Hey I sent in my appeal to UCSB about 3 weeks ago and just wanted some honest feedback on it.
AP Scores for US History, Calculus and Chemistry: all 3’s
On March 16, 2015 I was notified that I was denied admittance to University of California, Santa Barbara, for Fall 2015. I am writing to appeal the dismissal decision. I believe that I am much more qualified than my application showed me to be.
Throughout my life, I have had to struggle with wanting to fit in and recognizing that my way of learning differed from the norm due to my learning disabilities. In elementary school from first to fourth grade, I was identified as needing speech therapy and received the services of a speech therapist at school. At that time in my life, I was embarrassed to be pulled out of class and did not value the extra help I received. In 2005 I had graduated from speech therapy and I was identified as a GATE student. Which would have been great if I was not also told that I had dyslexia. Although I qualified for GATE, my writing and reading skills lagged behind my peers. I did not want to receive special attention for my disability, I tried to manage and move past it, and worked towards being a “normal” kid. However, ignoring the problem did not make it go away, especially in a class full of GATE students. I pretended not to hear giggles from other students when I was selected to read aloud to the class and acted nonchalantly when others avoided teaming up with me for group projects since I worked slowly. Sensing that my peers were not accepting me academically, I worked on making people laugh and being the class clown. In eighth grade I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder. It took me a while to finally admit that I had a mental processing delay and that it was okay to ask for and receive individualized help. The medication and counseling got me back on track.
I chose not to get a 504 in high school because most of my teachers seemed to be very accommodating when I had any sort of issue that affected my learning. However, I regret this decision because I was not able to request additional time and a quiet area when taking the SAT unless I had a 504 plan already in place at my high school. Unfortunately I realized this mistake too late in the game. The records indicating my diagnoses needed updating and I would need to be retested. The school resources for educational testing specialists were limited to students in danger of failing school and expensive private testing was my only option to set up a 504 in time for the next round of SAT dates. My parents did not think it was necessary for me to receive accommodation and refused to pay for private testing. My original score of five hundred on the critical reading portion of the test was good enough for them, but not for me. I decided to improve my skills and retake the SAT. For the next year I studied almost every day; I took multiple practice examinations and worksheets to prepare myself for the exam. When I took the exam again I raised my score for critical reading by one hundred points and my writing score by seventy points. Even so, I was pressed for time and know if I was given additional time, I would have scored higher.
In reviewing other criteria for acceptance to UC Santa Barbara, such as GPA and extracurricular activities, I wish to highlight the value of learning to manage a disability at a young age, and that such a skill serves to enable me have a successful future. I am proud of the work that I put into my studies while also managing my time well enough to participate in sports and extracurricular activities. I could’ve taken the most basic academic courses and easily skated through high school by not challenging myself. Instead, I decided to take stimulating albeit difficult classes in every subject and work hard in each one. I did not want my disability to hold me back, and I wouldn’t let it. I was perfectly aware that what I was doing was not necessary for getting into college and may even negatively impact my chances since my grades may likely be lower due to the constraints extra activities placed on my available study time. I briefly considered dropping wrestling or choir or taking fewer AP classes last year, but then realized why I was spending my time on all these activities in the first place. I was doing it for myself. I knew that nobody thought I could stick it out, with my teachers, coaches and choir directors all pushing me to focus on only one activity. However, since I do have ADHD, I naturally want to participate in everything. I know that if I took any of those courses individually I would excel, simply because I love learning.
I would also like to add that in November of 2014, I started volunteering at the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center in my county. I did not put this activity on my application because I only started getting very involved in December. What started out as a gift from my choir to the shelter for Thanksgiving turned into a passion for me to reach out to other girls and who have been victims of abuse. After visiting the shelter once with my choir to deliver new clothes, canned food and books, I became interested in helping the shelter and those living in the shelter as much as I could. Girls as young as ten years old talked to me about their own experience with sexual abuse and I shared with them how I dealt with my grief through wrestling and other productive activities. I am mainly involved in the teen and youth program and talk to girls from the ages nine to eighteen about how to find healthy relationships and how to get out of abusive ones. I never fail to remind the girls that no matter what happens, they will always be beautiful. I wish to spend as much time as I can with these girls because I know that when I suffered sexual abuse, all I wished I had was somebody there to tell me that I was not worthless. Now that I have moved past this experience and have learned positive coping strategies I want to help others.
I appeal to you, the University of California, Santa Barbara, admission review committee, to recognize that I am well qualified to be a student at your institution because I do not give up; despite the challenges that I have faced. Even right now, as I am writing this letter of appeal, knowing that historically my chance of succeeding is tremendously low, I will not give up. No matter what happens, I am committed to realizing my goals and will continue to strive towards excellence. I consider UC Santa Barbara to be a university where the highest quality of education is possible and wish to learn and grow in your esteemed setting.
Thank you for your consideration.