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Are four reaches enough for international applicant?

RaysGatorsFanRaysGatorsFan Posts: 139Registered User Junior Member
edited November 2012 in College Admissions
I am an international student from Poland and I apply for engineering to

Georgia Tech
Purdue, West Lafayette
Texas-Austin
Illinois Urbana-Champaign

English is not my first language and my SAT scores are:
760 math
590 writing
470 reading (aiming for 550 in December)

I am in my senior year of high school and I take following classes:

IB math HL
IB physics HL
IB English B HL
IB chemistry SL
IB geography SL
IB Polish SL
IB TOK

Poor ECs although I was involved outside of classroom.

college board matched me Purdue, I do not know how reliable it is.

Do you think I get in one of those four schools or I have rather slim chance and should consider more reaches?
Post edited by RaysGatorsFan on

Replies to: Are four reaches enough for international applicant?

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,263Registered User Senior Member
    What do YOU mean by "reach"?

    Here, "reach" means a place where you might be able to be admitted, but there is no certainty. "match" means a place where you are reasonably certain that you can be admitted (at least 50% chance of admission). "safety" means you know for certain that you will be admitted AND that you can pay for it. The truth is that no one needs to apply to reaches, or even to matches. If you want a college education, all you need to find is a safety.

    Have you met with the counselors at the EducationUSA advising center closest to where you live? They would be the people who can tell you whether the College Board match is valid for students from your country. There are two offices in Poland: EducationUSA | Find an Advising Center

    How much can you afford to pay each year for your education? Do you absolutely need to study in the US, or do you have good options in your home country (or in other countries)?
  • RaysGatorsFanRaysGatorsFan Posts: 139Registered User Junior Member
    I want to become an aerospace engineer and I lack good options in my home country. I have done enough research to know that US is a perfect choice.

    Money is not a problem. A problem is if I can get to one of those four preferred schools with low SAT scores, poor ECs and transcripts that won't mean much as I doubt admissions officers know a lot about my country's high school educational system.

    All schools are in TOP10 for engineering so for somebody with non-spectacular credentials like me all four are reaches. I really want to go to a top engineering school as a top math, physics, chemistry and English student in my class but I think with my stats it might be tough so I am thinking about applying to even more TOP10 schools, so called "reaches" to make sure I get in somewhere.

    What chance do you think I have to get to one of those four schools? Great, good, slim or I should forget it?

    Thanks for your help.
  • WordworkerWordworker Posts: 860Registered User Member
    Did I miss a TOEFL score?

    If you come to school in the US, you'll have to take non-engineering, non-science courses to meet degree requirements. You'll need to be able to write and speak fluently to pass those courses. Right now your SAT scores suggest that you aren't ready.

    Don't worry about ECs. Schools will evaluate you in the context of available opportunities and realize that your school culture is quite different. But you might want to check the Idealist website that lists volunteer opportunities all over the world.
  • RaysGatorsFanRaysGatorsFan Posts: 139Registered User Junior Member
    I did not study for those SATs, I am rather fluent speaker and writer, I will take TOEFL in December. There were plenty of factors on test day that lowered my reading score, now it should be in 550-600 range and writing should also at least hit 600. I learn geography in English for 3rd year now and I also have one year of history in English, so I think non-science subjects in English won't be a huge problem.

    Thanks for information on ECs, I thought they were really going to kill my application. Actually in my school teachers tell us to focus on learning and not do too much besides school. I think I am one of the few people that do not fake community service requirement for IB Diploma.

    However my question still is how you evaluate my list of colleges. The full one looks like this:

    Georgia Tech
    Purdue
    Texas-Austin
    Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    Texas A&M
    Penn State
    Florida
    Virginia Tech

    However the first four on that list are the ones I would like to attend the most because they are considered really good from what I've heard. Do you think I should also try to apply to Berkeley, Michigan or UCLA to boost my odds of getting to a top engineering school?
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,419Registered User Senior Member
    Georgia Tech
    Purdue
    Texas-Austin
    Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    Texas A&M
    Penn State
    Florida
    Virginia Tech

    While the SAT reading score is a little bit low, I think you have a pretty reasonable shot to get into any of those top four schools and are almost certain to get into the bottom four. I did my undergrad at Illinois and there were plenty of people in the engineering department with lower high school test scores than that (though the reading is borderline). As long as you do okay on TOEFL I can't imagine you would get rejected from all four of the top ones if you applied and even fewer of the bottom ones. Of course, your chances get better if you raise your scores a bit, especially reading.

    Of course, you have said nothing about your high school grades, which will be factored in as well, but I would imagine your grades are good enough. Also, you will be surprised how little a lot of schools care about ECs outside of the Ivy League and their peers.

    As for Berkeley, Michigan and UCLA, they are all fantastic schools, and UCLA should be on par with the top four in your list above. Michigan and Berkeley have similar engineering programs to those top four in quality but they are appreciably harder to get into. You can try anyway, but those are more of a reach than the other four, likely due simply to name recognition and therefore added application volume.

    I know you seem set on studying in the US, and that is 100% fine. Just out of curiosity though, have you even considered some of the European schools like TU München, TU Braunschweig, TU Delft, ETH Zurich, Imperial College London, etc.? There are some really good aerospace schools like that over there that you ought to at least think about.
  • RaysGatorsFanRaysGatorsFan Posts: 139Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks for support,

    I believe that only graduate programs are offered in English in non-English speaking countries.

    Frankly I thought more about Canada or Singapore than UK. I know European culture too well and I think I want to try something different for the next 4 years at least.
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