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Chance me for Stanford, Yale, CMU, Harvard, Umich

kk2dn44kk2dn44 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
I will be applying this year and would love to know my chances.

Schools: Stanford (most prob RED), Yale, CMU, Harvard, University of Michigan, Brown
Intended Major: Cognitive Science (symbolic systems /sts in Stanford)

Studied in a Public school
Demographics: F, Singapore, First Gen

O levels: 10 subjects max course load
ACT: 36 (Should I take SATs? I'm really not sure)
Homeschooled for Alevels for health reasons


1. Founder and director of a nonprofit to tutor economically disadvantaged kids. It’s all free and the tutors are volunteers. Currently we have students in 3 countries. Managing 48 tutors and 95 students.

2. Visits to an elderly home for 2 years, once a week --> also we designed an app for elderly with a focus on accessing emergency services. Learnt about UI and UX design (**both through school)

3. Organised an international trip to Vietnam for service learning (**through school)

4. Co-designer and programmer (C++) of Southeast Asia’s first manned space capsule and a space drone. Not a physics student so had to learn aspects of Aerospace engineering on the course of this project.

5. Bug bounty hunter at Hackerone and sometimes Bugcrowd. Independently learnt fundamentals of cyber security, proper report format, Python, Java, SQL, and C++. Found ard 42 bugs I think

6. Participated in highly selective creative writing program organised by govt and got chosen for a 9-month mentorship under local poet. Published my poems in a book through that. (**through school)

7. Scouted by Govt to perform original poem for country’s 50th anniversary and the opening of our national stadium. Audience: 50 000 (**indirectly opportunity through school I guess)

8. Selected to intern at country’s biggest and most renowned law firm. Recognised an error in their NDA clause. Mainly involved in bankruptcy law. Not econs student so that was mildly difficult tbh

9. Research attachment at Duke-NUS. Youngest to get accepted. Focus on sociology aspect of ageing. Worked on 3 research projects. 2 quali and 1 quanti

10. Im working at Subway. It’s pretty fun, and not as difficult compared to working in Mcdonalds personally

**I've stated the ECs that I got as a result of something my school offered us to apply for. Everything else is independent study, something that I applied to on my own.

Not much, got EAGLES award one year. An award for an animation that my team did. Although it was national and we were top 10, UNSW distinction for computer? (Don’t know if this belongs here)

Pretty gd writer so essays should be fine. Mildly concerned about teachers recommendation as I wasn’t close to any Teachers. External recs are no prob. Will not be asking for financial aid due to scholarship.

Please be brutally honest if I should apply as I understand international applicants' odds are lower. And tbh my Olevel grades were not perfect As. Had a couple Bs. One was a C >< Predicted grades for Alevels are all As though if it helps.

Should I both to RED Stanford as well? Would love your input.
13 replies
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Replies to: Chance me for Stanford, Yale, CMU, Harvard, Umich

  • GoBears2023GoBears2023 733 replies9 threadsForum Champion Summer Programs Forum Champion
    GG you win! I think you'll have a really good shot at any school you apply to.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29240 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    How to assess your accomplishments is a big issue. It’s too easy to spin these things. They have to be broken down into exactly what you did as assessed by some independent academian or company. Not someone who was paid to work with you or part of your project. Someone recognized by the universities. Otherwise, it’s all considered spin.

    You have done some of this work with recognized institutions; Duke Medical School, for example. Would someone there vouch for the genius of your work or are these all just opportunities that are given to high school students? Awards like the Siemens, Westinghouse, etc are highly rated by colleges because they are assessed on a consistent basis each year. It’s difficult to assess the type of research activities students do. Admissions has to be able to do this. It’s becoming increasingly difficult because more and more students are listing these impressive sounding accomplishments that are often just research projects through some program.

    I don’t know how any of us on this forum can even begin to assess how these projects will counted by AOs. Whether they are just average programs one can pay to access or school assigned or if you are someone who is making a true name in research. It’s rare that’s the case for a teenager. It’s rare really for anyone.

    I’m seeing more and more of these resumes from...kids. Whether you are someone that is onto something phenomenal that becomes a hot hook, whether these projects are 5/5 ECs, or just the sort of stuff that AOs are seeing these days is what’s going to make the difference.

    Test scores: 5/5
    Grades: 3/5. Maybe lower, depends on how your school grades.
    Rigor of Curriculum: I cant tell. You probably need to take SAT2s for some of these schools, or it’s highly recommended. You had better check that.
    The colleges will tend to know the top Asian high schools and how to assess the rigor via your exam results and school profile

    ECs: I don’t know how to assess them as so said above

    LORs: You need sterling ones. From your school or independent recognized entity. Does your school recognize your accomplishments and will say you are a superstar? Your GC and Teachers should be tripping over themselves to be recommending you, unless you are so way out of their stratosphere that they are not capable. External recs from paid programs don’t count.

    Essays: No telling. Your writing here is average. I see nothing special. If you warrant what appears to be bluster, then that’s a different story. But you don’t tell a good one.

    I can only suspect, not really know, whether you are an Elizabeth Holmes type applicant (never mind the trouble she’s having now; as a high school applicant, her work swept Stanford off their feet. She was the real thing back in the day with her work). If you are, the schools will all want you. You shouldn’t even be posting on this board, but having your mentors contact their associates at these colleges, and you are in. But you are posting here, so I have doubts where you stand in all of this. With a 3 on ECs and 2 for School recs, you still stand a chance at CMU and UMich, depending upon the school and departments you are wanting. CMU will want those SAT2s.

    If you really want to study in the US, start looking for at least a few schools that are highly likely to take you on those test scores and grades. Case Western, for example. RPI. Maybe some lesser known public universities and schools. Go on ahead and apply to the high reaches too, but that’s what they are. Lottery tickets.
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  • kk2dn44kk2dn44 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you for your comments.

    I dont see how i was vague in assessing my accomplishments. for work that was independent, i gave concrete examples and specific things that i’ve aided in. And its my choice not to state certain companies i’ve worked with. don’t see that as a problem.

    And getting an independent academian or company to assess my work doesnt make sense at all? I have my teachers and external recs. I know exactly 0 people who do that. I understand its difficult to assess research activities, but once again I cannot give a detailed report. All I can say is that I’ve done it.

    i’ve also explicitly stated the opportunities i got via school and the ones i applied to on my own or studied for on my own. Nowhere did i mention paid programs.

    Using “kids” really shows your disbelief which if you don’t mind me saying, I couldn’t care less about. This is not a thread for rants.

    Once again, did not ask for your comments on essays as i have not begun writing them. apologies that im not spinning a beautiful narrative for strangers on the internet.

    Your comparisons to Holmes is astoundingly rude. I sincerely hope you reflect on yourself and what went wrong in your life that you have to get on the internet and criticise people who are asking for genuine critiques. And I’m sure I can decide what I want or not want to post on this board thank you very much. Once again, the assumption that my mentors will automatically have the contacts is frankly ridiculous. Is it really hard to imagine that someone aiming for Stanford wouldn’t have exhausted the impressions from skilled mentors in real life? I’m in a country where few apply to US and fewer to Stanford. Not everyone is as privileged.

    Lastly, no one on chance me threads to ask others to comment on the validity of their activities. Merely give constructive criticism. Instead of spewing assumptions and projecting your inferiority complex, you could do well with some therapy and meditation. But what does a “kid” know?
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  • kk2dn44kk2dn44 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    thank you for your comments:) Can I know if SAT subject tests are the norm if we've already taken ACTs?
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  • skieuropeskieurope 38838 replies6858 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Can I know if SAT subject tests are the norm if we've already taken ACTs?
    For most of the colleges you have listed, yes.
    Your comparisons to Holmes is astoundingly rude. I sincerely hope you reflect on yourself and what went wrong in your life that you have to get on the internet and criticise people who are asking for genuine critiques.
    Your response to a user who is trying to assist you was beyond rude. The user has a proven track record of assisting applicants, and there was nothing in the response that warranted such a vitriolic response. When you come onto this site, or any site, and ask a question, it is with the assumption that you are requesting responses. You are free to ignore the responses if they are not to your liking, but such ad hominems are not appropriate, and violate the rules of the forum.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6971 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The schools on your list recommend two SAT II subject tests. Take them.

    You do not need to take the SAT. American schools want ACT OR SAT, not necessarily both.

    All of these schools are high reaches for all applicants, especially international students. Have match and safety schools in your home country.

    "Will not be asking for financial aid due to scholarship." - What does this mean?

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  • kk2dn44kk2dn44 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    unfortunately, i don't think having a track record of assisting applicants allows them to say certain things. Granted, I was not poised but I don't think the user was particularly polite in their response as well. I believe ad hominem attacks also extend to accusing someone of literal fraud. And I don't see how that wasn't violating the forum rules.
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  • kk2dn44kk2dn44 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    thank you for your comments.

    I understand, I'm applying to colleges in my country as well.

    Its a scholarship from the govt to basically fund my uni years. Its bonded of course for 6 years. So because of that, I don't have to request financial aid regardless of my economic situation.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29240 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    First of all, my reference to Holmes is not rude. Elizabeth Holmes was a bonafide top level teenage researcher at the time she applied to Stanford. That things went bad after she started her company, by no means is disparaging her stellar college application. I use her as an example because she is a very well known case where her high school research got top schools to sit up and notice. She was accepted despite test scores and grades that were not top level to top colleges, and Stanford even gave her a very rare undergraduate research grant. It doesn’t get better than that. Again, what happened with her afterwards has nothing to do with how she presented as a college applicant. I am not trying to insult you or any research oriented high school kid by bringing up that example.

    I know many kids who have gotten special research grants from top colleges —one of my kids was one of them. My alma mater gives out a bunch of them. But the criteria to get them is much narrower than kids expect. These days, the research , published works , starting businesses, internships etc have become bountiful especially among full pay kids applying to elite colleges. I cannot assess such resumes because it’s easy enough to spin one. To gain recognition from certain well known programs or get an independent heavy hitter vouch for your work is important for your accomplishments to count heavily. A monetary award (my son eon$20k), a well established, well known program would make a huge impact. Just spin will not.

    The most valuable positive piece in your litany is the government funded scholarship to which you only made passing reference in your OP.

    You don’t want brutal honesty, clearly. You want accolades. I’m done here
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  • kk2dn44kk2dn44 7 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Trust me, if I wanted accolades, I wouldn't have come to college confidential where almost every other person is an Intel winner. I would not have stated my olevel grades which I know are quite low for an average international applicant. In case you didn't notice, I absolutely accepted your comments about my stats.

    And relying on my school to always spoon feed us opportunities shows relative amounts of entitlement. And it didn't help most of my peers. I had the privilege and luck of understanding this early on. Also I said I'm not close to my teachers. Not that I couldn't get any recs from them or that they don't know what I do outside of school-mandated activities.

    its highly interesting that the only person you could think of to use as an example is a publicly known fake. And that too mentioned right after your comments about kids here posting their ECs. I'd suggest standing by your words and owning up to them instead of offering untruths.

    Once again, I understand its difficult to assess these awards. I still see zero reasons to comment about their validity. The fact that you're telling me the most valuable positive piece in my application was just a scholarship, speaks volumes about your narrow understanding of the application process. Scholarships are a dime a dozen.

    Clearly, this was just a rant you had to get off your chest. And I'm unimpressed.
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1050 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Let me make this easy. I'm not really familiar with O and A levels, but your applications should be at least competitive at all the schools you've listed. I do recommend you take a few subject tests maybe Math II and a Bio or physics (check individual schools and you might decide better). Focus on presenting your "best self" in your essays and work to get strong LORs. Use the LORs as way to support your ECs and your academic skills.
    I hope that more and more female applicants like you make it into college and tech fields. Keep moving forward. Don't let anyone discourage you.

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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3344 replies11 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There are a few oddities here with the ECs - some of them are connected to school like organizing a service learning trip to Vietnam so it is odd to say that there are no teachers that you were close to. You co-designed a drone for a national space program and there isn't any science teacher you know well? You supervise 48 volunteers - that is a sizeable amount of work on a weekly basis unless these are one time only volunteers rather than ongoing participants. So I agree that is hard to assess some of these ECs.
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  • OctagonOctagon 188 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Could you tell us more about co-designing a drone for a national space program? How did that come about and why did they choose you versus a well-established scientist? Unless you can explain these things, it all does not make sense.
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