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Can I get into MIT, cal Berkeley or Stanford?

  1. Aug 23, 2010 #1
    I have just finished grade 10 pre IB in Canada. And I am starting IB next year.
    I will take HL math, chem and english, and SL physics, geography, and french(which i am almost fluent in.)
    GPA: 4.0 unweighted
    I have also completed grade 11 and 12 biology, receiving top marks in the school (97 in each).
    Precentile: 1/450 students
    *Debate: Competed at nationwide university tournaments at Queens and Western, where I place 23rd and 9th. Also helping to create our schools first debate tournament.
    *Jazz Band: Alto Saxaphone
    *Math and Science tutor at school
    *have my own tutoring business
    *member of robotics club
    *Rep soccer: 5x a week, play for one of the top teams in Canada, we have travelled to Germany, Scotland, and Italy to play teams such as Bayern Munich and Glasgow Rangers

    *Help out at the soccer club
    *Kidney foundation
    *Salvation Army
    *Member of local environmental group helping raise awareness about the environment
    * Helping with a fundraiser to bring soccer clothes and equipment to Africa
    *Hoping to go to Kenya next year to help build houses and bring supplies

    I have been a soccer ref for the past 5 years.
    Also, I am applying for an internship at Oracle software developping.

    Taking computer programming courses this and next summer.

    I havent taken Sats but plan on taking them this year with SAT2s in MAth, Chem, and Physics. I was just wondering what are my chances of getting in, and what i should improve on? Also I was wondering whether I should contact the coaches at these schools for my soccer, will that help my application at all? Finally I was wondering what other schools i should apply that i have a good chance at being accepted. I will be applying for engineering.
    Thanks in advance
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2010 #2


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    I'm not an expert at university admissions, but you seem like the kind of candidate who has an excellent chance at getting into a top-notch school, such as any of those you mentioned.
  4. Aug 23, 2010 #3
    I heard that classes in Canada seem to be easier than in the US (not sure though)... but anyway, it seems like you have a good chance, good luck :)
  5. Aug 23, 2010 #4
    I absolutely disagree with that comment, I actually contend and believe the majority of the U.S schools are underfunded and fail to provide the resources and rigour that is required in a High School Education (Excluding the Private Schools). I am a Canadian Student and my school's classes are symmetric to funded High School's in the U.S, In Canada we must also learn French to when we are 6 years old to 14, although it isn't emphasized beyond the necessary courses. I actually have heard the contrary that our High School education is better than the majority of U.S High School's education. This is also an opinion and I believe the correct perception will come from someone whom has experienced both systems.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010
  6. Aug 23, 2010 #5
    That's completely false. What would make you think that?
  7. Aug 23, 2010 #6
    Mit is pretty cut-throat, it will be awesome if you get in. The problem with Berkeley is that their admission rate is about 80% in-state. Thirdly, Stanford is just amazing. Although these are difficult schools to get in, I think you have a shot.

    You should consider Carnegie Mellon, their CS and ECE programs are amazing... Similarly, Cornell is well known for its engineering.
  8. Aug 23, 2010 #7


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    Remember, those universities don't admit a lot of international students. However that is one heck of a list of achievements/activities. I bet you have very good chances but just remember that you are applying for a small number of spots competing with the whole world. Just do your best on the SAT and SAT2's and hope for the best. Even if you don't make it to the #1 or #2 university in the US, if you stay as focused and competitive as you appear, you have a bright future anywhere!
  9. Aug 23, 2010 #8
    With stats like that you should definitely apply, just remember to post on the thread again if you get accepted. It'd be good encouragement to anyone else browsing to hear about someone actually getting into one of those top notch institutions.
  10. Aug 23, 2010 #9
    There is a very high element of randomness in getting into big-name schools, but the application looks decent.
  11. Aug 24, 2010 #10
    you got to be exceptionally smart & talented to get into those schools
  12. Aug 24, 2010 #11
    Elfboy, with due respect, you don't necessarily at all have to be exceptionally smart or talented. I don't know about MIT, but definitely not for the other two. There are plenty of people with extremely ordinary intellectual drive and ability who attend both. That is, assuming you are talking about undergraduate education, which the original poster seems to be.

    Extracurricular involvement and personal qualities as inferred through answers to essay questions can be a big deal for big-name schools. Public schools tend to be slightly scores/grades centered, but even that rule can break down at times.

    If we were talking about physics grad school, I would be more likely to agree with you - very smart, talented, and also have "played the game right" to make it in, together with having some luck.

    Another thing - if we are considering that the student is international, then yes, to get into any of those schools requires exceptional ability and talent.
  13. Aug 24, 2010 #12
    Thank you for the advice, I understand how hard it is to get in. I am also thinking of applying to the engineering science program at University of Toronto, and overseas to Cambridge, as well as princeton to study economics or business.
    Is there anything that I can do to better my chances at getting into these schools.
    Do you think it worthwhile to contact the MIT soccer coach as well, will it improve my chances at getting in.
  14. Aug 24, 2010 #13


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    You have an excellent chance at those schools, but these days it is prudent to also apply at back up schools. I believe the top schools are accepting something like 1 out of 20 applicants these days. My 17 year old daughter is in a similiar situation. She has great grades, test scores, and outstanding activities. She'll probably apply to 10-12 schools (stretch, target, and safety).

    Four months ago we went on a college tour on the east coast (Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and others) and I came away from the info sessions with the following impression of what's important to top schools:

    1. Grades. Almost every school said they could fill their entire freshman class with valedictorians, but they don't. They are looking for a total package. For sure they want very good grades (I'm sure there is a minimum but of course nobody would say it), but more importantly, they want to see that the student challenged themselves by taking their 'fair share' of advanced courses (Honors & AP). They look at the % of advanced courses taken vs number offered by that school. If the school doesn't offer any or only a few, it isn't necessarily a disadvantage (or so they say). They want to see steady improvement in grades (as opposed to a decline).

    2. Test scores. Almost every school said they could fill their entire freshman class with kids that have perfect SAT scores. Again, I think there is a minimum threshold. The range seems rather large (the stats are available on the internet). They also want to see 4's & 5's on AP tests. Almost no school will give any advanced credit based on AP tests.

    3. Outside activities. Schools like to see sustained interest in a few activites as opposed to a dabbling in a lot of activites. Example: 4 years of HS soccer is better than 1-yr each of soccer, volleyball, basketball, and lacross).

    4. Essays. Schools want to see essays that don't reiterate what is obvious from items 1-3, but instead reveals what the prospective student is 'really like'. To me, if you have a great results for 1-3, this one is the tie breaker. Some of the admission officers all but said they rejected a lot of people based on their essay alone, since the get so many applicants with impressive grades, test scores, and outside activities.

    Lastly, I think a lot of luck is involved also. Admissions officers are human, work long hours, and are subjective.

    P.S. Valedictorian seems to have a different meaning than when I went to school. My senior class had one. My daughter told me her school has 30. Grade inflation maybe?
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  15. Aug 24, 2010 #14
    Thank you hotvette for the useful advice. Good luck to your daughter in her applications, and I am looking at safety schools.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2010
  16. Aug 24, 2010 #15


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    Might be better to have your HS Coach do it. One of my daughter's classmates was recruited by MIT to be on their cross country team. I think the coach did the promoting.
  17. Aug 24, 2010 #16


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    Yep, grade inflation. It's too easy to get a 4.0 nowadays (or whatever the maximum is, at a school that awards more than 4 points for an A in an AP or honors course). Forty years ago next spring, in my high school graduating class, out of about 400 students, even the single valedictorian didn't have a 4.0. It wasn't me, by the way... I came in second by 0.01 or something like that. I don't even remember the exact numbers now, only that the difference was very small.
  18. Aug 24, 2010 #17
    For Natural Science Tripos at Cambridge, UK you will need outstanding results in at least two of Maths, Physics, Chemistry or Biology, they usually require you take their own entrance exams. But Cambridge doesn't take many overseas undergrads, it's much easier to go there as a postgrad provided you have a good undergrad degree and (crucially) funding.

    For Maths or Physics you can guarantee a placement by solving an important open problem, nobody cares much about your extracurricular activities if you're a maths/physics genius. For any other subjects you need to ******** about your personal qualities and hope to be lucky.

    I think Berkeley are one of the few places which go purely on exam results, elsewhere you might want to see if there are any positive discrimination policies that might apply to Canadians :wink:
  19. Aug 24, 2010 #18
    You've clearly never played soccer, and that is quite an idiotic statement.

    Anyways, apply to U of T EngSci and other Canadian schools just in case. In all probability you'll go to a Canadian school even though you seem like a good candidate for the ivy league.
  20. Aug 24, 2010 #19
    One thing that I know MIT does is to look at geographical balance. If you are in a place where no one has ever gone to MIT, then you are much more likely to get in in contrast to places that send tons of people to MIT each year. There's also a serious element of randomness. There are far, far more people that are good applicants than there are places, and once past a certain point, who gets in is somewhat random.

    The other thing that you seriously have to think about is whether you really want to go if you get in. MIT can be total hell for some people.

    It can be, but one problem is that once people figure out what the "right answers" are, they tend to mold themselves to give the right answers.
  21. Aug 24, 2010 #20
    I don't think that contacting the soccer coach at MIT will help that much in getting in since the atheletic department has pretty much zero influence on admissions as far as I can tell.
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