Chance me for Pomona, Midd, and Emory (or suggest me a school) **EDII**

Demographics: Male, Middle Eastern

Intended major: NEUROSCIENCE


SAT score: test got cancelled 5 times (obviously, because of Corona and some exam-material leakage problems), so applying test-optional

Note: I have been preparing for the SAT since August 2019, but each time I register for the test, it gets canceled due to test material being leaked. This made the College Board ban the SAT in my country until June 2021

Class rank: N/A (school do not offer it), but probably top 10%

Coursework: 5 honors courses & 2 regular courses

UW GPA (out of 4.0): 4.0

Weighted GPA: N/A


ECs :

  • Founder of STEM Neuroscience Club:
    Recruiting club members, creating social media posts about various neuroscience topics and orchestrating virtual events and workshops.
  • YouTube Channel:
    Researched emotional and neuro-scientific bases of various mental disorders, synthesized information, wrote scripts, and edited videos
  • Head of Vega Biology Team: (the team was run and funded by a local university):
    Led more than 70 members from different educational backgrounds (high school students and even Undergraduate students), organized online weekly study-groups, and recruited professors for developing curriculum and evaluating members’ final projects.
  • Brain BEE Content Creator at the International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA) :
    Develop (>110) practice questions for Brain Bee competitors on the local, national and international levels, translate questions to Arabic and French, and brainstormed and pictured questions into visual media posts.
  • Co-founder and director of content writing at the Gazette Club:
    Contribute to founding the first gazette club in the Country. Write articles that spots the school alumnus achievements and its daily news.
  • Member of school’s Biology Group:
    Hosted weekly sessions and orientations, served as a semester round leader, mentored and instructed concepts in Biology to freshmen.

Jop/work experience:

  • Intern at the Center Of Excellence in Molecular and Cellular Biology:
    Conducted step-by-step independent project about GBM patients, attended lab meetings and lectures, collaborated with fellows and graduate students.
  • Research paper author:
    Worked under mentorship from a college professor. Wrote a review paper describing the potential neurologic manifestations of COVID-19 and relating them to the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection. I have submitted it to be presented at the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience

Volunteer/Community Service:

  • Co-Founder of my villages ’ COVID-19 awareness Team:
    Created and distributed posters about complications of COVID-19 to the local community. Raised $900 funds for weekly free spray and sanitizers. Reached medical labs to offer discounts.
  • Tajweed and Holy Qur’an Teacher at my village educational centre:
    Mentored a class of 30 kids, tutored Quran memorization/Hifz, basics of Quran reading & recitation with Tajweed.

Summer Activities:
Tulane Pre-college Program


  • Top 10 national finalists at Brain Bee Competition (the Final stage was cancelled due to corona)
  • Earned an Official College Credit course In neuroscience from Tulane University (GPA 4.0 out of 4.0)
  • 9th place (national) and top 5% (global) on Avogadro Annual exam organized by Waterloo University.
  • 6the place at YouthBrainSummit organized by IYNA (international Youth Neuroscience association)
  • STEM Merit-Based Scholarship

Supplemental materials:

I will be providing a couple of different materials that, I think, will help a lot since i am a neuroscience major:

1- A portfolio of some of the projects that i worked on (including my school capstone projects and other independent projects)

2- A PDF of Research Abstracts: I will include an abstract of a review paper I worked on, the paper was about the neurological complications of COVID-19 (i got a recommendation letter from my mentor on this paper), an abstract of a research paper I wrote as a part of the Tulane summer program I attended this summer, and an abstract of an article I wrote for the International Neuroethics Essay Contest. the article was selected to be presented at the IYNA journal.

Recommendation letters :
-Biology teacher
-English teacher
-Internship supervisor
-Research paper mentor

Essays; wrote my PS about a super personal growth experience. it is kinda emotional.

Final Thought: I am still confused about choosing my EDII option, but I kinda liked the neuroscience in those schools. So, if you guys think that I have a stronger chance at any other school, please do not hesitate to tell me.

This is some solid stuff! Your whole profile is aligned with your academic interest in neuroscience. A portfolio that showcases all of the research that you’ve worked on and accomplished is definitely the right move. I’d love to hear more about your essays which will be huge given you’re applying test-optional. How are you demonstrating that you’re a compelling candidate in your “super growth experience”? How are you planning on writing your supplemental essays?

As for other schools, your portfolio compels me to probably also take a stab at schools where they would value your STEM/research background laid out in the way you’re able to. I’m thinking Harvey Mudd, Rutgers, MIT, McGill, University of Pittsburgh, Caltech, etc


You have impressive credentials, you’ve worked hard, and you’re academically qualified to be considered for the schools you mention. The problem is that 2020 is shaping up to be a brutal year for admissions and I believe international applications are up at most top schools.

If you’re applying for financial aid, it will make it even more difficult because most schools are need-aware for international students. This is probably going to be your biggest barrier to admission if you have significant financial need. I know Amherst College is need-blind for international students but I’m not sure which other schools are also need-blind.

Your academic record is not only impressive but it’s consistent with your activities. To balance it out and tip the scales in your favor, I think it’s really smart that you wrote an essay that is more personal and emotional.

I’m by no means an expert, but here’s my advice for what it’s worth:
—I don’t recommend Pomona because not only are they accepting fewer applications this year, but they also have more people applying. It’s the same double-whammy that drove Harvard acceptance rates down.
—If you have significant financial need, I don’t recommend Middlebury. Although they have a large endowment, they’ve been operating at a deficit for a number of years. With the increased cost of COVID combined with their operating deficit, in addition to increased applications, I don’t think your chance of admittance would be very good if you need a lot of aid.
—I don’t know much about Emory but check out their statistics for the ED1 round when deciding.
—I think you’re better off looking at larger schools with bigger endowments that have an ED2 option.
—I recommend submitting an RD application to Amherst since they’re need-blind. It’s a reach for anyone but it’s worth a shot if you have the time.

I wish you the best of luck!

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Thank you for this cheerful comment. Regrading my PS topic, I would prefer to keep it personal. But, regarding the supplements, I would talk about my struggled aunt (suffer from epilepsy) and how she ignited my passion for neuroscience (kinda cliche but effective ig). For the community essay, I would talk about the huge transformation I have faced- as raised in a closed rural community where people seems to fall victim to the theory of cognitive dissonance to a broader community (my high school which is located at anther city about more than 6 hours away from my home)- and how such transformation made me a more thoughtful person and listener.

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i would really thank you for your comment. I will take your advice into consideration, but, for now, can you please suggest me schools that have good neuroscience programs and I might have a solid shot at?

Congratulations on your achievements.

These are all good schools for neuroscience and partially because Emory is the largest in terms of # of students, that is where I encourage you to apply ED2.

Do you have an affordable safety (or two) in your home country, or the EU/UK?

Thank you. Tbh, I don’t have any safety schools in my country, because my country has a completely different system of college admission form that of the USA. Also, i did not look at the UK because they do not provide the full financial support I am looking for (in fact, I did not search a lot about UK colleges, so if you have any experience with such colleges/universities that have good neuroscience programs and could provide me with financial aid, please tell meeee.

I don’t have recommendations for overseas affordable safeties for you…but you are going to need at least one.

Are you applying to any less selective US colleges (although none will be safeties considering you are looking for full financial support)? If you are accepted to a US college how will you pay for travel, health insurance and incidentals? These costs will be at least $5K per year.

Thoughts @SJ2727 @MYOS1634?

Pomona website re. help for international students:
Pomona College is committed to meeting the full demonstrated need for all international students that apply for financial aid at the time of admission. The Admissions Committee takes financial need into consideration at the time of admission, so it is important that international applicants who need financial assistance to help with college costs apply for financial aid when applying for admission. Undocumented, DACAmented, and students that graduate from a US high school are considered domestic applicants and are not evaluated under the need aware policy.
I spent a lot of time researching Pomona before D applied ED1 (and got admitted, just 5 days ago). She was lucky enough to have both ACT and SAT available so how the test-optional aspects works there, I honestly don’t know. However, what I can tell you, based on our own experience and dozens of comments from different sources about them, is that you look like their man - highly accomplished, unique in many ways, adding a new perspective to the mix…
Of course, this is only based on what you’ve posted, while AOs will see a lot more.

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If you need full financial aid, your best shot is Amherst ED2. This year is going to be absolutely brutal due to covid decreasing income and increasing costs for colleges, gap year students applying/reapplying/arriving after their deferral, more internationals applying this year.
To put things clearly: you’re qualified everywhere, so after that all need aware universities will compare you to students from your region and they’ll pick a handful based on what they can afford. If you can’t afford much or anything, you’ll lose out in the financial comparison.
Typically such accomplished students also apply to universities with merit scholarships for stats, except you don’t have test scores, through no fault of your own.
So, Amherst, which is need blind/meet need, ED2.
Your alternatives are Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and MIT. That’s it.

Pomona and Middlebury will closely look at your application but remember that odds are low due to finances.
Emory’s deadline for merit aid has passed, I think.

In Canada, Waterloo, UBC, and UToronto have international student scholarships, look into it quickly as some deadlines must be coming up. You can only apply to McGill’s scholarships after you’ve been admitted so if earning a scholarship is necessary for you to attend, it may be off the list.

A safety in this sense would mean a local university that you are sure you can get admission to, and can afford. It doesn’t depend on the system of admission. I would presume you have such an option?

@Mwfan1921 not sure I can be of much help there. Since the UK changed its fee structure a few years back it has become very expensive for internationals, and I think any funding to attend undergrad generally has to come from the applicant’s home country or external scholarship organizations. I am not familiar with opportunities in Europe. I do know that in my home country and many other developing countries, the cost and difficulty of undergrad in the US or UK means many students complete undergrad at home and then go to the US or UK for graduate school.

I don’t mean to sound confrontational but

  1. Did you read the quote from Pomona’s website I posted? Sure, it is not completely need-blind but still full demonstrated need met once admitted, not a small thing.
  2. Did you check the McGill scholarship page? They specifically instruct NOT TO WAIT with the scholarship application until after you are admitted, the deadline is 1/15 I think, and an essay is required.

i am just thinking that Amherst is really reach & score-heavy college "for me"and I do want to lose my EDII. But, I will consider it. Also, if you have any other suggestions, please tell meeee!


  1. Did you read the quote from Pomona’s website I posted? Sure, it is not completely need-blind but still full demonstrated need met once admitted, not a small thing.


==> Yes. Pomona, like Middlebury, meets full need for international students it admits, which is terrific. The key element here is NEED AWARE: admission doesn’t depend just on the application, but also on the amount the students can contribute or how big the scholarship has to be. The more a student needs, the lower the odds of admission. Based on what s/he said, this student is high need, which means their odds are very low at any need aware college. They have a great profile for Pomona, but if someone from their region, a strong profile, and more money applies, the other student will get in.


The University’s Entrance Bursary Program offers entrance bursaries to students from low to modest-income families who demonstrate financial need. Those eligible to apply include all:

  • newly accepted, first-year, first-degree undergraduates

How to apply

Upon notification of acceptance to the University (either by formal letter or via the Admissions Status page on Minerva), the application becomes available on Minerva: select the Financial Aid/Awards tab > Financial Aid Menu > Apply for a McGill Entrance Bursary > Apply to Entrance Bursary Program > Complete then submit your application .

  • International (non-US) students who wish to apply to the Entrance Bursary Program from the University must submit a CSS Profile in addition to the McGill Minerva aid application.


In addition, there are two other types of scholarships: entrance scholarships, for which all applicants are automatically considered; and competitive “major” scholarships, for which an application is required and which are extremely difficult to get. Those are the only ones which have earlier deadlines (Jan 21 for internationals). The cut off for US applicants is a 4.0 GPA and 33 ACT, or 41 IB (without the “bonus points”) + top 1-2% class rank.
As a high need applicant, OP’s best shot is a bursary.

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It is.
At the same time, it may be your best shot, unless you evaluate your financial situation as being better than most likely applicants from your country (outside of the generals/leaders’ kids, who will be full pay).
If Amherst ED2 doesn’t work, you can take a gap year, take the SAT as soon as it’s available to you, and try to get a merit scholarship at a university that offers those based on scores.

If you could tell us how much your family can afford it’d also help (3K is treated differently from 16k is treated differently from 35k…)

At Emory, your best shot would have been applying for Emory Scholars - it’d have increased your odds of admission.

Thank you very very much. I would do more research about Emory and Amherst, but, I think that Emory scholars program’s deadline has passed!

Thank you for clarifying. Please note that this year, the Major Scholarship does not have the test requirements, and the OP has the required 4.0 UWGPA.

yes, Emory Scholars’ deadline has passed, which is why your odds there are the lowest. :frowning:
However if you have to take a gap year and reapply, it’s good to know for next year.
What’s your budget (how much can your parents contribute)? Because your odds vary greatly depending on what you can afford.

Doesn’t Emory meet full need for all students though, regardless if one is accepted to Emory Scholars? Of course, we don’t yet know OP’s financial situation/EFC.

While I understand Amherst is need blind for internationals and Emory is not, Amherst has far fewer slots for unhooked students (international and domestic) than Emory does.

I agree it might be best for OP to consider a gap year.

It’s very hard for a non Emory scholar international who needs aid to get in, though - that doesn’t mean OP shouldn’t try, just that ED2 wouldn’t be strategic.
But you’re right: we don’t know how much OP needs and what OP’s parents can contribute. 3-4K v. 15-16K v. 35-40K would make a HUGE difference in terms of how competitive they are.
OP is in an even less favorable pool than KimPossible and this year is going to be more brutal than 2018. :frowning:

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