Uni help! taking a gap year

HI GUYS! Unfortunately, I am now taking a gap year and wanted a bit of advice from all of you. I don’t know which unis to apply to since my stats aren’t the strongest and I believe I don’t stand out amongst the crowd at all. I’ll list my stats below just for some info. Last year I applied to many US unis but mainly chose them based on my future career option. I want to become an Investment banker and most banks only hire from a selected range of schools. Sadly i got rejected from all my schools. My main dream school is and always has been NYU. I plan to apply there again and am praying that they accept me this time. However, based on my stats below do you think any top 50 unis will accept me? Will appreciate all the help i can get.

→ 4.0 UW GPA throughout high school (on the dean’s list + Honor role)
→ A-level grades are: AAB (Business, Econ, and Math)
→ O-Level grades aren’t the best due to many extenuating factors.
→ No. 33/900 studend in highschool
→ SAT: 1360/Essay 21 (Will give it again in a month and praying I get above 1500 this time)

→ Don’t have a lot of the traditional ECAS due to many extenuating factors.

  1. Trade forex and stocks to support my family and to earn money for me
  2. Pro-poker player. (Was invited to the WSOP tournament in 2020)
  3. Develop websites for my dropshipping businesses. (Check them out and let me know how they look www.luminiciti.net & www.labeaute.com.co)
    → All in all I’ve made roughly USD 20,000 (in a year) from these endeavors.
    → Tutor my cousin math
    → Run NGOs

Nothing too impressive. Haven’t done things like sports or debate or research since I have no interest in them. I only do things that i actually want to do and put all my heart into them. I was also not able to do many ECAs since i was the primary caretaker of my grandparents 5/7 days of the week.

Financial affordiablity: ~ USD 40,000-60,000 (could only afford USD 20,000 last year when i applied)

→ Have been moving around since i was born and constantly had to adjust to new academic systems. Don’t have any friends. Just live for myself in a state of depression.

Main dream school is NYU.

Sorry for the extremely long post. Hope someone helps!

NYU is notoriously stingy with financial aid, even for domestic students. I wouldn’t bother re-applying.

Was IU Kelley on your list of schools?


How is it that your family is now able to afford so much more per year now? Is that for each of the next four years?

When you applied to schools, did you apply test optional? I wouldn’t send that 1360 anywhere where it’s below the median admitted score.

I probably wouldn’t reapply to NYU either, unless there is something significantly better to your app this year.

What other schools did you apply to?

this school wasn’t. yes! I got to know how stingy NYU is with regards to FA. This time i was hoping I might have a slightly better chance since I can show that I can pay more than half. around USD 55-60 thousand.

At first, my father wanted to spend more money on me getting a master’s degree than an undergrad, but one of his friends convinced him that i should go abroad for my UG and i said that I’ll pay for my masters myself if i ever deicide to go that route. I did apply TO to all the schools since i knew my score wasn’t that good. Again this time i thought that i might have a better chance at not only NYU but all the other schools since i can afford more than half of their cost. My hopes just died now :sweat_smile:

How much time are you spending prepping for the SATs? It’s the one area that you probably have a chance to improve your profile on. What are you doing during your gap year? You could take a Post Grad year and take some advanced level classes, volunteer to go on a service trip for a few months, bread endangered spiders, anything that says I’m using this time to become a better citizen.

Just remember there are lot of paths to get to where you want to go. Don’t worry to much about where you are going for undergrad. One option could be to look at your most economical option for a finance degree (state school? smaller school that offers good merit aid). then get a few years of work experience then head back to one of the top B schools (Penn, NYU…)

I live in Pakistan and the education system here doesn’t offer any advanced classes. They also don’t offer any student jobs or internships. I plan on traveling during my gap year and using a portion of the money i have earned to help people in South Africa (one of my dream destinations). However, by nature, i am a person who doesn’t like to show the things i do for people so i don’t post stuff online or share pics. How will i prove to the unis i did the things i talked about. I understand now, by reading all of the replies i have received, that colleges are least interested in my struggles, and am probably one of the weakest candidates one can have. Dreams of going to NYU for UG are dead now. Guess things never really do go my way. :sweat_smile:

Stop being dramatic in your replies.
It may try to be humble or self deprecatory but… doesn’t sound like that. Hopefully you didn’t use that tone in interviews and essays.

Your ECs are very interesting and your life story also is. Use that for your new applications.
Re applying to Stern may be a fool’s errand but you’re right, having more money matters at all the aid-aware colleges.
Are you a US citizen or international ? If us citizen, have your parents maintained a house in any state?
Your math/econ background is good for your desired major.
Consider IU Kelley, Colgate, Middlebury, Trinity (CT), CUNY Baruch honors.


Universities don’t validate things like ECs but certainly read enough applications and essays to determine things that a applicant is passionate about and what things are more “window dressing”.

Lots of other great options in NY and NYC for you to consider outside of NYU. Stony Brook, St Johns, the New School, University of Buffalo, SUNY Binghamton all have big international undergrad populations

What do you guys think will my chances increase if i can pay the full amount? and not ask for any aid?

Depending on the university, yes applying without asking for aid could help your admissions chances. But: read the fine print. A fair few unis note that if you do not ask for aid up front, you can’t be considered for it later.

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yes i understand that. I was planning on paying the full amount for NYU and thought maybe my chances could be better.

I know you have NYU-colored glasses on. And it is a perfectly good university- but it really, truly is not worth $360,000. I also think that you are overestimating your odds on getting recruited for IB in the US at all much less from NYU. If you are imagining "if I can just get to NY/NYU I will be able to dazzle them, please know that even if you were in Stern (which you won’t be) your odds are no better (& imo likely less) than your odds of getting into Harvard.


good to know. I’ve been underestimated my entire life so whatever you say doesn’t really matter to me. i may not be a typical stellar student but i’ve worked my ass off to get to the point where i am now and have been steadily improving. i’ve already made more money in my teens than most people and continuously do so. I’ve done things which i truly enjoy, not things i think unis would want to see. next time if you’re gonna reply to someone’s post and tell them they cant make it to their dream destination- think again. Just because life never gave you what you wanted doesn’t mean others will end up in the same situation. Nonetheless, i wish you all the success and happiness. Didn’t know this website would be full of toxicity.

Investment Banks may recruit more heavily from certain schools, but there is always room for stellar applicants from other colleges.

There are lots of great schools in the US, especially if you can afford them.

You sound like an enterprising hard worker. Expand your college list. Then, when you get in, put your energy into making excellent grades, making important connections, and getting the best possible internships.


Exactly. Much banking recruiting doesn’t happen on campus either. Use LinkedIn to contact alums from whatever college you end up and network with them….whether you go to NYU, Fordham, Pace, or Baruch (sticking with NYC schools that all have alumni in banking).

It’s critical to get an internship the summer after your junior year, even better to also get one after your soph year. It sounds like you will excel in networking, and also in presenting a relatively more experienced profile. Good luck.


The post wasn’t meant to be negative, just some dream balancing. Notice that I am not saying not to go for the US, nor am I making any call at all as to what you are capable of. I did not say that you "can’t* make it to your dream destination- I suggested re-evaluating the dream itself. Adulting sometimes means taking a hard look at a long-held dream in light of current realities: what parts are achievable? at what cost? what is the deepest part of the dream? if the dream looks less achievable / too costly, what are other ways to get the most important elements? This thought process applies to colleges, buying a house, getting a job, choosing a life partner, etc. It is extremely rare to not have to make any tradeoffs in achieving a dream.

So, I am just pointing out that NYU - a uni I know something about through direct experience- might not be all that you are dreaming. Also, that IB recruiting (and again, I know a bit about that from watching the students being recruited) might not play out the way you think.

You are successful as a poker player, so you know something about playing odds and weighting betting. Apply those principles here- and recognize that this is a game which is new to you.


What are your options in your home country? Why did you decide to take a gap year? If you are making a tidy sum from your business I would recommend keeping the business going and saving up for a graduate degree in the US after completing your undergrad in (I think you said) Pakistan. I have a number of friends and acquaintances from Pakistan and they all completed their undergraduate degree at home before coming here for graduate work. But we are a different generation so that might not be a viable option any more?

Also, don’t get defensive. You came to an online forum to ask for advice. If you don’t like what you hear it’s not necessarily toxic. People on CC are willing to learn about the situations of students from around the world that they don’t know much about and offer advice accordingly (for free). The advice might be harsh sometimes (a reality check) but not toxic. Good luck OP!


I apologies. A lot of stuff has been going on and this is a lot to take in. I’ve been obsessed with NYU since as far as i can remember. The idea of a college without any boundaries, being in the heart of such a robust and lively city, these factors make NYU incomparable to me. I didnt get in the first time i tried and this time i think i may have a much better application since i am using a pro-counseling service which has sent a lot of students to the ivies/oxbridge/nyu/etc. Things havent been going in my way since the last 4-5 years and now i just want one thing to go my way. Thats why i’m so hellbent on the linear route of achieving my dream. Of course i have a much larger goal in mind which will take a lot longer to achieve but the way things are going now it all points towards re-evaluating everything i wanted to do. Since you’ve been there and may have friends who’ve been there can you tell me what my application lacks? anything i can improve on within a year?

The reason i’m not considering any national options are because it’s already extremely hard to break into BB Investment banking from within the US, and paki unis dont have the contacts. I dont even know if i want to get a masters degree yet so i cant rely on the option of doing a masters form the US for a job in IB. No matter if i go to a target or non-target in the US at least i have the option of networking. However, a bigger reason is that i dont like Pakistan at all. I’ve been raised abroad and cant adjust here, so preferably i’d like to leave asap. I agree with you on the advice part. I was too rude to Collegemom even though she was just helping me. been having too many mood swings these days. Cant cope with anything.

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