Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
College Confidential’s “Dean,” Sally Rubenstone, put together 25 of her best tips. So far, the "25 Tips from the Dean" eBook has helped more than 10K students choose a college, get in, and pay for it. Get your free copy: http://goo.gl/9zDJTM

Accepted to Only 2 Out of 17 Schools - and What I Learned

124

Replies to: Accepted to Only 2 Out of 17 Schools - and What I Learned

  • sorghumsorghum Registered User Posts: 3,238 Senior Member
    Sounds like Tufts syndrome, most of them thought you were so good you wouldn't attend if offered. Are you Asian? Hard to imagine such tough results if you are not.
  • FredjanFredjan Registered User Posts: 540 Member
    Your post is good advice, but I think you're beating yourself too hard.

    "1. I was not passionate enough in my essays."
    Ok, I agree that this was a mistake. Given all your skills, though, it sounds like you are genuinely passionate about learning.

    "2. I did not improve throughout high school.... I was never able to make it to the next level. I never made it to USAMO or camp for USAPhO."
    Not that important. You qualified for AIME. That's already pretty difficult to accomplish.

    "3. Going into a STEM field, I did not do research."
    Meh.

    "4. I did not build enough connections"
    Meh.

    "5. I was not active in the communities."
    Ok.

  • cutepugcutepug Registered User Posts: 80 Junior Member
    If the top schools only used class rank to admit, the vast majority of valedictorians would not get into the top 30 because there aren't enough spaces for them all.

    There are 40,000 high schools in America. If you fold in the thousands of high schools around the world that send students here (do not forget Canada, Mexico and other nearby places!), let us take a conservative view and say there are 20,000; that gives us 65,000 valedictorians. Then take the home schooled kids. If there are 5 in a class, isn't #1 the valedictorian? Start doing the math, and you will see that each of the top 30 schools would need to have over 2,000 students per class for all of you to be admitted. Most of the top 50 - if you fold in places like Amherst, Reed, Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, Williams, etc. only take a few hundreds each class. And recall that some schools have more than one valedictorian. If you start folding in salutatorians, you get at least 130,000 kids. The top 60 schools would not have room for most of them. And heaven forbid that #3 rankers are given any consideration! Now we are talking over a quarter million students! The top 100 schools would need to have 2500 per class for the top 3? Where would that leave #4's? #5's?

    It is not a surprise that a valedictorian or any other rank for that matter doesn't get in. Are the top two students really better than #3? What if #20 is smarter than all of the higher ranked students by far? And has won the Intel? or the Van Cliburn International? Or has published chemistry papers in respected journals? Or has won the National Spelling Bee? the Westinghouse? Should they be rejected because they are not #1?

    It is a big bad world out there. Many students have a very parochial view of the world because most have not seen much beyond their neighborhoods, towns or local metro areas. I believe that is why people are so shocked by rejections.

    I will never forget a kid that came out of a suburban high school outside of Akron, Ohio years ago. He was considered a god. #1 in his class, and president of a bunch of orgs, all kinds of awards... (I should add that his dad was an attorney and mom a teacher.) Well, he went off to Princeton and transferred to Ohio State after one semester. He told me that he struggled to get 'C's' at Princeton, and was surrounded by people "who were more talented than I ever imagined people could be." No matter how hard he tried, he realized that his peak performance was not going to result in anything higher than a 2.5GPA. He never should have been admitted. But I bet that had he been rejected, everyone in that high school would have been outrage.
  • glidoglido Registered User Posts: 5,599 Senior Member
    There are a lot of applicants with high stats applying to those schools. I am not convinced that the reasons you listed were determinative. It only takes one and you got into a great school. Congratulations. Give yourself a break. By next October 15th, you won't care a thing about any of the schools you didn't get into. You will get a great education and make friends for life. You win.
  • shadyconceptsshadyconcepts Registered User Posts: 702 Member
    I wholeheartedly agree with this advice. Though my GPA is subpar, I was able to be admitted to Penn because I showed a lot of passion for the school (I continued to send update letters even after being deferred ED) and made an amazing connection with my English teacher, whose husband is an alumnus of Penn and he ended up writing me an amazing letter of recommendation. Passion and connections can take you further than you would expect.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 60,373 Senior Member
    cutepug wrote:
    I will never forget a kid that came out of a suburban high school outside of Akron, Ohio years ago. He was considered a god. #1 in his class, and president of a bunch of orgs, all kinds of awards... (I should add that his dad was an attorney and mom a teacher.) Well, he went off to Princeton and transferred to Ohio State after one semester. He told me that he struggled to get 'C's' at Princeton, and was surrounded by people "who were more talented than I ever imagined people could be." No matter how hard he tried, he realized that his peak performance was not going to result in anything higher than a 2.5GPA. He never should have been admitted. But I bet that had he been rejected, everyone in that high school would have been outrage.

    Ummm, "Cs get degrees", so it looks like he was solidly passing his classes (and he had to have been doing well enough to earn a high enough GPA to transfer to Ohio State). I.e. he was capable of doing the work at Princeton, although he was not among the top academic performers there (at every school, someone has to be in the lower half of the class).

    Most 4.0 GPA high school students are not going to earn 4.0 GPAs in college.
  • CaliDad2020CaliDad2020 Registered User Posts: 709 Member
    @OnlyBerkeley2020 Great post. Very helpful/cautionary to upcoming students, I'm sure.

    A few things I've noticed watching my D and her friends go through this.

    You have to pick a couple of "safeties" (and in CA the UCs are not "safeties" anymore unless you are willing to take whatever campus you are given.) There is no "single" school you can assume you will get into. It's a drag to spend the time and money, but you need a couple that are not <20% admits. Those <20% have to pass over great students all the time - and you might just get unlucky and be passed over by a number of them.

    Second, demonstrated interest really does seem to matter. Yield is becoming more important. Schools want to spend less resources chasing students. If you can seem like you are really excited about a school, it seems to me, from observing a whole slew of applicants this year, that it can make the difference in more competitive schools.

    Lastly, you can only attend one school. The "acceptance" collections will go under the bed with the swim trophies and debate medals, never to be used again... One great fit school acceptance is worth 13 not-good-fit acceptances.
  • FijibluFijiblu Registered User Posts: 46 Junior Member
    @OnlyBerkeley2020 Great post, thanks for sharing! Did you apply ED to any of these schools?
  • OnlyBerkeley2020OnlyBerkeley2020 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    @Fijiblu I applied EA to MIT, UChicago, Caltech, and UIUC early, but was deferred to RD from all of them. Ended up being rejected from all of them in the end.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 9,860 Senior Member
    Which major at UIUC?
  • OnlyBerkeley2020OnlyBerkeley2020 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    @PurpleTitan Computer Science if I remember correctly.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 9,860 Senior Member
    Yes, that's their toughest one to get in to.
  • psywarpsywar Registered User Posts: 563 Member
    @OnlyBerkeley2020 happy for your acceptances, but with your stats I wonder if you had "bad" letters of recommendation? I wonder if your the teachers used tepid terms recommending you?

    You will shine in college, you willingness to evaluate yourself critically (perhaps too harshly) will serve you well.
  • memelovermemelover Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
    Hey there! Just wanted to say that your maturity and willingness to objectively examine yourself (though as psywar said, maybe too harshly) will help you go far in life. Also, reading through your resumé, I was thoroughly impressed --- it looks like you have the initiative and ability to succeed. Cal is an absolutely superb school, and I wish you well in your future endeavors.
  • OnlyBerkeley2020OnlyBerkeley2020 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    @psywar I doubt that I had "bad" letters of recommendation - after all it was those same recommendations that had gotten me the Regents' and Chancellor's Scholarship at UC Berkeley. I do believe that the one from my English teacher may have been very impersonal. My math teacher was a very close mentor of mine, and my English teacher was simply a teacher from the previous year.
Sign In or Register to comment.