Journalism @Northwestern, USC [intl student, fin aid]

Hi, I’m an intl student from Hong Kong, China (am also applying for fin aid rip) looking to ED Northwestern’s Medill school of Journalism and RD USC’s Annenberg, what are my chances? I have only made this decision recently so I might not have a lot of journalism focused ECs

Also any suggestions to what other unis to apply to (not necessarily for journalism) would b appreciated, thanks!
Could someone also give me a picture of how competitive the pool I am in? I know my competition is super high because not only am I intl applicant I’m Chinese

GPA: 3.78 uw
SAT: 1510 (superscore 1540)
APs: Took 7 APs all 5s, taking 4 more this year. No class rank
ECs: MUN prez and chair, chess club prez, 2 orchestras buncha violin stuff performance diploma but i think buncha asians have it too, 2 years school newspaper, music honour society//NO AWARDS of any kind
Should I even include these 2 ECs: Karate (2 years), debate club (1 year)

Work: Tutor chess, interned at newspaper company for one month
Volunteer: Taught some english, music stuff, piano accompanist for choir

A thing I did not sure how/where to include it: Wrote research paper on sensationalism of terrorism in US mainstream media for AP Seminar
Thank you :smiley:

Hi Chuuya,

You have a pretty solid background when it comes to applying for these schools. However, your need for financial aid is likely going to hurt you. NW and USC are need-aware schools. In 2017-2018, only 105 international students (out of over 700, or 14%) received financial aid (average grant was 55k) at NW. What this means is that 86% of international students attending NW are doing so without any need for aid. USC is even worse, with only 18% (448/2523) receiving aid which averaged 19k per student (source for this info is the Common Data Set). Because of these stats, your chance of getting in will likely be substantially lower than the average acceptance rates since the only students they’ll let in who need aid are the most exceptional. Your profile is strong, but relatively run-of-the-mill, which makes it hard to have the best possible shot at these schools. You likely wouldn’t be an “immediate yes” at either NW or USC. TL:DR: Applying as an international student is incredibly hard already, but applying as an international student who needs aid makes it even harder.

A few recommendations: if you absolutely need financial aid, consider several of the need-aware, full-need-met liberal arts colleges. Since you’re majoring in journalism, a liberal arts education would give you a solid enough backing (vs. sciences, for instance, where liberal arts schools just don’t have nearly as many resources). Some of these schools include Vassar, Swarthmore, Bates, Colgate, and Colby. Many others as well. You’d have a great shot at these schools and would likely get the aid you need. Also, you could consider Northwestern University in Qatar, which is substantially less expensive than Northwestern, but they swear it’s the same quality of education. The campus is mostly made up of journalism majors.

I’d recommend not including karate or debate club in your activities section, unless you’re really passionate about either - your other activities should fill up the section as is.

I’d include the research paper in the additional information section, but keep it relatively matter of fact. There’s some good blog posts out there about how to put information in that section - you don’t want it to turn into an essay of its own.

As with everything on this forum, take things with a grain of salt (including all of what I’m saying), but these were just my first impressions from your post.

Thanks man, that was really helpful, and I’lll check out some of the other LACs too. Do you think they might make an offer w/out financial aid? I’m planning to apply for scholarships in my country too (one of them looks esp favourably on USC applicants for some reason) but I don’t know the results until March - July of next year, don’t know if they’ll take that into consideration