First of all, I would like to say that I just recently got my TOEFL score and it has beaten all my expectations. I was praying to get above 90 and ended up with a 110. OMG OMG A 110. That's the first test result that I'm actually proud of and don't think of retaking.
Now, to get to the main topic of this entry. MIT decisions. Someone who reads this blog might think that I have gone crazy about MIT and I'm in a hysteria, but I'm not so it's safe and sound to meet me in real life. So, I was talking in #mit channel on freenode and came to a discussion with a prospective applicant to MIT about it. Maybe I'm not the best mentor on admission decisions in the world because of not being admitted, but I had to give that guy a few ideas. And the discussion was so long that I ended up thinking to blog about this(so that's how that feels...).
So the guy regretted that he hasn't taken Calculus AP course earlier(he's in junior year now and is planning to take the course in his senior year) because that would show the universities what he's capable of. As an unqualified person I can say that it's a bad point of view. Of course, it's cool to know Calculus, but only if you have to do something with it. If you don't - then why is it for you? I know, the guy wanted to be a match for colleges, but the match isn't always the one who takes advanced courses earlier.
I then asked him what does he do instead of the Calculus AP. And he said he doesn't nothing specific - mostly surfing the web, managing personal website. So I offered him to take a textbook on Calculus(Calculus demystified, for example) and do it on his own. But then again he responded that this wouldn't be marked anywhere. Why does everyone want to have a mark, a line in CV or a project in project list that he could show to colleges? I understand it is all about impressions but I can tell you one thing - I hate impressions. Impression is a think that deceives people and it rarely turns into good. If you have an impressions to be a genius, then you must work your ass off to match it and not to ruin it. This is tiring and often not constructive. Just let people expect from you what you actually can, not what they think you can. This way you won't need to work your ass off and you won't ruin other's expectations on you.
Otherwise, if you have a bad impression, you won't be given a task to reveal your full potential and will also have to work your ass off to prove to others that you're not just a dummy.
So, maybe taking Calculus AP in 9th grade is making you look good, think if you really want to spend a lot of time to create an impression that might give you a lot more problems.