Chance my daughter-for STEM- MIT, CAL Tech, Princeton


  • US domestic: US Citizen
  • State/Location of residency: Northeast
  • Type of high school : Private, moderately competitive
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity: Mixed Race- African American/White

**Intended Major(s): Mech Engineering or Aerospace Engineering

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA : school does not weight
  • Class Rank:school does not rank but anticipate top 1%
  • ACT/SAT Scores: Superscore of 1470 (Math 780, English 690)- this score is what has got us concerned, though she is retaking (fingers crossed). Wishing that she had attempted the ACT, but I think it’s too late (?) to try something new and be ready for Early apps.

Will have had 11 AP courses by graduation ( Calc AB and BC, CHEM, BIO, FRENCH, PHYSICS 1 and 2, US History, Gov, Computer Science, English) and 4 Honors classes (English, French, History, Chem)

Awards- School Merit based scholarship, RPI Medal, Book awards, Robotic Awards, School Alumni Award

Extracurriculars- Student council x 4 years- current Student body president, Robotics Team x 8 years - captain x 2 years , Varsity Squash x 3 years, School newspaper x 4 year- coeditor next year, Yearbook x 4 years-coeditor next year, French Honor Society x3 years- president next year, School Peer leader, Babysitter x 3 years, Summer job as greeter at local hospital, volunteer at local community garden, NASA SEES intern x 2 years

I think LORS will be really fantastic (but doesn’t everyone always think those will be great??). Essay should be really really good… I’m not sure about earth shattering… we’ll have to see

Cost Constraints / Budget - No financial constraints. We will not qualify for financial assistance


  • Safety - Purdue, RPI (her school send lots of students here)
  • Likely - Cornell ( her high school sends several students here every year, most with GPA/SAT lower than or similar to hers
  • Match- Carnegie, U of Virginia
    Match->Reach- UT Austin and Georgia Tech( we are out of state for each).
  • Reach- MIT- top choice by far, Princeton, CalTech, USC, Harvard

I’m just worried about how concerned we should be about the English portion of her SAT. As I stated above, she is retaking. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed. Her choices are pretty reach heavy though she wouldn’t be disappointed with her safeties, likelies or matches. I feel like we should add more to the non reach columns, but am trying to keep in mind my child’s desire to be in or near a larger town

OK - 1) Her test is mostly fine - the math at 780 overcompensates. Don’t put so much on your kid. 1470 is 98th percent.

OK - you say no cost constraints - but do you want to spend $320K if you don’t need to.

Your list is fine but in my opinion your assessments are off:

Safety - I agree on Purdue and RPI. Others would argue that Purdue is not a safety for you however. Since you are looking to add more, and it’s hard to know if you like Urban or Rural; small or large because you have so many but look at Pitt, WPI, and Colorado School of Mines. Rose Hulman (very small) has incredible salaries and it’s very well thought of.- #1 year after year of any school that doesn’t offer a PHD. If you want to go for near free tuition, look at Alabama and Arizona - you can do Honors. Not sure why but you don’t mention your state - it’s likely that your in-state flagship will have good $ for you. Again, just because you can pay doesn’t mean you need to.

Cornell is not likely - because it’s Cornell. It’s a reach for anyone and everyone - so move that to reach. UVA out of state is similar - also a reach and Carnegie Mellon is as well. UT Austin and Ga Tech are also reaches. Basically - you have no matches - those are all reaches.

A match would be Florida, Rochester, Case Western, Va Tech, UMD, Lehigh - perhaps they’re a bit on the low target.

If you can see yourself at one of the safeties, you have nothing to worry about.

It is true there are AMAZING engineering students at most every school - but having an SAT in the 98th percentile is amazing - and the math is much better than most. The ECs are really strong as well - so it may not be Cal Tech or MIT - but it likely wouldn’t be even with a perfect SAT. You have as good a shot as anyone but you have to remember, everyone applying is like you and there are only so many spots.

You’ll end up at a wonderful school - add some safeties/matches. All I mentioned are awesome schools.

Good luck to you.


Your daughter has an excellent profile. However, MIT, Caltech, Princeton receive thousands of applications with a similar profile. Suggest she focusses on CMU (other than CS), Georgia Tech, UVa, UT Austin.


This is a very reach heavy list and other than RPI which would be a likely as a medal recipient, there are no safeties. I think Purdue is a match but engineering gets more and more competitive each year and with the over enrollment this cycle, there maybe an adjustment next year.

Having a hook will help at many schools but she should shoot for getting the SAT above 1500.

Will she take AP physics C as a senior?


I concur that Purdue is not a safety. If you look at Purdue’s Common Data Set, in Section C7 it states that standardized test scores, along with academic GPA and rigor of your high school, are “very important” admissions factors. So as @momofboiler1 suggests, your daughter should try to improve her SAT score.

A safety school is going to be your state’s public flagship university.


She will be taking Physics 2

It looks like we should reassess her list. I’m curious , though, why with her stats, Purdue would not be considered a safety or pretty darn close to it. She’s at the 75% for their English SAT and well above 75% for Math according to their CDS. Only 10% of their class has a 4.0 GPA and Purdue has a greater than 55% acceptance rate.Thoughts?

Thanks for your feedback! I guess I’m being too optimistic with Cornell? I put it as a likely because somewhere between 30 and 40% of the students who apply from her school each year are accepted there (her school is essentially a feeder school). Her GPA, SAT per Naviance are consistent with if not higher than many of those from her school who have been accepted

Purdue engineering stats are much higher than the average for the university, and Purdue admits by college. For D’s class of '22, the engineering AVERAGE stats were 3.9 UW GPA, 33 ACT, 1470 SAT, so your D’s scores would be the average. BUT, that was 3 cycles ago and it gets more and more competitive. I believe I read the engineering acceptance rate was down in the low 30s last cycle.

Cornell also admits by college so you need to be careful to make sure that you are looking at CoE admissions information when you are looking at Naviance.

Talk to the guidance counselor to see if they have more information.

If the school offers Physics C, I’d highly recommend. My D is in honors college at Purdue and every single engineering honors student she knows took at least mechanics in HS but most did both.


30-40% is not likely :). There are thousands of kids applying like and better than her. Some get in that area higher, lower or the same. It’s a lottery and it’s a reach but as you show very possible.

1 Like

OP- make sure your D is interpreting the Naviance data correctly from her HS. It’s not enough to look at who gets in with stats like hers- she also needs to understand who gets REJECTED with stats like hers.

That gives you the broader picture- particularly if the admits include generous legacies, athletes, the first chair in violin in your state’s youth orchestra, etc. Your D has some wonderful EC’s but nothing sticks out as “she is exceptional at XYZ”.

Do kids like her get rejected at Cornell? That means it’s not a likely- it’s a matchy/reachy option. Have you looked at Case, Pitt to broaden your match/safety options???


That’s important to note! I can’t seem to figure out how to subselect Cornell down to the engineering school so I’ll have to talk to her guidance counselor. It looks like only 1 student with GPA higher than hers out of the many admits was rejected. I stated above that she has a 4.0 but she actually has a 4.21 (her school gives a 4.3 for A+); I rounded her GPA down when I posted because I assumed that colleges will probable do the same when evaluating. Several students were rejected with higher SATs but with much lower GPAs… so I guess that’s “goodish news”. We’ve still got to get her SAT up,though.

Also, Pitt is definitely on our radar as my husband graduated from there undergrad and grad. We attended CAsw a western virtual tour and there just wasn’t a “connection”

I think it’s irrelevant what the counselor says. You need a list of reach, target and safety. Assume any Ivy is a reach. All the extra analysts won’t matter because of my next paragraph.

If you have a safety that you can enjoy, afford, and feel good about (preferably two just in case), the rest doesn’t matter. So if Pitt works and one more, then u can apply where u want.

But to me your entire likely and match are reaches. You will be in at RPI. I think you will be in at Purdue. I know others say maybe not. And yes Pitt.

But with Pitt and RPI you are solid if you can afford them and feel proud. That’s a nice worst case.

But if you add a WPI, a case western, a Florida or Ohio State or Va Tech, you’ll create other affordable options as well. Then the rest of your list (match, likely, and reach including Cornell, apply and what happens happens). You’ll have options regardless


From the acceptances I have seen at my son’s high school to top engineering schools like MIT, female, non-Asian, seems to be a decent hook. So MIT, Cornell, Princeton may still be somewhat of a reach but less of a reach than it would be for an unhooked male student with similar stats.


Cornell/CMU/a couple others fall into that bucket where scores/profile may match those of students that are admitted, but a majority of applicants with that profile are rejected. If you have the stats to be admitted, but probably won’t be anyway, is it a Match or a Reach?

Is Virginia Tech in the mix? My D just graduated from Purdue Engineering and VT was a close second choice - the only other one she seriously considered.

Purdue probably doesn’t quite meet a good definition of a Safety. As noted, Engineering admissions numbers are much higher that what the CDS has for the University. I would say it’s quite likely she’ll get in, but a true safety should be on the list. (Ours was Penn State).

1 Like

Well, in part it is a matter of semantics and how you define things. If you were a resident of Indiana, Purdue might be more likely to be “safety” (meaning to me that admission is a slam-dunk guarantee); as an OOS applicant, I would use the term “match” (you are a likely but not guaranteed admit).

As others have noted, GPA/test scores for engineering and computer science tend to be a little higher than those for non-STEM applicants. You might take a look at the Purdue Data Digest, here,, which is interactive and allows you to look at data for “Applications, Admits, and Matriculations” and/or under “Student Enrollment” to see how an applicant compares to other applicants per college or school, residency status, etc.

1 Like

I would not call being female and non-Asian a hook. Statistically, perhaps these students are slightly likelier to get in than males/Asians/both, but the applicant still must be a top student and probably get a little lucky. Your son’s high school probably just has some really awesome applicants who happen to be female and non-Asian. OP is mixed race, and I’m not sure if that counts as URM, which is at least a little bit helpful.

1 Like

Female is definitely a hook at Georgia Tech where the female admit rate is 10% higher than the male admit rate. It would make sense to me that it would be similar among highly competitive engineering schools. Even so, I think Georgia Tech, UVA and UT Austin are all reaches unless you are in state.

Your daughter is obviously very smart, but most of those schools need more than that. Read the mission statement for each school to figure out what they are looking for. Georgia Tech strongly focuses on finding people who have taken steps already to fulfill that mission statement.

1 Like

We have witnessed that so many Asian males got rejected by top schools with better stats in our HS STEM program. Denying that fact is equivalent to “Ostrich policy”.

1 Like