Preparing for prestigious colleges

Hi, I’m currently in high school studying for college.
I am wishing to study in prestigious and admired colleges like the ivy league.
Therefore I’d love to boost up my high school profile by participating in lots of competitions.
Can you guys recommend me competitions that I can participate to boost up my high school profile???
Specific names of the competition would be very helpful thanks.

Competitions in which areas? Science? Music? History? Creative writing? Debate?


Prestige may not be the best way to go about choosing a college. The Ivy schools are all different. Try to learn about a lot of different colleges and find the best fit in terms of cost, size, location, academics, and “vibe.” You don’t have to spend high school focused on “getting in.” Try to enjoy these years!

If you enjoy competitions in whatever area you are asking about, do it because you enjoy the challenge and learn from it, or even because it is fun.


Based on your other threads you are working on getting into US boarding schools, and need substantial financial aid.

There are only a handful of US universities that are need blind and promise to meet full financial need for international students- and they are amongst the most competitive universities for admission in the US. There are a further couple of dozen US universities that will take how much aid you need into deciding whether to accept you, but promise to meet you full financial aid for all international students that they do admit- and they are very competitive, especially for international students. Few US universities have more than 8-15% international students.

So, if you add all of those up, getting into a famous-name US university as an international student who needs financial aid is a tough, tough hill to climb. It is worth thinking hard about what elements are most important to you- and the full range of options available to you for 3rd level.

Finally, almost all US universities admit ‘holistically’- that is, winning a bunch of ‘prestigious’ awards will not, in itself, be enough to get admitted to most of them (there are a few exceptions- but the odds on you going from 0 to winning an international prize at that level are so small that it’s not worth going into the exceptions). Here is advice from the admissions office at MIT, but it applies to all of the super selective universities:


International student applying from a U.S. boarding school? That’s a tough hill to climb. Needing financial aid (and, presuming you have been the beneficiary of a ton of financial aid for three years) is almost like asking to be judged and scrutinized from the standpoint of a return on investment. Your best bet is to do very well in math and science because IMHO that’s the one area academically where you can enter contests and receive recognizable awards and frankly, where SATs and ACTs may still count for something in the near future. Here’s a list of high school math competitions for future reference:
Art of Problem Solving

creative writing and math would be the best

okay thanks forr the advice

Right, I forgot to mention that I won’t be needing financial aid.
I’ll be going to an international school for my high school years and won’t be ending any aid for college.

I forgot to mention a couple of things.
Due to several reasons, I decided not to study in a boarding school in the US but to study in an international school for my high school years.
Also, my parents told me that they could afford all the tuition and extra fees so I won’t be needing financial aid.

What year of high school are you in currently? What are you really, really good at, and what are you best at? What do you love doing? What do you want to study in college? What do you want to do for your career, eventually?


A Mathematical Olympiad medal would be a a plus. My guess is that you have already heard about this competition by now but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Good luck in achieving your goals.

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One problem that I have with your original question is that the people who do well at major competitions will have been competing in their sport or game or activity for quite a while, and will have gotten very good at it. You do not win a math competition, or a chess tournament, or a sailing race, or a track competition, without working at it for a while and putting quite a bit of effort into it. Therefore you need to do something that you want to do.

This leads me to agree with @collegemom3717 that you should read the blog on the MIT admissions web site that she references. Think about what it says. What I see this blog recommending is that you do what is right for you, whatever that is, and you do it very well. This is essentially exactly what I did that got me into MIT for my bachelor’s degree. This approach has also worked well for multiple people I know to get into very good graduate programs. However, what I did, what my wife did, what my daughters did or are doing, and what several colleagues did were all very different things. We each just did what was right for us.

My other advice is to try to understand that there are a very large number of very good universities and colleges in the US, and just as many if not more outside the US. Which school is a great fit for you and which school is a great fit for me might be completely different. The eight Ivy League universities are not all the same. If you add in MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Chicago, and a few more top schools they are very different again. There are great Liberal Arts Colleges in the US also. If you want to have a good chance to get admitted to any of these schools, then you would be well off to understand what the differences are between them, and to know which ones would be potentially a better fit for you and why.


this helps a lot thanks

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thank u

I’m in ninth grade and tbh I find economics and politics very interesting but I just could not find some things about econ/politics to work on outside of my classroom.
In addition, I’m good at math but don’t find it as interesting.

So your family needed aid for a prep school here… it they can be full pay at $80,000 or so a year for college? Please explain.

This is what you wrote about prep schools:

“ Are there any chances for me to get into the schools I am applying to with lots of aid? (a lot as in a lot)”

Being good at math can be very helpful for an economics major. As one example, econometrics contains quite a bit of math, and at least for me was very interesting (I was a math major, but took a few economics classes).

Math also becomes more interesting as you get into more advanced math.

You have a lot of time to figure this out.

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Are they aware of the annual USD costs of these colleges….and do they have the money at the ready? You will be required to complete a certificate of finances…showing where that this money is available for your bills. Not future loans, but ready money.

Also, be aware that at many many colleges here, if international students don’t apply for need based aid as incoming freshmen, they are not permitted to do so in subsequent years.

I thought financial aid was basically ‘merit scholarship’ but turned out that they are two different things.
My parents actually disagreed with me going to a boarding school abroad at a very early age, so I thought receiving a full scholarship might help me convince my parents.
But FA turned out not to be a merit scholarship and my parents do have enough money to pay for my tuition so money would not be a problem.

It’s so nice to find this out.
I should keep on studying math and econ.

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