Chance Me (Yale, Columbia, Pomona)

Demographics

  • international student
  • Latin American country, but originally from Asia (been to a few other Latin American countries because of my father’s job)
  • Private American school
  • Female, East Asian
  • Other special factors: none. not a legacy, first generation, or anything

Intended Major(s): History or East Asian Studies

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 96 something, my school’s system does not show the unweighted value
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 103.033 (my school doesn’t show GPA out of 4)
  • Class Rank: My school does not release class rank
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1560 (SAT), 770 (SAT World History Subject test schore)

Coursework
Grade 10 (I moved to the current school in Latin America from the one in Asia at the beginning of 10th):

  • AP Art History 5
  • AP World History 5
  • AP Seminar 5
    *Everything else (math, English, PE, physics, Spanish was at standard level)

Grade 11: this year was the first year of the IB program, but I took a few AP exams along with it

  • IB Physics SL (for all IB classes, my predicted scores have not been revealed)
  • IB Spanish ab initio
  • IB Business Management SL
  • IB Analysis (Math) HL
  • IB History of 20th Century HL
  • IB English Lang/Lit HL
  • IB Theory of Knowledge
  • AP Research (took the class and submitted report to CB)
  • AP Macro (only took the exam, results not out yet)
  • AP Micro (only took the exam, results not out yet)
  • AP insert language here that I cannot reveal for privacy reasons (only took the exam, results not out yet)

Grade 12: I am going to continue pursuing the IB program plus AP European History

Awards

  • 3rd place at an international debate competition with over 500 teams participating
  • Won an award at an entrepreneurship program provided by Stanford. Only about 20 students from over 200 that applied were accepted to the program, and only 2 won an award at the end
  • Numerous MUN awards (best delegate at a domestic college level conference, best of best delegate at an international one with 300 participants, etc)
  • Third place in domestic speech contest where I discussed about a competition I organized
  • Semi finalist in national math competition

Extracurriculars

  • President of online international MUN organization (so far, we have organized 8 different conferences and have had people from 40 countries, 120+ cities come)
  • Summer research assistantship with a history professor at one of the Ivy League schools
  • Internship at a historical research organization helping out organize data of dug up articrafts and tracing back their history
  • An oral history project related to my Asian heritage and interest in history
  • Organized an international debate competition with 500 registered participants (only about 350 came lol)
  • Math club president at school (just got this position, haven’t done anything yet)
  • Creator of newspaper club at school (regular publishing of articles, but have not done anything outstanding yet. if you have any cool idea, please give me advice)
  • President of city’s local group on fighting Asian discrimination
  • Swimming for five years (still in JV, so idk if I should put this in)
  • Teaching English to Asian kids (when I say Asia, I am talking about one country but I don’t want to reveal it for privacy reasons). Have been doing it since 7th grade.

Cost Constraints / Budget

  • My parents are not willing to pay any more than $20,000 a year. At the current moment, my biggest hope is getting a full 4 year scholarship from an organization in my home country. (Just a question here: how hard is it to get financial aid from the few colleges need-blind to international students?) My parents’ income is around $120,000 a year

Schools

  • Safety: no idea, I really do not know what schools an international student like me can apply and have a high chance of getting some scholarship. Please match me with some colleges I could be interested in.
  • Likely: don’t know either, for the same reason as above. Please match me with some colleges I could be interested in.
  • Match: University of Miami (have lived there in the past and really liked the campus), University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, Vanderbilt (is Vanderbilt too high level for a match?)
  • Reach: Yale, Columbia, Pomona

Note: Please be brutally honest of the chances I have of getting into these top colleges. I’d rather see the reality now and settle for a place that actually matches my level than have my heart broken next March.

You should be a competitive applicant for all 3 reach schools, but I cannot assess your chances beyond that broad statement due to the ultra competitive nature of admissions at Yale, Columbia, & Pomona.

It might help if your application noted in which languages you are fluent or proficient.

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You have had a lot of great opportunities & made the most of them- congratulations! Your challenges, as I am sure that you know are that 1) you need a lot of financial aid and 2) only about 15% of the 8% of applicants that Columbia accepts will be international students (the range is 8-15% across US colleges).

Your financial aid situation could be somewhat complicated, as you indicate that your parents are willing / able to spend 15+% of their gross income on your college experience. My guess is that they are on some sort of expat package. Have you tried any NPCs?

There are schools (such as Colgate) that are need-aware for international students but that will meet full need if they accept you. Colleges that provide merit aid will be trading your high stats for their financial aid, so will typically not be the kind of brand name you are looking for.

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While you will be a competitive applicant, with that budget I don’t think you will be able to afford most of the colleges that you listed.

Yale and Columbia only give need based aid, and with your Family’s income you won’t qualify. Why do they only want to pay 20K a year? With that budget you’ll need a lot of merit aid.

Vanderbilt should be a reach, because it would only be affordable if you get their full ride scholarship, and obviously that is very competitive as well. I think it is open to international students as well, but double check that.

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Why do you think this is so? I’ve spent more time looking at Yale than Columbia, but the Ivies will generally make some level of need-based aid available for most families with incomes up to $200k, albeit on a sliding scale. My own family income is slightly higher than OP, and the NPC indicates that my D22 would receive substantial aid from Yale, bringing net cost down to about $17k. I haven’t seen anything to suggest that international students would receive aid from this small group of elite “need blind/meets full need for intls” schools by some different method, though I guess that’s possible. Obviously each financial aid situation is unique and there are no guarantees, but I think it is plausible that Yale would be within OP’s 20k budget if she were admitted. Pomona also has generous financial aid (our NPC net cost was only 5k more than Yale), but I believe they are need-aware for admissions.

As I recall, Amherst is need-blind/meets full need for international students, so that might be an option for OP also.

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Yeah, looking at Yale’s website if you get in they’ll do their best to make it affordable. Thank you for the correction! Still, international applicants are crazy competitive.

Either way, a budget of 20K with an income of 120K is very strange. OP, are you sure your parents won’t pay anymore?

Yes, very sure. My parents will only be paying the amount that would cost in a typical university in my country of origin, which is only about $5,000~ $10,000 a year. Their deal is that if I can’t go to an American university with a tuition near the typical amount in a uni in my home country, I will just have to give up my dreams on the US and settle for a lower level uni in my home country (of course, it will be one of the top unis domestically, but in terms of international ranking, they will all be very low).
So 20K is REALLY generous for my parents…

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I promise that I’m not trying to pick on you :), but I have to disagree on the budget issue. As someone supporting a family of 5 on an income slightly higher than OP’s family, I can tell you that it’s very difficult to envision carving out 20k for a new annual expense, much less significantly larger amounts. Our budget for D22 is 30k/yr, but that’s only because of prior savings and additional funds that we borrowed against home equity with interest rates historically low. If I had to suddenly budget in an extra 25k or 30k strictly from income, we would need to sell our house and move to a much lower-cost area (likely a far distant exurb).

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Go ahead and apply to the schools that give fin aid to international students, but you also need to apply to lower level schools that give merit to int’l students.

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You can always do a semester abroad in the US, if the college in your country participates in those opportunities. In this way, you can study for a semester and have that experience.

The colleges you’ve selected are very, very competitive. Plus the $20k will probably just cover your flights, US health insurance and your daily expenses. This means that you will need large merit packages. With Covid, the universities lost millions in income. The money is limited and scarce. Your safeties are the universities in your country.

“Settling” for a college in your home country sounds a bit disparaging. I imagine that there are thousands of students in your country who wouldn’t call it “settling”.

Also, there are thousands of US students who are also trying to get scholarships to pay for their college educations and usually don’t get funded. They attend their local community colleges or instate choices if they can afford them.

Yeah, I completely understand on how budget can be an issue. I was just wondering if OP & family was aware on costs. Having a larger budget would increase the range of colleges, but I agree with you completely on how it’s better to work with what you have, not with what you’d like.

The replies so far may sound a little strange to you, you asked about your academic chances, and everybody’s talking finances. But don’t be surprised, there is a huge disconnect here.
On the surface of it, it doesn’t look too bad, if you were to get to a school that is need-blind for international students - you mentioned $120k/year, and some top schools indicate the cost of attendance would be within your budget with such family income AND “typical assets.” However, the innocent phrase “typical assets” is the key here. If your parents have any of the following: a business, a second home, no mortgage on your primary residence, rental property, decent non-retirement savings, investments, etc., etc., they will be surprised how rich they seem to FA office!
This is all based on our experience this year at Pomona, one of the schools on your list but another poster here went through the same thing at Harvard, the most generous of them all. However, Net Price Calculators (the more detailed versions) tend to be quite precise so find out the complete picture of your family assets, if you don’t have it yet, and you’ll know clearly where you stand - that’s exactly the “brutal honesty” you need!
One more thought: maybe your parents’ minds work differently but there are endless posts here at CC about ‘parental attitude adjustments’ - once the kid gets accepted into that fabulous, fabulous school, sometimes $20k becomes $50k… so, who knows?

U Miami is a reach (< 30% acceptance rate), and Vanderbilt is a high reach (<10% acceptance rate).

Neither are full need met, and it is unlikely that you will get enough financial support from either to bring your annual costs down to $20,000 (especially Miami).

UBC and U Toronto, however, are likely matches.

Columbia and Yale are extremely high reaches, especially for international students. If you are from India or China, they are even higher reaches (they accept no more that 2%-3% of the students who apply from these countries). Pomona is not much better.

Apply by all means, but we’re talking lottery-ticket chances for these colleges.

All that being said, there are good colleges in the USA where the chances of international students for admissions are better.

However, to be perfectly honest, an international student who needs financial support is going to have a difficult time being accepted to any colleges which can afford to provide the level of financial aid that you are asking for.

Only Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and Amherst are need blind for international students. That means that at every other college in the USA, your requirement for financial aid will count against you.

Again, by all means apply - your profile is good enough that your chances of being accepted are non-zero. However, they are pretty small.

A way to increase your chances is to apply to colleges which have fewer applicants, but which have good financial aid for international students. You may want to check out Skidmore College and Trinity College for that. They’re still reaches, but not less-than-3%-international-acceptance-rate reaches.