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How to get into Harvard, MIT or Princeton from India?

  1. Dec 30, 2017 #1
    Hi everyone, I am a 10th grader studying in India. I want to know what it will take to get into universities like Harvard, MIT, etc. I have been getting 10 CGPA from class 6th to 9th,and i hope to score well in my boards. I am also a 5th grade pianist(Trinity) and I hope to complete upto 7 grades by the time I fill my application. I also have a YouTube channel where I upload my piano videos. I also do quite a bit of photography and have a page for the same on Instagram. I also play basketball. I will also be giving SATs some time in the future.
     
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  3. Dec 30, 2017 #2

    lekh2003

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    You seem to have a really good profile. Lots of different kinds of activities from a range of subjects.

    I don't know about how doing the piano will help you, but if you can become a master pianist after completing all 8 grades from Trinity, that would be really helpful.

    Pursue basketball. It's a big deal in the US. I know someone in the 9th standard playing in a regional basketball team and has a stipend. He has already received invitations from a few mid-range universities in US.

    Right now you're in the 10th standard so you can choose what higher standard curriculum you want. If you can, please choose the IB curriculum. It really helps in University applications. Universities love IB students. It is extremely difficult to pass, but you can reap the benefits later.

    Get into competitions. Do the Olympiad competitions and other competitions in your region. I took part in the University of Waterloo math competition and got a neat medal, which looks impressive to universities. I also took part in the ASMA, Carnegie Mellon math competition, etc.

    I don't know for sure if these methods will work. I haven't yet applied for universities. But this is still the best advice I can give.
     
  4. Dec 30, 2017 #3
    I'll start this off with I'm no crazy scholar, but my uncle is. He received his PhD from MIT and he highly recommended NOT going to undergrad at MIT. But instead going to a big school with good research programs. The undergraduate rigor at those schools is overkill. Going to graduate school at one of those places is significantly more important.
     
  5. Dec 30, 2017 #4
    Apply everywhere. Take every opportunity presented to apply if you wish to continue your studies in the USA. If you're not accepted to Harvard, MIT, or Princeton, you'll be like 99.9% of Americans. There are quite a few other private Ivy League schools with academic prestige. There are also a lot of private schools with comparable prestige outside of the Ivy League. There are also a lot of large public universities in the USA with notable academic prestige. If you wish to continue your studies in the US, don't limit yourself to three schools in the northeast of the USA. The largest research universities in the United States are public schools who welcome serious students from all over the globe.
     
  6. Dec 30, 2017 #5

    StoneTemplePython

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    You need a base rate here: look at past admissions data.

    Note: what you've said has two distinct kinds of schools.

    Places like MIT and Caltech have blind admissions. You may want to do some serious work look at nationalities, GPAs, etc. of admittances. Very hardcore and very hard to get in. This post from 2 years ago seems relevant:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...dge-or-other-top-schools.813011/#post-5103667

    - - - -
    Places like Harvard and Princeton value academics but also family connections (I think H still does legacy admits as well), and a lot of other things. Admissions are not blinded. If you do some research you'll see that there are brewing issues about demographics and relative ease of getting in.

    - - - -

    main idea: gather some data / base rate info on who has been admitted by these schools in the past. Chain your expectations to these percentages accordingly.

    Note: you can over-ride these base rates in exceptional cases -- if you happened to be a nationally acclaimed pianist and were applying to music program at one of these schools, perhaps. A friend of mine went to Columbia -- he grew up in India, had flawless grades, and was at the very top of India's national rankings in his sport, and then played said sport for Columbia. Things like that can help put you over the edge. Otherwise, you probably get about the same odds as everyone else, given grades, test scores, etc.
     
  7. Dec 30, 2017 #6

    berkeman

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    Sorry, but this is misinformation in this context. Unless the OP is pursuing a music or basketball scholarship (which I don't think they are doing), this advice is non-helpful, IMO.

    I need to update my comments. Please see my follow-up post below...

    https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...-or-princeton-from-india.935717/#post-5912324
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  8. Dec 30, 2017 #7
    Get into a top 50 undergrad institution in the US, major in physics, earn a 3.9 or better GPA, get into a research lab, publish a couple papers, get great letters of recommendation, score in the 90th percentile or better on the PGRE, and apply to PhD programs at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Standford.

    Getting admitted into a BS program from high school is much harder than that.
     
  9. Dec 31, 2017 #8

    lekh2003

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    Well, that could be an open option. I'm just throwing it out there. Hope I didn't confuse the OP.
     
  10. Dec 31, 2017 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    And it should be thrown out. In the other sense of the word. :smile:

    It's not helpful. You might also think about whether your perspective as a middle-schooler is the right one to be giving advice to people farther along their educational trajectory.
     
  11. Dec 31, 2017 #10

    lekh2003

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    I'm just one year younger than the OP, I think about what I'm doing as well. I have an understanding of what I'm doing and I gave some advice on what I will be doing.

    Of course, I can understand that your advice as an experienced adult will be more valuable to the OP.
     
  12. Dec 31, 2017 #11

    radium

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    It’s very, very difficult to get into schools like Harvard, MIT, etc. if you from outside the U.S as they often admit fewer international students. At MIT for example, the acceptance rate for international students is around 1/3 that for domestic students which is already below 10%. There is also the problem of getting financial aid if you need it. Some schools like Stanford are not need blind for international students, which means that it is very difficult to get financial aid given the chance you are admitted (which again goes down significantly if you need financial aid). The schools that are need blind for international students are usually much harder to get into since they account for the fact that they may admit many international students who need aid, which explains the lower acceptance rate at MIT.

    So my advice would be to apply to a lot of schools and see what happens. A lot of undergrad admissions depends on luck and a surprisingly small number students at top schools (excluding MIT or Caltech and some others) are admitted solely for their academic qualifications. For grad school admissions these other factors do not come into play. As a result, admissions are much less random and in your own control given that you are very good.

    You may also want to consider applying to places in the U.K. like Cambridge, Oxford, or Imperial College London. I would highly consider that in your situation as those are wonderful and prestigious institutions where the students seem very happy.

    If you choose to stay in India, most of the grad students I know in the sciences went to one of the IITs. Their were some complaints about the education system but I think graduates usually do well.
     
  13. Dec 31, 2017 #12

    berkeman

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    I need to retract what I said about misinformation. In a Mentor discussion about this thread, one of the Mentors pointed this out to me:
    So I guess the advice is not so suspect after all. Sorry @lekh2003
     
  14. Dec 31, 2017 #13

    StoneTemplePython

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    I think it's a bit more nuanced than this. What I was getting at when I said:

    This what I was hinting at with exceptional music skill. (Extending it to signalling math talent is a nice development.)
    - - - -
    regarding basketball:

    Unless OP is exceptionally tall and skilled at basketball, I'd junk that idea. (Based on name I'm inferring OP is male.) Men's basketball is too competitive a sport with too much money behind it. Places like Harvard and Princeton are D1, though not known for sport but nevertheless. Somewhere like Stanford of course is completely out of reach here. If it was something more niche than basketball, perhaps.

    With respect to data: a quick look on the Internet indicates that, at least as of a few years ago, there has never been an Indian national playing mens D1 basketball. (There have been some Canadian and American born Indians though.) This comes down to data and inference. People are welcome to ignore base rates when making decisions, but there's a term for that: ignorance of Base Rate Fallacy (credit: Kahneman). Base rates aren't destiny but they have a strong probabilistic molding.

    OP did not indicate he is the top ranked player in his country. Up to any reasonable approximation, I don't see how basketball matters here for a D1 school.
     
  15. Dec 31, 2017 #14

    lekh2003

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    Yeah I agree. Music might be a possibility considering the OP has almost mastered the piano, however basketball could be a stretch.
     
  16. Jan 1, 2018 #15

    Vanadium 50

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    I can only speak to MIT. Harvard is different, and I have no idea what "etc." means in this context. Unlike some on this thread, I am going to limit my discussion to things I actually know something about.

    MIT accepts about 4-5 students per year from India. India must graduate around 20 million students per year, so the a priori chances of the OP getting in are about 2 x 10-7, which means that his chances of not getting in are 99.99998%. That, in turn, means that the OP needs a strong Plan B (and Plans C, D and E), because the odds are extraordinarily high that that's the plan he'll be executing.

    The OP hasn't engaged in this thread - just tossed out the opening message. This doesn't indicate the level of seriousness - remember, we're looking at 2 x 10-7 - that indicates a student will do well at MIT. Obviously, those are the students MIT is looking for.

    The OP originally posted his in the New Member Introductions thread, ignoring the "no questions here" banner. This also doesn't indicate the level of seriousness - we're fighting 2 x 10-7 - that indicates a student will do well at MIT. Those are the students MIT is looking for.

    MIT has a wealth of information on its web site, including the great "applying sideways" blog. The OP has given us no indication that he's aware of it, which does not bode well for the amount of homework he has done. Neither has lumping MIT in with Harvard. This doesn't indicate the level of seriousness - again, we're looking at 2 x 10-7 - that indicates a student will do well at MIT. Those are the students MIT is looking for.

    I can't believe that this thread has taken the statement "I also play basketball" and somehow turned this into a skill that will improve the OP's odds of admission by seven orders of magnitude. Seven orders of magnitude! There comes a time when "advice" becomes so worthless it actually has negative value.

    Likewise "Grade 5" on the piano (or even Grade 7) does not in anyway translate to "top 4-5 students this year".

    So, the OP needs to:
    1. Be realistic in his chances
    2. Read the directions - good advice no matter what he pursues
    3. Do his homework
      • In class so he gets good grades
      • Out of class so he knows what the universities he is interested in are all about
     
  17. Jan 1, 2018 #16
    In regard to the comments concerning advantages afforded by music proficiency, I have this anecdote. Years ago, when my daughter was in high school, we toured a number of major universities. During most of the tours, admissions officers gave talks about what they were looking for in prospective students. I distinctly remember the talk at Yale. Yale was very proud of its student orchestra. The admissions officer said that that year they had only one harpist left, and she was a senior. So Yale was giving strong preference to candidates who were accomplished harpists. He wasn't kidding. In the past he said other specific musicians were targeted when there was a potential hole in the orchestra looming. The point he was making was there's a number of non-academic factors that go into the admissions process, and that the weight given to specific factors can vary year-to-year. That year, they were also looking to beef up their fencing team.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  18. Jan 1, 2018 #17
    This is a bizarre argument. Even assuming that the number of grads (20 million) is correct (haven't checked), how many actually apply to MIT?
     
  19. Jan 1, 2018 #18

    Vanadium 50

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    Probably a few thousand. But do you think those few thousand are equally distributed among the 20 million? And if i spot you three orders of magnitude and the odds of not getting in are only 99.98%, does it really change anything?
     
  20. Jan 1, 2018 #19

    lekh2003

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    But the OP has given many options. MIT, Harvard and i'm assuming that etc. means other ivy league schools and the other big University names.
     
  21. Jan 1, 2018 #20

    Vanadium 50

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    Does he have 1000 options? I just spotted three orders of magnitude.
     
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