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International- Should I Apply early? If so, where?

SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
I am having problems with deciding this. I require substantial aid, which complicates this for me even more. I have heard that students who need aid should not apply early.
Also, while my dream college is JHU BME, I am very hesitant about applying there, because they are need aware. so one part of the question is will I have a chance at need aware colleges? will the absence of iranians in US colleges benefit me? I read here that colleges try hard to be as diverse as possible, and will sometimes pay the bill for students to increase geographic diversity. anyways, here are my stats:

Nationality : Iranian ( though I am a mix of all major middle eastern ethnicities)
Intended Major : premed/Biology/Biomed/Biochem
GPA: I double majored in Junior year so I have two gpa's: 19.20 for my theoretical major , 19.40 for my Experimental , 19.06 Sophomore, 18.76 Freshman. according to https://www.wes.org/gradeconversionguide/index.asp, all my GPA's translate into 4 in the american system.
Course Load: Biology 3, Calculus, Physics 3, Advanced Algebra and Probability, Geometry 2, Geology 1, Chemistry 3, Persian Literature 3, Persian Linguistics 3, Islamic studies 3, Arabic 3, English 3, Contemporary History, Math for EXP majors.
ACT : 34 (34 34 33 34)
EC: Will graduate when I am 16.
English Teacher at a prestigious language college.
No AP or IB classes, as we all have the same curriculum in Iran. however, I was in a NODET (national organization for development of extraordinary talents) school, which means that our curriculum was tough as hell. however, I did have some advanced extra curricular classes in Math, Physics and Astronomy. I will probably write it as an academic EC.
Arts and humanities club member.
Internship at a very important Lens and Optics Lab.
part of high school National Computer olympiad team, no medal though.
9th at Ferdowsi Univ. Programming contest.
5th at Team Math&Chem City Contest
Fluent in English and persian, good at Arabic, Intermediate in French
c++, HTML, CSS, JS, PHP coder.
Web designer.
Swimmer, no awards though.
English,Geometry and Algebra tutor.
do thing like being an avid reader and stuff count?
That is all I can remember right now.
Thank you for sparing the time to read my question,
34 replies
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Replies to: International- Should I Apply early? If so, where?

  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    I am also taking SAT II , and I hope for 750+. my subjects are Math2, Chem, Bio M
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29723 replies176 threads Senior Member
    Need aware does not mean that you will automatically be rejected just because you need a lot of aid. It just means that how much aid you would need can enter into the overall admissions decision.

    You also have to remember that what the college or university thinks you can afford to pay and what you think you can afford to pay are very different things. Often there is a great big gap between the financial aid offer and what the student thinks is affordable. So, if you need significant financial aid, the standard advice is to not apply early decision anywhere. That way you can compare the financial aid offers from several different places before you make your decision.

    If JHU BME is your absolute first choice, and you know exactly how much your family can afford to pay, and you are prepared to turn down an admission if the aid package is not good enough, then it would be OK to apply early decision. But you also need to have a back-up plan in place, and you should apply to some places that offer rolling admission or early action right now too.

    Your GPA and ACT scores are excellent, and guarantee you admission and significant merit-based aid at several universities. They also make you competitive for significant merit-based aid at several others. Check the links in these threads to find out which of the scholarships are open to international students.
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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    @happymomof1 Thank you for your time and your informing answer.
    I understand that need aware is not auto-rejection, however, I have read that JHU is relatively stingy with aid, and that makes me worry. Also, considering that 33475 rials = 1$, my family would not be able to pay much.
    I did not know that you can turn down an ed app.
    I did not know that merit aid is open to internationals as well. it appears that UTEXAS and a few others do have such policies.
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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    Vandy and Rice are also in my mind, as Vandy is said to be very generous.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29723 replies176 threads Senior Member
    You can turn down an ED acceptance if you don't think the financial aid offer is good enough.

    Some of those merit aid scholarships are open to international applicants, but not all of them. You have to investigate each of them separately.
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  • momrathmomrath 5981 replies39 threads Senior Member
    I think your background will make you a person of interest to many colleges. Iran's relationship to the world is a hot top on campuses these days, so be sure to make your essays personal and pertinent. Think about what your life experience can contribute to the campus environment, both in and out of the classroom.

    I wouldn't get too distracted by need-blind or need-aware; colleges can usually figure out who needs aid from application details. What you want to focus on are colleges that guarantee to meet full demonstrated need to internationals and/or offer to merit scholarships to internationals.

    It appears that JHU does both, though they say that only 10% of their international admits end up getting aid. This doesn't mean they are "stingy," just very selective. They have two merit scholarships that internationals are eligible for one of which is in engineering.

    It's difficult for internationals to get a clear indication of how much need-based aid they might expect even at those schools that guarantee to meet full need, as the net price calculators are unreliable for non-Americans. I would recommend that you use the net price calculator, then contact the financial aid department for a confirmation that that amount is reasonable should you get admitted.

    Whether need-based or merit, aid for internationals is limited and very competitive so you have to cast a wide net. If you are flexible on the BME part of your wishlist, then you might look at some of the more rigorous small liberal arts colleges as well.

    This is a partial list of schools that guarantee to meet full need and or offer merit aid for internationals:
    Amherst, Brown, Chicago, Colby, Dartmouth, Davidson, Grinnell, Hamilton, Harvard, JHU, MIT, Macalester, Middlebury, Penn, Pomona, Princeton, Richmond, Rhodes, Stanford, Swarthmore, Vassar, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Williams

    Alabama, Babson, Bard, Carlton, Chicago, Clark, Davidson, Dickinson, Emory, Fordham, Grinnell, JHU, Howard, Kenyon, Louisiana, Miami, Mt. Holyoke, North Carolina, Northeastern, Notre Dame, Rhodes, Rice, Richmond, Rochester, Scripps, Smith, Syracuse, Tulane, Wooster, W&L, WUSTL

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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    edited October 2015
    @momrath ، thank you for your through answer
    I Think I have an interesting life story essay.i believe that the absence of Iranian applicants will help me as well.
    Doesn't Duke offer need aid? Their website says they do to about 25 internationals. They also have the Karsh scholarship.
    Brown is a good fit too, especially because it is very liberal. But I heard that their aid package is not good, even for US applicants.
    I had no idea there were so many colleges that offer merit aid. Thank you for informing me.
    edited October 2015
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  • momrathmomrath 5981 replies39 threads Senior Member
    I don't think colleges are looking for applicants from any specific country, but that they are looking for international students from a range of backgrounds with interesting life narratives.

    My list is definitely not all inclusive. You may well find others that guarantee to meet full need and/or offer merit aid to internationals. If you do, let me know and I'll add them to the list. Thanks for telling me about the Karsh scholarship at Duke. I wasn't able to find their policy on need-based aid on their website. Do you know if they guarantee to meet full need for internationals?

    I would be careful about characterizing aid as "good" or "not good." Need-based aid is applicant specific depending on family income and the formulas used can vary from school to school. If a school guarantees to meet full need, then -- if they admit you -- you will mostly likely get enough funding to attend (at least what they think is enough). But of course you have to be admitted!

    Schools that do not guarantee to meet full need still provide need-based aid; there just may be a gap between what you need and what you get.

    I must stress that merit aid along with being fiercely competitive is variable in amount so it's hard to count on. Guaranteed need-based aid is, in my opinion, the best bet for low income international students.

    Good luck and let us know how you do.
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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    edited October 2015
    @momrath thank you again,
    Yes, if you request aid and are admitted, Duke will meet full need for the whole four years, plus two summers. I believe that they only admit about 20-25 students like that every year.
    I saw many students who were accepted to brown, but weren't able to attend, leading me to conclude that their aid is insufficient. However, it may just be that they were exaggerating.
    This leads me to my next question : how much can you negotiate your aid package, in the event that it is inadequate?
    Lastly, I would like to know your ideas about where, between jhu, Duke, brown and princeton, would I have the highest chance to get admitted early?
    Thank you for bearing with my endless questions
    edited October 2015
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  • momrathmomrath 5981 replies39 threads Senior Member
    @Soheils, Brown is a need-only school. If a student is accepted but doesn't get enough aid to allow them to attend, then there's most likely a discrepancy between how much Brown thinks they need and how much they actually need.

    As I said, it's really difficult for international students to predict their estimated family contributions. The best approach is to see what you come up with on the net price calculator, then to try to get confirmation from the financial aid office that this amount would more or less apply to you as an international.

    Need-based aid packages can be negotiated, but I couldn't begin to quantify how much. It sometimes (not always) helps to have another offer in hand to use as negotiating leverage. This is the reason that students that need significant aid are discouraged from applying ED.

    There is no way to predict your chances of admission early or otherwise and your chances of getting adequate aid from those four schools. They are all competitive and selective and have no shortage of international applicants -- even if not so many from Iran. I would apply early to the one that appeals to you most and write a compelling "Why X?" essay.

    In addition to big name selective universities look at less selective less well known schools. And don't overlook academically rigorous small liberal arts colleges which tend to get fewer international applicants, especially those located in the South, the Midwest and/or rural environments.
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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    @momrath thanks again, can you give a few examples of rigorous LA in the Midwest/South?
    And wouldn't it be better to leave smaller lacs for Rd?
    I really appreciate your help here. I have a Better understanding of the objectives now. Next step is to choose one that I Can write the best supplement for.
    I am also going to be calling some of the schools @happymomof1 gave to find a "safety" , if possible. Thanks again for the list.
    P.S: how will humor / wordplay be perceived in the supplement? I have a good brown essay in my mind, but it's mainly word play.
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  • momrathmomrath 5981 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Again, you're unlikely to find engineering at an LAC so you have to decide how important that is to you. For international friendly LACs with excellent overall academics (including strong graduate and medical school admissions) and very good to excellent sciences, I would look at: Davidson, Grinnell, Hamilton, Kenyon, Macalester, Middlebury, Rhodes, Williams. Smith and Holyoke if you are female.

    I'd be careful on getting too clever in your essays. The purpose of the essay is to communicate (indirectly) who you are, how you think, what you can contribute to the campus culture.
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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    edited October 2015
    @momrath I also like neuroscience and cell/molecular biology , so it is not a huge issue.
    Point taken about the essay.
    So, I did some research and I have decided to put at least 2 LA in my Rd list, and Williams is a definite.
    For my Early choice, I think I am more comfortable with going for a university.
    If anybody can answer, please drop in here. were you in my shoes, which of the following would you apply early to, and why?
    JHU, DUKE, Vanderbilt, rice, brown, primceton(listed in order of personal interest). I am NOT asking about where I would have the highest chance, though info on that would be appreciated. This is intended as a subjective questions to help formulate a list of pros and cons in the mind of a person who can't visit.
    edited October 2015
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 42039 replies452 threads Senior Member
    Princeton is need blind/full need, so they won't know how much money you need when they decide whether you admit you and the fact you need money won't affect their admission offer. Their financial aid package is likely to be one of the best you'll get. Therefore, it should be your logical ED choice.
    All other universities are need-aware, so that they'll know you need massive amounts of financial aid; this will likely lead them to defer you until they can compare you with other very needy applicants and decide which among you is going to get the huge scholarship they need...
    With all others, you're also applying to the merit scholarships and taking a gambit.
    However I understand you're concerned with fit.
    Duke, Vanderbilt, Princeton would share some "campus culture" - more conservative than their peers, preppier, Greek (the eating clubs aren't Greek but "signal" the same "culture). Brown is opposite to that. I'd consider JHU and Rice to be in the middle.
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  • midatlmommidatlmom 1686 replies7 threads Senior Member
    As a Princeton alumna and the mother of two Princeton students, I don't think that the Princeton of today is more conservative than its peers. I would say that there is a small yet strong conservative voice on campus, more so than schools such as Brown, but I would consider the student body overall as very liberal. I really don't think it would be much different than JHU, Rice, Harvard etc.

    Also, Princeton does not offer ED; it only offers SCEA.

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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    edited October 2015
    @MYOS1634 thank you for your answer.
    Hmm, but a big question is, how many internationals with need are applying to these Universities. Can I find any data for that?
    Also, while need blind, princeton is far more selective than, say, jhu. And jhu's main selling point is bme. Also, it is important to know whether they consider me in my own context, that is as an Iranian who not only attended NODET but also has a lot of ec in spite of the fact that we don't have school sponsored clubs , or just blindly compare me to others.
    Regarding fit:
    First, I am concerned about fit because in the event I get in, I want it to be a place I enjoy attending. I dislike people who just apply to a list based on "prestige" without even knowing anything about the schools. I have done research about these choices, and each sub group appeals to a different aspect of my personality, while there are also things in each school that I dislike.
    I am liberal in social matters, not very crazy about watching sports, not very art loving(except watching plays, though I would like to try My hand at acting them too). I also can't really understand the concept of fraternities, or why people hate them.
    A fellow Iranian told me that dartmouth, while need blind, is very test obsessed. I could not find anything remotely similar. Is that true? I am really sceptical about that.
    @midatlmom thank you for your time, that is interesting. I always thought conservatives were a dying breed In new England.
    Also, I know that princeton has scea, but since all the others we are talking about have ed, nobody bothered to change the terminology.
    edited October 2015
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  • momrathmomrath 5981 replies39 threads Senior Member
    how many internationals with need are applying to these Universities. Can I find any data for that?
    I don't think so. Colleges generally publish a breakdown of the students they admitted, but of those who applied. My observation (speculation really) as an American living overseas is that the colleges that are most coveted by international students and therefore get the most international applications are:
    1. Those with global name recognition: Ivy League and other top research universities
    2. Those located in or near major cities or urban centers
    3. Those that are need-blind for internationals
    4. Those that have globally recognized IR programs

    This is an interesting article on the percentage of early admits to total admissions. You can see it's all over the board. You can usually find the number of international early admits if you do some digging.
    Also, it is important to know whether they consider me in my own context . . .or just blindly compare me to others.

    Both. Every student has to stand on his/her own merits, but at the same time admissions needs to assemble a balanced class -- by gender, by race, by religion, by economic tier, by geography etc. etc.

    Internationals compete with each other, not with the domestic pool. As a high achieving, articulate Iranian, you will stand out for sure, but whether you get in or not will depend entirely on who else applies at the same time. This is something you can't know so you have to apply wide.
    which of the following would you apply early to, and why?JHU, DUKE, Vanderbilt, rice, brown, primceton

    I see considerable overlap in the personality of these schools, in student body, teaching style and overall atmosphere -- much greater similarities than differences. Their geographic locations will have some impact their environment, but all attract and admit a wide range of students from all over the world.

    Princeton is need blind and guarantees to meet demonstrated need for internationals
    Brown, Duke, Vanderbilt are need aware but guarantee to meet demonstrated need for internationals. (I updated my list)
    I'm not clear on whether Rice guarantees to meet full need, but they DO NOT offer financial aid for internationals applying ED.

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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84161 replies1034 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    edited October 2015
    Are you aware that it's almost impossible for an int'l to get into a US MD med school?

    And, even if you somehow squeaked in, there is no funding at all for int'ls for med school?
    edited October 2015
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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    edited October 2015
    @mom2coIIegekids thank you for your time and answer,
    that is hardly true. I know that both HMS and yms enroll about 10-15 internationas from a pool of 500 appliCants. This means a 2% admission rate,the same as us nationals. Also, yms, HMS, geffen offer need aid to internationals.vandy offers aid in the form of need-merit.or that is what they said over the phone.
    It is very hard, but not impossible at all.
    I also know that the admission process is far more mathematical for med school.
    As a last resort، I can go to Canada for med.not only is it cheaper, but I will have a co signer there.
    More importantly, I am not 100% percent about MD. I am more interested in md\Phd. There is also a chance for pharma, since being the owner of a "big pharma " is my pipe dream.

    Back to the fact at hand. If i manage to come to us, there IS a small chance. Else, I am trapped in Iran. Iranian MDs are, as our bio teacher puts it, Slaves to the ministry of health. According to an immigration lawyer I asked, the chances of getting accepted by usmle is even slimmer than college+med school chances.
    Thanks to the info momrath and happymom provided, I now know that I have a moderately good chance for smaller lacs or bigger state schools.
    Also, will I have any chance at all for bs/MD program? The problem is that we don't have hospital vol work in Iran, and univ teachers don't mentor us so we can't research. I hear these are the Hallmark of a good bs/MD application.
    Th bottom line is,I won't lose anything if I am not accepted. Iranian universities won't start their process until June.
    edited October 2015
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  • SoheilsSoheils 481 replies19 threads Member
    edited October 2015
    I just noticed that my posts are a mess capitalization wise. I am typing on a phone, and auto correct keeps revising capitalization, so I am truly sorry.
    How is my writing BTW? I have been told that my phrasing is odd.

    Basically, I would have to be among the top 30 int'l premeds in the US. It is a very hard task, but definetly possible with enough work and dedication. Of course that is the way I see it, and I may well be wrong.
    edited October 2015
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