Math Dude- Chances

<p>Hey, guys. I'm wondering about my chances at Caltech. In the chances thread, people paid no attention to my college chances part, so I hope you all can help me. I'm an junior Asian male from a suburb of Saginaw, Michigan and go to an okay school. How are my chances? I know I need to improve on my SAT, which I will after memorizing vocab (killed me last time). Any other comments? In what percentile would I be of applicants? </p>

<p>PSAT(sophomore): 80M, 59W, 55CR
PSAT(this year-expected): 80M, ~65W, ~65CR
Old SAT: 800 Math, 590 Verbal (retaking- definitely getting 660+ after vocab)
GPA: 3.9 unweighted, 4.1 weighted
Rank: 25? out of 300?</p>

<p>9th Grade:
Honors Analysis (Precalc): A/A
Honors English: B/ B+
Computer Programming: A/A
Gym: A/A
Integrated Biology/ Physical Science (double period): A/A</p>

<p>10th Grade:
Calculus BC AP: A/A
Physics: A/A
Adv. Biology: A/A
US History: A/A-
Honors English: A/B+
Statistics AP: A/A</p>

<p>11th Grade- so far:
Physics AP: A
Biology AP: A-
Regular English 11: A
Chemistry: A
Multivariable Calc (half-year class at Wayne State Univ): A-
Linear Algebra (half-year class at Wayne State Univ): have not taken, will probably get an A-/A</p>

<p>Proposed 12th Grade Sched:
U.S. History AP
English 12
Chemistry AP
Computer Science AB AP
Governement/ Economics
Differential Equations (half-year class at Wayne State Univ)
Real Analysis: (half-year class at Wayne State Univ)</p>

<p>AP's by End of High School:
- Statistics AP (5)
- Calculus BC AP (4),m class was doing AB, but school signed everyone up for BC accidentally. Grrrrr.
- Physics C E&M AP
- Physics C M AP
- Biology AP
- Chemistry AP
- U.S. History AP
- Computer Science AB AP</p>

<p>I have done no research and don't think I will be able to.</p>

<p>Activities (limited) by end of high school:
- JV Tennis (9-10), trying out again this year, possibly up to the 12th
- Math club (9-12)
- National Honor Society (10-12)
- Qualified for AIME.
- Got to Part II on Michigan Math Prize Competition
- Qualified for State Geography Bee 8th Grade
- Science Olympiad- "Varsity" as sophomore, junior (this year), and most likely senior<br>
- So what are my chances? I'm counting on my math skills to make up for my verbals. How about MIT, too?</p>

<p>How did you do on MMPC II? Were you at awards day?</p>

<p>Total Index around 35, putting me just out of the top 100.</p>

<p>You do look like someone who is very deeply into math and science, but out of honesty, you aren't well-rounded at all (I have the same trouble too; I don't really enjoy anything outside of math and science either). Unfortuately, it's going to disqualify you for Ivies. As for Caltech, I once e-mailed the admissions department there - they said that they valued people who were more or less well-rounded and people who took the most challenging courses in all fields - not necessarily just math and science.</p>

<p>Unfortunately, you don't seem to have taken the most challenging courses outside of math and science - I see a regular English class in 11th grade.</p>


<p>As for your other stats... In math, you are stronger than manyCaltech applicants - few applicants get as far as multivariable calculus. Your passion in science is quite obvious. On the other hand however, your math and science ECs are not especially powerful - many qualify for the AIME and it seems as if you've won no other forms of recognition. I would recommend trying to prepare for the USAMO; that will help you stand out. Since your verbal scores are lower than the typical Caltech applicant, (25th percentile is 710) you definitely need to be EXCEPTIONAL in math if you want any chance at Caltech.</p>

<p>On the other hand, I've heard of one person who was forced to write a letter to Caltech explaining that he wanted to go into science - indicating that he was too well-rounded. Perhaps the admissions officers try to conceal their surreptitious admissions policies. </p>


<p>As for MIT versus Caltech; I would expect that MIT looks for more well-rounded students, since it's gone outside of specialization in the sciences, whereas Caltech is still quite specialized.</p>

<p>Thanks, Simfish. Those coments were really helpful.
Is Galen or alleya there?
Also, what are my chances at larger tech schools such as MIT and Harvey Mudd?</p>

<p>I would recommend posting your stats at the respective CC forums of those two schools if you are curious about your chances at those two.</p>

<p>I don't know much about Harvey Mudd but I do believe that MIT would look for more well-rounded applicants than Caltech, since MIT is a more well-rounded institution.</p>

<p>The main question about your Caltech chances is: does Caltech tolerate applicants who aren't well-rounded at all? If it does, then you're in. But if it doesn't, then you'll have to work hard.</p>

<p>I met 4 people from CalTech at Stanford while I was doing my master degree there. </p>

<li>My roomate. He did his freshman year there but transferred to Stanford for more "fun". He's pretty well-rounded and does variety of things: going to parties sometime, doing part-time job for a hi-tech company, playing with the stock market, hitting the gym (though I think he's a slacker on that compared with me), and later on working with some of his classmates to start-up a hi-tech company.<br></li>

<p>2,3. These two girls I worked on group projects with. They don't look well-rounded to me. I don't mean they are dorky or geeky. They just don't do much other than staying at their graduate apartment (they live together), going to Ranch99 for Chinese food, and studying/working on problem sets (they are very disciplined and like starting them early before anybody). They are both very nice but kinda shy. I don't see them holding any leadership in HS and I've never heard of them playing any instrument either. I doubt they had a lot of ECs when they applied CalTech.</p>

<li>Just a guy who's a friend of those 2 girls. I don't know much about him. He seemed very smart and I could just tell he's a very technical and good at what he's doing. He's kinda skinny and didn't look like he played much sports. He's on a quiet side; I don't get the impression he's got much passion for non-science stuff (I mean other than a date with a girl if he's lucky).</li>

<p>Oops..I meant to use past tense. I am a foreigner and my bad English slips out sometime when I don't pay attention.</p>

<p>Bisbis -
I didn't reply because in general I don't like telling people their chances. I've never been on the admissions committee (Galen has) and people here tend not to talk about their "HS stats" with friends, so my only experience is with my own stats. In my opinion, which I think Galen has confirmed, you need to be extremely good in math and science, with very good grades in other areas to back it up. In addition to that, you need something else stellar. What that is, however, is hard to judge. Research is mentioned the most often, but a good essay combined with good leadership and participation could do it as well. Basically, you need to show in some concrete way that you're a motivated person academically. I had no research, but I tried to show in my application that I went out looking for challenges when my schools ceased to offer them.</p>

<p>simfish -
I always assumed it was the other way around -- Caltech wanted more rounded people, because when you get here, you need to be motivated in other areas (for instance, the humanities) if you're going to continue following them. People who come in here focused tend to leave even more so.</p>

<p>Sam Lee-
There are a lot of people at tech like each of the 4 people you mentioned. It's so hard to do numbers, but in my experience it's about equal among all three categories. A large majority of people are musical, a significant number of people (but still a minority) are heavily interested in sports, a large number of people like to party, a significant (but minority, in my experience) number of students spend all their time studying and doing nothing else. By nothing else, I mean literally nothing. Most people like to go out or do something fun at least once a week, and then we study almost non-stop otherwise. But, we also study with others, so there's a social element added into all of the work. Of course, I could have a distorted perception -- people who do nothing but work are less visible, so I could be underestimating their numbers. The point is, though, that you won't feel isolated if you want to have a social life and participate in a variety of activities.</p>

<p>I'm going to give the nod to most of what Alleya said. There are a wide range of people here - it's not as diverse as somewhere like Harvard would be, but it's moreso than you would expect it to be. </p>

<p>As for the application part - I'm not as upbeat is Simfish is. I have a feeling that your application, unless you have blindingly wonderful recommendations or absolutely stunning essays, is going to get lost in the masses. There are a number of applications that you look at and you say "This person would do fine here ... but they don't really stand out." You need to come up with a way to stand out. ECs are largely unexciting and grades are nothing to particularly brag about. Scores are alright, but nothing amazing (you should have learned what was in BC when you learned you'd have to take that exam, for example. That sort of initative is what Alleya is talking about, and the sort of thing that I did when I ran out of classes to take at my school). No research... I mean, I wouldn't say don't apply, but don't get your hopes particularly up.</p>


<p>THanks for the information; it's helping me out too. I'm actually only a sophomore in high school - my mother just knew of a friend she had who applied to Caltech and had to write such a letter. Though on the other hand, it's only by memory so it might be incorrect.</p>

<p>So Caltech does expect applicants to be more or less well-rounded or extremely exceptional in math or science. Hmm.. Can one be more or less well-rounded and still have absolutely nothing in non-academic fields? (i.e, some history and writing competitions in addition to math and science competitions and perhaps some office in the math and science teams). Since I'm a nerd however, I'm not the type who is going to be elected to the office of president so I'll really have to suck up to the coach if I want a position in those teams.</p>

<p>Should I take Govt/Economics (2 sem. worth) at summer school this year and take Modern Physics (2 semesters) at Wayne State next year instead? I can also take this rigorous proof writing class at Wayne State that is intended for math majors instad of AP U.S History at school. Will this be beneficial (in showing my passion for math/science)? Also, should I retake BC for a 5 this year? Again, around what percentile of all admitees would I be in? Sorry for the numerous questions, but thanks for the help!</p>

<p>Caltech does not grant credit for AP examinations, so if you're taking it the year you're applying, taking an AP exam will not help you. OTOH, if you're applying to MIT as well, then go for it.</p>

<p>Caltech will be more impressed with an A in modern physics than with an A in Govt/economics. If you don't think you have a high chance of getting an A in a particular class, take it senior year so your EA application won't have to cover it. If you think you have a decent chance of getting an A in modern physics over the summer - take it, Caltech will be impressed..</p>

<p>Thanks. Will that A- in M.V. Calc hurt if I want to be a math major?</p>

<p>Well - if you can get an A, then get that A since it will always be better than an A-. If you get an A- in multivariable calculus; that's not so bad as long as your math grades have always previously been A's (and besides, it's quite difficult for most people to land even a B in such a class). Admissions officials should recognize that A's are difficult to achieve in classes like multivariable calc. </p>

<p>But then I'm not an expert.</p>