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Better to slow down, or continue and transfer later

  1. Dec 4, 2011 #1

    I have a rather unique situation. I am in high school, and also attend a local community college (I'll have 16 credits at the end of this semester). Through the Board of Trustees at my high school, I have the option to attend a relatively decent state university in my city. I would start this spring, taking courses concurrently with high school, then for the Fall I would sort of waive the high school/GED requirement, and attend as a matriculated student in a major of my choice.

    Ideally, however, I would like to try to transfer to a university that is more focused on my preferred topics, such as math, computer science, and physics, say - MIT or Stanford or Princeton, even. What I have found, however, is discouraging. The process is much more competitive, and schools such as Princeton do not even accept transfers.

    So, I guess my question is this: is it better to wait, study for APs, continue on with high school, concurrently take a few classes at the community college, graduate early, then apply as a normal student? Or would it be better to speed through and start at this university, ruling out my opportunity for Princeton and a few others I found that don't accept transfers, and hope to transfer to another school?

    Thanks for any advice.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2011 #2
    Any ideas from people here?

    Some more information about myself:

    1) Estimated GPA at the end of the first semester: ~3.1 on a 4.0 scale.
    2) Estimated math GPA at the end of the first semester: ~3.8.

  4. Dec 5, 2011 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    What year are you in now, in high school?
  5. Dec 5, 2011 #4
    most of the stories i hear (aka read) about kids taking college classes before attending harvard, caltech, etc. have them doing the hs thing part time and taking as many math classes as possible at local colleges, then graduate hs and apply as a normal student. . .

    im not sure if any of those types are around here to chime in. . .

    however, graduating hs early, starting college early, and getting into REAL academic research early on, publishing papers, etc. would be pretty amazing for a phd program at MIT / princeton / etc.
  6. Dec 5, 2011 #5
    @jtbell: I'm a freshman.

    @Highway: That's what I'm used to hearing too. I'm just a little confused with this possible opportunity from the state university.

    Thanks for the replies.
  7. Dec 5, 2011 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    You're in a rather unusual situation. I don't think too many people here have experience with people like you, but I bet the people in the admissions office at Princeton etc. have. I suggest you contact them and find out what they advise.

    We do have a couple of people here who are familiar with MIT so hopefully they'll see this and chip in.
  8. Dec 5, 2011 #7
    Perhaps I will. Thanks for the advice. And yeah, hopefully I'll hear some replies from people who are familiar with some of the other larger universities.

    Thanks again.
  9. Dec 5, 2011 #8
    make a game plan for yourself, a potential course schedule to follow, regarding your perspective major, and what courses you plan to take before graduating. i know that ivies, etc. usually make students retake AP courses like math / gen chem / physics for what i assume is to give those respective departments more money, so if you were to take, say, 2 years of advanced math/physics while still in hs, and then apply as a freshman, who's to say that you wouldn't have to repeat those courses over again?

    another good idea, at least to get in touch with accepted pton/caltech/mit undergrads, is to check college confidential. i hate to refer you to another site, but if accepted students lurk / post there, they might be the best resource for you, outside of the schools themselves.
  10. Dec 5, 2011 #9
    are u taking classes that are beyond what your HS has to offer, or are u just taking college courses for the sake of being in college?
  11. Dec 6, 2011 #10
    Yeah, I am. Unfortunately, my high school opened very recently and only offers math up to trigonometry, and physics only up to very simple algebra-based physics.
  12. Dec 6, 2011 #11
    wait yes you are to what? Is it the former or the latter question that you were answering to?
  13. Dec 6, 2011 #12
    The reason for the extra classes is because of the lack of availability at my HS. For example, trig is only availble to tenth graders, discrete math is obviously not available, neither is C++. Also, the level of physics at the CC is much higher than anything at my HS. No APs or honors classes that I'm not already in are available, either.
  14. Dec 7, 2011 #13
    I don't know if I can speak to your specific question, but I just wanted to say that it is not necessary to go to MIT or Princeton to get a top-notch undergraduate education in the fields you mentioned, but it is likely to be much more expensive. Undergraduate curricula are pretty standard - for example in Physics most schools utilize the same textbooks for the core classes. Similarly, any school (including a state school) that offers a PhD program in your field will offer plenty of opportunity for research experience. In addition, all the fields you mention participate in an NSF-funded program of REU's which are paid summer research experiences at tons of schools across the country - these are great opportunities to check out other schools and areas of research.

    When you apply to grad school by far the biggest factors will be your research experience (and associated letters of rec) and your score on the Physics GRE (a standardized test). GPA is less important, and undergrad institution only factors in slightly to an interpretation of your GPA. On the other hand, undergraduate student loan debt is not something that should be taken on lightly. At the very least you should find out whether MIT, Princeton etc. offer merit scholarships and whether you would be competitive for them. It is likely you would be offered a full ride at your state school.
  15. Dec 7, 2011 #14
    Thanks, I needed to hear that from somebody. I used these schools as examples simply because a) I knew at least something about them and b) they had typical transfer policy examples. The problem with my state school is there is no physics major, and the mathematics department is not very strong from what I can tell. Of course, I've only been on campus a few times, and never taken a class there, so this is a purely "outside looking in" opinion. Ideally, I would like to dual major in these two or at least major in one and minor in the other.

    I haven't done much research into scholarships, but now I'm thinking I should.

    Thanks for all the suggestions.
  16. Dec 7, 2011 #15
    what school is this? also, there might be other schools in your state that are good, and at least you might do ok with the in-state tuition break. . . because even going out of state to a good state school can be expensive vs the cost of in-state students.
  17. Dec 7, 2011 #16
    Worcester State University. Since I'm in New England, I get the feeling I don't have to go too far.
  18. Dec 7, 2011 #17
    lmfao. . . go to umass or something :P

    take as many college classes (math, physics, chem) as you can at your local community college and apply everywhere. you're obviously smart as hell, and will get a scholarship somewhere :)
  19. Dec 7, 2011 #18
    Haha, my mom finished her degree there.

    And thanks, but I wouldn't consider myself that smart, I'm just a little bit more motivated. So you're opinion is that it would be better to continue high school and graduate in one or two years, then apply as a freshman to colleges?
  20. Dec 7, 2011 #19
    yeah, like, take classes while in hs at community college, and then apply as a freshmen (with a great collegiate academic record) in a few years.

    you will be busy, but the idea of still staying in high school is to at least be surrounded my more people your age and have the opportunity to do some things socially :P

    prom, games, girls, friends, etc :P
  21. Dec 7, 2011 #20
    Yeah, I've weighed the social aspects of high school to the benefits of college a few times - the way I see it, it's fine either way. I'd see my friends outside of school anyway (just the way it is), but if I'm in school, I see them for 8 hours (8am-4pm) anyway so I wouldn't even want to see them outside my school.

    Thanks for all the help.
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