Chance me for MIT and other colleges

Junior in High School, US citizen, Magnet high school, East asian male

Major in physics

Weighted GPA of 4.7 (honors 4.5, AP+ 5.0, unweighted GPA of 4.0, my school doesn’t do class rank
SAT score of 1590 (800 math, 790 reading)

AP Calculus BC (5)
AP Physics C Mechanics (5)
AP Physics C Electricity and Magnetism (5)
Multivariable Calculus (post-AP)
Linear Algebra (post-AP)
AP CS A (5)
AP Chinese (5)
AP Statistics (5)
AP Chemistry (5)
This year:
AP US History
AP Macroeconomics
AP Microeconomics

Science Honors
USAPhO Qualifier
USAMO 2 time Qualifier
ISEF Finalist

Other Honors
National Development team of a large humanities extracurricular
Won 2 tournaments of a large humanities extracurricular
Ranked top 7 at peak of a large humanities extracurricular

Captain of school Physics Team for 2 years
Captain of school Chemistry Team for 2 years
Co-captain of school Math Team for 1 year
Captain of school Debate Team for 3 years
Captain of school Quiz Bowl Team for 2 years
Quantum Physics internship at a physics laboratory for a highly reputable university

Pretty strong essays and (I think) recommendation letters

No cost constraints

Most Likely
University of Maryland (Safety)
UCSD (Safety)
University of Michigan (Safety)
WashU (Safety)
Georgetown University (Likely)
Georgia Tech (Match)
CMU (Match)
UC Berkeley (Reach)
Princeton (Reach)
Stanford (Reach)
MIT (Reach)
Least Likely

Not sure where to put Caltech, but that too. Thanks for the feedback!

Congratulations on your impressive achievements. Great job!
Unfortunately, thousands of other applicants also have similar accomplishments, making schools like MIT hard to chance. Given your USAMO involvement, perhaps @hebegebe can weigh in.

The other schools on your list need to be reclassified. In my opinion…
UMD - with an overall 33% acceptance rate (skewed higher for in-state), it can’t technically be classified as a safety if you’re OOS. Mark it a match (if you apply EA), reach otherwise due to limited remaining spots.
UMich and GTech - low reach, assuming you’re OOS for both
CMU, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech - all reach or high reach.


I agree with this. Would add that WashU is no one’s safety and more likely a low reach. Same Georgetown.

Wow - that’s an insane background. Congrats. Really great.

I can’t imagine a student like you won’t get in everywhere. But the problem is - I can’t imagine there are others like you because you are BEYOND IMPRESSIVE.

But there are others like you - and that’s how kids like you don’t get in everywhere. That’s confounding to me but it’s the reality.

The SAT won’t matter for the UCs. So you’ll need to figure out your Grade 11/11 UC GPAs, etc. but they’ll certainly be strong.

I certainly don’t disagree with your order for the most part - perhaps I’d put GTOWN up a few spots toward the more likely direction.

I’d say UMD is likely…ok it’s a safety but any school as difficult to get into as UMD now is, you always want to leave a bit of doubt. Hence, what is your state? Might it be worth throwing in an app at the flagship if it’s less competitive - just to be super safe?? The two UCs are unknown - depends on your UC GPA but I assume that’s strong.

And U Mich, Gtown are low reach and the rest are reaches - but if not you, then who? Caltech - I dunno - in the group with the last three.

I mean, you can’t do anymore. Congrats to you.

While you have no constraints financially, if it mattered to you and you didn’t have need, you could take advantage of your accomplishments financially.

Very impressive - good luck. I hope you get into a bunch!!!

You will be a strong candidate for any school you apply to. Unfortunately, there are many schools on your list that have far more qualified applicants than they have spots. Thus, even if you might be a particularly strong candidate, I wouldn’t give much more than a 20% chance for most of the privates on your list, which is many times their acceptance rates. I am tagging @hebegebe, though, who is much more familiar with some of your extracurriculars and might have additional insight to offer. I won’t chance you for the UCs either, but will tag @Gumbymom and @ucbalumnus who might have better insight for you on those.

Since you did not provide your state of residence, I will assume you are out-of-state for all of these schools. And people who are familiar with my chancing know that I am being far more optimistic than I normally am for these schools. Please realize that low probability does not mean no possibility. It’s just that when a school like Caltech, which had a 4% acceptance rate for the fall of 2021, gets tons of super strong candidates, it’s no indication of lack of worthiness if you aren’t accepted. They just had other institutional priorities which means that others were accepted.

Extremely Likely (80-99+%)

Likely (60-79%)

  • U. of Maryland, if you apply EA

Toss-Up (40-59%)

  • U. of Michigan (I have heard they will want to see lots of demonstrated interest…they have concerns about high stat students using them only as a safety and then ending up elsewhere)
  • Georgia Tech

Lower Probability (20-39%)

  • CMU
  • WashU
  • Georgetown (they like to have academic diversity besides social science types)

Low Probability (less than 20%)

  • Princeton
  • Stanford
  • MIT
  • Caltech

I could see you being accepted to all of the schools on your list, but I wouldn’t be floored if you didn’t get any acceptances; admissions have just become that extraordinarily competitive at the schools you’re applying to. I would urge you to find at least two institutions where you would be happy to attend and are extremely likely to be admitted. Sometimes that can take more effort than finding your low probability schools. But the likelihood of your being accepted has no bearing on the academic quality of the institution; a school’s acceptance rate is not an indication of its academic merit. If you need any suggestions for extremely likely schools for you, let us know.

Wishing you the best with your college search.

1 Like

UCSD is also not a Safety even with an Unweighted UC GPA of 4.0. Take a look at the chart below based on the Capped weighted UC GPA and not major specific. Also this is 2021 data which is the most current.

Campus 4.20+ 3.80-4.19 3.40-3.79 3.00-3.39
Berkeley 30% 11% 2% 1%
Davis 85% 55% 23% 10%
Irvine 60% 31% 14% 1%
Los Angeles 29% 6% 1% 0%
Merced 97% 98% 96% 89%
Riverside 97% 92% 62% 23%
San Diego 72% 25% 2% 0%
Santa Barbara 73% 28% 4% 1%
Santa Cruz 91% 81% 46% 9%

Based on your qualifications, UCSD is closer to a Match. Physics is a capped major, meaning impacted so admit rates will be much lower and more competitive.

Since you do not list your state residency, here are the acceptance rates by UC campus for California residents vs. OOS

CA Residents:
UCB: 14.5%
UCLA: 9.2%
UCSD: 23.8%
UCSB: 26.7%
UCI: 18.2%
UCD: 32.3%
UCSC: 43.2%
UCR: 66%
UCM: 100%

Out of State:
UCB: 8.6%
UCLA: 8.8%
UCSB: 28.8%
UCSD: 31.5%
UCI: 36.6%
UCD: 59.8%
UCSC: 70.7%
UCM: 78.6
UCR: 88.1%


Thanks @DadOfJerseyGirl and @AustenNut for tagging me.

@JustinBu, you have a great academic record. On these threads you will often get advice suggesting you be cautious in how your classify Safeties, Matches and Reaches. That is not because they want to deflate your ego, but because those CC veterans have seen stellar kids underperform in terms of admissions when December and April roll around. And in the worst case scenario, a stellar kid applies to only reaches and gets shut out completely. There is a certain amount of randomness when it comes to admissions, and it can lead to poor outcomes that nobody expects.

But having said that, IMHO, I think you have a 50% shot of getting into one or more of {MIT, Caltech, Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley}. Traditionally USAMO qualification has led to very good outcomes, and you complement that with what appears to be a strong showing in the humanities, leadership positions and your physics internship. Among these colleges, I think you best shots are at CalTech and MIT. MIT has always asked for AMC-10/12 and AIME scores on their application so they do care about that. For CalTech, I recommend a visit, as anecdotally from our high school, only the people that visited were granted admission compared to others as strong or stronger that applied there.

What are your thoughts on EA vs ED? For example, I think you have a very good chance (60%+) for CMU ED (as long as it’s not CS), but obviously lower for RD. Georgia Tech has been somewhat of a mystery as they have admitted pretty good students from our high school while deferring students that are as strong as your profile.

I agree with others that you should not consider places like Michigan or WashU as safeties. I think it’s more likely than not you will get admitted to Michigan EA, but certainly not a safety, and WashU even less so.

You should consider adding NYU as a match college and putting math as intended major. Its Courant Institute is world class, and I think they would be happy to have you.

As an aside, you are welcome to PM me if you have more questions. Every year, I offer detailed advice to strong math students like you.


One more college to consider is UChicago. Among colleges that are strong in both Physics and Math, UChicago might be strongest college with an ED/ED2 option. Note that the EA admit rate is quite low, but they encourage students deferred from EA to consider ED2.

So one possible strategy is to apply to MIT/CalTech/UChicago for EA, and if no good news for EA, switch to ED2 with UChicago.


Caltech is a reach.

What is your home state? I do not think that an out-of-state public university is a safety. UMD might me a safety if you are in-state. I am not sure about UCSD if you are in-state, but @Gumbymom knows the Universities of California very well. Otherwise I do not think that you have a safety, although I do see several likely’s.

You are a very strong student. I think that you are likely to do very well regardless of which university you end up attending. However, you might be surprised how many applicants to MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Caltech, and UC Berkeley are just as strong. CMU and Georgia Tech will also have a lot of out of state applicants who are very strong. WUSTL will also.

You are competitive for admissions at any university. You are applying to a good list of very strong universities with very good physics departments. However, you need to make sure that you apply to at least one and preferably two universities that really are safeties.

I considered majoring in physics and did work at one point at a nuclear physics research facility. I personally decided not to major in physics after studying quantum physics. Physics gets less “real” at that point, at least to me. However, to do well in physics you also should take a significant amount of math and preferably computer science, which of course are alternate majors where someone who is strong in physics can also do well. I would suggest that you keep these options in mind at least through the first couple of years of university.

I think Michigan and Georgia Tech are not classified correctly unless you are an in-state resident. These two schools, along with Berkeley, are the most likely state school crossovers for a STEM major applying to MIT, Caltech, Stanford etc. so while the applicant pool for the schools is much larger, there will likely be a similar number of equally situated candidates. Georgia Tech, for example, has roughly 10% admit rate overall for out of state. Females are admitted at a much higher percentage than males, so admit rate for Asian males will be lower than that. Physics is in the college of sciences and slightly less competitive than engineering or computer science but not by much.


I agree. Very strong. UMD is probably a safety since you are likely instate (I am guessing based on your quantum physics internship). UIUC should be on your list. One of the high reach privates could happen given your science honors, including isef finalist. At this point have your school write stellar recommendations. Tell them to emphasize your humanities passions and interests. Ask them to describe you as kind etc, and how you have done work in improving your school community (hopefully you have people that can speak to this). Write an essay that showcases your personality in a way that is not just stem — reveal some aspect of yourself.

And don’t skimp on your humanities subjects — APUSH, 4 years of foreign language etc. Speak of your interdisciplinary interests if you have any. Come across as interesting.

Caltech alone may be better served by writing a stem essay. They want to see love and deep passion in science


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