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Do I have any chance at getting into a good school? /unconventional student

Prisoner9430Prisoner9430 20 replies7 threads Junior Member
Just to start things off with the usual:

ACT: 34 (36/31/35/32) BUT with a 6 for the essay. I took it as a sophomore without studying at all bc I figured it would be a practice, ended up working out fine for the actual test but man I bombed the esssay...
SAT II: 790 French, 720 US History (rip but I took it before I had ever taken a US history class, it was all just general knowledge)
GPA UW: 3.967
Rank: n/a
APs: One. APEuro (4). My school doesn't allow freshmen to take AP classes no matter how much they beg (speaking from personal experience) and that's the one class sophomores are allowed to take. I have a good reason for not taking any junior year (which I'll explain in a second), and senior year I'm taking AP calc AB + self-studying for APUSh and AP gov. My school doesn't offer any honors classes. Yeah, I know.
Major awards- nothing too fancy, I've got a decent number of debate awards, B2 DELF certification, currently a semi-finalist for NSLI-Y.

Self-taught linguistics 9-12: (languages are my hobby, I'm fluent in French, pretty good in Spanish, have a background in Mandarin, and the NSLI-Y is for Arabic). self-taught bc my school doesn't offer any languages past level 3, some only to level 2.
Policy Captain for debate 10, 12: I literally started the program from nothing and have won a bunch of awards his year. I have a good reason for not participating junior year.
Foreign exchange: and here we get to the heart of the matter. I spent my junior year on an academic exchange in France through Rotary. I was basically fed up with my school not being advanced enough for me so I yeeted myself out of the country to pursue my interest in languages. I didn't know how my grades would translate back in the US, but my school ended up counting them as pass/fail, so I didn't receive a GPA for junior year. I know that junior year is considered to be the most important for colleges, so will seeing that I didn't get grades cause them to count me out without a second thought? I mention in the additional info section that I worked my butt off the whole year. Idk if it'll be enough, though.
Chess club founder/president 9-12: exactly like it sounds
Outside reading: I mention that I take it into my own hands to make sure I'm learning at an advanced level through outside reading and self-studying.
Junior Academy: this doesn't really fit in with the rest of my profile, but it's a rather selective international STEM group where we compete in challenges. My team and I designed a plant to break down PET plastic.
Family responsibilities: I have many of them
French tutoring: yeah I tutor
Volunteer: two main ones, one I taught a local immigrant piano lessons for a year until I left on exchange, the other I helped build a school in Guatemala (ik colleges won't see that as relevant).
Paid work: swim instructor during summers, since middle school.

Common app 8/10, I talk about my passion for languages and my exchange year
Recommendation 1: 7/10, good but a bit generic since I hadn't seen her for a year.
Recommendation 2: 9/10, he was my debate coach, I don't know exactly what he said but he once asked me if colleges would appreciate the phrase "she started the bejeezus out of this program."

Financial bracket: ~80k
Race: mixed white/black
Gender: female
State: UT (middle of absolutely nowhere).

My school has never sent a single student out of state. I don't think anyone's ever applied before. With all of this in mind, will any moderately selective school not throw my application out the window?
6 replies
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Replies to: Do I have any chance at getting into a good school? /unconventional student

  • CaMom13CaMom13 1981 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Define "good school" and "moderately selective"? I think most people outside of CC would say you have a great chance of getting into many moderately selective good oos schools with nice merit packages. But in CC-land some people think anything less than a Ivy is "settling" so if you can indicate where you are applying it'll help people give better answers. Regardless, you appear to be a fantastic student and I hope you end up in a great fit college.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2266 replies47 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    Can't you get a direct transcript from the school you attended in France, so that colleges can see that you had a successful year?

    I think a lot of colleges would appreciate you as a unique and accomplished applicant. Since you need significant financial aid (assuming 80K is your family income and not your EFC - am I interpreting that correctly?), it might be worth floating an ED2 application to a full-need-met reach school. (perhaps Middlebury, since it's so known for foreign languages and loves passionately multilingual applicants?)
    edited December 2019
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35135 replies398 threads Senior Member
    OP's hs may have already incorporated the foreign transcript into theirs.

    OP, what are you looking for and will you be satisfied to attend an instate college? It's unclear. But by asking this so late, it suggests this.

    Get a Fiske Guide to Colleges. Compare your stats. (But realize that's just the first baby step. And that many holistic colleges will look at the subscores, not just Composite. It can matter what that 31 is in and how that relates to your possible major.)

    Adcoms understand a junior year away program. But how they react to the rest of your picture depends a lot on what those individul colleges look for. You need to figure out what they do want, whether you match that, in toto, not just schools that seem attractive to you (unless they are much less selective or primarily admit based on stats.)
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9723 replies521 threads Senior Member
    You can get into all kinds of good schools.

    You’ve learned a lesson that I wish many more students would learn— taking official tests “just for practice”, before you’re good and ready to take them, is not a good idea, for reasons you’ve discovered.

    If by “good” you mean under 10% acceptance rate, then you’re probably going to have to take the ACT again to get a better essay score. I normally tell kids not to worry too much about the essay section, but if your goal is tippy top colleges, the essay score might be a disadvantage if the college you apply to requires or recommends the essay.

    Your application is not going to be compared to kids from schools with a hundred APs and tons of honors classes. Your app will be read in context of the school you attend and what it offers. If your school has no Honors course, that is beyond your control and they will not count it as a strike against you.

    Do not self study for AP tests unless you have a specific reason for doing so, such as you plan to major in American history, or unless you plan to use the credits at a college that gives credit for AP scores. It’s a waste of time because tippy top colleges don’t care about self studied APs. If self studying detracts from other things that you do, it’s a negative.
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  • Prisoner9430Prisoner9430 20 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for the replies! For my college list, my safety is USU because I'm guaranteed a presidential scholar with my stats. I would really prefer to go out of state, though. I'm applying to Kenyon, Boston University, Northeastern, Wellesley, and Tufts (as my top reach school). Swarthmore and Rice both offered me fee waivers, so I figured I may as well apply there, too. My *absolute* dream school would be Columbia, but I don't think I'll apply because $80 is a lot for basically no chance.

    I'm planning on majoring in International Relations, and most of my application ties into that.

    As for self-studying for the APs, I was just kind of mad that I could only take one AP this year because I had to take all the required classes from the last two years and I wanted to prove to myself that I could learn it. Both of the APs are related to my intended major, so I feel like it's fairly relevant.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9723 replies521 threads Senior Member
    That’s a fairly reachy list, but I think you have a decent shot at a couple of those. Kenyon is a wonderful school and I feel it’s a realistic match. It’s a million times different from Northeastern though. In fact, BU and NE are both the opposite of all your other choices. If your goal is Boston or Bust, what about Brandeis, which might be very interested in you and might perhaps be the easiest to get into of all your choices. You seemed inclined to a more classic collegiate liberal arts environment. IMO, neither BU nor NE offer that.

    If classic collegiate is your goal, consider adding some other excellent LACs that might offer you substantial merit money. I’m thinking Dickinson, Connecticut College, or Trinity in Hartford.
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