How difficult is it for an international student to get into a top US university?

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  • Thread starter Synchrotron
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  • #26
I don't think that learning to juggle this summer will help much...

Blast! *Crosses juggling lessons off personal schedule* :tongue:

It seems as if MIT doesnt have much annual quota for South Africa.

Wait... Universities have quotas for international students? Really? Huh.

It is basically you versus everyone else in your country that apply.

Well, if that is the case (forgive my doubt, but it seems too good to be true. Could anyone corroborate this?) and I'm only really competing against other S. Africans, I may have a shot after all!

I haven't matriculated yet, so I don't know if I am in the top 0.1%, but my teachers tell me it's possible. Similarly, I have written (but do not yet know the results of) the National Physics Olympiad. (Regrettably SA does not field a team for the IPhO.) I am in the process of writing the SA Math Olympiad (winners go to the IMO), and I plan to enter the National Science Expo (read "Science Fair"). Winners also go international. I have hopes for the NPO and the Expo.

With regard to question 3, I attend a good high school, with excellent teachers; considered the best in the region. Its results (pass rates; exemption rates) often surpass those of major private (read "public" if in UK) schools. However, it is in a small town and is consequently not well known or prestigious. (My parents never sent me to boarding school, as they felt it more important that I grow up in a close family environment). Hopefully the name of the school won't matter as much as my grades.

Now if I could only learn to play the contrabassoon...
 
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  • #27
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They dont literally have a quota, at least not in a sense that they will and will only take a specific number of students from each country. There are certain thresholds people already mentioned above that one must pass to be seriously considered for admission. But once you pass it, it all boils down to your relative standing compared to other applicants from your country. Usually these quotas come in the name of diversity. And they arent too good to be true. In fact, they do not even play into your favor. They are there to limit the number of admitted students from any country, and not to lower the admission standard for anyone.

Forget the contrabassoon and other trivial stuff. Unless you are already very good at it, it wont help a thing. Focus on what you are doing at the moment. Physics/Math Olympiads even at national level are much better. Try to place as high as possible.

Regarding your high school, its past placement into top U.S schools will indicate of how well universities here would regard it. Since they usually take only one or two applicants, they simply pick those schools that either sent students here in the past or are at the very top of the country. At my university, the list of admitted international (I worked past time at the admission office) has the same high schools year after year.
 
  • #28
I was just being facetious about the contrabassoon...

With regard to the quota system being too good to be true, I did not mean that I was hoping for lowered standards! Far be it from me to take advantage of such a system! If I am not admitted on merit, then my admission ultimately means nothing... What I was trying to say is that, in a sense, being South African is sort of like playing the contrabassoon - something that makes you stand out from a large pool of equally qualified candidates, even just a little. And I do believe that I may well be the best S. African that applies.

My school isn't going to help me, unfortunately, especially if they what they look at is past admissions from it. I doubt there will be any. I'll follow your advice and focus on my academics and olympiads, hoping those will mean more than attending a "brand name" school would.

Since they usually take only one or two applicants, they simply pick those schools that either sent students here in the past or are at the very top of the country. At my university, the list of admitted international (I worked past time at the admission office) has the same high schools year after year.

Hopefully that isn't the case, you've confused cause and effect, and this is only because students from those schools are more likely to apply and be qualified for admission... Also (clutching at straws here), the fact that so SA applicants get in probably means that US universities will have very little data on previously successful schools, and will therefore not consider it important. I don't know...
 
  • #29
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Also (clutching at straws here), the fact that so SA applicants get in probably means that US universities will have very little data on previously successful schools, and will therefore not consider it important. I don't know...

I wouldn't count on this. Admissions offices are not as clueless as some people think.
 
  • #30
You mean that in the absense of data on previously successful schools, they'll look at/research the specific school of the applicant? Or do you mean that they will somehow have sufficient data, despite the low admission rates?
 
  • #31
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What absence of data? This is the 21st century. It's not too hard to get the statistics on even foreign schools.
 
  • #32
Absense of data on which SA schools were previously successful, I mean, because there will be very few previously successful schools. I think Ivilean suggested that they would consider this above actually looking at individual schools.
 
  • #33
Apologies for the double-post, but I can't find the edit button - it's not where it usually is...

Just to clarify, when I said "previously successful," I meant "previously successful in applying to a US university."

Sorry again...
 

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