Reality check? Did I already screw myself?

<p>There's a lot of elements to this post, and it's going to span many of the topics of the forums offered here, so I apologize if this isn't in the best location.</p>

<p>I feel like putting all of this to writing and perhaps get some opinions and comments from others. I'm about to enter a transition phase from my "past life" into my "future life."</p>

<p>As the thread title suggests, I never properly prepared myself for college. I can't really explain why, other than I just lived a life of apathy. I didn't have the best home life, but I don't want to use that as an excuse. In the end, my (lack of) success throughout my school life was my own doing. Homework felt like a waste of time to me, and ECs were completely out of the question. I probably had the largest gap between GPA and test scores out of anyone who ever attended that (albeit small) school. I barely got by on near-passing grades and perfect test scores my entire life. And when I graduated high school and my parents separated, college was not on my mind.</p>

<p>I also have always had the problem of my interests and my abilities not aligning. My interests have strongly been in physics, technology, and engineering; whereas I much greatly excelled in creative pursuits and especially writing. No matter how uninterested I was in a class, if there was an essay to be written I was safe. A good example is a US Government essay question that I completely didn't understand, since as always I had put no effort into the class. I wrote a lengthy and convoluted essay comparing the small knowledge I had on the topic to Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse and received a perfect score. But I digress.</p>

<p>Math was always my "weakest" subject and I never took Physics formally since it wasn't required. I studied Physics on my own time, usually trying to wrap my head around Theoretical Physics until I ran into math symbols I didn't recognize.</p>

<p>I eventually began taking a graphic design course at a vocational school, where I did very well. However I sort of did this to please my school and family, as I was always skeptical of this field and the lack of stability a career in art could be. Unfortunately I didn't get the wake up call until graduation and instead of standing in the front row, I was placed near students who I may have respected personally but not academically. For some reason I didn't understand that I could be smart yet my grades would affect me until this moment.</p>

<p>For four years I drifted from job to job. I did alright for myself, landing a decent paying job where I was making more than both of my parents (although this wasn't a huge feat). I was laid off when the economy took a nose dive, leaving me unemployed and unable to make payments. I'm currently $10,000 in debt and usually unemployed more often than employed. And never in job positions I enjoy.</p>

<p>So of course, I realized that school is where I belonged and here I am today. Now here comes my concerns.</p>

<p>My entire life before now is a mess. My high school transcripts are a blemish that I'm not sure I'll be able to escape. I also have lofty goals. I would very like to be in a position to transfer and be accepted into a top engineering school such as MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, etc. But no matter how hard I work between now and then, I'm not sure if I'll be able to pull these goals out of "fantasy land."</p>

<p>The college I will be attending in less than a month is the lowly of the low, but it was the best I could do. I'm taking a Math and Sciences General Studies w/ Math Focus course at a local community college. I want to be as completely prepared between now and 2 years so that I can transition into a meaningful education, even if it's "just" a school such as RIT.</p>

<p>What can I do to "build my portfolio" if you will, and make myself look as attractive as possible to prospective higher tier schools? Maintaining a pristine GPA is a given, and I also plan on retaking the SAT, and also the SAT IIs in Math and Physics. What should I look out for as far as ECs go, while I'm a freshman in college? Even with the lack of ECs I participated in in high school, I was wedged out of probably the most important. I participated on an Odyssey of the Mind team that placed 4th in the World Finals. The problem is that the day before our first local competition, our adviser decided I didn't "deserve" to be a member of the team and removed me for (to me, anyways) no good reason. This was after I contributed my time and creativity into the project, and essentially came up with our entire theme. But I'm getting somewhat off-topic...</p>

<p>Essentially what I want to know is how my high school history is going to affect me in the future, and what I can do about it. I am 22 years old now, and will most likely be 24 or older when I transfer. Will schools overlook my high school transcripts, since it is documentation of my (again, lack of) work ethic from over 6 years in the past? Also, will the fact that I am attending a very low-end community college look bad? Even if I do pull off a 4.0, I'm assuming that still may not be good enough as I'm expecting this college to basically be "Thirteenth Grade." Has anyone heard of attending a community college for a year, transferring to a slightly more prestigious school, and then finally transferring to a top tier school?</p>

<p>Anyways, thanks for reading this lengthy post if you got this far; I do appreciate it. I'd also appreciate replies with any comments, advice, etc. Thank you.</p>

<p>Just a quick note to say that doing well in community college really can wipe out the high school record to a great extent. I know a student who ended up transferring to Virginia Tech in just that way. So really tackle the community college courses which won't necessarily all be interesting but may not all be easy either.</p>

<p>I think youll be fine as long as you maintain a good GPA at your community college. Since youre already enrolled in a community college and youve been out of school for a while now most colleges that you want to transfer to will look at how well you are doing at your community college, and if you have a job while going to school this will also look great to the schools you want to transfer to. As for EC's idk what to tell ya to do, you need to find something you genuinely care about and have a passion for and just participate in it as much as you can. It will be difficult for you to juggle community college, a job and just life itself for these two years, but it will DEFINITELY pay off for you in the end. Dont get discouraged and say that "ohh Im at the dumbest school blah blah blah" just do the best you can and make realistic goals for yourself, and youll be fine no matter what college you transfer to. Going back to school is the best thing for you right now, from what Ive read, and you should be proud of yourself for making an effort to succeed in life.</p>

<p>Thanks for the responses. The positive responses have be reassuring.</p>

<p>I'm contemplating getting in contact with someone from admissions at MIT or a similar school for suggestions on becoming a better candidate for acceptance down the road. I'm not sure if this would seem overbearing or odd, but I'm assuming it's like applying for a job: it's difficult to "try to hard." At this point it's hard to see these top tier school as anywhere near within my reach, even in two years, but I'm willing to do whatever I need until then to better my chances and amend the mistakes I've made.</p>