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What else can I do to improve my chances?

blakel14blakel14 30 replies8 threads Junior Member
Hi all,

I am currently a junior interested in applying to top colleges (i.e. Upenn, Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Princeton, etc). I would appreciate it if you can please give me advice on what else I can do to better my chances. I understand that the process is random but I will appreciate any advice that you can give me.

Background: White Male living in metro NYC (150-200k income)


~97 unweighted GPA, 101.6 GPA weighted
-SAT II - Chem (780) taking Bio M, Math 2 and maybe US in June.
- APs World (5) seminar (4), currently taking Lang, Bio, and APUSH.
-Took ACT once, 34 composite (E35, M35, R31, S31, W10).

ECs / leadership

History Bowl officer (3 years) nationally ranked in geography and history, placed as high as top 6 in country..
Pre Med (new club)) First treasurer of the club, operates with teaching members about various fields of medicine, has guest speakers come in, etc.
DECA state competitor (3 years), possibly internationals this year, not sure yet.
PolEcon (political economics club) treasurer. Organized bringing in guest speakers from the UN, leads political discussions.
Jazz Band member (3 years)
All State A rating (alto sax)
Science Olympiad member (various biology events).
science bowl member
Science Research (big component of my application, see awards section. took the class for 3 years, working in a neurology lab in this upcoming summer. WIll likely get a publication assuming my mentor sticks to her word).
Plays 3 instruments (Piano, guitar, and sax for over 9 years), likely will submit a music supplement.


Regional college science fair first honors winner (name omitted for confidentiality)
Regional ISEF qualifer (advanced to top 25 %, waiting to see if i qualified for internationals).
Regional NYC Metro Junior Science and Humanities (JSHS) symposium semi-finalist.
I anticipate making international finals in Genius Olympiad, as well as possibly the cleantech science competitions.
NY State archives merit research award (9th grade)
Various school awards for leadership and responsibility (selective among HS)
National rankings in History Bowl and Geography Olympiad (both team and individual for consecutive years).

It may have been a bit hard to tell what my focus of study is, but I want to major in a form of Biology (maybe neuroscience) and minor in government. My resume seems diverse but; however, music, biology, and government are all strong passions of mine.

I know I included a lot. I really appreciate any feedback that I get.

12 replies
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Replies to: What else can I do to improve my chances?

  • thumper1thumper1 77215 replies3434 threads Senior Member
    Upenn, Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Princeton

    You are in the ballpark for all of these schools...but they are all highly competitive for admissions. Princeton, for example, accepts 10% or less of applicants.

    Also, your other threads indicate some financial constraints. Are any of these colleges affordable given your family income of $170,000-$200,000 a year? Run the net price calculators for estimates.
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  • blakel14blakel14 30 replies8 threads Junior Member
    I understand that they are competitive. Should I just write good essays and hope for the best or do I need to do more additionally? I ran the Princeton cost calc and it appears that I will get decent money, enough to get by with a relatively small loan (not ideal but I think it may be worth it considering I would get a Princeton education). I'm gonna run the other 3 and see what they say but those are all my top choices and I will ED to whichever gives me the most money. Do you think that my profile is to diverse? I took on a lot of activities but they are actually things I'm passionate about, not just random resume boosters. Please let me know if there's anything I can improve. Also- what would be reasonable targets or more reasonable reach schools? I'm just kind of lost in terms of where I should apply.
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  • blakel14blakel14 30 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Sorry- messed up on the ACT- I meant to say (E35 M35 R31, S35) for a 34 composite
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  • thumper1thumper1 77215 replies3434 threads Senior Member
    Why ED? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to compare net costs amongst multiple acceptances?

    You aren’t low income, so you aren’t going to have a $0 family contribution.

    The MOST important question for you to get answered is how much your parents will pay annually for you to attend college. Find that out.

    On other threads you say income $170,000-$200,000. What IS it? And I’m talking their gross income...before taxes are taken out.

    And before things like tax deferred retirement contributions are taken out.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9501 replies361 threads Senior Member
    You can only borrow ~$5500/year, so how much your parents can contribute is really important. You said you live in a high COL area and they haven't been able to save much. Can they pay $30-40k/year?
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  • blakel14blakel14 30 replies8 threads Junior Member
    170k gross income.
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  • blakel14blakel14 30 replies8 threads Junior Member
    If its 30k my parents can take out loans for that, it just can't be 60k
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  • blakel14blakel14 30 replies8 threads Junior Member
    but the thing is, I have to get in first. If I want to have a shot at getting any form of good aid it must be from the most generous schools (which also just so happen to be some of the most selective). Is my resume/profile good enough to give me a shot at those places?
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7600 replies7 threads Senior Member
    edited February 22
    You are in the ballpark for these schools, but keep in mind that they are highly competitive...and expensive.

    You are a junior and will be applying in about 6 months. At this point in time I would not add anything...I would focus on keeping your grades up and staying involved in your activities. Make sure to line up teachers who know you and can write good letters of recommendation, and pay attention to your essays.

    You need to get a firm dollar amount from your parents. What will they pay per year? Have you used the NPC with your parents? What do they say about the numbers?

    You need to add some safety and match schools that you like and can afford. Once you know what your parents can pay it will be easier to come up with schools that might give you enough merit....if needed. The U of Pittsburgh is a great school that comes to mind. Can you afford a school such as Pitt if you don’t receive merit?
    edited February 22
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  • thumper1thumper1 77215 replies3434 threads Senior Member

    If you have the stats to be a competitive applicant for these elite schools...you could get decent merit aid at places like University of Alabama, University of Arizona, University of New Mexico. Your costs to attend would be way less at some of these with merit than at those elite schools even with their generous need based aid.

    Oh...and your chances of admission are much higher at these schools I listed.

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  • blakel14blakel14 30 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Thank you!
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  • hillybeanhillybean 27 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Those look like great stats! Good luck!
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