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Chance at Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cornell, Chicago : engineering major for international student

ivyhopefulDivyhopefulD 4 replies1 threads New Member
Hi,

My daughter is planning to apply to Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cornell and Chicago and is thinking of engineering as her major at the moment. She is not very clear about which type engineering she wants to specialise in, hence the focus on liberal arts unis which do have some focus on engineering.

She got 9s in all her 10 GCSEs (which are graded from 1-9 and 9 is higher than an A* including physics, chemistry, mathematics, advanced mathematics and statistics (only 300 students in the entire UK have these grades). She is currently predicted D1s and D2s ( equivalent to A* and above) in all her Pre-U subjects (Physics, Chemistry, Double Maths). She is in the top 1% at her school. She has also won silver and bronze medals in the chemistry and maths olympiads.

She plans to give her SAT exam next month and is on track to get around 1550.

She is a county/national level tennis player and has similar profile to many of the players recruited in the tennis teams especially at Cornell and Chicago. She had been injured for the last couple of years but is much better now and is actively improving her UTR ranking. She also plays cricket for the county.

She also coaches younger tennis players at her club, has Gold Duke of Edinbugh Award and has volunteered at the local hospital. She is also a gold crest award for working on a project with industry.

We are looking for need based financial aid and can pay around $15,000/year.

Do you think she stands a chance?

Thanks!
19 replies
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Replies to: Chance at Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cornell, Chicago : engineering major for international student

  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15981 replies1068 threads Senior Member
    edited August 9
    University of Chicago does not have a full engineering school.

    Even at those well endowed universities a family's need is determined by the school. The Ivies do not give athletic scholarships but if she is a recruited athlete that would help admission.
    edited August 9
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  • ivyhopefulDivyhopefulD 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks. But do you think she has a fighting chance at these unis? Chicago application is more on the basis that it is div 3 so she might likely get in through the athletic route. I understand that it has just molecular engineering but my D herself is not sure whether she wants to focus on it at this stage.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3981 replies52 threads Senior Member
    If she really wants engineering, then Chicago is not a good choice. The molecular engineering dept is quite new. The math, physics and econ departments are known worldwide.

    The admissions boost given by athletics varies from one college to another. At Chicago, since they are D3, the coach's input has some weight, but it is not the same level as a "Likely Letter" that is given by the Ivies.

    If your daughter is as good of a tennis player as you say, then have her reach out to the coaches. They will tell you straight away if they are interested or not. At Ivies, each team has to meet a minimum academic threshold (known as the AI). So your daughters stats will certainly help. But at Stanford, Chicago, etc they are not bound by the AI.

    Regarding financial aid - all of the schools listed above give financial aid based on need. So if your daughter gets accepted, then aid will be given . Note that Stanford, Chicago and Cornell are not need blind for internationals. This means they will take need into account when determining who to admit.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3981 replies52 threads Senior Member
    I imagine you know this already, but your D would be a strong candidate for the top schools in the UK (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, etc). Only 3 years for a degree, and at a price that can't be beat.
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  • ivyhopefulDivyhopefulD 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks, especially about not being need blind for international students at Cornell and Chicago, as I was not aware of that. Personally, I feel Stanford is quite a reach given that they have athletic scholarships, which make it very competitive. She is also applying to UK unis along with US applications and would go for the best offer she gets.

    We are now in the process of organising her demo videos so that she can reach out to the coaches and get an idea about where she can get support for her application.

    Can you suggest any other unis which will look at her application favourably and where she has a chance of getting a good merit based scholarship or need based funding?


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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15981 replies1068 threads Senior Member
    Without knowing your income, assets etc. there is no way to gauge your eligibility for significant need based aid. For merit aid you would need to look below the top 20 universities. USC, WUStL, Boston University still offer significant merit aid to top applicants.
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 2191 replies25 threads Senior Member
    Is she trying to Be recruited as a tennis player to all schools? If not, the fact that they give athletic scholarships doesn’t matter. If you are looking to be recruited, I don’t know the timeline but you may want to visit the recruiting forum on this site.
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  • hebegebehebegebe 3000 replies44 threads Senior Member
    If your daughter was a US student was applying with similar academics but no tennis ability, most likely she would be rejected at every one of your listed colleges except Cornell. And then you face the issue that the acceptance rate is much lower for international students.

    But fortunately your daughter has a tennis talent, and so it will completely depend up on that to get her into the "accepted" column. Eeyore123 is right in that you should be getting advice on the tennis recruiting thread. You should also work the tennis network in your country to find people who have successfully navigated acceptances into elite US colleges.

    On a separate note, the colleges you listed are really quite different from each other. The two that are closest in philosophy are Harvard and Yale, and even they are quite different. The two best engineering programs among those are Stanford and Cornell. Harvard's engineering program is fairly new but its ample funding means it is likely to improve rapidly. Yale's is further behind and UChicago's barely exists as mentioned above.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8199 replies87 threads Senior Member
    Cornell is a direct-admit engineering program, and it is *tough*- you need to be a really committed student. I don't recommend it for somebody who isn't rock-solid in wanting engineering.
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  • MWolfMWolf 3003 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Acceptance rates to the most popular colleges in the USA which also provide need-based aid to international students are extremely low. MIT is one of the few which provide this data, and it was 3% when MIT's average acceptance rate was 6%. All the colleges on your list have acceptance rates below 10%, and some have acceptance rates lower than 5%.

    Your daughter's academics are excellent, but it will likely be easier and cheaper for her to attend Oxbridge. According to Cambridge data, more than 50% of applicants who had a "the equivalent of A*AA or better counting only their best three A Levels excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking"

    Basically, they state that 94.8% of the 4,604 accepted students had these academic achievements, and that there were 4,002 students with these credentials who were rejected.

    https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/ug_admissions_statistics_2019_cycle_0.pdf

    Have her apply to any college she wants in the USA, and she should definitely check out her chances at being recruited, of course.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8199 replies87 threads Senior Member
    ps, be aware that even schools that promise to "meet need" have an asterisk: they will meet your need as they define it. It is not uncommon for a uni's expectation of what you can reasonably be asked to pay to not match the parent's expectation.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3981 replies52 threads Senior Member
    Here are some other top colleges that offer merit scholarships (full tuition):

    USC
    Vanderbilt
    Duke/UNC Chapel Hill Roberston
    Rice University
    Emory University
    Wash U Stl

    There are many others.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3981 replies52 threads Senior Member
    Another thing to note is that financial aid budgets have taken a big hit this year. In the past, many colleges used international students as a cash cow, since most of them paid in full without financial aid.

    The current situation has made it more difficult for internationals to get visas to study in the US. So there is a lot of pressure on admissions offices to admit more students who are full pay. So being an international that needs aid is not the greatest situation. Students who fill an institutional priority will still be admitted. But just note that the financial aid packages may not be as great as they were in years past.
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  • ivyhopefulDivyhopefulD 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Many thanks for all your replies and it is really helpful, especially the ins and outs about different unis. I would definitely connect on the tennis recruiting forum here to assess her chances. I have been in touch with the tennis circuit in the UK but a large number of students do not go to the Ivys given that they have no athletic scholarships and mostly target schools which can give them full schol. for tuition and living costs. We are not looking for that at all as she would not get an athletic scholarship given that she has not played much in the last 2 years. What D is looking for is tennis to be an asset to her application rather than the focus of her application as she is also very academic.

    D is targeting Oxbridge and other top unis in the UK for engineering where it is just your academics that count. However, the more rounded approach at US unis is also a pull for her, which is why she would like to apply to these unis. On a personal note, I had applied to some of these in the last decade for a PhD and was able to secure funding but dropped it in favour of full funding at Cambridge, UK.

    I understand that all these unis seem very different. Harvard, although it has a graduate focus, has an upcoming engineering school which seems good. Although Princeton has a better engineering degree, she feels she would have a better student experience at Yale, which ticks that option. Stanford and Cornell as pointed out have brillant engineering programs, which again ticks the box. In case of MIT, correct me if I am wrong, is brilliant but my gut feeling is that you need to be not just academically bright and everything but also very creative to get in.

    And thanks for the heads up on funding which I think will ultimately sway the uni she attends.
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  • ivyhopefulDivyhopefulD 4 replies1 threads New Member
    @sgopal 2, thanks for pointing out Duke and UNC Chapel Hill Robertson program, which seems something D can apply to.

    Do you think UT Austin or UCLA or UCB have merit based scholarships/ financial aid for international applicants?
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  • GumbymomGumbymom Forum Champion UC 31022 replies481 threads Forum Champion
    edited August 10
    @IvyhopefulD: UCLA and UCB offer little in merit scholarships since they are California public universities and no need based FA for OOS and International applicants. Regents which is UCB’s and UCLA’s merit scholarship program for the top 1-2% of applicants get $2500 at UCB and $2000 at UCLA. A drop in the bucket when it comes to the $65,000 price tag/year.
    edited August 10
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10466 replies73 threads Senior Member
    We are not looking for that at all as she would not get an athletic scholarship given that she has not played much in the last 2 years.
    Her tennis ranking would not help her application if she has no intention to play tennis as a recruited athlete. Going through the coaches isn’t going to help her admission chances if she’s not going to be a part of the tennis team. It would be considered an extra curricular activity. They’re not going to admit her and give her scholarship money to have her sit on the bench.

    Our daughter, was being recruited for tennis, but she had had a nasty injury in her senior year, and she didn’t want to get injured again playing tennis. A classmate of hers was a “recruited athlete” in swim for an Ivy college, and she spent a lot of time competing, such that her academics were impacted. When she stopped playing, she became a full fee student.

    Also please make your daughter aware that in the US she can get her degree in any college and university, but that doesn’t mean that she’ll stay after graduation. She’s expected to return to her country after she gets her degree.

    Agree that the public universities will be very expensive and tough to gain admission. From what I understand, the Universities of Texas reserve their seat for their residents.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3981 replies52 threads Senior Member
    The tennis angle probably won't get you far, especially if her ranking has taken a hit. The college coaches want to give their 'slots' to highly ranked players who can play at the varsity level. For colleges without a varsity tennis team, her past experience would only count as a nice EC, nothing more.

    For athletic recruits, the coach's endorsement is huge. At Harvard for example, the odds of being accepted as an athletic recruit is 5070, which equates to almost a near certainty of being accepted. But to get to this (Likely Letter), it requires being at a high level both athletically and academically. Most of the Harvard athletic recruits can compete at a professional level (if their sport has an equivalent).

    Outside of the ivy league, the sports angle can help, but is no where near as much of a certainty. UChicago for example competes at the Division 3 level. And while academics is very important, the coach can sometimes have interest in a player with athletic promise. The coaches can give a slight pull during admissions, but not nearly as much as an Ivy coach would have.

    It sounds like your D at one point was highly ranked, but now has fallen due to injury. There is still a chance some coaches might be interested, and the only way to know is ask. But don't rely on the Tennis as a nice EC helping much at all. It will only help if the coach endorses and formally supports.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3981 replies52 threads Senior Member
    Also wanted to point out one other thing. You mentioned that you can pay $15K USD. The total costs for most of these schools are in the range of $75-$80K per year. So you'd be able to pay around 20% of the total cost. This means that you would need a school to provide 75-80% funding to attend. Thats a lot. The admissions office is really going to have to want your daughter a lot to offer up a 3/4 scholarship.
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