I'm an international student, what are my chances and matches?

Demographics: Asian international. My high school is one of the top 10 schools in my country, with an acceptance rate of 10%

Intended Major(s): Computer science

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: maybe about 3.8 unweighted. My school uses a scale of 10, and my GPA is 9.6
  • SAT: 1550, verbal - 760, math - 790
  • TOEFL: 110, reading 30, listening 30, speaking 23, writing 27


  • I received 3rd place in the team competition in GeCAA 2020, a replacement for International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 because of the pandemic.
  • American computer science league 2021 finalist: my country hasn’t released the results yet but I believe I can get second place
  • Silver award in World Invention Creativity Olympic, an international science competition
  • First runner up in team competition in an international math and science competition for primary and secondary schools
  • Honorable mention in science and technology competition, national level.


  • I am an ambassador of an international nonprofit organization that focuses on international relations between 15 countries, including but not limited to Vietnam, USA, Mexico, India, Indonesia, … . I set up and directed a branch of that organization in my home country.
  • Astronomy: Vice Head of content and expertise department of an Astronomy club at my school. Our goal is to bring astronomy closer to students in my country through events and conferences. I hosted 2 national events and presented in front of 300 teachers how to set up and manage astronomy clubs in school.
  • Robotic: Voted top technician of FRC robotic team. Promoted STEM at different universities and high schools. Led a prototype team in preparation for the FRC 2020 season. Design and supervise the manufacture of various mechanisms on the robot for the 2020 season. This is one of my most committed activities in 10th grade. I spent 8 hours every day during lunar new year’s break traveling back and forth from the factory to school to work on the Robot. Unfortunately, the FRC 2020 season was canceled by FIRST because of the pandemic. I dropped out of the club at the beginning of 11 grade because of a time commitment problem.
  • Science: I’m a member of a science club at my school. We organized science exhibitions and performed experiments at a science exhibition. I led a tour where we performed science experiments at different schools to inspire students to pursue STEM.
  • Community services: I spent 7 days at a mountain building and renovating schools, helping villagers, and raising funds


  • I think my LORs are strong because I know my teachers and counselors really well.
  • My essay is normal, maybe a 5/10.

Cost Constraints / Budget

  • Best my family can contribute is 25k/year

Current list

  • Dream: MIT, Brown, Rice, Dartmouth, Pomona (this list isn’t fixed, I’m still deciding on my dream schools)
  • Reach: Case western, Villanova, Middlebury, Bowdoin, Colgate, Colby
  • Target: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Match: Virginia Tech


  • I prefer schools with medium to strong CS programs and great employment opportunities after graduation that love international students.
  • I need some advice on choosing which school to ED1. Right now I’m considering Virginia Tech, WPI, CWRU, Pomona, Middlebury, and Bowdoin.

There are a lot of students- domestic and international- who are looking for colleges to gift them scholarships, and most colleges will want to pick the most outstanding students they can. An outstanding student should be able to write a better than average essay.

You won’t get VaTech for $25K/pa and WPI and CWRU do not promise to meet full need for an international student, so those three are not a good fit for you ED. Pomona, Middlebury and Bowdoin do meet full need for international students, but none of them have particularly strong CS departments. Also, Bowdoin has a very low acceptance rate for internationals (5% of students are international), and a 10% overall acceptance rate, making it a dream level school for you.

ps, MIT does not match your stated preference for a “medium to strong” CS program.

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If Bowdoin’s international acceptance rate is 10%, that is higher than the overall acceptance rate which has been lower than 10% for a few years. Do you have a source for that 10%? My sense has always been the international acceptance rate is low single digits.

For OP, I can’t chance you, but think the toefl speaking score may be an issue at some schools. An even larger issue is the amount of funding you need. All US schools except H, Y, P, MIT, and Amherst are need aware for internationals. Do you have affordable safeties in your home country or elsewhere?


Oh, I got auto-admit to some universities in my home country so no worry.

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sorry I wasn’t clear! I mean the overall acceptance rate was 10% for all students- I don’t have a % for international. The 10% overall rate was approximate (it was actually 9% in 2020, imo the difference between 9 & 10% is not particularly meaningful in terms of a student gauging the relative selectivity.

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Bowdoin, Pomona, and Middlebury all appear on US News’ list of top colleges for computer science and on this list of the top small colleges for CS:

In a former life we called that the “west of the Mississippi asterisk”, as in “Our show is the top rated show*”

*west of the Mississippi from 1-3am

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