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Chance Me: NU, Columbia, Duke, Cornell, UPenn (All Engineering)

spinCaster15spinCaster15 30 replies5 threads Junior Member
I know it is tough to judge these top schools in general, but I have been very worried in general about whether i am over or underestimating my chances at these schools, so I'd appreciate any help.

SAT: 1600
ACT: 36
Subject tests: 800 in Math 2, Chem, Bio, Physics
APs: 5's in Chem, Physics, Bio, Calc AB & BC, APUSH, Ap World, AP CS, AP Lang
GPA: Unweighted 4.0/4.0, taken 9 AP classes. Our school doesn't allow AP in 9th grade, and only 3 in 10th grade, so I have been taking as many as I can
Class Rank: N/A, but likely anywhere from 1 - 4 out of a class of 500

Intended major: Materials Engineering/Science, but want to keep myself open to ChemE and Financial Engineering as well

Top 50 nationally in the US Chemistry Olympiad (2019)
Highest score in WA state history, first person to qualify for top 50
Materials Engineering Research Abstract Accepted for Presentation at 2 National Conferences (American Physical Society, American Chemical Society)
Top 150 nationally in the US Chemistry Olympiad (2018)
Top 20 internationally in DECA Business Finance (2019)
1st place in Washington State DECA Business Finance (2019)
5 time AIME qualifier (scored an 8 this year)
National Science Bowl regional champion, 7th at National competition (2018)
Represented WA state on ARML team of 15 top studets (2017, 2018)
1st place in state Science Olympiad medals for Environmental Chemistry, Chem Lab

Vice President of National Honor Society chapter (2018/2019) - organized induction ceremony, school-wide community service projects, etc
Vice President of Finance for DECA (2018/2019) - Started school-wide student store, managed budget for club, etc.
President of Non-profit that teaches to younger children in the area (2017/2018/2019) -
Raised ~$35k for eductaion-based scholarships around the world. Set up ~$3k
scholarship for students in my school district. Organized curriculum, logistics,
teaching every week
Secretary of National Science Bowl club - Means little but thats ok
Ran a support group for teenagers with acne
I had terrible acne that limited my life in a lot of personal ways and after I overcame
that I wanted to help others.

9th grade: Worked in a lab with a professor at the University of Washington, mostly just helping out graduate students. Also did an internship at BizX, which was like customer outreach and database maintenance.

11th grade: Garcia Research program at Stonybrook University (material/polymer science) This is a selective program. Worked on a project about polymer thin film confinement. Will be presenting at two conferences in March as well with the same project.

During 10th, 11th: I've been working with the same professor at University of Washington on a computational chemistry project centered around protein folding. I've been rather sporadic on my progress with this project, unfortunately, but I learned a lot and did get some out.

I am an Asian male with no extenuating circumstances. What are my chances at any of these schools? Columbia is my dream school, so hoping for that.
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Replies to: Chance Me: NU, Columbia, Duke, Cornell, UPenn (All Engineering)

  • MWolfMWolf 2081 replies14 threads Senior Member
    First of all, congratulations on an impressive set of high school accomplishments. Whatever happens in college, you have already achieved a lot.

    The good news is that you are competitive, and I would say that your chances are better than average. The bad news is that the average is in the low single digits acceptance rate. So "Better than Average", especially RD, can still be less that 10%.

    Basically, applicants like you make up the majority of the pool from which they select most of accepted students, unfortunately it's a very large pool, at least for these universities.

    Why is Columbia your dream school? There are better engineering programs. If you are looking at universities which have better engineering programs, and which have acceptance rates that low, I would think that MIT, Caltech, Stanford, or HMC would be better choices, in that they would provide you much better engineering programs.

    In any case, what are your matches and what is your safety/ies? Applying to reaches is all good and nice, but you should be focusing on the colleges to which you are more likely to be accepted. With that profile, it should be easy to find top programs as matches and safeties, even in engineering.

    On the topic - what would be considered financial safeties?
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  • spinCaster15spinCaster15 30 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Hi! Thank you for your response. I totally get that and kind of figured that no matter what, chances are still low

    I did apply to those other schools you mentioned, but I had less hope of getting into those and know that thoe may be completely outside of my reach. I thought this bucket of schools that I mentioned may be more likely, even though they are all very, very selective. Just splitting hairs :smile:

    You are definetly correct - Columbia's engineering program is not as good as those you mentioned. I happened to spend a lot of time in New York last summer and fell in love with the city; I also want to go through the core curriculum for the purpose of becoming more well-rounded and putting myself in an environment in which I will be uncomfortable academically. If i dont, I don't think I will emerge a better person, even if I emerge a better engineer. I know there is some flawed logic in this and I may veyr well change my mind in the next few months, but for now, my heart has chosen without exact rhyme or reason

    I got into University of Michigan College of Engineering in the ealry action round this year, and I am very happy with that as a choice. It is a fantastic engineering program and school as a whole, and the only, only qualm I have is the massive number of students. I am now looking only for smaller schools with good engineering programs that are reaches for everyone, because to me, Michigan is already top, top notch and there is no match or safety I would choose over Michigan save Univ. of Washington, my state school.

    Financially, I probably won't get any aid from colleges at all. It's all up to me applying to external scholarships. While financials are, of course, important, they are not a limiting factor for us right now. Both Univ. of Washington and Univ. of Oregon (merit-scholarships) are quite affordable options for us as well.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2081 replies14 threads Senior Member
    You're right - if you've already been accepted to U Michigan, you have no need for safeties. Of your list, I would ignore UPenn, since it is such a worse choice than Michigan or Washington. WHile I understand your interest in a smaller college, I think that UPenn is too much of a step down compared to Michigan. While I think that the preference for a smaller school would put NU, Duke, and Columbia as worth choosing over Michigan, I don't see UPenn as being worthwhile, especially for the price.

    In any case, I would, in your place, start planning your next year in Michigan. Ignore the rest of your applications unless you are required to send something new or you are accepted.

    You have been accepted to one of the very best engineering schools in the country. Spend your time until you graduate enjoying that fact, and don't let stress over whether you will be accepted into any other college ruin this time for you.
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  • MaltamilkboneMaltamilkbone 12 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @spinCaster15 Did you end up applying to Columbia ED?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8807 replies85 threads Senior Member
    Besides Cornell, I don't think I would chose any of these schools over U. Michigan. Have you visited Michigan? Their engineering facilities are second to none.
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  • spinCaster15spinCaster15 30 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @Maltamilkbone No, I ended up applying to Princeton EA. In retrospect, terrible, terrible decision. Not sure what exactly I was thinking :neutral: The school is not the best fit for me and I was not the best fit for it.

    @momofsenior1 I am visiting Michigan in about a month!
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7243 replies70 threads Senior Member
    Financially, I probably won't get any aid from colleges at all. It's all up to me applying to external scholarships. While financials are, of course, important, they are not a limiting factor for us right now.

    Careful here. External scholarships that make a major difference are rare.

    Yes, UMi is a superb choice- but so is UWa. Although your career earnings potential will be high, the less debt you start with the better.
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