My Chances in an Ivy or other prestigious college


  • US domestic (US citizen or permanent resident) or international student: US Student
  • State/Location of residency: (state is important if you apply to any state universities) MD
  • Type of high school (current college for transfers): Public High School one of the best in the state
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): Indian America
  • Other special factors (first generation to college, legacy, athlete, etc.): First Generation US Student as Parents are immigrants

Intended Major(s)
Business, Finance or Data Scinece
GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 5.63 where 6.0 is the highest given for GT and AP classes and 5.0 for honors and 4.0 for standard
  • College GPA (for transfers): NA
  • Class Rank: 3
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1550 regular 1570 superscored

(AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes, AP/IB scores for high school; also include level of math and foreign language reached and any unusual academic electives; for transfers, describe your college courses and preparation for your intended major(s))

I’m currently a Junior
AP Gov: 3
AP CS P: 5
AP World: 5
AP Calc AB: 5

Currently Taking: APUSH, APCSA, AP Calc BC, AP Lang and AP Seminar

Got into National for FBLA
(Include leadership, summer activities, competitions, volunteering, and work experience)

FBLA Member
Worked in a Summer Job for Baltimore County
Red Cross Volunteer
Key Club
Basketball Team in School
Going to start some community service soon
(Optionally, guess how strong these are and include any other relevant information or circumstances.)
Cost Constraints / Budget
(High school students: please get a budget from your parents and use the Net Price Calculators on the web sites of colleges of interest.)

I am looking for if I have a chance at any of the Ivy’s or prestigious schools like Carnegie Mellon or Georgetown for example. In addition, any recommendations for what I can do in the next year or two to boost and add anything to my current resume. Thanks for reading!

There is no indication that you are considering fit — your question reads like you are only concerned with prestige.

For a better chance at these extremely competitive schools you need to better refine your list and determine why you are a fit.


Your scores and stats are certainly within range for all of the top schools. But what is missing is lack of a compelling story. I don’t see anything that makes you stand out from the pack.

Typically the students who get admitted have high stats + great endorsement from HS + something extra. The extra thing varies from one college to another. But typically involves some extraordinary academic, athletic or extracurricular achievement.


I may be applying for a business school like Wharton so for a fit would doing business related activities/internships help? I have joined and done well in the FBLA future Business leaders of America club in my school

Your academics and scores are great. Keep it up.

Schedule every semester meetings with your guidance counselor, ask for advice and guidance, let her know you respect her opinion and value her input. You want her to like you, to take a special interest in you, so that when she writes your cover letter, that comes through in it. Do the same for teachers - cultivate relationships with the ones you plan to ask for letters.

You need to do something that makes you stand out as either a very high achiever, or as a leader, in your EC/awards category. You’re already doing Red Cross and Key Club - you don’t need more random community service hours. You need evidence of leadership and achievement beyond your high school. That means state or national level awards/leadership.

What do you love to do? What do you enjoy? What are you really good at? Get involved in competitions, organizations (or start your own) for the things you really like doing.


I would apply to USC for CS and Business if I were you.

Yes, that is a good place to start. But what kind of impact have you or your club made?

Why these schools? Do you like urban/rural? Big/small? What kind of vibe? What do you like, specifically, about Wharton and why are you a good fit? What do they look for?

Visit campuses and spend most of your time looking for safety/match schools.

At this point it is impossible to chance you beyond noting you have a strong academic record.

For any one particular highly ranked school, I think that it would be helpful if you can show why this school is a good fit for you. Of course if you look at the 8 Ivy League schools and 8 other similarly highly ranked schools (MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Chicago, …) you might find that some of these are not a great fit for you. One example is that you might want to understand the difference between Wharton versus the Sloan School and be able to articulate why either might be a better fit.

Another thing to think about is how to make the FBLA club at your high school a better club for the people who participate. Listening to everyone who participates and distilling the best ideas into action might be a good plan. The best leaders are ones who listen and who are pragmatic.

And of course you need to find solid safeties. You do have a very good in-state public university in MD.


What year in high school are you?

Clearly you work hard and are ambitious. Would you consider a school like Babson (or Bentley) for business? Many of the Ivies and such don’t have undergrad business.

I really hope- whatever grade you are in- that you just do what interests you rather than trying to come up with things that will help with college admissions. Instead of trying to fit a certain set of schools, try to find schools that fit you.

Think about cost, size, location, academics and “vibe.”

Don’t have your hopes up for top schools. It really is not in your control. Admissions like to assemble an interesting class. If you spend the next year or years twisting into the shape you think they want, it will be more disappointing than if you just do what you really want to do and not stress about getting in.

Learn about a wide variety of colleges. It will work out, it really will.


Getting into Wharton is probably on par with getting into Harvard/Yale/Stanford. Being in FBLA alone is probably not enough. There are students at Wharton who I’ve heard have started their own successful businesses in high school, with several full time employees and are netting profits. There are many other examples of students with outstanding stories of achievement.

Spend some time reviewing the accepted student profiles of Wharton students here on the CC subforum. You’ll see that there is stiff competition. Being an ORM will make the competition even harder. This doesn’t mean that its impossible, but just know what odds you’re up against.


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You’ve clearly worked hard in high school, and have a lot of accomplishments to be proud of. But you are not your accomplishments. It took me years of therapy to say that about myself, and I still like to hide behind my titles and degrees. Then again, I’m old and I know better than I did when I was 17. My S22 is also 17, and I give him the same advice I’m giving you.

What do YOU want to do? College, ok, but what do you want to study? Not what are you best at, or score highest at, but what interests you? What excites you? As part of your college planning experience at school, did they have you take personality surveys and career path things? If they did, was there anything that popped up that you found interesting?

For much of my life I did what I was best at, and I was very very good. I’m an Ivy alum, I have two grad degrees, worked for prestigious companies, and became a college professor at a very good university (non-Ivy, but top 25 public). What I am most proud of is not test scores, GPAs, or even my alma maters. It’s my kids and my family and my life.

I share this with you because it’s a little known secret that the NAME of your school matters far less than you think. Yes, absolutely, having an Ivy on my resume opens doors for me. But that’s not why I went. As others have noted, FIT is the most important quality, because if you aren’t at the right school for you, it’s really hard to be happy. And if you aren’t happy, it’s incredibly hard to be successful. Not impossible, mind you, but very very hard, like a salmon swimming upstream.

Size, type of campus (urban, suburban, exurban, rural), academic interests (arts & sciences, engineering/tech, business, etc.) will help you narrow your focus. What’s the vibe on campus, the “X factor” for you? Can you visit some different types of schools near you even if they aren’t on your prestige list? It will help you to get a feel for what you like (and don’t).

What also matters a fair bit is where you think you might possibly want to start your post-grad life. It’s far easier to get recruited to work in Silicon Valley if you’re on the West Coast, for example. I went to Cornell, was recruited to work in NYC. My company would have let me pick a different office/region (I considered Chicago and Seattle) as long as I had some connection to that region. You’re in MD now - do you want to start your career in the Northeast? If so, then focus primarily on that region. Again, it’s not make-or-break, but staying in-region makes it easier after graduation. Grad school is a different thing all together where region matters much less.

Here’s another secret - when I interviewed prospective students (for work, and as a volunteer alum), I always asked them Why Univ of XYZ? A lot of the top schools require a an additional essay that asks the same sort of question. They aren’t looking for the “best” or “right” answer - just an honest one. Applicants who wanted Cornell for the name rarely were admitted despite their qualifications. Fit is important for colleges too. They care about stats, but the one they care the most about is yield - the number of acceptances who matriculate.

Last piece of advice - real world. My best friend in high school was a top student, excellent scores, a talented musician, tightly managed by her parents, and had no idea what she wanted to do or what she liked. My friend applied to all Ivies, and only Ivies. She was rejected from all except Brown, who waitlisted her. She was devastated, but she did get in.

Figure out first what you want to do, and concentrate less on the name and stats of schools. Also keep in mind that many (probably most) students change their mind about majors and academic interests in college, so picking a school that has various programs is a good idea. Good luck –


Excellent advice @CountryMom2 , great points.

Thank you so much for your time in writing this response. You brought up many good points and I learned a lot that I need to focus not just on prestige but on what I want to do and what college will fit me the best and make me happy. Your advice is very helpful and I will use it to guide me on my future choice! Thank you very much.

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