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what are my chances of getting into a top school? Vanderbilt primarily.


Tampitump
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I see this forum is pretty dead with only about 1 post every thread it appears. But I'm going to try.

 

Just so you understand up front, I'm not a youngster just coming out of high school. I'm 25 years old and a college flunk-out. I used to care two damns less about education. I was a terrible student in high school and barely graduated with my 1.7 GPA. I never looked into college while in high school because I didn't think any of them would accept me so I just never planned on going to college. The summer after high school my parents demanded that i apply for college, so I did at the last minute. Some crappy local four year university conditionally admitted me. I spent three years at that school where I failed nearly every single class I took, only making Ds in the classes I passed. After three years I never made it past freshman status and was eventually expelled due to poor academic performance.

 

I've been out of school for four years now. A couple of years ago I had an epiphany where I suddenly began to value education and knowledge. I suddenly got the dream to pursue a top notch education. Even before, when I was a numb-skull who cared less about school or education, my dream school was always Vanderbilt. My dream to go there became almost an obsession after I had my revelation. Since that point, my life has changed profoundly. I can't find enough to read. I can't study enough subjects on my own, listen to enough internet lectures, or get my hands on enough material. I am interested in computer science as well as other hard science subjects. I also read a lot about philosophy and cognitive science.

 

I decided to go back to college. But my past grades were so bad I knew no college would accept me. So I enrolled in one of my state's best community colleges. It has a transfer pathway program that guarantees students the seamless transfer as a junior to one of the participating four-year schools upon completion of the two-year program. However, the schools on the list are mostly state universities and other crappier private universities (mostly Christian affiliated, which are the last schools I want to go to). Since Vanderbilt is an elite private research university it is not on the list. However, that is not to say that one couldn't transfer to there from my school or that the credits wouldn't be accepted. It just means they don't participate in the program because it is a guarantee, which schools like Vanderbilt most certainly do not do. This is also not to say there aren't good schools on the list in this transfer program. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville among others are on this list. But these schools just aren't VANDERBILT!

 

This is my first semester back to school in four years. I am working my butt off now to get outstanding grades. I am still holding on to this dream of getting into Vanderbilt. My hope is that by doing outstanding here at CC, I might have a chance of transferring there after I graduate from here. The statistics at Vandy show that this year they admitted only 8.8% of first-year freshman students, and only 31% of transfers. I'm not sure what makes a transfer candidate stand out, but I think it has to do with grades, extracurriculars, leadership, essays, etc. I'm not sure what to do to make me stand out. I was not a member of any clubs or sports at any point during high school or my first college. I really want this. I am pouring my heart and soul into trying to make this happen. Do you think I've doomed myself with my atrocious past? Is there still hope for me? Someone please give me some advice.

 

If you choose to respond, please make it a worthwhile response. No 'one or two sentence', pointless responses please. I'm looking for good advice here. Thanks in advance for any good advice!

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Do you think I've doomed myself with my atrocious past? Is there still hope for me? Someone please give me some advice.

 

If you choose to respond, please make it a worthwhile response. No 'one or two sentence', pointless responses please. I'm looking for good advice here. Thanks in advance for any good advice!

 

It's not your past that hurts you, imo, it's how you approach this problem. I think you doom yourself with your appraisals. You started out insulting this site, even though you had hoped we might be able to help you. Similarly, you judged your first college dismally, and you had a dismal experience. You sort of shoot yourself in the foot right off the bat, and lead with negativity while still hoping for a positive outcome.

 

I think you're doing the opposite with Vanderbilt, putting them on a pedestal that's just out of your reach. Not as a challenge, but as a way to claim that nothing less will do, so if you fail you can at least say you were going for the big prize.

 

You didn't say why Vanderbilt is the goal, other than you've always wanted to go there (which is NOT a great reason, btw). This is your education, and it should be tailored to what you want to do. Are you wanting to do scientific research? Or is it more prestige that you seek?

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I have some experience serving on a college admissions committee...

 

Having failed out before is a red flag on your application - kind of like a past bankruptcy would be on a credit record. It makes you a higher risk applicant than someone without that on their record.

 

With that said, if I was looking over your application, I'd be wanting to know you'd turned it around, had something to contribute to the college community and a clear idea of what you aspire to after college. Therefore, your chances will be reflected in:

a) your current CC GPA (I'd guess that it would need to be over 3.5)

b) your extracurriculars/life experience/community work/etc - what do you add to the Vanderbilt community?

c) how concrete your post college plans are - you're coming in as a mature age student, so you should have done your soul searching and be on a path to something. How does a degree from Vanderbilt help, and how will you be an example of a successful alumnus? What will the press office be writing about you in the prospective student ads 5 years from now?

Edited by Arete
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Why sorry?

I didn't mean to be a douche. I'm just worried and upset with myself and my academic past.

I used to be such a numb-skull who had his priorities exactly backwards. My former self was so patently stupid and moronic. I laughed at education and higher learning and thought it was stupid. My personality was self-righteous and just plain sad. I couldn't care less about school, I skipped classes, cheated, and just flat out didn't give a rat's ass.

 

I find myself now in the aftermath of a 180-degree attitude change. I now value education more than anything. I do have goals with my education that involve doing research and the like. But I also find myself in the aftermath of an academic past that I think I will never recover from. A joke of a high school career with a sub 2.0 GPA, low ACT scores, no clubs, sports, or extracurriculars, and nothing to show any kind of accomplishment or promise on my part. I have a first college experience that I failed miserably at. I'm just doomed. I have ruined myself. I have absolutely dug a grave, hopped into it, and pulled the dirt over. I can hardly stand to look back on the person I was just a few years ago. I don't even recognize me and I couldn't be more ashamed.

Edited by Tampitump
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I have ruined myself. I have absolutely dug a grave, hopped into it, and pulled the dirt over.

 

175a8f1951575b5c2ae9932bdc57adf9.jpg

 

Yeah, sure you failed out before. Is that going to have an affect on your chances - probably. However, far more importantly, what are you doing differently now? What's your GPA at community college? What positive things are you doing as well as school? Why do you want to go to Vanderbilt? What are you going to do after? What's plan B to get there is Vanderbilt doesn't work out?

 

No one, especially not the selection committee at Vanderbilt wants to hear a "woe is me" story. As soon as you come across as a pity case, your application is going in the trash. Your posts are coming across as self piteous - if your future applications to competitive colleges have even a whiff of it, they're done. Making the selection committee feel sorry for you will not make them accept you.

 

You need to get over the past and focus on how you're going to get to where you want to be. Selection committees are looking for students who can demonstrate a high likelihood of succeeding. Your need to demonstrate why that is you and focusing on past failures does the opposite of that. Demonstrating that you've faced adversity and overcome it may reflect positively.

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175a8f1951575b5c2ae9932bdc57adf9.jpg

 

Yeah, sure you failed out before. Is that going to have an affect on your chances - probably. However, far more importantly, what are you doing differently now? What's your GPA at community college? What positive things are you doing as well as school? Why do you want to go to Vanderbilt? What are you going to do after? What's plan B to get there is Vanderbilt doesn't work out?

 

No one, especially not the selection committee at Vanderbilt wants to hear a "woe is me" story. As soon as you come across as a pity case, your application is going in the trash. Your posts are coming across as self piteous - if your future applications to competitive colleges have even a whiff of it, they're done. Making the selection committee feel sorry for you will not make them accept you.

 

You need to get over the past and focus on how you're going to get to where you want to be. Selection committees are looking for students who can demonstrate a high likelihood of succeeding. Your need to demonstrate why that is you and focusing on past failures does the opposite of that. Demonstrating that you've faced adversity and overcome it may reflect positively.

If everything ends up how it is looking to end up this semester I will have about a 3.6 GPA to start off with at my new CC. I will actually be switching CCs to Nashville State after this semester because they offer computer science. My goal is to enter research on AI and AGI, and to be active in the scientific research community. I love education and the pursuit of knowledge so much now that I want to make academics a lifestyle and profession. My plan B if Vanderbilt does not work out is to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. I will be pretty much guaranteed to go there due to the fact that they participate in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway program that my state does and that my CC is involved with. If I cannot get into Vandy as an undergrad transfer, I will apply after UT for their graduate school.

 

I'm sorry for seeming down and depressed. The truth is that I am depressed, which is something I need to get help for too. It is just painful to look back on how horrific my attitude and actions were in the past. The main question I'm asking here is- Is it possible to make it to where I'm wanting to go? It is painful and hard to deal with seeing how things could have been, and knowing that it took many years and getting to the age of 25 before I started to realize things that most other kids realize when they are teenagers.

 

I'm mainly just asking if it's still possible for me?

Edited by Tampitump
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Keep the GPA up, engage in some activities outside of class (community service, sporting groups, clubs, etc)... potentially volunteer/intern in a research lab if possible/applicable and your goal is grad school - these are CV building activities.

 

In order to write application materials, develop a plan for what you will do after college, in so much as you can. Grad school, then what? Start a company? Go into academia? A solid plan and demonstration that you're working towards it. Feel free to contact Vanderbilt admissions and professors to talk to them and ask for advice. Professors may be a bit hit or miss with responses, but you might get some solid, more specific advice. If I have time I often reply to those type of emails, but if I'm getting hammered that day they get left.

Edited by Arete
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It is just painful to look back on how horrific my attitude and actions were in the past.

To quote someone (can't remember who) "Regret for the past is a waste of spirit". The reason you are at the place you are now does not matter. Lots of people find themselves where you are at the age of 25, whether from the circumstances they are born into, things that happened to them, or decisions they made. Not much point in wasting energy thinking about why you are where you are. This is your new starting point. Compare your position to the rest of the world and you'll find you are worse off than some but better off than most. You can have a college degree before you are 30. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

 

My personal philosophy is to do the best I can and be satisfied with what I achieve. If you aim for Vandy but don't make it, don't feel bad about it as you've done the best you could, and that is what matters.

 

All you are really doing here is starting later in life than you now wish you would have. Ten years from now you'll be happy with what you've achieved and where you are in life, and your youthful dalliances will simply be a part of your life that helped define who you are.

 

 

I'm mainly just asking if it's still possible for me?

Absolutely. No doubt in my mind.

 

Have fun getting where you want to go!

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Thanks for the encouragement everyone. It does make me feel much better. I did reach out to admissions at Vandy and a very nice lady responded to my email the very next day. She told me that they would be happy to look at anyone's application. However, she did say that given what I had told her about my history, it would likely be an uphill battle for admission.

 

I was wondering what kind of volunteer work could/should I look into. And I'll have to write a good essay. Writing has always been a strong point of mine. But I'm not sure what to write about. I would like to write about how I came from being unconcerned and unaware of my true potential to finally seeing the value of education and gaining the drive to better myself, or something like that. Any advice there?


Actually, this was her message:

 

Thank you for your email and your interest in Vanderbilt. I am happy to hopefully provide more insight into our process. It sounds like you have found place where you are happy and enjoying your classes, which is great.

The best way to learn more about Vanderbilt would be to look through the Admissions and Vanderbilt websites, and get a feel for our process/students who are the most successful in the transfer review and general information about Vanderbilt- academics, campus life, etc.

 

Transfer Admissions: http://admissions.vanderbilt.edu/prospective/transfer.php


Vanderbilt: www.vanderbilt.edu

 

You can also visit campus to attend a Daily Information Session and Campus Tour, if that is interesting to you: http://admissions.vanderbilt.edu/visit/.

With regard to the transfer review process, we admit transfer applicants from both four and two-year institutions, although the majority of students do transfer from another four-year school. We also require that students live on campus for the duration of their time at Vanderbilt, which is required to be at least two years. With regard to the classes you have taken, the Transfer Pathway will not be applicable here, so there is not a way to know which of the classes you have taken that will transfer for credit. Your transcripts are reviewed after you are admitted and decide to attend, and credit is reviewed/awarded by the University Registrar for the college to which you have been admitted.

In our review, a bigger focus for us will be where are in school now, the classes you are taking and how well have you done (competitive students tend to have a 3.5 GPA or higher) but we will take your high school grades, testing and your previous college classes/grades into account as well. From what you’ve described, it will probably be an uphill battle for admission, given the competitive nature of our transfer application review.

 

I don’t mean for this to be discouraging, I just want to provide honest and transparent context, so you can make informed decisions about the transfer process and your future.

I hope this insight is helpful. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Kind Regards

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I'm still left with a modicum of ignorance as to what else would be necessary for me to do to maximize my chances for Vandy.

 

Here's something I really want you to embrace.

 

We get SO MANY people through here that were exactly as you describe yourself during your early education, even up to the point where they have your revelation about ignorance vs knowledge. The difference is, most of those folks didn't do what you did, enroll in formal coursework. Instead, they decided to teach themselves science.

 

The result for most is a sketchy, unfounded grasp of popular science that makes them think they understand really complex concepts, based on watching some unreviewed videos and reading some 250 word blog articles. These people are deluded into thinking physics and cosmology are things you can just pick up along the way, with no rigor or methodology involved. Sadly, they show up here claiming science must be wrong, because there are things about it that just aren't very intuitive.

 

So I have to say how proud I am of you for going back to formal education. Learning mainstream science (or whatever you want to pursue at Vanderbilt) is like laying a good foundation for your home. If you want it to last, and mean something, you prepare it to be strong.

 

Congratulations, and stop beating yourself up. It's causing you to approach situations negatively, and you need to be on the lookout for opportunities now. You rarely find those when your outlook is gloomy.

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Here's something I really want you to embrace.

 

We get SO MANY people through here that were exactly as you describe yourself during your early education, even up to the point where they have your revelation about ignorance vs knowledge. The difference is, most of those folks didn't do what you did, enroll in formal coursework. Instead, they decided to teach themselves science.

 

The result for most is a sketchy, unfounded grasp of popular science that makes them think they understand really complex concepts, based on watching some unreviewed videos and reading some 250 word blog articles. These people are deluded into thinking physics and cosmology are things you can just pick up along the way, with no rigor or methodology involved. Sadly, they show up here claiming science must be wrong, because there are things about it that just aren't very intuitive.

 

So I have to say how proud I am of you for going back to formal education. Learning mainstream science (or whatever you want to pursue at Vanderbilt) is like laying a good foundation for your home. If you want it to last, and mean something, you prepare it to be strong.

 

Congratulations, and stop beating yourself up. It's causing you to approach situations negatively, and you need to be on the lookout for opportunities now. You rarely find those when your outlook is gloomy.

Oh, trust me. I have. My journey to science started when I first started questioning my beliefs- particularly my religious beliefs (a conversation for another thread). I realized that I was so ignorant to just about every subject imaginable though I thought I had life completely figured out. Gosh how my world changed when I started going down this path of skeptical reasoning and discovering there was an entire world of enlightenment out there waiting for me to start studying. Before this realization, I was your typical self-righteous country bumpkin who thought education was for all those smart folks and that I was better than all that. Actually, that's not entirely the case, though its part of it. Mental depression also took a profound toll on my schooling. I never thought I would become the intellectual type who couldn't wait for the next book he would read or the next subject he would study. I now understand how science is done, how humans go about understanding reality, and how little we actually know. I want nothing more than to go to a top school, get a top education, and make academics my lifestyle and career. But my past is a major road block that is probably going to disqualify me from this, regardless off how profoundly different I am now from how used to be.

 

Vanderbilt holds kind of a special place in my heart. Not only is it a great school, but its like "Tennessee's Harvard". It's my "local Ivy league" so to speak. It has awesome world-renowned research, and everything offered there is top notch. Vanderbilt is actually something, as a Tennessean, I am very proud of. My cousin went there for his undergrad and went on to Yale for his graduate degree. I would so love to go there! They have many options and concentrations of study for their computer science majors. They have an option in which you can go five years and graduate with a master's instead of a bachelor's. Getting in means a lot to me. I'm doing my best to find out what I can do make me super competitive. I know my terrible academic past will be a huge smoking gun on my application, but I was hoping maybe excelling this time around would display resilience and determination on my part and make me stand out. It might show that I'm not willing to give up. If there's anything I need to be doing right now, I want to know. I don't want to get to the point, be rejected, and think "why didn't I do x, y, or z?"

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You need to learn to write and learn some things about rhetoric. Otherwise, just socially network up, I guess. Hustle. But yeah, who knows. If you're beginning, you more than likely don't know what you really want to focus on. High school gpa is crap. undergrad gpa means more. Go see a counselor. The site is also not dead. I reason people are just busy.

 

I got harassed today by assholes into doing stuff I don't see as financially worthwhile (it's their higher-ups, though, because I see some of these dudes as hard working). It's the turing problem with these dudes, etc.. I rather be working or at work learning something in reference to possibly making money. Furthermore, as A PLUS, I wanted to see if anyone cared about the article I put up.

 

Here's a suggestion: Go take yourself and start spending time around colleges, universities, their libraries, professors, student groups, etc.. and go get involved with academic culture if that's what you want to do. Personally, academia doesn't pay enough, but I think it's way more enjoyable due to the level of enhanced education the people have. Otherwise, being around most people just makes me want to smoke.

Edited by Genecks
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You need to learn to write and learn some things about rhetoric. Otherwise, just socially network up, I guess. Hustle. But yeah, who knows. If you're beginning, you more than likely don't know what you really want to focus on. High school gpa is crap. undergrad gpa means more. Go see a counselor. The site is also not dead. I reason people are just busy.

 

I got harassed today by assholes into doing stuff I don't see as financially worthwhile (it's their higher-ups, though, because I see some of these dudes as hard working). It's the turing problem with these dudes, etc.. I rather be working or at work learning something in reference to possibly making money. Furthermore, as A PLUS, I wanted to see if anyone cared about the article I put up.

 

Here's a suggestion: Go take yourself and start spending time around colleges, universities, their libraries, professors, student groups, etc.. and go get involved with academic culture if that's what you want to do. Personally, academia doesn't pay enough, but I think it's way more enjoyable due to the level of enhanced education the people have. Otherwise, being around most people just makes me want to smoke.

Thanks, I've actually taken a lot of time studying rhetoric, syllogistic logic, epistemology, etc. I'm actually taking my English rhetoric class this semester. In fact, this week I just got my grades back for my claim of cause and claim of policy research essays. The first was a 100% and the latter was 96% with my teacher remarking on both of them were "exceptional". I'm not saying I know it all. In fact, there are some concepts I struggle greatly with which bugs me to no end. I'm continuing to try to sort out what I don't understand and learn about it.

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