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Chance me (junior)! Interested in some top tier schools.

Ben180Ben180 7 replies2 threads New Member
I'm a white, male junior at a fairly small public high school (about 200-250 kids in my class). I'm not sure exactly where I'll apply yet but I really like Duke, Princeton, Penn, Cornell, Vanderbilt, and Virginia, and I'll apply to Maryland (my state/safety school because the in-state admission rate is pretty high). I probably won't apply to all of those first six schools (instead I'll probably apply to a couple more target schools). Anyways, I'll cut to the chase.

SAT: 1550 (770 Reading, 780 Math)
SAT Subject Tests: Math II (790) and yet to take Physics (COVID-19)
Unweighted GPA: 4.0/4.0
Weighted GPA (5 point scale): 4.71 - my class rank is 3/200-250

Freshman APs: US Government (5)
Sophomore APs: Biology (5), World History (5), Calc AB (5), Spanish Lang (taking the test this year)
Junior APs: English Lang, Spanish Lang, Calc BC, US History, Physics 1, Statistics
Senior APs (planned): Micro/Macroeconomics, English Literature, Physics C

Other Important Courses: Next year I will take some sort of college level math and spanish at my local college (I'm two years ahead in both subjects); I am in an engineering program called PLTW which spans five classes over four years

I shouldn't get less than a 4 on any of my future AP tests (although this year's tests could prove to be wonky)

ECs (I imagine I'll do all of these my senior year also assuming that it happens):


Varsity Cross Country (9-11): all-region 3rd team freshman and sophomore year and all-region 1st team junior year (6th place in the region); likely will be captain next year; also my team has won 3 straight regional championships and we placed 3rd at states this year (my school's best finish in its 50-something year history) dunno if team success matters though

JV Basketball (9-10): Captain both years and MVP as a freshman (got moved up to varsity during the playoffs of my sophomore year)
Varsity Basketball (11): Could be a captain next year

Varsity Baseball (9-11): I was a starter as a sophomore and was starting this season as well before COVID; the team won the county division championship last year; I could be a captain next year


It's Academic (think Quizbowl) (9-11): on the TV team all four years (pretty rare feat); captain as a junior and led my team to the semifinals before competition got canceled (yup, you guessed it, COVID) and also qualified for the National Championship this year

Podcast (11): This one is a bit complicated. I was in the middle of starting my school's podcast when COVID happened so hopefully I'll get it up and running next year but this was a new and unique idea/club I was starting. I think it would add a lot to my application (not to mention I like public speaking and this realm of things).

Model UN (9-11): moderately competitive at my school
NHS (10-11)
Spanish Honor Society (10-11): Vice President
Social Studies Honor Society (11)
Inaugural Student-Athlete Council (11): This is a group of like 8 of the athletes at our school selected by the AD to represent the athletes
Physics Olympics (11)
Coding Club (10-11)

Community Service (about 375 hours total):

Rec Council: I volunteer as a coach in youth baseball and basketball in my local rec council which I grew up in. I also help organize events like the All-Star games and what not.

The rec council is my community service cornerstone. Aside from that, I've done bunch of other various things here and there (ie. volunteering at the soup kitchen).

Jobs: Mow lawns, babysit, and tutor in my neighborhood.

Ben Carson Scholar (9-11)
Highest Honor Roll for all my semesters (straight As quarterly)
Second place in a local oratory competition (out of about 180 entries). Side note: I could pretty easily transform this essay into a college essay
Second place in a local debate (out of about 16 debators)
AP Scholar with distinction
Head and Shoulders math program (not the shampoo)
PLTW Scholar

I love music and can play the piano and guitar (self-taught) and sing (at least I think so :))
Fluent in Spanish
Passion for data analytics: I've made various Excel programs (to rate college basketball teams for instance)
I am in the process of teaching myself the coding language R
I interview well and I'm a good writer (maybe 7.5/10) with a lot of voice (college essay-wise)

Anyways, my biggest fear is that I don't have that "spike" that I've heard talked about in that I'm really good at a lot of things but not great/specialized in any one thing. Most of that is because I enjoy having a lot of diversity in my activities and don't want to zero in on one focus because I'm in high school. I feel like I shouldn't have to do that yet. Isn't that what college is for?

Regardless, I'm just wondering what my chances at a top-tier school are compared to the rest of the pool. Also, I like UVA a lot but know that getting in from out of state is no small feat. What are my odds there? Also, I suppose its worth noting that I'm a legacy at Penn and Cornell (I'm not sure if it truly helps but thought I'd mention it). Also, I was curious as to whether colleges are interested in any awards your team has won (as opposed to individual). Lemme know if anything I listed is extra/unneccesary info (I'm sure a bunch is) and thank you to whoever takes the time to read and respond to this as I appreciate it a lot.

Well wishes in these crazy times.

14 replies
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Replies to: Chance me (junior)! Interested in some top tier schools.

  • onthewestfenceonthewestfence 269 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @Ben180 Looks great thus far. Focus on essays for apps. Limit the number of schools. Penn gives legacy an advantage for ED. Quality (essays) over quantity (time). Best of luck.
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2889 replies8 threads Senior Member
    The biggest problem with "prestige" is that 9 times out of 10, you can't afford it. Some kids get into these schools with great financial aid packages, but they're a rare breed. That's why 85% of students go to an in-state university. You could take every private university off of your list, go to UMD, get a job out of college and be none the wiser.
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  • Ben180Ben180 7 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks @onthewestfence for the helpful info! And @coolguy40 I do agree with you to an extent and know it would be really hard to turn down UMD (especially if they gave me money) because it's a good school too and sooooo much cheaper.
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  • LilPaloAltoLilPaloAlto 19 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Good chance! Crapshoot either way though
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  • Ben180Ben180 7 replies2 threads New Member
    @LilPaloAlto thanks! And yeah, I know that unless I start a business like Google, pretty much no matter what I do it'll be a crapshoot. Just gotta hope :)
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  • jw31415jw31415 7 replies1 threads New Member
    Hey I'm also a junior and my stats, profile, and ECs are shockingly similar to yours.
    I think (based on my limited knowledge anyway) that you have a solid shot at the schools you mentioned, especially where you have legacy if you apply ED. Good luck! Hopefully we both get in everywhere

    (P.S. I can relate to the frustration of ECs being put on hold by Covid19)
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  • CollegeFreak9488CollegeFreak9488 20 replies20 threads Junior Member
    Yeah you should! You have strong scores, and although the Ivys are a crapshoot for anyone, it never hurts to try! Put in as much effort into those apps and make that hard work pay off!f
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  • Ben180Ben180 7 replies2 threads New Member
    @jw31415 Thank you! And good luck to you too I hope you get in to your schools also!
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  • lilymarililymari 5 replies1 threads New Member
    I'll have to disagree with you there @coolguy40 . Generally, top tier schools, like in the Ivy League, give very generous financial aid. I know for sure that Princeton gives full rides to any family that makes less than $60,000 and gives financial aid even up to a family income of $250,000. Most top ten schools promise to meet 100% of your need.
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  • Ben180Ben180 7 replies2 threads New Member
    @lilymari hopefully COVID won't impact too much of that.
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  • Bill MarshBill Marsh 503 replies5 threads Member
    Except for Maryland, all of those schools you listed are reach schools for anyone . Even for top students like you, they’re long shots. Yourbest Chance among those is probably at Cornell - about 25%. The rest are probably less than 20%, some less than 10%.

    You still need to round out your list with target schools that aren’s Such an iffy proposition.
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  • STEMGeek16STEMGeek16 51 replies10 threads Junior Member
    I am also a junior this year. I study in a US public high school with a visa (I am originally from India and will be entering the class of 2025 soon). The admit rate is significantly lower for non-residents like me so I would say I am in more of a crapshoot regarding college application.
    As far as your profile goes...
    Your academics are strong and I guarantee that you will be good for the initial round of screening for academics at many top-tier schools.
    Your ECs/Awards/Service also show commitment and dedication. Sure, a spike never hurts in college apps and it is better to have accomplishments and recognitions at the national or even the international level. However, I know several students from my school who went on to such high-tier colleges such as Princeton and MIT with a couple honors at the state/regional level and pretty mediocre stats (3.9 UW GPA, 32-33 ACT for these schools). What I believe got them in is their ability to really portray their passions and commitments to their activities in their applications and especially their essays (remember, if you utilize them wisely, you can really build a unique perspective of yourself in your essays for admissions readers).
    Best of luck for your college applications and I hope you get into your dream schools!
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  • Ben180Ben180 7 replies2 threads New Member
    @STEMGeek16 thanks for the advice about the essays I really appreciate it! Good luck to you too.
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  • KonohakatuKonohakatu 115 replies10 threads Junior Member
    A 3.9UW and 32-33 AREN’T mediocre
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