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

  1. Jan 2, 2018 #41
    Can anyone explain me what College Board AP is? Many universities seem to value these exams.
  2. Jan 2, 2018 #42


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    In India and most competitive countries, olympiads are usually the way to shine in your country. This can be in the Math Olympiad, Physics Olympiad, Programming Olympiad.

    As much as I hate to say it, India is a rat race for education (look at the population). To get into universities like the IIT and IIM in India, you need to be in the top ten in something. that could be the JEE exam or you could participate in olympiads. Universities seem to like toppers with big marks and a "top ten students" label on them. What better way to get this label than participate in IMO.

    And what kind of logic for not doing an IMO is that some get in and some don't. There is always an element of chance. Most of the IMO medal winners have entered their universities of choice. Some might not have, but that doesn't undermine that it is a badge of recognition of talent.

    BTW I might be unexperienced in being an MIT-expert, but I know how India is. There is enormous societal pressure as well as competitive pressure. To get good marks in Indian examinations, having a competitive spirit is almost crucial.
  3. Jan 2, 2018 #43


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    It provides a college level learning for students in high school in the US. Universities value them since it shows an extended level of learning.
  4. Jan 2, 2018 #44
    I wouldn't place the Olympiads so high in the US. For most competitive schools here, a great ACT or SAT score is usually the most important single factor. A mediocre GPA can exclude you, but even a perfect GPA won't open many admissions or scholarship doors without an accompanying great ACT or SAT score. After this there are several things that I would also place of equal or greater importance to the Olympiads: being an ISEF finalist and winning awards there, publishing papers in peer-reviewed journals, having inventions patented, doing research with college faculty and having them write letters of recommendation, etc. There are also a number of other scientific contests where winning at the state or national level will be weighted comparably to performing well at the Olympiads: JSHS, SJWP, YNA, etc.

    Another thing to remember is that most admissions and scholarship decisions are made by committees of people. How these committees make their selections at a given school is not static, but most likely changes year to year as the make-up of the committees change. One year a committee member my value the Olympiads more highly than other science competitions, and the next year that committee member may be replaced by a committee member who values accomplishments as an ISEF finalist more heavily.
  5. Jan 2, 2018 #45
    One of my FIRST robotics mentors is on the MIT admissions board and he said that joining a FIRST team is one of the single best things you can do to increase odds of getting in. To join a FIRST team you do not need experience or engineering interest and you can join FIRST teams at other high schools than you are in. I believe MIT has a DARPA team so I would suggest contacting their team and try to talk to them since some people on the board of admissions are connected to that team and that may or may not help you get in.

    As far as I can tell there is only one FIRST team in india, which is in mumbai here https://www.thebluealliance.com/team/6024

    To contact them try the following link https://www.facebook.com/teamrfactor

    I have found some conflicting info on them from different sites but I would suggest contacting them anyway.

    edit: I would suggest joining a FRC team near what ever college you choose to go to when you go to college because there are mentor scholarships available

    edit2: You could also try creating a team with support from team R factor, that would increase your odds even more than joining a team. I suggest you try to become a safety captain for a team since that should help a little bit
  6. Jan 2, 2018 #46
    Really appreciate your efforts. But what is a FIRST team, hearing this for the first time.
  7. Jan 2, 2018 #47
    google is your friend... this shows extreme laziness on your part, and shows that maybe you are not possible succeeding in school.
  8. Jan 2, 2018 #48
    I tried googling it but got nothing. It is showing something related to real estate, nothing relevant to this topic.
  9. Jan 2, 2018 #49
    I searched FIRST robotics 2018 and got the right links at the very top. Maybe you're just not MIT material.
  10. Jan 2, 2018 #50
    Ohh I get it now, I hadn't understood stephenkohnle53's reply completely and had been searching 'FIRST team' and probably thats why not getting any results. I looked up FIRST Robotics Competition, but it isn't an option because I have zero knowledge on robotics and it is an international competition.
  11. Jan 2, 2018 #51
    Until a student is willing and able to come up new learning curves in areas where they start with zero knowledge, they are not good candidates for top 10 universities. Students who are prone to rejecting good advice, because they don't like it are not good candidates for top 10 universities. Accomplishing big goals requires doing hard things. I'm not optimistic about students who want to reach for the stars without doing anything hard. That is just fantasy.
  12. Jan 2, 2018 #52

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    Amazing, since there is no such thing.

    There is the Educational Council, which is a group of alumni who interview students. That's the closest there is.

    An EC member should not be making such blanket statements.
  13. Jan 2, 2018 #53
    You do not need experience nor knowledge to be on a team. I for example know very little about engineering and I became my teams safety captain and have been surprisingly helpful considering how little I know. I would suggest trying anyway since it could help similarly to joining other stem teams.

    I was paraphrasing what he said and I likely remembered it incorrectly since it has been a few months since I last saw him.
  14. Jan 3, 2018 #54


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    That is a much more realistic option.

    MIT admits just 8% of applicants and much lower from overseas.

    I would suggest starting another thread on what are some of the best schools that are not insanely difficult to get into. Apply for MIT - that perfectly OK - go for it - but the likelihood is not great.

    The likelihood is much greater getting into some good school - I can easily advise on that. There are some really really good schools like Virginia Tech (ranked 24th best engineering school in the world) but an acceptance rate of 71%. Then we have Georgia Tech - it I think is ranked 5 overall - but is number 1 in many areas like systems engineering - a growing field with enormous potential - its admission rate is 25%.

    And then there is the sneaky option - the 3+2 program:

    It's much easier to get into one of those partner institutions and then get accepted than going direct to some engineering school.

    As you can see there are a lot of options that are nowhere near as hard as MIT. But like I said you need to start another thread to explore those.

  15. Jan 3, 2018 #55


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    One still has to meet GPA requirements in order to transfer, and most of the partner schools are private colleges which can be rather expensive, especially for international students who usually receive little or no financial aid.

    In the US, non-elite colleges and universities tend to consider international students as "cash cows" whose fees help to keep them financially viable. I taught for many years at one of the colleges on Georgia Tech's list. I've seen an increasing push here to bring in international students by various means, especially since the Great Recession of 2008-09.
  16. Jan 3, 2018 #56


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    Its exactly the same in Australia - international students - cash cow.

  17. Jan 3, 2018 #57


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    OP, I am in your same demographic, except 35 years ago.

    I went to IIT Madras, and then got an assistantship to go to the EE department at the University of Illinois which was a top 5 school in EE back then (probably still is).

    I think that you should strongly consider the IIT route. At least take that option seriously. You'll get a fantastic undergraduate education. I absolutely loved my 4 years there. And you'll be more than prepared for grad school here. I had absolutely no problems with the coursework when I got here.

    If you are set on one of the elite schools you mention for undergraduate education, it is ridiculously competitive, even for American kids. And it's really expensive. Back when I was at IIT, there was no financial aid for foreign undergrads. I don't know if things are different now but we are talking upwards of $50K per year.

    In my opinion, you are not going to get in unless you have something big in your portfolio. Good grades and SAT scores are dime a dozen. I can guarantee that for every kid admitted, there were 20 or 25 more with perfect scores and grades that were rejected. What you need is something like being on a team from India the IMO, or maybe have a project that qualifies for ISEF. I was at ISEF in 2017 because my son was presenting his project, and there were many teams from India that got awards. You need something like that on your resume.

    One more thing that you may want to consider is something in the sustainability/environmental/social justice arena. Not saying you need to be a Malala Yousufzai, but how about a project bringing solar power to someone socially disadvantaged in Indian village, or clean water? Have a substantial welfare project, maybe involving technology, that makes a true difference. Obviously, this could either be a technology project, or it could be just calling companies, getting them to donate equipment, and then you doing the legwork to make this happen. You need something big on your resume that makes you stand out from the crowd. Right now, sustainability is a big buzzword. Something along those lines would give you that edge in your application that will prevent it from ending up on the reject pile.

    Good luck!
  18. Jan 4, 2018 #57
    I am considering a different path to take now.

    I considered my chances of getting into the Ivy League, and decided that I cannot bet my chances to get into a university with an acceptance rate of 5%. I will be now focusing on JEE and getting into IIT. I will still give SATs, and try to do well in the Maths olympiads and write applications to the top universities but my main focus would be IIT.

    I will try to get a good rank in JEE and get into IIT Bombay or Delhi in Computer Sciences.
    After this, I plan to get an MBA from a top university in the USA or UK, or might even go into research(not thought about that part yet)
    What do you say?
  19. Jan 4, 2018 #57


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    I think that is the best path considering you are currently in India. But I am more interested in what the more experienced members on this thread have to say.
  20. Jan 4, 2018 #58


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    I think that's a great idea. There is nothing deficient about an IIT undergraduate education. Back when I was at IITM, the big 4 (M, D, B and Kanpur) were pretty much equivalent. I don't know too much about Kharagpur and the new ones. Focus on your grades, kill the GRE (or GMAT) and you can come over for grad school.
  21. Jan 4, 2018 #59


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    From what I have heard/seen the IITs are very rigorous schools with brilliant students that will prepare you to do well in whatever you choose to do. They are incredibly difficult to get into, but the admissions process is transparent unlike it is in the U.S. The vast majority of the grad students I know (in the U.S.) are from one of the IITs. One last thing I have to say is that the IITs are actually much more demanding than some of the Ivy League schools/other top schools in the U.S. many which have a ton of grade inflation.
  22. Jan 4, 2018 #60


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    Here is what the IIT entrance process was like, when I went through in the early 80s.

    1. Take entrance exam - 4 session, math, physics, chemistry, english, a couple of hours for each over 2 days.
    2. Wait for results. You get a discrete rank - one through around 2000. There were 6 IITs when I was there, about 300 for an incoming class at each, so total of about 1500-1800 incoming freshmen.
    3. One fine day, show up at your nearest IIT and fill out a card listing your choice of campus and engineering field in order of choice, one through 10 or whatever.
    4. And this where things get surreal. Ever seen an NFL draft? That's what it's like. Everyone is in a big auditorium, that is linked by a conference call to the other campuses.
    5. They go - Rank 1, what do you have? Computer science in IIT Bombay? OK.. Rank 2 - what's your first choice? Computer Science in IIT Madras? OK.. and so on. Computer science was the most desirable, so by the time they got to rank 100 or so all the computer science seats were gone. Then came electrrical, mecahnical, etc. etc. So, if you were rank 500 or so you probably didn't get your first choice.

    There were no recommendation letters, no school grades (you had to graduate, that's it), no AP scores, nothing. It was the entrance exam period.

    I'm not saying it was the best system, but it was brutal and agnostic for sure.

    And then it got harder when you got in lol...
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