Chance Me for Top CS Schools [low GPA but good ECs?]

Major: Computer Science

Demographics: Texas Resident.

GPA:

  • 3.75 UW and 4.14 W
  • UW Trend: 88 (grade 9) → 94 (grade 10) → 97 (grade 11) → 97 (grade 12)

Rank: 155/601 (25%)

Course Load: mostly all APs or honors.

SAT: 1540 (780M & 760 RW)

Extracurriculars:

  1. Created/coded/founded non-profit iOS/Android app (10k+ users in 95+ countries); led team of 15;
  2. Coded & published an award-winning iOS app that uses Machine Learning + AI to identify/analyze surroundings from a phone camera.
  3. Worked under the guidance of Apple Engineers in developing the company’s iOS app. Helped program, grow, & market the app.
  4. Led/co-led workshops on Java/HTML at the local library to teens & adults & developed workshop curriculum; volunteered on a farm; helped at church.
  5. Participated in & lead tech debate, software, biotech competitions; led & co-led meetings; helped grow the club to 60+ students; 1st in Texas debate.
  6. Lead team in designing the company’s knowledge base; supported clients daily in managing server networks, websites, & domains; fixed technical errors.
  7. Published 20-page peer-reviewed research paper on the future of biotechnology in relation to bioprinting; published in a blog, journal, & competition.
  8. Taught finances/investing; helped 3 members of club win scholarships; led teams/workshops for state competitions; lead meetings; grew to 25+ members.
  9. Led/worked on presentations on leadership and other topics for crowds of students and CEOs of NYSE companies; interviewed CEOs; wrote articles.
  10. district’s participation by raising awareness of CTE courses to middle and HS students via speeches, tours, and workshops.

Awards:

  1. State Debate Competition
  2. Hack the Cloud Hackathon
  3. AP Scholar with Distinction
  4. National Merit Commendation
  5. Youth Expanding Services Award (Volunteering; 100+ hours)

Schools:

  1. UT Austin (EA) (dream school)
  2. Georgia Tech (EA)
  3. UIUC (EA)
  4. Rice (RD)
  5. Purdue (EA)
  6. Harvard (RD)
  7. UPenn (RD)
  8. Dartmouth (RD)
  9. Cornell (RD)
  10. CMU (RD)

Notes: Low initial GPA was due to moving from the UK.

The top metric for all schools is GPA. Everyone of those will be a reach for CS. You need some matches and most importantly safeties.

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Those are some legit ECs, and your stats are still pretty good. Unfortunately, you don’t have a lot of EA on that list, and some of the RD schools are much tougher to get into through RD than EA or ED. Nothing you can do about that now.

I would add a couple of safeties just to preclude disaster, but I think you will get into some of the schools you applied to.

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Actually your gpa is not “low” - it’s an unweighted A- plus you have a strong upward trajectory. Your SAT score is excellent and your ECs seem very strong. That being said, your list of schools is heavily weighted to reach schools which are difficult admits for almost every student. You need to add more matches and safeties. This is particularly important because CS makes every school a tougher admit. I think you have a pretty good chance at Purdue and maybe at UT Austin, as you are in-state, but the rest will be really tough.

Can’t remember any names, but there were colleges that disregarded 9th year grades, and that would work in your favor.

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You have some very good achievements, congrats.

But, you need at least one affordable safety school on your list. Do any other TX publics appeal? Maybe UT Dallas? OOS safeties (assuming affordable) would be U Alabama, Arizona, ASU, Kansas, Iowa, Iowa State.

Regarding the rest of the list, are these schools all affordable? Purdue is probably a high match, the rest are reaches, most of them high reaches.

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I think UC Berkeley and UCLA ignore freshman grades when calculating the specific GPA they use for their evaluation.

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I don’t think that is true for schools like Dartmouth that are not historically strong in Computer Science and do not rank high in most rankings of CS programs. On the flip side, why bother applying to a school that is both hard to get into and weak in their major when they have such a strong overall resume?

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@hebegebe:

Yes, UC’s do not consider 9th grades on their GPA calculation but still look at Freshman grades during the application review. They are also test blind so GPA will still be a major factor. UCLA and UCB would be Reach schools for CS and OP needs Safeties and Matches along with being $67K/year with little to no FA.

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Yes. It doesn’t seem to fit for that reason.

Did you include applying to the Turing Program at UT? It’s even more selective than the standard CS department, but it ensures a review by someone that can completely comprehend the depth of your EC’s.

@momofboiler1 could comment on Purdue. I suspect a 3.75 will make CS a reach, but I don’t know if they use 9th grade and I don’t know if CS students compete outside the general engineering pool.

As for TX, being instate isn’t the help one might think. @ucbalumnus knows the stats, but TX grants auto admits to lots of students with high class rank. It doesn’t leave a lot left for the rest.

The OP has a list of impressive ECs, but if one pulls the CDS for all of them, GPA will tall in the most important category where as ECs almost certainly won’t.

Good luck!

That looks like an all reach list. Presumably, your safety is starting at community college.

UT Austin fills about three quarters of its class with in state top 6% rank applicants. An applicant with top 25% rank faces stiff competition for the remaining spots. The CS major is additionally competitive.

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UT Austin uses class rank instead of GPA.

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Fair points. I do know kids who have gotten into Purdue for Engineering with those stats (and SATs not as high) but CS may very well be tougher. Of the schools he has listed, though, it looks like his best bet. I agree he needs to add more realistic schools to the list which is extremely top heavy.

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Hi! Thanks for your response. I already made most of my safeties and hence didn’t list them:
TAMU → Accepted
UTD → Accepted
ASU → Accepted

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I 100% agree with what you mean by having more safeties. I haven’t mentioned it in my original post, but in one of my replies I have my safety schools which I already have been accepted into.

Yes, I agree too. In another reply, I listed safety schools I had applied to and got accepted to.

Note that Texas A&M general engineering students must earn a 3.75 college GPA (which is generally much harder than earning a 3.75 high school GPA) in order to be assured of getting their engineering (including CS) major. Those with lower college GPAs need to enter a competitive secondary admission process (ETAM), where CS is one of the most difficult majors to get admitted.

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Yup, many of my friends have told me horror stories about ETAM. Although they said I should be fine as I currently go to a very competitive high school and apparently the school “trained” me to get a good GPA.

That being said, I don’t want to go to TAMU anyways. I know UTD is much better for CS and it doesn’t have ETAM, etc.