Chance me; I need help picking for EA/Early Decision, please!

Which ivies/‘elites’ could I get into: Dartmouth, Cornell, UChicago, Rice, Brown, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, etcetera.

I have written up all the essays and supps to all the schools I want to apply to but can only pick one school for early action and one for early decision so I just want to be sure I’m not wasting it on a college I won’t get into. Any help would be great! :slight_smile:


  • I’m 2nd in my class of about 600
  • 4.85 weighted gpa, 4.0 unweighted


  • I’ve been an officer in cultural clubs and a writing club in the past four years
  • I established my charity as a school club and have been president/founder for the past 5 years

Comm Service:

  • My organization is county-wide; it involves 20 schools and has helped more than 8,000 students since it’s creation (but the number goes up exponentially every year as we add new methods of collecting and earn grants)
  • We got a grant for our projects last year
  • We’ve showed up in the newspaper many times
  • This is something I want to continue and expand in college, and I’ve talked about that in my essays
  • There’s now an international branch in another country where we’ve done a lot of projects

**I talked to one of the ivy coaches- he didn’t say whether I would be recruited (probably not tbh) but to tell him when I turn my app in and he’ll recommend me to the admission committee and tell them I would be an asset to the team

  • I’m admittedly not the best, I know this, but I’ve gone to numerous national-level regattas and an international one (I was literally 80th or something at worlds but I have gotten a first place in a category and top 10 overall at a national one)
  • My main point for my sport is that I started when I was 13 -six years after most people- and have gotten this far so far
  • I’ve also been in the newspaper for some of this
  • I’m an instructor and a counselor for younger kids and adult classes and camps. I even attended a 3 day seminar 5 hours away to get officially certified


  • My commonapp essay is about teaching abroad in the country I’m originally from in SE Asia and how that has inspired what I want to do in the future
  • I speak another language fluently at home
  • I’m first generation; both my parents didn’t go to college. However, my siblings have gone to and graduated from top ivy universities.
    So I do have sibling legacy, if that counts for anything.
  • My ACT score was a 34 but I was pretty low in the math. I got a 720 on SAT math subject test 1 but I’m not sure if I’m submitting that score
  • Note that I’m bordering on the line of low-income. Over COVID I had to work for my dad (for free) because my mom was physically unable to. Otherwise, I’ve been working since I was 15.

My worry is that I’m not ‘academic’ enough- I just honestly was more interested in comm service than participating in scientific research, etcetera, like some other ppl at my school. Or that my profile is just too generic

You COULD get into any of them, you do have great stats. However, it seems like you don’t know what kind of school you want other than it being well-respected. The fact that you are choosing which school to ED/EA to based on which one you have the best chance of being accepted to means you don’t have a clear idea of what kind of school you want to attend. My advice is to ED/EA to your favorite school, because if you did it based in which one you have the best chance of admission then you can end up very unhappy in a couple years. The schools you listed at the top are all vastly different, and although you could like them all for different reasons the “etcetera” implies you just want to go to a T10 school. So take some time and find your dream school, as well as plenty of matches and safeties. If I am missing something lmk

Now onto a different point, I’m not an expert on college admissions but you look pretty academic to me, your GPA is is strong point. What Honors/AP/IB/DE classes have you taken? I am assuming you have taken some judging by your weighted GPA. And if you took APs, what scores did you receive on those tests/classes? What state do you reside in? Geographic diversity is big for colleges. If you do not want to disclose that info that’s fine. I’m trying to say someone from North Dakota or West Virginia has a better chance of acceptance purely because of the number of applications from those states :slight_smile:

Thank you for responding! The reason why I’m asking for advice on this is because I kind of don’t have the financial liberty to pay 90 dollars application fee (like for Stanford) just because it’s my dream school even if I probably wouldn’t get in. But! My dream school is Stanford, then Columbia or Yale. :slight_smile:

I took IB all of high school and AP classes as elective as well as outside of school. I honestly am not that great of a scorer- I’ve gotten a 5 on two exams then 4s on the rest (one 3). My IB scores are pretty average (I got a 7 on a lang one but I speak it fluently and 5 on bio) and I got a 4 on calc which is just passing and emphasizes my weak spot for math. I wouldn’t mind disclosing it but I have an irrational fear that somebody I know will recognize who I am among the millions of users here! I’m from the southeast if that helps anything?

Thank you again!

If application fees are an issue, you should run the NPC for each school you are interested in and show the results to your family who will be paying the bill. While many of these schools are generous with need-based financial aid, there is still the potential to have a gap between what the school says your family can afford and what they are able, and willing, to pay.

If you need to be able to compare financial aid offers, then ED or any binding agreement really isn’t an option. In my opinion, the only thing worse than a rejection is an acceptance to a school that comes with a price tag that is out of reach.

Congratulations on your charity.
I do think you will get a good look at any top college. The odds are all quite low for anyone as you know.
For your situation I would be strongly looking for scholarships at colleges that enable you a free ride or significant tuition assistance
Look more for fit than “elite” status. Wash U & Bates maybe a good choice
Also if community service is your passion take a good look at Pitzer. They have more Fulbright scholars than any other Ivy. Oberlin is another.
Don’t just blindly follow college rankings but try to see which college is a “fit” for you as a person & more importantly enables you to afford a quality education without straining your family financially. You can be successful from anywhere. Find a place that you will enjoy being at.

Thank you for the advice! However, my parents moved to America and worked very hard to pay my siblings and I through the best universities (which in their [and honestly my] mind are ivies). Through those colleges, I have the most job security, in our opinion. It would be frankly a dishonour to ignore their efforts and their wishes. Plus ivies are known as elites for a reason: it’s not only the level of education that is ‘elite’ but also the connections and networks you can form. Also, I’ve always dreamed of attending Stanford University. When visiting family in San Fran, I’ve also visited the campus. Same for Columbia. Yale has a strong emphasis on community service in New Haven, which is why it’s also a top choice :slight_smile:

I may have come on to0 strong, sorry! What I mean to say that while I am of course applying to state universities and non-ivies, there’s no discussion about whether or not I will strive and apply to ivies. And a particle accelerator on campus? Daytrips to Oakland and San Fran? Able to visit relatives on the weekend? Being a part of a cultural house? Taking courses with Beth Van Schaack? Yes, please! Trust me, I’m looking beyond just the ivy status!

Seems like Stanford is your choice then.

If Stanford is your dream then EA to Stanford is the obvious choice. All of the Ivies are far reach for virtually everyone so it makes sense to take your best shot with the one overwhelming choice in your mind and see what happens. Have a balanced perspective to college selection and keep a list of colleges that are targets and safeties in addition. Good luck for Stanford!

Pitzer’s not an Ivy and Bates now has more Fulbrighters. But maybe we’re splitting hairs.

The applicant has to decide. It’s both your responsibility and your right. But with your focus on stats and a charity, I can wonder how much you really understand what it takes to get into a tippy top. Lots of kids start some sort of non-profit. Many do this for distant places and miss local engagement. Many write about their country of origin, speak another language at home. And it’s not the Composite that matters to top reach colleges. It’s subscores. If you’re any sort of STEM major, the math score(s) will matter.

On top of that, if you can’t choose, don’t have that level of enthusiasm for a top choice, adcoms can sense that. They recognize “any top college will do.”

My best advice is to spend as much time as you can on your essay. Stanford is a big reach for even the most talented students. 96% of applicants are rejected, so frankly, that’s what you should expect. Don’t let your essay come across as a generic top student. When you write, make sure the adcomm reading your essay will remember you. Stanford receives about 50,000 applications. They want to know who you are in some memorable way and how you will be an asset to the student body. Everyone that gets accepted to Stanford is a top student. That’s a baseline. You’ve got to go beyond that and convince them you’d be an amazing asset to the class of '25.

But the essay needs to be relevant to what they look for. You can’t begin to understand what that is, if you’re looking at these schools primarily in terms of reputation. Not even “swell educational opportunity.”

It’s not about just standing out, but matching what they want. The writing isn’t much like high school writing, where a teacher wants to encourage whatever revelations. And it’s meant to use, “Show, not just tell,” in revealing the traits they look for.

I often think the first key is not the essay, but Activities. A tippy top will look at choices made, look for the right balance- depth and breadth- for what that shows them about you, how you extend in multiple ways, not just same old/same old. That doesn’t mean quirky (or even spikey.) When you stand back, there’s a lot of conformity expected.

Pitzer also doesn’t offer much in the way of merit aid.