How could a combination of inconsistent grades and early graduation affect university admissions, and, consequently, my future? (long post)
August 6, 2009 4:08 PM   Subscribe

I could have exceptional grades, but instead I've spent all of my time on academic pursuits that have, if anything, had a negative affect on my grades. How could all of this impact my future? I can't help but think that I've already screwed it all up.

I'm 15, and according to the normal schedule I should be going into 11th grade this September, but instead I decided to structure my schedule so that I completed half of 11th grade last year (in addition to all 10th grade courses + electives) and I'm in the process of completing the other half over this summer.

Here's my dilemma: Taking into account all the time I spend on my personal academic pursuits (I'll explain in a minute), I still haven't done as well as I should in my courses. My average is in the low 80s, with marks ranging from just over 50% to 99% (the better marks are in my preferred subjects, especially languages). Even though my schedule is rigorous, it's still no excuse. If I had any kind of work ethic when it comes to my classes, I'd have an average in the mid-90s, no question. I spend all my time agonising over my lack of work ethic, and the stress has become hard to handle. The real problem, however, is just how much time I do spend on academic pursuits in my not-really spare time. Spending 6 hours a day working on language skills and linguistic knowledge is normal for a school day (I do some of it in class), and 10+ hours is not unheard of on weekends. It's not that I don't have a life, because I *do*, I just choose to ignore it most of the time. I can't seem to befriend people in my age group, and that is partially why I chose the accelerated schedule. If it helps to give you an idea, I have mild-Aspergers and NLD (Non-verbal Learning Disorder). Anyway, that may be irrelevant.

I sacrificed this summer (well, the potential of 12-16 hours of language study per day) for school, and it has gone much worse than expected- I ended up with a 70 in English after a major bout of procrastination (did the whole course in one day), and failed math. I'm not even sure that I'd be able to apply to American universities (I'm Canadian) with an F on my 11th grade transcript, especially for a course that's usually required for admission (I'd be taking it again next year, but I haven't talked to my school counsellor yet). Most of what I'm going to apply with is finalised at this point, and I really can't bare the fact that my future is so dependent on a set of numbers that couldn't reflect the past few years any worse. Most people I know my age have already gotten into their groove when it comes to school. I haven't, and have no reason to think I will before I have the opportunity to study what I want.

Of course, I've had to show a great deal of ambition for my teachers and counsellor to allow me to take on such a workload, and I've already disappointed them. I'm not quite sure what my recommendations are going to look like, and how I should justify my grades in my personal statement. As for SATs, I'm taking them in October, and to be honest, I'm not really worried- 2100+ is most likely, but I shouldn't get arrogant. My extra-curriculars aren't that impressive, but I'll have to supplement that with various language certificates to prove the levels I've achieved on my own, in addition to tutoring languages. I should also mention that I intend to major in linguistics and/or a modern language, and I see graduate school as an integral part of my future, likely in Indo-European studies. My job goal is ideally to be a professor/"scholar" but after graduation I'd like to teach English around the world and foreign languages to high school students back home. Maybe do a bit of translation to. That's probably irrelevant but I'm just throwing everything out there.

If I do manage to graduate the year early, as intended, what advice could you offer? What are my chances for admission into "top-tier" universities? Is there anything I can do to improve my chances? Am I entirely out of the running for any scholarship money? I should also mention that, next year, I intend to do my best and make sure my 12th grade marks are good enough for Canadian universities (UBC and McGill, for example), as I can't rely on SAT scores there. And lastly, could anyone recommend schools that would be suitable for me (where I can actually get in!)? I'm open to any suggestions. Personality-wise, I'm better suited to a smaller school. At least from what I've been told.

I know it's a lot of questions, but any help is appreciated!
posted by csjc to Education (28 answers total)
You're going to be fine. Worry less. It'll make your life a thousand times better.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:12 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

High SAT scores and a really solid essay explaining why it was worth it to focus more on languages than your other schoolwork should be enough to get you into decent schools. It might be a good idea to reconsider graduating earlier so that you can really apply yourself and have at least one semester of really solid grades to show. It could mean the difference between going to a state school (not that you can't get a great education at state schools, plus they're usually much cheaper) and a mid-level private school.

The Ivy League and the top tier of private schools are probably a bit of a reach for you for undergrad studies, since they're flooded with applications from kids who have fantastic extracurriculars on top of perfect grades. If you really prove yourself in college, though, your high school grades won't hold you back from admission to an excellent graduate school.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:20 PM on August 6, 2009

Yeah, you're 15.

Not to be patronizing or anything, but I really doubt you've ruined your life unless you also have a meth habit or are planning into going into the humanities.

posted by elder18 at 4:22 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

I don't know enough about the US/Canadian system to comment on that, but I've seen this disease before. You're going to be an amazing university student. Maybe too good. You just need to dial down the anxiety a notch.

(BTW, consider taking a year out before college - maybe not TEFL, as a degree is often a requirement there, but... do something you're not going to get graded on.)
posted by Leon at 4:24 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I was your age I wrote something similar on some college message boards. Luckily, you are Canadian and as far as I know excellent institutions like McGll are accessible even to those without straight As. I went to a good, but not-Ivy League, state school. It was giant, but I survived and even maybe thrived. I visited some Ivy League schools for conferences and I must admit I felt pretty envious and wish I had done better in high school, but in the end college was a great fresh start for me and I had excellent grades and extracurriculars and could attend an ivy for grad school.

I was terrible in high work ethic whatsoever, though I had lots of fun learning and reading, just not urm...doing my homework. In college I definitely ramped up my effort because getting good grades does keep your options open.

My original goal was also to be a "scholar," but I found out I liked something else better, at least for now. I would caution against making a professorship be your life plan, since it really is a small field and so many social science majors end up getting mediocre jobs because there aren't enough professor positions. I did social sciences too, but minored in a hard science and I have never regretted it. I would not have a job now if I just had the lousy social science degree. So um, have a backup. Business is a perfect minor for those in languages, for example, because of globalization.
posted by melissam at 4:24 PM on August 6, 2009

Read this book: The Gatekeepers. It's very illuminating on what college admissions people are looking at. For instance, you didn't mention your class rank, and if you aren't top 10%, that's an issue. And a second language is nice but a lot of minority students will have a second language too.

Am I entirely out of the running for any scholarship money?

The problem here is that American universities are generally "need-blind" when they are accepting American students. That means they take the most qualified, and work out the financials later. The same doesn't apply to international students and many schools will only take well-off foreigners to bolster their coffers.
posted by smackfu at 4:28 PM on August 6, 2009

Yes, they are out of reach. I've gone to school with some pretty smart people, and let me tell you, the real ones know how to get that 100%. Flakiness is a real symptom of not measuring up.

I don't see any reason for the optimism displayed above, except that I'm sure you can do averagely in college (which is all you really need to do to get a job, start a family, etc.).

If you are serious about recognizing the situation you're in, you do need to relax and think about how you can redirect your efforts. Time management is a real skill, not just a myth. Also, you should be non-committal to gradschool until later in college. There is so much to say here about this attitude... maybe find a chill adult you can talk to for a while. One with long hair or colored sunglasses.
posted by gensubuser at 4:31 PM on August 6, 2009

Oh-- I don't know if it would be possible for you, but you're the right age to consider Simon's Rock, a branch of Bard College meant for teenagers who want to start college early. These are mostly artsy, creative, smart kids who didn't thrive in high school. I know a couple kids who went there and had a good overall experience. No idea about financial aid for international students, but maybe worth a look?
posted by oinopaponton at 4:32 PM on August 6, 2009

I'd calm down and just not worry so much. Why stress about graduating early? Graduate "on time." You'll be fine.
posted by Neofelis at 4:33 PM on August 6, 2009

Even though my schedule is rigorous, it's still no excuse.
If I had any kind of work ethic
I spend all my time agonising over my lack of work ethic
I've had to show a great deal of ambition for my teachers and counsellor to allow me to take on such a workload, and I've already disappointed them.

I am going to be really blunt with you. I meet first-year students like you all the time. These statements from your question make me think you are experiencing the kind of anxiety, guilt, and perfectionism that will interfere with your goal to excel in university. Your worries are totally out of proportion considering that you are only 15 and that a grade average in the 80s does not exclude you from getting into UBC or McGill.

I recommend that you deal with these issues while you are still in high school, before you get to university. The kinds of thought and behaviour patterns you describe in your post are bright red flags for me--the kind of red flags that indicate a student is going to get overwhelmed and either fail or drop out of my class.

I suggest you print out your post and take it to your school counsellor so that the two of you can work on reducing your self-defeating behaviours.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:36 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]

Thanks everyone for all of the suggestions and advice so far.

Smackflu: Thanks for the book suggestion. Concerning class rank and so on, I go to a very small private school which doesn't rank. I'm proficient (not near-native fluent but somewhere around basic fluency) in at least 5 languages though, so I'd hope that'd give me an advantage over many minority students- especially looking towards students in modern languages.

I've found that to be the case as well. I'm actually an American citizen, but my need-level probably isn't very high compared to many students.
posted by csjc at 4:38 PM on August 6, 2009

If I do manage to graduate the year early, as intended, what advice could you offer?

GO OVERSEAS. Pick a language. Go there. Speak it for everything, and tutor English for money. Speak it more. Bored? Pick one of your other languages. Repeat. If you can afford it, enrol in a random uni course (at the university I went to in France, nothing would have stopped you from attending all the lecture courses with no enrolment).

Then, you can apply to college with an amazing set of essays about the year you spend learning languages abroad and how that is related to your lifelong passion for languages (refer here to crazy year 11 schedule and certifications you have) and the linguistics study you want to continue at uni.
posted by jacalata at 4:45 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

One of my kids goes to McGill and the other is about to start UBC in the fall. Though the McGill one had somewhat better grades, neither had grades that were amazing/ exceptional/ extraordinary. We're all American citizens, btw.

The scholarship thing is difficult. Canadian schools have, in general, more reasonable tuition than US ones, because they support schools up there. So we found that there aren't as many scholarships available, in part because the schools are more affordable.

It's may be hard to believe this, but you're too stressed out. You're going to be fine. There isn't ONE SCHOOL THAT'S PERFECT FOR YOU. Stop looking for it. Cultivate your interests, even ones that aren't academic.
posted by jasper411 at 4:47 PM on August 6, 2009

What is your definition of "top-tier?" Top 100? Ivy-league? A GPA in the low 80s (unless that's a high GPA for your class) will keep you from the Ivies, and from many top-tier schools, but there are certainly other schools that will take you eagerly. Your best bet is to apply to schools that aren't so hardcore numbers-based (unless you really rock the SAT/ACT) and look at places with holistic admissions. I went to a large public school that bases admissions pretty much purely on class rank for in-state applicants, but a lot of people who were rejected from my college got into more prestigious universities that do admissions based on more factors than rank.

Can you go back on to the normal plan of doing the entire 11th grade next year instead of the accelerated plan? There are many reasons, plenty of them perfectly valid, for wanting to finish high school early, but most of the people I knew who did it were just really big overachievers. It didn't really give them any advantages in college (especially not the hassle of being minors for most of freshman year).
posted by ishotjr at 5:21 PM on August 6, 2009

Oh, and my answer only applies for US universities. No idea about Canadian ones.
posted by ishotjr at 5:22 PM on August 6, 2009

I'm Canadian and have gone through the Canadian university system recently.

With a low 80s average in grade 11, you will be fine as long as you work hard to get as great marks as you can for grade 12, specifically first semester as that's what the universities base their initial acceptance on, conditional on a decent second semester. Don't forget things like volunteering, they can look good on a university application.

I would focus on getting into a Canadian university, they are much more cost efficient (more to actual Canadians, in province universities are the best deal), and if you intend to go to an American university later on, you can do so with a nice Canadian bachelor (no idea about the value of this) and with the time to really think about the program you want to enter.

Your skills in languages would give you a massive heads up over anyone else if you decided to go into any language based bachelor program, some linguistics program perhaps. I think this may be an interesting and valuable program to complete if you enjoy languages and want to teach them. Then you would probably go into some type of teacher's college and be able to teach in your field, at least that's my interpretation of what my cousin is going through now. Or continue your education getting a masters in language if offered somewhere.

Scholarship money in Canada is really hit and miss. You need to keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and ask your guidance counselors for any as well. I lucked out and got one based on my nice grades but only actually redeemed 3/4 of it due to having to attain a certain grade level. That said, I did not seek out many other scholarships from my university. Some you get just for being from a certain place, so it's a matter of turning over every rock and seeing if you fit.

I do think that taking your time and making super great grades, including retaking math (though I am not sure if it's a requirement for any language programs), would give you that final level of polish and might be worth the time investment. But you can certainly get in with the grades you have now provided math's not a prereq. You'll just be facing a tad more competition, so take a look at what the universities want you to do to apply (each division usually has a website, here's the one for Carleton University and their actual degree program. I didn't take this, but at least it gives you a taste for what you'd learn here.
posted by Meagan at 6:02 PM on August 6, 2009

You might consider private liberal arts colleges. These are usually small, and they usually attract smart people with backgrounds that are very different than the typical student (such as yourself). A few bad grades does not necessarily keep you out. And you might really thrive in the atmosphere.

Examples of these schools are Beloit College in Wisconsin, Reed College in Oregon, Austin College in Texas. These are all excellent schools. They are also all in the US. I'm not familiar with the ones in Canada, but here's a list. I attended one of these schools for several years, and the classes are rigorous and engaging, and the degree is very well-respected by grad schools.
posted by Houstonian at 6:31 PM on August 6, 2009

Don't have SATs here, so I can't comment on that specifically.

But during University, I aimed for perfect "C" grades in everything, and spent a lot of my time doing other research and tinkering (and next year's curriculum). I helped setup our own ISP, which we ran successfully until we sold it. That got me a lot more jobs, than having a degree did. (Although, having a degree is the only reason that I am able to live and work in Tokyo).

In UK, Japan and NZ, whenever I interview someone, we are only informed that they have a degree or not. We were never told what the grades actually were. Nor did we care what University you went to, and I have interviewed people from MIT and Berkeley.

But it is probably quite different in the states, so take that all with a grain of salt.
posted by lundman at 6:47 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

What many people have told you about calming down and evaluating your goals rationally is good. I'm going to go a bit off from that, though. I'm assuming that the reason you want good grades and want to go to a good university is because you want to do "great things." You want to "change things," in whatever capacity that may be. These are good and normal goals.

However, to achieve them, you don't necessarily have to travel down well-trodden paths. Many of life's greats went to average or what some would call "mediocre" universities. Pretty well every university has "notable" alumni, so that proves it's less about the university itself and more about the people graduating. Don't count other unis out. There are many universities that may not necessarily be top ranked, but may be exactly what you, as an individual, need. The ranking, itself, is pretty politicized, anyway.

The only way you will be able to figure out what place is right for you is to read up on universities, on their websites, and visit the ones you specifically like; hearing from students who actually attend the universities will be helpful to you as well. You also have the option of trying to work out some abroad program, as another user here pointed out, which I highly recommend. Heck, "do it afraid," even. I did, and I'm just fine. :)

Being that I'm jaded, take this with a grain of salt, as some would disagree with me, but it's just having the piece of university paper that matters for most all of your future encounters. Clarification: not the piece of paper--a piece of paper. Unless you go to an Ivy League school that is world-renowned, you aren't going to get any special consideration (and even then you may not), even if the school you attend is ranked well as far as Academia goes. This isn't a bad thing. Having a degree is what will improve your future job searching and all that most. Being friendly and talking to people, even if only via email, will help you even more.

If, after all of this, you're still bucking for the best, then don't let your grades stop you. Work hard in your twelfth year, and go talk to people. People at your high school. People at the universities you want to attend. Get letters of recommendation and advice. You'd be amazed how many mountains can be moved for you if you go sweetly talk to administration. (Writing thank you notes/emails afterward goes a long way, too.)

Calm down, do your best, try to make good choices, and for the rest...let life take you where it will.
posted by metalheart at 10:09 PM on August 6, 2009

Just to pile on to everyone else here, if you're in reasonably decent health, don't have a criminal record a mile long, aren't addicted to heroin, aren't the teen father of 4 children, and haven't successfully committed suicide, then at age 15, you cannot possibly have "screwed everything up." Even if one or more of the above does apply (except the last one of course), many people in your shoes have had happy, wonderful lives. Many people with 4.0 GPAs and degrees from Harvard are miserable. It's a crapshoot. The point is, at 15, you can't screw up your life that badly, and you are not remotely near the point where you could possibly have done so.

In fact, you're obviously smart enough to handle a super intense academic workload, seem to be knowledgeable about yourself and how you work, passionate about your interests, curious about the world, and clueful enough to find your way to MiFi. To me, that's a whole lot better than an automaton with a 4.0 GPA and a list of extracurriculars up to here who has dedicated her entire life to getting into Harvard without ever asking "Why?" Some kids are great at "doing school," grinding out homework and tests, but that isn't necessarily a great skill once you actually graduate and are supposed to do something with your life.

Look. I go to an Ivy League school and, honestly, it's not all that. Sure, we got the Dalai Lama to come speak and there are faculty members with Nobel Prizes, but at some point or another, it's just another school. I know plenty of professors with fantastic resumes who can't teach worth a damn and I know ordinary lecturers who are brilliant instructors. Besides, plenty of people who went to less prestigious schools go to big-name universities for a master's degree, and plenty of people from Ivies go to small colleges no one has ever heard of for their master's. None of this stuff is forever. The real point is to find a college that works for you, which may be particularly prestigious or not. You apply to a wide range that you think you'll like, see where you get in, and pick the one where you think you'll fit best, not the one with the fanciest name.

Finally, you write: "I spend all my time agonising over my lack of work ethic, and the stress has become hard to handle." Talk to your counselor or a teacher or someone you trust about this. It's way too easy to do this, but it does no good for you to procrastinate, get yourself stressed about procrastinating to the point you can't work, procrastinate some more, get even more stressed about your work ethic so you really can't get a single thing done, and so on and so on in a vicious cycle of stress. There are definitely strategies (and medications if it gets to that point) that you can learn to help break out of that cycle and move from worrying about your work ethic to getting work done. A CBT-type approach from a therapist for a few sessions might be helpful here, or just advice from someone you trust. You'll feel a lot better and will be more productive to boot.
posted by zachlipton at 11:32 PM on August 6, 2009

Why are you graduating early? What's the rush? Most people do not consider high school "the best years of their lives," but there are lessons to be learned during these years. Taking four years to graduate could help you a lot. No matter what you do in your life, you will have to do some things that don't interest you. Learning how to do well in classes you don't like is a good first step (and would boost your GPA). Traditional high school classes (especially in math) may be what you need right now. You will need math for the PSAT, the SAT, the ACT, and the GRE. Plus, another year would give you more time to do even more independent study.

IANAAdmissionsCounselor, but colleges want to see that you are mature and can handle the course load, especially if they admit you a year early. The admissions committee will think that if you can't handle a high school course load, there is no way you could handle college, where procrastination is even more deadly. There will be classes in college that don't work for you for some reason or another either, and you will have to deal with it. Procrastination doesn't suddenly go away.

Are you taking any AP or IB courses? These courses, or dual enrollment to get college credit may give you the most flexibility. Entering college with college credit already will help you way more than entering into college a year early. With "extra" credits you can take a reduced course load to focus on independent study, take more advanced (and thus more interesting) courses sooner, or even graduate early.

Don't stress out about the future too much; your current stress is counter productive. All the students I know rave about Cal Newport's approach to school. What you don't want to do is enter college unprepared, and thus hurt your college GPA. When you apply to graduate school, you won't need to turn in your high school transcript. And guess what? If you aren't happy at your college, you can always transfer.

Again, don't worry too much about choosing colleges to apply to now, but you can start investigating. The book, Colleges That Change Lives, lists schools that "share two essential elements: a familial sense of communal enterprise that gets students heavily involved in cooperative rather than competitive learning, and a faculty of scholars devoted to helping young people develop their powers, mentors who often become their valued friends." The link also lists the included schools. US News and World Reports also has a list of "A+ Options for B Students." Other schools that may or may not be on one of those lists are Kalamazoo, Earlham, Beloit, Ursinus, and Hendrix. Finally, if you think your underachievement is due to your NLD you might want to check out Landmark College.
posted by oceano at 12:23 AM on August 7, 2009

Don't go to university young. It sucks. I turned 17 the month before I started university and I was too young for everything - in my country the legal drinking age is 18 and of course, all the parties were focused on it and I was not permitted to join any social clubs because I was too young for the social parties. This had a big impact on my ability to build a social group and I didn't really know anyone until my third year. Classes are one thing, but being able to take part in university life itself is something different.

I did poorly in my first year of classes, it was a huge shock. In retrospect I should have taken a year off and worked to save money to travel (I did not accelerate to finish high school at 16, it was a quirk of my birthdate and the way the school year in my state ran).

You have a long life ahead of you - slow down and enjoy it.
posted by wingless_angel at 12:43 AM on August 7, 2009

You're all incredible. Thanks again.
posted by csjc at 2:14 AM on August 7, 2009

You really, really don't have to worry now about whether you're getting into Harvard in three years. If you have a great passion and ability for languages, you will succeed. Maybe you'll get into a top-tier school on the strength of personal recommendations and extra-curricular stuff. Maybe you'll get into a decent school, excell in your first year or two, and then transfer to Harvard. Maybe you'll spend four years at some merely decent school doing excellent work in linguistics and then go to Harvard for your masters, or your Ph.D. Etc. etc. There are plenty of routes to being a "scholar". I went to Stanford for undergrad and it's gotten me nowhere. The people I know who are academically successful mostly went to lesser schools and were serious enough in undergrad to get into top-tier grad schools.
posted by creasy boy at 2:24 AM on August 7, 2009

To echo everyone else here - you're doing great and definitely have not "screwed everything up." It doesn't sound like you recognise quite what an anchievement it is to have basic fluency in five languages at any age - never mind at 15!!

I think another poster (Jacalata) suggested this but seriously consider taking a year off before going to university. It may help you focus on what you're passionate about (although it sounds like you've already identified that); it will also provide you with a wealth of material for admission essays, conversations with new people at university etc... This was definitely a big regret of mine that I did not do this before going to uni.

When you talk about "work ethic etc" I might be letting you off the hook here too easily, but it sounds like you do have the inclination to work hard on things you're passionate about (although try and work on the procrastination issue anyway). As such perhaps a more focused undergraduate program (on something you feel truly excited about) may be better for you. I know the US undergrad system exposes you to a wide variety of subjects still before you declare your major - perhaps then you should consider studying overseas under the UK system? The UK system has you specialise immediately from day 1 - if you were to select a language course you could conceivably only select modules in that area if you wanted to. There are no obligations (generally) to sit courses in other areas - as such you may never have to look at another maths course again! In addition, going to an overseas uni may also raise your chances of going to a top school. Universities here like to diversify their student intake - as such you may stand out more then if you went to one in North America. With your language skills and young age I would definitely consider talking to the admissions offices in Oxford or Cambridge (also worth noting that Cambridge consists of about 20 or so small colleges which definitely give you a small school feel). If you want more information on UK courses look at:
- UCAS : All university applications are processed through UCAS. As such they contain information on all courses, plus other related information (I've linked you to the information for foreign students).
- for university rankings: The Times League Tables

Hope this helps...don't despair!
posted by Mave_80 at 3:06 AM on August 7, 2009

With regards to funding, depending on the languages you speak and/or are willing to learn, as a US citizen you may be eligible to have part or all of your college paid for.
posted by clerestory at 5:11 AM on August 7, 2009

I don't have much to add to the already good advice you've been given, except to say that I went to nerd camp the summer before year 12 with a bunch of extraordinarily bright, ambitious students, many of whom were Ivy League-focused. The last advice the program directors gave us before we left was not to attach too much significance to an Ivy League undergraduate degree, because the scholars who make the reputation of those institutions don't actually do the teaching. Ivies weren't an option for me anyway, so I went to a very small private college, the kind of place that almost no one has heard of, and I never regretted it. I got the attention from my professors (and full professors taught, there were no tutors or TAs) that I needed to thrive and built friendships that have lasted for years. That, and a few years of work experience, were what I needed to be accepted at and do well in a graduate program at a more prestigious university.

Now, I don't know whether any of my fellow nerd campers who went to Ivies have any regrets about their decision - I sadly lost track of most of them a few years into undergrad. But I'd say you should listen to the people who think you'll do better at a small school. You shouldn't be out of the running for scholarship money at small schools if your SATs and personal essays are good. And in the interests of having better material for personal essays, I agree with the posters who have suggested that, if you do graduate early, you travel and apply your language skills somehow. It'll make you a more interesting candidate to admissions committees, and you'll have great stories to tell when you're making friends starting out in undergrad.

(Also, take a deep breath. You haven't screwed everything up. There's no one right way to go about your education, or your life, and you've got time to figure out what the best way is for you.)
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:16 AM on August 7, 2009

a note for Americans:

an average in the low 80s in Canada is more like an average in the high 80s or low 90s in the US. In Canada, 80=A- in both high schools and universities. My husband was in the top few students (and top of all who didn't do math) at his very good high school - his average was "only" 90%.

poster: if you do apply to American universities, you should highlight this somehow (reporting class average, getting referrees to mention it if you have reccomendation letters, etc).

and for further entertainment, you can just think about how an A- in Britain is 60 :)

(I've either graded/been graded in all three systems)
posted by jb at 9:09 AM on September 13, 2009

« Older Can you "Save For Web" in Lightroom?   |   What is that groovy bass line in the Cablevision... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.