Unhooked Admit, Got into Stanford, CMU, Duke, etc. Need Help with CS Admissions? ASK ME ANYTHING!

Austin Bennett will be attending Stanford University in the fall to study Computer Science. Like many students, he was super intimidated by the college admissions process. In his words “I’m not a super genius, I’m completely unhooked, I don’t attend a feeder school, I’m not at the very top of my class, and, unfortunately, my parents couldn’t afford the $500,000 donation to USC, but somehow it worked out for me.”

@bennettge314 spent a lot of time on our website and wanted to at least tell about how he managed to pull this off. "The short answer is luck. College Admissions is totally luck-central. The longer answer, however, is in the [Youtube video](How I Got Into Stanford, Dartmouth,) he made for y’all describing some general application tips as well as his stats, ECs, awards, and more.

School Results:
ACCEPTED: Stanford, Duke, Dartmouth, CMU (School of Computer Science), Rice, USC, UMichigan, Northeastern, RPI, Boston University
WAITLISTED: Caltech, UChicago, Cornell, Brown, Harvard, UCLA
REJECTED: UC Berkeley, MIT, Yale, Princeton

Austin is our Guest Student of the Week, so make sure to ask him all your questions!

Congratulations! Why did you choose Stanford over CMU?

Hi, @“Lila Bear”! The CMU vs Stanford choice ended up being pretty tough for me – I spent two summers taking CS courses at CMU’s AP/EA Program and fell in love with the school. I loved how theoretical/mathy the CMU CS curriculum was, as opposed to Stanford’s more typically-practical CS curriculum; but, admittedly, I’m interested in a variety of fields, and I felt that Stanford would afford more opportunities for exploration.

Congratulations !

Enjoyed watching & listening to your YouTube video.

Key piece of advice offered by you in your YouTube video that merits further explanation: “as long as you portray it correctly”

Hi @Publisher, I’m glad you liked the video! What I mean by “portraying an activity correctly” is explaining why it’s meaningful to you. Talk about what you learned from it, or perhaps share a funny/memorable story, it helps the reader understand you a bit better and can help your application stand out.

This is great Austin
Can you share your stats and ECs you had

Hi @vgulla! That’s all listed in a youtube video I made for you guys. The link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72UaoocZEH4

Please see my “Chance Me” :frowning: I’m a really anxious junior… I wanna go to Stanford, but I know it’s super unrealistic.

I enjoyed watching your video! Congrats on your success!!!

Were you a legacy at any of the colleges you were admitted to?

Also, can you tell me the author of the second book you mentioned in your video re writing the essay?

Hi, @yearstogo, I’m glad you liked the video! I wasn’t a legacy at any of the colleges where I was admitted. Also, the name of the book is “On Writing the College Application Essay” by Harry Bauld.

Hi, @Kaylee2002! You profile seems very impressive, but I don’t think that I can accurately chance anyone. You’re definitely qualified for those schools; but they’re reaches for a reason, so nothing is guaranteed. You’ll have a great shot when applying though!

Hi, @gamergirl91! You’ve also got a good profile, but I don’t think that I can accurately chance anyone. Keep in mind that Stanford is extremely selective, but don’t count yourself out. Just work super hard on your essays, and I’m sure you’ll have some good options!

Hi! Congrats on your acceptances. I watched your video and I’m really interested in what you wrote in your additional comments section, as I’ve never heard of anyone using it to write a joke or something like that.

Would you mind sharing your note to the admissions committee that was in the additional info section?

Hi, @5364bear! Yeah, I used the additional info section to tell some math jokes (I’ve got some pretty good ones). In my note to the admissions committee, I just said hello and thanked them for reading my application. I’m a big believer in spreading positivity, and I thought it’d be a nice touch.


I know your CS, but I really want to get into CMU or Stanford for Math/Physics. I haven’t won any major awards for Math/Physics, and the best thing that I’ve gotten on the AMC 12 is an 80 since I didn’t really study for it. How do you think I can “compensate” for this lack of awards? I have some solid leadership roles for math/phys club, but I just wanted to hear if you had any ideas in this regard.

Thanks for your time and congratulations dude!


Hi, @ollieolliewayne! You definitely don’t need to “compensate” for a lack of awards. While it’s obviously helpful to have them, they’re by no means a necessity. The leadership roles in your field show depth/passion, and I’d definitely write an essay about them. I know this may seem simple; but in my opinion, a good essay surrounding this topic would be a fantastic way to stand out.

Congrats! I had some unfortunate circumstances last year that forced me to attend community college for a year but I just got into NYU and USC for transfer. I am in a very competitive internship program and have a 4.0 GPA and a 1390 SAT (not the best I know). I want to attend Barnard College, however, who rejected me today. If I maintain my 4.0 GPA standing at NYU for next semester, and have very solid supplemental essays, with your knowledge, do you know if I have any chance at transferring to Barnard for the Spring of 2021, assuming corona doesn’t ruin everything? If I don’t have a chance, then I don’t want to apply and get my hopes up again for nothing, because I know I don’t have a high SAT.

Hi, @anonymous092001! Unfortunately, I don’t know much about transfer admissions; but looking at Barnard’s Common Data Set from 2019-2020, they actually do have a fairly high transfer admission rate (about 22% last year). I wouldn’t worry too much about the SAT – it’s in the middle 50 and I’d bet that your college GPA will probably be more important. In my opinion, you definitely should apply. I think you’ve got a great shot!

Hi Austin @bennettge314 , I just watched your video and want to say Congratulations! I am particularly impressed with how engaged and how in control you were of your PSAT studying, the books you read and recommend, the awareness of your course selection in high school, and your positive attitude! I am a parent, and I find it refreshing to see a mature young person really engage this process. I don’t think it’s common to have that type of focus and maturity about the college search and application process. Thank you for sharing what you have learned. All the best to you!