Chance an International Student (Junior) for Top American CS Universities


Gender: Male
Indian citizen but living in Europe (Czechia) (did HS in Europe and some of MS in Europe)
Hooks: None
Intended Major: Computer Science


IB Diploma (HL: Math AA, Physics, Chemistry, SL: English Lang Lit, French, Economics) (44/45 Predicted Grades expected, 777776 with the 6 in IB English Lang & Lit SL)
Self Studied AP Calculus BC Freshman Year and took the exam (5/5)
Self Studied AP Physics C Mech in sophomore year (5/5), also self studied AP Physics C E&M sophomore year (4/5)
Sophomore Year did Multivariable Calculus from John Hopkins CTY Online
Yet to take SAT, but can get 1550+ after preparing


AMC 12 (First Place School, school-level so prolly won’t include in app)
AIME Qualifier
USACO Silver
Canadian Math Contest (10th grade, 1st place school, Top 1% globally)
Google Certified TensorFlow (software library for AI and Data Science) Developer
Represented this small European country (Czechia) at the FIRST Global Challenge (Robotics challenge)
D uke of Edinburgh Gold Award


Gave a TEDx talk on Artificial Intelligence and Creativity (about 10k views rn)
Did Robotics throughout High School, took part in a VEX robotics competition where many European schools competed
Cross Country running in 10th grade
Tutored high schoolers math in my high school as a volunteer
Tutored our school’s middle school MathCounts team
Run a computer science club in school where I help students with any problems they have with computer science
Wrote some articles on Machine Learning on the Medium Website (about 2k views in total)
Internship at a bank for Data Analysis

Should be good considering in 9th and 10th grade I got to skip grades for Math and did very well in the higher grade math classes as well

Do I have a shot at top CS schools (specifically, “MIT, Stanford”, Harvard", Caltech", UC Berkeley", Carnegie Mellon")?
I know how cutthroat the competition is for internationals, thats why I want to know whether I should even bother because schools like MIT’ (my top choice) have <1% acceptance rates for internationals. So do I have any sort of reasonable chance?

Do you need financial aid?

You are correct that admits for internationals are beyond competitive, but full-pay internationals do have a better chance at any schools that are need-aware. By the way, the UCs do not offer aid to out of state students (US or international) so Berkeley will be $70k+ per year.

The CS major is also impacted on many campuses so that is something to consider.

However, your stats are strong so as long as you have reasonable options outside the US and can afford the US application fees, there is no reason you shouldn’t give it a try and have no regrets for going for it.

I can full-pay. If it is Harvard, MIT, or Stanford though my father would be much more willing to pay full. If it is one of the other three that I mentioned I can still full-pay but I guess he would be more hesitant. So do I have a reasonable shot at MIT, Harvard, or Stanford? I am pretty sure MIT and Harvard are need blind but not Stanford. So would you say I have a reasonable shot at MIT, Harvard, or Stanford (Full-pay)?

What do you mean by “reasonable”? You have as good a chance as any other outstanding international full-pay student from an over-represented country — but the odds of acceptance remain low.

I agree with @DramaMama2021 that if you are interested in these colleges you should apply and give it your all. But be sure to have other options in case these don’t work out.

I’m not sure why Harvard is on that list for top CS schools. You should add UIUC and Ga Tech to your list and also add some targets like Purdue. You have a pretty good profile but if you apply only to these 5 schools you should be prepared for an 0/5 score line. Don’t get me wrong - you may go 5/5 too but none of these schools are a lock. Also consider $$$ seriously. Lots of kids and parents go all in on prestige and discount the financial aspect until they have to make difficult choices down the line. You need to find some safeties and also have an honest $$$ conversation.


@BearNo21, do you have a backup plan for college anywhere else?
If not, and you really want to study in the US, you would do well to add other schools as @happy1 said. All the schools you’ve listed are very reachy and therefore unpredictable.
(and fwiw I don’t consider Harvard a “top CS school”, so that makes me think you have not checked out the list of top schools - many of which are public flagships).

Your full-pay status won’t help you at the schools on your list that are need-blind even for internationals.

When you apply to those schools you listed, there is no such thing as “reasonable chance.” Every successful applicant has top grades and stellar extracurriculas. Your stats are good, by they are far from perfect with three SL classes and a predicted 6 in English (which doesn’t mean you won’t get in, but you also won’t stand out from a huge pool of other applicants). What I heard from students who applied and later reviewed their admissions file, essays, LOR, and interviews were very important to stand out from the competition. Some schools are huge on demonstrated interest, which is something you would need to research.

It is also likely that you will have to take the TOEFL because English isn’t your first language, even with an IB. Again, that’s another thing to research. All in all, it will probably depend on the number of seats these colleges reserve for international students and the holistic profile of other international applicants.

I also agree with what other have said on this thread about safety schools. They include UIUC, UMCP, GIT, and Purdue. Some of these school even offer merit aid for international students. When it comes to CS, it is also very important on what you do in college (probably even more than where you go), which include developing a strong portfolio and participating in competitions.

UIUC, Purdue, UMD, and Georgia Tech are not safety schools! For CS, they should be considered reaches and aid will be very unlikely.

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What I meant was to add more schools to be on the safer side of things, plus the OP said he doesn’t require aid.

Yes, but OP needs to add schools with a high acceptance rate. Not highly competitive top ranked CS publics.

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On the face of it you have a strong application. I would put the odds at 10% at the super reachy places — Harvard, MIT, Stanford. If you were domestic I would have put the odds at around 30%.

You don’t have a superlative academic profile — eg some IMO high medaling to be more competitive as an international.

Nor do you have a human interest non academic story.

Will your reccs be effusive? Both about your academics as well your personal attributes?

Can you show some significant community involvement?

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I agree. Whether the true safety schools are in the US or not is up to the OP. If the primary goal is to study in the US, then OP needs to apply to some easier admits. If it’s only to study at a prestigious US university, then the safety can be elsewhere.

Bottom line. OP needs a couple safety schools.

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They weren’t added as “safety” schools, because for CS, they’re safety for nobody. Acceptance rates for CS at UIUC, for example, are around 5%. The reason that they are added is that they are all far better schools for CS than Harvard, and have higher acceptance rates (think 3% instead of 1%).

Top CS schools in the USA are (no particular order) MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Harvey Mudd, Berkeley, UCLA, UIUC, UMD, U Washington (not WUSTL), Purdue, U Mich, Cornell, and for theory, Princeton. Columbia maybe comes in behind these, but Harvard is not particularly known for CS among CS people.

Neither would be correct. Admission rates for the top academic students to Harvard, based on whatever data we have, has not been over 15% in a while.

In 2012, because they used to publish that, the acceptance rates to MIT for kids with the math section of the SAT of 750-800 or ACTs of 34-36, was 15%. Average admission rates were 9.7%. For USA students, it was 11.4%, and for internationals, it was 3.7%

This year, for class of 2026, average admission rates were 3.96%. For USA students, the rate was just under 5%.

Acceptance for international students to MIT for class of 2026 was 1.4%. There were 9,602 applicants, and only 136 were accepted.

The OP is great, but 10% at low acceptance colleges is not a likely scenario for almost any international student at MIT, Harvard, Stanford, etc.


This is my subjective opinion, based on everything the OP presented.

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Not GA Tech?

You’re correct, I missed G Tech! I would also think that Duke, UNC, and UT Austin can be put into that list

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Hello, sorry for the late reply! I wanted to clarify, the reason I am applying to only these super reachy schools in the US is because I do have cheaper safeties in Europe.


Also by the way will I be considered from an over-represented country because I am an Indian citizen? Will MIT compare me with other Indians because I am an Indian citizen or Europeans because I did HS and some MS here?

You have the same shot as every other strong applicant applying to these colleges. The acceptance rate is in the LOW single digits. LOW. That means more than 90% of applicants are denied admission.

Anyone has a chance…and you have a strong academic profile…but these schools simply cannot accept all of the strong applicants who apply.

Yale and MIT are need blind for admissions so the admissions departments will NOT know that you are a full pay student.

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Most likely they will compare you with students from the same country where you went to High School.