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A confused international undergraduate applicant - please help.

  1. Oct 8, 2011 #1
    I'm a high school senior from Turkey,and I will be applying to US (and possibly Canadian) institutions this year.

    Ok, this post is going to be a bit long,but as an international applicant,I have many questions about the admissions process even after hours of Googling,and I'm hoping that the PF community can help me.
    Let me tell about myself a bit. I have a keen interest in physics. My aim is to specialize in condensed matter/or solid state physics and pursue a career in experimental physics,say,like nanotechnology,materials science etc.
    My high school is a "science and technology" oriented, full scholarship boarding high school that admits only 24 people each year (actually,the only institution of its kind in Turkey) with a special curriculum including mandatory tech courses on various topics,like in 3d modelling,web programming,robotics and circuit design,in addition to a rigorious science curriculum. My GPA is 90/100, and I scored 1950 on my SAT and 111 on my TOEFL last year,and I'm going to retake the SAT this November. I score around 2200 on my mock exams right now. I also recently took the mathII,physics and chemistry subject tests and expect a score of 800 for each of them. Regarding the extracurriculars,I have been doing Physics Olympics for 4 years. I participated the final selection round for the IPho national team this year . Also I was selected as a participant to a different international physics competition,called Wopho,and won $1000 travel grant (although not likely to attend,as the competition is in held Indonesia this year during the time around the college application deadlines). I gained credit for freshman mechanics courses in Turkish universities,after completing a two week intensified lecture with an average of 100/100,given by an emeritus MIT professor,whom I will also get a reference letter from. I hold dual citizenship in both Turkey and Russia. I am fluent in Turkish,English and Russian. I work as a translator for a Turkish edition of a Russian popular science magazine. I also did voluntary work as a free tourist guide in Istanbul,and I guide children voluntarily in our school's science museum on a regular basis. What's more,I play the guitar and the piano,just for the fun of it though,I neither participated in any kind of competition nor joined a band.

    I wrote nearly all of my CV up there because I need a full ride in order to attend a US university and I basically have to aim for the top schools like MIT,Princeton,Yale,Cornell and UChicago,for they are like the only institutions with a well-established financial aid for international undergraduates. Now here is the question I know much of you are fed up with hearing - what are my chances for the schools of that caliber? :D

    In addition to those schools I listed above,I am looking for some other schools that have decent physics departments and are known to offer scholarships to international undergrads. Rice,WUSL and UBC fits,so I'm considering applying to these schools. Regarding these universities,what do you think about their physics departments?

    Also can you offer me other school of the kind I listed above,including the ones from Canada? This is where Googling doesn't help much,because many schools tend not to reveal on their websites that they give scholarships to internationals,and in the rare case that they do give them,the figures are generally rather vague,especially when it comes to full scholarships. (e.g Boston University –Carleton in Canada) As far as I know,american state universities,Northwestern,Johns Hopkins,Carnegie Mellon and Duke have practically no scholarships for internationals,please correct me if I'm wrong.

    For those who went all the way thru the painful job of reading the whole thing,I thank you in advance for your comments :D
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2011 #2
    Every aspect of your application seems strong enough other than your SATs, which are above average but not of the standards of the places you mentioned. Bring those up and I'd say you have a decent shot at getting into one of the places which are good with financial aid for internationals. Also be sure to write an essay that stands out. I mean at this point almost every applicant that applies to the top institutions has perfect scores and grades. Letter of recommendations and their essays are the only things which the universities can use to distinguish people in this case.

    However, don't expect too much because even with a perfect application one still can't be sure to get into these places. All you can do is apply and see what happens. And yes, you're correct. Most international students I know are paying fully for their education and last time I checked, their are only 7 or so institutions who meet the full demonstrated need for internationals. There was also a list floating around somewhere on the web which listed institutions by the number of awards given out to international students, full or not. Search around for that. I also highly suggest that you apply to a couple of good places at your home country, just in case things don't work out financially or otherwise at the US universities.
  4. Oct 9, 2011 #3
    I'm afraid I have no specifics for you as to school's offering funding to international students, but my general advice is that you do not really need to be considering the 'strength' of the physics departments at these schools. When you apply to graduate school in physics you will take a standardized exam called the Physics GRE and your performance on that will be taken as a much stronger indicator of your "preparation for graduate work" than the quality of your physics department or undergraduate institution overall. Likewise, any reasonably strong school will have opportunities for research and you will be able to apply for some summer programs if you are looking for very research experience in very specific fields.

    Your CV is very impressive and I wish you the best of luck!
  5. Oct 10, 2011 #4
    Thank you guys. And yes,I will also be applying to Turkish universities. Actuall,we don't "apply" to universities here,in the sense of sending CVs, writing essays and so on. There is just a national exam that is only offered once a year,we just sit this exam,and choose a list of universities that we want to enroll. In the end,the score of this exam is the sole crateria for university admissions.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
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