Chance and match a current high school sophomore - Are my ECs strong enough for T50 colleges?

Demographics

  • US Domestic, US Citizen
  • State/Location of residency: North Carolina
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers): Competitive Public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): Male/Asian/Chinese
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): None

Intended Major(s) Computer Science

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.00
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.46 on a standard 5.0 scale
  • Class Rank: 51/536
  • ACT/SAT Scores:
    Not taken yet, taking SAT on 6/4 and ACT on 6/11
    Consistently scoring ~1500 on SAT practice tests and 35-36 on ACT practice tests

Coursework
(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s))

Freshman: AP World History (4), AP Chinese (self-study, 5)

Sophomore: AP Computer Science A (self-study, projected 4), AP Physics 1 (self-study, projected 4 or 5), AP Computer Science Principles (projected 5), AP US Gov (projected 5)

Junior: AP Lang, APUSH, AP Calc AB and BC, APES, AP Physics C: Mech (self-study)

Senior: AP Stats, DE Calc III

Junior and senior year have a bunch of DE classes not listed

Besides some freshman electives, all other classes are honors

Awards
Got a 1460 PSAT this year as a sophomore, so very likely National Merit Semifinalist next year

When I apply, AP Scholar with Distinction

Miscellaneous school and band awards (Honor Roll, etc.)

Extracurriculars
Sorry for redacting so much stuff, don’t want to get doxxed.

Vice President of Technology- [REDACTED]

Led a collaborative team of web designers and developers to design and orchestrate the implementation of a website for a 501(c)(3) business-help nonprofit

Oversaw the effort to get [REDACTED] recognized as a legitimate nonprofit, got sponsorship from Microsoft (thousands of dollars a year in funding) and Google

Member- [REDACTED- OPEN-SOURCE]

Trusted high-level member with file edit access of [REDACTED], a widely used JavaScript open-source library with over 700,000 weekly downloads

Wrote code for [REDACTED] used by engineers from Airbnb, Discord, and Facebook

Partially from my effort to enhance the library by adding new functions, [REDACTED]'s download numbers increased from 2,000 per week to 700,000 per week in half a year

  • Helped orchestrate the rebuilding of [REDACTED]'s main repository after the [REDACTED BIG CRISIS] ([insert news article here about situation])

NC Recruitment Director- [REDACTED]

Highest-level director in North Carolina for an international music tutoring nonprofit, recruited dozens of tutors and students from NC, the United States, and abroad

Focused on promoting [REDACTED]'s free lesson program to underprivileged areas of NC, helping them gain exposure to classical music

Consulted closely with the CEO on ideas for advancing the organization in NC

Full-Stack Web Development Intern- [REDACTED]

Interned at a Silicon Valley social media startup

“Owned” the development of a post saving feature and other new features to the website

Trombone

Played trombone for the last 6 years (8 years when I apply)

  • North Carolina All-State Band

  • Multiple North Carolina All-District Bands

  • Principal trombone, youth brass band, 2 years

  • Collaborated with a Juilliard student and other conservatory students on a trombone quartet multitrack project during the COVID pandemic

2022 NC Governor’s School- Instrumental Music

Vice President- Web Design Club

Placed Web Design Club members into web design and development internships with local nonprofits

Prepared materials for meetings

Triager- Maintaining Team- [REDACTED OPEN-SOURCE PROJECT]

  • Main issue and pull request manager for a JavaScript open-source framework [REDACTED, I don’t want to dox myself, but if you’re a web developer, I guarantee you’ve heard of this framework] with over twelve million users and used on 1.7 million websites, used by engineers from Twitter and Intuit

  • worked with members of the Technical Committee to implement future project direction

[REDACTED]- Swim Team

Won [CLUB NAME]'s Award (Male)- this award goes to the “male swimmer in each age group that shows the most promise”

Essays/LORs/Other
Well, I hope these are good in two years…

Cost Constraints / Budget
Don’t want to reveal too much, but there is no chance I will receive need-based aid.

Schools
EA for all schools listed where EA is possible
No ED decided as of now
All other schools are RD

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability)
    Appalachian State (in-state)
    UNC Greensboro (in-state)
  • Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable)
    UNC Chapel Hill (in-state)
    NCSU (in-state)
  • Matches/Reaches (some of these schools are in the “very unlikely match” category, so throwing them all together)
    CMU
    UC Berkeley
    Duke
    Purdue
    UIUC
    UMich
    Georgia Tech
    UT Austin

Am I shooting too high? Too low? Just right for my profile? Please match/reverse chance me for any other colleges you think would be a good fit for me that I didn’t list here. I don’t have any preference for big/small college, distance from NC, city/country setting, etc. Thank you!

Are your parents willing to pay list price at all of the colleges on your list?

CS will be more selective at many of the colleges on your list. At NCSU, there will be a secondary competitive admission process to CS (or other engineering major) after entering as engineering-first-year.

I don’t get the title - questionable ECs - just make sure when you say things like - wrote code used by Airbnb or your code raised library downloads - make sure that it can be validated.

But playing trumpet, being in the all-state band - your ECs are fine.

You are a sophomore - so it’s way too early to chance you in my opinion. That said, if it were a year from now, it looks about right - but remove the word matches from your last category. You might put UNC there too.

Have you discussed budget with your family? That’s first and foremost before applying to any college.

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Minus some student loans, yes.

Yeah, I’ll link my GitHub and other proof on my app.

Already discussed budget, my parents said they’ll pay for anything I can’t get with student loans.

Also, by “questionable ECs”, I mean I truly don’t know how good they are. Some people tell me some of my ECs are awful and I shouldn’t even include them, and others tell me they’re Ivy-tier, it seems really hard to get a ballpark.

Meaning that they are willing to pay at least $75k per year, since your most expensive college is about $80.5k and you can take a $5.5k student loan?

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Ok that makes more sense. I updated your title to reflect the intent.

Otherwise it sounded like you just wanted people to stroke your ego. Yes, they are good enough.

Also, you may want to adjust your username if you do not want to be identified or doxxed. If that is your name.

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Your ECs are fine. Extracurriculars are not what makes an applicant ivy tier vs Top50 vs the rest of the great colleges. The most important factor for top colleges is the transcript: what courses have you taken and how have you done(grades), relative to peers and in consideration of the rigor available at your school. Your ECs will not get you serious consideration unless the transcript/academics are competitive.

You are ranked in the top 10% which is great–how many kids in your HS get in to UNC-CH every year? They may not all go there, but you should be able to get the information from your college counseling office. How many get into Top 10ish schools like Duke(since it is on your list)?

Please list your courses that you took at the school for 9th and 10th. You list a lot of self-study courses : in general, colleges want you to focus on challenging yourself within the curriculum at the school . For example, I see you plan to take APES presumably at school as a junior, and self study Physics C. Does you school not offer Physics C? What AP sciences does your school offer?
I am simply confused by all the self study. There are 50 kids ranked higher than you: is that because they took more honors? Is that because they have As and you have A-s? Again, your rank isn’t bad at all, it is great! But there may be room to improve your in-school schedule and performance before you worry about your ECs and lose focus self -studying potentially unnecessarily.

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This thread will help you with your user name. Scroll down and you will see how to contact an admin if you can’t PM….or have been a member for more than the window of time to make a change to your screenname (you joined too long ago to do this yourself but our admins are helpful).

You are a sophomore. It sounds like you have done some terrific things. In terms of your ECs, please don’t exaggerate any of them, and make sure that they are realistic. When I read your list, I wondered how a sophomore could have done all that you had listed.

Your list is fine as long as your family truly can afford the $70,000 a year or so it will cost for you to attend your reach schools. In terms of chances, your reaches are possibly attainable if you keep up your GPA. Even so, many have very low acceptance rates and can’t accept all the well qualified applicants they get. You are fortunate to have excellent instate options in NC.

Are you interested in colleges where you might get merit aid IF your stats support this?

Also, you say your parents will pay all but the student loan? That student loan is $5500 for your freshman year. That’s it. Anything above that amount in loans will be either a parent loan or cosigned by your parents. Will they (need to) do that?

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Submit your application to U Texas Austin as early as possibly and definitely before the priority deadline.

In the EC section, you can put your most impressive ECs related to your intended major at the top of the list and still include your other ECs to show your breadth of interests and talents.

UC Berkeley will be a Reach school and CS can be found in the College of Letters and Sciences or College of Engineering (EECS). CS in the College of L&S will be changing their admission policy to a direct admit like EECS so both options will be highly competitive. Also the UC’s are test blind and offer little to no financial aid so you will be full pay at around $67K/year. As a Sophomore, too early to determine your chances since the UC’s only use 10-11th grades for the a-g course requirements. Worth an application if you have an interest in attending.

Are you in the triangle area? In which case, CS is a crapshoot for everyone at NCSU and UNC, particularly if you go to a feeder school.
You are a fine student. Keep up the good work but like others said, make sure your parents can actually afford $80K per year. You can only take $28K total subsidized loans as undergrad. Rest will be unsubsidized or parent plus.

School is on the semester block system: 4 classes each semester, classes switch out halfway through the year

9th: AP World, Honors Bio, CompTIA IT Fundamentals (pre-req for some computer classes, regular), English I Honors, PE Honors (required for graduation), two semesters of regular-weighted freshman band, Math 3 Honors
School only allows freshmen to take one AP

10th: Accounting I Honors, AP CSP, AP US Gov, Honors Chem, English II Honors, two blocks of Honors Band, Honors Pre-Calc
AP Physics 1 and AP CSA were self-studied this year because I didn’t have my school system’s pre-reqs (CSP required to take CSA, Pre-Calc and Honors Physics required for Physics 1)

I took freshman band (which is a “normal” class only granting 4.0 credit), when a lot of people quit to take honors classes. At my school, the top 10% is packed super tightly. A’s and A-'s give the same credit.

I don’t know about Duke, or UNC-CH and NCSU Comp Sci specifically, but a lot of people go to State and UNC every year; top 30-40% can get in.

My school does offer Physics C, but they require Calc as a pre-req, not a co-req, and because of our semester blocking system, that would result in me not being able to take Physics C until I’m a senior, because they can’t guarantee I would get Calc first semester. I don’t want to take a year gap between Physics courses, especially because I felt super confident about self-studying for Physics 1, and I would like to carry that momentum through to Physics C.

Also, general stuff: school offers 25 APs, we do have the option to take dual enrollment courses through Wake Tech, but the school itself doesn’t offer anything beyond AP (multivariable, linear alg, data structures and algorithms, etc.)

Yeah, I would be very interested in merit aid, forgot to put it in the original post

Yup, I’m in the Triangle. I’m working on getting merit aid and applying to scholarships; I forgot to put that in the original post.

I agree, why all the self study? That’s not how you demonstrate intellectual vitality to colleges. You should take a rigorous course load within your school, and then it comes down to what additional dimensions you have to offer. Self study of AP is really not all that interesting, and time would probably be better spent distinguishing yourself in an EC. There are limited hours/day—use them wisely…

I didn’t have prerequisites in place for some of those classes, but I knew I could do them.

So, merit aid and rankings are inversely proportional. Now, in-state Park (NCSU) is a possibility if you can keep up the good work. But your rank will work against you, just being honest. The valedictorian from my son’s school got it this year, similar stats as yours and excellent ECs. If you are in Wake/CH county schools like Enloe, GH, PC or ECHHS then likely won’t happen. Too much competition.
If you want merit aid then look for auto-merit schools. The schools you have are public ivies or close. I would not spend a lot of energy on those if you need merit $.

You should take the APs in school, after you meet the pre reqs. It’s a team oriented world. You’re not scoring points in self study…at least that’s my belief.

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Outside scholarships are difficult and for most are not worth the effort. I know someone who applied for a bunch and did get $500. Apply to local ones that few know about if possible. The big, we’ll known ones…I’ve never heard of anyone winning. Someone does but it doesn’t seem like the effort / output are there.

As @1dadinNC says, if you want merit, go to auto merit. U of Arizona gets you $35k off $37k. Very good school. Miami of Ohio may be inexpensive (they have a range). U of SC. Once you get your test score, others like Alabama, UAH, and Florida State come into the merit picture and in a HUGE way. And there’s others. And most publics today have Honors colleges and smart kids will abound.

If you want to go to ‘higher ranked’ schools however you determine that…they’ll have less or no merit. Let’s say a UMD or Va Tech, merit is unlikely. There are a few all or none programs assuming you won’t qualify for need…SMY, W&L and American are three that have full ride programs.

Good luck.