How does one decide safety and match schools?

Why did the GC tell her she had no shot at Princeton or MIT? While a rejection may be likely, she certainly would be in the race based on what you have told us. But the GC may know more specifically about students with her stats from your HS going for Comp Science.

For the safeties, have her apply really early in the process.

The tricky part is deciding where to use her ED or SCEA. Should she do so at her current reach list or try for MIT or Princeton? I would not reject the GC’s concerns out of hand. I am sure, however, she will end up somewhere great! Good luck.

Adding to the chorus that there is no reason to remove Princeton and MIT from the list if those are schools of high interest for her, as they sound like they are. If Princeton is a front runner, she could try SCEA. MIT has non-restrictive EA, but somebody upthread says it doesn’t boost one’s chances.

D was advised by the school’s college counselor that it was doubtful she’d get accepted to one of her choices unless she applied ED. She applied RD and got in.

One thing I learned this year from how my daughter’s friends fared is that admissions at top 20ish schools can seem utterly capricious. Why does somebody get WL or denied at Case Western and Rice but then accepted to Columbia? Or denied at Cal Tech but accepted with merit at Harvey Mudd?

She might want to add Case Western as a possible match. Demonstrated interest is very important there, as Case does not like to be considered a fallback option. Her stats would probably get her a significant merit scholarship as well. I suspect that EA submission helps (which would put SCEA elsewhere off the table). The reason I say this is that I know qualified students who were rejected in the RD round and similarly qualified students who got in with merit in the EA round. Case also likes high test scores, which your daughter has. My daughter really liked it (ended up as her #2 choice); she decided in the end that she preferred a LAC.

Washington University St. Louis (if it’s not too far away), while also in the reach category, is not as high reach as Princeton/MIT/Penn. Demonstrated interest also important.

I think your D’s chances would be reasonable at Rice. And finally, Vanderbilt - a classmate of my daughter who is Asian/female/STEM - will be attending in the fall.

Your D sounds like a very accomplished young woman. I’m sure she’ll have many options when the time comes!

Thank you all for wonderful suggestions. One of them was for us to look at Naviance. So we did. My DD seems to be at the top end of the scattergram and the good news is that there have been kids who have gone to these Reach schools over the past 3 years (not a lot but 1-3 to each). Interesting there has been 1 every year going to Princeton and 1 to MIT over the last 3 years.

From the comments I gather our list is not bad and may be we could add a few Reach schools. There was also a suggestion to look at RPI and WPI. We did look at RPI and it is so similar to UPitt in many ways for comp sci that we decided one of them is enough. We never really looked at WPI.

EA/ED - our choices are such that all our Reach schools are ED only. My D is having a trouble picking one that she feels is absolutely the one she will go to no matter what if admitted. However I hear UPenn is subtly pushing more and more to apply for ED. I hope they don’t turn into a UChicago.

GC’s suggestions - Just to clarify my D’s GC never pushed her hard to drop MIT or Princeton. She has been very helpful despite her workload (tending to 80-90 kids isn’t easy). But she apparently mentioned that comp sci is one of the hardest to get into and so safety/match for other majors may not apply. She had also mentioned that Princeton especially looks for spectacular ECs hence her push back.

I am feeling better with our choice(s) and this forum has been a great help! Thanks again

You are correct that CS is one of the hardest majors to get into when applying to some of the schools you mentioned. I would say keep MIT and Princeton. MIT and CMU CS are equally selective and rigorous. My other advice would be to apply to another school at CMU, such as the Humanities, because that would be considered a safety or low match (I think it was only one application fee, but I could be wrong). My son did this and was waitlisted at CMU CS school, but was accepted to Humanities. He could have chosen to try and transfer after the first year into the school of CS, but he didn’t want to take the risk that he wouldn’t get in so he went elsewhere. The good news is that she’s a girl. It’s much harder for a boy going into CS, I think, because there’s so many of them.

“EA/ED - our choices are such that all our Reach schools are ED only.”

Not quite. For example, I believe your kid could apply to Princeton SCEA and MIT EA. And then still be able to apply EA to any state school (UMich, GaTech, Pitt, Penn State) and any other private college with unrestricted EA (like Case Western).

You’d be giving up the chance to shoot the ED bullet at places like Penn or Cornell (which helps on the admissibility). But you’d be gaining a lot of early feedback and acceptances which can greatly inform and simplify the strategy in the RD round.

Just make sure you are OK with paying $280k cash, because the list you are considering is extremely likely to wind up with a full pay price tag.

TL;DR, so if it was mentioned, sorry. Female acceptance rate is substantially higher than that for males at MIT. It’s still VERY competitive, but if she wants to go, by all means, add it back to the list.

As was mentioned previously, if you’re okay paying over a quarter of a million for a UG degree, that’s fine, but there are alternatives. Take my son’s school for instance, Cal Poly. CS is a VERY competitive admit (less than 10%), but even paying OOS, it will be at least $100k less than MIT. Their CS grads are in high demand. My son’s roommate is a CS major. He’s doing a summer internship in SF that includes a flat, meals, a BART pass and pays $44/hr.

There are certainly other schools out there with similar stories.

Good luck.

The comp sci is different issue also applies to naviance. You don’t know if the kids that got in were going for comp sci or something completely different.

So if this student keeps MIT and Princeton on the list, what is the advice for the ED pick? Does she do ED to one of those or to one of the schools where she has at least a slightly better chance of admission?

Princeton and MIT don’t admit by majors, though Princeton does ask if you are going into engineering. Carnegie Mellon, does have separate schools. My son said he wasn’t interested in going there if he couldn’t major in CS. So he didn’t have the annoyance of trying to write one essay for two different programs. If she knows she wants to study computer science, I wouldn’t count on being able to get there through a backdoor if SCS rejects her. As a young woman she likely has a slightly better chance than the guys, but SCS at CMU is more difficult to get into than Princeton and MIT and you won’t be able to see that from your Naviance data. You can see why here though:

As others have said, I would only do ED if the student is 100% certain that he/she wants to attend one particular school above all others and that financial and/or merit aid are not in the equation.

Otherwise, SCEA will still allow your D to apply early to public universities and RD to others. And don’t forget schools with rolling admissions and schools that offers automatic admission/merit for high stats kids (e.g. Alabama).

I think your D can afford to have a few more reaches and a few matches. I don’t think safeties need to have a 90% reach with stats at your D’s level. As long as you show demonstrated interest (if taken into account), a 30% to 50% accept rate is fine. Once you gain early admission to a match/safety (as per above), D can feel more free to reach for the big reach schools as long as she throws in a couple of matches.

I know you said that your D is not keen on LACs, but maybe one that is part of a consortium would be more to her liking? If so, I’d look into the Claremont Consortium (Mudd in particular, but that’s a big reach)

MIT doesn’t do ED – only non binding EA with no admissions boost.

Princeton does non-binding SCEA, which means you can’t do binding ED someplace else.

Seems like the kid should definitely apply non-binding EA to MIT. No reason not to.

Then do an ED or an SCEA (only exists at HYPS).

Then do as many other EAs as you can fit in under the applicable rules.

Then everything else is an RD. Do as many as you feel like doing based on what the early returns say.

But also apply early to Penn State and Pitt for Comp Sci to have an acceptance in the fall just in case things don’t go the way she hopes.