Chance an international for CS at T20s


  • International student
  • State/Location of residency: India
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers): Private, 1600 students through grades 9-12
  • Gender: Male
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): None

Intended Major(s): Computer Science, Applied Math

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores
Grade 9 - 94% (rank 6/350)
Grade 10 - 95.8% (public exam, rank N/A)
Grade 11 - 93.1% (rank 2/450)
Grade 12 midyear - 95% (rank N/A)

SAT: Math - 800, EBRW - 770

Math, Chemistry, Physics, English and Computer Science


  • Best Delegate at MIT 's MITMUNC (MIT-Model UN Conference) China
  • National Champion and Individual Best Speaker at a few parliamentary debates
  • National Champion at India Spelling Bee out of ~1500 contestants
  • National Rank 19 at Technothlon, prestigious robotics and logic puzzles contest
  • National Rank 8 at TOSC, critical thinking quiz


  • Organized my school’s first (online) TEDxYouth event, attended live by over 20k people, 28 speakers from 5 countries
  • Head Boy
  • Founding President of Debating Society since Class 10, been debating at a national level since Class 8
  • Top honours at several national and international MUNs
  • 200+ volunteer hours teaching underprivileged middle school kids English, math and computer literacy
  • Yale Young Global Scholars (Politics, Law and Economics)

Essays: 8-9/10
My English teacher who has known me since primary school, and CS teacher both wrote “best student I have ever taught” essays
Assistant Director of ~30-school group will write similar “most brilliant student I’ve seen in my career” essay

Cost Constraints / Budget

Secured full-tuition and living expenses scholarships for:

  • Caltech
  • Stanford
  • UC Berkeley
  • Brown
  • UPenn
  • UChicago
  • Columbia

EFC: $20k/annum everywhere else


  • UPenn (ED)
  • All the schools for where I’ve already received a scholarship (above)

Will apply for financial aid/scholarships from university:

  • Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Amherst
  • Cornell, Dartmouth, Rice, NYU Abu Dhabi/Shanghai
  • Full-tuition scholarships at USC, Vanderbilt, Duke

Other questions

  • I know that all the schools on my list are hard reaches. Mostly this is down to a lack of research on my part (I started thinking about studying in the US too late). I would welcome suggestions for matches/hard targets, etc.
  • Should I apply as a CS major, considering 1) how difficult it is to get into especially given my background, and 2) I have no CS-related extracurriculars? I am considering applying as a political science major and switching to CS/applied math once in college.

Thanks for reading!

CS majors are overrepresented, especially from India. I would suggest to avoid mentioning it.

How did you manage to secure full tuition scholarships from Caltech, Stanford, Berkley, Brown, Penn and Chicago without even applying? Confused


If you apply to UC Berkeley in the College of Letters and Sciences, they do not admit by major. To declare the CS major, you must complete CS 61A, CS 61B, and CS 70 with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.30 in those 3 courses in order to apply to the major.

All UC’s are test blind so your ACT will not be considered in the application review.

UCB should be considered a Reach school.

I also have the same question about getting full tuition scholarship for UCB? Does the tuition scholarship amount cover the OOS/International amount of around $44K/year? That still leaves a gap of around $23K/year for Housing, Fees, Books, Transportation etc…

Since you are an International student, you cannot have an EFC which is a Federal aid term not applicable to you. Can your family fill in the gap?


Thanks for the tip. I don’t think I should declare that I’m undecided on my major, though, do you think I should declare polisci or international affairs as my intended majors and aim to switch later on?

It’s an external scholarship, and will cover full tuition and living expenses if I’m accepted to any of the seven schools.

But your profile will show that you won’t be able to pay full right? Because those scholarships will only cover the tuition if you do get in.
Oof, CS major + Int’l Applicant from India to T20s is gonna be really rough esp if your family can’t pay full w/o fin aid. Best of luck though! Make sure you apply to safeties cuz those are all very high reaches

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A number of schools are impacted for the CS major.
If you go in under another major, some schools won’t allow you to switch into the major because they are impacted in STEM fields.

Do those scholarships cover your health insurance fees? You are required to have health insurance while at US universities. This is not covered by any scholarships and can run anywhere from ~$2000 to $6000 per year depending on the university.

No, I’ll make sure to let those schools where I’ve received the scholarship know that I won’t need any financial aid. Also, the scholarship is full tuition and living expenses.

I’ll make sure to research switching majors, but do you know if switching to CS is especially easy at one of the schools I mentioned? Tips on how to get started researching this would also be helpful.

I actually don’t know about health insurance. But if it’s not covered in my scholarship then bearing it would not be a significant problem for my family as the rest of the tuition and living expenses would surely be covered.

If you have an external scholarship to cover tuition and living expenses for the 7 reach schools, why do you need to add more reaches? If you can’t get into any of these seven, you aren’t likely to get into the others. Don’t stretch yourself too thin and end up with nothing. You need to focus and have some backup plans.


Carefully read up on which colleges allow switching of majors. Not all of them admit by major. Or they might make you apply to the engineering college for CS. The bait-n-switch tactic is used by many who want to major in CS/pre-med, so be careful with it. When an application reader takes a look, they will be able to tell. Just make the story convincing.

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Talk more about this external scholarship. I’m curious.

Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.

Easy? Every public and private university is dealing with a slew of CS majors. Google is your friend. You have to go to each school’s website and read or look for “change of major”. Every school has its own policies and procedures for getting into certain majors because every university is very different.

Some majors require that you go to your specific department and meet with the advisor to request a change of major and get it signed off. Then, you petition to get into the CS or STEM major. A lot of times you can’t get in because there are only so many seats in the department and they are filled.

If you get in somewhere with a political science major, expect that you’ll be a political science major. A lot of the schools will not let you “back door” and change your major after you get into the school. They know that trick.


Are you saying you already have full funding to attend these colleges? Guess so. What are the conditions for getting and keeping this award for all four years?

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It’s probably a family member paying for those schools since they’re prestigious I guess.

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