Chance me, an Indian Intl applying to Cornell ED

Intended Major: ECE/Mech

Demographics: Indian Male,Straight

Aid: EFC about 20-30k/year.

Finances: After taxes, parents earn about 65k/year. But loans(20k remaining), sister’s college(10k/year), dad lives in another city.(We have significant real estate tho-i’d say about 200k worth)


GPA: School doesn’t do GPA

9th : 96%

10th: 97.6% (>99.9 percentile in my country)

11th: 93% in the midterms, 92.4% for the entire year

12th: 95 midterms, Predicted 98

Rank: Stayed at the top of my class, unofficial

Course Rigor: School doesn’t offer advanced courses.

SAT: 1590(800EBRW+790M)(4+5+7 Essay , not that it matters) ----- up from a 1540(770+770)

SAT Subj: 800 Phys, 800 Math 2, 800 Chem.

AP: 5s in Calc BC, AP Phys C both, AP Chem (self studied)

Research under a renowned professor at the University of Delhi and wrote a research report about it.(About Lithium Ion Batteries)

Interned as website and blog manager at an NGO focused on positive psychology among children, created UI designs and got website revamped working with a team of 5. Managed transactions of over 35k INR for a course they ran.

Avid German Learner and completed higher levels of German than my school offers.(B2)

I write scripts for and direct short films( Made about 7)

Started a freelance filmmaking group with 5 of my friends(now we have about 16 members). The youtube channel of my group has over 16k views)

Organizing the annual tech-fest in my school(with over 500 total participants)

Two week research internship at the at the Department of Chem, University of Delhi, wrote a report summarising my methodologies and findings

I am the academic secretary in the student council.

Online courses on edX


Won a language course and an Internship under a tech startup in Germany(travel, accomodation, meals fully paid for)(2 week course+1 week internship)(among 35 selected from the world)—postponed to summer 2021 due to coronavirus

Won a language course in Germany(Duration was 3 weeks, everything was paid by the German government) and got the chance to meet Ms. Angela Merkel(Chancellor, basically the president)

Won the international german filmmaking competition(with over 500 entries) - 2nd and 5th positions

My film was in the top 50 for the India Film Project(make a short film in 50 hours) with over 1700 entries from 14 countries.

Participated in the NASA cinespace filmmaking competition.

My team won the national mobile filmmaking competition(2nd place) and was awarded by the Defense Minister of India.

Essay: Essays are coming along well(6-7/1-/

LOR: 7-9/10(coming from my Phys, math, and chem teachers)

Misc: Although the requirement for 11th grades is to take 5 subjects, I have taken a 6th because I am really interested in it.

You sound like a great candidate. The biggest hurdle for you is being an Indian international student with need. Cornell is not need blind for international students though it will meet full need as THEY define it if accepted. They will not take outstanding loans into consideration in a Ability to pay.

Give it a go and see how it works out. Look for other colleges as well. You have a great academic profile.

Thank You!
I know that they’re need aware but the need-blind schools are veeeery far reaches.
Cornell seemed like a good ED option, if the aid is too little, I will try to back out of the agreement. Regarding the loans, aren’t the installments for the loan considered an expense?

You seem to be a strong candidate, but I do not know if you will be able to get the financial aid you would like. Your family’s real estate holdings will be considered assets, which will count against you, and your sister’s college loans will be viewed as elective loans (a choice rather than a necessity). Give it a shot and hope for the best.

Cornell being need aware may also negatively impact your acceptance chances.

Well, when you take into account that Cornell is Need aware, it pretty much puts it in the same category of the schools that are need blind for internationals in terms of selectivity. The cuts are just made for different reasons. You have an excellent academic resume, a strong application. Your biggest blemish is need.

The loans are not for college though, they were used to get real estate.
My country does not have the strongest retirement plans/social security thus most people save up for their retirements by acquiring assets

The real estate assets are going to count against you. I understand they are for retirement, we have done something similar, but the college financial aid department will see these as assets that can be sold to fund college expenses. In their calculations only funds in ringfenced retirement accounts are excluded.

So even if accepted, you may not get the financial aid you need.

Can your family afford $20-30k per year?

With your stats I would look at lower ranked schools with good engineering which offer automatic merit aid: (check to ensure internationals are included)

Alabama (check out Randall Research Scholars),
Miami Ohio,
South Carolina (look at their competitive scholarships)
New Mexico

Some of the western state schools are cheaper and would give you money too: Wyoming, Montana State

Some private schools which may (MAY!) be generous: Rose Hulman, RIT, Clarkson

I would add a couple of the auto merit schools, maybe one of the private schools, Cornell if you must, and then maybe a Need Blind for Internationals option. And some schools in India. Do not ED - you will need to compare net costs in the spring.

The good thing about somewhere like Alabama or Arizona is that the basic app takes 5-10 mins, and you can hear back in often under 2 weeks with confirmed merit. Then you’ll know you have an affordable US option in your back pocket. Nice!

Hi, for my safeties, I have options in other countries already decided.
I am expecting admission to some Canadian school with scholarships because they are purely grades-based. Moreover, I have 0 tuition schools available in Germany.

Almost all the schools I am applying to in the US are far-reaches, I’m just trying my luck - if I get into one of those with aid/scholarship, that will be the clear choice.

I am trying to ED to one of those school to have some tangible chance to get into one of those schools, if I get no aid, I will try to back out of the agreement.
If they allow me to, then great, if not, I always have other options in other countries.

Thank you for your help, though!

With your marks, you sound like a great student. Have you sat for JEE? If so why not consider staying at home in India and going to IIT? Far cheaper. You could always go to US and do masters/phD/MBA later.

I really don’t like the culture at IITs, that is the reason I am considering unis abroad.
If I dont get into a good uni, I’ll probably take a gap year and try to get into the IITs.

IITs are well known around the world, especially at the top technology companies in the US. It will certainly open a lot of doors for you. But just know that due to the COVID downturn, many colleges don’t have as much financial aid to give out. The sad truth is that international students who need financial aid will be at the bottom of the list.

Definitely apply to Cornell, you might get lucky and get in. I think they also have a scholarship especially for Indian students (Tata). Best of luck!