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Junior Thinking About College

  1. Jul 21, 2011 #1
    Hey I'm going to be a junior this year and i'm starting to look into colleges. I would love to get into a place like Stanford or MIT but I'm not sure if I have the credentials to do so. Just wanted to get some feedback on my chances at a school like these. Below are my courses/extracurriculars for the last two years and what I'm planning on taking the next two

    9th: 10th:
    Advanced Geometry - A Algebra II - A
    Advanced Biology - A Chemistry - A
    World History - A AP Physics B - A, 5 on the AP
    English - A AP World History - A, 4 on the AP
    Spanish 2 - A Spanish 3 - A
    Marketing/Entrepreneurship - A English - A

    11th: 12th:
    Pre-Calc Supa Economics (Syracuse University Course)
    US History Law and Government
    AP Language and Composition AP Physics C
    AP Biology An English Elective
    AP Chemistry Calculus 3 (Looking to teach myself calculus and
    AP Computer Science skip Calc BC)
    AP Statistics

    I've gotten 95 or above on all my regents and right now I am taking a summer class on quantum mechanics at the university of rochester.

    SOS Club - go to city schools and tutor elementary kids
    Math Team or Science Olympiad (This is a new one, haven't decided which yet)
    Business manager for the school paper
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2011 #2
    sorry about this, meant to make 9th/10th and 11th/12th grades further apart
  4. Jul 21, 2011 #3


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    If you haven't taken calculus or linear algebra yet, you're not studying quantum mechanics. Maybe it's a modern physics class; that skims over quantum. Keep in mind that the people applying to Stanford and MIT have the same grades and classes you do, and those schools take less than 10% of applicants. Your summer probably would have been better spent in a research program than summer school - NASA, MIT, and many other schools have good ones. But you can always try that next summer. That would do a lot more for your application.

    But frankly, it really doesn't matter all that much. You can study physics at many good schools with your grades, it doesn't have to be a top school. You'll go somewhere else for graduate school anyway. Many state schools have excellent physics programs - SUNY Stony Brook would probably be a great choice for you.
  5. Jul 21, 2011 #4
    Why would you skip calc BC? That would be a dent in your application if you want to get into a top school for science.

    To get into a top school like Stanford and MIT, you need to have more than perfect grades, because everyone applying has perfect grades. You need something to make you stand out, something that few applicants have. Someone in my grade got into Stanford, MIT, and every other top school. She had a patent for something she invented involving electrical engineering. That's what I'm talking about. Someone else I knew got into Stanford and she had basically finished college softmore level math while still in high school. Not to mention these people had near perfect scores on the SAT, which is another must. Other applicants will have written books, be able to speak 5 languages, have patents, have perfect SAT scores, all on top of having straight A's in school. But like eri said, you shouldn't have problem getting into a really good school, be it a state school or private.

    I once read an article on Stanford, and someone on the admissions committee said that about 80% of applicants have the grades and test scores needed to get in. But only 10% can get in, so they only can take the best of the best of the best students. And even if you are one of the best, you still need luck to get in. So really it's impossible for us to tell if you can get in.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  6. Jul 22, 2011 #5
    I'm going to be a senior in high school this upcoming year, so here's how I view your schedule.

    As said before, you shouldn't really skip calc BC as it looks good on your application. IF you do end up just skipping calc BC, then why are you taking AP stats? Since you're interested in MIT, here's how they view AP stats. They don't even give credit for a 5 on the AP test for stats (http://mit.edu/firstyear/2015/subjects/ap.html [Broken]).

    In terms of the extracurricular, can you not do both science Olympiad AND the math team, because you should do both if possible.

    As said before, you're probably not in a QM course as you don't know multivarible calc/linear algebra. Not that it matters though, because that'll look good on your application that you're taking physics courses during your summer!

    Overall you have a strong application, if you can keep up your grades, keep getting 4/5s on AP tests and get good scores on ACT/SAT subject tests then you'll be a VERY strong candidate for any school you apply for. Be warned though, as the "top tier" schools are always a crap shoot!

    Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Jul 22, 2011 #6


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    Exactly. If you apply to Stanford and MIT, you probably won't get into either. If you apply to Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Harvard, Berkeley, and 5 other top schools, you'll have a pretty good shot at getting into a top school. In physics, ranking is so irrelevant that it actually doesn't matter which of the top schools you can get into.
  8. Jul 22, 2011 #7
    I'd have to disagree. Only your coursework is good, and in terms of other strong applicants, it doesn't necessarily stand out. It just "falls in line" with the other strong applicants. However, everything else is lacking.

    In my opinion, the main thing to focus on is your extracurriculars, since those are the things that really make you stand out apart from other applicants. And of course, you'll need the other good stats: SAT score (2250+), AP scores (5s). Also try to get to know one of your college professors. LORs can really help or hurt your application, and getting them from a professor that knows you well provides more legitimacy than a typical high school teacher, which is the typical LOR.
  9. Jul 22, 2011 #8
    Thanks for all the feedback. The QM class only uses algebra, so yes, basically an overview of the theories. I think I will do both science olympiad and math team. Currently I am looking at a summer program at NASA or MIT so that I have taken care of. And I'm skipping calc BC because calc III is a harder course (multivariable calculus) and I have a very supportive group of counselors/teachers who will make this more than possible.
  10. Jul 23, 2011 #9
    U should perform at a high level at competitions like USApho, at least qualifying USAMO, USABO, USNCO, etc here is some idea
    I waz waitlisted then rejected at MIT but got in Caltech. I did none of these, having only heard of them senior year. (I did make USABO semifinalist senior year nevertheless, but it didn't count for anything. Nonetheless, I still liked it. Having perform well in those competition will mean a lot, especially for MIT. Nevertheless, it should be no easy feat, especially for USAMO. If ur MIT/Stanford material, u should take the AMC test and qualify for AIME.If ur never heard of these, it's rather too late because it takes quite some time to prepare for such competition, at least 1 year. Nevertheless, going for such should be an enriching experience. There are, however, ppl who got in elite institutions without these.
    Since ur in NY, based on ur taking course in ROchester, u should prolly heard of siemens/intel research competition. New York has such a strong hs research culture, look into it and see what u can do.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
  11. Jul 24, 2011 #10
    Wait, if you are taking precalc your junior year, and learning calculus 3 your senior year, you would not only be skipping Calc BC, but also Calc AB! That seems pretty foolish in my opinion. I don't mean to insult your math prowess or anything, but if you self teach yourself the equivalent to Calc 1 and 2 over a summer, you aren't going to get a good grasp of the basics that you will need later in your education. I know it seems like a good idea to take calc 3 to get into a top notch university, but you also need to look at the long term ramifications of skipping 2 core math classes, especially since neither of your 2 high school classes taken so far are rigorous in comparison to Calculus.
  12. Jul 24, 2011 #11
    @connorm333: Calc BC covers Calc I in the first semester and Calc II in the second. It's pretty much the equivalent of taking two college math courses during your senior year of high school.
  13. Jul 24, 2011 #12
    This probably depends on the school, because that is not what my high school did. You had to take calculus AB before BC. In the BC class you started with integration by parts and the like. But we were also on the semester system, so senior year you could take Calc AB first semester and BC the second semester and still get prepared for the AP test.
  14. Jul 27, 2011 #13
    kamikaze1, thanks for the advice on the competitions, I will definitely try to start preparing for one. If anything I will do the siemens competition. gdbb is right: calc ab is not required because calc bc covers both calc I and II. Like I mentioned earlier, I go to one of the most supportive/best/competitive public schools in the nation and I have no doubt that I can find a teacher help with learning calc on my own.
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