Rising senior from Asia wants to apply to IVY League Schools Answered
Hello. I am a rising senior (female) of Asian ethnicity. I come from an academic/strict background but my parents never forced me to study. They cared about my grades and my culture focused a lot in academics, but I tried to challenge myself academically both in school and outside of school for my own interest.
I currently have a good score for 3 of my AP courses that I took in 10th grade. I took 4 AP courses in 11th grade (the scores are yet to come), and I will take 4 AP courses in my senior year.
My SAT score is in the high range, between (1550 - 1600).
My GPA is 4.00 out of 4.00.
I don't have a lot of extracurricular activities compared to other students who are trying to apply to IVY League Schools. I know that college essays also have to do with the acceptance and I have not written it yet, so I am not even sure if my college essays are good.
By looking through my college chances, I realized that my academics was enough, but my extracurricular activities are mostly Tier J, and Tier I, with only one Tier D (I pioneered an unofficial math club at my school when I was in 10th grade). One reason is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was going to do an internship related to what I am interested in (Biology), but I could not start it since 11th grade.
One "unique" thing about me is that I took AP Calculus BC in 10th grade because I went to the advanced mathematics course throughout my high school years. I will take Multivariable Calculus when I get to school this academic year. I also passed HSK Level 4, which is a Mandarin Language Proficiency Test (and will take an HSK Level 5 exam soon, and I am thinking of taking an HSK Level 6 exam as well a few months later).
I have always known that my extracurricular activities were not very impressive because I wasn't someone who liked sports or was in StuCo. I was the typical, quiet Asian girl at school. I am not sure what my teachers will write in the teacher's recommendation letter, but I have a special connection with some of the teachers at school.
Even though my extracurricular activities are not very impressive (Math Club, Writing Contest, Speaking Contest, Orchestra, Volunteer Service, Summer Programs, and more), I was thinking whether my acceptance chance will be higher if the colleges and universities realize that I am from a small city in Thailand and my school is not really a prestigious school. My school consists of only volunteers and retired teachers and it is a Christian missionary school. We are only offered 11-12 AP courses and some are even online, from another institution, because we don't have a lot of teachers. We have a few clubs (Speech and Debate, MUN), and no mathematics and science clubs. The school does not know a lot about state-level competitions and does not tell us about those competitions. Besides school, outside-of-school activities are very hard to find. We do not have big competitions like in the U.S., and internship is rare since people there do not want to hire a foreign student who can not speak their language.
My question is, 'Even though my extracurricular activities might be comparatively weaker than other students applying for IVY League Schools, do the colleges and universities also look at my school background and where I am from? Will this increase my chance if they know that I did not have much opportunities (You could say that the extracurricular activities I have are actually more than most students at my school)?'
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Yes, colleges do look at the context of your school through something called the school report (linked here: https://commonapp.my.salesforce.com/sfc/p/#d0000000eEna/a/0V000001Avzq/PBXzR0UOtu4hSdgTXHDH9Sk6bTeQ6w8l2NQblq_KoZ0 ). This document is filled out by your counselor and asks them to rank your extracurricular involvement, GPA, and course load compared to other students at your school. Based on the fact that you will have taken almost all the APs your school has to offer and have more extracurriculars than most students at your school, this school report should work well in your favor.
I will say that many people who get into Ivies do have very impressive extracurriculars, but it is completely possible to get in with more "normal" extracurriculars as well if you have strong essays, strong academic rigor, and show commitment to the extracurriculars you are a part of! I recommend organizing some events for math club/orchestra to further demonstrate your leadership and dedication to these groups. Overall, it seems as though you will be a competitive applicant for Ivy League schools and any other schools you apply to -- just focus on writing strong essays and you should have a good shot!
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