Can I get into Caltech or MIT?

  • #1
hello. I want to go to caltech for astrophysics.

GPA: 3.96 (Unweighted)
Course work: 9 IB classes junior year and this coming year. Diploma Candiate. (IB HL Math. IB Chem HL, IB Bio HL, IB physics sl.)

I am testing in 3 IB science classes, for a total of 7 IB tests, which 5 are HL. Also testing AP

AP Calc AB: 3
AP Chem: 3
IB Physics SL: 4

I know those are low, but I am taking college classes to make up for them. MTH251, MTH252, PH211. I am also taking both AP Physics C tests and AP Calc BC end of this year.

ACT: 32 English, 30 Math, 29 Reading, 33 Science. Retaking
SAT Subject tests: 750 Chem, 800 Math II, 720 Physics.

Extracurriculars: AMC (Participent), Math League (state certificate thing), Mid-Valley Regional Math Conference Participent (3 years). Math Help Tutor. NHS. Boy Scouts (Eagle). Avatar (English and Art Magazine.). National Spanish Honor Society.

I also have a job, about 25 hours a week. I also do Valve Source (Half Life 2) mapping as a hobby. I also do tech support for my friends and family members. My Extended Essay is on Schrodinger's Wave Function and its failures.

Thank you for your help.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
537
3
There is certainly no reason that you should not apply to both. Your credentials are strong. I'm not really sure those schools even bat an eye once they see your test scores are up to their par, as they definitely look at your application essays and recommendation letters more to help them sort out their applicants (who all often look identical in the test scoring department). I think now is the time to concentrate on the parts of your application that don't deal with lists and numbers, and will allow them to see your passion and ability. That is my opinion, but I didn't go to either of those schools, so hopefully someone has more school specific advice. Either way, apply and good luck!
 
  • #3
148
0
You won't get into either. Be realistic and look into some less selective colleges. There are certainly a number of solid schools that would suit your needs and would accept you.
 
  • #4
jgens
Gold Member
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You won't get into either. Be realistic and look into some less selective colleges. There are certainly a number of solid schools that would suit your needs and would accept you.

While I certainly think that the OP should look into less selective colleges, he/she certainly has a (slim) chance of being accepted to Caltech or M.I.T. Admissions are unpredictable.
 
  • #5
cristo
Staff Emeritus
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You won't get into either.

What do you base this comment on? Are you on the admissions board for Caltech or MIT?
 
  • #6
j93
191
2
AP Calc AB: 3
AP Chem: 3
IB Physics SL: 4
The Chem and AB Calc 3 are going to hurt your case. Do you have any Extracurriculars that are based around competition in Math and Science?How did you do on AMC? Do you go to a big name HS(Exeter,Stuyvessant and such)? Have you worked as a research assistant at a local university?

Realistically Caltech incoming class size is about 200 and MIT is 1000. If you didnt do well on AMC that will not help since all those kids that did do well are very likely going to apply to MIT and Caltech as well the kids who did well in Science Fairs and the kids who worked as Research Assitants and the kids who absurdly excelled at some other activity.
I also have a job, about 25 hours a week. I also do Valve Source (Half Life 2) mapping as a hobby. I also do tech support for my friends and family members. My Extended Essay is on Schrodinger's Wave Function and its failures.
By Extended Essay do you mean your admissions essay because that really should be more about you.
 
  • #7
jgens
Gold Member
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By Extended Essay do you mean your admissions essay because that really should be more about you.

He/She is talking about the Extended Essay that is required for I.B. diploma canidates, not admissions essays. I wouldn't think the EE would help much unless it was exceptional but I'm not entirely familiar with the admissions process.
 
  • #8
300
1
Just so you know, colleges do NOT see AP scores before admission. They aren't part of your application in most universities so they only see the grades on your transcript. That's how I remember it working at any rate.

But yeah, you have a chance but it's slim.
 
  • #9
thrill3rnit3
Gold Member
716
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This might be a little off topic, but how's UChicago/NYU/Berkeley's admission process compared to Caltech/MIT? More selective? About equal?
 
  • #10
j93
191
2
Just so you know, colleges do NOT see AP scores before admission. They aren't part of your application in most universities so they only see the grades on your transcript. That's how I remember it working at any rate.

But yeah, you have a chance but it's slim.
Colleges dont see any optional test like any SAT II outside of your 3 required but typically this is reported by students and it is expected to report your AP Scores if you have taken an AP tests through ETS because they will see you have taken the AP Course in your transcripts.
http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/exgrd_rep.html
 
  • #11
j93
191
2
This might be a little off topic, but how's UChicago/NYU/Berkeley's admission process compared to Caltech/MIT? More selective? About equal?
Caltech and MIT slightly more competitive.
 
  • #12
Pyrrhus
Homework Helper
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I wouldn't worry too much. I'll certainly apply to MIT and CalTech, and other top schools. However, remember to apply to other schools. There are plenty of good State schools. Try to avoid falling in the trap of my Undergraduate has to be completed at an Ivy League or a too well known for their own good schools.
 
  • #13
Vanadium 50
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Of course you can apply, but you shouldn't apply only to Caltech and MIT. They take a very small fraction of applicants, so you shouldn't ever count on them.

Looking at what you have told us, what I see is a student who has high grades, but does less well with objective assessments. That means that the rest of the application has to be stronger than the average admitted student's.
 
  • #14
thrill3rnit3
Gold Member
716
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would 1 or 2 B's throughout high school hurt your application?
 
  • #15
300
1
No, but less-than-amazing extracurriculars would.
 
  • #16
234
0
My friend's brother got into MIT (although not for astrophysics) with credentials similar to yours. Obviously this doesn't mean you're in for sure, but you should definitely apply if that's where you're looking to go.
 
  • #17
thank you everyone!!!!!! Caltech and MIT are my top choices. This helped alot.
 
  • #18
382
4
This might be a little off topic, but how's UChicago/NYU/Berkeley's admission process compared to Caltech/MIT? More selective? About equal?

This might be a little off topic, but how's UChicago/NYU/Berkeley's admission process compared to Caltech/MIT? More selective? About equal?

U-chicago is easier to get in but still very hard. Berkeley is not hard to get in for undergrad. NYU is very easy to get in (its grad school is not). I was a real slacker in high school but got a 2280 on the SAT (not especially high) and was admitted to NYU (with a very good scholarship) and Berkeley. From your posts on physics forum I'm sure you will get in.

The exclusivity of the graduate and undergraduate programs at most universities are not the same and may be very different. Since you seem very advanced the quality of the graduate education at your school might actually be more important for you. The following website seems to agree with my experience and those of my friends (I went to a very good high school and new about 25 people who went to IVy-quality schools out of a graduating class of 180). http://www.satscores.us/" [Broken].
 
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  • #19
6,817
16
Realistically Caltech incoming class size is about 200 and MIT is 1000. If you didnt do well on AMC that will not help since all those kids that did do well are very likely going to apply to MIT and Caltech as well the kids who did well in Science Fairs and the kids who worked as Research Assitants and the kids who absurdly excelled at some other activity.

On the other hand, admissions can be rather random, and you do have the situation in which admissions committees think to themselves, we've already admitted enough people with 800 math SAT scores, and we want someone that is different. Here is someone that wrote a funny essay or did something different from the other 1000 applications and we should choose him.

One thing that MIT tries very hard to do is to make sure that not everyone that gets admitted is the stereotypical MIT student.
 
  • #21
1,121
21
Good grades, good test scores, so-so extracurriculars. (The only outstanding thing I see is being an eagle scout, and that is still fairly common.)

There is always a chance of course, but as others have said, apply to other schools as well. You are at best a dark-horse candidate.
 
  • #22
mathwonk
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
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har har har,...."practice!" i.e. isn't this like the old "how do i get to carnegie hall?" joke?
 
  • #23
2,571
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I don't think AP scores really affect your chances, I think they even said it themselves on the admission site. The SATs are a different story though...
 
  • #24
54
0
hello. I want to go to caltech for astrophysics.

GPA: 3.96 (Unweighted)
Course work: 9 IB classes junior year and this coming year. Diploma Candiate. (IB HL Math. IB Chem HL, IB Bio HL, IB physics sl.)

I am testing in 3 IB science classes, for a total of 7 IB tests, which 5 are HL. Also testing AP

AP Calc AB: 3
AP Chem: 3
IB Physics SL: 4

I know those are low, but I am taking college classes to make up for them. MTH251, MTH252, PH211. I am also taking both AP Physics C tests and AP Calc BC end of this year.

ACT: 32 English, 30 Math, 29 Reading, 33 Science. Retaking
SAT Subject tests: 750 Chem, 800 Math II, 720 Physics.

Extracurriculars: AMC (Participent), Math League (state certificate thing), Mid-Valley Regional Math Conference Participent (3 years). Math Help Tutor. NHS. Boy Scouts (Eagle). Avatar (English and Art Magazine.). National Spanish Honor Society.

You have a 1/100 chance at MIT... and maybe a 3/100 chance at Caltech.
AP Calc AB you scored a 3? This is one of the easiest AP tests out of all of them... a 5 should be assumed.

The problem is you have done nothing of consequence until this point (even if your scores are ok... outside of the ACT score of course). When I was accepted to a school of this caliber (5 years ago mind you, and a HYPS) I had founded a charitable organization that raised $100,000 in a short time and used it to reforest a very large area of public land that they were trying to reclaim, gained a huge amount of press over it... I still was turned down by a few schools I applied to (with scores higher than yours on top of this).
 
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  • #25
No shot at those schools realistically. Look at some other schools.
 
  • #26
54
0
No shot at those schools realistically. Look at some other schools.
I don't think he has a real shot at any top 10 schools and toss in Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth as well.
People with much better scores, pedigree, etc were being turned down 5 yrs ago at these places, when I entered school
 
  • #27
fluidistic
Gold Member
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I hope you realize that the thread is almost 2 years old, guys. He likely have been rejected/accepted by now.
 
  • #28
mathwonk
Science Advisor
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well that is a sobering remark. i was just about to offer even more useful cleverness. I bet a dollar to a donut however that he did not go to either of those schools with those scores. In all honesty I cannot even say i hope he did go there. I can only hope he got into a school which is appropriate for his talents as well as his dreams. It is always best to go to a school which is challenging but not overwhelming. If he did get into one of those schools and is flourishing, then more power and congratulations to him, as an exception to our predictions.
 
  • #29
6,817
16
People with much better scores, pedigree, etc were being turned down 5 yrs ago at these places, when I entered school

I do think that he has a chance of getting in, because there is some serious randomness in the process. His scores aren't seriously lower than mine and I got in.

One other thing is that the admissions committee will scale based on what resources were available to you. If you win international science fair at a school in which everyone else goes to science fair (i.e. Bronx High) that's less impressive than if you do it in an school which is totally dysfunctional and you have to dodge bullets in order to teach yourself algebra.
 
  • #30
6,817
16
In all honesty I cannot even say i hope he did go there. I can only hope he got into a school which is appropriate for his talents as well as his dreams.

That's hogwash.

One thing that you have to realize (and the people at MIT do realize) is that some people with perfect test scores just fall apart when they get to MIT, and some people with decent but not perfect test schools do great there.

In fact having perfect test scores can seriously hurt you when you get to MIT. One seriously difficult issue that MIT frosh face is that it is traumatic if you've been getting A's all of your life, and suddenly you find yourself struggling at the bottom of the class. People that are "less perfect" usually have an easier time of it, because they are used to failing.

MIT admissions is much. much less concerned that you have perfect test scores, than how you will react in a situation in which you are failing for the first time in your life.

It is always best to go to a school which is challenging but not overwhelming.

Depends on the person. MIT is an overwhelming school. For the first time in my life, I was "average" or even "below average" and I had to work like crazy to just keep my head above water. At MIT, you will feel like a total idiot. They take a firehose and spray it at you to see how much you can absorb. They take you out into the ocean, drop you in and see if you can make it to shore. If you make it back too quickly, they just take you out further and drop you in there.

For me, it was marvelous. For someone else, it could be bad. Maybe really bad. If your identity is based on doing well in school, then MIT is just not the place for you since, everyone struggles there.

And this is something that you just can't tell from test scores. I can tell from the test scores, that he can survive 18.01 and 8.01, but that's I'll I know.

an exception to our predictions.

Who is us?
 

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