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Reapplying After (During) Gap Year

guy1581guy1581 4 replies2 threads New Member
Hello all, I am looking for some advice:

I am a nearly straight-A student at a very competitive NJ high school. Though they don't release class rank, I am fairly certain I am third in the class. I am particularly strong in the maths and sciences and have been taking only AP classes since junior year (5 then, 6 senior, most being math or science). I hated the SAT (1490) but had better luck on the ACT (35). I hoped that admissions officers would understand that with my course load, 3 sports (captain for 2), one club presidency, and a commitment as a volunteer EMT, these were fairly natural scores (without studying).

I also intended to seem unique by attending a semester school (Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki) which focused on experimental and observational learning. Unfortunately, this school did not offer any of my science AP's (or AP Lang), so I took those AP's with only one semester of class and got 4's and a 3 for lang.

I applied to the Ivies (minus UPenn and Columbia), MIT, Caltech Stanford, UNC-Chapel Hill, Rice, and two safeties. On my application, I tried to seem scientific, but well-rounded. I was rejected from all but my safeties, with a deferral from MIT and waitlists from UNC, Rice, Dartmouth, and Cornell.

I realized I didn't actually like my safeties that much, and I wanted to reapply when my new AP's came in (5's for my 5 sciences, including psychology, and 4's for Spanish and English). I also felt that perhaps my original applications came off too cold and scientific, and I could try to be more personal and interesting.

I chose Costa Rica for my gap year (I was there for 5 weeks, but I will be returning soon). I volunteered at a zoo and got to do very unique stuff, including milking snake venom for antivenom. I worked closely with a biologist, was very educational.

I reapplied early action to MIT and Caltech (in hindsight, I shouldn't have done Caltech because I know I won't get in), and I added UMich. Since I am not in school, I had more time to submit my maker portfolio to MIT, showing off various chemistry projects. I do think my supplements are significantly better than they were last year, but honestly, it's hard to know what they're looking for.

What do you think? Is it worth applying to any more ivies? What schools should I add to my list (I have added UCLA and UC Berkeley)? I plan on majoring in Chemistry and Physics by the way. I am looking for schools with strong research programs because that is what I want to do after graduate school.

I don't have a problem being told I am not good enough for a school, but I honestly don't know anymore if a rejection is an evaluation of myself or if it's just statistically likely (for the record, I am a white male from a wealthy neighborhood). I am willing to apply to schools where I am unlikely to get in but still might (ie 10%), but I don't have money to waste on schools that aren't even going to give me the time of day.

Sorry if this is really long, I was trying to give the whole picture of my academic background. Any advice helps, thank you!

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Replies to: Reapplying After (During) Gap Year

  • Houston1021Houston1021 1126 replies16 threadsForum Champion Rice Forum Champion
    edited November 6
    Your list from last year was very reach heavy and didn't include anything between a high reach and safeties. The safeties weren't really safeties if you were not happy to attend them. It is probably best to apply to schools that you didn't apply to before. If a school rejected you before your gap year, the result is likely to be the same if you reapply. Apply to a wide range of schools, reach, target and safety. Find some targets and safeties that you would be happy to attend if you strike out with all of the reaches. Did you apply ED anywhere last time or this time? Applying ED or ED2 might significantly increase your chances at some reach schools.
    edited November 6
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  • GumbymomGumbymom 28115 replies175 threadsForum Champion UC Forum Champion
    Can you afford to be full pay at UCLA and UCB since they give little to no financial aid to OOS students? As stated above, your list was Reach heavy last year and by adding these 2 schools it is Reach heavy again.

    I agree with the above poster and find some Match and Safety schools you are willing to attend. You do not want a repeat of last year.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4415 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Michigan OOS is also a reach for just about everyone these days. Apply to matches /safeties you can live with.
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 416 replies1 threads Member
    edited November 6
    How about Brandeis, or Holy Cross? Or Penn State, Ohio State? Case Western ?
    Uni. Rochester, Reed, Michigan State? Look at top 30-50 in your majors and look for geographic diversity.
    edited November 6
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2342 replies3 threads Senior Member
    Rankings and prestige are the worst reasons to choose a college. Almost every time you end-up with rejection or a complete mismatch. I agree with the above advice. You're doing the same thing all over again, expecting a different result. Einstein calls that the definition of insanity. Apply to a wide variety of schools you're serious about that you have a realistic chance of getting into. Apply to 1 or 2 "reach" schools.
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  • guy1581guy1581 4 replies2 threads New Member
    I understand that UCLA and UCSB are very strong universities, but I am in at least their 75th percentile for ACT and GPA and probably close for the SAT, doesn't this make them target schools? I also added UCLA and UMich to my list specifically because I know people who got into those schools personally and they were not as academically competitive as I was (or extracurricularly). I did not ED last year and will not this year because MIT is my number 1, and I do not want to pass up the chance of going there.

    I cannot really afford to go to school without financial aid but I should receive federal aid.

    I have not looked into those schools yet, but I will. Preferably if I had to go to a safety school it would be somewhere warm.

    I also want to assure you that I don't really care about the prestige of a college (I initially was looking for a college without much of a name). However, the colleges that I applied to are the best for my major (including RICE, UNC, UCLA). The only factor that a big name school really plays for me is the amount of money it can spend on research, which is important to me. I also legitimately liked those schools. MIT has been my number one all throughout high school, and it has nothing to do with its name.


    I am trying to limit the number of reach schools that I am applying to, but I really like some of them. Can anybody offer some more names? I'd rather have my safeties be more like low targets than something that is truly easy. I will probably apply to rutgers, and I hope I get into the honors college.
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  • GumbymomGumbymom 28115 replies175 threadsForum Champion UC Forum Champion
    With admission rates below 20% such as UCB and UCLA, even having stats above the 75th percentile does not guarantee admission. UCLA has over 100,000 applicants and the majority are competitive.
    Just make sure these schools are affordable as a full pay student. $260K is a lot of money to pay for an undergrad education. If you have competitive stats, there are plenty of universities where you would be eligible for merit.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7582 replies61 threads Senior Member
    Any school with a 20% or below acceptance rate is a reach, regardless of your stats.

    Run the NPC for all the schools on your list to see if they will be affordable.

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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2342 replies3 threads Senior Member
    edited November 6
    "I cannot really afford to go to school without financial aid but I should receive federal aid."

    You're not doing yourself any favors by even applying to schools out of state if you can't afford to pay the tuition. Also, you mentioned that you live in a wealthy neighborhood. That pretty much means you're not going to get a lot of financial aid. The only reason OOS kids go to these schools is because they're being supported by their parents or are up to their eyeballs in private student debt (co-signed by their parents). FAFSA doesn't cover OOS tuition. Have you thought about a scholarship? Here's some schools in warm areas :) Right now, you'd have a full tuition scholarship at TCU and Baylor, for starters. University of AL and University of AZ would offer you near or full tuition as well. Your grades and scores could get you a full ride too.
    edited November 6
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5604 replies1 threads Senior Member
    From your post, I do not understand what you actually want in a university other than an opportunity to do research.

    There will be research opportunities at many schools. As an example, I have a daughter who is currently a student at a small university in Canada that you have probably never heard of. She is nonetheless getting really great opportunities to participate in significant research. She might be helped by the fact that she is at a small primarily undergraduate school (the Canadian equivalent of a liberal arts college) and therefore there are very few graduate students to help with research. This means the undergrads get a chance.

    You might want to similarly look at small schools. There are many very good liberal arts colleges.

    However, what I think is even more important is that you completely forget about "prestige", and instead focus on understanding what you want in a university. Do you want a big school or a small school? Do you want to work exceptionally hard with piles of homework for a full 4 years, or do you want more time available for activities, for "the undergraduate experience", and for working on research? Do you want to be in a big city, or a small city, or a small town, or in the middle of nowhere?

    I don't think that your chances at "Ivies, MIT, Caltech Stanford, UNC-Chapel Hill, Rice" will be significantly different than they were last year.

    Also, what is your budget?

    Since you are from NJ I might add that my knowledge of Rutgers is almost entirely based on a number of Rutgers graduates that I have worked with or studied with at a highly ranked graduate school (probably about 10 people in total). They have all made Rutgers look very good. They have made it clear that it is very possible to graduate from Rutgers and do very well in life. The point is not so much where you go to university. The point is what you do while you are there.

    "I cannot really afford to go to school without financial aid"

    I think that the universities of California are quite unlikely to be affordable in this case.
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  • guy1581guy1581 4 replies2 threads New Member
    I did just run through the NPC for UCLA and though it's still a lot to pay for college (they contributed a little over half) it's actually more than my safety schools offered me last year. Frankly though, unless I am offered some crazy amount of financial aid, I am going to have to take out a loan for school anyway, and I'd rather pay to go to a great college than get a full ride at a safety.

    Most aspects of a school (like big vs small) don't really matter to me that much, as long as I stay out of truly huge cities (like Columbia and NYU). I want to go to a college that has challenging academics and equally driven professors and students. I have visited a few colleges where professors couldn't even tell me their favorite topic to teach. As I mentioned, I also want a college that puts a lot of emphasis and money into research, whether that's through state funds like UCLA or endowments like MIT (I'm just using these as extreme examples).

    I liked MIT when I visited because for one they seemed incredibly student-oriented. They kept pointing out the buildings and murals and sculptures that students had designed, and they put a huge emphasis on research. The second thing that jumped out to me was that the students were driven to think intellectually all the time--not just in class but their pranks, activities, clubs, and dorms are all very elaborate. That is what impressed me about the school, and I hope this can give a better idea of what I am looking for in a school.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4415 replies18 threads Senior Member
    I would like to have a Ferrari. I just can't afford the payments (especially with two in college) πŸ˜‰πŸš˜. I might have to settle for a lessor car πŸš™ so I can accomplish my goals πŸ€”.
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  • guy1581guy1581 4 replies2 threads New Member
    If having a Ferrari is truly your greatest dream and you feel that buying it is a realistic long-term investment, I recommend you go get a loan.

    I appreciate being warned about the price of some of the UC schools because I did not know about their financial aid systems, but I have now taken it into consideration. I am really looking for advice about college applications and admissions. I appreciate extra advice but judgments about my value system are not very helpful. I have made it clear that I will need a college loan, but that applies just about anywhere I am willing to go.

    Thank you to those of you giving actual advice, I do appreciate it.
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  • blossomblossom 9902 replies9 threads Senior Member
    OP- you sound like a great person and I'm sure you're going to do great things with your life.

    You need to QUICKLY get a handle on your parents finances. You have posted several things here which lead me to believe that you don't understand how federal aid works (a Pell grant) or how loans work (do you know there is a limit to what YOU can borrow every year) or what it would mean for your parents to take out loans in addition to what you can borrow. You are smart and good at math. Before you do ANYTHING else you need a budget- this is the total amount for four years that you and your family can afford.

    Kids who love MIT in my neck of the woods (we are not in NJ) often apply to Rutgers since it is stronger in some of the sciences and engineering than our own state system. They also apply to Case (and many of them end up there), Drexel, Northeastern (if you can make the coop work for you financially). Pitt has become very popular as has UMD and Delaware.

    Honestly- if your sole criterion is the availability of research opportunities, there is not a single university that can't provide that for you. The size of the endowment is irrelevant- professors apply for grants (from the government, from corporations, from foundations) to fund projects and ideas they want to work on. Then they have their doctoral candidates as "project managers", and undergraduates who have the right skills and ambitions to actually do the work.

    What were your safeties last year and what don't you like about them? That will help us direct you to some better "sure bet" universities than what you had..... A true gem of a school which isn't well known in NJ but is highly regarded by corporate recruiters who hire engineers, chemists and other scientists is Missouri M&T. It's in Rolla, which is not a big city per your definition, but might be affordable and it provides the kind of nerdy/science/intense rigor you seem to be looking for. Check it out.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5604 replies1 threads Senior Member
    " I have made it clear that I will need a college loan, "

    This is going to severely limit your options after you graduate from university. Do you want to be limited to getting a job within a 45 minute drive of your parent's home because you cannot afford to live on your own? Will there even be good job options available within a 45 minute drive of your parent's home?

    My older daughter who recently graduated with two bachelor's degrees is now working at a job with an income that is barely sufficient to live on, and is only sufficient because she has no debt at all. This is very common and absolutely normal for new graduates. If she had any debt she would have needed to move back in with us. There is even a term for this "boomerang kids".

    When I was a graduate student at Stanford, there was one student who had done their undergrad at MIT. There were several students who had done their undergrad at Rutgers. They all were among the strongest students in the program. After getting his masters, the MIT graduate got a job working for a boss who was very good, and who was a Rutgers graduate. It did not matter where any of them got their bachelor's (all were from very good schools and all were accepted to graduate school at Stanford), but it did matter how much debt they each had to pay off.
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  • guy1581guy1581 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Blossom, (thank you and) you are correct that I do not thoroughly understand these types of finances, but fortunately my father does and we are currently managing with my older brother in college. Unfortunately, it is difficult to have conversations with my parents about what we can afford because they can be pains in the you-know-what. I believe that we can make it work just about anywhere, but my parents care about value more than anything. If I cannot get enough in a student loan, my parents should have no trouble getting a private loan (because they have great credit and no debt at the moment). We are also in the process of downsizing and moving out of this expensive town, so finances should improve with that.

    I will definitely look into the schools you suggested, especially Missouri M&T.

    My two safeties last year were RPI and Syracuse. Most of what I disliked about them were things that I heard from students or alumni. In RPI's case many of the students I heard from felt that the school cares far more about their image than they do about the students. In general I did not like the atomsphere there. I also visited their labs which seemed somewhat lacking and several of their Chemistry professors seemed boring.
    I felt that Syracuse was a bit too much of a party school for me. I also did not get nearly as much in merit scholarships as I expected.

    By the way (in case I hadn't mentioned before) part of the reason some of the Ivies (and similar) are very attractive to me is that they offer fantastic financial aid. Princeton and I believe Stanford both estimated that I would only contribute about 10% of tuition.

    I do hear a lot of good things about Rutgers (especially their honors programs) though I also try to not to be swayed too much by anecdotal evidence.

    I am not worried too much about being a boomerang kid, because I have a certain amount of faith in my work ethic to pay off debt, though, I wouldn't be surprised or mind if I had to live with my parents for a year or two after college.

    Thanks for the advice!
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