Chance Asian for Cornell Engineering who didn't stand out as much as he would like

Cornell Engineering this year looks crazy competitive, and every candidate that posted their chance me on here and on reddit has like an insanely good profile. I don’t really believe I can get in, but I hope to gain some insight on whether I got a shot or if I am delusional. My list is reachy since I have already been accepted to UPitt, which is a safety I am happy with.

  • US citizen
  • State/Location of residency: (NY)
  • Type of high school (public high school, competitive, sends about 10-15 students to T20s, also sends quite a few more to schools like UC Berkeley, UMich, Carnegie Mellon, etc.):
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity : Asian, Indian male
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): None :frowning:

Intended Major(s)
Data Science, Computer Science

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.9(1 B freshman year liberal arts honors course)
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.44
  • Class Rank: ~top 5%
  • ACT/SAT Scores:
    SAT: 1580
    SAT Subjects if they even matter: Math 2(800), Chemistry(770, probably won’t submit)

Coursework(took almost all APs + Honors, I only missed AP World History, AP Lit, AP Spanish, with Spanish I moved up to Spanish 4 Honors in junior year then dropped it in senior - will this hurt me?)
(AP Chemistry(5), AP Physics C:Mech(5), AP Physics C: E+M(5), AP Calculus BC(5), AP Lang+Comp(4), AP Stats(5))
Taking Multivariable Calculus+Linear Algebra, AP Econ(Micro+Macro), AP Comp Sci A, AP Environmental Science, AP Bio in Senior year
Awards(oops, all the time went to EC’s)

  1. Quiz Bowl National Qualification
  • Along with multiple other Quiz Bowl Awards, such as placing 7th/27 teams, 1st/36 teams, and 3rd/36 teams at state level tournaments, latter tournament qualified us for nationals
  1. 2x Trivia Team State Champion/Runner-up award
  2. National Merit Commended
  • and 2 other awards that probably won’t have an impact on my application

(The years in parentheses are for how many years of participation, not leadership)

  1. Quiz Bowl Team(Co-Founder, Captain, 11-12) - Led team to Nationals in our first year(did not compete because of COVID restrictions), organized 12+ hour long weekly practices, featured in school + regional newspapers for our growth and accomplishments(wrote about in essays)
  2. International CS-related non-profit(Founder, Lead Organizer, 11-12) - Relatively new, decently big impact, we actually do have a bunch of cool accomplishments(not a fluff activity), applying for 501c3, received 4 figures in grants + donations and most likely will get news feature prior to ED apps.
  3. Trivia Club/team(President, Varsity Captain, 9-12) - Won the award mentioned above, wrote practice tests, coached and mentored members, etc.
  4. Outside of School Speech/Debate Club(VP, 9-12), organized some decently sized speech and debate events, designed a web application that allows my debate club to organize + function better in the future
  5. JV/Varsity Sport(JV Captain, 9-12) - self explanatory
  6. Political org/club in my school (Board member, 10-12)- organized some pretty cool events, built our website, increased membership, coordinated with other state chapters to set up politics-related events
  7. Data Science + Physics related research internship at a state university(12) - I’m probably going to put it higher on my list
  8. Internship at a small CS + consulting company(11) - also probably going to put it higher on my list - no publications
  9. A Coaching + Mentoring program for my sport(Head Coach + Founder, 10-12) - coached + mentored younger students through my sport(listed above), raised money for a local government-sponsored non-profit($1000+), recruited student coaches, had a personal letter written to me by the non-profit
  10. 50+ hours of volunteering at a hospital(canceled by COVID)

Essays look pretty good right now. My recommendation letters from my counselor and teachers are strong, since I have connections to them through my extracurriculars. I’ve also built a great bond with them as well, and I expect that rec letters will be another shining point in my application. Since I am applying engineering, I asked my AP Chemistry and AP Calculus BC teachers. I also have family connection with Cornell(although it is unfortunately not a legacy connection, but will write a bit in additional info/family connection spaces if possible), and I have wanted to attend Cornell for quite a while now.

Cost Constraints / Budget

Cornell (ED), Columbia, Duke, UPenn, Carnegie Mellon, Umich, a NY state school, University of Pittsburgh(already accepted), Washu, Vanderbilt, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech, UIUC, Johns Hopkins (ED2, Applied Math +Statistics)

You aren’t delusional; you are a strong candidate and applying ED gives you your best chance. Even with that, it is still going to be a reach, and I think you understand that.

Unless it is a very compelling story that really ties together your interests or involves research etc, I don’t know that explaining whatever non-legacy connection you have with the school will be helpful, it feels like walking a fine line. Applying ED shows it is far and away your first choice, you don’t need to overdo it.

Make the essay as good as it can be and see what happens!


You already have another identical thread - so why do this again???

That’s pretty good, no? Would anyone else not submit a 770 in Chemistry?

1 Like

You are a competitive candidate and you are not delusional about earning admission(s) to these schools.

Not your question, but will this non-profit last once you have moved on? AOs have noticed that everybody and their brother & sister is starting non-profits in hopes of impressing AdComms. The non-profit does some good things, then the student goes off to college and the non-profit withers on the vine. Also, be aware that many people will assume that a 16/17 year old starting an “international” non-profit either has substantial help (most likely family / friends of family) in the other country/countries, or that the non-profit is a social media enterprise.

More to your overall question: have you pulled elements of your ECs into any of your essays?


In the other thread I was asking about awards, and I wanted to know what my overall chances were in an updated chanceme

I did talk about my npo in my essays. I don’t want to go into it too much to avoid being doxxed, but I had no connections in starting this, and I work with other npos, clubs, and businesses that have no affiliation with me. Recruitment was done through reddit and discord, and we’ve got no social media. It’s also a relatively new and unique idea that doesn’t really fit with the traditional “instagram account” or “CS tutoring npo”. It’s really fun, and I hope I can show in my essays that regardless of college applications, I would still be doing this kind of work with my npo.

I would suggest you read the replies to your other thread…which gives you the same info you are asking for here…even though your query is slightly different.

You have good stats (at this point, posting your top stats is more of a humble brag than anything else). Apply and see. Your list (including Cornell) is mostly reach schools…so apply and see. You have as good a chance as anyone else applying.

Regarding your essay…non-profit organizations are probably THE most overdone essay topic out there. Make sure your essay is about YOU.

Not to be overly pedantic, but you were the one who described yourself as “founder”. A founder definitionally is involved in starting this.

“this kind of work” or this work? IMO it wouldn’t hurt to address what happens to your npo after you go to college.

1 Like

I mean no connections like my parents didn’t help me get any connections with the businesses I work with. The whole thing was done entirely on my own.

I’ve got 20+ members, some of them younger than me, who can take over the npo after I graduate. I plan on continuing something similar in the engineering school after I graduate as well.


ED is a tough go for unhooked applicants. Cornell’s numbers are artificially high because of legacy, recruited athletes, etc…

That said, you are a competitive applicant but as noted by everyone, it’s a reach.

Other than Pitt, your entire list are reaches. Why no match schools?

Subject tests are no longer required or “expected” (Cornell’s verbiage) so I wouldn’t worry about them at all.

Cornell is very much about fit. Hoping your why Cornell essays were very specific!

Based on my previous experience with my own children and others, you have a high chance of getting into Cornell ED. Shouldn’t worry.

ED is indeed where Cornell (and most other colleges with low acceptance rates) admits most of its legacies and athletes.

ED is also where an unhooked applicant stands the best chance of being admitted to Cornell (and most other colleges with low acceptance rates).

Both things can be and are true. The ED acceptance rate for unhooked candidates is certainly lower than the published 21.4% for the class of 2025, and also certainly substantially higher than the published 6.7% for RD.

I don’t understand this…unhooked acceptance rate in RD is likely far lower than the 6.7% overall RD acceptance rate.

Hooked applicants include more than just legacies and athletes, for example low-SES and URM applicants. And with nearly 20% of enrolled students in Class of 2025 being first-gen, it seems that puts a thumb on the scale for admission too.

I do agree ED chances are relatively better than RD for an unhooked applicant.

1 Like

I don’t think I said otherwise, but you got my main point: the unhooked ED acceptance rate is higher than the unhooked RD acceptance rate. But to put it in perspective for the OP, this could mean 10% in ED vs 5% in RD; it is significantly improving your chances, but it’s still a very small number.

Ah, yes, now I understand your point, and agree.

Regarding my stats that were posted- on reddit, I saw multiple people applying to Cornell Engineering with good stats AND USNCO top 50 or published research that was accepted at ACS, so I was under the impression that having these stats for Cornell engineering is nothing really too special. I wasn’t looking to humble brag.

I also wanted to post an updated thread compiling all the new stuff I did with my activities + my new AP scores for an official chanceme rather than continuing it in my awards thread.

I’m assuming you already have the list you are applying to - so the only chance me that matters at this point is the colleges themselves. In other words, everyone has told you that your list is reachy - but is that going to change where you apply? It doesn’t sound like it. And Pitt is in the bag.

Good luck to you.

OP- get off the internet. CC, Reddit- whatever, it’s only messing with your head.

You are who you are. Terrific student, any college would be lucky to have you. Go and find another match/safety type college you can fall in love with, and then go back to being a teenager! If you would be happy at Pitt or the SUNY you’ve applied to- then you are really done!!!