Chance me for MIT, Caltech, and Stanford!

Asian Male
No Legacy

  • US domestic (US citizen or permanent resident) or international student
    International Student

  • State/Location of residency: (state is important if you apply to any state universities)

  • Type of high school (current college for transfers):
    Competitive International School following American curriculum

  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional):

  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.):

Intended Major(s)
Computer Science
GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.8
  • College GPA (for transfers):
  • Class Rank:
  • SAT Scores: 1600

(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))
7 AP courses (max allowed at the school) and multiple AT courses including Physics C, Calculus BC, Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra, Computer Science, Chemistry, Statistics, English Lang etc.

National Informatics Olympiad silver medal for two years
VEX Robotics World Championship Inspire Award winner
Gold Medal - Intermediate Physics Challenge, British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad

(Include leadership, summer activities, competitions, volunteering, and work experience)
Founded school’s astronomy club,
Teach competitive programming to high schoolers
Founder of a very active service club
Robotics Team Lead
Presented a project at Google Dev Fest and was featured on Google’s Blog
Member of National Honors society, CS Honors society, Spanish honors society, Science and Maths honors society

(Optionally, guess how strong these are and include any other relevant information or circumstances.)

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.)

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)
Looking to gauge results on MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Harvey Mudd and CMU.

Hi @mothbee,

All those schools are going to be high reaches, especially MIT, Stanford and Caltech. You have great stats and many impressive accomplishments, but these schools see far more students with great profiles than they are able to admit. And the acceptance rate is lower than their published rate for international students.

You have not stated your budget constraints, if any. Are you looking to get need based financial aid? Or are you willing to pay full price yourself? If the latter are you able to do so without taking on a crushing amount of debt?
These are important considerations to take into account when applying.

Are you a senior who has already applied or a junior applying next year?

Where else are you applying/have applied?

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I am an international student so financial aid is out of the question. My parents will be paying the full price. I am a junior currently. I am looking to apply at UCs, Georgia Tech, CMU, UIUC as well.

Honestly, there is nothing else you can really do to improve your academic profile. It is excellent and makes you an obvious choice for consideration at MIT, Caltech and Stanford.

But, as you know, there are more excellent candidates with profiles similar to yours than there are available spots. So who knows if you will make the final cut. You will definitely be in the running.

I see so many “chance mes” from students with impressive prizes, and great grades, and scores like you. Even though there aren’t that many of you in the world.

I ask myself how do admissions people pick between these rare and awesome candidates? I think if I were in their shoes, I would pick the one I thought would bring the most benefit to the campus community, not just himself. So I would look for the one who did the most for others — something that feels sincere and not manufactured “service” hours to fill up the resume.

You indicate you are part of an active service organization. If it is meaningful, maybe you could devote more time and/or an essay to that experience. If it is just something you do that you aren’t that passionate about, maybe you can find a way to be of service to your community in a new area that gives you a greater sense of purpose.

That is the kind of thing I think could help you emphasize those parts of your personality beyond your stats. You want the schools to see the person behind the excellent numbers. When they see the person excited about their academic studies and excited about making a positive difference in the world — I think that is the student who has the best odds. (Well, after the children of alums, etc.)

Best wishes.

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Have you confirmed with them that they will pay up to $320,000? (Based on current cost for 4 years at some of the schools you’ve listed)

These are all reaches as well. Don’t you have any matches and safeties?
Or are you only targeting these highly ranked/highly competitive colleges, and if you don’t get in you’ll stay in your home country?

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Your full pay, you’ll get into a least one of these schools.

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I beg to differ. Maybe UIUC and maybe some of the lower ranked UCs. But not Berkeley or LA. And not GT or CMU.

My D goes to a STEM magnet school, so we know lots of kids with high stats and great ECs and leadership, and full pay routinely get turned down by these schools. Full pay doesn’t cut it because they have so many top notch applicants.

And acceptance rates are lower for international applicants.

OP is a competitive candidate but these are still reaches.


All these schools are need blind (but don’t meet full need, at least for OOS students), so being full pay doesn’t really help.


OP is international. They are need-aware in that case.

Not that full-pay will move the needle that much.


Thanks for pointing it out that OP is international. I overlooked it. For international students, they can’t even apply for need-based financial aid at CMU or the public universities. They are, or presumed to be, all full pay in that sense.

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Don’t underestiamte the draw of a full pay applicant for public universities, especially with the OP’s credentials.


Can you recommend some safety schools for me? Would really appreciate it.

Are you applying any of the early rounds (SCEA, EA, ED1, ED2)? If so which ones? The binding ED will give you the best chance, especially as a fully pay.

I think any of the schools on this list would be a safety for you: Computer Science Programs for "B" Students – College Transitions

The schools on the list of students for “B” students that are also on the regular list of top CS programs include:

Stony Brook University (NY)
University of Colorado - Boulder
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
University of Texas - Dallas

From the main list I’d be surprised if you didn’t get into these schools (though I know that CS is much harder to get into at all universities, but I still sense these would at least be likelies)

Ohio State University
Penn State University
Rutgers University
University of Minnesota
University of Wisconsin
Virginia Tech
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

And what I’m referring to as the main list: Best Colleges for Computer Science

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I would love to apply to Caltech in EA round. But they take in just 20 international candidates every year. So wondering if Stanford ED is a better strategy? I know they are very different schools but they both offer interesting opportunities in my areas of interest. Any advice?

Thank you everyone for your insights and advice. One last question. Would any of the UC schools possibly be a safety for me?

I’ll let someone else chime in who has more experience with the UCs. But from what I understand, there aren’t enough seats at the UCs for California residents, which is part of the reason why it’s super-competitive to get into some of the UCs from out-of-state. I do know that UC-Merced is the easiest to get into, as it is the newest UC. But perhaps someone else can chime in on whether any of the UCs would be a safety for you.

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Tagging @Gumbymom, our resident UC expert :blush:


UC’s are test blind so your excellent SAT score will not be considered however the rest of your profile looks very competitive. UC’s are limiting the OOS and International spots to 18% and CS is highly impacted at all the campuses.

I would put UC Merced and UC Riverside into the very likely category also possibly UCSC. The combination of CS and UC unpredictability, makes it difficult to determine how you will fare in the admissions process.


Just so you know, quality of life at UMass Amherst is very good. Beautiful campus in a peaceful, safe, semi-rural location with a cute college town, good dorms, best college food in the nation with many, many choices popular with Asian students, honors campus with brand new dorms, option to take some classes at Amherst college next door. Large Asian student population. Total cost, including health insurance, would be about 65K/yr without any merit money. They might offer you up to 16K in merit money.