Laura (aka rosefan42) is a British Sparkler applying to college in the US. In this post, she asks for your help figuring out which extracurriculars will look best on her application. —Sparkitors
Hello Sparklers. This post, much like Voldemort's soul comes to you in seven parts. No wait, eight. Actually, my post really does only have seven parts. So...hurray for incomplete canon?
PART THE FIRST! Massive, massive, massive apologies for being so absent for the last two weeks. My computes failed me, and then I had study leave so wasn't able to use the school computers, and THEN I had exams... Anyway, I'm back now! And I have a lot more time now, so hopefully the posts will become nice and regular again.
PART THE SECOND: I took the SAT Subject Tests last Saturday! They weren't exactly fun, of course, but I think I did as well as I could have. Now all I have to do is wait for the results...
PART THE THIRD: IB First Year Exams are now officially over. Thank God. I really can't even begin to judge how well I did on them, though, which is a bit worrying. I mean, I know I revised a lot, and I generally do OK on exams...but I always get very worried after exams that I somehow haven't done enough. Only time will tell, I suppose.
PART FOUR: I went to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate star in Much Ado About Nothing, and I met them afterwards and I got their signatures!!!! ...Okay. I felt that deserved its own part. Because it is, um, educational! And Shakespeare! Yeah. In all seriousness though, best production of anything I have ever seen, ever.
PART FIVE: Stanford, Stanford, wherefore art though on the West Coast? I've been looking a lot at other college websites recently, and although I haven't made anything approaching a final decision, I have been more and more frustrated by the location of Stanford. While it doesn't best Yale in terms of my dream school, it does look incredibly awesome. And after a long talk with my parents, I now know that if I went to college on the West Coast, I would only see my family once a year or less. So that's a no, of course it's a no. But I can't help feeling a little sad about it—location immediately limits the places I can even consider.
PART SIX: Why I keep going on about the top schools. It's not because I'm blindly led only by a college's prestigious reputation. It's not because I somehow think I'm too good for any other college. (I know I'm not.) It all comes down to, strangely enough, finances. And hey, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "But Laura! The top private schools are hideously expensive compared to State schools, everyone knows that!"
Well, yes... if you're a US citizen. The only colleges I can even consider are those whose international admissions policy would meet all of my demonstrated need. And the majority of those colleges are the ones with a lot of funds available. And the majority of colleges with a lot of funds are the prestigious ones. I would have to pay close to full fees on, for example, Washington State (which I adored the look of)—and I wouldn't be able to get any loans. At all. So, um, not an option.
PART THE SEVENTH: A lot of you Sparklesauces have been really involved in suggesting different colleges for me to look at, which is TOTALLY AWESOME, of course. But I have to come clean about something...You haven't been getting the full picture. In fact, some of you have already picked up on this, asking me for GPA, my high school's Weighted/Unweighted policy, my mother's dental history... The thing is, being from England, a lot of those details mean absolutely nothing to me. Weighted? Unweighted? GPA? IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME! So in an attempt to at least give you guys some idea of the kind of high school student I am, I thought I'd talk a little bit about my extracurricular societies and activities.
1. I'm a theatre geek. I've been in school productions every year since Year Six. I'm currently a member of two different youth theatres who both put on plays three times a year. I go to Broadway Choir. I play the piano at Grade 5 level. I do LAMDA Grades, which are like exams in dramatic monologues, and hopefully my Bronze Medal certificate will be coming through any day now. I successfully auditioned for my County's Youth Theatre (something similar to what you American dudes call “Drama Camp,” I think) last Summer. I've done various pieces of office work and stage crew experience and Young Reviewers schemes and...OMIGOSH CAN YOU JUST LET ME MOVE IN BACKSTAGE PLEASE?
Yeah, you get the idea.
2. I write. I've participated in NaNoWriMo once, but didn't get to 50'000. I've done Script Frenzy twice, hitting the 100-page mark both times. Last year, I won a county-wide competition run by the Jane Austen's House Museum to write the opening for a story. I did Creative Writing society at my old high school. I write a ridiculous amount of really bad and angsty fanfiction and fan scripts.... okay maybe I'll leave that off my application.
3. I like Maths, as evidenced by my insane-seeming desire to self-study Higher Level Mathematics for the IB. I've done the UK Maths Challenge twice—winning a Junior's Gold Medal in Year 7 and an Advanced Bronze Medal in Year 12—and was selected to represent my High School at the UK Team Maths Challenge.
4. I got moved up a year in 2008. Speaks for itself, really. I've always done well at the academic stuff. Of the exams I took in 2008—less than five months after moving up—only one (a B) was not an A* (A+.)
Last summer, I talked a lot with my parents and teachers, and almost everyone agreed that it wouldn't be good for me to finish school in 2011. Not only were looming University applications and the prospect of moving out scaring the bejesus out of me, I really hadn't enjoyed my year in AS Level courses. The teaching style just didn't suit me; it was too modular. A move to the IB programme, which is a lot more linear and less focused on year-round exams, was for the best. And, honestly, I haven't looked back since. The atmosphere is better, I enjoy having the breadth of study and I've also had another year to decide where I want my future to be headed.
5. The Rosefan42 Institute For Kids Who Can't Read Good. As well as holding down a ton of different babysitting jobs for the last couple of years, I've recently started working for the pilot scheme of my city's Bilingual German Saturday School. I'm the assistant teacher, which means I basically get to make all the class displays and mark homework. I also volunteer for an hour with the German School every week, helping out with their upcoming Summer Musical. I have a tutoring job, teaching a 1- year-old boy with learning disabilities to read and write at his grade level. In February, I spent two weeks volunteering at a Grammar school in Germany as a teacher.
6. I'm the Vice President of the Student Union. I don't think anyone needs to know that there were only three people vying for the position... That said, the actual running of the SU is as challenging as it would be even if we were a little more popular. In two weeks' time, I'm off for three days of Leadership training and development run by the National Union of Students. And yes, yes I can see the The Bermudez Triangle parallels.
7. I won a Southern England Science Day Thing. Sorry for the deliberate vagueness, but these things are online, with videos and last names of not just me but my classmates. Anyway, this was a day-long challenge based around ideas of the Circular Economy and finding new ways of reducing waste. It was a really fun and interesting day, but none of us even guessed we'd be shortlisted; while everyone was busy writing notes for the presentation they MIGHT be asked to make should they be shortlisted, we went shopping for boots. But it worked out in the end!
Anyway, long story short, I get to go to Paris for a week in July to do an internship with Renault! Could not be any more excited. We'll be wined and dined in Versailles, filmed by a real, proper, film crew, shown around the factories, and at the end of the week we have to give a formal presentation of ideas to Renault's Senior Directors. Heavy stuff!
Well, anyway, that was something of an ego boost. Hopefully it's given you a little bit of an insight into me as a person, not just a string of SAT scores... I'd really appreciate some feedback on what you think would be appropriate to include in my applications. Is there anything that stands out and should be highlighted? Anything that will be seem as frivolous and should be toned down? Anything else I could be doing? I'm well aware of a lack of sports activities on that list; not only does it make me seem a little bit couch-potato-ish (what do you mean, four hours of Friends a day is excessive?)—I also need some more Action hours for CAS, which is part of my IB Diploma. Any ideas? Preferably something that does not involve any throwing or catching, things where teammates depend on your non-existent skill, or an overdose of over-competitive people who shout scary slogans at you.
PART THE EIGTH: Yes I know I said there'd only be seven parts. Rule Number One, Laura lies. And this way, everyone who gets a shout-out this week gets to feel like Harry Potter! The unexpected eighth part of my post...
Anyway, I wish wish wish I could reply to all of you properly. But then this post would be TOO FRAKKING LONG. So sorry!! If you want to talk some more about college, or anything else, my ask box at www.rosefan42.tumblr.com is another way to start a conversation.
PrestigiousTimeLady: Here, have another shout-out. Thank you so much for commenting every week, your advice is always awesome and I'm going a little bit fangirlish here because ZOMG YOU WRITE BLOGGING AVPM AND I LOVE THAT SERIES.
Teenspririt01: Hey. No worries, man, I proposed to take over Gleecaps and got turned down too! And then they made a new series of it without me! *fumes* Seriously, it's just a matter of timing. I would hate to think that you or anyone else feels discouraged from their writing. Please, please don't feel too down. :)
fencergal98, manchestergirl: Yes, yes that was an I Capture the Castle reference. I do love that book, I do.
WeDidn'tSrartTheFire: I'm glad you approve! I swear my wardrobe is about 75% derivative of Doctor Who characters' clothes.
Runaway128: Another regular name on the comments! Hi! Thanks for the college search links. Very useful already!
Lilolemole, I'd Rather Be In Dublin...eh. Mumford & Sons don't really appeal to me. Not sure why. I just don't like them as much as NAATW.. Maybe I need to reacquaint myself with them!
Pomegranate17: Wow, what an amazing amazing amazing long comment! Thanks for all the advice, will definitely look into that book of college guides. And also add you on collegeconfidential. Thanks for the link to that as well!
Fluffalo, jj_1212horcrux: By “cool” do you mean the English way? Haha, guess I do.
Quick question—are people liking the music suggestions and lists of questions? I'll bring them back in my next post, but only if you want the. Do you find the posts get too filled up by these or are they a nice thing for you to comment on? Let me know!
Laura :) x
Which extracurriculars should Laura play up, and how?
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