Chance me for Ivies,T20s and safeties


  • International student from India
  • Private CBSE high school, not too competitive
  • Male/Asian
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): secondary legacy

Intended Major(s) - Astronomy/Astrophysics/Physcis

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Class percentage over 4 years - 9th - 93%, 10th - 95%, 11th - 80% (in India, the grades get deflated a lot during junior year and the average percentage in school was 55%), 12th midterms - 95%
  • Class Rank: School doesn’t rank
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1560 SAT I

(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s))

German - cleared 3 levels
French - cleared 1 level

Top 10 startups in an international prestigious investment competition based in Silicon Valley
Startup will likely get backed by venture capitalists.
Top 500 startups at an international business competition.(top 10%)
Silver medal (top 10%) at the International astronomy and astrophysics competition (IAAC)
Finalist at the NYAS (New York Junior science Academy) Fall challenge - Second place finish
Conrad innovator award and top 100 at the Conrad Challenge
Semifinalist and subject finalist in the TCSIntelligem ion competition (National competition)
2xFinalist at the National Wetland Conference held at IISc
School and city gold medallist in the Math and Science olympiads
Several school awards - both academic and sports

(1) Research in Astrophysics
Conducted research on the dark matter halo of several galaxies with a Stanford PhD student and published a paper as the first author in a highly regarded student journal. Presented research at over 5 conferences.
Wrote a second paper with more research and more data. Paper will get published next month.

(2) Research in Cosmology
Currently conducting research with a professor from Oxford University. Research being conducted is an extensive look into specific sub fields in Cosmology and the research falls towards the computational side. Will publish a paper in a few months.

(3) Research intern at a German astronomical institute
Interned under an Astrophysicist at this institute and learnt how to unpack astronomical data and work with python to create images and create RGB images based on gas composition etc. On track to publish a research paper on a subtopic in radio astronomy.

(4) Other Research projects
Wrote a paper on a superior type of solar panels and a unique chemical mixture that can be used to harness more solar energy. The Research secured the top 100 at the Conrad Challenge in the Environmental category. Paper published in a journal.
2) Conducted research with a group of students on convolutional neural networks and their applications in daily life. Worked on several codes and paper is published and will be presenting at a symposium.
3) Worked on a 50 page COVID policy brief as part of the YYGS program.
4) Published a paper on a subtopic in particle physics that was submitted to competitions.

(5) Environmental field research
I did secondary research on Wetland conservation, restoration, and management and compiled the research into a presentation that was seen by various scientists from the Indian Institute for sciences(IISc). I also attended a 3-day conference online where we had presentations from scientists all over the world. Also published a paper on artificial wetlands as part of the competition.

(6) Co-founder of a Startup - Online working website and web app
Co-founder and Financials and marketing lead of a digital startup. Startup was named as one of the top 10 startups (headed by hs students) in Silicon Valley by a competition funded by Stanford and UC Berkeley. Startup has over 200 customers and we will be expanding to other countries and markets.

(7) Yale Young Global Scholars program (YYGS)
I was accepted to YYGS for summer 2021 for the literature, philosophy and culture session. I attended various lectures by Yale professors and I was part of a team that wrote a 50 page COVID policy brief on equitable vaccine distribution.

(8) Member of the New York Junior Science Academy (NYAS)
I was accepted to NYAS in 2021 and I’m still a member for the 2022-23 session. I’ve worked on various projects over the course of the year with the most notable being a project on flexible electricity which was awarded the second place in the flexible electricity category in the fall challenge and I was invited to the annual NYAS summit.

(9) Internship at a Quantum institute in Italy
I interned under a professor from a quantum optics institute in Italy and I worked on a small project. I was matched to work under this professor by applying to a program and I was one of the few high school students in my group. Currently working on an independent paper on quantum key distribution.

(10) Quantum computing course(s)
I took a yearlong quantum computing course at a quantum computing school and a 2 month course at another school. I’ve worked on various projects using Qisket and I’m trying to use a bit of Qisket in my research papers. Have published various articles on quantum topics in educational websites and the personal blog.

(11) Tutor for physics
I’m part of an organisation that aims to create a streamlined curriculum for underprivileged kids and as a part of that I’ve written various articles, handbooks and recorded video lectures for the kids to be able to learn physics and other subjects free of cost. I’ve also been teaching at a school in the rural part of my city for about 2 years and I was recently recruited to be a tutor for an international non-profit organisation.

(12) School and club Soccer team
I’ve captained my school soccer team for about 3 years and I’ve gone to various tournaments (won 2). I was also part of a soccer club in my city and the city academy where I played for over 2 years.

I have other ECs that I’ve done including volunteering and other research programs but this is the main gist.

Essays will be at a good level.
Physics teacher - 10/10
Chemistry teacher - 9/10
School counsellor - 8/10
Mentor 1 - 10/10
Mentor 2 - 10/10

Cost Constraints / Budget
Not applying for aid at most schools. Either loans or completely funded. Will apply for aid at need blind schools.


  • Safety
    U Washington, Seattle
    Penn state
    U mass Amherst
    University of Colorado-Boulder
    University of Maryland
    UW Madison

  • Likely
    Georgia Tech
    UNC chapel hill

  • Match
    UC Berkeley
    University of Michigan

  • Reach
    all ivies except Upenn

Do you have some sense of how your grades compare with others in your high school? Are you close to being the top student in your high school?

UC Berkeley and UCLA are reaches. The various universities of California will be full pay if you get accepted.

“all ivies except Upenn” makes me wonder whether all ivies would actually be a good fit for you. What does Dartmouth College have in common with Columbia? Would you rather be in rural New Hampshire, or right in the middle of a big city?

UW Seattle is not a safety. I do not think that UW Madison is either.

How much debt would you need to take on if you are full pay at most of these schools? I would be very cautious about taking on debt. Do not forget to consider travel costs (and a warm coat and boots for some of the schools on your list).

I count 24 schools on your list. That is a lot of applications and a lot of essays to write. I am a bit concerned about how writing this many applications will impact the quality of each application (particularly the essays).

You are clearly a very strong student who has done very well up to now. Good luck with this and I expect that you will most likely get some acceptances.


Agree about the UC’s that they are Reaches even with a competitive application. The UC’s are need blind but offer no financial aid to International students so be prepared to pay around $67K+/year to attend.

International and OOS acceptances are also capped by the UC’s especially UCLA, UCB and UCSD.

International applicant admit rate for UCB Fall 2022 was 5.5% and for UCLA was 5.8%. UCSD’s International admit rate was 15% but I would still consider the school a Reach. Any school with an admit rate of under 30% should go in the Reach category.

Apply if affordable and best of luck.


Your list is mis-categorized. All the likeliest are reaches and some of your safeties as well.

Your best bets for admission are Penn State and Colorado but hopefully you have some safeties in your home country.

As a general rule, public sate schools are not going to give any aid and you will need to show proof of funds for your student visa. Paging @aunt_bea


I found your EC’s and awards to be quite impressive. Avoid loans if you can. By all means try any school you are interested in, but I would cut your list by half.


I agree, the list is mis-categorized. Safeties and likelies are at least high targets, if not reaches, for an international applicant.

You will need the loans closed and funds available to you, for your student visa. Promises of future funding are not acceptable.


Half of your ECs have no bearing to your intended major. I would seriously consider paring them down. Any rational person looking through these will wonder how you found time to sleep, or eat, or do a Chance me. Lol.

Your list of schools is fine. I am sure you will do well. The state schools might be your best bet. They will more than likely look at your scores and do less vetting of your ECs.

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Agree with everyone that your list is a bit optimistic.

All of those public universities, that you have listed as safeties, aren’t. They don’t provide nonresident students with enough funding to afford their fees because the majority their seats are reserved for residents.

fyi: The Global Young Scholars program is a “common” delineation for many US students taking AP coursework. My kids, and many of my friends and neighbors children, were “selected” for that program. The issue is that the parents pay several thousand for that and they would prefer that their children work and save for their colleges.

It seems that you’ve done a lot of work and I just don’t know where you would have had the time to do that.

My kids did “research” grunt work at the local UC. It was tedious, and I’m sure it helped the PI, but it was just one line on their application.

(Where their strengths were noted, athletics and long term community service, were on their applications.)

Unless you are internationally well-known, your chances are limited to what everyone has previously stated.

Everyone has already mentioned the UC’s. By the time you pay the fees, it’ll be about $70,000 a year. California is very strict about nonresident tuition.

Apply, but be aware that your competition is the thousands of your countrymen applying as well, but also requesting funding.

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In March 21 you were a Junior when you posted. In March 22, you’d be a Senior.

So what am I missing? Wouldn’t you already be in college?

What do you mean - i’m only applying for aid at need blind? Well every public is need blind - but you need to chase merit if you need $.

Either you do or you don’t - but it makes zero sense to apply for aid at some schools.

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The schools that are need-blind for int’l students might accept the top few students nationwide from a populous country, and maybe only the top student from a smaller country. Are you considered to be in the top 20 students in India in your year? If not, you can probably forget about those highly selective Ivies. And I agree, your shotgunning of the Ivies is not going to yield acceptances.

You won’t be able to borrow money in the US for college. You’d have to secure funding independently (family money, some benefactor, whatever you can come up with) to pay for college if you don’t get fin aid, and only a very few schools will give fin aid to an international student.

None of the schools you list as matches and reaches are that - they’re all long shots, and if you don’t have the money to pay for them, they’re highly unlikely to give you fin aid. On your likely list, Georgia Tech and UNC Chapel Hill are also unlikely to admit you, and again, even if they do, they’re unlikely to give you money if you need it. On your safeties, Seattle is unlikely to take you, unlikely to fund you. I suspect that the others that you list as safeties might take you, might give you some funding, but still would probably expect you to pay a total of about 35-50K/yr plus of course your travel expenses, and health insurance.

If you want astrophysics, I’d trim your list to UIUC, Penn State, Boulder, Maryland, UMass Amherst, UW Madison, add U Arizona, U New Mexico, U Hawaii at Manoa, and probably there are some others with the facilities to support astrophysics - you do the online research. Look for schools with strong astrophysics, the facilities to support research, which are otherwise less selective. They’re more likely to take you, and if they really want you, they may fund you. California public schools will not offer you funding.

For reaches, consider Hopkins and Princeton (I really doubt Princeton would take you - but if they do, they’ll fund you if your family cannot).

Realize that it may be that none of these schools will accept you with enough aid for you to be able to attend, although I do think that you will get into some of the state schools with strong astrophysics programs. Look into other international schools, possibly in Europe, such as Leiden. Again, you need to do more online research into which schools offer the programs you want, along with funding.

I’ve exchanged messages with OP and have reopened the thread.

Just make sure your accomplishments are not exaggerated. You mention a number of research publications. Are you the first author or what? When I read your lengthy list, I also found it a little hard to believe that all of these things could be done.

Agree with others upstream. Your list is extremely top heavy. Most of the schools are actually reaches.

Loans from where? Remember, to get a visa to study in college here, you will need to demonstrate you have money at the ready to fund your costs to attend college. This can include already approved financial aid and already approved loans. It can not include things you hope to get in the future (like more loans, or more aid, or possible money from a family member or whatever in the future).

The UCs will give you negligible financial aid if any sort. Unless you can find the $60,000 or so a year, these should be taken off of your list.

Many of the public universities in your list do not meet full need for international students…or even domestic ones. And they won’t be cheap.

Add in the costs of transportation and health insurance at most places, because those are seldom included in the cost of attendance the college publishes. Many many schools require health insurance. Some don’t give any money for transportation…or a nominal amount. Factor these costs into you equation.

And make sure you have a real safety school that is affordable in your country.

You don’t mention what you plan to do after your bachelors…but consider that you likely won’t be able to work here after you get your bachelors, and will be required to return to your home country.