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Schools University admission and ECs

  1. Apr 23, 2010 #1
    Hi there,

    I'm a grade 11 student and I'm curious to know how important are ECs for admission to universities such as MIT & Cambridge?

    In grade 9, I wasn't particularly involved in any major activities out of school. I also had to deal with several family problems throughout grade 10 and now (grade 11) I'm struggling with depression and other anxiety disorders.

    I'm also a speed skater and have been actively training since this year.I'm also close to joining the national team. This gives me little room to do anything else out of school (most of my time outside of classes is spent on training on and off ice). I intend to pursue skating further in CEGEP (post-secondary institution, gr. 12-13).

    As for grades, I scored exceedingly well in 9th grade, fell down greatly in grade 10 and I am not so sure how my grade 11 grades will look like. I hope to be able to justify why I didn't do well. I'm expecting to perform well beyond grade 11 (I'll be enrolled in the IB program for the next two years (grade 12-13)) and be able to remain consistent.

    Any input is appreciated. Thanks!
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2010 #2
  4. Apr 25, 2010 #3

    Extra-curriculars are very important for top-tier universities. This is because they receive many outstanding applications every year, and therefore need to use everything applicants have to determine favorability.

    Top schools ultimately want to see how well one can balance excellent grades and challenging extra-curriculars. Your chances of getting into a top university outside of Quebec are quite slim, seeing as it's harder for international students. Have you looked into McGill University in Montreal? (I presume you're in Quebec, because of CEGEP). McGill is an outstanding university, and they also offer many scholarships to students who excel.


  5. Apr 25, 2010 #4
    Yes, I am considering McGill among many other Canadian universities as well. My main concern is that the only extra-curricular activity in which I am involved in is speed skating. I am continuously training and this doesn't leave much room to do anything else.
  6. Apr 27, 2010 #5
    ECs are pretty important,

    I don't want to discourage you, but I went to a decent school in the US (Dobie High School in Houston, Texas) and our Salutatorian (ranked 2nd) applied to M.I.T. for Mechanical Engineering but was rejected. His only ECA was orchestra. His GPA was around 5.5 on a 5 point scale (4.4 on a 4 point scale) :frown: (instead he's attending Texas A&M which he was easily accepted into)

    Sometimes race and financial situation also play a role (he's anglo and middle class).

    If you apply and get reject from an Ivy League or UK "uber" tier school, go to a good public university. Work really really hard, and while overall GPA is important, be sure you do very well in all your major classes (a B in History is better than a B in Physics)

    At the end of the day, a PhD from Cambridge is a PhD from Cambridge no matter what undergrad school you went to :smile:
  7. Apr 28, 2010 #6
    You will be able to get a good job or get into a good graduate school no matter where you go for undergrad as long as you do well and get involved with ECs related to your major. If you enjoy skating you should not give it up just to pad your resume with ECs that you don't enjoy. Because even if you ditched skating and filled your schedule with other activities that does not guarantee you will get accepted to MIT.
  8. Apr 28, 2010 #7
    What do you recommend are good ECs for a physics/math major??

    My dream school would be MIT, Rice, or Princeton. (though I'd also love to go to University of Texas- Austin)
  9. Apr 28, 2010 #8
    Things that are related to science and math. Science fair, math olympiads, Intel STS, science clubs, math clubs. There are high school science research programs. Get science related merit badges.

    Also read as much about science and math as you can even if no one knows about it.
  10. Apr 28, 2010 #9
    Are you talking about good ECs while in high school or good ECs once you are already an undergrad and trying to get into grad school?

    If you are still in high school I don't think it is super important that your ECs are related to your intended major. I am a mechanical engineering senior right now and in high school my only ECs were music related but I did a lot of it. But some kind of robotics team or science club would be good in high school. As an undergrad thinking about grad school it is important that you do research with a professor(s) at your school and try to get research related internships for the summer.
  11. Apr 28, 2010 #10
    I also want to add that any EC in highschool that shows leadership capabilities is really good. Being president of a club or captain of a team. Something like that is great.
  12. Apr 28, 2010 #11
    Thanks for the replies. I often read a lot about science in general and have also competed in several regional level science fairs, but that's as far I went. I'm hoping to join some science club next year and try to get more involvement into science related activity.

    Wouldn't the colleges consider the athletic commitment of the student? I mean, I train around 3-4 hours/day and I also have to study to keep my grades up. There are also several competitions (national/international) that I have to prepare for.

    And I'm not really particularly crazy on absolutely getting admitted to any of these high ranked schools. I'm simply curious to know if it's worth applying without having any major stuff on my resume (other then sport).
  13. Apr 28, 2010 #12
    Yes. It's also good for you.

    It's always worth applying to at least two schools that you think you have little chance of getting in. You might get extremely lucky.
  14. Apr 28, 2010 #13
    EC's in high school.

    It depends what schools you apply to. If you are applying to MIT or Caltech, then getting a place in the international math olympiad or Intel STS is going to help a lot. If you look around you can find some summer science camps that will let you do research over the summer which will help a lot for science fairs and Intel.
  15. Apr 28, 2010 #14
    Also something that matters a lot is geography. I know that MIT tries to set up admissions so that roughly proportional numbers of people come from each part of the United States, so if you don't know anyone in your county that has ever been admitted to MIT, that's a good reason for you to apply.
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