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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

  • Waiting2exhaleWaiting2exhale 2903 replies14 threads Senior Member
    If there were some full-proof reason to write thank you notes to everyone with whom your student interacted, believe me, you would know about it before now.

    Thank you notes are never too much, but I think it is too much to attach the weight of a thank you note to every person and point of contact your student has.

    Perhaps this is what @bfedwards did along the way inside of the application process, and they tie the notes to the push given to their child's application. That is, you should know, not a cause-and-effect situation.

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  • Hope4567Hope4567 14 replies7 threads New Member
    edited April 2016
    @OnlyBerkeley2020, I am just curious - was your college counselor someone who you saw in person, or worked with purely online/remotely? Also, how were you able to speak with former admissions counselors? :O I think that would be very enlightening and I'd like to know how to go about it.

    And by the way, thank you SO much for making such an in-depth post on this topic. I'm sure it will help other people who have experienced something similar.
    edited April 2016
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  • OnlyBerkeley2020OnlyBerkeley2020 14 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @Hope4567 She was somebody I saw in person. Former admissions counsellors were people who I had gotten in contact with through the events I went to such as college seminars.
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  • DualDegreeSeekerDualDegreeSeeker 44 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited April 2016
    @OnlyBerkeley2020 I respect you for owning it but honestly you are being EXTREMELY hard on yourself. After reading your post, the only thing I can think of that could have gotten in the way of more acceptances is probably your essay. An essay must be personal, non generic, and non contrived. My advice for any aplicant would be to have your essay reviewed by more than one counselor wether it being a private famours one or not and then follow your gut instinct. I went to a highly sought after counselor in my town. I could barely get an appt with her. While she gave many useful tips, she also gave tips that made no sense to me. For example, she wanted me to delete a small opening paragraph that she deemed is not as serious as the rest of my essay. I felt that the paragraph was building up a climax. Showed my essay to 2 other counselors and my English teacher who all thought I should keep it. I went with my guts and kept the paragraph and got into many great places.
    Also, read the essay of the girl from Oregon who got accepted into 5 ivies and Stanford. I didn't find it passionate in any way, she didn't even answer the prompt. You never know what the admission officers are looking for and at the end it is their loss. Congratulations on your acceptances and you've got some great places to choose from. UCB is great not only for computer science and engineering but in all areas.
    You did the equivalenet of research by self teaching yourself coding and interning at a cloud computing company and then you programmad a G code generator! Not everybody needs to have a patent to be accepted case in point I know many people who on paper are less qualified than you and were accepted into few ivies but they wrote a passionate essay.
    I absolitely doubt the Quora post being truthful, Harvard, and most of the other top schools, do not allow their professors to recommend any high school student unless they have done substantial research with them. Few of my brilliant friends did a Summer at Harvard and the professors they studied with were super impressed by them, yet they declined to write any recommendations. 2 of the students were rejected from Harvard and one was wait listed. It happened with another friend at Brown too.
    Another advice, is that the trend has changed: colleges are looking more for specialization and less for a well rounded student. They want someone who takes one or 2 interests and focuses on them and goes in depth into them.

    edited April 2016
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  • MAB222MAB222 158 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Just another opinion: I have never heard of writing a thank you note to the random admissions officer who happens to read the spiel for the info session that day. If you have an appointment or interview with one yes - but I honestly don't think the admissions officers wants, needs or cares about a thank you note from the thousands of students he or she addresses every admissions cycle. In fact, if asked, I think most would tell you to please not do that - they don't need their inboxes swamped with thank yous when students are trying to contact them with genuine questions. It goes without saying - if you bothered to show up for the info session - you have some interest in the school !
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  • sorghumsorghum 3505 replies110 threads 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.
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  • FredjanFredjan 529 replies12 threads 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.

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  • glidoglido 5979 replies25 threads 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.
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  • shadyconceptsshadyconcepts 667 replies35 threads 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.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78672 replies698 threads 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.
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  • CaliDad2020CaliDad2020 1010 replies3 threads Senior 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.
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  • FijibluFijiblu 36 replies10 threads Junior Member
    @OnlyBerkeley2020 Great post, thanks for sharing! Did you apply ED to any of these schools?
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  • OnlyBerkeley2020OnlyBerkeley2020 14 replies2 threads Junior 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.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threads Senior Member
    Which major at UIUC?
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  • OnlyBerkeley2020OnlyBerkeley2020 14 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @PurpleTitan Computer Science if I remember correctly.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threads Senior Member
    Yes, that's their toughest one to get in to.
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  • psywarpsywar 701 replies25 threads 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.
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  • memelovermemelover 63 replies3 threads 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.
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  • OnlyBerkeley2020OnlyBerkeley2020 14 replies2 threads Junior 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.
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