Chance Me for CS at Stanford, MIT, and CMU!

I am a junior at a top ranked high school in the country. I have a concentration in computer science. Here are some of my stats:

GPA W/ Freshman Year: 4.08 Weighted, 3.62 Unweighted
GPA W/O Freshman Year: 4.41 Weighted, 3.81 Unweighted
(As you can see, I did extremely poorly in freshman year)

Classes Taken:

  • Foundations of CS
  • APCS A
  • Post-AP Artificial Intelligence
  • Post-AP Computer Vision


  • VEX Robotics
  • AFA CyberPatriot
  • USACO Gold League
  • On the board for a non-profit that fixes computers for schools that are unable to do so
  • Lead Teacher/Director for an advanced python course given by an international non-profit
  • Part of web development team for that same international non-profit
  • President of school’s Hispanic Culture Club
  • Private tutored in CS
  • Entrepreneurship competition (LaunchX)
  • Started a class to prepare middle-schoolers for a test for the school I attend
  • Head web developer of a local company
  • Crew
  • Research internship with ASSIP at GMU
  • Internship with local business
  • Soon to have research paper published on a CS topic


  • 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship 3rd Place Skills Champion
  • 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship Think Award
  • 2019 VEX Robotics World Championship Innovate Award
  • 2019 Signature Event NATM Think Award (National Level)
  • 2019 VEX Create US Open 2nd Place Skills Champion (National Level)
  • 2019 VEX Create US Open Think Award (National Level)
  • 2019 VEX Create US Open Mega Alliance Finalist (National Level)
  • 2018, 2019, 2020 VEX State Championship Excellence Award
  • 2018, 2019, 2020 VEX State Championship Skills Champion
  • 2018 VEX State Championship Tournament Champion
  • 2020 VEX State Championship Tournament Finalist
  • VEX Tournament Champion (x6) (Regional Level)
  • VEX Excellence Award (x6) (Regional Level)
  • VEX Skills Champion (x5) (Regional Level)
  • 3rd Place at Rowing State Championship

Any information would be greatly appreciated!

I don’t know if this changes anything, but my demographic is Hispanic/Latino, and I’m first-generation in America.

Obviously your awards and other involvements are quite outstanding (if they are in fact true). You might not be surprised to hear that I find your UW GPA disconcerting. I am curious as to what caused these low grades (perhaps too much focus on CS involvements?). So long as you are able to convince colleges that you are both academically motivated and capable, you have a very solid chance of admission. Keep in mind, however, that these techy schools you listed (all 3) are incredibly competitive for CS (even more than they already are for the standard applicant). You might stand a better chance at highly selective schools that have immense reputations (it seems like that is what you’re going for) and solid, but perhaps less competitive, CS programs (ex: Yale, JHU, Northwestern, etc.). But still apply to MIT, Stanford, and CMU! And congrats on all your wonderful accomplishments!

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Those factors can only help :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the information! So for a little backstory, the high school I attend has extremely difficult classes. I came from a school out of county, one that is notorious for having very little students accepted into the school. The education in our county is far behind the education in the neighboring county. So for me, the transition was like going from middle school to college in an instant. I tried my very hardest, however to no prevail until too late in the year. I then worked the entire summer on getting ahead on my next classes, and it ended up working in my favor. As for the awards, they are all true haha, robotics has been a big part of my life for a while now, and I work very hard at it. Again, thank you for the amazing information!

After reading some more Chance Me posts, I realize I left test scores out. I did take the SAT, but didn’t do too well on it. I took the ACT, and did much better. My ACT score is a 34, and hoping to get a 35 super-score.

Can you let us know what classes you’re taking right now and also the ones you’re planning to take next year?

Yeah sure!
Current Classes:

  • Post-AP Computer Visions 2
  • Honors English 11
  • AP US History
  • Honors Physics
  • Honors Philosophy 1st semester, Honors Psychology 2nd semester (for social studies credit)
  • Post-AP Artificial Intelligence 2
  • AP AB Calculus

Next Year Classes: so basically I am going to be participating in something called mentorship, which is essentially a school run mentorship program where you get paired up with a researcher at a company or research facility, and be their research assistant until the end of the year. This takes up 3 of my class slots (one day), so I only am taking 4 classes next year.

  • AP Lang
  • AP Gov
  • AP Physics
  • AP BC Calculus

More questions…

Are you male or female?

Have you had AP Chem and AP Bio?

What foreign language are you in or have you taken? If you quit taking that, how much did you take before you stopped? If you’re already fluent in other languages, what are they?

I am male, I have not taken AP Chem or AP Bio (not a science-type person), I took 3 years of spanish BEFORE high school, and am proficient (not fluent) in spanish. So I did not take any foreign language in high school, but took the high school credits for it in middle school.

Do you speak any other languages outside Spanish though?

I do not. Other than English.

For CMU, you apply by major at that particular school, and I think you have a pretty good chance as it is.

I’d try to pick up AP Bio and AP Chem over the summer somewhere like Johns Hopkins CTY, just to show you’re pushing yourself in the sciences. MIT and Stanford care about stuff like that.

I’d also try to get up to AP Spanish by taking that outside my school. I know other people who’ve rapidly done that before and been successful.

It’s my opinion that Stanford and MIT might be stretches, even with all the impressive EC stuff, until you do the stuff I just mentioned.

I realize I’m gonna get thrashed by someone who disagrees and that’s okay. Just giving my opinion and trying to help.

Good luck next year!

Thank you for letting me know all of that, I genuinely kind of wanted to get a lot of critique on what I’ve done. I’ll definitely look into taking AP Chem. I am wondering, why do you think AP Spanish is important?

Because foreign language is considered core at several of the top colleges.

For the very top schools, they want you going above the regular requirements at your high school. They easily find students who’ve done that among their applicants, and you’ll just be all the more competitive against those. It’s a win win.

I see. Thank you!

You’re obviously super smart, so you could easily fix that in like 6 months.

I think that they are reaches, but it is worth an application.

Stanford and MIT do not admit by major, so your chances are your chances regardless of whether you are majoring in CS, math, or anything else.

Given that you are fluent in English and proficient in Spanish, I do not think that you have any issue with taking a foreign language. I was in a similar situation coming from a location (Montreal) where French was the dominant language but I was fluent in English and (at the time) proficient in French, and MIT did not seem to be the least bit concerned that I did not speak more than one word in any third language.

One thing that might be worth adding: You mentioned the impact of “stepping up” to a harder school had on your freshman year grades. If you were to attend especially MIT you will see the same thing again. MIT is academically a very demanding university. Most of the students there were very close to being the #1 top student in their high school and it can be a shock suddenly being average and in tough classes the day you arrive on campus.

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You really need individual awards. The VEX awards you have mentioned are team-based, which is hard to determine how much contribution you have made to the award. My son also had won some VEX competitions with his team, but he only mentioned it in the extracurricular activities section.

The average GPA of admitted students at CMU’s School of Computer Science is 3.95, with an ACT 25th percentile score of 35 and a 7% acceptance rate. I’m afraid I’m not as optimistic as you about a 3.62 GPA and 34 ACT admission.

IMO, all three are significant reaches. The reality is that high school GPA is the top criteria considered by almost all top universities.

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