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Can anyone give an international student advices about advancing to princeton?

megakevin97megakevin97 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited January 2013 in Princeton University
Hello, I am becoming a freshman in highschool this coming March, and my school is located outside the United States. Yes, I am an international student. Quite recently, I figured that Princeton was the place I wanted to go. I have always loved history(especially world history), and I realized that American colleges, especially schools like Princeton which have a strong history department, would allow me to further extend my studies. :)

But here's my largest PROBLEM. My school is not an international school, so it does not support the American curriculum at all. I would have to prepare for SAT and AP exams on my own, and translate GPA scores and recommendation letters on my own again. It's messed up, but I really really think it's worth the time and effort.

My sister is currently attending college in the United States, so my parents are very familiar with the processes of college admission.

I will prepare for the academic 'stuff' on my own and try my best, but I need some advice about EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES...

Up to date, I have been doing a lot of English and politics related stuff:
1.Model United Nations- I've won national MUN competitions, and was also awarded at the MIT MUN conference.
2.English debate- I am a national champion, and was awarded in many national debating competitions
3. various english essay competitions and awards (I doubt they will be helpful though)
4. award at national Geography bee

These are the main activities I have done throughout my middle school years. I am looking forward to continuing them.

For highschool, I'm looking forward to joining:
1.school orchestra(I play the clarinet)
2.school English Newspaper
3.school basketball team(I love basketball~)
5.School SCA

These are some activities I am seriously considering, but I'm not sure if it's enough to get me into princeton. I will need to do more history related stuff, but I can't find much opportunities.

So here's my question:
1. If I search this website for people who got accepted to Princeton this year, I find a lot of entrepeneurs, authors, and internships at national companies and foundations/colleges. Are these kind of activities needed??

2. Will awards in International competitions(MUN and debate probably) greatly increase my chances?
3.do summer researches in national universities + recommendation letters from proffesors benefit a lot??( my dad is a professor, and is very close with many professors)

4. Are international students handicapped compared to US applicants?

5. What would be the SAT1 cut line? Would I have to score atleast 2250?

6. MOST IMPORTANTLY, as I mentioned, my school does not support American curriculums at all. Even if I take all the AP and SAT2 subject exams, will I still be greatly in disadvantage?

What kind of activities will help me stand out and overcome my handicap as a normal international student?? Please help meee :(
Post edited by megakevin97 on

Replies to: Can anyone give an international student advices about advancing to princeton?

  • CantigerCantiger Registered User Posts: 899 Member
    My son is an international BSE freshman at Princeton so I will try to answer from our experience, using the format of your questions above:

    1. "If I search this website for people who got accepted to Princeton this year, I find a lot of entrepeneurs, authors, and internships at national companies and foundations/colleges. Are these kind of activities needed??"

    Those kinds of activities display leadership, energy, and initiative - all desirable qualities in an applicant. If you possess those qualities, they can be conveyed in a wide variety of ways. Your task on the application is to show the admissions committee where you shine.

    2. "Will awards in International competitions(MUN and debate probably) greatly increase my chances?"

    They may be helpful.

    3."do summer researches in national universities + recommendation letters from proffesors benefit a lot??( my dad is a professor, and is very close with many professors)"

    If you are genuinely interested in and enthusiastic about the research you are doing and the recommendation letters would support your work, it may be helpful. I would caution against doing this kind of work to simply enhance your application. Remember that the admissions committee sees literally thousands of applications every year and they will likely recognize authenticity (or the lack of it) on an application.

    4. "Are international students handicapped compared to US applicants?"

    I have read on this forum a number of international applicants who feel this is the case. Evidently, we did not have this experience since my son was accepted. I don't know how many US vs international students apply to Princeton every year so it's difficult to say how much of a disadvantage there is in applying from outside of the US. With a pool of nearly 27 000 applicants to choose from, gaining admission is a stretch for pretty much everyone.

    5. "What would be the SAT1 cut line? Would I have to score atleast 2250?"

    I have seen students with less than 2250 accepted and many with scores above 2250 deferred or declined. Obviously higher scores are helpful but unfortunately there is no "magic number".

    6. "MOST IMPORTANTLY, as I mentioned, my school does not support American curriculums at all. Even if I take all the AP and SAT2 subject exams, will I still be greatly in disadvantage?"

    My son's highschool did not support the American curriculum either - this is where SAT I and II scores as well as AP studies help the admissions committee determine your level of readiness. Princeton has an extremely high 4-year graduation rate and they want to keep it that way. They try to choose applicants who have a very high likelihood of success.

    As a point of interest, my son mentioned yesterday that while he is doing well in his first semester at Princeton, he feels like he entered college far below the readiness of the US students in math. This is a student who took 3 advanced senior math courses in highschool (in addition to advanced math in grades 9-11), AP Calculus AB and won the math award all 4 years.

    "What kind of activities will help me stand out and overcome my handicap as a normal international student??"

    Keep doing what you love and what you are passionate about. Nothing will make you stand out more than this. And remember that Princeton and other very selective schools turn away many fantastic applicants every year - far more than they are able to accept.
    Treat it like a "reach" school but don't be afraid to reach. =)
  • MeIsHMMeIsHM Registered User Posts: 316 Member
    Cantiger has given a great answer, but let me add that you need not take any AP examinations to be considered at Princeton. You will, however, need to take the SAT I Reasoning Test, and two SAT II Subject Tests.
  • megakevin97megakevin97 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Thank you for your advice Cantiger and MeIsHM :)
    Now that I have got a clue, I think I am readier than ever to start preparing for my college and future :)
This discussion has been closed.