Preparing to study environmental engineering

Hello! I'm 16 years old and in August, I will be a high school senior. I've always been interested in engineering, and just this year I realized that without a doubt, environmental engineering is for me. It's everything I dreamed of doing in one profession :)
I really want to convince the schools that I'm applying to that I am truly passionate about learning about environmental science, but my grades don't really show it... My college weighted gpa is 4.34 and unweighted is approx. 3.8. My SAT score is 1680 and I've gotten 2's on my AP exams. I know it's horrible, but how can I demonstrate that I'm actually a good student? I'm going to take classes that have to do with environmental engineering... but I have trouble deciding which classes. I want to look good to UC schools, but then again, I don't want to be too stressed out my senior year. Here are some classes offered:
AP CALC AB/BC
AP CHEM ( I passed Honors Chem with an A )
HONORS PHYSICS
AP STATISTICS
AP ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
AP COMPUTER SCIENCE

My classes so far are AP LIT, AP Environmental, AP CALC, and H Physics. Should I switch anything out? is statistics used in engineering? how about comp sci? My course load is crazy next year, but I will do anything to pursue my dreams! <3 What other classes do you recommend?
posted by Uyen, San Diego on June 11, 2014

Answer by Amelia Scharrer

Hi Uyen - First things first - You need to stop putting yourself down. If you say, my grades and SAT scores are horrible, other people will believe you, even when they are no horrible. Here is a link showing admission profile for 2013 for the UC schools: http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/counselors/freshman/profiles/. You are doing fine with your grades and SAT score (although it looks like you will need to take the ACT). 

Do not worry about your AP scores, here is link showing that AP scores do not hurt college admissions: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/help#faq9.

Statistics is used in engineering, and most likely you will need to take a statistics class as part of the engineering school curriculum, but you do not need to do while in high school.  The same is true for a computer programing classes. 

If you want help picking what classes you should take next year, I would recommend looking at the college websites, they will have a list of requirements.  You might also want to contact an adviser within the department you are looking at, they can also give you recommendations. 

There is more to college admissions than just your grades, being a well rounded person, who participates in clubs or sports is also important. When planning your classes for next year remember that having fun is a critical part of your schedule, and you need something interesting to write about for your college essays. Your college essay is a great place to show your passion.

Lastly I would recommend you read this article for the Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/the-confidence-gap/359815/
It talks about the confidence gap between men and women. The take away I took from the article, was that I need to learn to fake it till and make, and that planing is not always the most important thing.


Good luck!  I am sure you will do great.
~Amelia