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Chances??

phillydystphillydyst 4 replies3 discussions Forum Champion
Hi

I'm only a sophomore in HS so I have time. Penn will likely be my #1 choice. I have cerebral palsy & dystonia. Dystonia is a neurologic movement disorder that causes my body to twist, spasm & move unbridledly. I use a power wheelchair, as well as my iPad to communicate most of the time.

Last year, I had two deep brain stimulators (DBS) placed at Penn in an attempt to control my unbridled dystonia. The DBS has helped immensely with the tremors from the dystonia. I am now able to sleep through the night most of the time, except when the dystonia exacerbates. However, we are still working to optimize the DBS settings especially the cantankerous twisting and my speech. I am hoping further adjustments to my DBS may help my speech and twisting. Some days are better than others.


Academically, I am in the gifted program. I also take honors and AP classes. In eighth grade, I took the SAT through the Johns Hopkins program for gifted students. I did not do any prep work. I scored a 1450, so I have a bit of studying to do before I take them again. I spend most of my time outside of school in physical therapy, trying to keep up with everyone else, talking to other people with dystonia who are considering DBS and normal teenage socializing. As far as my transcript goes, I believe it is pretty good considering I was only able to obtain four hours or less of sleep a night last year. I took a double math class (honors geometry and honors algebra 2), spanish 1, honors bio, gifted english, gifted world history and computers. I got a C+ in honors geometry on my transcript but everything else was As. Geometry was also difficult since I could not understand the material completely because I am unable to draw or hold a pencil. This year I'm taking gifted english, precalc, spanish 2, honors chem and APUSH. I'm not sure what exactly I'm taking next year yet besides calc, honors physics, gifted english and APUSGP. I'm also not positive if I'm going to get a 5 on the APUSH exam. My cumulative gpa is currently a 4.125.

This summer I'm likely doing SAT prep, physical therapy and possibly volunteering. In the fall, I'm applying to be in NHS and meeting with someone from Penn's disability office.

I feel I have a lot to offer to Penn. I'm just wondering what else I should do and what are my chances.
7 replies
Post edited by phillydyst on
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Replies to: Chances??

  • kbolisetty23kbolisetty23 7 replies1 discussions New Member
    I don't want to crush your dreams or downplay your accomplishments, but you will really need to DRASTICALLY improve your SAT score (by at least 400-500 points) to have a fighting chance. Other than that, you stand as good a chance as anyone else, especially due to overcoming unique challenges related to your disabilities.
    edited May 2013
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  • phillydystphillydyst 4 replies3 discussions Forum Champion
    Thanks! I know I have major SAT work to do this summer!!!! :) When I took them in 8th grade I didn't do any prep work and my body was shaking like I had Parkinson's, so I know I can do better.

    Any ideas for volunteer work?
    Will a bad AP score really hurt me?
    Will that C+ hurt me?
    Can someone explain early decision?
    edited May 2013
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  • phillydystphillydyst 4 replies3 discussions Forum Champion
    Also, how does submitting SAT scores work?
    edited May 2013
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  • rachelnotrachrachelnotrach 1 replies0 discussions Forum Champion
    okay, first off, a 1450 on the SAT in eighth grade is pretty impressive considering you haven't learned all of the material on the exam yet. so good for you. without preparing, i think it would be safe to assume that if you took the SAT now, it would be a lot higher. you're a different student than you were in eighth grade. on that note, if you do want to formally prepare for the SAT, i suggest a private tutor. the classes are filled with people at all different levels, so having a private tutor allows you to have an individualized plan and helps you prepare for the parts you struggle with, not the parts that you already excel in.

    also, while i love to see ambitious young students (i myself was that way, though i did not take the SATs until junior year), remember, you are still young and have until senior year before you have to decide where you'll apply. visit or research lots of schools. also something to remember for you when looking at schools is which have good wheelchair access. while i am not disabled, i toured schools with my cousin who at the time had a one year old son that we brought with us. we learned that day how many older schools are not the most wheel-chair or stroller friendly because many of the buildings were not designed for ramps or elevators. just something to keep in mind. but keep up the hard work and if you do that and you test well, then you'll be competitive. the thing to keep in mind about the ivies and top 30 schools is that most people who apply have the grades and the scores. these schools want to make interesting classes and sometimes have specific personalities that they look for. so remember, if you aren't admitted, it isn't because you're not smart or because you're not an awesome person or that the admissions office didn't think you'd do well, they might just not think that you're the right fit for the class that they're creating. it's a crapshoot. be yourself and work hard. that's all you can do.

    also- sat score submitting is easy. just go to the college board website and follow the directions. but don't submit any scores until you're actually applying. they don't save them year to year and it costs money.

    early decision is a binding contract with a school. you apply early and if you are accepted you have signed a contract saying that you will attend and withdraw all other applications to other schools. if you cannot attend due to financial reasons, then you may choose not to attend, but otherwise, that is the school you will be attending in the fall.

    no, a bad AP score should not hurt you as long as you had a good grade in the class. school's know some people do not test well. so you may know the material really well, but still not do well on the test. it would really only be a problem if the grade and the score were bad.

    also, please do not buy into the myth that volunteer work is necessary for college admissions. it is not. if you want to volunteer, go for it. do something you're passionate about. but please do not volunteer just because you think it will look good. and when it comes to activities, a few activities that you're heavily involved in are better than 20 activities. admissions officers want to see leadership and they want to see dedication. the activities can be diverse, but joining every club (and putting them all on your application) is not likely to help you.

    most school's give you a chance to explain a bad grade. you can always ask a teacher who is writing you a rec or your college counselor to help explain the reasons in their letters as well.
    edited May 2013
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  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator 22 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    "early decision is a binding contract with a school"

    It's actually an honor-system agreement; there are no legal issues involved.

    If you apply ED asking for financial aid, you must withdaw applications to other schools after you accept the offered aid. If you decide that it's not enough to support attendance, you decline the offer and apply RD elsewhere.
    edited May 2013
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  • phillydystphillydyst 4 replies3 discussions Forum Champion
    Thank you ☺

    I’m highly involving the social vibe, campus/dorm accessibility and how accommodating schools are as well as academics in my decision. I use my iPad or laptop to type essays, responses and papers. I need assistance in lab based classes. I use assistive programs to do math or dictate. I currently have to dictate chemistry, but I am hoping to find a program. I receive extra time to complete assignments and tests, since it physically takes me longer. Higher education is a whole different ball game when it comes to accommodations. I emailed the disability offices at UC Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, Penn and Princeton as well as some less competitive schools like Drexel and Ursinus. I’m not sure if I want to go far away, as I’m dependent on someone (so far my parents, but probably nurses when I go to school) to help me do everyday tasks like dressing, feeding and transferring. UC Berkeley is the king of accessibility/accommodating but it’s really far and quite liberal. Duke and Columbia are pretty good but Duke is hours away.

    Penn and Princeton are within 45 minutes of my home. Penn’s disability director was really nice, so was Princetons but she seemed a little uncomfortable about my speech. I’m likely meeting with both of them in the fall, but I think I clicked more with Penn and she liked my initiative of finding what I need to succeed.

    I got a B+ in AP the first marking period, a B second, an A- third and not sure what grade I’m going to get this marking period so I don’t know what my transcript grade will end up being. My teacher was really good, but I think he might have been a little biased when grading. I feel like I know the material fairly well but I think I’m probably going to end up with a 3 or 4, however a 2 or a 5 is possible depending on the writing prompts or if my dystonia decides to do something funky or he graded biasedly.

    I’m not involved in school clubs. I spend most of my time outside of school studying or in physical, occupational and speech therapy and conductive education to try make my body more comfortable and functional. I guess I do do volunteer work by helping other people (via email through the foundation) with dystonia. I plan on getting more involved with the foundation too, I really like advocating, connecting and supporting others like me.
    edited May 2013
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  • phillydystphillydyst 4 replies3 discussions Forum Champion
    @fineartsmom, Thank you so much. It wouldn't let me reply to your message. My teachers are usually impressed with my responses and writing, so are people in the communitiy. Like I said some of my doctors are Penn & everyone from penn have been energetic humble thoughtful individuals. They're the best - some of my other doctors at other locations ran out of ideas to try to help me. When I had the surgery, a lot of the nurses were talking to me about applying to Penn. I met with some students from the Wharton School in November at childrens hospital of philadelphia. I could definitely see myself fitting in at Penn if I get accepted. I am a very sociable person, my friends see past the wheelchair and find it odder that I watch news/history shows and read neuro textbooks. I am a white female, most of my friends are indian or other intelligent white girls with a few guy friends as well as asian and african american girls mixed in - my school is very diverse both racially and intellectually so most social groups go by intellect. While some of my friends are taking 3-4 APs, I only took 1 AP this year and I'm only taking one next year as that is all I feel I can physically do. I'm just a little nervous about messing up this AP test as of Friday the guidance counselor how much time I was approved for to take this test. I really don't know what I want to major in as I have a wide variety of interests and I love learning, I believe that I have a lot to offer to society if people take the time to listen to me and I am highly looking forward to meeting with Penn to see if Penn is truly the place for me to do so.
    edited May 2013
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