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The Admissions Marathon Begins

BalthezarBalthezar Registered User Posts: 1,650 Senior Member
I've a son who's a rising senior, who is hoping to get into the College of Engineering. With an ACT Composite of 30, including a 35 in Math and 33 in English, I think he may be right on the bubble, when it comes to getting in. What screwed him up on the ACT is Science where he got a 27. He's got straight As in all his science and math courses at a school with what I believe is a very rigorous course offering, and he hasn't been shy about challenging himself with the most difficult courses. When I asked about the science score, he told me he gets caught in a time crunch since the science course doesn't really measure direct science knowledge (reflected by his As in Science courses), but instead requires the quick reading of a passage to gleen facts to answer questions about a graph or two. Now he's going to retake the upcoming September test, and any advice on improving that science score would be appreciated because I truly don't believe that it reflects his knowledge of the subject area. To round out his application, he's got 3 years of being a volunteer CCD teacher at a local school where he teaches elementary school children the Catholic faith, and he's held down a summer job as a junior laborer at the Chicago Park District trying to save a little money for his college education. He's also been on the Math Team at his school for 2 years, has taken 3 APs US History-5, World History-4, English Language-3. He's taking 5 additional AP courses in his senior year including AP Chemistry, and AP Calculus.

When we were down there in Urbana, we met with an admissions counselor who, of course being non-committal, said he was "competitive", and that his Math score would help and is the most heavily looked at subscore when considering his standardized test scores (next to the composite) when evaluating an applicant for admission to engineering.

He loved his physics course in high school, and so I suggested the Engineering Physics program, but he has his heart set on Astronautical Engineering.

The admissions officer did say that if he wasn't admitted to his first choice, he could either be admitted to a 'General Engineering' program (first I'd heard of that), or DGS. We also attended the Engineering campus walk through, and signed up on the engineering email list.

So, how would you rate his chances.

Thanks in advance,

A hopeful parent
Post edited by Balthezar on

Replies to: The Admissions Marathon Begins

  • indianman19indianman19 Registered User Posts: 105 Junior Member
    good at worst he get deferred in decemeber then accepted in february but if his gpa is up there hes in so dont worry to much
  • BalthezarBalthezar Registered User Posts: 1,650 Senior Member
    Thanks for your reply Indianman19. I very much appreciate it. If anyone else can find the time to respond to any aspect of my initial post, I'd really appreciate it.
  • drusbadrusba Registered User Posts: 9,462 Senior Member
    On the retake be aware: (a) science is not so much science as being able to evaluate and derive answers from graphs or data provided; (b) it does not take getting many wrong answers to score below 30; (c) dealing with the time factor for the section is important so that you get through all the questions; and (d) many score better on the section second time around because familiarity with what is otherwise an unfamiliar type of test section raises your chances.

    As to admission, his ACT is currently on the lower end of the middle 50% range for engineering -- this year's class middle 50% range was 30 to 33 ACT, top 8% to top 2% class rank. You don"t give class rank but if it is below that range then you are definitely in "reach" territory, while if it is toward the higher end of that range, chances are very high even with the 30. The higher math (and actually the higher English) section score does help.

    For engineering, the evaluation process is for them to usually decide to admit or not do so to chosen major, then if not, if the student still looks pretty good, consider offering an engineering major that does not have as high an applicant pool for spaces open. That is often General Engineering, which is in fact a specific engineering major at UIUC, see Course Information Suite, Course Catalog, Class Schedule, Programs of Study, General Education Requirements, GenEd Beyond that is rejection by engineering college and then consideration for admission to the Division of General Studies (as long as the student filled in the blank on the application to be considered for other programs if not accepted to one of choice).

    He should apply by the priority (early action) date. However, as mentioned above, engineering defers a lot of early applicants until the Feb decision date so no one should be shocked by a deferral in Dec. Majority who are deferred actually end up being admitted.
  • yosupyosup Registered User Posts: 1,851 Senior Member
    The thing with science, is that you can't really predict how well you do. On the practice tests, I was scoring between 25-27 and was really worried. When I took the actual test, a few of the passages were about graphs I had worked with before. I was able to fly through those, which saved a TON of time, and I somehow ended up with a 33, and a 31 composite. I think he'll be fine with the 30 as long as he has had a good background with math and science courses in high school. I hoping to get accepted into engineering with my 31 composite/34 math, and my really good math/science background.
  • BalthezarBalthezar Registered User Posts: 1,650 Senior Member
    Thanks much for the responses. His school (On the list of Top 50 Catholic High Schools) only has 250 students in grades 6-12. He puts himself in the top 5 students in the senior class with a 96.53 average on a 100 point scale. As I've said, he's taking, and has taken the most rigorous classes the school has to offer, but the school does not rank its students. They do ask this question on the application, which he is now in the process of filling out, but I'm hoping the non-ranking doesn't hurt his chances.

    Again, thanks for the responses. I greatly appreciate it.
  • drusbadrusba Registered User Posts: 9,462 Senior Member
    For schools that do not rank, UIUC admissions estimates rank based on historical knowledge of the school and applicants and for any Illinois school, the estimate is usually quite accurate.
  • Illini_FanIllini_Fan Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Balthezar - per your request.

    I don't remember my son's exact ACT composite (I just remember he beat my score :( ). I think it was a 31, but I have no idea about the individual sub-scores. English was probably the lowest. His SAT was in the 1360 range (excluding the essay, which Illinois wasn't relying on at that point). GPA was 3.85ish and that included the full load of AP math / sciences classes. Class Rank was top 12% (roughly 150 out of a graduating class of 1299).

    That being the case he was a December acceptance for Engineering Physics in the College of Engineering. ECs were decent -- but not spectacular.
  • BalthezarBalthezar Registered User Posts: 1,650 Senior Member
    My son retook the ACT in September, hoping to improve his previous scores. The problem was that he had a horrible cold that he had gotten on a very inconveniently scheduled senior class overnight "bonding" trip, which curtailed his ability to do any last minute studying. He tells me that he felt terrible during the test and had trouble concentrating, so I'm thinking, well, we'll just have to go with his previously mentioned scores. Well he just got the preliminary report online today, and he raises his composite to a 32, raising both reading and science by 4 points each.

    I told him that I'm going to make sure he has a permanent cold throughout his college career. Do they have any unheated dorms down there in the Urbana tundra?

    Seriously, now that he has the composite of 32 to go along with his previously reported stats, I'm wondering what you think his odds are of getting in to Aerospace Engineering?

    Thanks in advance for any responses.
  • jax90291jax90291 Registered User Posts: 571 Member
    im not sure the type of response you're looking for now. an improved ACT score for a state school like uiuc will always increase your chances of admission.

    personally, i have a 32 also (35 english, 33 math) and am hoping to get into the business school.
  • BalthezarBalthezar Registered User Posts: 1,650 Senior Member
    Yeah, you're right Jax. He's in the midst of trying to develop his essay responses, but his app will be submitted before the 11/1 early decision deadline, and we'll just have to wait and see. Good luck to everyone, and thanks for all the information.
  • drusbadrusba Registered User Posts: 9,462 Senior Member
    Just some fair warning for priority date application. Nov 1 is the priority date when App (with essays) is due and "All supporting documents (application fee, transcripts, and test scores) must be postmarked or received by November 2." In other words, particularly with transcripts and test scores you should be considering ordering them sent now, and no later than within the next week or so, to assure they are actually sent by Nov 2.
  • BalthezarBalthezar Registered User Posts: 1,650 Senior Member
    Thanks again Drusba. This is what I keep on telling my son. In fact his HS advisor, I'm sure, is not that fond of me. I've also been on the line with ACT. He didn't specify that his scores for the September ACT be sent to any colleges up front, and although his multiple choice scores and composite are available to him online, ACT isn't sending them out until the Writing portion is scored. Now, I understand from the ACT that I won't have to pay extra for the priority sending of the scores to urbana, or any of the colleges that have electronic scores downloads, because they're downloaded every other business day, but that's still cutting it close as far as official receipt of ACT scores. He has updated the app with the Self-Reported September scores. The person at ACT said that the writing scores are "usually" posted within 2-3 weeks of the posting of his multiple-choice scores. I'm wondering whether I should order the scores to be sent out now, even though they won't be sent until the writing portion has been scored because of a possible day or two turnaround in processing the scores request.

    Also, once the app has been submitted, is the check application status application informative enough to tell me what is still outstanding, or when the application and its supporting documents have all been received?
This discussion has been closed.