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Thread: Possibilities (Linguistics... UBC, McGill...)

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    Possibilities (Linguistics... UBC, McGill...)

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm in 10th grade (well, not entirely, more on that later) and attend an independent religious high school in Vancouver, Canada. My courses and average marks so far this year are the following: Jewish history (96&#37, Jewish ethics (88%), Advanced Hebrew (90%) (all required by the school), French 11 (90%) (finished gr. 10 course earlier), English 10 (82%), Planning 10 (84%) (required by the province), Math 10 (77%), Socials 11 (87%) (skipped Socials 10, teacher requested I advance), Biology 11 (88%), PE 10 (80%), Science 10 (91%) (online), Physics 11 (89%) (online). In the summer I've been scheduled to take English 11 and Math 11 to complete a grade 11 curriculum and graduate a year early. My school doesn't rank (there are only 200 students total). Not sure about what my GPA would come out to (school doesn't do that either) but that's why I posted individual grades.

    At this point I can't take any AP courses, but as you can see my current course load is very heavy and advanced for my grade level. Next year I should be able to take AP French and English, which are the only courses offered at my school at that level. Nevertheless, I'm concerned regarding my current grades, and what I should be pursuing for a future leading to a Ph.D in Linguistics.

    I only take two ECs at the moment: Reach for the Top (general knowledge quiz well known in Canada, top on my team, and we play grade 12s), and debates (won the tournament two years in a row). I served on student council last year. I should mention, though, that I've been intensively studying my subjects of interest independently: linguistics, specifically Scandinavian languages (i'm fluent in Icelandic and Norwegian), and Proto-Indo European. I hope to integrate my interests somewhat more properly soon, the intention being to tutor French. Would it help that I'm fluent in Hebrew, French, Icelandic, and Norwegian, when applying to a linguistics program? I'm also planning on visiting Iceland this summer, so that would be something I could cite in a personal statement.

    My work and volunteer experience is limited, but I've worked for some very reputable blogs as a freelance writer. I've also been hired as a photographer on several ocassions.

    In terms of SATs and the like for entrance into American schools (I'm an American citizen so no international fees), I shouldn't have any issues. I'm waiting until I finish Math 11 to take them, but I've done exceptionally well in past standardized testing and to be honest the SAT looks like a piece of cake (2200+ is achievable).

    I should be applying to a number of schools, but my top choices are as follows, in Canada: UBC (my "safe" choice, at home), McGill, UofT, Western. In the US: UW, Reed, UCB, UCLA, U of Chicago, Georgetown, NYU. International: UCL (Icelandic BA!), University of Oslo, University of Copenhagen, University of Iceland, University of Bergen. The realistic possibility of attending an international school (with the exception of UCL) will be dependent on my parents' willingness to let me go (I'll be 16 at the time of graduation). Linguistics or Scandinavian studies major is most likely, eventual goal to be

    I'm wondering what your thoughts are as to my chances at those schools, whether or not you have any suggestions regarding other schools I'd fit well in, and what else I can do to improve my chances prior to graduation.

    Thanks in advance! (sorry for writing so much!)
    Last edited by cjsc; 03-08-2009 at 11:28 AM.

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    I'm glad you're so driven at a young age. I have not been through the Canadian school system so I cannot tell you what your chances are. But you might ask your current counselor what schools the alumni at your HS have been accepted to. It'll give you an idea of where you are at compared to other students. I'm not in the Linguistics field so I also can't comment on whether or not your chances are better due to your fluency in multiple languages, though it sounds like it probably will help. One thing to note about your Iceland visit, if you plan on writing about it, make sure you're not just writing about it to "show off" or just write about it, you want to make sure you illustrate how this trip affected you as a person or its significance in your life...remember that people can learn significant things at any time in their life, doesn't necessarily have to be a special trip.

    I would definitely talk to counselors at your school or even try to contact students/professors at the school you intend on applying to get tips.

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    You might want to consider St. John's College (very untraditional) and Grinnell. I've heard good things from people who've studied there.

    Oh, one more: New College.
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    I would suggest you look into Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, US. Its cognitive science major has a heavy linguistics component, as well as a linguistics minor. Also, Hopkins Cognitive Science graduate program is ranked the best in the nation (just go to their website and you'll see what I mean). Additionally, what exactly do you mean by "linguistics"? You mention how you're studying several languages, but that alone is not linguistics. At Hopkins (as an undergraduate there), secondary languages are only a part of it, linguistics is more about the structure of a language, the breakdown of how language is processed cognitively (imagine studying language in terms of math and computer science). It isn't JUST about how many languages you know, and definitely more than just grammar or being able to speak the languages fluently.

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    Hey! I'm a linguistics undergrad on course to start an M.A. Have you thought of what kind of linguistics you'd like to study? Different schools have different reputations for different schools of linguistics.

    For instance, I study generative syntax at the University of Manitoba (though I'd like to do both generative syntax and sociolinguistics). Although I chose the school more for economic reasons (I'm paying my own way through), I am lucky enough to study under a generative syntactician who is of some renown. Though I didn't have the greatest opportunities available to me, I do know enough about Canadian (and some American) universities and their respective Linguistics departments.

    Cognitive Linguistics (especially if you wish to study polysemy and metaphor): Berkley
    Sociolinguistics: Stanford (Language and Gender, and Language and Ethnicity) McGill (Standard Canadian English) University of Toronto (Sociolinguistic Theory)
    Generative Grammar: My personal opinion is the University of Toronto for this one, but that can be debated. MIT is a good choice if you want to have access to Noam Chompsky, the father of generative theory. Though I believe he doesn't instruct students anymore, he is supposedly always available to speak with.
    Phonology and Phonetics: I can't remember what's good for these - I'm not a fan of these disciplines.
    Psycholinguistics: I'm thinking Berkley again, but I'm not totally sure...

    If there's a discipline I've skipped over, just ask me - I'm sure I'll either know something or can find out for you.

    Also, it's entirely possible that what you wish to study is the study of World Languages. Linguistics is the scientific study as language and human faculty for language. It is not the study of specific languages, but many linguists know more than one language so that they can have more data to draw upon.

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