Chance me for Computer Science - Rice, Princeton, GT, USC

Demographics
Upper middle class

  • US domestic (US citizen or permanent resident) or international student
    Domestic
  • State/Location of residency: (state is important if you apply to any state universities)
    TX
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers):
    Senior at a large public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional):
    Male
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.):
    none
    Intended Major(s)
    Computer Science
    GPA, Rank, and Test Scores
    Top 1%
  • Unweighted HS GPA:
    4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system):
  • College GPA (for transfers):
  • Class Rank:
    5/700
  • ACT/SAT Scores:
    35

Coursework
13 AP courses including Calculus BC, Physics, Computer Science (all 5s), taking another 3 in Senior

Awards
Have won competition awards, regional and state
Merit Semi-finalist
AP Scholar with Distinction
Extracurriculars
President of science club, Captain of competition based academic team, music - orchestra, NHS, Math Honors society, not a lot of CS competitions
2 mth CS internship

Essays/LORs/Other
Essays good (not excellent), LOR should be very good

Cost Constraints / Budget
(High school students: please get a budget from your parents and use the Net Price Calculators on the web sites of colleges of interest.)

Schools
Reach: Rice, Georgia Tech, Princeton, UC Berkeley
Target: UT Austin, USC,
Safety - TAMU, Baylor

Culturally, TAMU and Baylor are different than the rest of the schools on your list. Will you fit in? If not, I’d choose other options regardless of their reputations, maybe U of H, UTA or UTD. If they are good fits, leave them. Good luck!

1 Like

Thank you, appreciate the feedback.

1 Like

All 4 are great schools, but with UT Austin a 100% lock, you can create a strong argument that UT Austin is better in Comp Sci than any of those 4 schools.

3 Likes

Thank you, but given it is CS, I am not considering UT Austin a lock either :frowning:

1 Like

I would put USC in the Reach list for the following reasons:

  1. USC computer science is a popular and competitive major in the region, a lot of students will be applying. Looking at the general trend in the region, students with great stats ended up moving to low ranked UCs because they wanted a major in CS and this program is so selective.
  2. In the Fall 2021 admission cycle USC’s admission rate narrows to 12% (a year before it was 16%). The number of applicants rose by over 20% from the previous year.
  3. USC adopted 2022 and 2023 Test-Optional Policy. IMO, this brings in candidates with perfect or near-perfect GPA and with less competitive scores or no scores - in the game. IMO, overall this could tighten the chances a bit for the candidates who submit their applications with excellent test scores.

Historically USC’s acceptance rate is between 11% - 18% (roughly) for the last 3-4 years, somehow this didn’t translate to my DC’s school. Off 100 applicants in the last 3 years, only 5 were accepted to USC from DC’s school. It’s not an IB school, but it’s a reputed HS in the school district and in the region too. Don’t know why is the acceptance rate is par below USC’s general acceptance rate. There could be other high schools with even better or lower USC acceptance rates. Good luck.

2 Likes

Thank you cheer2021. Our school does have a decent showing at USC (never going to be great given the acceptance rate). Just curious, are there specific top 20 colleges where the students from your school have better outcomes?

Better ask for your HS data from your school Counselor. I don’t know if there are some other means to pull this data. DC’s HS students aren’t too passionate largely about T20 schools that were located out of state, as several in-state public schools are in the Top 20 in addition to few private in-state schools are also in T20. As a result looking at DC’s HS stats for the last 3 years only 16% applied to OOS colleges, which is not a surprise to me. IMO, off these 16 % applications, T20 located OOS share could be a fraction. In DC’s HS they have a system to track how many students have applied to the top 40 most applied colleges including in-state prestigious colleges, and local community colleges, and state colleges and the data also shows how many HS students were accepted. They didn’t track every possible college out there in the US, the tracking has been limited to about the top 40 most applied colleges only (don’t mistake by T40). And this data has been provided to every student in DC’s HS, so they know what to expect.

For any major for that matter, you have to ask yourself, what does “top 20” mean and are there better schools that might not fall on that list?

For CS specifically, you’ve left off some major players, because all but CMU don’t offer PhDs. They lead the list on salaries though if you look at the non-self reported data on College Scorecard.

They will all be reaches, because they are very desirable schools in general and CS is very competitive. Still, don’t write off Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd, Pomona or Cal Poly, unless the school themselves just doesn’t interest you. If you want tailgating saturdays, these aren’t it.

Good luck!

1 Like

@eyemgh I perhaps phrased it incorrectly and my apologies. As you can see from my choices I am not a Top 20 aficionado - Princeton & UC Berkley have been dream schools, so naturally I am applying, but the rest are not top 20 but do offer a great CS program. I have not looked at CMU and HMC - just trying to stay realistic in my expectations. Do you think I would have a decent shot at either?

Do you have an unlimited college budget since you do not state what you and your parents can afford? UC Berkeley as an OOS applicant will be around $67K/year. They offer little merit aid (Regents/Chancellors) of $2500/year renewable for 4 years and no need-based aid.

1 Like

I think you have a decent shot anywhere.

Just realize that there are going to be LOTS of fully qualified students applying to too few spots, so by the law of averages, you’ll get left out. That absolutely does not mean you shouldn’t try.

My son’s roommate is an HMC grad and raves about his experience. My son is a Cal Poly alum (BS/MS ME) and has nothing but good to say about how he was prepared for the workforce and has great memories and lifelong friends from. the college experience.

The most important thing is to build from the bottom up. Pick two safeties that, by definition are a guaranteed admit and guaranteed that you can afford. Ideally they’d also be schools that excite you and would be in the running for the final choice.

Good luck!

2 Likes

Thank you very much, very valuable insight!

1 Like

It would be a mix of parent funding and loans, but I would be able to get significant assistance from them for schools like Berkley, Princeton, Rice.
Not sure what some of the cheaper options could be - publics like Michigan and VA would run up the tab very rapidly as well.

1 Like

I would not count on any significant assistance from ANY CA public regardless of what the NPC says. We opened a new business, so our income plummeted that year. Our son was eligible for a Pell that year. That’s the highest level of need one can demonstrate. He got the Pell from OOS and nothing else.

1 Like

I read that part as indicating he would get significant assistance from his parents for those school, not that he expected the schools to provide financial assistance. Hopefully that’s the case, anyway.

2 Likes

Correct, I did mean that I would receive significant assistance from my parents and would need to cover the rest via loans.

2 Likes

You will read over and over here, correctly, that you should never go into significant debt for any school. I mean ANY school including MIT and Stanford. The payback just isn’t there with maybe one or two exceptions. For example, quantitative analytics from MIT probably pays back. General CS or other engineering disciplines, it doesn’t. Do the best you can to graduate with no student loans. You will be MILES ahead of the game.

3 Likes

I believe that @CADREAMIN can agree with me about USC being a target for nobody. They are unlike any other CS school out there. I’m applying there for CS transfer and still with my 4.0 GPA, Honors CC, and President of the CS club at my school I know it’s a hard reach for me.

2 Likes

Relative to what? Experience at the school? Difficulty of admission? Earnings potential?

I’m not saying anything negative about USC. It’s not as though that they aren’t without peers, or possibly even inferior to CS programs right in town, depending on your perspective, let alone the whole US.

That’s not to say either that it is a match or an easy admit for anyone.