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Topic: College Admissions
Replies: 15   Last Post: Jul 31, 2000 11:38 PM

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Brian Harvey

Posts: 127
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Re College admissions
Posted: Jul 24, 2000 4:50 PM
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Need Guidance <none@none.non> writes:
>Sure it's a legitimate question. I'm a homeschooler and am not sure
>exactly what proportion of highschoolers take calculus. It does seem
>though from reading about AP calculus that is much more common than
>when my parents were in school.


Indeed, these days many high school students take 7 or 8 AP courses in order
to look better on college applications. I think it's a shame; the classes
often aren't as good as real college classes, especially when they're full of
kids who aren't really interested in the topics.

But that doesn't mean the solution is to get further ahead. If you do things
that are intrinsically worthwhile, they'll be good for getting into college,
too.

>It's definitely a crappy strategy for getting into a "good" school
>because all I've taken are math and science courses from the local
>college.My parents tell me I'm too narrow minded. I can't stand
>humanities or english.


There are two sides to this question.

Side 1: Your parents are right. If you really can't find anything appealing
in literature, it's because you're being closed-minded. What about science
fiction? What about the history of science and of technology? Try reading
Doug Hofstadter's _Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid_, a great book
about computer science and artificial intelligence that's also about art and
music, drawing fascinating parallels among these diverse topics.

Side 2: It's okay to be intensely focused on one subject *for a while*. And
you're at the age at which such intensity is most common. It doesn't
necessarily mean that your interests will remain so narrow for life.

>What do you mean by quality? I have tried to prove or at least
>understand the proofs of the various theorems. I think I have
>a good conceptual grasp of most of the material if that's what you
>mean. As for reading on my own, I tend to get too wrapped up in what
>we're studying in class to work on something else at the same depth.
>It seems I'm always obsessing about some little detail in one of the
>proofs.


Get letters of recommendation from the instructors of those college courses
you've taken. It's especially good if you've actually gotten to know some
of them, so they'll have something to say about you besides what grades you got
in their courses. What the college admissions people will want to know is
whether you're likely, down the road, to make original contributions in math
or science -- can you think creatively in these areas?

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