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Realistically, what are my chances of getting into Princeton?

exile3418exile3418 59 replies5 threads Junior Member
edited October 2013 in Princeton University
Hi guys, sorry to annoy you, but I want to know whether Princeton is a school that I can realistically have a chance at. I am currently a junior.

Here are my stats/credentials:

School type: Public magnet, top 20 in the nation, Average SAT score is top 5 in the nation. 15% of class goes to Ivies every year.
GPA: 3.92 UW (strong upward trend). School does not weigh, and all my classes have been honors/AP/IB.
School doesn't rank
SAT: 2300 single sitting/2320 superscored (700/720 CR respectively)
SAT II: have not taken any. I plan on taking Math II, Bio and USH
Junior Year Courseload: 2 IBs, BC Calc, Molecular Biology Course at college, honors classes
Senior year Courseload: AP Bio, Linear Algebra, another bio course at college, 2 IBs
Awards: Expected NMF (224 PSAT), but otherwise Model UN awards and a minor research award. Nothing that will stand out.

ECs: Model UN- coordinator of a regional conference (~500 kids show up), club president, team captain (team ranked top 20 in the US), some awards
Oncology research- have been doing research for the past two years, won one minor award, will be applying for Intel/Siemens next year. I can put together a paper as a supplement.
Varsity Cross Country (4 years)
Organizer for a local youth science fair

Recommendations: Honestly, I can predict that they will not be that great. There are way too many exceptional students at my school for me to garner the unsolicited attention of any teacher.

Volunteering: not much except 70 hours at a library and numerous hours through NHS.

Work experience: Paid internship set up at a top 10 global pharmaceuticals company, summer work at an accounting firm

White Male
Income at the higher end of middle class, will definitely need financial aid
I'm from an over-represented and populated state
I intend to apply for Bio or International Relations
I'm not sure if this counts as a hook but I emigrated from a poor Eastern European country when I was 9. The immigration has been very tough on my parents, and I intend to write my Common App essay on that.

Thanks for any input!
edited October 2013
52 replies
Post edited by exile3418 on
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Replies to: Realistically, what are my chances of getting into Princeton?

  • 1sparkle21sparkle2 806 replies27 threads Member
    I'd be happy to answer your chance thread! I'm just a high school junior too, so I know just about as much as you do but I'll do my best to give some advice.

    Here's what I thought as I read down your post:

    GPA: Awesome, considering it was earned at a competitive magnet school where classes tend to be more rigorous

    SAT: Awesome (Please tell me you're not one of those people who try to retake the thing until they get a 2400. You're fine.)

    SAT II: I'm sure you'll do fine. Good luck.

    Junior/Senior Courseload: Good to go. Don't know much about IB's but you seem fine.

    Overall: Definitely academically qualified

    Now on to the subjective stuff. Once you prove you can handle the academic workload you have to distinguish yourself from others with similar stats. Here's what sparkle the high school student thinks:

    I stalk Princeton chance threads a lot and your four EC's seem pretty standard. You've got your club with leadership attached, a varsity sport, some research, and some service. When put into a list most EC's look the same unfortunately. Capitalize on your interests in your application. Emphasize them. WHY do you like biology and international affairs and more importantly, how will you put the resources at PRINCETON (Princeton specifically) to good use? Remember that you have to tell the admissions officer why they should admit you to PRINCETON, not just show them that you're a bright kid with a long list of accomplishments. What do you like about PRINCETON'S biology and international affairs programs? That's my advice to you. I'm NOT saying your EC's are weak. They're not. You just have to use them to your advantage.

    By the way, definitely include the part about coming from an Eastern European country. Personally, that was the coolest part of your entire chance thread.

    I'm holding off on my chance thread until I pull my standardized scores out of the dump...
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  • exile3418exile3418 59 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Sparkle, thanks for your honest evaluation!

    Do not worry about those SATs. The first time I took my SAT I, I got significantly lower than the other times I took it. I think anxiety greatly affects your performance the first time. I am sure you will do great.

    I'm definitely really interested in going to Princeton, but I don't exactly how myself and other people would express their interest in certain departments. As far as I know, there is only a couple of supplemental essays and they ask generic questions like "When did your values change?" Any suggestions regarding expressing your interest in Princeton?
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  • saswishersaswisher 34 replies10 threads Junior Member
    Hi excile3418,

    I feel like you are a very strong candidate academically. Given your scores and your unweighted GPA at a competitive school, you will at least be qualified for the academic check. I think maybe an area of concern within your candidacy would be your ECs...you said you had MUN + Research, I think it would be better if you demonstrate your leadership through some service clubs as well. (As Princeton's motto suggests). It maybe a too late to show your commitment through an already created service club at your school, is it possible to create another service club targeted at helping, for example, patients at a local hospital (which is related to your area of interest) next year?

    Another area of weakness maybe your recs. I'm actually facing the exact same problem -- there are just way too many exceptional kids at my school and I'm very worried about my rec especially considering most of the people have those "best in my career" kind of recs..I'm unlikely to have that sort of rec given the sheer amount of exceptional students at my school...but yeh, I would just say really choose a teacher that knows you well. I'm not the top student in my physics class this year, but my teacher really knows how hard I've been trying for the class -- I asked him for a rec to summer school and it worked out well.

    My final advice would be to compare your profiles to people who got accepted to Princeton SCEA from YOUR SCHOOL. It's important to realize that HYPs only accept candidates they absolutely want during the early round and defer most of their candidates. If you do not have a large chance of getting in from comparing yourself to other candidates who have gotten in from your school in the past, I would recommend you apply to UChicago/Georgetown/MIT Early Action and save Princeton for regular round so that you can have a great "safety" school by december and still have a shot at your dream school.
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  • gravitas2gravitas2 1406 replies68 threads Senior Member
    ^^you are crazy if you think Chicago or MIT is a "safety" school. Do some more research before you embarrass yourself...
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  • saswishersaswisher 34 replies10 threads Junior Member
    First I would like to apologize for forgetting that I put MIT in the grouping.

    I think both UChicago and Georgetown are great schools and I will be extremely grateful for getting into either of them. I'm sorry if this offended you, but I was trying to say that comparing the acceptance rate of EA UChicago and Georgetown to that of SCEA HYP, the former seems to be considerably less selective considering the higher percentage of acceptance rate and relatively lower caliber of the applicant pool (as SCEA restricts the strongest candidates to only the school they are applying to).

    Georgetown and UChicago are by no means safety school, that's why I put the quotation mark there -- I was trying to say that if you are accepted into either of these schools in December, you are in great shape as you do not have to worry about going to a school that's below your match (assuming that your profile is competitive enough to be considered for HYP) yet still have a shot at your dream school.

    I believe this is quite a common strategy for students who are not sure if they are of the HYPS caliber (on the borderline) although they are sure their top choice is one of the four. I apologize again if my wording came across offensive.
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  • gravitas2gravitas2 1406 replies68 threads Senior Member
    ^^I think you still don't understand the reality of your chances...you have to be a TOP student to apply to any of the schools you mentioned (excluding Georgetown) especially if you are an international...

    Acceptance rates for most difficult schools to get into early action (unrestricted or single choice):

    MIT 9.9%
    Stanford 11.9%
    Chicago 13.38%
    Yale 14.36%
    Princeton 18.29%
    Harvard 18.43%

    Acceptance to any of these schools is quite arbitrary and inconsistent as each school looks for somewhat different/disparate qualities in their "class" makeup. How each school interprets your intangible qualities and essays along with the recommendations with everything else being equal will determine whether you win the lottery...
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  • saswishersaswisher 34 replies10 threads Junior Member
    ^^Gravitas2, thank you for your reply. I understand how difficult it is for international students to gain acceptance at any of the colleges you mentioned. It is, at least at my own school, however true that getting into UChicago early is considerably easier than getting into HYPSM early.

    To support my statement,

    UChicago: 13 students were accepted out of 31 students applied for the past 3 years at my own school during the EA, with an average GPA of 3.72.

    Princeton: 5 students were accepted out of 9 students applied for the past 3 years for SCEA, with an average GPA of 3.93 (applicants of higher caliber)

    Yale: 3 students were accepted out of 19 students applied for the past 3 years for SCEA, with an average GPA of 3.9.

    While I understand there is a substantial amount of subjectivity involved within the admission process, I certainly do think there is a discrepancy between the caliber of applicants to the schools that I mentioned, which results in a discrepancy in the level of difficulty in gaining admission to these schools.
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  • exile3418exile3418 59 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Hi saswisher,

    Thanks for your response on my chance thread. I realize the lack of service, but at this point I think it is futile to do anything. Even if I did some sort of service this summer like going to a foreign country, I think the adcoms would be able to infer that it would be half-hearted resume padding. I assume it is better to be genuine than someone who tries to impress colleges.

    Regarding your chance thread, I can see the politics/business component becoming crystallized but you are going to have to make your passions evident in your essays/interviews. Then you will have a pretty solid ECs.

    I agree with Gravitas in that UChicago and Georgetown are in no way safeties (for anyone really). UChicago is ranked 4th by US news and Georgetown is top 20. You mention that there are a lot of legacies at your school, so that might explain some of the admissions results. At my school, there are barely any legacies, and we generally see pretty low acceptance rates to UChicago and sometimes Georgetown. In fact, UChicago has about the same acceptance rate as Princeton in my school.

    As far as EA goes, I think it is best to apply to your first choice. Correct me if I am naive, but you are basically declaring your interest when you apply to a school early action/decision. I do not know many people who apply to their safeties or targets early decision/action.
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  • Kei-o-leiKei-o-lei 1592 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Just for some perspective here . . . you have great stats that are quite similar to those of accepted students at Ivies + . . . your stats are also similar to rejected students at the Ivies +.

    Message: The top schools - Ivies plus - are a reach for almost everybody.

    Example: Brown said no to
    84% of those who applied with an 800 SAT Math
    78% of those who applied with an 800 SAT CR
    86% of those who applied with an SAT CR or Math 750-790
    76% of the Valedictorians who applied
    85% of the Salutatorians who applied

    There are 2 messages here:
    1- expand your search to include other schools besides the cliche top 20. There are dozens of great schools out there for you that are not in the top 20, and your job is to find a few to apply to.
    2- Since the Top schools are a reach for almost every one . . . go for it!
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  • MadaboutxMadaboutx 1583 replies9 threads Senior Member
    And remember that your essay is always about you. That is the ultimately the topic of every essay. You can write about anything but the reader needs to find out more about you.

    Just make sure when you write about your parents move that you include yourself in the essay.
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  • exile3418exile3418 59 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Hi madaboutx,

    I talked to one of my counselors and he said that it would be inappropriate to write about something that happened to me 8-9 years ago. I can see how the emigration would be impertinent at such a later time, but it is still a topic I want to write about.
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  • BraineBraine 8 replies3 threads New Member
    Somebody please help me
    I am a student from India.
    My 10th board exams results: Overall 93%, 9.8 cgpa.
    My 11th results: 75%, rank, 6th in about 250 students.
    I am in my 12th.
    My sat result is 2350, 800-m, 790-cr, 760-ws.
    MY sat 2 results 800-phy, 790-chem, 780-maths level2
    My course load: I am an Indian, we have the toughest pre college science regime in the world, and i am in a special class in my school where they are specifically training us for the IITJEE, the hardest engineering entrance exam in the world. Got in that on full scholarship on merit.
    College level calculus, physics and chemistry.
    National science olympiads: 2nd in class, 6 th in class, in consecutive years.
    International maths olympiads: 4th in class, 2nd in class in consecutive years,
    When i was in 6th standard, got into Homi Bhaba Science talent search examination, interstate.
    A lot of talent search exams.For eg,
    NSTSE, all india rank 2000, bio score all india rank 32.
    Now my EC's
    Chess competitions when i was 6 years old, 8 years old and 12 years old. All of them interstate, certificates and everything.
    Karate from when I was small, blue belt, gold,silver and bronze medals in katha,kumite , etc
    Piano 8th grade with merit, Trinity guildhall.
    Violin 3rd grade with merit, ABRSM.
    I was a piano tutor for a short while.
    School cricket, football teams.
    Class representative, also a playwright for a class play.
    Do I have a chance at an IVy league college Mech engineering.
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  • exile3418exile3418 59 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Braine, you are definitely academically qualified. However, getting in as an international (especially if you are from India/China/South Korea) is nearly impossible. Therefore, there are absolutely no guarantees. I would recommend you compete in the International Olympiads if you want to distinguish yourself as a STEM candidate and write good essays.
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  • KeDIX1414KeDIX1414 356 replies24 threads Member
    Hello! I am another high schooler. The way I feel about "chances" is that as long as your GPA is in the correct range (which it is), your standardized testing is in a good range (which it is), and you are dedicated to some sort of extracurricular/community service (which you are), you have just as much chance as any other qualified candidate! That's the good news. The bad news is that very qualified candidates have a slim chance. What I'm trying to says is that in the end, most of us on this princeton forum are going to be rejected. The best we can do is do the best we can in high school and hope the admissions officers see something special in us. Good luck!
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  • BraineBraine 8 replies3 threads New Member
    thanks mate. Just tell me, Do i even have the remotest of a chance of getting into princeton.
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  • exile3418exile3418 59 replies5 threads Junior Member
    No problem Braine. Whether you get in will depend on how good the other kids who apply from India are. I don't know that, but there is no harm in applying to Princeton. Your academic qualifications definitely fit the bill, so I think you should apply and find out.
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  • CantigerCantiger 931 replies17 threads Member
    I always find it interesting hearing that it is much harder to get into Princeton as an international student (which my son also is). Around 12% of the current undergraduate population is from outside of the US. Perhaps the competition varies from country to country. Has anyone ever seen a publication of the actual number of internationals who apply each year?
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  • exile3418exile3418 59 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Since school is over I guess I will add some updates. I got a 3.964 GPA my junior year (one of the highest in the class) and my cumulative GPA is 3.923. I also got a 800 in Math II and a 740 is USH. I'm retaking USH and taking Bio in October.
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  • Falcon1Falcon1 1919 replies31 threads Senior Member
    ^^ Nice scores

    "I talked to one of my counselors and he said that it would be inappropriate to write about something that happened to me 8-9 years ago. I can see how the emigration would be impertinent at such a later time, but it is still a topic I want to write about."

    I too would strongly advise against writing about your parents and the the immigration issues/hardships that occurred when you were nine-years old. Especially, since you now go to a top magnet school and you come from a family that has "income at the higher end of middle class". It does not appear that you are currently disadvantaged in any significant way despite the struggles your parents may have gone through.

    This essay should say something about you not your parents (granted you were affected by their struggles). Will writing this essay really give them special insight into who you are today and what drives or motivates you? Always remember when you write about hardship, there are kids who have battled cancer, lost their parents in an accident, are so poor they have to help support their family just so their younger brothers and sisters can eat etc. You may greatly admire your parents for what they have been able to overcome, but Princeton is not deciding whether to invite "them" to be a member of the 2018 class.

    Let them see who you are and why you would be an invaluable addition to the class. Finally, as the pundits always say, remember to "show" (through concrete examples) rather than "tell" them what you are all about.
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  • quiverfoxquiverfox 866 replies22 threads Member
    Braine, fellow indian here. Sorry, I don't think you will make Princeton :(

    Cause 1) 11TH grade marks are rock bottom
    2)Everyone here does same type of courses
    3)Nothing too significant I could find on your post
    However.. Essays may help you get in..so you never know :)
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