Which college should I ED (apply) to?

  • #1
I am a Nepalese 12th grade student and I will be applying to a few US colleges for the Class of 2023. I am seeking to pursue a PhD in some field of physics that will pique my interest by the end of grads.

I won the national physics olympiad and would be participating in IPhO now had it not been for unfortunate visa complications. I like to think that I am one of the brightest, if not the brightest, physics minds of my age in Nepal. I expect to achieve an SAT score in excess of 1520, to say the least. And I also play the bass guitar in a rock band with my friends.

So do you think my profile is sound enough to earn me a near full scholarship in a US college?

I plan to ED to a college but can't decide on which college would be the best. I have no aspirations of getting into a top research university like MIT or Princeton for my undergrad study. I would rather prefer a liberal arts college with a smaller community for now. But the college should be capable of placing me in a top research university for my grad studies. It should also be generous when it comes to int'l aid and easier to get into.

I do have a few colleges in mind such as Reed, Williams, Amherst, Pomona, Grinell, etc. Which one do you think is the best for undergrad physics for an int'l student and best fits the bill? If you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them too.
Thank you.
 
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  • #2
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Here's a list of the top liberal arts schools in the US:

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-liberal-arts-colleges

You should still investigate each one to be sure its right for you. I think the key to getting into grad school will be how well you do at one of these schools AND how well you do on the GRE exam. It also helps to have some extra stuff on your resume like helping a charity, publishing a paper... to get past admissions and on to the physics department proper.for grad school.
 
  • #3
symbolipoint
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Here's a list of the top liberal arts schools in the US:

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-liberal-arts-colleges

You should still investigate each one to be sure its right for you. I think the key to getting into grad school will be how well you do at one of these schools AND how well you do on the GRE exam. It also helps to have some extra stuff on your resume like helping a charity, publishing a paper... to get past admissions and on to the physics department proper.for grad school.
My feeling here is that , for Physics at least, your skills and experience with BASS guitar in your band would be useful even without an item of community service to list.
 
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  • #4
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My feeling here is that , for Physics at least, your skills and experience with BASS guitar in your band would be useful even without an item of community service to list.
Yes this is true also being a foreign student provides some welcom diversity to the college environment.
 
  • #5
gleem
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The following gives a list of colleges and universities that have top rated undergraduate physics programs with a description of the programs with about five that fit your small college profile. Some of the other large universities are located in small towns/cities.

https://www.collegechoice.net/rankings/best-physics-degrees/
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50
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You need to understand something about admissions and scholarships. The vast majority of universities that provide academic scholarships do so to entice students who otherwise would go elsewhere. So if you want a scholarship, that means you need to be looking at universities at a lower tier than you would if you didn't need a scholarship. There have been cases, some even here, where that leads to resentment and ingratitude. Neither will serve you well.

There are 3.5M new high school graduates in the US per year. So even if you land in the 99th percentile on a standardized test, there are 35,000 native born students who have done as well or better, and about 800,000 students world-wide of equivalent ability. Think about that.
 
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  • #7
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Getting scholarships to prestigious US universities from overseas is very difficult, doesn't matter how smart you are. Even the great Terry Tao didn't go that route - he studied here in Australia at a good university (Flinders University - good - but not considered in the top tier like say the ANU or Melbourne University) and then went to the US after getting his Masters. I don't know too much about education in Nepal, but is there any reason you couldn't try doing that?

If you really want to go to a prestigious school for your initial education being in Nepal I think Oxford and Cambridge would be worth looking into.

Its a difficult task you have set yourself.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #9
My feeling here is that , for Physics at least, your skills and experience with BASS guitar in your band would be useful even without an item of community service to list.
That's interesting. Thanks.
 
  • #10
The following gives a list of colleges and universities that have top rated undergraduate physics programs with a description of the programs with about five that fit your small college profile. Some of the other large universities are located in small towns/cities.

https://www.collegechoice.net/rankings/best-physics-degrees/
That was really helpful. Thanks.
 
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  • #11
You need to understand something about admissions and scholarships. The vast majority of universities that provide academic scholarships do so to entice students who otherwise would go elsewhere. So if you want a scholarship, that means you need to be looking at universities at a lower tier than you would if you didn't need a scholarship. There have been cases, some even here, where that leads to resentment and ingratitude. Neither will serve you well.

There are 3.5M new high school graduates in the US per year. So even if you land in the 99th percentile on a standardized test, there are 35,000 native born students who have done as well or better, and about 800,000 students world-wide of equivalent ability. Think about that.
I fully understand the magnitude of the task I have set myself out to perform. While I do agree with the data you have provided, I think it's irrelevant. Many top colleges seek to have as much diversity in their community as possible. As a result, all the top colleges like MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Stanford and Amherst have been admitting at least one Nepalese student a year providing near full scholarship. On that account, my chances of getting into such college improves quite a lot. Yet, I do not seek to get admitted into a large college because I believe that a smaller community guarantees higher quality of education. That is why I created this thread; to examine which of the smaller colleges are the most welcoming to int'l students. And if I land a scholarship on any of the colleges I mentioned in the post, I would be extremely grateful. So, I thank you for this reality check but I am quite aware of the reality.
 
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  • #12
Getting scholarships to prestigious US universities from overseas is very difficult, doesn't matter how smart you are. Even the great Terry Tao didn't go that route - he studied here in Australia at a good university (Flinders University - good - but not considered in the top tier like say the ANU or Melbourne University) and then went to the US after getting his Masters. I don't know too much about education in Nepal, but is there any reason you couldn't try doing that?

If you really want to go to a prestigious school for your initial education being in Nepal I think Oxford and Cambridge would be worth looking into.

Its a difficult task you have set yourself.

Thanks
Bill
If I were an Australian, I would complete my undergrad in Australia too. But unfortunately, Nepal is not Australia and physics education here is extremely poor. The labs lack proper equipments, the teachers lack passion and the college environment is engulfed in student politics. I think an A-Level degree would have been helpful in getting into colleges in the UK. But I'm not sure as education in the UK is not very popular among students here. Nonetheless, I will look into it and thanks for your advice.
 
  • #13
Vanadium 50
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When you say you are the brightest physics mind of your age, it comes across as smug and entitled. When you dismiss advice as "irrelevant", it comes across as smug and entitled. May I propose that since you are depending on the charity of others to meet your goals, you don't want to come across as smug and entitled.

It is true that colleges value diversity, and one fact among many is country of origin. But being from Nepal is not a guaranteed ticket in. As you point out, MIT takes on average one Nepalese per year. Reed is a third the size of MIT. Williams has an international fraction only a bit more half that of MIT. Furthermore, while many of the schools on your list offer need-based financial aid, many do not have need-blind admissions: they simply don't have the money to cover the expenses of every student they admit. There are exactly seven US institutions that are both need-blind and need-based. Only one, Amherst, is on your list. Amherst admits one international student out of every 20 applicants. I think this is very relevant.
 
  • #14
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You need to understand something about admissions and scholarships. The vast majority of universities that provide academic scholarships do so to entice students who otherwise would go elsewhere. So if you want a scholarship, that means you need to be looking at universities at a lower tier than you would if you didn't need a scholarship. There have been cases, some even here, where that leads to resentment and ingratitude. Neither will serve you well.

There are 3.5M new high school graduates in the US per year. So even if you land in the 99th percentile on a standardized test, there are 35,000 native born students who have done as well or better, and about 800,000 students world-wide of equivalent ability. Think about that.
From what I gather from the OP's thread, the quality of the education in Nepal is very poor (at least according to him for physics), so he is seeking the best possible way for him to get a quality education, preferably on scholarship (given that Nepal is a poor country, with high poverty rates, it is reasonable to presume that his family will likely not be able to afford tuition rates for American colleges/universities).

So @Vanadium 50, if you think that getting admitted to an American college/university (even among the "lower tier" schools you talk about) is too difficult, where would you suggest he apply to?

[As an aside, what schools would you consider "lower tier" for the purposes of this discussion? ]
 
  • #15
jasonRF
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Many prestigious colleges (Reed, MIT, Stanford, etc) only offer need-based financial aid, so do not offer any merit-based scholarships. Here is an example from your list:

https://www.reed.edu/financialaid/programs/index.html

Anyone that gets a "full-scholarship" from Reed is 1) a good enough applicant to be admitted, and 2) poor enough that Reed isn't going to ask them to pay anything. It does not mean that they are one of the top applicants that were accepted.

So whether those schools give you money depends on your family financial situation. Only after you get accepted to one of these schools will you learn the financial aid package they are offering you.

That is the downside of ED if you need financial aid. You do not get the opportunity to compare financial aid offers from multiple schools.

As you move to less-prestegious schools you will find more merit scholarships, just like Vanadium 50 wrote.

Note that some colleges have different financial aid policies for international students. So you will need to research each college before you apply.

Good luck,

Jason
 
  • #16
Vanadium 50
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I would cast a wide net.

Consider MIT as an example - they take ~1 Nepalese student per year, and they have about 500 international undergrads. So for the absolute bestest bestest best student in the country, one needs to apply to enough schools that their total number of admits is about 120. If you're in the top 10, you need to apply to enough schools to have 1200 admits. Top 20? 2400 admits.

The single top student would need to apply to half a dozen of the schools of the sort listed by the OP. The Top 10 student would need to apply to 50. That's probably doable, but it's a lot of work, and it's certainly on the upper end of what is possible. It means applying to (e.g.) Kenyon and not just Reed. By Top 20, the number of applications becomes unmanageable, and the only way the numbers work out in your favor is to start looking at non-flagship state schools, e.g. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire or Stanislaus State.
 
  • #17
StatGuy2000
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I would cast a wide net.

Consider MIT as an example - they take ~1 Nepalese student per year, and they have about 500 international undergrads. So for the absolute bestest bestest best student in the country, one needs to apply to enough schools that their total number of admits is about 120. If you're in the top 10, you need to apply to enough schools to have 1200 admits. Top 20? 2400 admits.

The single top student would need to apply to half a dozen of the schools of the sort listed by the OP. The Top 10 student would need to apply to 50. That's probably doable, but it's a lot of work, and it's certainly on the upper end of what is possible. It means applying to (e.g.) Kenyon and not just Reed. By Top 20, the number of applications becomes unmanageable, and the only way the numbers work out in your favor is to start looking at non-flagship state schools, e.g. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire or Stanislaus State.
The question then would become whether the OP will receive a solid education from the non-flagship state schools (or at least a higher quality education compared to what he will receive in Nepal).
 
  • #18
Vanadium 50
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Well, as much as I dislike rankings, the best universities in Nepal, Kathmandu University and Tribuvan University seem to be ranked around 3000-4000. That's about where Middle Georgia State University (which I had never heard of before) is. Middle Georgia State is ranked about 1200 in the US. So there are at least a thousand places that meet your requirements.

PS UWEC is about #700 and Stanislaus State #1000. There are some excellent non-flagships out there - UCLA, UC Irvine, UCSB - and even if you drop the UC's entirely, Cal Poly is about 175.
 

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