Hi, my son wants to do CS. He was getting straight As till Grade and then a mix of As (in Math, Science) and Bs in IB Diploma Grade 11. He had a bad 1st quarter in Grade 12. His SAT superscore is 1390 so far. He has been doing excellent voluntary work and has a consistent body of work in CS related stuff. What kind of names should he target for a ED? Also, I understand ED should be a reach/ dream school; are schools also keener to secure students through ED?

A lot of schools will take a lot of their freshman class from ED but keep in mind this includes legacy students and hooked students as well. Typically ED acceptance rates are higher because schools are looking to fill some of their yield. Any level of school could be an ED school and doing ED is really the ultimate form of showing interest.

Thanks. I have come across this term “hooked students” but no idea what it means. Is it some kind of pre placement offers that colleges have made to very high performing US students? My son is an international applicant and we have never heard this term.

A “hook” is something the student can bring to the college that they especially want so that would be something like a recruited athlete, the child of a big donor or legacy student.

Also, there are not separate standards for ED applicants. If your son’s grades aren’t competitive enough to be admitted during RD, applying ED isn’t going to make a difference.

The original premise of Early Decision is for colleges to offer a binding decision early in the season to those students who have decided that a given college is his/her absolute first choice. It is presumed that the student knows a lot about the college and is as sure as can be that this is the school he wants. A contract is signed during the application process by applicant, parent and School counselor that the student understand that once acceptance is offered early, that the student will pull all other applications. He has committed to go there.

What the college gets is committed students early on. They can provide a base for the student body and the rest of the applications assessed knowing who is going to come already. The college doesn’t have to wonder if that student is coming to the school or not because of that commitment. It’s always an anxious situation for Admissions in that they do not know who is accepting Admissions offers until May 1 and usually in a big burst at that time. At least they have the ED students that are pretty much sure things.

For that, the student can end all of this college application process early, and often get a bit of a boost from many schools in chances of acceptance.

Adding to the great responses above, ED does not need to be used for a reach school. It’s the school your student loves best.

And if there is no clear cut top choice, or you need financial aid and need to compare offers, do not apply ED.

CS is one of the most competitive majors in the US right now. A 1390 and mixed grades are going to be a hard sell for an international student. Your student should start looking for fit over rankings.

@momofsenior1 we have been trying to look at rankings within the fit. Just to be sure that we are not totally off track, can you please give some examples of what you consider as fit in this range?

There is way more to consider for fit in the US than just gpa and SAT scores. What courses were taken? Highest level of math reached? Class rank? Awards? Leadership? Volunteer work? (Note that US high schools can be notorious for grade inflation which isn’t the case in other parts of the world so estimated class rank is helpful to include).

Then there is what kind of college your son wants. Big or little? Urban or rural? LAC or research university? Geographic location?

There are thousands of colleges in the US, hundreds that would be an academic fit, especially if you are full pay…

@momofsenior1 thank you. My son has a decent body of volunteer work with leadership. Ranking is not declared by his school and they have asked us not to report it. I don’t want to factor in too many criteria but urban and coast may fit him best for the first time. Not fussed about size. We have Purdue, Binghamton, UM, Ohio State, Santa Clara in the EA round. Also applying to the lower ranked campuses of UC since one application covers all campuses anyway. Would you consider this a right mix or off target?

For computer science specifically, look into RIT.

If you student is not top 10% of his class, I think many of these schools are going to be a reach for CS.

Which UM? If Michigan, that would be a high reach.

I don’t know enough about Santa Clara or Bing (although they are kind of the flagship of the SUNY system and tend to be more competitive).

My D goes to Purdue. CS is highly competitive which a much, much lower acceptance rate than the rest of the university. My D is in CoEng and for her class a few years back, the average GPA was a 3.9 and and ACT of 33/SAT 1500. CS in CoSci has even higher stats for their incoming class. I believe the same is true for CS at OSU.

Again without context for grades, I’m just going off your student’s SAT score which is low for these schools for his intended major.

I’d also add RPI and maybe Case Western to look into.

Also note that the majority of the schools you listed do not have early decision, only non binding early action.

Understand that if your son is accepted ED to the school he chooses as such, he is obligated to withdraw applications to all of the others unless you have applied for financial aid and do not get the package that makes it doable. So if he chooses, say Santa Clara University as his ED choice, it’s game over for college applications. He is going to go there. Is he ready to make that kind of commitment in a couple of months to a school? The boy some students are in fall is a completely different person from the man they may become on May 1.

For most students, the #1 fit factor is affordability.

As the parent, have you determined the budget? Also, your state of residency matters.

If there is no clear affordable first choice, then it is probably not a good idea to apply ED anywhere.

OP’s son is an international applicant. Are you living in the US now? Agree, the slip in grades, including senior year, and SAT pose a challenge. We’d need to know a lot more about his courses and activities before suggesting programs.

You can look at the colleges’ web sites for info about GPA and score ranges for their freshman class, sometimes there’s detail about admits. It helps to make sure he’s close to the 75th percentile or higher. And then, expect the competition in STEM to be even higher. Don’t forget that any averages or “mid-50th percentile” numbers also include kids getting admitted to far less competitive majors.