Chances of Admission for top universities in engineering?

I wish to apply to top universities for engineering major this year and would like to know my odds of being accepted. Here are my choices (not finalized, open to suggestions) and my resume is attached below:

Uchicago (molecular engineering)-Probably ED
Caltech (Maybe too high?)
Columbia (maybe too high?)
UMich-Ann Arbor
Georgia Tech
Carnegie Mellon

-Gender: Male
-Ethnicity: Asian (Chinese)
-Nationality: Canadian (but will be applying from China unfortunately)

IB student
English A Lit. SL, Chinese A Lan & Lit SL, Physics HL, Economics HL, Mathematics AA HL, Chemistry SL
Predicted score 42~44/45

GPA (our school only has quintiles, no rank)
• G9: 4.118 (top 20%)
• G10: 4.031 (top 20%)
• G11:4.223 (top 20%)

Standarized testing
• TOEFL 120 (full score)
• SAT 1510 (plan to take again in Aug.)
• SAT II physics: 800
• AP World history, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Statistics: 5

Awards and Honours
-US National STEM League '18,'19; 3rd overall (50+teams), 5 events 1st., 18&19 aerodynamics champion
In the NSL, each team engineers RC vehicles, including a race car, a programmed rover and a UAV, and participates in multiple races. In addition, there are enterprise categories such as business and PR to simulate a startup. Final overall ranks are decided by total points from different events, each with event awards. In the first year of competing, I pioneered the movement of the NSL from a US contest to global as the first international team. I headed my team in engineering and single-handedly acquired $1900 sponsorship. I also conducted extensive airflow simulations and singly took the first place of aerodynamics section. In the following year, I analyzed data from last year and implemented innovative solutions to improve our performance, as well as $3000 sponsorship with technical support. I achieved the aerodynamics champion again, my method broke records in pitstop challenge and became the first team to achieve autonomous parallel parking in NSL history

-United Kingdom Chemistry Olympiad, Gold Medal

-Canadian Chemistry Competition, Special Merit Award(≥20/25 correct), Gold Medal (top 10%)

-Brain Bee China Finals '18, First Prize (Top 15 of 325 students)

-Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge Silver Award (top 15%)

-Honorable Mention (G9) in High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling (HiMCM)

-High Scoring Student (G9) in Mathematical League High School Contest

-Top 25% (G10) in Canadian Intermediate Mathematics Contest

-Honorable Award (3rd place) in National High School Media and Communication Competition & Annual Media Review

-Principal’s List scholarship (in school) (G9, G10)


-Founder/Leader, GTech Club
School’s most awarded STEM club; aquire sponsorship from companies; host STEM exhibitions and fairs; conduct lectures to raise awareness of STEM

-Referee, National STEM League Competition

Grade competitor’s presentations; make speeches in opening ceremony; check vehicles for rule compliance; give race commentary; keep races in order

-Ambassador, National STEM League

Awarded certificate of dedication; lecture in forums to schools&companies like CP21 ForumX; give lessons to new teams; expand STEM&NSL to 30+ schools

-Teacher, Academy Class (a mandatory skills class in my school)
Instruct engineering&NSL competition to peers in a hands-on approach; correct misconception: STEM is a monotounous subject involving labs&machinery

-Guest Speaker, Shanghai Education TV

2 episodes; inform public on neuroscience in daily life by explaining phenomena; Discuss the future of technological development with professors

-Leader, RC Car Arresting System development

Engineer arresting system for RC cars in drag racing; apply patents; used by NSL competition; mitigate crash damage (trial tested+computer simulation)

-Leader, Advanced Lighting and Timing System development

Design the system for drag race; apply patents; used by NSL; record time to microsecond accuracy; quantitative evidence for determining winner

-Leader, Aerodynamics Research

Led a team to test propellers and motor efficacy in electric UAV; design and build experimental setup; conduct computational fluid dynamics simulation

-Coleader, On-Campus Umbrella Rental

Design free&secure umbrella rental service for students&faculty, examine mechanical lockers, program servers, link to WeChat account & school ID

-Volunteer, Puzhi Summer Program

Volunteer at summer program as TA to primary school children; lectured about introduction to STEM, brought in RC cars for hands-on instruction

-Coleader, Xingyu Kindergarten Volunteering
Lead volunteering trips to assist teachers at Xingyu; Assign schedule of volunteer service; plan kindergarten activities; publish WeChat articles

-Tutor, Peer Advisor Program

Tutor students before exams; prepare review guides; create mock questions; explain key terms; all stdts. succeed in moving to a higher-level course

That’s my academics and extracurriculars above. Thank you in advance for reading over this and giving valuable comments!

Is your thinking to only go to the US if you can get into a top program, and to simultaneously apply to Canadian, UK and/or Chinese universities for other options? You have a lot of strong points in what you have posted, but as an international ORM, it is not impossible that you could get shut out from your list. If you are looking at other countries for matches and safeties then that’s not an issue.

Also, I am surprised that UWa isn’t on your list- it’s a strong engineering program, and it has a molecular engineering program.

I would avoid Univ of Chicago, since they’re not ABET accredited. The rest are fine, assuming you get in and you can afford them. I would put in a few more target and safety schools just in case. Also, you might as well apply for MIT.

I agree with the above comments. You have a great resume but your list is all reaches and for international students the acceptance rate is half of what it is for domestic applicants. If your goal is to study in the US, you need to broaden your list.

I also agree that U. of Chicago is not on par for engineering with the rest of your list. You seem to have good engineering design experience already. I don’t understand the point of ED’ing to a school not accredited and without a solid and diverse engineering program.

Based on some of your school choices on your list, add RPI and Purdue to your list.

Also note that if you need financial aid, it will be even more difficult as many of these schools are not need blind for international applicants and don’t meet full need.

Good luck!

Are you a full pay student? UCB/UCLA will be around $65K/year with little to no financial aid.

(not wanting to speak for the OP, but as an fyi, UChic has a molecular engineering program, which is not common)

some clarifications:

  1. I am applying to Cambridge and Imperial College London for UK and also U of Toronto and Waterloo for Canada.
  2. I chose Uchicago’s molecular engineering because I went to the summer school and I found the major phenomenal.
  3. that’s not my full list yet since I’m still working on that. But I am asking for suggestions for fit and safe schools?

What is ABET and if UChicago is not accredited, what impact will it have on my university degrees, assuming I get accepted?

ABET (formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) is the standard certification for Engineering degrees in the US. It is a useful shorthand for prospective engineering students- a degree from an ABET certified program is a leveler when graduates are looking for jobs. Also, many states have licensing regulations that can make it harder for non-ABET graduates to get licensed as engineers.

There are good engineering programs that are not ABET-accredited (CalTech famously withdrew from the ABET certification process,). The UChic program will cover all of the alternative requirements for licensure except possibly course distribution.

ABET doesn’t affect your university degree- you have that either way.

I am going to disagree with the case of University of Chicago. It’s a very unique program that has a world leader running it. Check it out first. These kids have no problems getting jobs. But I do agree it doesn’t fit this kids profile at all so not sure of the interest.

Also this student needs some serious safeties or he will be shut out come decision time.

For your number 2 reach out to

He is a super nice guy or one of his assistants. See what the current job market is for his graduates. It’s a rather new program but it’s a very unique program. We looked into it when it was just starting. It’s an amazing program but not really what my son wanted. Normally, I would agree with the masses here but this is a unique program. Don’t think many employers when seeing you graduate from UChicago with this degree will shy away from you. They also have connections in place. Call /email /learn.

For safeties I would rather go back to Canada for U of T. That said, however, do you have any US safeties to recommend?

Are schools such as UMich- Ann Arbor safe schools for me?

I am planning on emailing them for more information, but should I email to PME or to individual professors (like Prof. Tirrel) or perhaps I can reach out again to my Uchic molecular engineering summer program professor?

It’s a 20% admit rate for UMi engineering overall, only 4% of the (total) incoming class are international students, and the middle 50% SAT for all admitted students is 1340-1530. I wouldn’t bank on UMi being a safety.

@silentviper123 I wouldn’t call UMich a safety. With your stats, it would still be considered a high match. Their engineering department is phenomenal, and their acceptance rate is still below 20%. It’s safer for you than the other schools you have, but I would still look for others. For others to provide safety/match schools, it would be nice to know what type of engineering you would be going into. UChicago’s molecular engineering program is unique, so you’d probably need to find a different major for other schools. Would you be more interested in chemical engineering or bioengineering? Also, what are you looking for in a school? Location? Cost?

Reach out to a few of them but I would try Tirell first. Always nice to put in your application essay that you talked and got information that helped you decide to apply there.

Michigan is never anyone’s safety. My sons a senior there in engineering. Once it gets closer if you have questions pm me. The opportunities there are unreal. But… With internationals down this year due to covid I am not sure if that means they will be more competitive next year?

Go lower in ranking. Take a few hours. Get the

Go through it. I had my son choose program from 1-10, 11-20, 21-30 and son on. Most of his serious acceptances were in the top 10 but what he/we discovered is that there are some truly great programs outside the top 20. Forget about name and rank and really see what the programs and universities offer you…

If you’re looking at safeties for engineering, Virginia Tech and The Ohio State are probably safeties for somebody with your stats, and so is Michigan State University.

Well if all else fails, my safes are canadian schools, which I think I’m pretty qualified?

Thanks for so much advice! I’m definitely interested in UMich’s engineering programs. Do you have an email that I can contact? (Seems like I can’t PM as a new member)