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Reverse Chance me for choosing ED college!

tk1221tk1221 0 replies1 threads New Member
I am having problem choosing that one school to apply for Early Decision as well as making my college lists. Any help would be really appreciated!

I am considering these schools for ED:
- CMU: strong engineering, but hate the location. Don't feel I would be happy there for four years.
- Penn: really like the campus/vibe, but not that strong in engineering. Counselor told me I have a rough 50/50 chance here.
- Columbia: Strong engineering, but too competitive. I'm too scared.
- Stanford/MIT: awesome schools, but I feel I'm wasting my ED chance for such a slim chance.

And honestly, I can't get the 'prestige' out of my head while choosing college. My sister recommends CMU, but I would be disappointed if I don't get a chance to apply to other schools like ivys.


Korean Male (Been US Permanent Resident/Green Card since 2016) -> considered international or US?

Upper Class (Not applying for FA)

A super-competitive private boarding school (ranked under 20s) in CT. -> sends 20+ kids to T20s from 160+ class annually


Mechanical Engineering (Maybe compsci, but not sure yet)


GPA: Our school's GPA is kinda weird. We have A+, A, A-, and it's on 6.0 scale (weighted)

Also, A+ are only given to very few people (one or less per 12-students class)

Sophomore: 5.33 / 6.0 (Second Decile) -> Everything A/A+ except for AP European History (B)

Junior: 5.89 / 6.0 (First Decile) -> Everything A/A+

Rank: School doesn't rank, First Decile (Top 10%)

ACT: 35 (second try. first one was 30) ; E: 33 / M: 35 / R: 36 / S: 36

SAT II: 800 Math 2, 800 Chem

APs Taken

(Our school is very strict on enrolling on AP classes. Most students can't take it till junior)
Chem, Compsci, Calc BC: 5
World History: 2 (heh, probably not gonna report this)

Senior Courseload: AP Lit, AP Stat, AP Physics C, AP USH, Chinese 3

Main ECs

12 - (Pretty competitive summer research program, conducted research in Machine Learning + Award for Best Research Paper out of 90 participants)
11, 12 - President, Coding Club (Teach robotics on a local middle school)
11, 12 - President, DNA App Development Club (Partnered with a Genome company. Developed and published one app.)
11 - Math/Science Peer Tutor (Highly selective)
11 - Fractal Art Portfolio. Accepted to exhibit one of the pieces in Seoul's largest art exhibit.
10, 11 - Member of Guild: accepted as one of two students in my school's academic society after presenting my research project in front of the whole school. Conducted research on MechE + Compsci. Regarded as most prestigious 'club' for our school as teachers select the members and all past guild students went to IVYs.
10, 11 - Peer Counselor
10 - Research Intern at Korean Genome Company

Main Awards
7 awards in state science fair
Award for best research paper in research summer camp (one of 90 participants)
Volunteer award in school (100+ hrs in a year)
Patent on the guild research project.

AP Compsci Teacher: 9/10
English Teacher: 9/10
Counselor Rec: 9.5/10

Essay: hardest part :/ wrote two drafts but still thinking for a better one.

- My reputation among peers and teachers in school are really good. I am considered as that one kid who is very passionate and involved in engineering activities in school. (admissions ask my help to represent school's engineering program for visitors / counselor told me I represent the school's engineering program.)
10 replies
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Replies to: Reverse Chance me for choosing ED college!

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10405 replies123 threads Senior Member
    The best advice is going to come from your boarding school guidance counselor. Utilize that resource to the fullest.

    ED should be used for the school you would be thrilled to attend. Do not pick based on prestige. If you don't have a solid preference, you don't need to apply ED anywhere.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30455 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Though ED these days has morphed from absolute first choice school”, it still should at least be a “no regrets” pick. You need to do some research in this regard. You don’t seem to like any of your ED picks. You just want a highly selective school, doesn’t much matter which.

    You also need to nail down that safety school. Early would be a very good time to get that option into place.

    You GC is very likely to know the chances of you getting into various schools.

    The rankings of the engineering departments and the schools over all , can be very different. State schools like Purdue, U Illinois tank in the top 10. for engineering.

    Consider Michigan, Georgia Tech, Cornell as a combo name recognition both in engineering and overall. CMU main campus isn’t going to move out of Pittsburgh so if you are going regret spending ;4 years there without exploring other options, not a wise move.

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  • MWolfMWolf 2757 replies14 threads Senior Member
    @tk1221 While I don't like contesting GCs at schools, I cannot see anybody having a 50/50 chance at UPenn (I assume that you mean UPenn), but not having a serious chance at Columbia, unless your parents are both UPenn alumni.

    Otherwise, as @cptofthehouse wrote - most of the top engineering schools are not Ivies (except Cornell).

    While CMU is the best CS program out there, GTech, UIUC, Cornell, Michigan, etc, all have equivalent engineering programs, and all are better engineering schools than either UPenn or Columbia.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6711 replies10 threads Senior Member
    The CC at your school is almost certainly a better judge than any of us here. I would talk this through with them and try to work out a strategy you feel good about.
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  • tk21769tk21769 10710 replies27 threads Senior Member
    (are we related? :) )
    I agree with others who caution against using ED just for the sake of gaming admission chances. Keep in mind that higher ED admission rates may be driven, to some degree, by confounding factors such as higher percentages of legacies/full-pays/athletes in the ED pools. ED per se may give you *some* advantage at some schools, not so much at others.

    Also keep in mind that some of the best-regarded American engineering & CS programs are at state flagships (such as UIUC and Michigan).

    But, to take your question at face value:
    I'm not aware of any reliable way to calculate the relative marginal values of early-round applications, for a certain kind of applicant, to a certain set of prestigious universities, based on publicly available data. If you try to account for all relevant factors, you'll just tie yourself into knots.
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  • KLSDKLSD 273 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Visit the ME departments at the school(s) you are considering ED. Make appointments with professors, visit labs and attend a class.
    You need stats, academic plans and identify specific ways you will contribute to the campus community for applications to any of these schools.
    Just as an example: ME and CS together are found in the vast number of robotics labs at Penn. DMD, M&T, Viper and one of the many CS programs with the College such as linguistics, bioinformatics, NETS are reasons talented students chose Penn.

    Investigate specific opportunities at each school on your list, rankings do not tell all. You will use the information to write the ‘why here’ essays.
    You can apply EA to MIT and ED as long the ED school allows.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83820 replies743 threads Senior Member
    Neither Stanford nor MIT has ED. Stanford has restricted EA, while MIT has EA.

    US permanent residents are generally considered domestic applicants by US universities.
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  • cornelldad10cornelldad10 30 replies1 threads Junior Member
    What does OP have against CMU’s location? The weather sucks in Pittsburgh but not so much more than Boston or Chicago. Pittsburgh is actually highly rated as a college town, particularly in the Oakland area where CMU is located.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30840 replies198 threads Senior Member
    You are a domestic applicant. Depending on the place you apply to and the number of years you have been studying in schools where English is the medium of instruction, you might be required to take the TOEFL or another English proficiency exam. So check that with each place on your list.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6936 replies171 threads Senior Member
    Congrats on the wonderful profile and hard work. You’ll be rewarded in the end somewhere terrific.

    My two cents only. I’m sorry but with 72000 valedictorians and salutatorians in the USA. The legacy athletic donor class URM and now economic mobility ethos. 50 50 at Penn for engineering is not a statistically responsible representation to you. Nor any of the others for the most part.
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