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Help! I have no clue about my chances as a Canadian student

canadianrookiecanadianrookie 3 replies7 threads New Member
edited November 2013 in Princeton University
I totally feel like applying to American schools is like shooting in the dark; in Ontario, we have very specific information that pretty much indicate if you have what the university says they want, you will be accepted. When I'm looking at information for American universities, I have so little confidence and awareness of my real chances of admittance. We have one guidance counselor for students looking to apply to American Universities, and frankly, he doesn't know anything nor does he care to. No matter where I look, it seems that I can't find answers to my questions. I'd be very grateful to get some advice on your predictions on my success.
My scores:
SAT I: 2110, (CR 640, M 800, W 670). second try: 2080 (CR 670, M 730, W 680) this second time my score is lower but my percentiles are all higher with the exception of math where I lost 70 points for only 2 mistakes!
SAT II: Bio/Lit/Math II I was unable to study for these very much, so I do not predict good scores
AP: English Lit: 4 World History (Self study): 4, Micro/Macro Econ: 3 (we had a bad teacher, some top students in the class who got 95%+ got 2's on the AP exam). (National AP scholar with honors)
Keep in mind we have limited AP courses available (actual AP courses do not begin until grade 12, it is all "pre-AP" before that...so I did my best to cram as many in as possible)
Grade 12 Marks: Right now it is not even midterms, but since I fast tracked many courses, I have a few grade 12 credits. They are not as high as I would like them to be, but I was in grade 11 when I took them and I was also distracted by extracurriculars and SAT stuff, which only basically 2 other people in my grade have to deal with.
AP English 91%, AP Econ 86%, World Issues: 92%.
Current courses & predicted marks: AP Functions: 95%, AP Bio: 94%, AP Chem: 90%
(I will also have AP Calc/Data/Physics/French but those are next semester and I couldn't give accurate projections)
In terms of extracurriculars, I stand out in my school, as I am the co-chair of the city youth council, president of Model UN, founded a club where I certify students in First-Aid, plenty of volunteer work, etc.. But I have not done any amazing feed-starving-children/find-early-cancer-detection-method type work...
If you have read through all of that, I really appreciate it!
- What do you think are my chances of admission into the top tier schools & some schools I am interested in? (Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, UC Berkeley, UPenn, UChicago) Mostly I am worried that I am wasting my time and my application would be laughed at because there's absolutely no chance I'll be accepted.
- I have a chance to take the SATs once more, should I retake the SAT I or SAT II?
Thank you so much for answering my concerns!!
edited November 2013
9 replies
Post edited by canadianrookie on
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Replies to: Help! I have no clue about my chances as a Canadian student

  • BiologyMaster64BiologyMaster64 - 182 replies5 threads Junior Member
    It's really hard to predict acceptance at these elite schools. However, your stats are low enough to hurt you. There are tens of thousands of kids with higher SATs, APs, and GPAs than you. Thankfully (from some points of view) numbers aren't everything and if you have good 'other aspects' of your app and can write excellent essays that show you're a strong candidate for acceptance then you have a shot. If you want to attend Princeton you should definitely apply. I would try an break 2200 unless your SAT IIs are below 700 then try those.
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  • nespressonespresso 37 replies9 threads Junior Member
    SAT too low. I think.
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  • princet0nprincet0n 26 replies3 threads New Member
    I get so excited when I see a fellow Canadian on here because I'm in the exact same position!! I'm the only student this year applying to the states and probably one of the only to apply in my school history... Our school doesn't offer AP classes as no school in my city does, but it's an IB school. My average is a bit higher than yours and same with SAT. I think you should retake the SATs in December if you can. That is, if you're satisfied with your subjects. I know the hardest thing for me was to study for subjects because I had to self study all mine because the courses at my school didn't correlate with the relevant content on the tests. Number wise, I don't think you have a good shot. The middle 50% SAT reading score was 700-800 last year and writing was 710-790. Your math score is amazing though. With that said, you may have a better chance if you write unique essays and have killer extracurriculars. But... if Princeton is your first choice I think you should apply. I know applying from Canada is challenging as we have different admission requirements and most teachers (well mine anyway) don't know ANYTHING about US universities. You don't know how much I had to explain what and where Princeton is hahah. I wish you the best whatever you decide to do! And besides, we always have our canadian universities as back up
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  • CantigerCantiger 931 replies17 threads Member
    @canadianrookie - Princeton allows you to superscore test results meaning you can select to report only your best scores to Princeton through the College Board. This would give you CR 670 M800 W680 for 2150. This would be slightly on the low side but at this point I think your SAT II scores are priority...scores should be in the 700's at least on two of them. If you don't think you did well on them, those would be my recommendations to retake.

    What are you thinking of in terms of area of concentration (aka major)? Are you strong in the maths/sciences?

    Unfortunately international students are somewhat at a disadvantage in terms of help in applying and preparation in many cases. If you'd like to ask more specific questions regarding the process with my son (who is now a sophomore at Princeton and also an international student) feel free to PM me.
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  • canadianrookiecanadianrookie 3 replies7 threads New Member
    @ princet0n: Glad to know you're in a similar position! I was actually in IB in grade 9 but I really didn't like the educational atmosphere in that school so I left...I bet IB mark conversion is even more of a hassle. Where in Canada are you? I'm in the Greater Toronto Area. & I'm torn here because everyone says, "retake the SAT but if your SAT II marks are bad, retake that." I don't have the SAT II marks back yet! And I didn't have any time to study for them so I'm not anticipating good results. I'm in AP math and we didn't cover a lot of the stuff in the Math II subject test. I don't really know how to interpret that data you wrote, because I didn't even break 700 for CR and W yet I got 92% percentile and 94% respectively...
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  • PhilovitistPhilovitist 2695 replies44 threads Senior Member
    Chances are pretty low, sorry. Your stats are good enough that an amazing essay will get you in (in part by making up for your low non-math scores), but barring that it doesn't look too good.
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  • kidstephkidsteph 36 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I've heard in CC that one should aim for scores into the 700s for each of the 3 sections, when applying to top tier schools.

    Speaking as a government employee who has worked for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for our province, let me advise that our university and college process is quite inclusive - the goal is to have a spot for "every qualified student". Mind you, all of our schools are government funded/subsidized and the top ones (UBC, McGill, U of T) have HUGE undergrad populations - very different from some of the private Ivy League schools.

    Also, speaking as a relative by marriage to a very successful entrepreneur in Toronto ($100M+), it is what you do with your education that matters in the long run. I do agree it is tougher these days, but still possible to be very successful with only a BA or less.
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  • JHSJHS 18503 replies72 threads Senior Member
    rookie, the thing about the percentiles is this: about 1.6 million people take the SAT, and about an equal number take the ACT, which is a competing test. There's some overlap between the two -- people taking both tests -- but not that much, so the total number of students taking the college qualifying exams is probably just under 3 million. One percent of that is 30,000 people.

    If you add up the total size of the entering classes at the 15 US colleges/universities where admissions is most competitive, it's less than 20,000. That includes every college you asked about except Berkeley. Collectively, they admit more students than that, but not a lot more, since most of the students they admit who turn them down go to one of the others. (And Princeton is at the very top of that group in terms of how hard it is to be admitted.) In other words, the total number of students accepted at one of these super-selective colleges is probably less than 1% of the total number of test takers.

    Of course, not everyone they admit is in the top 1% of test scores, because there are lots of different criteria that go into admissions decisions. But given how many people score in, say, the top 5% of test scores -- ~150,000 -- and to how few people a college like Princeton offers admission -- ~ 2,000 -- Princeton can find most of the people it wants in that top 5%, and indeed in the upper reaches of that top 5%. It rejects more applicants than it accepts among the top 1% of test scorers, but it accepts many more people from that top 1% than it does people who are in the 2.0-2.99% range.

    So, while your SAT scores are very strong in terms of the general population, and while there's no minimum score cut-off for the colleges in which you are interested, the basic fact is that your scores are lower than the scores of the vast majority of students they accept. And when these colleges accept students with scores in your range or lower, they tend to be people who are really extraordinary -- top .01% -- in some other dimension, like athletics, or music, or surviving their country's brutal civil war. In many cases sub-700 CR and W scores are explained by not being comfortable enough in English, but you are not going to be able to use that excuse coming from the Toronto area if you are more than a few years removed from a non-English-speaking country.

    Is this fair? Not really. Fair is Toronto, or McGill, Waterloo, UBC. Colleges you know will accept you, and give you a chance to show what you can do. There's nothing wrong with that, and a whole lot right.
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  • CantigerCantiger 931 replies17 threads Member
    @canadianrookie - I sent you a PM - did you get it?
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