International Student's Chances

Aight so I’m applying to quite a few US universities this year, focusing on CS.
Nationality - Indian
High School - Small school in UAE

SAT 1: 1570 (800 in Math)
SAT 2: 800 (Math), 800 (Chem), 780 (Physics, but I’m retaking)
No GPA at my school - I study CBSE but always 90+ in every subject, had a li’l dip in my Junior year in Math (90/100) but scored 100 in CS. I also take Physics, Chem, English. I’ve no clue how percentage translates to GPA.
My projected scores are extremely high - 98.4% with 100 in Math & CS

Essays & Rec Letters:
Great Rec Letters as far as I know, only invited teachers who made their appreciation clear.
Essays - I write decently, so they won’t be trashy. I have an assigned editor too.

Extra-Curriculars (lmao):
No Spike at all. Dabbled in all possible fields. CS competitions cancelled because of COVID. Otherwise -

Won 14 medals and 6 trophies at WSC (Regional). Regularly partook in Olympiads, won 3 medals (school & regional level).

Played Basketball for all 4 HS years, represented the school in my final 2.

Into Art & Craft, I’ve mentioned that I crochet & paint regularly. Won a couple inter-house contests in Fabric painting & Ikebana.

Took CS courses [WebDev Bootcamp & Python’s integration with Machine Learning] on Udemy, and have coded lots of functional programs in Python.

Secretary General of School’s MUN for 2 years, plus delegate all through.

Established a 5-membered group advocating for environmental conservation through in our school & community, had one recycling drive where we contributed 570 kg of paper, and 55 kg of plastic. Couldn’t organize another, because drumroll COVID.

Organized many events at school, both small-scale and large-scale. Was the Vice-President of two clubs. Parents didn’t allow me to run for elections ugh.

Regional & National level achievements in Hindi debates and extempore. Also won a couple awards at Hindi Poem & Story Writing competitions. Wrote & recited poems at various events (non-competitive) & acted and directed a Hindi Street Play. Organized & presented a showcase on UAE-India Bilateral Relations.

Report Writer (occasional) & Head of Media Team for one major event. Won second place at a national-level Research-Paper Writing Competition (Quite a huge event tbh).

Represented my school at a local UNESCO Project Net Forum.

So yeah, I’ve got quantity, not quality. Given the low acceptance rates for both CS and international students, I find myself at a disadvantage anyway. I submitted my REA application to Stanford yesterday, and yep, waiting for rejection. I gave up on MIT, because the application is too long, and I feel like it’s not worth the time investment.

The only thing that may give me an edge is that I’ve been subjected to some prejudice because of my androgyny, and I have mentioned it in my Common App Essay. I also won’t be requiring financial aid, though that’d be amazing.

I just want y’all to tell me which of these I have a chance at - Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, NYU (trying for Abu Dhabi Campus), CMU, and the UCs - UCLA, UCB, UCSD (maybe).

Also, please suggest some other universities that are achievable for me, and will also sit well in the eyes of my parents in terms of prestige.

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

I am very sorry for you experience, but it does not give you an edge.

To be clear: Harvard, Columbia, and Cornell* do not give merit aid, and financial aid is offered based on their assessment of your need. The UC’s and (as of this year) CMU only have very small financial aid possibilities. NYU is famously stingy, so it is unlikely that you will get any aid there. So, your family needs to be prepared to demonstrate that they can afford the +/- $70K/year that all the schools on your list are likely to cost you.

As for chances: I’m assuming that you are only aiming for the super-selectives because you have good choices elsewhere and it’s only worth coming to the US & paying US $$ if it’s a big name. There are currently 21 undergrads at Harvard from India (across all 4 years)- so figure 4-6 students per year. The competition is ferocious.

*assuming you are not eligible / applying for the TaTa scholarship

OP, you know you have excellent qualifications. However, everyone who applies to the colleges you listed also “have it all”, and yet those schools routinely get more applications from high performers than they have space to take. Even being female in CS is only a marginal boost at best because those schools have managed to achieve close parity between the genders in CS and engineering.

Take your shots for sure. Just have backups in your own country or lower ranked choices in the US.

To: collegemom3717

Super-selectives because my parents find US unfavorable - climates in certain areas (I’m asthmatic, and the cold can be a trigger), Trump’s turbulent decisions, and the country being ‘too open’ for their liking.

We know the financial burden that accompanies this, so unless it’s a T-20 for CS, I doubt I’ll be going to US. I have however turned them towards slightly more accepting universities - like the University of Washington.

Since they’re opening my options a li’l more now, I’d like to know of any universities that have great programs for the subject that don’t have such low acceptance rates.

And about NYU being stingy - I’ve heard that the Abu Dhabi campus is extremely generous with aid, thus it’s my first choice of campus.

Do get back to me, if possible :slight_smile:

Thank you so much :blush:

Are you familiar with Boston* / NYC/Pittsburgh weather?! or is it that prestige will trump asthma? UWa isn’t as cold in absolute terms, but it is chilly and damp all.the.time.

Tuesday(ish) will tell us who the president will be when it’s relevant for you…

Have you considered Duke, Vanderbilt, UNC-CH, Rice? All in kinder climates with strong CS programs.

I believe NYU-Abu Dhabi is generous with aid- for need, not merit.

*Boston had snow on Friday

NYU Abu Dhabi is very generous with aid, however, the flip side of that is that it has about a 2-4% admit rate in a typical year. It’s hard to rate your chances with those kind of odds, even with your excellent scores.

To: collegemom3717

I know I’m not expected to answer the “or is it that prestige will trump asthma?”, but I’d like to clear it out anyway.

I haven’t been affected by cold weather / climate before but have been by cold food & drinks. We don’t know yet whether a continuous exposure to cold can affect me, because I live in UAE, and it’s usually warm / hot here. I’ve visited many cold places though, and I’ve quite enjoyed it, never suffered - but those were shorter periods.

In short, we don’t know, but we wouldn’t choose a cold place if a great offer elsewhere is available. It’s just whether that slight risk is worth it. For an extremely prestigious university, I’d say it’s worth a chance - given that I may not suffer at all.

So no, prestige won’t trump my asthma, but it may trump the uncertainty.

Thank you for suggesting the other universities though, we will consider them :blush: