3 years ago
Admissions Advice

3 high schools

Hello, I’m currently a junior approaching my senior year and am therefore very worried about college admissions.I have been to 3 high schools so far- a K-12 badly funded private religious school in freshman year that didn’t offer any honors/ap classes and taught Arabic instead of Spanish or French, a public school that I took several honors classes and was very involved in, and now a high ranking public school where I am taking all honors/APs. Because I switched schools so many times, I don’t have any teachers that have known me since before the pandemic in my current school for recommendation letters, I haven’t taken a language class since freshman year, and all my ECs are completely different from school to school. I have plans to apply for schools like Georgetown and NYU but because I’ve never been able to stay at a school long enough to establish myself as a leader, I have virtually nothing to show for my 4 years of high school. My grades have also dropped this year- I used to be a straight A student but last semester I got 3 Bs. What can I do to improve my chances of getting into low-acceptance schools with my track record? Will admissions people understand my circumstances and judge me differently? Am I even being realistic to be applying to these schools? (I’m still applying to a few safety/match schools as well). If I could get a reply this would definitely ease up so much stress for me because I don’t know anyone or found anyone like me online in my current situation.

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Accepted Answer
3 years ago

First of all, I would definitely emphasize the disadvantage this has put you at. Some may consider it a "sob story"; whatever it is, play it up. Don't be afraid to talk about feeling distant and disconnected from your teachers, loss of sense of belonging, possible identity confusion, imposter syndrome, whatever it is.

Even if ECs don't match from school to school, have you demonstrated continued interest in anything? What are the clubs you were involved in, and is there ANY kind of pattern you can find from them? If not, think deep and hard about how you're going to frame your ECs very intentionally on your application. Take advantage of the summer to make last-minute adjustments to your ECs. Having some kind of pattern or continuity is crucial to justifying your ECs.

Figure out what's happening with your grades. 3 Bs isn't the end of the world; the bigger issue is the downwards trend. Why are they dropping? Is it because of COVID-19? Are you overloading yourself with activities? Figure out what's wrong and fix it; a downwards trend looks pretty bad on transcripts. If you can't fix it, be sure to have an explanation (you can put this in Additional Information or something on the Common App).

In terms of language class, I'm not sure why you didn't take one sophomore or this year, but I'm not sure what to tell you. Are you reasonably fluent in any foreign language? Any way you can take a test or something (do research on this) to certify your proficiency? Any other ways you can demonstrate cultural interest and understanding (ECs, classes, etc.)? Global perspectives?

As a whole, there are several elements you need to be considering as part of college apps: GPA, transcript, standardized test scores, ECs, essays, and recommendation letters. If your GPA isn't looking so hot, find a way to try to "make up" for that. You've been to 3 different schools; did you take any unique or really interesting courses? I would definitely recommend standardized testing for you; you need the potential boost. Also, place heavy, heavy emphasis on your essays. Talk about your experience hopping around schools; you might even consider putting it as your personal statement because it is so central to understanding your application. If you have super specific programs or schools you're looking at, you could potentially find ways to reach out or specifically target those areas. Also, connect with your high school counselor and have this discussion with them if you can... they may be able to find things you can do that are specific to your high school.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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