Hey Physics Forums, I'm a Canadian kid who frequently haunts these forums to read up on stuff although I don't post much. At the beginning of next year I'm going to be sending off my university applications, so I figured now would be a good time to get some of my questions out of the way. Although I realize what I'll want to do with my life is going to change as I grow older, for now I see myself doing an honours math and physics degree for an undergrad. I plan on going to grad school. I don't want to restrict my options, which means that I want the ability to competitively apply to schools such as MIT and Stanford (although I can't guarantee I would want to go there, I don't want to close any doors). Here come my questions: Does doing an undergrad in one of those "fancy" universities increase one's chances of going to good schools for graduate degrees? I was thinking applying to MIT, the school seems like a good fit for me from what I've read online. I like how they require a breadth of courses, it's a top notch school, and undergrad research seems to be accesible. I'm currently pulling just above a 90 average with minimal effort, and a 95 in math and physics. I've got all the community service down, having logged hours as a volunteer swimming instructor, and working at the food bank packing boxes, etc... I realize that this doesn't mean squat when applying to a university like MIT, because of the self selective nature of applicants. But I believe I also have a hook. I play blues/jazz guitar. I'd send a compostion of mine, and a cover of my favorite song with my application, and hopefully that would somehow "differentiate" me. I've performed at festivals and stuff around where I live so I'm decent. Should I write my SAT's and apply, or are international applications too much of a long shot? I could easily pull my GPA up next term if necessary. If I don't get in or don't apply, and study at Waterloo, UofT, or McGill, does it damage my chances of getting into a grad school in the states? Any help is appreciated, thanks.