Ethnicity: Chinese-American Male
Intended Major: Applied Math
School: Small Charter School in Cali
UWGPA: 4.0, WGPA: 4.3670
Class Rank: 1 out of 110
SAT: 1540 (740 R/W, 800 M), Essay: 20/24
SAT Chinese: 800, SAT Math II: 800, SAT Chemistry: 800, SAT Physics: taking in August (predicting 800)
APs: Chinese (5), Calculus BC (5), Computer Science A (5), World History (5), Statistics (5), Chemistry (5), Capstone Seminar (4), US History (5), English Literature (3)
Awards: National AP Scholar, 36th place globally in 2018 Fall OMO, 2x AIME Qualifier (scored a 10/15), USACO Silver (predicting Gold or Platinum in December), 3rd place in schoolwide essay contest, 1st place in school on USNCO Local
Senior Year Courseload: AP Capstone Research, AP Biology, AP English Language, Multimedia Arts, AP Psychology, AP US Government, Economics, AP Spanish Language, Linear Algebra, (Differential Equations, not sure if it’ll fit in my schedule)
ECs: Math Club (Founder and President), MATHCOUNTS Assistant Coach (Founder), Web Design (Co-Founder and President), Boy Scouts (ASPL, and Life Scout), WINK Leader (10th and 12th grade), Math Research (10-12th grade, working with a professor at Columbia currently), Math Competitions, Hackathons, Varsity Volleyball, Chores (about 2-3 hours a day) + other fun things (graphic designing, programming, music production, song covers, piano, etc).
Letters of Recommendation:
Math Teacher (10/10): We first met in sophomore year for Calculus BC, then we worked together for the math club and forming the MATHCOUNTS team.
Spanish Teacher (9/10): We first met at the talent show in sophomore year where I played Despacito on the piano (he loved it), and then in Spanish 3 in junior year. He knows me quite well for my participation in class and I’m often chosen to lead or tutor in my table group. He’ll be my AP Spanish teacher next year too.
GC (8/10): I’ve had quite limited interactions with the GC at the moment, but more than the average person. She knows me quite well for awards at school and from my sister, as well as from field trips. She seems quite fond of me for my passion for what I’m doing.
College essays (9/10): I still haven’t started or looked at the CommonApp personal statement, but I’ve pretty much gotten the supplemental essays figured out nicely.
Comments: My main concern with my application is my relatively low R/W score on the SAT and my 3 in AP Lit. Clearly from my application I’m not very strong in English, and I’m not sure if that could be overlooked, or if it matters that much (after all it’s Caltech).
Ethnicity: Chinese-American Male
Scores look fine to me. Caltech cares more about the Math scores, and you have 800s, so you should be ok. I don’t think the AP score in Lit is going to affect you much, as Caltech is a STEM heavy school.
However you are applying from an over-represented area. Caltech is a very small school, so they like to have geographic diversity. I think you have a decent chance during EA round, but definitely have some backups in place.
You are as good as it gets in terms of stats. Where it gets iffy is that sometimes there are so many like applications at certain schools, that they go into a stack and only the best from them get taken. How much of that applies to Caltech, I do not know. It happens a lot at HPY, a major reason for the current lawsuit against Harvard. It hurts terribly when one has an excellent academic profile, as you do, but the whole picture puts you in Category B which is stacked so high that only a certain percent are going to have an available seat.
How well does your school do in terms of kids going to Caltech and other highly selective schools? That a GC or teacher likes you, doesn’t mean they know how to package their LORs so that they hit the high notes for admissions at very selective schools. I’m seeing this a lot with posts to this forum where kid are sure they are going to get that 5/5 score on recs and they didn’t get accepted at the end of the cycle, and these kids are positive that the LOR was not a factor. Or their essays. It’s not an automatic great letter or esssy just because you think they are. Just bringing that to your attention
@cptofthehouse No one at my school has ever gotten into Caltech or MIT ever (my school was founded in 2006 so it’s fairly new). We have had 3 students get into Stanford, 1 to Princeton, 1 to UPenn, a few to Cornell and Dartmouth, and around 5-10 per year to UCLA or UCB. My school is pretty small too, around 100 people per graduating class, and only around 20 people apply to UCLA or UCB each year, and about 5-10 people apply to each Ivy League university. Even fewer people (0-2 per year) apply to MIT or Caltech. In fact no one’s applied to Caltech in 3 years.
Here’s the thing: it’s difficult, very difficult for a California kid to get into Stanford, Caltech. Simply too many qualified kids who apply. Having a skilled GC who knows how to package an app there, with connections at those schools helps. Still not a shoo-in. It’s a lottery ticket application
Don’t assume Caltech doesn’t care about the verbal skills. Accepted Caltech students have, by far, the highest verbal subscores on standardized tests than students from any other school.
Caltech, unlike its peers, explicitly states that it doesn’t care how many applicants are from the same high school, or from the same demographic group, you’ll be compared to all other candidates on overall qualifications.
Caltech admissions differs somewhat from other super-selective colleges because:
- Caltech is very small.
- Caltech, unlike most other super-selective colleges, has a level of academic rigor high enough that it is not a given that a student with “ordinary excellent” high school academic credentials will almost certainly succeed and graduate.
Caltech loves research. If your achievements in math research are significant and your mentor can write a good letter, that may tip the scales. Otherwise it’s a crapshoot.