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What Activities Would Really Help Me In My Pursuit of Top Schools?

FakeName1332FakeName1332 150 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
edited May 16 in College Admissions
Hi all,

Here's my brief summary. If there is anything you think I can do to improve my application, please let me know. I want to make it clear that I am not looking to create a 'perfect' applicant of myself by doing stuff I don't like; I am simply trying to find some new activities, and activities that help my application are even better! I don't really know what colleges like and what they don't, so I'm here to see if there's something that I could really enjoy doing that would still help my application.


Stats: 4.0 UW, Near 5.0W, 34 ACT with Writing, no SAT Subject tests or AP tests.

ECs: Minimal. Have pursued some interests by taking a few CS courses and trying to license two products, but I haven't gotten too far!

Major: Industrial Design / Industrial Engineering / Business / Entrepreneurship / Design / Technology.

Notes: Fall 2020 Applicant. I've taken as many APs as possible this year (junior), and plan to take the same amount in my senior year. I'm a fully-online student.

Interests: Same as my potential majors, honestly: creating products, entrepreneurship, technology, some coding, investing, betting, etc.


My dream school right now is Princeton and their Operations Research and Financial Engineering major; it would be ideal if you guys could give some insight on what they would like to see.

I just don't want to say "well, I could have done x to improve my chances at a top school"
Thank you, so much, guys!!
edited May 16
83 replies
Post edited by vonlost on
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Replies to: What Activities Would Really Help Me In My Pursuit of Top Schools?

  • chb088chb088 916 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 947 Member
    Start a club at your school that reflects your passions.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12656 replies29 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12,685 Senior Member
    edited May 16
    Indeed. You should try to figure out your goals and motivations. How did Princeton become your dream school? What goals do you have and why? What do you want out of life? Why are you so interested in what a particular girl/boy, er, school is interested in rather than improving yourself for your own sake?
    edited May 16
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32224 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,560 Senior Member
    Don't start a club. You're a hs kid. Find opps to work/vol in an established environment. It means more to adcoms to see you have this vision and pursue it- and meet those adults' expectations. Not another club that meets when the bell rings.

    No, P and "minimal" are not going to fly. Yes, YOU need to be researcing what the colleges say and show, not on a forum or some other blogs.

    "not looking to create a 'perfect' applicant of myself by doing stuff I don't like." Oops. The tippy tops look for a more expansive attitude.

    PTis right that you need to self examine. But never forget, the colleges get to choose whom to admit.
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  • mikemacmikemac 10228 replies150 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,378 Senior Member
    What you're asking is what you can do over the next five or six months to improve your application. At this point, probably not much. Colleges want to see sustained activity, not something completely out of the blue you did this summer before you applied
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  • happy1happy1 22408 replies2184 discussionsForum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,592 Forum Champion
    I'd recommend that you give up the idea of a dream school and work to create a solid college list that includes reach, match, and safety schools that appear affordable (find out your parents' budget and run the net price calculator for each school) and that you would be excited to attend. The people I see who get hurt by the college admission process are the ones who focus on one or two hyper-competitive schools and then don't get in. Cast a wide net and recognize that (assuming no major hook) Princeton is a reach for pretty much everyone. You need to expand your horizons and recognize that there are many wonderful schools out there where you can have a great 4 year experience and get where you want to go in life.


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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32224 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,560 Senior Member
    edited May 16
    "Fall 2020 applicant." Lots this OP can do, starting now. Including learning what top colleges do look for. It's not about licensing anything, founding whatever, or outside courses. Could use some comm svc, too, to show concern beyond what he/she likes or has for career interests.
    edited May 16
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 1834 replies23 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,857 Senior Member
    edited May 16
    OP is a rising senior, so not much time. Do not start a club, just do community service.

    Regarding SAT subject tests, look at each school's site....many (including Princeton) recommend at least 2 subject tests for homeschooled students. Recommended=required. June may be too late to prepare and take tests, so look into the late August administration.

    Echoing advice for a balanced list - a couple of reaches, 4-6 matches, a couple of highly likelies that are also affordable. When categorizing schools, use the business school direct admit acceptance rate (where applicable), not the school's overall.
    edited May 16
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  • FakeName1332FakeName1332 150 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
    Oh wow this blew up. I'll try to walk through this.

    Everyone
    Do people often say their dream school is one that they think they have a good shot to get into? My college list is really safe, but Princeton is a dream that I want to apply to because I have the time and money for. I'm not sure why every single person assumed that my list would be otherwise unbalanced, but I'm probably in the wrong here because you guys know more than me. Here is my college list. I didn't want to include it because my other thread (chance me) included it.

    Wait I actually got in?
    Dartmouth
    Princeton
    Northwestern (Manufacturing and Design Engineering) (need three subject tests: Math 2, Lit, Language?)
    MIT (Management with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation)
    **elim one

    Hopefully, get in:
    Babson
    Northeastern x3
    Waterloo (Global Business and Digital Arts)
    U Washington (Industrial Design)


    Should get in:
    Colorado University: Colorado Springs
    Simon Fraser
    The University of San Francisco
    Columbia College Chicago
    Western Washington University
    **elim one or two


    @yucca10 I understand that. This is only my 'dream' school and I have little expectations. My list is actually really 'safe,' mostly including schools with acceptance rates above 50%.

    In hindsight, it wasn't the best idea to say "how can I get into Princeton." I just want to know techniques that people use to improve their application to get into schools like Princeton. I know I haven't done much, so I want to do more here. Figured it'd be a good place to start to check out some activities they look for.

    @PurpleTitan
    -Mostly their major and level of academics.
    -I want to be able to have the skillset to see any idea through from design to manufacturing to marketing. This is because I love design and entrepreneurship and want to see my ideas come to life. The better the education, the better this skillset. (doesn't necessarily mean top 10 schools, there are very distinct majors at a range of schools that I need).
    -As long as I am happy with my progress and I have enough money to support my family and myself without debt, I'm fine.
    -Actually, if you closely read the thread, you will realize that I am actually only concerned with improving myself. I just want to improve myself in a way that could benefit my application as well.

    @lookingforward
    I'll try to understand these terms you are using, but don't have many expectations here haha

    This wouldn't count as research? Most 'research' shows something like an article written by someone with experience; I just received eight, personalized comments by people who have witnessed thousands and thousands of these experiences. I have been doing research, however. Please see above where I talked to Yucca. I don't genuinely think I have a good chance at Princeton, I'm essentially asking for the best activities that I could do.

    "not looking to create a 'perfect' applicant of myself by doing stuff I don't like." Oops. The tippy tops look for a more expansive attitude.

    Ahh I can't help but laugh this one off. So many applicants forcing themselves into math contests, all the concrete courses, clubs, volunteer work, and other unfavorable activities with the sole purpose of improving their resume. From my research, colleges see right through that and see it as a weaker applicant than someone who has spent their time at high school pursuing a passion, say, a person who makes a mobile app and reaches top 100 on the app store or someone who has an income from selling their product on Amazon. I do stuff that I don't like-- that's given with academics. But I'm not going to pursue something for hundreds of hours if I don't actually enjoy it. That's criminal. I can tell that you're writing everything I said off because I mentioned my dream school along with my lackluster ECs. Everything else I must've said is completely off-base, right?


    Additionally, I am trying to "learn what top colleges look for." Why do you think I made this thread? I'm literally asking for ECs that they look for. This isn't my only source of information, but I thought I'd explore it to get a good base. It's really difficult for me to learn about American colleges, so I'm trying my best by reaching out here to get a more personalized approach. I'm doing online school in an extremely remote little village in Canada and I have no friends or siblings going to college, so I've had some troubles fully understanding the process from scratch. Also, since my situation is so unique, this is one of the best places to find answers!

    Thank you for the information, regardless!

    @Mwfan1921

    Will do, thanks. Any chance I can take Math 1 and 2 and count them as two different tests? Not sure what the material covered is, but I am relatively bad at science so I'm not sure what to take after Math and Literature.


    I appreciate everyone's concern. I don't really want this to turn into a chance me thread, because that's normally when it gets locked. I'd appreciate some more comments on what the best thing I can do for ECs in my last year is, disregarding that Princeton is my dream.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 1834 replies23 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,857 Senior Member
    edited May 16
    OP, I would not take Math 1 and 2, pick one along with lit. Further, if it is a hardship for you to take those tests (as you live in a remote area), most schools will consider that when they review the application. When you are applying as an international where there are extremely low acceptance rates (e.g., MIT 2%), you want to put together the strongest app you can.

    Also as an international, many of these schools are need aware, and some provide limited fin aid for internationals. You have to be strategic. What is your annual budget for college?

    Regarding classification of the above schools - None of the US schools are highly likelies/safeties for you.

    As stated above, for ECs, I suggest you focus on community service---whatever is available and/or of interest to you.
    edited May 16
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12656 replies29 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12,685 Senior Member
    edited May 16
    "I want to be able to have the skillset to see any idea through from design to manufacturing to marketing. This is because I love design and entrepreneurship and want to see my ideas come to life."

    I would advise you to come up with ideas and try to bring them to life. That would help develop you regardless of where you go to college. You can get started because these days, there's just a ton of information on the internet.


    "I'm literally asking for ECs that they look for."

    I'd say that they are not really looking for any specific EC's. They are looking for people who will contribute as students and contribute something as alums. Make the school and world better.
    edited May 16
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  • liska21liska21 624 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 634 Member
    I think @yucca10 hit it on the head "Princeton and "minimal ECs" don't really go together". So Princeton is not a good "dream" school for you (right now).

    However the EC you listed suggested that you have tried creating some kind of software product? "trying to license two products, but I haven't gotten too far!" Creating products is where your interests clearly lie (given you major interests), and you can pursue that passion from a remote village. You can also combine this interest with community service or business if there is a community program or small business that could use your product.

    So in answer to your question "What Activities Would Really Help Me In My Pursuit of Top Schools?" where you list major as "Industrial Design / Industrial Engineering / Business / Entrepreneurship / Design / Technology". Put your passion into making something real. You have the whole summer to do it.

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  • FakeName1332FakeName1332 150 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
    @Mwfan1921

    I'm really surprised by that comment. Can you please check out my chance thread (https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/what-my-chances/2143435-chance-my-weird-application-at-some-top-schools.html#latest)?

    Regardless, I plan to apply to UBC Okanagan in Canada which would be pretty much guaranteed, I think.

    Thank you!

    @PurpleTitan

    Awesome! Thanks.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 1834 replies23 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,857 Senior Member
    OP--not sure what part you disagree with? International acceptance rates? If so, those are just facts you can look up, like the MIT 2% number.

    Regarding paying, can you take out Canadian loans to study in a US school? You won't qualify for US Federal Direct Student Loans.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32224 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,560 Senior Member
    Lots yet to learn OP. Including what resources are likely more accurate. Some solid posters on CC and time will show you, some guessers.
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