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Admission Rates for National Merit Semifinalists

MarilynMarilyn Registered User Posts: 3,428 Senior Member
edited October 2005 in College Admissions

Just wondering if/how much my son's chances are improved by being a semifinalist. I have not been able to track down admittance rates for finalists. Although we can see how many were admitted it doesn't show out of how many applications. This is the rest of his profile:

ACT 35
SAT 800-690-690 Math-Reading-Writing
Math II 800
Physics 760
French 790

AP junior year – 5’s on AP Calc BC and US History
Senior year AP: Physics, French, Computer Science BC, Brit Lit (1st semester), Microeconomics (2nd semester)
11 previous honors courses – all core curriculum

GPA 5.6316/6 weighted; 4.9474/5 unweighted
Rank 24/615 weighted (4%); 14/615 unweighted (2%)

National Merit Semifinalist
National Honor Society
French National Honor Society
Nat’l French Contest national ranking 9, 10, 11
AMC Certificate of Distinction 10, 11
Math League All Conference Honorable Mention 9, 11

Math Team 9-12 (no leadership positions available on team)
Computer Club 10-12 (no leadership positions available in club)
School Paper 10-12 – computer graphics specialist

Library Page 9/04-8/05

Summer Programs:
2003, 2004 Camp CAEN, University of Michigan
2005 National Youth Leadership Forum on Technology

Expecting excellent references from counselor and teachers
Expecting good but not stellar essays

He is planning to study computer science and is applying to:
Stanford (Early Choice)
Carnegie Mellon
Washington University
U of Pennsylvania
Case-Western (safe school)
U of Illinois (safe school and home state)

We have visited all of these schools and are attending local high school visits and other presentations.

Post edited by Marilyn on

Replies to: Admission Rates for National Merit Semifinalists

  • Spetsnaz OpSpetsnaz Op Registered User Posts: 870 Member
    UIUC is his safety? Or another location?

    CS at Mellon sounds awesome from what the guy from there that called me said.
  • MarilynMarilyn Registered User Posts: 3,428 Senior Member
    U of I CU is the safety - they are supposed to have an excellent CS program (I heard that Bill Gates hires more grads from there than from any other school).

    On the other hand - Carnegie Mellon is building the Bill Gates building! My S loved his visit to the CS dept; got to sit in on a class, talk to a couple of professors (who knew his high school teacher) and tour the department. But the school of CS is very selective.
  • curmudgeoncurmudgeon Registered User Posts: 12,128 Senior Member
    Marilyn, I have never seen any breakdown of admission stats by NM status. Ever. At schools somewhat down the pike from those on his list , as you probably know, NMSF will definitely help. He has great stats. Top 2-5%, 1490, 35, great SAT Subject Tests, and less than earth shattering EC's will get him a lottery ticket to Stanford, Penn, and MIT, and maybe a bit more than that at WUSTL.

    From Penn's website the only single line-item I remember that made a significant difference was valedictorian. Next single line item difference maker? Salutatorian. I'll try to find it again and post as it had a great deal more detail than most. Your son has a great record and should do very well. Here it is http://www.admissionsug.upenn.edu/applying/profile.php
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 25,803 Senior Member
    for some schools that provide merit money to finalists, it would help. However, schools like Stanford, MIT, Penn and WashU (which could fill a whole class with finalists) will care more about the SAT scores <700. OTOH, they may ignore the SAT I completely and only consider the strong ACT score. But, unfortunately, the SAT scores will be on the report..

    Since you are in-state, UI is a lock anyway.
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Registered User Posts: 12,374 Senior Member
    OTOH, they may ignore the SAT I completely and only consider the strong ACT score. But, unfortunately, the SAT scores will be on the report..

    MIT, at least, will look only at the test scores that present the student in the best light (among SAT I vs. ACT or among more than 3 SAT II's) and will disregard the rest.
  • MarilynMarilyn Registered User Posts: 3,428 Senior Member
    My son wasn't thrilled with his Reading/Writing SAT's but there were so many tests during the spring - the SAT was the weekend after the two-day Illinois PSAExam which included an ACT without writing (he got 36 on that, one of only 30 kids in the state) His counselor says the 35 ACT will be fine. I do remember at some of the colleges we visited, they specifically said they would use the highest compilation of all scores. It was either MIT or Brown that said, "We'll give you the best test day you ever had." I took a look through several Class of 09 profile pages - figure those schools that brag about their many National Merit Finalists on the profile probably give more importance to that achievement - unfortunately the top 5 schools on my S's list do not brag. We feel any of those schools will give him an excellent overall education; Stanford was just too wonderful for words; Wash U seems to really care about their students; MIT and CM are renowned for CS, and UPenn besides their overall excellence seems to have a wide variety of CS classes to explore. We're really hoping at least one of those schools has a niche in their class of 2010 for a well-lopsided student with a really great brain. Even if he isn't out saving the world or competing in national competitions or running every club at his high school!
  • curmudgeoncurmudgeon Registered User Posts: 12,128 Senior Member
    Marilyn your son has worked hard and can be proud of his accomplishments but in the MIT, Stanford, WAshU and Penn world of selective admissions , that does not make any of those schools "matches" for your son (or in my humble opinion for anybody else's kid) .

    Look at the Penn figures. They are rejecting the great majority of kids over 750 on either section of the SAT. I suggest you review Andi's recent post recalling her VERY high stat, VERY accomplished kids saga last year that resulted in him taking a gap year this year. Unless your son likes CMU (knowing that CS is very competitive) or U of Illinois better than it seems he does, he would be well served by having some schools on the list that were similar to Stanford, MIT, WashU and Penn but that were less selective.

    Love thy safety and help him build his list from the bottom up. We are not trying to be "negative" to be mean (although I know that it may seem so. I felt the same way when this was first explained to me about my child's chances at similar schools), we are trying to help you keep the bus from running off a cliff. Good luck, and don't get discouraged.
  • SRMom3SRMom3 Registered User Posts: 350 Member
    D's friend, a NMF, go waitlisted at Wash U. They really want to know you love them. If he is serious about Wash U he might want to appl ED. Seems to be much easier to make that bar.
  • MarilynMarilyn Registered User Posts: 3,428 Senior Member
    We never thought of Stanford, MIT, or Penn as a match - they are reaches for just about everyone, no matter what their accomplishments. My S did like CMU very much; it's his second choice. He likes U of I and CW well enough to go there if those are his final options so I very much doubt he will end up in a gap year position. I'm assuming U of I will snap him up.

    Which schools would be "similar to Stanford, MIT, WashU and Penn" but less selective yet still be very strong in CS? We've found plenty with Computer Engineering but not necessarily CS. Also we want to make sure there's an active Jewish population in the school which does limit some otherwise interesting choices.

    My S is doing EA at Stanford - he really did like it far above any other - which rules out Wash U for ED. However, we have visited Wash U and he will be going to both the high school visit and the local presentation, plus if (when?)Stanford turns him down he will certainly do an overnight to both Wash U and CMU. I did ask the admission office at CMU if they wanted to know about his visit to their CS department but they said they don't need that info. So I guess you don't have to love them!
  • fbc001fbc001 Registered User Posts: 319 Member
    Stanford is very tough, so those SAT I <700 may be a factor...
    Although if they just take the highest which is your S ACT, then he could be OK.
    Good luck on all the schools!
  • condor30condor30 Registered User Posts: 1,083 Senior Member
    bump - good thread --

    marilyn - did your s consider ea at chicago?
  • MarilynMarilyn Registered User Posts: 3,428 Senior Member
    Thanks all for the support -

    condor - In all of the stellar write-ups on U of Chicago, I have not seen CS listed as a stronger department so it is not on his list. We are starting to take a look at Berkeley which was not previously considered - maybe too big?
This discussion has been closed.