Projects done for CS t20 colleges

International student here. 1570 sat 42 ib score, can current or alumni of t20 colleges who have done CS, please share some ideas of personal projects you have done to get into your dream college. Thanks

First, if that’s your real name you may want to change it asap to maintain confidentiality.

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A single project isn’t going to necessarily make a huge difference unless it’s truly exceptional, because there are many, many factors involved.

Are you a rising senior? What extra curricular activities and accomplishments do you already have?

What schools do you have in mind? Schools on USNWR’s Top20 national universities differs from the Top20 best CS undergraduate programs. In any case just going by a list isn’t the right approach. What exactly are you looking for other than prestige? What is your budget? Do you have a backup in your home country?

There is no magic formula. Pick something you enjoy, find interesting or have a passion. It will show on your essays and interviews.

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I want to go to HYPSM, so whatever hard project is possible

I have done electric car, pulse jet engine, full body scanner using 30raspberrypis

Thank you for the reply

I am in 12th grade, so final year of school

From a person still on the MIT admissions team:

There is nothing, literally nothing, that in and of itself will get you in to MIT.

For example:

A few years ago, we did not admit a student who had created a fully-functional nuclear reactor in his garage.

(read the rest here: Applying Sideways | MIT Admissions)

And MIT is the closest to having ‘golden tickets’, b/c they do have a soft spot for top performers in IMO/Intel ISEF type competitions. For HYPS by autumn of senior year your application is essentially done- starting a new EC, no matter how glamorous, is unlikely to be the difference.

And, as @DadOfJerseyGirl pointed out, some of those universities are not tops for CS. For example, neither Harvard nor Yale are in the top 15 for CS. Moreover, Cornell (which has the TaTa scholarship) is in a three-way tie at #6 (with Georgia Tech and University of Washington), putting them ahead of ahead of Princeton (tied for #9 with the University of Texas at Austin). I get the value of the name Harvard in India, and that your friends and relations may not know these university names- but the people in your field do know the difference.

  1. Please change your username as mentioned above.

  2. HYPSM are reaches for ALL students but they even more reachy for international students. If you think doing some special project will make you stand out…you are wrong.

  3. Do not lie or stretch the truth. Are you saying you built an electric car and a full body scanner, and a pulse jet engine…all by yourself? If I’m finding this hard to believe, so will any adcom reading your application.

  4. As noted above, do things you want to do and enjoy. Don’t try to figire out what special something will make you stand out above all others.

  5. YOU need to think of your own project…not use something someone else has already done.

@COPEMASTERINDIA - can you clarify what you actually did here? I agree this seems unlikely. Building any one of these would be remarkable let alone all three. Are these actual real life products or models/prototypes/computer simulations?

Have you won any national or international awards or recognition?

Please answer these questions as well:

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My brother built most and got into Stanford, yes everything is real, he completed CS in 3 years

Your brother doing most of the work is NOT you doing this. Please don’t pretend you did something like this unless you actually did so. Frankly, it’s not believable.

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Do you know how many hundreds of thousands of students want to go to these small to medium sized schools??
You are from a country where thousands of your countrymen want the same results. There is no space.
Also, starting a project, in your senior year, because you think it will make you stand out is not going to get you into these schools. Don’t use your brother’s work. Don’t lie. The universities expect you to have integrity. When you digitally sign the application, you are stating that everything is true on your app. Don’t exaggerate, stretch the truth or lie. The consequences are not worth it.


I will add that the kids I have met (through work) that got accepted at one of the T20s from India are all academically among the top in the country and have a strong record of accomplishments over many years.

Given what you’ve mentioned so far I’d say your % acceptance chances are in the very low single digits. You haven’t yet answered my budget question. If you’re expecting full aid then your chances are under 1%.

I totally agree. But I’m also extremely skeptical that these 3 things were built as high school projects. None of these are easy to accomplish - do you know how long it took Tesla to produce its first electric car? Do you know how many other manufacturers are trying to be the next Tesla? And I’m talking about teams of professional engineers with billions of dollars in hand.


I am academically too 1%, 43 ib PG 1570 sat 35 act 9A*s in IGCSE, chairman’s award as advanced math topper in cohort of 120+, and about budget, no problem


Checking for clarity.

So you are saying your parents can pay over $70,000 a year for your college education…and that you will be able to complete a certificate of finances to verify that money is at the ready?

Apply to HYPSM and see. But I suggest you also apply to other colleges as well, including a sure thing in your home country. HYPSM have admission rates in the low single digits…And in the over 90% who get rejected, the vast majority are also top students.

Are you attending the same school as your brother did? Are your stats/class standing similar to his? If so, your counselors will be a better resource than an online forum.

That said, you do have a personal resource in your brother. How long ago did he attend Stanford?

I agree with others emphasizing the importance of honesty in your application.

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