledgable parental advice.

<p>I have come to a crossroads. I am from a really small school in Missouri that has never sent anyone out of state to college. My mom (who wants me to be close, but also wants for me to do what ever will make me happiest), friends and counselor expect me to go to the local state school or the Baptist college (both of which are within an hour of here). I want to pretend, at least, that I can go to a prestigious school (an Ivy, Seven Sisters, or somesuch). </p>

<p>My situation is that I need to decide what my aspirations are. If I decide that I have a shot at a top school, I need to go against my counselor and take the SAT, SAT IIs, and self-study some APs. This adds up to a lot of money and time that will be for naught if I end up staying here. I've put my stats below, and I would like some brutally honest feedback. If I have no chance, please say so. I don't want to put all of this energy, and money that I don't have, into something that won't pan out. Please let me know what you think. <em>sigh</em></p>

ACT: 27 (first time, as sophomore)
GPA: 3.97uw; 4.1w
Rank: 2/34</p>

<p>Courseload: Took Algebra II as a freshman. First Sophomore ever in my school to take Chemistry. The rest is general at least until next year, and then, the most advanced classes I can take are a few dual-credit with a community college.</p>

<p>ECs: *FBLA-District President; State President Candidate next year; Local Treasurer, Committee Member
*President of School Christian Group, Founder of FCA Chapter
*Class Secretary/Treaurer
*Family, Career, Community Leaders of America
*Teen Mentoring Council
*National Honor Society
*Varsity Softball and Basketball
*Lots of placings in Business, Math, Science, History Contests
*Job at Bakery for two summers</p>



<p>There are many folks much more knowlegdeable about the more competitive schools (Ivies and equivalent) than I am...but it seems to me that an ACT score in the 30's would be where you would need to be (and I don't mean 30 or 31...). There are a LOT of wonderful colleges out there, however, that would love to have a student like you in their classes. You might want to look into some of the other schools in your area of the country. OR if you are looking as far as the east, there is no short supply of smaller schools between Missouri and the Atlantic Ocean.</p>

<p>Thank you for your opinion. When I took it, it was the first time, and I didn't prepare at all. I have no doubts that I can improve it by several points.</p>

<p>I can say with some degree of certainty that the seven sister schools, at any rate, will not hold against you the fact that you aren't taking classes that don't exist at the school you attend. Some schools, such as Mount Holyoke, are test-optional, though it would make sense generally speaking to either work on the ACT battery, or the SAT agglomeration. </p>

<p>Just become the most interesting, exciting person that YOU want to be, and let the rest take care of itself.</p>

<p>thumper, this is an ACT score of 27 from a SOPHOMORE who has clearly not had any advanced math or science that other schools offer. So it is actually pretty good. With another year or year and a half of high school under his/her belt and more advanced classes, I would expect the score to come up quite a bit.</p>



<p>I FULLY agree with this. My point was that the score would need to improve when retaken. It's not a bad score for a sophomore.</p>

<p>It sounds like you are doing the right things. Colleges definitely look at whether you've taken advantage of the resources that are available, and the resources in a small town in Missouri are likely less than those available to a kid living on Long Island. So continue taking all the hard courses, and also take the dual-enrollment classes at the CC. If you can see who the profs are, try to take classes from those with a PhD. The idea here is that you could eventually use one of those people for a rec.</p>

<p>Get some of the books about college admissions. They will go into more detail about selecting colleges, the steps for admission, constructing a table of deadlines so that you sign up for all the tests and mail off all your apps in time, etc. And continue to use the web to research colleges; visit their websites, read the student newspapers, look at live-journals from students, etc. You can also ask colleges you are thinking about if there are any students who live out in your area and are home on break; you could call them or meet for lunch somewhere.</p>

<p>I agree with the posters above. I also would like to suggest that if you take more challenging classes but do not end up going to one of your dream schools for whatever reason, it won't be a wasted effort. Knowledge is never wasted. As Mini said, concentrate on being the most interesting and exciting person YOU want to be.</p>

<p>Also, if I dive head-first into this for sure, I will have little, to no support. No one in my family has gone to college, and my counselor has no experience.</p>

<p>This is not at all an uncommon experience at the Seven Sisters schools, especially if you are also low-income. If these are of interest to you, contact the school admissions officers, and they will put you in touch with their regional (and/or alumni rep) and help you through the process. Really - they tend not to be adversarial - you could literally write them what you did here, and they'd become advocates rather than gatekeepers.</p>

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<p>Job one, Katie, is to have a heart to heart talk with your parents about your aspirations, and money. Your ACT score is good, you'll need about a 33, lots of As, and to take the most difficult courses you can, including self-study a couple of APs, perhaps one of the community college classes, ?calculus, maybe. You need interests outside of school, the bakery job is good - is there anything specific to your area that interests you, do you live on a farm, are there any community service opportunities tied to Appalachia that you could become involved in. The first generation college is a plus.</p>

<p>You and your parents need to do some research on college financing this year, to decide if you should devote your efforts to need based or merit based schools. It would be heartbreaking to be admitted, and have your parents realize they cannot afford for you to attend. Financial aid does not always make sense, in the sense of who gets what, you need to learn enough ahead of time about what your parents expected contribution would be, so you know which schools financially will be the best to go after.</p>

<p>You also need to meet with your school's GC or whoever functions in that role, tell them of your aspirations, and ask them if they can help you. If your parents get on board with this, they can meet with the GC as well. The most important job for the GC is to prepare a letter that describes your school (at most places this would be a profile, that is pre-printed), what courses are offered, how many graduates, what colleges they attend, etc. The GC will also write a recommendation that is specifically about you. If the GC is an open person who wants to help, but doesn't know how, this website will teach them a lot - for example, there have been threads linking to high schools that post the school profile on the web. While no one would expect a 200 student rural school to produce a document like these, it will show the person writing your letters what type of info needs to be included.</p>

<p>Two colleges to look at - Washington Univ in St. Louis, and Rhodes College in Memphis - both of these should be driveable for you, which might be a good compromise (remember if you can't just drive home for dinner and come back, you ARE away from home). You would also be very attractive to the Seven Sisters, particularly the ones that are still all women, and they won't be quite as competitive as the Ivies.</p>

<p>Finally, pick a couple of dream schools and copy your original E-mail, adding that you are a first gen college student to the adcom for your region (this will work best if the school has adcoms covering specific regions), they just may have some good advice, and you are early enough to put the advice to use. Bright kids from small rural high schools in the Ozarks are a type of diversity they don't get too often.</p>

<p>See Mini agrees with me - you may well be able to get an adcom on your side, who can be very helpful.</p>

<p>Thank you sooooo much, you have no idea how much this helps. I live in a single-parent home, and our income is well-below the $40,000 mark.</p>

<p>You would still be a good candidate at some of the sister schools with a high twenties ACT. A thirty would probably make you a shoo in at Mt. Holyoke and Smith. They should also really like your background, you will really provide diversity.</p>


<p>Many years ago, I met a young man from Appalachia. He was attending Harvard. He and another friend were the first in their community (and of course, family) to go to college. The friend was at Princeton. No one but them had ever heard of Harvard or Princeton in their community. Well, some folks had heard of Princeton--it was a small town not far from their own! As fas as I know, the Harvard student was doing quite well. I remember that he was particularly interested in military history.</p>

<p>If your income is well below the $40,000 mark, you will qualify for a full ride at many schools, including Harvard and Princeton, and of course, many other highly selective schools. I endorse Mini's suggestion of contacting somebody in the admission office of a school that interests you and tell them what you posted here. Read up the admissions website of the school first, and familiarize yourself with the requirements: what kind of courses, what kind of scores the college expects of applicants (remember there are no hard and fast rules). The admission officer may be able to help you right away or may direct you to an alumnus closer to you.
Here are some fairly standard college expectations"
4 years of English
3 years of math (at least through precalculus)
2 years of social studies and one year of US history
3 years of lab sciences (usually biology, chemistry and physics)
2 years of a foreign language.
Since you took the ACT as a sophomore and scored a 27, chances are good that your score will go up considerably when you take it as a junior when you have done more studying. Analyze your score and see where your weaknesses lie so you can address them.</p>

<p>Good luck. We love to help.</p>

<p>Thanks so much. I just want to clarify that my school really is great. They are by far the best in the area, and do send many seniors to college. They just do not have experience beyond a 200 mile radius. My mother is also very supportive, and the most intelligent person I know, she just isn't familiar with college admissions. Thanks again.</p>


<p>I understand. I just wanted to illustrate that you can aspire to attend the most selective colleges AND do well there. Coming from Missouri, you might have a bit of an edge in the admission process at some NE colleges. There are also some terrific colleges in the Midwest. Don't overlook them. Some give very generous scholarships. Grinnell, in Iowa, is particularly known for its great financial aid.</p>

<p>WOW! I took y'all's advice by emailing Barnard admissions, and less than an hour later, I recieved a response. I feel so much better about everything now, thank you all.</p>

<p>You've gotten some great advice here, of luck to you....please keep us posted on your progress.</p>


<p>Now is actually a good time to be contacting admission offices as they are not dealing with applications and admissions, so they have more time to reply to queries. Glad you got through to Barnard!</p>

<p>Katie, you go girl! You are already showing the pluck and tenacity it will take to get in to your dream school. E-mail a few more and see what you come up with!</p>