Brutally honest chance me Rice ED1

Me too and when I started posting on CC about this issue I got so much pushback that I just stopped commenting. Apparently it is now not uncommon for high schoolers to publish in research journals. Not in the journals I read and publish in, and peer review articles for my job. I’ll leave it at that because frankly it is more a critique of the scientific publishing industry that the students themselves.


If I have to be brutally honest, I don’t have any idea how did you write three research papers on top of all other activities you have. And yes, I am a research scientist and know a thing or two about research.


I understand that your school doesnt rank. But what do you estimate your rank is? The single most important thing is high school GPA/rank. If your school doesn’t provide a rank, most colleges will impute it based on prior applications. Do you have access to Naviance or SCOIR? What decile does your GPA place you on the scatterplots? If its outside of the top 10% then you’re going to be in for a tough ride.

Regarding the consultant - yes they can be expensive. But your parents are willing to shell out full pay for Rice x 4 years (nearly $300K) but not pay for a consultant??? The good consultants are well worth their weight in gold. But you don’t have much time left.

You can do the packaging of the Common app yourself. Imagine you’re an admissions reader and have to get through 100 applications per day. And that you only have 2 mins to read through yours. What things do you highlight? What 3-4 key things are the most important? You do not need to fill all of the 10 slots on the common app. In fact I would argue that you should limit it to only the 3-4 items that reinforce the main theme. That theme needs to be carried out throughout the entire application (essays, common app, supplemental, reccs). Once they put the application down, the reader should be able to say “This is the ChemE kid from Bay Area who is going to be the next head of BASF/EXXON/ETC”.

Delete everything else out of your app that doesn’t reinforce the main theme. The key is to pick a theme that is an “institutional need”. The colleges don’t advertise what their needs are from year to year.

I’ll quickly address these flags you mentioned, because they are pretty major and I see why one would think of these due to my very brief explanation. My parents’ personal beliefs are that family takes care of family, and they were well in the financial position to hire somebody but they refused to do so themselves. I didn’t really agree with their decision myself, but instead of arguing with them, I decided to spend time with my grandfather the best way I could have. To me, grades were(and still are) temporary while last moments with family is limited. Should I address this in my Additional Info section as well?

As for lab technician, my explanation in the initial post was quite vague but I have made sure to properly explain the role in my application. This is actually one of my less important activities anyways. Poor choice of words on my part since I made this post pretty late last night.

Whatever research I have published has been in pretty professional journals where the work is analyzed and reviewed for many months before advancing to a final draft stage. I actually enjoy biomedical research and hope to pursue it as a career.

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Yes, this is a relatively recent phenomenon. The kids typically have parents or friends who connect them to a lab. And they publish in a predatory or open-access journals that accepts anyone. Not sure if thats the case here, but I agree that 3 publications on top of managing the schoolwork and grandparent seems like a lot.

My school also doesn’t provide access to Naviance or any sort of application like that. Our school doesn’t even do decile ranks, I have seen our yearly school profile and there is 0 mention of any ranking system. There are GPA breakdowns, but they’re useless since the subdivisions are pretty large and seem meaningless.

My parents frankly don’t believe in consulting, and this is since my older brother completed the college admissions process entirely by himself. He now attends UIUC oos for CS, so my parents have pretty high expectations for me by myself as well.

Thank you for all the advice! I will be sure to organize my CommonApp this way.

Are these the journals I get emails from daily about submitting to? I never read them (the email or the journals). Except for one that invited me to submit a literary analysis paper and I’m an engineering/applied science researcher. I was tempted to submit one of my conference papers just to see if it would actually get published. I bet it would, but I never bothered.

Lower grades than one would like can always be attributed to one reason or another. You are not the first (nor the last) student on CC, and in life in general, to try to explain the divergence of grades and ambition. I have a kid that is a master explainer and has some valid reasons (and some not so valid) for not doing as well as he might like. You have a clear upwards trend in your grades and that is what counts the most in your favor in my opinion. I don’t know if I would delve into the caring for your relative so much now that you have tried to explain it a little better. Mention your time spent with your grandpa for sure, but I wouldn’t try to explain the poor grades on you being the primary care giver. Just my opinion.


I agree with this. Thank you for the advice. The reason I wanted to explain was because I don’t think my transcript properly represents the student I was even back then. I thought the AOs would want to see a clearer picture.

Well we need excellent researchers and I feel you will probably be one, so I’m pulling for you.
Like I said, you have a flag (the grades), so you will get more scrutiny. I see what you’re saying about caring for your grandfather. Maybe you could mention that it’s part of your culture that family takes care of family, and because of family dynamics this largely fell on you. And while your grades suffered temporarily, the emotional and deep connection that you developed with your grandfather you will carry with you for the rest of your life.
The issue with research is that (and this is not your fault at all!), um, sorry. I’m trying to figure out how to say this. And I am not attacking you, you did nothing wrong. It’s just the level of competition that has risen to this ridiculous point. Well, first of all, doing research in and of itself isn’t something special. It’s a luxury that certain people get, that is not available to others. There are so many people who want to do research but don’t have connections. Almost everyone who has research experience have done so through friends/family/connections. This is not available to most people, and that’s not fair. I have so many high school students asking me to do research with them, they’re desperate because they feel like they have to keep up with the Joneses, or surpass them. When I see research done by HS students, I see someone who is perpetuating this unfair advantage and I feel bad for students who don’t get that opportunity, rather than be impressed by someone who does. And then, more importantly, I do medical research, and the residents who work under me (people who have completed med school) or fellows (have completed residency) still don’t understand what’s going on. Certainly a HS student doesn’t have that capacity due to lack of exposure/training. When I submit papers for publication, credentials for all authors must be listed. If you don’t have any, you can’t be an author - the journal won’t accept the submission. And, like another poster said, there are junk journals that will accept anything. Doing meaningful research takes a significant amount of time that is just not possible at this stage in your life. Honestly, you have to devote years of your life to understand - and to be a first author? I can’t think of a nice way to put it. Let me just say every year a resident or fellow will give me their research article for me to edit. Even though I list them as first author, well, I wrote the paper. There’s so much “editing”, I just rewrite. You learn after years or writing what to say for an article to get published. Residents don’t know. Some junior faculty don’t know. They learn by getting rejections. Feedback from the reviewers. Feedback from peers. Like I said, it’s not your fault. It’s the system that perpetuates this. You should still list your publications, especially since everyone else applying to these top institutions have them. I just hold my nose when I see that stuff.


Maybe have your school counselor put this in their letter, relieving you from having to get into the muck of having to explain it.

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I think what many people here are failing to understand is that I am regarding well known high school level journals. It’s not an actual professional level one, for which I definitely do not have the qualifications. However, I do think my work is quite meaningful and I also tend to steer away from predatory journals.

Thank you for all the meaningful responses!


Ah, I see. It was just the way you worded it above. You should definitely include since you want to be a researcher. Just know that there are other HS students who do actually what I described. Not you. But some who like to claim that level of expertise.

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It’s really impossible to say how Rice ED will pan out. I certainly think there’s a chance you’ll be accepted, but also a strong chance that you won’t. You didn’t consider doing athletic recruitment for tennis?

Between the Arizona full ride and the UC’s, you’ll definitely have good options no matter what, so you might as well shoot your shot at the schools you’d most love to attend. If you’re not already planning to do the additional application for the College of Creative Studies at UCSB, definitely take a close look at this option - it could be a great fit for you. If you like the social vibe at schools like Rice and Vandy, UCSB probably comes closest to that within the UC system… and then CCS offers the research-focused approach and the small-school advantages that you are looking for. (They describe it as “grad school for undergrads.”) The Chem & Biochem majors sounds like exactly what you say you want: Chemistry & Biochemistry | UCSB College of Creative Studies The CCS app would utilize your strong teacher recommendations, and would allow you to talk about your interest in research and submit the papers you have published.


Lots of good advice here, but some confusion on which schools are hardest to get into. Here is the exact order of the schools listed for you to keep as a reference.

Northeastern/Rochester/Case Western

If you are chasing prestige, as someone pointed out, Emory might be your best shot because of how they treat Freshman year. Unfortunately, none of these are easy. You are a solid applicant and will do well in the bottom two categories (which are not filled with bottom-type schools).

If you have your heart set on ED1 to Rice and that does not go your way, you can’t apply ED2 to Vanderbilt because it will not work out. If you want to be aggressive go for Emory. If you want to be safer (but not 100% safe) hit the BU level.

Good luck.

Rice is expanding the size of its freshman class this year so admissions might be a tad easier. ED will up your chances further. If Rice ED doesn’t work out, you can ED2 to Emory. Emory does not consider first year high school grades. I heard an Emory admissions officer say at a presentation Emory knows many freshman are on the struggle bus first year. You have a compelling story. Focus your essays on why Rice is the best fit for you. My daughter was admitted to both Rice and Emory’s main campus but chose Rice. If she had not been admitted to Rice, she would have been happy to attend Emory’s main campus. Understand that Emory’s main campus in Atlanta is very different than the Oxford campus in a small town outside Atlanta. Good Luck!


This is VERY regional.

In my neck of the woods, kids get into Vanderbilt and rejected from Tufts all the time (they all believe it’s “Tufts syndrome”, but the reality is that V loves high standardized test scores above all else, and Tufts truly practices holistic admissions); Northeastern is MUCH more generous with admissions than Case and Rochester, and Tulane is often a safety school for kids with top stats, much easier than Rochester.

OP- I would take this ranking with a grain of salt. Not every kid looks the same as every other, depending on your geography, how many kids your HS has sent to these schools in the past, how many are applying this year. But V particularly- some ups and downs with grades, not the highest rigor (this is not you, of course)-- high SAT scores can pave the way in…

Admissions is not very regional. It is slightly regional. Of course, I considered that he is from the bay area, but did you?

Tell the BWRK from Wyoming that it is “slightly regional”.

I am trying to stick to what the OP said. Your data from Vanderbilt is way off in the bay area, and honestly, just way off. Now if you want to discuss whether Vanderbilt is ahead of it’s skis, that is far more interesting.