How do I appeal a college decision in my situation?
January 16, 2009 12:38 PM   Subscribe

[college application denial stuff] What do I do now? I was denied at the university of my choice, the only one I applied to due to the attitude of the crew coach and admissions officers.

Even though I gave my verbal to the crew coach, I was denied. I contacted my admissions counselor at the school and found that two English classes I failed several years ago are what held me back. These were taken through a program at my high school that lets you take community college classes while enrolled in high school. I graduated last year (2007-2008 school year) with a ~3.3 gpa (though it's complicated to calculate due to my homeschooling, my hs transcript shows a 2.8 but doesn't show the letter grades of the high school classes I took when homeschooled. Adding these in and recalculating the total gives a 3.3), dropped from a ~3.8 due to those classes as well as an 1800 SAT. Despite the advice of my counselors I took the classes online and attribute part of my reason for failing them to that. I am perfectly capable of doing well in college, I know that, but I don't know how to explain that to the people who can make decisions in a way that will help them reverse their decision. Failing those classes made me realize how important my education actually is to me. While I graduated in June 08, I stopped doing anything scholastic after the first semester of that school year because I had all the credits I needed and started working part time. I recently retook the SAT and scored 200 points better than previously, and applied to school this year for fall 2009 admission with this new score. I just received my letter yesterday telling me of my denial. I wanted to retake the classes I had failed either last fall or last summer but due to NCAA regulations was advised against it by the university's rowing coach as well as my high school coaches. I only applied to this one school because the opinion of the admissions counselors was that I should make it in just fine, and the crew coach said I didn't need to worry about it.

Well I am worried about it now. I plan to appeal, but like I said I don't know what to say or how to say it in a way that won't come off as asking for pity or something, and of course I won't know anything until April. I want to let them know I am capable, but unable to actually do anything academic to show it until I know what's happening as far as college athletics go. I feel let down by the coach and the admissions officer, especially when I see some of my friends get in who are not close academically, and on equal footing athletically and extracurricularly. In short, those classes are a fluke and I need to convey that.

I have been talking to my brother and working to develop some alternative plans such as late application schools and transfers, but I don't want to do any half-assed schooling. I'd also like to talk to my parents, but my dad has already given me an ultimatum that if I don't get into school this year, he expects me to join the military, so I am afraid to tell him until I have a plan for getting to school.
posted by jellywerker to Education (37 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, not sure if age is a factor, but I am 17.
posted by jellywerker at 12:45 PM on January 16, 2009

There's always community colleges for a year, state schools after that and as a last-ditch most distance-learning schools have very flexible enrollments.
posted by Skorgu at 12:49 PM on January 16, 2009

You have much more time than you think. There are many colleges that are still looking for great crew team members. I don't know where you are, but getting your college counselor to start making calls and filling out applications is going to be your life for the next six or so weeks. If you are willing to work for it, go do it!
posted by parmanparman at 12:51 PM on January 16, 2009


My brother was denied and he appealed to the dean of the school he was applying to (e.g. Engineering, Agriculture, etc.) citing special circumstances and did a personal interview. That's how he got in (and the engineering school he applied to is one of the top in the nation & his academics weren't even that great). It's kind of like doing your college app essay in person.

Other options would be to go to community college, knock your gen eds out of the way and apply next year. It's cheaper and they're gen eds, you know? Less important than your major classes. Plenty of people do it - just make sure your credits will transfer to your school of choice.

Not quite sure about how athletics figures into all this but I think you have more pull taking the academic appeal route than the sports route.

Good luck mate, it's gonna be allllright.
posted by HolyWood at 12:52 PM on January 16, 2009

Do a semester or two at community college. The admissions officer must have thought you couldn't do it. Prove that you can handle the workload, then transfer. It is usually easier to transfer into a school than it is to get accepted as a freshman. I know quite a few people who got into their 'reach' school this way.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 12:53 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Athletics are great fun, and if you're one of the very few, very lucky ones, can lead to a career, but they aren't why the building is there. Find out what you need to do for yourself ACADEMICALLY and do that. This will probably involve some time at community college, getting good grades and transferring to somewhere else after a year or two. (for future reference: ask an academic advisor, not a rowing coach)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 12:56 PM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

I feel let down by the coach and the admissions officer, especially when I see some of my friends get in who are not close academically, and on equal footing athletically and extracurricularly.

Try not to get too caught up in this thinking; admissions offices work to build a class - they are making a forest, not individual trees.

but my dad has already given me an ultimatum that if I don't get into school this year, he expects me to join the military, so I am afraid to tell him until I have a plan for getting to school.

He can't actually make you do this.

If you know that you were denied for academic reasons, then you need to start crafting a well-argued, non-whiny letter about your academic record is good, not bad. And a semester or two with stellar grades at a community college will help.

While I graduated in June 08, I stopped doing anything scholastic after the first semester of that school year because I had all the credits I needed and started working part time.

Yeah, see, we were explicitly warned against showing any signs of slacking in the second semester of senior year. Even kids who were admitted early (in December) could and did have their admissions offers yanked if their grades dropped too much in the second semester.

And your (university?) crew coach telling you "not to worry" about admissions is a red flag. Depending on the sport and the school, coaches may not have has much influence in the admissions process as they let their recruits think. For a big, money-sucking/making sport like football at a Div I school they may have quite a bit of pull....but crew? I'd wonder about that.
posted by rtha at 1:06 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

you're 17 years old. you've got plenty of time to get into college, and into the one you want--on *their* terms, not on yours. stop trying to rationalize your 2.8 (official calculation, accept it and move on). this would concern me if i were on the admissions team: I want to let them know I am capable, but unable to actually do anything academic to show it until I know what's happening as far as college athletics go. I feel let down by the coach and the admissions officer ... . unable to do anything academic until you know about sports? you've got it backwards. and if you think the coach & the admissions officer let you down, wait until you get out there in real life & see what's waiting for you.

nthing the community college suggestions.
posted by msconduct at 1:07 PM on January 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the tip about contacting the dean of the department HolyWood.

Also, parmanparman, any particular school names you could tell me? I'm a pretty solid rower, my test scores aren't the best, but I do well for my size, and have 3 medals (3rd, 2nd, 1st) at the national level in the light eight as well as a silver from the head of the charles.

To the community college suggestions: I'd love to, but like I said, with the athletics it is an issue for me right now. If it becomes the only way, I'll gladly take a quarter or two and show them I can/will be an A student.

As for my rowing, there aren't any professional rowers, it's not the kind of publicity attracting sport that pays, but I do have the talent and skill to eventually pursue the national or olympic teams, which is my plan.
posted by jellywerker at 1:12 PM on January 16, 2009

You explained it very clearly here and it didn't seem pitiful to me at all. I would start contacting people at the school with influence and information: anyone and everyone... send out letters with the highest priority service available (so they have to sign for it...) saying exactly what you said here. You've got nothing to lose if this is what you really want. Admissions is said to sometimes be pretty arbitrary, so don't let them get in the way of going to the school of your dreams or anything...

Community college is also a great deal. I wish I'd had the foresight to go there to knock off the gen. ed. classes... they would have been easier, cheaper, and just as valid... just find out what classes will transfer, that's all.
posted by Theloupgarou at 1:12 PM on January 16, 2009

When I was in high school, I applied to four colleges that I thought I should get into. They were all excellent colleges. I had plenty going for me, but I also had wildly erratic grades. I did not get into any of those four schools. Instead of appealing and getting worked up about admissions folks not thinking I belonged in their schools, I found a couple other schools to apply to that I had a better chance of getting into. I got in both, and went to one of them. I knew lots of people who did not get into the school of their choice. I knew none who appealed.

I answer few questions on the green and I know that it is not polite to insult the questioner. I hope I am not doing that. But I just can't understand where the mentality comes from that students should get grades/admission/etc because they want to. When you apply for something, you can be denied. This happens with jobs. This happens with school. This is apparently a lesson that you need to learn. Going to community college and re-applying is a great suggestion. So is going to another school entirely. Please learn to accept the decisions made by other people and go on with your life.
posted by flarbuse at 1:15 PM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

You do not need to join the military if you do not want to. Even if your father says so. He cannot force you to sign up. He can decline to pay for some or all of your college education, but you are not limited to either successfully appealing this admissions decision or joining the military.

I think you should seriously investigate the community college option in order to straighten out your GPA issues. It's not "half-assed schooling," it's "showing the admissions office at your desired school that you can get your act together academically without excuses or whining." Perhaps you can increase your hours at your current job to pay for it yourself if your parents are unwilling to contribute, or take a second job, or find a better-paying one. Be sure to talk to the admissions office at your desired university about how to strategically choose your courses at the community college in order to best improve your chances at getting into the university.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2009

If you start working now on applying to other colleges, your admissions essays are the perfect place to talk about the lessons you learned from those "fluke" classes that you failed. Explain why your performance in those classes was an anomaly, what you learned from the experience, what you've done since then to prove you can succeed in college, etc. Essays are your opportunity to explain bad-looking marks on your record, not just to make them not count, but to show that you're an even BETTER candidate because of what you learned from them.
posted by vytae at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2009

You probably don't need to go to a community college unless that's something you want to do to save money or something like that (I'm not poopooing the CC suggestion, but it seems a little drastic to me).

If you only applied to one university, there are doubtless hundreds of others that are reputable and will accept you. Make a list of alternative universities that would be a good fit, including any that have athletic programs that you think you could be a part of and would want to be a part of. Apply to those schools right away.

I was not initially accepted by the university of my choice. So I went to a college that was closely affiliated to it, demonstrated that I met their academic and other standards, and then transferred to do all but one year at the university that I wanted to be at all along. It was great. I have friends who were athletes who did exactly the same thing and ended up in the athletic program of their choice after only a year at another school.
posted by The World Famous at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2009

Did you write up the reasons that you believed that you failed those online college classes? That is a big deal, unfortunately. Failing implies that you didn't do anything - a D or a C- shows a least a little effort.

And, as others have said, your dad can't make you do anything.

I'd think about doing a year at community college with intent to transfer. Find out what if any agreements the school of your dreams has with local community colleges.
posted by k8t at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2009

I have been talking to my brother and working to develop some alternative plans such as late application schools and transfers, but I don't want to do any half-assed schooling.

In case this was not apparent in my previous answer: There is nothing half-assed about working your whole ass off for a year at a good college to prove that you should be accepted as a transfer student at a better one. If you are thinking that late application schools and transfers are "half-assed schooling," you need to change that attitude right away, or you're going to be closing some pretty important whole-assed doors. (If that's not your attitude, then please disregard the foregoing admonition.)
posted by The World Famous at 1:21 PM on January 16, 2009

Without knowing much about admissions, I'd do four things: 1) contact coach 2) contact admissions 3) apply to community college 4) nearby state school in preparation for transfer.

I'd wait a week to collect yourself before doing 1) and 2). You'll need to compose a well-written letter, revised and reworked many times over to the admissions office. Maybe your high school counselor has advice on how to write this letter. You are seventeen. Take the advice of the counselors on these letters and follow it. Think of the counselor as a coach, if that helps.

In the meantime, do 4). Apply to nearby state schools that have late admissions. Why nearby? Because if you're certain you'll transfer, you'll save money on tuition and housing.

As for 3) you've likely missed registration for the spring semester. If you have, prepare to take community college courses this summer.

Three things bother me about what you've written. You refer to education anywhere else as a "half-assed experience." That's the attitude that got you into this situation. Any college you end up at will be light years away from high school or homeschooling. You need to open your mind and fast.

Second, how does the counselor know those two failures kept you back? Did admissions tell her? It seems unlikely to me that alone sank your application. It sounds more like the counselor's wild-ass guess. If you failed English once or twice in the past, you might not have had the ability to write convincing essays. That in my mind was the more likely problem. Thus the counselor might not be the best person to help you write this letter, if she is drawing random conclusions about your denial. Maybe some other time use an askme question about how to write that letter to admissions.

I teach college freshmen regularly. Even straight "A" private-schooled students' writing ability hovers, on average, around the eighth grade level-- certainly not the level the SAT writing exam prep books expect of you. Plus, if you failed online community college English once or twice you are probably even farther behind than you realize. Before you invest more time and anger on those two failures, find out what really held you back. There, the admissions office may be of help.

Third, you may have misinterpreted the coach's or the admissions officer's enthusiasm. The vibe you felt may have been the vibe they convey to every visiting student. After all, they hadn't seen your application and aptitudes yet. SAT scores convey next to nothing about aptitude. You are seventeen. As you grow older you will be able to judge these kind of social situations, no professional interactions, more objectively. But if the coach were truly very interested in you, a polite phone call, letter or e-mail might grease the squeaky wheel and get you at least wait-listed.

I apologize if I sound harsh. I assume your objective is to avoid military service. Enrolling in a state school for the fall semester and/or beginning your studies at a community college now or this summer will remedy that problem. Who knows, junior college/community college crew experience might lead to a scholarship or admittance to an even better university. Don't for a second think there is anything half-assed about any of these educational opportunities. And don't throw your proverbial eggs into one basket this time around.
posted by vincele at 1:23 PM on January 16, 2009

You made a bad decision by accepting the word of the coach and limiting your other options because you thought admission was a sure thing. Given your rationale as you've explained it, I doubt any higher education administrator is going to be sympathetic to your concerns. I'm not an administrator, but I've been in enough of those types of meetings at several schools to seriously, seriously doubt it. But, listen, a lot of people in this thread are telling you that even with your present proof of academic performance (which is worth more than 100 promises to an admissions office) there are state and quasi-open admissions schools that would be happy to take you. I bet even a few of them have good crew teams that you could at least walk on. You'll get in your practice time, you might be able to compete, and advance. Do a year and transfer to the college of your choice and row your heart out. You are worried about eligibility right now? Get. Over. It. You aren't even going to college at this point and you're flying on a hope and a prayer.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:32 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

So I'm going to defer to others who might have more experience, but here are a few ideas:

1) It is reasonable at some point to have a conversation with an admissions officer/assistant dean of the school you applied to share that this is a top choice for you, and you are committed to doing what it takes to convince the committee that you are a strong candidate. The conversation usually centers around you stating that briefly, and asking what they would consider positively about your application. They might say, retake the classes at community college, as well as take a class or two in the area you plan to major in. Or find out what community college classes can be transfered to their institution and how many they take. They may also tell you to do something else.

The point is whatever they tell you, you can decide if that is how you are going to spend your year effectively, if you can't get into the university of your choice this year. It might be the thing to convince your father, or at least yourself, that you're not spinning your wheels, and instead have a plan. In short, you avoid half-assed schooling because you're clear about how it helps you achieve your long term goals.

1b) In terms of what to say - my sense is that those school representatives will talk to you, but usually in the case of discussing what you can do next year. Its In, Waitlist, Out, in that order in their minds. It's easier to go wait-list to in, than to go out to in. But it's worth contacting them now, to 1)share that it's a top choice, 2) share that you are committed to reapplying next year if necessary, and what would the committee view positively, and 3) see if there is any possibility for this year.

2) Early admission next year. You're out the gate first. The later you wait, the larger the pool.

3) Apply to at least three schools. Also apply to at least one reach, one good shot and one safety school.

4) If you do go the community college route, know that many of them have transfer counselors, specifically there to help their student through the process into a 4 year institution. Find These People. Get To Know Them. They Are Your Angels.

1) Your situation sucks hard. I just want to seriously shake your crew coach and admissions counselor, if they even heard that you were only applying to one school and didn't sit you down for a serious talking to. They were wrong.

2) Know that this does happen more than people like to imagine - that you don't get accepted into school the first time you apply. Since it does happen a lot, it's reasonable to assume that other people found some way to face this disappointment with grace and equanimity, accepted the set back, and found a way to achieve their goal. So you can too! If you believe that higher education is the right step for you, do everything you can not to let other people sway you from that goal.

3) I work at a well known institution where so many, many students are proud graduates of community colleges, who later transfered into 4 year colleges and then into my institution, which is a health sciences university. Don't let anyone pooh-pooh you if you decide to go that route. Like everything, every experience is what you make of it, and it's how you respond to challenges, such as this set back that matters.

4) Great that you have support from your brother! Siblings can be great! Many people don't even have that. Since you got some bad data from your coach/advisor, consider getting more (and better) data. Hit the library and tell the librarian that you are searching for books on the college admission process, particularly chapters on readmission or transfer applicants. They can be useful.

5) My possibly generous interpretation is that your father wants to know that you're okay, so his career option is his way of feeling that you are okay. I think your plan of developing an alternative plan might do the trick of convincing him that you're going to be okay. Maybe not - but at the very least it will do the trick of convincing you that you have a plan and are going to be okay.

6) Stop comparing yourself to your friends. Gosh, the admissions process is such a soup of candidates/skills/demographics/background'/experience/legacies, etc. that there is not really an accurate way of determining that the 'strongest candidates' were accepted. There are a lot of strong candidates, strong in different ways, and part of an admission officer's job is to think about how to build a diverse community. And I don't necessarily mean race or gender, but where students are from (midwest, east, south, north, etc.), what their interests, potential majors are (faculty in all of the departments need students), background and experience (work, life and other), or activities (athletics, music, etc.). The point is, you can't look at friends and say 'why did you get in and i didn't?' and answer that in any meaningful way. There are just too many variables, and they aren't transparent. don't let anyone else look at you and feel that they can make any negative judgments about you or your abilities in any meaningful way either. They can't. So sincerely congratulate your friends who did get in, and be sympathetic to those who didn't (this time), and keep on doing exactly what you are doing, which is rationally assessing your short term and long term options by seeking advice, data information and support.

Best of luck to you!
posted by anitanita at 1:32 PM on January 16, 2009

On preview, I agree with just about all of the above advice. It is ludicrous to expect to get admitted just because you want it, and your letter should explain any blips in your academic record. And while there is nothing half-assed about community college, more than anything you need to consider a variety of four-year colleges willing to accept students with a 2.8 GPA. Either you ignored good advice from your counselor or he is not up to snuff. So you need to either change your attitude or find someone competent to help you with the next steps.
posted by vincele at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2009

Gosh, i just hit submit and noted that others had already posted the same advice - we're probably from all over the country at least. Sigh, I love this community.
posted by anitanita at 1:35 PM on January 16, 2009

Just to be perfectly clear: Your father cannot make you enter the military. Period. Do not let him, or anybody else, pressure you into enlisting. Only sign up, with eyes wide open, if it is what you personally want to do.

Other people have written about what you might do with regards to talking with the admissions people, community college, and stuff like that. Let me add to that: Success in college is often less about raw intellect and more about not giving up and doing whatever it takes to overcome obstacles and get through. Welcome to the first hill. Are you ready to climb?
posted by LastOfHisKind at 1:42 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Partial list of schools with crew programs.

A lot of them are private. A lot of them do not, in fact, give as much weight to the athletic abilities of wanna-be-students as the coach wants you to think. The college I went to had a pretty good crew team, pretty good hockey, and a stellar ski team, and everyone I talked to (students and admissions folks) agreed that while a coach may contact the admissions office about a recruit, that factor fell way below academics in the admissions consideration. There's a range of this behavior at various schools, of course. But as others have said, if you want to get into a school with a good rowing team - and to catch the eye of national coaches that's what you'll want - you need to at least to pretend to the admissions office that academics come first and second.
posted by rtha at 1:48 PM on January 16, 2009

Response by poster: To all,

Reading and absorbing. Thank you.


The counselor I was talking to was one of the three people involved in the decision, the other two being the dean of admissions and an unknown. Perhaps you thought I meant my high school counselor, when in fact I am talking about the college's admission counselor that was assigned to me. As for the classes I failed, it was not due to the quality of my writing. However, the rest of your suggestion is useful and I will do my best to assimilate it with the other opinions here and create a plan of action.

I appreciate you taking time to answer me. If you think I have an attitude, if anything, I am glad you pointed it out. I don't get enough critiques in life and I know for certain it is not due to lack of faults.

posted by jellywerker at 1:49 PM on January 16, 2009

Some fall back advice based on my personal experience, it's not the end of the world if you don't go to college for a year. I know I wasn't really ready to go to college right after high school, and it ended up being a very expensive lesson to learn. And you can tell your dad I said that. =P

On the other hand, if you go to a community college and get good grades in classes that are related to the ones that you did poorly in, that could tip the scales in your favor when you reapply.

Good luck either way!
posted by jefeweiss at 1:57 PM on January 16, 2009

Response by poster: Just a note, I have been out of school for nearly a year. I did not apply last year due to some logistical issues and also because of my age. So not going this year would mean a two year break. Not the end of the world I hope, but this would not be my first year off.
posted by jellywerker at 2:11 PM on January 16, 2009

It's easier to transfer into the school of your choice from a CC than it is from another state school. I don't know what your state is, but California is specifically set up that way to have CC classes be equivalent to the basics at the UC's. This is NOT the case for students transferring between CSU/UC's, and it'll waste less time/money for you to do that than to take courses that aren't going to be equivalent to work at the school of choice.

And for the record, my cousin applied to a certain UC and did not get in, went to a CSU school that she settled for and hated it, went to CC and had a much better experience, and now is in her UC of choice after transferring. It's not a bad way to go if your appeal doesn't work (which didn't originally work for my cousin either).
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:16 PM on January 16, 2009

I've taught at the community college level. There are a lot of jackoffs there, but also a lot of great students. Plus, the teachers actually give a shit about the students and most keep extensive office hours to help you along, instead university professors who only car about their precious fucking research, and are MIA for every minute of the semester they're not in class. Calling community college "half assed" merits, in my mind, telling you to fuck right off.

That said. I didn't get into my first choice because in had some breathing issues when I interviewed on campus, and the interviewee thought that in the way I was talking I was making fun of his voice (found out later). I got over it. Even if you are the god of rowing you think you are, you're going to need some academics to carry you for life, not just a shot at the olympics. Man up. Go to CC for a year, and get your core classes out of the way for cheap. (if possible, re-take the classes you fucked up, so the bad grades are nullified.) Then re-apply, or apply elsewhere, now taht you've shown you can buckle down.
posted by notsnot at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

jenfullmoon raises an important point: If you go the transfer route to try to get into your top pick school, you should find out beforehand what schools are best for transferring to that school. It may be a CC, it may be a JC, it may be something else.
posted by The World Famous at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2009

Ah, sorry for the misinterpretation. The subsequent advice is excellent as well: CC transfer students are great because they've had so much contact with their profs, and know why they are in college. That kind of contact with faculty might not happen at a state school large or small unless you are very assertive.

Taking a year or two off is also a great idea. Many find working hard at an interesting (even if low-paying) or physically demanding job immensely rewarding and great preparation for the discipline you'll need in college courses. Plus, it would make your applications shine the second time around, and it could help counter your dad's military offensive. (heh)

It can't hurt to contact the school of your choice in the ways explained above, describing what you learned since the English course fiasco. Sometimes that route works, sometimes it doesn't.

In the meantime, research your options and soon you'll come to appreciate the flexibility and ultimately, maturity, this rejection has given you.
posted by vincele at 3:41 PM on January 16, 2009

What do you want to do AFTER rowing?

Maybe it's time to do what facilitates that.

(and worst case scenario, go Air Force. ;-)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:46 PM on January 16, 2009

I wanted to retake the classes I had failed either last fall or last summer but due to NCAA regulations was advised against it by the university's rowing coach as well as my high school coaches.

I'm confused: are you saying NCAA regulations forbid you from taking classes at community college? From my non-athlete's perspective, that sounds strange and I wonder if I'm misunderstanding something. It might be good to clarify that for us.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:26 PM on January 16, 2009

Response by poster: After rowing? Why more rowing of course, that's how the sport works! =P

As for an answer with more gravity, my current idea of my dream job is being part of a team that forms a design and architecture company with a boutique storefront where we showcase our wares as well as have client meeting offices for the backbone of the business, architecture, and make enough money to do what I want within reason ($150-250k). Realistically, and in todays economy, I would be happy to be part of a corporation drawing doors and windows into someone else's new skyscraper design in Dubai and making just enough to feed myself and pay student loans off. The school I applied to, a top engineering school on the West coast would definitely have been a good start on the path to those plans.

Of course what I want to do could very well change, but I figure for now I might as well shoot for what I think I want.
posted by jellywerker at 5:48 PM on January 16, 2009

Response by poster: The regulations did not physically prevent me from taking the classes, but it would have decreased my years of eligibility. As a person wanted by the coach for the crew team, and with myself wanting to row as many years in college as possible, neither of us wanted that.
posted by jellywerker at 5:51 PM on January 16, 2009

Are you sure taking even one or two classes in a semester decreases your years of eligibility? Many schools allow people to take a limited number of classes without applying or being formally enrolled - and as someone doing that, you're generally not considered an enrolled student for the purpose of things like playing on a sports team, if the school has one. If you're doing that, it would seem reasonable that your time spent there would not count against whatever limited number of years you can play college sports.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:25 PM on January 16, 2009

When I applied for college, I was in a somewhat similar situation. My academic record and GPA could be interpreted in a few ways because I had a mixture of courses from a traditional high school, a continuation school, and a community college. I applied to two private colleges and two public universities, and initially I was accepted to the private schools and rejected by the public ones.

The school you're trying to get into probably has a specific appeal policy; make sure to follow it perfectly. I had to write a 2-3 page double spaced essay, and get another letter of recommendation besides the 3 I'd already sent.

It's tough to write an appeal essay, but the post you have made here is a good start. Don't complicate things by bringing the rowing coach into it, stick to the academics. What the coach said and what the admissions counselor told you is in no way binding, and bringing that up in your appeal will make you come across as acting entitled.

If you can get another strong recommendation, and make sure your essay deals with facts and not emotions, you'll stand a solid chance.

Good luck!
posted by Orrorin at 9:26 PM on January 16, 2009

Hopefully, this isn't the school that got you down, but I work at UW-Madison -- you know, "Wisconsin, where they row." We have a fantastic newer crew house and we often recruit people out of the orientation sessions, looking for the tall folks and dragging them over.

I echo everyone else's suggestion to look into community college. I've worked for the admissions office here, in addition to having been rejected as a frosh and then getting in VERY easily a couple years later when my liberal arts college wasn't panning out like I'd hoped. Just go through a single year of community college and get a 3.0 (actual threshold is lower)and you'll have ZERO trouble getting in. Compare that to the difficulty of getting in as a freshman, especially an out-of-stater, and you'll see that this is really the way to go.

Feel free to MeFi Mail me if you'd like some help; I have a couple connections with the program, including coaches.
posted by Madamina at 9:48 PM on January 16, 2009

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