Pls Chance an Israeli Immigrant

Demographic: Israeli immigrant (middle eastern), middle class, competitive public school, PA.

I still technically count as an international because of my immigration status.

Academics: UW GPA: 3.93 W GPA: 4.33 SAT: 1500 super score (710 English and 790 math)

My weighted is pretty bad because during freshmen and sophomore year I took easier classes because I did not know what to expect, but I have an upward trend of increasingly harder classes each year.

I have taken mostly honors and APs. I took 1 AP sophomore year and 3 last year. I got 4s and one 5. I am taking 6 APs this year and I got 90+ on all during the first quarter, which should raise my W GPA a lot. My school doesn’t rank because it is a very competitive public school.

Major: bioengineering/biomedical engineering

ECs: This is probably my worst category.

  1. BBYO- Planned Jewish and Israeli programs and set up community service projects. Taught about the difference between Israeli and American culture. (Vice President)
  2. Key Club- I organized communication within the club, responsible for logistics, schedule, and roster. I also set up several community service projects. (Secretary)
  3. Community Program which I am not going to name- Educational enrichment program with experts in their fields, discussions about civil justice, discrimination, human rights, and current events. (No leadership available)
  4. Pantry Volunteer- I helped organize the food pantry, unload trucks, and come up with community service projects. (Community Service Project Manager)
  5. Jewish Culture Club- Set up events to teach about Jewish culture and foods. We also had a Holocaust memorial service. (Co-president)
  6. Physics Club- I organized engaging events to teach about physics in a remarkable way. One thing that I did was the bowling ball pendulum. (Event coordinator)
  7. Tutor for math- I tutored kids struggling with math. Specifically, I helped kids prepare for the Keystone exams. (no leadership available)
  8. Making an app with my friends about stocks and trading. I am technically the COO for this company.
  9. Piano- I am not great or anything but I can play.
  10. Rec Basketball- teamwork I guess.


  1. National Honor Society
  2. Math Honor Society (Mu Alpha Theta)
  3. Spanish Honor Society
  4. AP Scholar with Honor
  5. 1st Place Science Fair (local)

LORs and essays: I’d rate the LORs a solid 8.5 or 9 overall. I got my LORs from my AP Bio teacher that also taught me anatomy, AP Lang teacher, and precalc teacher. I also got one from my advisor for BBYO. My common app essay was about my move, a time a met a neo-nazi/KKK leader of my area/white-supremacist, and how cultures should be embraced, and my experience with that. I would guess it is a 9/10. I don’t want to rate my supplements but I do have a tutor that reads and edits them if that means anything.

There are some applications which I have not submitted yet and I have a question about ECs. I was at this summer thing at a local university which we learned about biology, neuroscience, genetics, etc. and then had a project at the end. Do you think that I should mention this (it wasn’t a competitive thing or anything like that)? If so, instead of which EC?



Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Brown University

Case Western University

Cornell University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pennsylvania

Tufts University

Northeastern University

SUNY Binghamton University

Temple University

Duke University


UNC Chapel Hill

Do you think I should add any schools?

Thank you if you actually took the time to read this whole thing!!

“Middle class” could mean a lot of things. But for the purpose of being able to go to a university, have you talked to your parents about what they will contribute for your university costs? Have you run the net price calculator on each university’s web site (but if it does not ask if you are a US citizen or permanent resident, check with the school directly to see if you are eligible for the listed financial aid as an international student)?

Note that being an international student is typically disadvantageous for financial aid and scholarships, although you need to check each school’s policy on that. However, even if you do get US permanent residency or citizenship, Pennsylvania is not the best state for in-state financial aid and scholarships at its public universities.

Bio(medical)engineering is often one of the most competitive majors at universities which differ in admission selectivity by major (whether for frosh admission, or for secondary admission after enrolling at the school).

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What is your budget? As ucbalumnus mentioned, bioE is one of the most competitive majors. At UNC, for example, it is a secondary app after freshman year; they take 81 and NCSU takes 81. It’s a very small, highly competitive joint program. I would add a few schools like UTK, ECU, VCU and UNCC. Some offer mechE with a concentration in bioE, which gives you a great flexible undergrad degree.

We have discussed the cost issue. My parents said that the cost does not matter as much as getting in. They said we can deal with the costs, whatever they are. Additionally, I am getting my green card in the next year, so I will be eligible for federal aid and more aid from the universities.

We have discussed the cost issue. My parents said that the cost does not matter as much as getting in. They said we can deal with the costs, whatever they are. Additionally, I am getting my green card in the next year, so I will be eligible for federal aid and more aid from the universities. I will definitely look into the schools you mentioned. Also, what do you think my chances are at the tougher schools like Cornell, Brown, etc.?

They do realize that costs of US universities are much higher than the costs of universities in most other countries, including Israel, right?

Yes. Do you think I have a chance at the more competitive universities like Cornell, Brown, etc.?

About the best most people here can say is that your HS GPA and test scores are not in the category where they will be a major disadvantage for admission to those highly selective universities. However, sufficiently high HS GPA and test scores are merely necessary, but nowhere near sufficient, for admission to the most selective universities. So your chances of admission will depend on everything else (essays, LoRs, ECs, etc.), which is subjectively graded by admission readers and which others here will not be able to compare with the rest of the applicant and admit pools of the highly selective universities.


I think you need safeties you would be happy to attend. Have you been accepted anywhere so far? I know it’s still early.

You should talk to your school advisor and see what the history is with the school and the college. Do they normally sent 20 kids to Cornell or 1? What were their stats when accepted? That would be a better approach.

BTW - I met my wife at a bbyo dance when I was 18. Been married for 33 years… :bride_with_veil:

Not yet, but since Pitt and Temple are rolling admissions I expect to hear from them any day now since I submitted my application on December 1. I never thought about asking my school advisor. I will do that. Thank you. Also, that is awesome. I love BBYO but we have to do virtual programming now and it is not fun. Thank you so much!

Yeah, I believe you are correct. Thank you so much.

First of all, how was your English when you arrived? Even if you were the child of Anglos, unless you did a lot of reading and writing in English at home with a tutor or with a parent’s guidance, your English would normally have been weak upon arrival from Israel before high school. So I think that you could somehow convey this in your application - it would explain your not having gone straight into the highest honors courses. Second - where are your safeties? You should be applying to Penn State main campus, maybe a branch too in case you need to do two years at a branch. Penn State has good engineering, although I don’t know about bioengineering. I don’t know if RPI got back to you yet, but I think you have a chance. BTW, RPI will negotiate financial aid. I think you’ll get into Temple, U Pitt, maybe SUNY Binghamton, . I don’t think that you have a chance at all the highly competitive schools you’ve applied for. Your extracurriculars don’t help (although I think they were probably a very good thing for you, because they helped with adjustment to the US). The two activities that made me want to hear more, were the math tutoring for Keystones, and the app project.

Are your parents ready and able to pay over 70K/yr for school? If you would qualify for fin aid if you had a green card, might it not make sense to somehow do a gap year, so that you’d qualify for aid, since you expect that you’ll have the green card in time for that?

Not only that, but having a green card in hand would mean OP is treated as a domestic rather than international applicant which also significantly increases chances of acceptance at most schools. Of course leaving the applications as is and taking a gap year only if the outcome is disappointing is also an option.

This may be worth a read; I think it was one of the most captivating posts of the past 2 admission cycles. It was a roller coaster ride through his green card
and admissions process, with a happy ending. Slightly different as he was hunting merit as a pre-med, but there was some good advice throughout the 2 years.

@SJ2727 @ucbalumnus
I have been considering taking a gap year. I think I am going to see where I get in this year and decide if I want to reapply next year. If I am happy with where I get in I may or may not defer my acceptance depending on how much I have to pay. If I defer my acceptance and then I have a green card before I start attending, I will reapply for aid and hopefully get a much better aid package then I will initially.

On the other hand, if I do not get in where I would be happy. I will probably take a gap year and reapply the next year. If this is what ends up happening (which is probably what is going to happen if I’m being realistic) do you think that I will be a competitive applicant to these top schools as a domestic applicant? This is assuming I have the same application, even though I will probably have gotten a job, internship, research, work on my business ideas more thoroughly (making my application stronger).

@parentologist @Knowsstuff


Good luck! Let us know how you make out

So …here’s the thing, yes you are competitive (especially would be as a domestic applicant), but so are many people who apply to these colleges with limited space. You just have to browse the last week or two on these forums to see many very qualified and competitive applicants who still got rejected or deferred. I think your list is reach heavy, but if you get an admit that is affordable and you are happy to attend (would Pitt or Temple be one?) then being reach heavy is ok. If you are disappointed and take a gap year then bear in mind (1) spend it doing something to strengthen your application- you seem to be planning this already. I am not sure what visa you are on, but be careful that until you get a green card you may not be able to work at the type of jobs/internships you potentially have in mind - some dependent visas allow work but most don’t (2) you cannot (usually) defer a safety and intend to apply elsewhere so if you take a gap year then it has to be knowing that (3) applying to these highly competitive schools might mean you still have a disappointing outcome in a year’s time, so please give very careful consideration to match and safety schools on the next list too. Generally a strong applicant will get into one or two reaches out of a list like that, but it also sometimes happen that they don’t.

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Thank you so much!! I am aware that people that are more qualified than I am still get rejected and that it is part of the college game. You gave some awesome advice that I will definitely consider!