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How's my Strategy?

FakeName1332FakeName1332 201 replies31 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Hi all,

So, I've been finalizing my list recently, but I've had an epiphany. I have no desire to go to most schools apart from my dreams/high reaches. I know this is a bad mentality to have, but it's the reality for me. I've spent six years in high school because of some issues and made some choices in the past that make it so I think that if I don't get into the schools I really want to go to, I will regret my past six years.

Anyway... This is getting too personal. I've been thinking of making an extremely reach/dream heavy list and just trying my luck at these schools, knowing my chances are slimmer than a needle. This is for a few reasons:

1. I have some schools in Canada (home country) that I can go to and be just as happy at compared to something like Northeastern, Villanova, Lehigh, and other target/reach schools I would otherwise apply to.
2. I have the money and time to apply to a ton of top schools.
3. I have no desire for schools in the target/low reach area.
4. I would either save a lot of money that I can put towards graduate school in the states or something else or I would be in a really great school that I'm really happy with.
5. I have a really unique story that might be able to add to a schools diversity. My kind of thinking is that maybe (an extremely extremely extremely small chance, I know I know) one of these schools will need more online students or more Canadian students or more people from my extremely rural region.

Now, these reasons aren't fantastic, but my mindset right now is that if I get into something like Northeastern, Lehigh, Bucknell, UofWisconsin, or something like that, I wouldn't go-- I just don't know if it's worth it.

Since I know everyone will be interested, I'll give some context on stats without mentioning any specifics (I don't want this to turn into a 'chance me'). I'm in roughly the 25th percentile for most of the scores, I have an above-average GPA, I am a really good writer (not trying to sound arrogant, it's just my strength-- I'm horrible at everything science), and my recommendations should be pretty average. ECs are trash but I have some family responsibility and cool stories I can share that still won't make up for it because I have no stretching or breadth. I'm a white male from Canada and I'm interested in entrepreneurship and pretty much anything about how human behavior relates to systems, design, engineering, business, or stuff like that. Full pay international. As rigorous as possible senior year, 3 APs and one honor in junior, summer school with honors right now, 5 math creds.

So, I was thinking about doing something like this:

-U Notre Dame

Then, some schools (one with guaranteed admission in my home province) in Canada.

My strategy is to apply to these schools (maybe a few more) and just try to get into at least one. It's extremely unlikely, but I don't want to go to anything else-- I don't think it is worth it for me or my family. If I don't get into these schools, then I will go with one in Canada and save money. The thinking behind this is that one of these schools might be looking for someone like me, so why not try at all the ones I'm really interested in? Not much to lose-- I'd only lose out on the chance to go to a great school that I'm not too interested in, but I would already pick a Canadian school over one of those anyway.

edited August 19
42 replies
Post edited by skieurope on
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Replies to: How's my Strategy?

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think your strategy is fine. Many applicants do the same but they don’t have Canadian match and safety schools. American schools serve that purpose, often local and state schools.
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  • Nocreativity1Nocreativity1 1112 replies55 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 19
    OP 6 weeks ago you wrote "After some long talks with my parents and even longer conversations with some great people on this forum, I've decided to get more realistic about my list. I originally wanted to simply try my luck at all the tippy-top schools that I liked in America, but I realized that I have a very small chance at going to school in the states with that plan, so I want to change things up."

    So this "shoot for the stars" approach is hardly an epiphany as you suggest. You have been committed to this approach and continue to seek validation for it in spite of having consistently received advice to the contrary throughout multiple threads. All of these schools require impressive ECs, consistency in academic performance, and test scores higher than yours for unhooked and international applicants.

    You seem to believe that applying to 20, 5% acceptance rate schools will yield 1 acceptance. Reality is they are not independent results.

    I won't rehash the likely shortcomings of your application because they have been detailed extensively (and debated by you) previously. I wish you luck, but hope you are prepared for the great likelihood of having to attend college in Canada? Your "strategy" ignores the numerous great opportunities in the US if you were to recalibrate your expectations to the realities of your credentials.
    edited August 19
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2086 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    An "above average GPA" isn't going to get you into any of those schools, especially of you were in HS for 6 years. For hyper-competitive schools, the admission odds only work if you're a competitive applicant. You're not a competitive applicant, which means your application gets tossed in the recycle bin. This gives you a 0% chance of admissions because you don't meet the minimum thresh hold.

    Why put yourself through all of that? You have plenty of affordable options available in Canada. It's not all or nothing. It would be foolish to throw away your future because you didn't get into a brand name college. 99.99% of the workforce never went to elite schools and the economy runs just fine.
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  • AlwaysMovingAlwaysMoving 143 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    You have a decent chance at Babson, but the rest are extreme reaches.
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 337 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    I am doubtful that you can show that you can stand up to the academic rigor that most of these tippy-top, low-admission- rate universities on your list have. I just don't see how doing online high school at your convenience, on your schedule, prepares you to attend classes with, interact, and compete with students who come from traditional schools. I just don't see your dream list being a fit for a late bloomer who is used to setting their own schedule and leading a fairly solitary lifestyle. Be sure to let us know if it works out and all CC doubters can congratulate you. Good luck.
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  • FakeName1332FakeName1332 201 replies31 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 19
    I appreciate all the replies. I'm going to reply specifically to some things then I'll do a recap at the end. To do a quick tl;dr: the argument that my chances are extremely, extremely small doesn't discourage me from using this strategy. Any school that isn't on that list wouldn't be worth it for me and my family. Say I got into a really good school like Villanova. I would have to move countries, spend 5x the amount I would if I were to go to Canada, and would not be excited for my experience. It's not worth it. What is worth it is one of these schools, which I can apply to because I have safeties and reaches in Canada and I have the money and time to apply.

    "So this "shoot for the stars" approach is hardly an epiphany as you suggest."

    I can see how it seems like that, but this is a totally different list than when I said that. I believe you were quoting a thread where my list included schools like Northeastern, Chapman, Lehigh, Bucknell, and others in more of a target area. This list removes them altogether.

    "You seem to believe that applying to 20, 5% acceptance rate schools will yield 1 acceptance. Reality is they are not independent results."

    I do not. It's just the dream that I know is really unlikely. I would challenge you on the independent results-- I think that's a bit of stretch and contradicts a lot of what I've researched-- but that'd just dig me deeper in the hole of "argues and never accepts reality."

    "Why put yourself through all of that?"

    Because these schools can offer me an experience that I don't think I can get as well anywhere else. I have strict criteria and there are extremely few options in Canada that meet them, so I have the time and money to seek out more options in the states. Because I know there is a lot to applications apart from what I can share on some forum, so listening to a handful of strangers say it's completely impossible isn't a huge deterrent for me. I know that the chances for me to get in to any are extremely, extremely slim, but I don't understand why I shouldn't just try. I really enjoy writing, I have the time, I have the money, and I think stress will be even less of an issue because I'm not concerned with low reach or target. My expectations are to go to school in Canada, this is just a dream.

    "Your "strategy" ignores the numerous great opportunities in the US if you were to recalibrate your expectations to the realities of your credentials."

    I've put hundreds of hours into college searching and my previous list consisted of target/low reach in the ranges of Villanova, UDub, Lehigh, Bucknell, Northeastern, and some others. I've toured a ton of schools, I've researched all the schools like crazy, and I have absolutely no drive, no motivation to go to any of these schools. I hope you can understand. I would have to move across the country away from my family and pay 400,000 CAD instead of staying near home and paying <100k. Where's the incentive from these schools to get me to apply there?

    "It would be foolish to throw away your future because you didn't get into a brand name college"

    It's not specifically that I want a name-brand college, it's that these are the schools that can support me in what I am trying to do. I'm not applying to MIT, CalTech, Harvard, Princeton, CMU or many others like it because they don't offer me anything special or aren't a fit. Furthermore, most of the schools on my list have counterparts with much bigger names and prestige. You put Brown's acceptance rate at 60% and I'm still going to go there if I get accepted. The schools on my list are ones that can support me and my goals to the point where I can justify spending the money and time. I am applying to around five schools in Canada, including some really good schools.

    "Having an above average GPA because you spent 2 years completing 9th grade pass/fail and were able to finish the rest of your academics at your leisure through online programs may not compare favorably to students who have stellar stats"

    That's on me for my description of online school and how I worked on school. It took me 3 years to finish my last 3 years of high school, which included summer school to make up for some mistakes from g9. It was before that when I had problems. To those not familiar, this is absolutely not a "leisure through" type of schooling. I can accept that everything everyone is saying here is true. My chances at top schools are microscopic. I should look forward, not back. There are many applicants more qualified for me, so why would they ever want to admit someone with a worse score and no ECs? I get that stuff, but the online school reputation is honestly insulting. It's the same workload, but you essentially have to teach yourself the material. Have a question? You need to work through it yourself and figure it out. There's no accountability with this same workload, which means almost all students fall behind and most pay for extensions, but I didn't. I've been the architect behind all my academic success, as there has been nobody helping me, teaching me, showing me, or telling me about how to do this. This in no way qualifies me for top schools, I know that, but I just wanted to explain because "leisure through" online school implies that it's easier and it's less work. Absolutely not the case and, if anything, it's harder. To be fair, there is less time spent on work because the lessons don't take as long and there isn't the scheduling of food and pe and that stuff, so it should be expected that online students do more for ECs, which I definitely haven't.

    Let me make things clear here because my little qualifiers put throughout the text seem to tell a different story.

    I agree with almost everything you guys are saying, but you can say that chance of acceptance is more like 1%, and I will still pursue this. The reason? The move to college in the states requires a lot out of my family. This move is simply not worth it unless it's a school that I feel excited about and that can support me specifically. I am applying to many schools in Canada, some that are just as good as something like Northeastern or Villanova and others that are safeties.

    I have to say, I'm not really discouraged from pursuing my strategy. My chances are extremely extremely extremely low, I know that. But the reality is, nobody can evaluate my application in its entirety and nobody knows what these schools are specifically looking for in their 2024 class. Over half my application is not shared in these threads, so I'm not going to take a "you have 0% chance" reply and drop all my applications. That isn't to say I came into this with a closed mind and am only seeking approval...I came onto these forums thinking my chances at any school in the US were 0%, then thought my chances at Ivies was something like 30%, then I was brought to reality where my chances at the schools on my list are extremely, very very small. I appreciate the feedback, but 'your chances are so small that I need a microscope just to see them' isn't really a reason why I shouldn't do this.
    edited August 19
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1094 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 19
    Yes, I wish you well, but if I'm going to read (and respond to) very long posts detailing one's ideas, lifestyle and highly-specific preferences while justifying one's entrenched position, I'd rather do it for a student who really needs help and is strapped for cash, time, information and/or parental support for college. You seem to have all of the above in abundance and you have perfectly good options in Canada. If you have so much time and money that you can apply to these schools, why not? That will become your new EC. You don't need help; you're ruminating with an audience. Have a great life going forward...
    edited August 19
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  • Nocreativity1Nocreativity1 1112 replies55 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @fakename1332 "Over half my application is not shared in these threads"

    For those that have taken the time to earnestly respond and advise you both privately and publicly that is disappointing. You have however shared a lot. Your ACT was 32 (not 33), you haven't taken any AP exams, you have a poor relationship with your academic counselor and will be challenged getting teacher letters of recommendation (who you say change jobs frequently), and have not taken 3 years of a foreign language (2 years of ASL), nor have you taken any subject tests.

    You will have taken a total of 6 years to complete HS, with the cummulative result of the first 3 being 3-4 (never a direct answer) passing credits having failed or dropped an unspecified number of classes during those 3 years . You haven't specified an aggregate GPA but it will likely be a "story" given the complicated history but no counselor to advocate and explain on your behalf. You don't participate in any specific organized ECs or leadership roles nor where you willing or able to source opportunities to do so based on your geographic isolation.

    Your intended "argument" or pitch to schools to overlook these shortcomings will be the resilience you bring to a community as described in your own words...

    "I'm trying to make the case that I chose to do three more years of school and finish it, despite the fact that I failed for three years and had the option to completely bail and live off my family. I like to talk about expectations; at that point in my life where I made the decision to start up school by myself, everyone in my life expected me to drop out and live off my wealthy parents. Everything was against me and nothing was really helping me (except for the wealth that provided me with a good test prep program and enrollment to begin with)." And as you put it, "I really don't mean to sound arrogant here-- I'm sorry if I do-- but I genuinely think that if you put thousands of kids in my situation, they wouldn't be where I am right now."

    In other words you resisted the adversity of being wealthy and having the option "to bail", while many of your peers (thousands) would have just quit.

    While you seem very open and willing to share is there something else that would move the needle? You don't strike me as someone who would have omitted an outstanding hook or spike but just making sure. Please correct me if my summary above of the red flags throughout your numerous posts is incorrect.

    I agree that these decisions are entirely yours to make but find your persistence in asking the same questions and ignoring the same answers from multiple responders a bit bewildering. Having invested the time in reading your posts, and PMs and trying to be thoughtful in my responses I hope that I am wrong in my conclusion that you have wasted everyone's time having from the outset only sought validation of your desired answer. Ultimately I hope you will share your results, prove us all wrong, and sincerely wish you luck.

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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1094 replies22 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 19
    One more thing and I'm DONE...
    Admissions counselors spend (max) about ten minutes per application on the first round. That's to review EVERYTHING while comparing to the mountain of other applicants. Likely less time on sub-par/borderline applicants. The "holistic" part where they consider your story doesn't begin until they've noted that you've jumped over an extremely high bar that probably takes 30 seconds (or less) to assess.

    With a MOUNTAIN of 4.0/1550+ applicants with almost super-human ECs, 6-16 APs (with 4-5s), 4 years of all core subjects (including foreign language) and a good number of applicants achieving it under unique, adverse or challenging circumstances.....WHY do you think you should be the ONE to be given the exception? To assume that the Adcom be riveted enough in that 30 seconds to spend an additional 30 minutes on your convoluted "poor-exceptional-me" story and lower the bar?

    But explain it to yourself. I think everyone else is worn out.
    edited August 19
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2086 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "Because these schools can offer me an experience that I don't think I can get as well anywhere else. "

    How do you know that? The fastest way to find a school mismatch is to do exactly what you're doing. It looks like you're looking more for validation rather rather than an honest assessment of your interests and goals. Dreams and goals supersede the school you go to. If you're hung up on a school or handful of schools, and spending all your time trying to get in, you're not spending enough time focusing on actual dreams.
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  • FakeName1332FakeName1332 201 replies31 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank for the comments,

    "if you're so unconcerned about what a handful of strangers say, why do you keep posting essentially the same thing over and over, getting wound up when the responses aren't what you are seeking?"

    Mostly because I don't get to share my story at all, so coming to a forum where I have the ability to tell it helps me in many different ways, one of the main ways being that I should be able to tell my story better in my application. Nobody in my life cares at all about this college search, and they all have absolutely no clue how it works. I don't get to share this kind of stuff or have these discussions, so I come here to practice and get some more advice every time. I'm not actually getting wound up, but I completely understand why you think that. I'm working on making my tone less aggressive and agitated.

    "Yes, I wish you well, but if I'm going to read (and respond to) very long posts detailing one's ideas, lifestyle and highly-specific preferences while justifying one's entrenched position, I'd rather do it for a student who really needs help and is strapped for cash, time, information and/or parental support for college"

    No worries. I completely understand. I don't think I'm justifying my position, to be quite honest. I'm agreeing with and noting almost everything being said.

    @Nocreativity1 I didn't expect such a great detailed response. Thank you for going through the effort.

    I'll try to dissect it, but this normally results in me missing some things or justifying my actions, so I'm not too sure how to approach it.

    Everything you said in this first paragraph was correct. My recommendations should be a lot better as I've created really strong bonds with some amazing teachers whom I have shared hundreds of emails with. I said that because I didn't think I could get a recommendation from my old teacher, which I later found out I could. I don't want to get too specific, but I think my recs are average at the very least. Subject tests in this fall, too. GPA is 3.97 and ~4.5 give or take .2. I have talked to every adcom members I could while I was on tours and they seemed to leave a general impression that my extreme upwards trend could cancel out the first years. I think it will either be something that will really hurt my application or be a slight positive. They could very well be lying, exaggerating, or trying to encourage me rather than shut me down.

    Not quite. I don't plan on talking much about my resilience and all of that (probably in the 'additional information' or some prompts), but rather talk about my life at the lake and who I am and where I came from, embracing the diversity and character angle.

    I agree that my previous threads are a poor expression. To be honest with you, I was feeling very overwhelmed and alone in the process and really wanted to justify me getting into a top school. I was so set on a top school because literally everyone I know thinks I'm not smart (their explanation for me taking six years on school) and have no prospects. I really wanted to prove them wrong, so I made some wild justifications. My mistake. There will not be any of this talk in my application.

    To be completely honest, I think my only chance is if I can use my fantastic English teacher and my great writing skills to craft some great essays about my life and character. I'm hoping that there is just one school out there that will say, yeah, we want this guy on campus. Stuff like putting and taking in four docks twice a year every year of my life in fifty-degree water for my elderly neighbors; taking a family-full fishing boat out and guiding them fishing every weekend night; living in a small community throughout my life; staying in and working while everyone else in my family heads out for a surf; doing top-to-bottom cleans every week or so; and other stuff like that.

    It's kind of disappointing to hear that you think I've wasted everyone's time and sought self-validation. I would ask that you look at me and my threads and say, well, he has literally nobody in his life who knows the slightest thing about college admissions, let alone US college admissions, his college counselor isn't much help, and he is from a small rural village in northern Canada. I'm not trying to waste anyone's time, I'm just horrible at this college admissions thing and have nobody to help me. I've done my research, which is why I'm at the point I am now, but there's so much conflicting advice on this forum and on other sources that it gets stressful. I'm truly sorry if I'm wasting anyone's time, but I assure you that I am learning a lot and I am extremely grateful for all of the comments-- they really are changing my life.

    I really appreciate the comment.

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  • Nocreativity1Nocreativity1 1112 replies55 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 19
    @Fakename "To be completely honest, I think my only chance is if I can use my fantastic English teacher and my great writing skills to craft some great essays about my life and character. I'm hoping that there is just one school out there that will say, yeah, we want this guy on campus."

    I am sympathetic to you not having adult support but it is then incumbent upon you to listen to the advice of others acting as surrogates. You refer to "only chance" and "just one school" but you are the one placing those constraints. There are numerous less selective schools that your background is well suited for.

    You can't have it both ways meaning. Poor me, no one to talk to and my opportunities are limited. In reality you are ignoring informed advice, have the financial resources to go to many schools and refuse to "settle" for any number of great alternatives. No one is saying not to apply to a few "dream" schools but also find some matches.

    These are adult decisions with long term consequences and for many of us we hate to see you waste an opportunity based upon naive misconceptions of prestige and fit.

    edited August 19
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 967 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited August 19
    Honestly from what I've read here your not worth it schools of Northeastern, Lehigh, Bucknell, UofWisconsin would be a reach for you as a Canadian applicant with that academic record. Which are all great highly sought after schools BTW. Pick your reaches whatever they are, throw them out there. But love your safeties and matches. It sounds like you have great affordable options much closer to home. Maybe you'll get another chance for grad school.
    ETA - strategy wise, apply to your safeties (and any matches) first in order of liklihood. Prioritize your reaches your favored order. Then if you just suffer burn out and feel done at some point you can just be done.
    edited August 19
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  • blossomblossom 9769 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There ARE terrific schools ready to take a chance on you- you just don't want to hear about them. Every minute you spend pining over Yale and Cornell is a minute you are NOT spending learning about the schools- where you could get the exact same intellectual rigor- where they'd LOVE to have you.

    That's your decision, and having some solid backups in Canada is the best possible reason for not spending time learning about those "they'd love to have me" colleges in the US. BUT- don't shoot the messenger. There's a whole long list of Quaker founded schools for example where your work ethic and rural upbringing would be very attractive. Ditto some of the Jesuit schools. You don't need to be Quaker or Jesuit to get a fine, top drawer education at these places. But they want to see work ethic and kindness and they LOVE a turnaround story.

    I respect your choices- but don't dump on us for trying to help you when you clearly don't want the help. And deciding you are going to apply to Yale because a neighbor thinks you're dumb and you're going to show them that they're wrong- well, it's your money, spend it as you see fit.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1351 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    When you are 18 years old, your list and approach might be different than someone with more experience who realizes that flexibility in thinking is often the key to real success. Based on your stats, it appears to be a very long shot. If you want to spend time only getting what you really want, that's fine. You should also talk to a couple of people who have gone this route. What did they learn? Would they do it again? Is only getting what you want important or is figuring out what you want more important.
    Talk to older people in your family or friends of your family and ask them what they would do it they had to do 18-25 over again. Chances are, the ones who are happiest had to make hard choices at some point.
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  • FakeName1332FakeName1332 201 replies31 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Would you guys suggest something like this for me?:
    7 dreams
    3 reaches

    Then 3 reaches and 2 safeties in Canada? Keep in mind that I would likely be more happy at the schools in Canada than in the states. I could always go to graduate school, like someone else mentioned.

    Just to clarify, I am not applying to these schools simply for prestige or because they are the tippy tops. There are multiple reasons for this, which I think I mentioned in my first thread but will repeat here:

    1. I could find the schools that many of you are mentioning in Canada. It makes more sense to go to UBC, Waterloo, Queens, and others than something like Lehigh or Villanova or Northeastern.
    2. It's roughly five times more expensive to go to school in the states. Is it worth it for schools I don't love? I don't know, but I don't think so.
    3. These schools I plan on applying to have the best of the best programs and resources for me. I wouldn't even go to Princeton if I got excepted because it's not a good school for me and what I want to do.
    4. I would have to move countries, adjust to life in another country, and would have to see my family and friends only a few times a year-- and I would have to spend thousands of dollars and tens of hours just to get back home.

    Considering all of these, I'm still doubtful that going to a school like Lehigh, Bucknell, Villanova, or UDub is going to be worth it for me. Especially considering I can get something very similar at home.
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