Same info for both kids:
Demographics: White, non-Hispanic. Not first-generation college students. But, for what it’s worth, one parent is an immigrant (now US citizen). Kids are both dual US-UK citizens. No legacies, no athletes.**
Schooling: US high school up to 9th grade. 10th grade homeschool. No community college, dual-enrollment, or anything. DD took the equivalent of 4 years foreign language; DS took 3 years. Cannot quantify in years the other subjects (see below).**
Coursework in 8th-9th grade: advanced science, math (algebra, geometry), history, English, Spanish (2 years), computer programming, electronics. Ranked 3 (DD) or 7 (DS) out of a class of 400.**
Due to limited academic opportunities at our local public school – we mapped out their 10-12 grade schedule and saw that they would not be able to take enough of the right courses – we decided to homeschool the remainder of high school.**
Coursework in 10th grade: They continued their college-prep schoolwork they’d begun in 9th grade. They passed 7 CLEP subjects (college math, pre-algebra, college composition, western civilization, Spanish with writing, psychology, sociology). They would have taken more CLEP tests, but, in March, 2020, all testing was cancelled. They studied a lot of math (advanced algebra, trigonometry, pre-calc and calculus) and took the AP calc BC exam at the end of that year (2020).**
GPA: 4.0/4.0 (from both 9th grade and 10th grade). Unweighted? I’m not sure what that means. Their school used a 100% system, and they got 99.9% or 99.8%. They earned all As in homeschool.**
At the end of 10th grade, they met all their state graduation requirements, so they obtained a superintendent’s letter to that effect, in June, 2020. So no more homeschooling. Instead of learning to drive and/or getting a job, our graduates decided to engage in a year of self-study, and signed up for a massive number of AP exams, courtesy of this same local school, who graciously allowed them to sign up for more AP classes than were available to their own students.
SAT – taken in one sitting (10th grade, age 15) but will be retaking this fall**
DS: 1530 (750 EBRW; 780 Math) (expecting re-test of 1570 or higher, based on practice tests)**
DD: 1520 (750 EBRW; 770 Math) (expecting re-test of 1570 or higher, based on practice tests)**
Advanced Placement tests (1 taken in 2020, the rest taken in 2021):**
DS – 14 APs – (12 @ 5 [Physics C E-mag, Physics C Mechanics, Calculus-BC, Statistics, Chemistry, Biology, English Language & Composition, US History, US Government, Human Geography, Psychology, and Macroeconomics], 2 @ 4 [Microeconomics & Environmental Science])**
DD - 12 APs – (8 @ 5 [Physics-C E-mag, Calculus BC, Statistics, English Language & Composition, Human Geography, Environmental Science, Macroeconomics, and Psychology], 4 @ 4 [Biology, Spanish, Microeconomics, US Government])**
GED - They passed the test in July, 2021 (couldn’t take earlier due to covid shut downs)**
Majors/area of interest:
DS – He’s seeking a good computer science program (or mathematics); he wants to get his degree and get out in the world and start working. He has a real science bent, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he changed his mind in college and ends up pursuing graduate studies.**
DD – She’s seeking linguistics or anthropology or psychology degree program; I think she’s graduate-school bound (based on her interests alone) and capable of advanced scholarship.**
Problem #1 – limited or no EC’s – They had limited ECs in 9th grade (wrote satirical pieces for school paper; participated in the model UN, joined the comedy club) but since then have had minimal ECs – DD loves reading classical literature (has read all of Shakespeare), psychology, learning obscure languages, gardening, taking walks, playing guitar. DS loves all things computer, programming (perl, python, MYSQL) but also playing video games, biking, reading, taking walks. All this activity is performed in their spare time, is in no way organized, and certainly does not constitute “leadership.” No awards. No work experience. No summer camps. No shadowing. No sports. No awards (unless you count the AP award!). Some volunteering. Both are currently working on software development, websites, youtube accounts, etc., and they of course help around the house, and help with disabled older relative.**
Problem #2 – out-of-date LORs – their letters are from 9th grade. That’s if those teachers even agree to write letters, as they’ve not been asked yet. I noticed that most schools require at least 1 letter, preferably from a teacher (even from homeschooled applicants).**
Problem #3 – Essays – Our kids will do their best to write a powerful essay but they are not “spikey” and (thankfully) have had no trauma/abuse.**
Problem #4 – DD will be difficult to “package,” because she cannot settle on a main interest and wants to be “undecided” for as long as possible (!).**
Where should they apply?
Is it possible for them to get into a top50 US school without much in the way of ECs?
And, even if admitted, are merit awards out of the question?
Many of you recommend students applying to their state’s “flagship” university, but our university is NOT highly ranked and doesn’t seem to provide much in the way of merit aid. I don’t mention our state, because I am ashamed of it.
Non-US schools don’t seem to care about ECs or essays, so we are considering UK schools as well as American schools. Incurring debt for a better school that doesn’t care about ECs seems better than a free ride at a no-name school.
(Don’t let cost factor into your advice. We are not wealthy by any means – we’re living on one modest income and qualify for nearly 100% financial aid on those website-based college financial aid calculators – but are prepared to go into debt to further our children’s education at a good school.)
We refuse to apply ED, so it will be RD all the way!
Thank you so much for your time,