ED UPenn M&T v.s. REA Stanford

Hi all,

I am a rising senior and I’ll be applying this fall to colleges. I had a question to ask: should I apply ED to UPenn M&T or REA to Stanford?

Here’s my dilemma: I know M&T is a fantastic program and it gives many extremely good opportunities if I get in. But, if I get into M&T, then I feel like I will really regret not getting the chance to even apply to Stanford because it has always been my dream school and I always wanted the chance to apply.

As per my numerical statistics, I have a 3.9 UW GPA (my school gives 4.000 for A (95-100) and 3.666 for A- (90-94)) and a 1590 on the SAT. I am also a National AP Scholar.

What do I do?

If you are concerned about a what if scenario, you should not apply ED.

1 Like

@Eeyore123 Fair enough, but UPenn has stressed that they favor students that apply early. On the other hand, Stanford has made it clear that they do not decide based on whether you choose to apply REA or regular.

What I mean when I say this is that I have a better shot at apply M&T versus applying to Stanford. Obviously if I don’t get into M&T or get deferred, there won’t be any problems as I will have the opportunity to apply to any school. But if I do get accepted, then I lose the chance for Stanford which has always been my dream.

1 Like

Can someone please reply? Here are some more stats to give you just a tad more background. I don’t want to release everything as that would most likely release my identity.

  • 126 on AMC 12
  • 800 on SAT Math 2, Physics.

Bump again…

Early Decision is for applicants who have researched their potential colleges thoroughly and have a clear first choice. From what you have written it sounds like Stanford is your first choice.

You have more control over your dreams than you have over any other part of your application.

For years, Collegekid1 dreamt of going to a specific program at a specific university, but a really exciting bird-in-the-hand came up for undergrad, so she decided to defer the dream until grad school. Finished college, worked a couple of years, applied to grad school and -hooray!- she got into the program that she had dreamed of for some many years! But then- wow- a long shot app to another program came through. And after a long hard think about the pros and cons of each school, she decided that although she would always have a little pang about letting go of that dream, the other school was the better one for the bigger picture of where her evolving dreams are taking her.

Because college isn’t an end itself: it’s part of moving you towards your larger goals. And dreams are not fixed. Pretty sure that you have already let go of some early dreams- because new, bigger dreams took their place. Re-examine what it is that you are dreaming about- just because it was what you told everybody you wanted when you were X age doesn’t mean you have to have the same dream at X.5 or X + 2.

@Eeyore123 is right: if you are torn you aren’t ready to commit to ED/REA. I understand wanting to hedge your bets- the collegekids in our house have done plenty of weighing odds! - but for college and for all of life the best bet is to follow your truest heart. If your dream of Stanford is not one you can let go of or re-shape, then don’t commit to ED someplace else - even if it’s the longest of long shots.

And, in the un-asked for advice category, I would put 10x the energy you are putting into this decision into picking matches and safeties that you can love.

@Fifty Yes, but if I get deferred or rejected from Stanford, then I will have a smaller chance of getting accepted to M&T through regular decision. Do you think I should still just stick to applying Stanford REA?

@collegemom3717 Thanks for advice. I don’t necessarily see how the first part of your message pertains to my question, but thanks anyway. I am aware that college is not the “end all be all” (or whatever the proper saying is). It’s still important to go to a well-regarded college for undergraduate. Your message is to some extent undermining all of the effort put in by high schoolers trying to get into top colleges for undergraduate every single year. I never said that I got rejected and was looking for consolation. It’s also not true that I don’t like M&T, because I love that program as well. I’m simply just facing a hard decision as to which to apply to early.

As per the second part of your message, this is definitely relevant. My heart lies with Stanford, but obviously M&T is extremely attractive to me as well. Based on my achievements and ECs, M&T seems almost tailored to a student like myself. But it’s just always been my dream to go to Stanford. Again, I’m just torn between the two.

Definitely no intention to undermine any student, and especially not the big dreamers! But when you are talking about programs that take <5% of applicants, purely by the numbers it is irrational not to make provision for the possibility that it might not work out as you hope.

My main point was that dreams evolve and change, and sometimes we get in our own way if we don’t re-evaluate them. A student who falls in love with a program at 14 (as my collegekid did) has (or should have!) changed a lot by 18, and more again by 25. Re-evaluating your dreams in light of how you (and the world) have changed makes sense- and if that re-evaluation says, ‘yes, no matter what that is my first choice’- then go for it.

ps where is MIT’s Course 15 on your radar?

@collegemom3717 Of course, these are simply my top 2. I have my own designated college list with safeties, etc.

On another note, MIT is phenomenal, but I feel like as a person I would fit better in Stanford. Many people I know who go to Stanford have very interesting personality types in some way or the other. Stanford masterfully drafts a class in such a way that each student will have something to take away from every student they interact with, which is what is so attractive to me apart from the fact that Stanford is Stanford and has world-class institutions and professors. While MIT is fantastic, my friends that have gotten in are simply just exceptional geniuses with IQs of ~175 or above and they are simply just very hard to interact with.

As per regular decision, I will definitely apply to MIT.

I get that about a lot of MIT students, @topsological, but my experience is on the Sloan side & I think. you will find…a bigger range?..of students/

btw I like your main reason for being drawn to Stanford.

If you feel like you’ll be hung up on Stanford, then no, you should not apply ED to Penn. That said, it is quite possible that the Stanford SCEA/Penn RD combination could result in a double rejection, and you should feel comfortable with attending a school that’s neither Stanford or Penn if you decide to go the SCEA route at Stanford.

I have always disagreed with posters who say that ED is only for students with a clear first choice. I think it is only important that a student feels 100% comfortable attending that particular college. Realistically most high-achieving students thrive and are pretty happy regardless of the college they choose.

1 Like

@warblersrule As I said above, I am fully prepared to be rejected by both M&T and Stanford. After going through many ups and downs throughout my high school career and simply in life in general, I feel like I can face anything with some sort of positive attitude and still work hard to survive. That being said, there is no question that the degree of hard work necessary to achieve opportunities for internships and certain opportunities is greater at slightly inferior universities (which is why where you go for undergraduate does matter to some extent). In any case, mental preparedness has nothing to do with what I had initially been asking about.

I think I am perfectly comfortable with attending UPenn. It is a fantastic, fantastic school. My relatives have went to UPenn, so I also have a legacy there. But again, my dilemma is that part of my heart keeps drawing itself towards Stanford. I’ve been touched by many people who have attended Stanford, and I can’t help but feel that if I go there, I will meet more and more people who will continue to inspire me and will be able to share my own stories in the same way.

@collegemom3717 Thanks, and Sloan definitely seems like a fantastic place! The problem is that I feel that students that are accepted to MIT under my demographic as an Asian Male are completely exceptional students; when considering only Asian Males, the acceptance rate to MIT is on the order of ~0.5%. In that regard, I am not considering earlying to MIT, but if early applications do not go in my favor, I will certainly apply and test my luck.

These two schools/programs are among the most selective. M&T is also highly self-selective. Your odds of admittance are better than average but still very low. If your goal of early admission is to maximize those odds, then REA to Stanford doesn’t really offer much of a boost, unless you have a hook. On the other hand, its acceptance doesn’t limit your options as Penn’s ED does.

@1NJParent It seems that you are missing the point of this topic. For starters, you are not familiar with any of my achievements from throughout high school and are basing my application solely off of a few statistics that I provided you as background information; with that you are determining my “odds of admission” which is flawed.

I am certainly aware of UPenn being binding (hence the term “ED”). But hence arises my dilemma. If I do get into UPenn M&T, this restricts me from applying anywhere else. If I apply to another school during my early application process, then this may deprive me of a spot at M&T, as UPenn has made it clear that they prefer students who apply early as it is a proclamation of their loyalty and interest in the program (but gives me the opportunity to apply Stanford). Clearly, admissions is not guaranteed. But I need someone to weigh out all of my thoughts and simply tell me exactly what I should strategically do.

IMO one should only apply ED if the following two conditions are both true: 1) the school appears to be affordable and 2) the school is the applicants absolute first choice. Since Penn does not meet those criteria for you I would not apply there ED.

And as others have noted both of these schools, with acceptance rates in the single digits, have to be considered a real reach for any unhooked applicant.

Be sure you spend the time and energy to research and develop a well thought out application list that includes match and safety schools that appear affordable and that you would be excited to attend.

We all understand your dilemma, but nobody can give you an answer. You keep coming back to the fact that you will regret not giving yourself a chance at Stanford if you apply ED to Penn. Nobody here can help you with that. You have to work it through.

In truth, you are debating between two teeny tiny chances. Your stats are the same as the stats of almost every applicant. But assembling an incoming college class is more like casting a play than selecting the “best.” Your chance of acceptance at either one of these schools is not zero. But based solely on admissions stats, it’ very, very low.

I think is time for a little Voltaire.

Many young people fall into this trap. You are deep in it.

@Eeyore123 Hmm, I never specifically said that I wasn’t fine with the “good”. I am strictly speaking of my early decision strategy, which include my top 2 schools. Or perhaps do you think I should apply elsewhere?

@brantly You’re right, I guess it’s not actually possible for someone to tell me exactly what school I should apply to as no one knows my stats, knows who exactly I am, nor what my preferences are. This is most likely a decision that I’ll have to make by myself. Of course, I am certainly aware of the admissions rates for both programs and how they are statistically extremely slim (but obviously note that my numerical stats are not including my achievements/ECs or even my contest scores on olympiad contests). I am also aware how both of these programs are considered reaches for any applicant.

@happy1 I have said this previously; I will reiterate. I have a college list along with many safeties. These are simply my top 2 choices.

Thank you all for the advice!