Chance me! Computer Science Nerd @ MIT + Ivies + Stanford + T20s

Demographics: Male, White, American student living abroad (need fin-aid but I count as domestic student)

Intended Major: Computer Science

ACT: 35 Superscore

GPA and Rank: Ranked #2 in my school, we don’t have GPAs but my average is ~97.

Coursework: No AP classes (not offered), took advanced math courses and computer science courses at other programs, though.

Awards/Honors: Won a big international computer science competition. Won several international cybersecurity-related competitions. Invited to semi prestigious math camp in my country. Invited to prestigious summer math/rationality camp in the US (full expense paid). Invited to pre-IOI camp at my country (various other math olympiad awards as well)

Extracurriculars: Did a lot of software development stuff. Worked on several influential projects (highlighted in newspapers, etc.), wrote a lot of code, and helped on open-source projects. Started a competitive cybersecurity team (internationally ranked). Several other competitive programming activities (mentioned in awards above). Software development internship at a tech company.

Schools: MIT, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego. Ivies (Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Yale), Stanford. I have safety schools in the country I’m living in now.

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Have you run net price calculators to see if they’ll meet your necessary price. The UCs won’t.

You picked the top schools but if they can’t meet your price they are not relevant. Run the net price calcs to see if they meet your budget.

If not you have to go down the pedigree list to find schools that have merit that will.

Where you go in this field, given internships, will matter less and I think other schools are higher pedigree in the field then those you listed which are higher pedigree overall.


Deleted. Nvm… it looks like GumbyMom is addressing this with the UCs.

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As stated by @tsbna44, the UC’s will be expensive and offer little to no merit or need based aid to students that are not CA residents. You should expect to pay around $67K+/year to attend any of the UC’s. Yes, you are considered domestic so Federal aid is available but the majority of aid given to UC students is CA state based Cal Grants, Middle Class Scholarship and Blue and Gold Opportunity plans.

Definitely run the Net Price Calculator to determine if these schools are affordable.

UC’s are test blind and highly competitive for CS.

CS admit rates for the UC’s are below:
UCLA admit rate for CS in 2021 was 5.4%. Edited: 2022 admit rate was 3.8%
UCB’s admit rate 2022 for EECS, was 4.5%. CS in the College of Letters and Sciences was 2.9%
UCSD has no specific admit rate by major but I would estimate that the admit rate is comparable to UCLA and UCB’s numbers.

You are definitely a competitive applicant but if affordability is an issue then the UC’s will not make the cut.

Best of luck.


Congratulations on your accomplishments! You meet the threshold for consideration at these reach schools, but they are impossible to chance due to the low admission rates. But it is absolutely worth a shot, since you have safeties.

I agree with the other posters that you need to run the NPCs at these reach schools to make sure their calculation of financial need is in line with what your parents are willing/able to pay. As long as that is covered, go for it and best of wishes! If not, return to this thread to ask for suggestions if you want other options in the US. Good luck!


My parents said that they would consider paying for my college tuition if I was accepted into the schools on my list (aside from the UCs though, as I am an out of state resident). If I were rejected, I think that I would rather study in my host country since it will be significantly cheaper than shelling out an arm and a leg to study in the US.

Thank you all for your help :slight_smile: Time to write solid essays haha


U can study for dirt cheap in the US. $20k, even less, and many more at 30k and 40k and less given your 4.0. There are many fine schools but they don’t have the pedigree u listed. Many top students like yourself attend lesser pedigree (not necessarily lesser) schools because the schools buy their attendance.

See what the NPCs say and find out what your parents are willing to spend - not a vague answer but a hard #. Hopefully the NPCs match. But regardless we will likely find you schools that can meet their #.

If you want to study here assuming they can spend at least $20k a year, you’d have options even outside your list. If it’s just that list, that’s ok too.

Ps you will need to convert your gpa into a 4 point scale. 4 = a. 3 = b. Sounds like it is close to straight As

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While the schools on your list are all prestigious and I can appreciate their appeal, there are some odd choices for CS. Take Yale, for example. Can you get a fine CS education at Yale? Sure, but Yale is now working and investing to reverse a reputation among its peer institutions as a laggard for CS (which can work in your favor from an admissions perspective).

But if you’re chasing prestige in CS, Carnegie Mellon and Cal Tech are odd omissions. If the Ivy League label matters to you beyond the “trinity” + Columbia, Cornell’s CS program should be on the list.

You seem OK with large publics, so Michigan, UIUC, Georgia Tech? Not Ivies, but some of the best-regarded CS programs in the world. That’s because the list of top CS schools is not the same as the list of schools that compete in a particular athletic conference.


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