I am an international student (Indian but not living in India) who needed almost 100% need based financial aid. I am first gen and from a low income family.

I have 800 in Math section of Sat, 800 in Math II, 780 in Chemistry, 770 in Physics(All first attempt).
Perfect GPA.
7 years of student government.
Best C++ programmer in the country in Google Kickstarter and Hackerrank. (Won various national level awards)
Partnered with the biggest multi billion dollar bank in the region to develop an app that helps thousands of people in poverty.
Interned as Data analyst for a multi billion dollar MNC.
Two times winner of International Mathematics Olympiad, Regional round.
Representing the country at an international level for quizzing.
3 sports varsity.
4-5 amazing recommendations.

In spite of all these I was rejected from Caltech, MIT, UofChicago, Bowdoin, Grinnell.

I thought it was my low EBRW that will result in rejection from most universities, but I was rejected from universities like UofChicago and Bowdoin where I didn’t submit my SAT score.

I still have to hear from 9 universities ( 6 Ivies and Colby, Colgate and Williams) but all of them have my low EBRW score(530-One attempt w no preparation/tutoring) and will probably reject me based on that.

I have given up at this point. I do have back ups in India, but I don’t want to study there. Any suggestions?

Suggestions for what?

You applied to a lot of colleges that are either extremely difficult to get in to for everyone and/or extremely difficult to get in to at least for Internationals who need a ton of fin aid.

You needed to do research on your college choices. Why would those colleges have to pay full freight for you? What do you possibly have to offer that they can’t get from a full paying student? They don’t need your top scores. For the few that are need blind or give merit money, you simply weren’t good enough in a pool of applicants where the completion is fierce.

The true work and challenge in finding full rides for anyone and everyone, including US citizens is finding the schools that would want you enough to pay for you. Schools thT really want the top scores because they don’t get enough applicants with them. Schools that you can’t cherry pick off lists. Schools that are unknown. That is true college search and research. Clearly you did none of that.

Suggestions on what to do next? Take a gap year? How to move on from these? And If i stand a chance in the next few colleges?

I had to apply to them since they are among the few universities that give need based financial aid to international students without loan… If i had a choice I would have applied to few safeties but none of the scholarships can give me a full ride which I need.


Ouch! You need to chill on a student who has been getting all rejections…

I did research on aids and the fact I have a very strong base in Cs as you can see in ECs, I expected I would get into CS department…

Well, determine a few things:

  1. Would a gap year change anything? Would you change dramatically in a gap year? How? If not, I don’t see why results would change.
  2. Moving on is simple to do but tough to execute. Focus on goals later in life greater than undergrad. Then figure out paths to get there.

Is there anything wrong with college in India and applying to PhD programs in the US? STEM ones would be fully-funded if you get in.

BTW, thinking about chances is a waste of time. Either you get in or you don’t and right now, you have zero control over that. Why waste time and energy on what you can’t control? What you can control is planning for what could happen and not getting in may be tougher emotionally to prepare for, prepare for that one.

“I expected I would get into CS department…”

Yeah, that was the main problem. As an International who needs tons of fin aid and isn’t extremely unique (not world famous) and also has a weakness, you always faced tough odds at the schools you applied to.

If you want to give this a go again, you apply to some reach schools, yes. But you start researching what school would just love to have you. You have some nice stats there that most schools would love to have. Some might even pay for them. But the schools you picked have a lot of kids just like you applying. You need done schools without the name recognition. You have to find them. They aren’t going to be on the US News. Princeton Review Barron’s lists. This is the true work of college search

It is good that you have options in India.

@PurpleTitan I expected to get into CS department because I did what potentially is the max you can expect from a 17yo kid. Develop a project and partner with MNC to help lives with my passion- technology , work for another one again in my field, be one of the best programmers at this age category… This is why I expected to get in one.

Since I knew my low EBRW will drastically affect my application, I applied to test optional universities and had hopes on them… but it didn’t work out.


I knew this was risky and I had a high chance of not getting in so I have decent back ups in India. But, I really hoped this would work out.

Why didn’t you study for the EBRW part of the SAT if you knew you were weak in that section? If you’re going to reapply, you’ll get better results if you prep and take the SAT again. Even if you don’t get a perfect score on the math section again, most colleges let you superscore.


Since US was not my initial plan, it was a sudden plan 2 months before the deadline for applications basically after learning about need based financial aid for international students. I had to register for the last SAT in December and I had my senior year mid year exams at that moment, so I couldn’t prepare much for SAT.

“Hoped” isn’t the same as “expected”.
I don’t see how you can have felt both.

Anyway, as your odds to the schools you applied to are low, you really only have a few options:

  1. Undergrad in India
  2. Gap year and apply to much less selective schools as well (but no guarantee that will work out).
  3. Do something like start a company.

@cptofthehouse- THIS right here!!! If only SOME students were not programmed to think that they must attend a “Brand Name” or they’re slumming it and should be ashamed. DD20 has an amazing college counselor at school and having gone the “brand” direction with DD09 who attended and graduated but it was not a good fit for him, and people’s opinions didn’t pay his tuition. We followed the advice of the counselor and now have so many options with merit for all and still awaiting decisions. Yes, we have heard the “But she’s so smart, why would you…? She’s not going there, You can do better” as if I don’t care about my child’s well being and future. I really hope that students can be taught to get their confidence from who they are not who other people think they are, should be or the name of their school.

Go to the best university in India you can get into, work as hard as you can, and aim for grad school here. You have a much better chance of success getting into a good US college that way than as an undergrad. As an example, Yale at last publication had 43 undergrad students from India and 183 graduate students …despite the fact that Yale has almost 6000 undergrads and less than half of that, 2800, graduate students. So chances of both are low, but much better for graduate. That pattern will be repeated elsewhere (including at top UK universities, if those interest you).

CS PhD programs in the US are fully-funded, though. CS PhD programs in the UK may not be. Also, outside of Oxbridge (and maybe a handful of unis below the Oxbridge tier), Internationals are cash cows for UK unis.

There are a number of funding options at both msc and PhD level in the UK for internationals, both internal and external to universities. I’ve known a number of internationals at both levels who have been fully or almost fully funded, both at Oxbridge and Russell group. Just something else for OP to consider trying for once s/he comes out with a great Indian undergrad.

@curiousboy178 I do not think that the acceptance rate for RD applicants without a hook for any of the colleges to which you applied is higher than 3%. For a student who is not an American citizen AND requires a full ride, the admission rate is closer to 1% or lower, especially for students from India.

Your profile is excellent, but it is no better than that of another 1,000 students who are applying from India.

My major piece of advice for you is to forget about being accepted to any of the colleges on your list, and attend one of the excellent universities in India. Applying to this particular list of colleges and being disappointed that you were not accepted into any is like buying 20 lottery tickets and being disappointed that none won.

For an international student, U Chicago requires standardized testing. Unless you submitted A-levels or IB testing in English, you did not prove to them that you were proficient in use of the English language at the level they would like. That is likely one of the reasons you were rejected. U Chicago has a liberal arts based curriculum, and just being excellent in STEM, without having strong language skills as well, will substantially reduce your attractiveness as an applicant.

For Bowdoin, here is what it says for international students:

What they are saying is that, for internationals students, they are not need blind. You may be an excellent candidate, however, you not only have to be good enough to be accepted, you need to be good enough that they will pay you to come. Unfortunately, there are so many excellent Indian students who are applying to colleges in the USA who can afford to pay, so you will have to be better than these ones if you want to be accepted with a full ride.

Why would you assume that you were supposed to get in? The colleges pick the students they need. You don’t decide it for them. They decide. You didn’t do the research for what they want, and it’s currently not the “max of what you can expect from a 17 y/o kid” that the colleges want and need. They don’t need another CS student from India who needs full financial aid. They need students who will build their classes with varying talents in the arts, music, and sports. Each school knows what and who they need. So, to “expect” an admission means that you don’t understand the way US colleges and universities admit students.

*You were advised, on a previous post, that your need for financial aid, as an international student, would significantly decrease your chances. Funding is limited.
*You were also advised that applying to these schools with a low English SAT score would not get you into the tough schools.
*You were also advised that the CS departments are impacted everywhere; priority goes to US citizens.
*Your Vitae is a carbon copy of every student applying from India with a CS major and CS related-activities. There are thousands of your countrymen applying for a finite number of seats, with similar EC’s, and all applying to the same list of schools.

There are some good suggestions from previous posters. Wait to hear from your list of schools, then make a decision. Assume that the schools in India will be your choices. Why don’t you want to study in India?