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

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

  • LjtjroseLjtjrose 96 replies1 threads Junior Member
    OnlyBerkeley2020, it is not the number of schools that reject you which will define you. What matters is whether some schools say yes and whether one of those schools is a good school for you. In your case, two very good schools said yes and one of those two is nationally respected. When you put your resume together, you only list the school you attended and hopefully graduate from. No one cares or even knows about the places you didn't get accepted to. Good luck and have a fabulous experience in college.
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  • pastwisepastwise 130 replies1 threads Junior Member
    OP, your analysis is very good, and your maturity to perform the analysis is even better.

    Really there is a long road ahead of anyone who just finishes high school. The two schools you got into are good enough such that where you go to college doesn't really matter if you can outperform others there. After 4 years, you should have plenty of opportunities.
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  • ChemistryManChemistryMan 6 replies1 threads New Member
    Onlyberkeley2020 -what is your nationality? That might be the problem.
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  • momcincomomcinco 1047 replies23 threads Senior Member
    OP, another congrats here! Your maturity -- and you willingness to come and post about your experience in order to help others -- are real standouts. You will "succeed" in life not only bc of your stats but also bc of your personal qualities, which shine thru in this thread. Best of luck to you at Berkeley!
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  • citymama9citymama9 2499 replies142 threads Senior Member
    I'm guessing that since you had a private counselor, your family would be a full pay family, along with your impressive stats and ec's i am confused by your rejections. If someone like you didn't get into most of these schools, then who is? If you are not a minority or first generation or a star athlete what on earth do you need to do/bring to the table? Maybe it was the essays, but are they really that important at all of these schools? Davis? Really?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79002 replies701 threads Senior Member
    OP did apply to more selective majors at UCLA and UCD than at UCB, where s/he applied to L&S which does not admit by major. It does seem like the OP got lucky with the admissions readings at UCB (to get Regents' scholarship) and UCSD (to get into CSE instead of undeclared).

    Increasing population and probably increasing high school grade inflation may be compressing the admissible GPA ranges and therefore making other factors like essays more important.
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  • SeekingPamSeekingPam 769 replies21 threads Member
    @bfedwards I am not sure I completely understood your comment about "I assume you officially visited all campuses and made followup email contact thanking them . If not, you were in error. Frequently the director of admissions is part of the official tour."

    Obviously taking an official tour is recommended although many ivies do not track interest. What I did not understand is about sending a thank you email. If you are one of 50 or 500 people sitting in a room listening to Cornell's or Princeton's director of admissions or one of their staff talk about their school you should send a follow up email thanking them????? Who do you send it to? The director? The staff member? The 20 year old student that is your group leader on your tour who probably would not want you contacting them since they have no idea who you are?

    I think it should always be done after one on one contact, such as an interview or if you personally spent time with them but after a tour?

    Also, for most schools it is your regional representative who will (if they choose) advocate for you, the director of admissions is too remote. I could see sending an email after they visit your school.
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  • dblazerdblazer 2191 replies13 threads Senior Member
    It seems like things have changed quite a bit, even within the past few years. Activities like research and starting non-profits that were once considered very impressive are now simply main stream. These are no longer viewed as unique/intriguing, which is the quality it appears these top schools are looking for more than ever (vs. pure achievement).

    @OnlyBerkeley2020 I'm sorry about the rough admissions cycle, but your attitude and insights are awesome.
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  • uclaparent9uclaparent9 1277 replies0 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    You should be very grateful to be accepted with Regents to UCB. Many forgo top Ivies to go there with Regents, instead! That alone makes up for all other (seemingly) failures you had with other schools! Perhaps what caused rejection to so many "elite" schools were your GPA of 4.4, which though was great, but perhaps not as glorious as your other stats.
    edited April 2016
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  • delurk1delurk1 218 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Very good post and I bet you're right about your essays. It still stinks that you didn't get into more schools but you're lucky to at least have two great options.
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  • happy1happy1 23039 replies2275 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    Thanks for sharing. The good news is that you can only attend one college and Berkeley is a fantastic school! Go forward, learn from your mistakes, and have a great college experience!
    edited April 2016
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  • inn0v8rinn0v8r 211 replies15 threads Junior Member
    @OnlyBerkeley2020 you have some absolutely humbling achievements, like making AIME all 4 years, making USAPho repeatedly, and so on. You clearly have an amazing engine. And as shown here by making this post, a great heart as well.

    If you had done some different things, you might have had more choices. BUT nevertheless, you will be attending one of the top schools in the world (in your area of interest and overall), hands down. And it will be very much a meritocracy. If you work hard like you did in high school, you will emerge with stellar grades and stellar opportunities, and you won't even waste a further thought on the road not traveled. You will be competitive for top jobs, top grad schools, top professional schools, etc.

    With Regents, essentially you will have much of the same experience and advantages of going to a private school, but still emerge with the scrappiness and grit from attending a public school that future employers will appreciate.

    4 years from now, you will be wanting to change your name to Berkeley2020FTW.

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  • Waiting2exhaleWaiting2exhale 2903 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    @OnlyBerkeley2020 : Add me to the group of CCers who wish you nothing but clear eyes on the road forward, putting the past behind you and grabbing for the gold rings still to come. Believe in your voice and your vision for yourself.

    When you feel down, or have a moment when you are doubting that you are in the right place because there was a road that might have been the better road, or you imagine there may have been a better you, in a brighter space inside of yourself...touch center and forgive yourself, and then let.it.go.

    You have done well. Congratulations.
    edited April 2016
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  • NJFabFourNJFabFour 114 replies9 threads Junior Member
    I commend you on your hard work and excellent options to choose from. I would chime in with those that have said you may have considered broadening your range of schools. We worked with an adviser who made it very clear that there should be at least 3 solid safety schools on every applicant's list of schools. If you look at acceptance rates for the schools you applied to, you can easily surmise that there are no guarantees. As I explained to my S who applied to Columbia, that with a 6% acceptance rate, you have to consider that for every 100 applicants, they are selecting 6 and rejecting 94 who are just as qualified, just as deserving. One admissions counselor from Harvard actually told us that if admitted, consider yourself to be the needle found in a very large haystack.
    So while your advice is very beneficial, I would add that including strong safety schools and, as you noted, demonstrating solid and strong interest in your top choices is very important. After reading numerous posts on the threads for the individual colleges, I was surprised by students who were rejected with very strong stats above the average for some of the schools. Yield is a critical factor for the schools now and they want to award those acceptances to those they feel are most likely to accept their offer. You need to give them every indication that there school is a top choice for you by demonstrating interest. Both my S and D are attending schools in which their stats are on the lower end of the school's averages and I think it was their demonstrated interest that led to their admission. You have a bright future, congratulations.
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  • mathmommathmom 32524 replies159 threads Senior Member
    First congrats on two great acceptances.

    It's always hard to know why one application grabs an admissions officer and another doesn't. Obviously you had the stats and grades. I agree with much of your advice having had a somewhat similar experience with my older son. (He got into Harvard helped by being a legacy and timing and Carnegie Mellon for CS which he attended and loved, so a happy ending - he's at his dream job now. He doesn't even think twice about MIT, Caltech and Stanford rejections.)

    To your points.

    1. Your essays need to stand out. I don't think passion is the only way to go. But you want to come across as likable and interesting. My younger son did better than expected thanks in part to some very funny essays. (We know admissions officers liked them because we got comments about them.)

    2. Improvement is great, but you know sometimes you are as good as you are. I don't know if you could have made it to the next level or not. I think my son's best score on the AIME was a 3. He liked math, but CS was his passion, so he didn't spend time on the math. I think that was an okay approach.

    3. Research isn't the only way to go. My son dropped out of our school's science research program as a freshman. But he did spend huge amounts of time on computer programming teaching himself Linux and working both in paid and unpaid positions. Even though he didn't do research he did a small project for a med school professor that he met at a neighborhood party that still gets used. That professor volunteered to write a recommendation letter. So use your connections. Take advantage of opportunities.

    4. While you don't have to be best buddies with teachers. This is another area where I saw a huge difference between my two kids. My CS guy would always do only just enough to get the A in his humanities and social science courses, and when he needed a non-STEM recommendation (thanks MIT) he really didn't know who to ask. He used his Latin teacher and I really don't think that was ideal. Younger son OTOH had written an amazing paper for APUSH, but also loved his pre-calc teacher and both teachers had positive things to say about him.

    5. Some schools care about interest, but most schools of this caliber don't. My older son told his Harvard interviewer Harvard wasn't his first choice. They took him anyway. Maybe they liked his chutzpah. Maybe they really wanted more CS kids that year. Who knows.

    I do think both essays and recommendations are much more important that students realize. The essays are the best way you can stand out. You want the admissions officer to think, boy I'd really like to be in class with this person, or this person sounds like they'd be a great roommate. And not oh no, another essay about what I learned working with poor kids in Haiti, or what I learned from losing the big game, or whatever the favorite subject this year is.

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  • Waiting2exhaleWaiting2exhale 2903 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    Demonstrated interest is not something that every school cares about. Look at the Common Data Set grids, colleges state whether they weight this aspect of the applicant's efforts or not.

    This just to say that the unknowables are exactly that - unknowable. This student did a fine job of meeting what many of us would certainly consider the quantifiables: GPA and standardized tests.

    The rest can sometimes be simply forever impossible to know in the college selection process.

    I say this because my daughter only "demonstrated" interest by setting up a meeting with a department head, at one"prestigious" school. But she was accepted to many, not just that one.

    This student has given us a sensitive view into his/her ideas of what may have produced different outcomes, had those steps been taken. But it is all to be left unknown in the end. There will be no truth greater than that which the student has revealed to us has come to be known on this sojourn.

    The rest is to be supposed; considered, but supposed.

    @OnlyBerkeley2020 : You have yet to do your best work. Continued success.
    edited April 2016
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  • bfedwardsbfedwards 23 replies0 threads New Member
    Hello, You write a thank you note to the decision maker. The admission staff member who addressed the group. 50 potentials in the group , 2 thank you notes. Easy decision maker on who has the greater interest in attending.Those thank you notes and other correspondance go into your application folder and are read again with your application. . For sure, my daughter wrote thank you notes in each instance thanking them and noted what impressed her about the campus/administration/students/program/ect. 5 submissions/ 4 acceptances ( made a grammatical error in one school's essay....that's all it takes to get rejected now a days) .
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  • inn0v8rinn0v8r 211 replies15 threads Junior Member
    edited April 2016
    Just for the record,
    Be aware that UCB L&S CS requires a 3.3 GPA in its prerequisites to declare the L&S CS major:
    is totally not going to be an issue for you.

    OP did apply to more selective majors at UCLA and UCD than at UCB, where s/he applied to L&S which does not admit by major. It does seem like the OP got lucky with the admissions readings at UCB (to get Regents' scholarship) and UCSD (to get into CSE instead of undeclared).

    Increasing population and probably increasing high school grade inflation may be compressing the admissible GPA ranges and therefore making other factors like essays more important.
    ^^^ don't agree with this at all. I see it the opposite way. UCB and UCSD saw through to the OP's raw potential, that some other schools missed because of his lesser effort on packaging. His grades were great, and he had the scores to back it up (SAT II's all indicating a mastery of the subjects), so there's no indication of inflation.

    Perhaps what caused rejection to so many "elite" schools were your GPA of 4.4, which though was great, but perhaps not as glorious as your other stats.
    ^^^
    Sorry, but no.

    The lesson we learned was that you can't take anything for granted when applying to a top 40 school for CS/Engineering.
    ^^^
    Sorry to end on a dark note, but unfortunately, THAT is the reality now.

    edited April 2016
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  • SeekingPamSeekingPam 769 replies21 threads Member
    @bfedwards Thank you (although my kid will not thank you as kid will have more work to do soon!)

    So if the Director of Admissions speaks to the junior year tour group and then some random staffer speaks to us, my kid should send an email to each? If it is just random staffer A who speaks to us, that is who the email thank you should be sent to.

    If we go to one of those college night things and she meets representatives from 10 colleges she MAY be intersted in she should email them as well I would assume.

    This is very relevant as we will go on many tours in the near future.
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