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Isn't the information about college admission confusing?

TranquilOrangeTranquilOrange 12 replies4 threads Junior Member
Well, if you look at the type of activities that could almost "guarantee" a place in HYPSM, like positions in national olympiad camps, top awards in intel / Siemens science fair, programs like RSI, SSP, TASP, Cosmos, SSTP, etc, and consider that there's probably overlap, and consider that one would also need "other great attributes" to get in, I roughly estimate that there're only like less than 1,000 people per year who could meet the high standard, while HYPSM matriculate over 5,000. What's other 4,000's profile like? The top 10 adding together matriculate much more. What does it take, and why can't I be one of them, who does not have those top honors but still get in the top school?

In addition, as it is said that 1540 SAT cannot guarantee a place in great school, even for HYPSM and ivies there're like 50% or more students under 1540. Why can they get in? Why can't a 1540 who is not anti-social or so get in?

Anyway, it's all confusing to me. I see too many really great and nice people failed to get to the top, while some creepy I know with not that strong profile and definitely terrible personality succeeded.
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Replies to: Isn't the information about college admission confusing?

  • TranquilOrangeTranquilOrange 12 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited May 31
    It may be hard to read as there're some grammatical mistakes. I typed too fast. But I think you can get my point.
    edited May 31
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  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer 1259 replies3 threads Senior Member
    Why to you want to bother to "get in?"

    What are you actually looking for?

    Are you trying to win some kind of a game?

    Are you looking to develop yourself? If so, how?
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  • jym626jym626 57707 replies3025 threads Senior Member
    Maybe they want to build a class of creepy people with terrible personalities ...<jk>
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10213 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Competitive schools are looking to balance their class - this includes everything from intended major, geographic location, gender, ethnic diversity, ECs, etc..... And that's after they've already taken their hooked applicants - recruited athletes, legacies, and children of major donors.

    Of course you can be one of the people that a school feels will fill their needs on campus. It's just a long shot so you need to focus your list on match and safety schools (as was discussed in your other thread).

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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5377 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited May 31
    College admissions can absolutely be confusing, and tough to predict.
    In addition, as it is said that 1540 SAT cannot guarantee a place in great school, even for HYPSM and ivies there're like 50% or more students under 1540. Why can they get in? Why can't a 1540 who is not anti-social or so get in?

    It depends how you define a 'great' school, if one uses only rankings that could lead to disappointment. Schools build their classes according to their institutional priorities, and applicants who fit those priorities, and/or demonstrate a good match for the unhooked spots will have a greater chance of acceptance.

    You received much good feedback on your other threads that should help you as you gear up to apply to schools for fall 2021.
    edited May 31
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10213 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Very well put @Publisher. Your answer should be pinned!

    That's why students should not take admissions decisions personally.


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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9895 replies381 threads Senior Member
    How do you know who has a strong profile and who doesn't? Unless you've personally read the applications and essays, you really can't know. Top colleges could fill their seats many times over with the number of high stats students who apply every year. So those who meet the academic bar have to show their fit in other ways.

    Colleges look for students who will add to their campus community. You come from a wealthy family, so high stats are expected. What have you done with the opportunities you've been given? According to your other threads you don't volunteer much. You raise money for causes, but don't seem to get involved in the day to day ground work. You participate in athletics, not for the comraderie, teamwork, or challenge, but because it makes you more physically appealing.

    You don't seem to know much of anything about the prestigious schools you'd like to attend except that your parents will be full pay and they're willing and able to pay. How are you going to craft essays that show how you match what they want if you don't even know what that is?

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  • TranquilOrangeTranquilOrange 12 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited May 31
    Thanks for all helpful replies!

    But there's still one problem concerns me, which I failed to imply in the initial post, that though awards and accomplishments as "musicians" or "football players" cannot be fake, it's not hard to "fabricate" or exaggerate qualities simply in the essays. Unfortunately, those "qualities" seem to be exactly the things universities are looking for. Any smart student can make everything seem nice in the essay. For instance, as long as one has a minor role in student government, he can indulge in verbiage, talking about how "committed", "responsible" he is. People in the same school but not knowing exactly what he really has done may buy it, not to mention the admission office.

    As for @austinmshauri's personal engagement about me, the answer to your question is simply that I spend most time on what I'm good at and consider distinctive. I'm not athletes who can win national games, and I can reach all those benefits you listed through other methods. The volunteer work, to be honest, is ridiculous and meaningless for students with normal background and hence little power. Rather than 200 hour community service or some small-scale fuss, I prefer studying 200 hours, trying to reach higher position in the future, and then it's time to be philanthropist. The difference in efficiency here is quite obvious. Also, as I mentioned, I can absolutely tell you a lot about how I sacrificed and feel genuinely happy through volunteering, if I only want to give a good impression on the internet, with this just-signed-up e-mail account for college confidential. But actually, I hate talking about things that cannot be verified, even though I have to do so for most of my time in real-life.
    edited May 31
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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 562 replies7 threads Member
    edited May 31
    We once had a admission person tell us to look at admissions like a football draft. The school needs a team. And a team means people to fill every position. You might be a quarterback and a great quarterback, but if the school already has enough quarterbacks you might not get in. But if you are a kicker and they need a kicker, you might be offered a spot, even though your grades and test scores are lower than a quarterback they turned down.

    I think the mistake that many students make is thinking that going to HYPSM is the only path to success. Or that going to a school ranked 12 is so much better than doing to a school ranked 15. I think it's important to think about what is going to help you reach your goals AND provide you with the college experience you want. What schools offer your major? Are you focused on one path or do you want the opportunity to explore different interests? Some schools are more flexible than others. Do you want to do research? Some schools have better opportunities for undergrads. Do you want a competitive environment or a more collaborative one? Does location (urban, rural, suburban) matter? Does cost matter?

    As for your last post, yes, people can exaggerate their activities and qualities, but admissions people aren't stupid and can see through a lot of that. And recommendation letters will help give admissions a sense of who you are what you've accomplished. And if admissions wants to verify things, many can be done with a simple google search. If you search my D's name you will easily be able to verify she was involved quite a few of the activities listed on her application. And her recommendation letters served to verify what sort of student and person she was .

    It sounds like you are someone who is not interested in playing the admissions game. You want to study and learn over being involved in activities and volunteer work. That's totally fine. But some schools are going to care about how you are going to contribute their campus and community beyond just taking up a seat in a classroom. That's your job to express in your essay and through your recommendations. Do you plan to do research? If so, then what research is that school doing that interests you? Does the school provide a unique major or program that would help you reach your goals? If so, that's a great topic for your "Why XYZ school" essay. You are going to have to think a little bit about what you are going to offer the school and not just want the school is offering you.
    edited May 31
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9895 replies381 threads Senior Member
    If something is important enough to tip the scale in college admissions it can be verified. Anything that can't be verified probably isn't that important.

    The volunteer work, to be honest, is ridiculous and meaningless for students with normal background and hence little power. Rather than 200 hour community service or some small-scale fuss, I prefer studying 200 hours, trying to reach higher position in the future, and then it's time to be philanthropist.
    Is this what top colleges say they want?
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5377 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited May 31
    OP, on your other thread you said you moved here from the UK 7 or so years ago. Are you a US citizen, or do have a green card?

    There will be colleges that would be happy to have you as a student, the trick is finding those ones and demonstrating a match to them (based on what they see as a fit), especially if they are among the more selective schools out there.
    edited May 31
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  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer 1259 replies3 threads Senior Member
    As already stated by "Mwfan1921" above: "It depends how you define a 'great' school".

    As you have recently learned, you have many choices in the US system. This actually makes it more confusing, and challenging. You need to define the characteristics you are looking for in your fields of study, pedagogical relationships and social environment.

    It is a freedom which brings responsibility. You have more choices and decisions to make
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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 562 replies7 threads Member
    edited May 31
    It's too late to edit my post above but I see from looking at your previous posts that I misunderstood your situation a bit. You are involved in some great activities. No, you're not involved in "the type of activities that could almost "guarantee" a place in HYPSM" - but I don't believe there are any of those type of activities. As we've all been saying, it really just depends on what the school is looking for and who applies. You can't predict it. You just build a good list of safeties, matches and reaches and do your best to express who YOU are to admissions. Personally, I think being genuinely interesting and being involved in activities you care about is more important than being in the "right" activity.

    Please do not go into the admissions process feeling like there is just one or 2 "right" schools for you - especially based on perceived prestige.
    edited May 31
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3449 replies78 threads Senior Member
    The other posters have given great commentary and advice.

    I can only add that I have sat on a scholarship committee for two years now. A person doesn't need to be an admissions officer for 20 years to spot aggrandizations of accomplishments. It becomes easy to pick out after reading only a few applications.
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 2707 replies14 threads Senior Member
    jym626 wrote: »
    Maybe they want to build a class of creepy people with terrible personalities ...<jk>

    I can certainly think of a few famous ivy graduates who fit that profile...
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 2707 replies14 threads Senior Member
    OP: is going back to the UK for university an option? Oxbridge will care more than about just grades, but generally it’s much easier to get accepted to a top uni there on the basis of grades over other factors, plus not having to deal with slots reserved for athletes/legacy etc.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    edited June 1
    1. Half or more of the slots in HYPSM and the rest of the Ivies/equivalents (outside of possibly relatively large Cornell) are taken by hooked applicants. And I'm not talking about ECs and essays. Your EC's aren't going to make you URM. Your essays won't make you a recruited athlete or parents rich/famous.

    2. In the US, top unis have relatively small undergraduate student bodies and this is a large country. At the undergrad level, all of the Ivies/equivalents (outside of Cornell) are smaller than any of Oxbridge/UTokyo/UKyoto/Keio/Waseda. 2 of Oxbridge offer more or as many slots as all of 5 of HYPSM and the UK is 1/5th the population of the US. On a per capita basis, all 2 of Oxbridge has an many slots as all 30 Ivies/equivalents in the US.

    Put that all together, and it is exceedingly difficult to get in to HYPSM if you are unhooked and not unique in some way.


    However, there is good news:

    1. Post-COVID, being full-pay likely gives you a leg up outside the Ivies/equivalents tier.

    2. Undergraduate admissions in the UK is a lot like grad school admissions except for undergrads, which means that care most about academic potential. Getting in to the UK Ivy-equivalents (Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial) is still not easy but you have a better shot if your main strength is being outstanding academically.
    Admissions to Canadian unis is straightforward as well.

    3. There are a ton of paths to success in the US. Why are you fixating on HYPSM?
    edited June 1
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