Chance Me for UPenn/MIT/CMU

US Citizen
Rising Senior
Competitive Public High School
Asian Male

Intended Major(s)
Math (for CMU/MIT, maybe others depending on chances)

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores
Unweighted HS GPA: 3.98 (B in first semester 10th grade Spanish)
Weighted HS GPA: Around 4.6
SAT Scores: 1550 (800 Math, 750 Reading)
High School doesn’t rank but I would be #3 or 4 in STEM in a class of size 400+

9th: AP Calc BC: 5
10th: AP Stats: 5, AP CS A: 5, AP Chinese: 5
11th: APUSH: 4, APLAC: 5, AP Physics C Mechanics: 5, AP Macro: 5, AP Micro: 4 (will not report)
12th: AP Gov, AP Lit, AP Spanish, AP Bio

Took Lin Alg + Multivar in 11th grade year, will take Differential Equations 12th grade
Most rigorous course load every year by far

USA(J)MO Qualifier x2
USACO Contestant
DECA Qualifier in SEM
CS Club Treasurer CS Club President
Math Club VP (2022)
YAK Club VP (2022) - volunteering club
MathCounts Coach (2019-Present), ~300 hours
Research w/ Professor, submitted a paper as second author to top NLP conference (2021-Present)
AIME Qualifier multiple years

Good essays
Good LORs (APLAC and AP Stats teacher)

Cost Constraints / Budget
No constraints


  • Safety
    UToronto, UT Austin (EA), UCSB, Purdue, UW Madison, UIUC, UWashington
  • Likely
    Cornell, CMU (ED1 or ED2), UCSD, UCLA, UWaterloo, Vandy
  • Match
    UCB, UMich, USC
  • Reach
    MIT (EA, takes between 6-10 students from school each year), Stanford, Cambridge, Harvard, UPenn (may ED1)

UPenn is definitely my favorite college by far, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the risk to ED1.

Cornell, CMU, Vandy and Michigan (if CS) and UCB should be considered reaches. You’re an impressive student, but there is far too much out of your control when it comes to these schools.

Why wouldn’t you apply as CS to CMU and MIT?


Are you a California resident?

Please calculate your UC GPAs (unweighted, capped and uncapped). GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub

The UCs are test blind so your SAT won’t matter. While you have a high GPA, you are applying into a very competitive major. I wouldn’t consider UCSB a safety and wouldn’t consider UCSD or UCLA likely.


Unless you are an auto admit somewhere, the schools you listed are not safeties for anyone. Similarly I don’t see the majority of your likely or matches as anything but reaches.

You need a true safety somewhere.

If Penn is your favorite, then apply ED. You are certainly qualified.


Like others state of residence ?

If OOS, all your safeties except maybe Wisconsin are reaches…some like Texas and Illinois reacher than others.

Cornell and Vandy are matches for no one.

Forgetting all that - this is where I question the intellect of someone who is clearly beyond brilliant.

“UPenn is definitely my favorite college so far”

So I’m going to apply ED to a different school.

Sounds like an intelligent thought to me …… not.

Any of these and many more will prepare you for a great life.

But you’ve created a great profile over the years . So take your chances where you want to be. You’ve earned that !! If they say no, use ED2 or you’ll get into a great school via their EA or RD depending on their system. Penn takes half plus ED now. If that’s still #1 at app time and you plan to ED and have zero cost constraints….well I don’t know what to tell u if you ED somewhere else. But you’ll live a spring and summer of regret. That I know.


I agree with @momofboiler1 and @tsbna44’s assessments.

Unless you’re an auto admit at one of those schools, you do not have any safeties (especially since you’re interested in CS).

I’m not overly familiar with UToronto’s admission requirements, but if it’s primarily stats driven like some other CA unis I’d consider it a match. Wisconsin (CS) may be a high match. The rest are reaches.

If you’ve visited UPenn, love it and can afford it, why not ED1? You are competitive for any of these highly rejective schools (as are the majority of applicants) so definitely apply to any you feel you’d be happy attending. I do encourage you to find a couple safeties and likelies/matches.

ETA: Are you in state for any of these schools?


University of Texas definitely isn’t a Safety, especially OOS.


If you have no cost constraints and UPenn is your clear favorite, what is the risk of ED?

There is a current thread going around about a student with the same SAT, similar rigor, and a 4.0 that was lock out this cycle. Now they’re faced with taking a gap year and applying to a better list of schools next year or going to community college. You can avoid their fate, by insuring that you have at least one safety that you’d be happy with. That means you’re guaranteed to be admitted (think 80+% admission rate) and guaranteed to be able to afford without lucking into aid. You have an impressive record. Good luck.


Good advice, assuming the OP can adjust his understanding of what schools are true safeties/likelies.

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The tough thing about chancing for those schools is that the applicant pool is so strong that the stats of those rejected are the same as those accepted. It’s easy to get a false sense of security from looking at the accepted students profiles.


I think with a student with this kind of record the safety can be more selective than that. If they lived in New York State, Bing and SBU would be safe safeties imo, and they’re both around 40%. The kid has to be happy with the safety, and for a high-level candidate a lot of 80% schools will feel like an undermatch.

Two schools that have a lot in common with your reaches (and yes, Vandy, Cornell, CMU, etc are firm reaches) are Case Western and Rochester. These would be solid matches for you and a good layer of protection between the top of your list and your true safety. Good luck—you look like a great candidate for your reaches, but you need to cover these other bases.


Certainly the student has to be enthusiastic about the school, but if well vetted, it should have nothing to do with acceptance rate. My son’s final three choices that he agonized over had acceptance rates of 80%, 50% and 14%.

Wow is Cornell really a likely? I would ED UPenn and not waste the ED card.

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UToronto is a safety as they admit purely on stats and will admit this student.


Paging @hebegebe to give guidance and recommendations to this strong math student


@lkg4answers @tsbna44 @DramaMama2021 Unfortunately I don’t think I can give my state of residence because it would give away my identity

Thanks to everyone for your responses and constructive criticism. Do you guys have any suggestions for possible safeties/likelies that seem to fit my profile? One of the things I’m looking for in safeties and likelies is a strong alumni association with a lot of connections and alumni willing to help, and that sort of info isn’t really findable online, so I would really appreciate it if you guys have any suggestions, thanks!

Also, the reason I’m debating whether or not to ED Penn is because I think I have a higher chance with ED1 CMU, and I would rather take that higher chance than the possibility of nothing at all, if that makes sense.

Direct admission to the CS major is considerably more difficult than admission to the school at most of these schools. If you get admitted to the school but not the major, the secondary admission to the CS major may be very difficult, except maybe at Wisconsin.

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I think I may actually go a mixture of CS/Math then, especially to the schools that have an easy transfer process from math to CS, so that a few of the schools on my list can actually become safeties.