Wouldn't it be a big mistake to blindly spend my top-cluster choice on something I will never get in, no matter how interested I am in the subject?
<p>Oh please. The only thing holding you back at this point is your attitude. If you don't apply for that cluster at all, you're NOT going to get in. If you do apply, you have a chance, however small you may consider it.</p>
<p>Every year, there are seemingly brilliant applicants who get rejected, and seemingly average ones who get accepted. You can't try to predict the application reviewers' decisions in your application.</p>
<p>And as mentioned above, you get other cluster choices, too. Picking a different cluster - one in which you are less interested - would be blindly spending your top choice.</p>
When I asked one of my teachers for a rec today, he implied how pointless such an attempt to be...and basically hinted that I will get rejected.
<p>Find another teacher to write your rec. He may be right, for the record, but that doesn't mean you should be complacent and not even bother applying to that cluster.</p>