"Help an international student choose his colleges" #9999

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: "Help an international student choose his colleges" #9999
By Goc9000 (Goc9000) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 10:02 am: Edit

Hi folks !

I'll get straight to the point: I'm an international student that wants to apply for a college as an undergraduate and I would greatly appreciate any help in choosing some competitive/safety colleges to add to my list. My major is somewhere in the CS area, but I'm yet undecided as to what my exact major will be.

I was looking for two kinds of colleges: 'competitive', i.e. colleges with a good CS program (and thus expensive) that are reasonably likely to admit me, and 'safety' colleges, i.e. smaller institutions that are quite likely to admit me (in the event of not being admitted in any comp. college), have lower costs, but (obviously) a less prestigious academic program...

A key problem is that being an international student, I am going to need all the financial help I can get, which obviously lowers my chances of admission. I would like to be able to work to cover some of the costs, so job opportunities are an important factor.

As for 'college life'... I'm not in the position to be overly pretentious about this... As long as it's not insanely competitive and unfriendly, it will do...

A very crude list of colleges I was told I should 'check out' is as follows:
- Stanford U
- Yale U
- Cornell U
- Vanderbilt U
- Drexel U
- Rose-Hulman IT

My stats:

SAT I: 790 Math, 800 Verbal
SAT II: 800 MathIIC, 800 Physics, 710 Writing :(
TOEFL: Not taken yet, but expecting a good score... Tell me if the English used in this post indicates otherwise... :D


- AFAIK, here in Romania, we don't have anything equivalent to the GPA, but the total average of my highschool grades (if it's of any relevance) is about 9.42, where 5 is the passing grade and 10 is the maximum grade.

- I am definitely the best in my highschool class, and maybe even the highest ranked student in the entire highschool (however, this is also probably due to the fact that I had to attend an 'average' highschool).

- From 2000 to 2004, I participated in the National CS olympiad in my country, and, starting from 2001, maintained my place in the top 15.

- Probably irrelevant, but I passed the national Bacalaureate exam (a French-inspired exam held upon graduation from a highschool) with a pretty high grade (9.63 on the above-mentioned scale), and, what's more, I scored 10.00 (maximum) on the Physics part of the exam and 9.95 (very close to the max grade) on the Maths part.


Social/economic conditions in Romania are extremely unfavourable for anything extracurricular, especially in average highschools like mine (not that the admission officers will care about that, but...), hence my list is considerably weaker than anything I've seen on this forum up to now...

- I participated in an in-school trivia competition and won 1st place.
- The highschool enlisted my help in an international project - did some document translation and also some fund-raising for several financially challenged students in my highschool.
- Participated in various programming competitions, usually attaining an honorable rank (at one contest, I even ranked 3rd). Also did some non-PC programming, although that's probably of little interest.
- I wrote a Christmas-themed play (in English) that was played in front of my teachers.
- I worked as a collaborator in my brother's firm (mostly, I provided 'software support', i.e. ad-hoc programs to assist in the process of repairing/adapting hardware).
- One of my hobbies is drawing comic strips (at an amateurish level, of course). Those who have seen my drawings say that I'm talented (although I think otherwise...)
- My sports record is rather weak, due to recent health problems and the lack of proper sports facilities, but I'm willing (and curious) to try several sports once I get back into shape (yeah, right, like the AO are going to give a damn...)

I think there are several other activities I could mention, but those above are the most important and the most likely to be taken into consideration by the admitters...

Thanks in advance for any help.

By Alan5 (Alan5) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 10:17 am: Edit

Since you are applying to Drexel, you may also want to check out Northeastern in Boston which is known for its outstanding co-op program.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 10:28 am: Edit

Great stats. Drop Yale and add MIT, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon and Brown. They are much better in Computer Science.

By Localmooer (Localmooer) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 11:16 am: Edit

University of Washington is known in particular for a good CS program...

By Ckakalacheva (Ckakalacheva) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 11:36 am: Edit

I think I've read in the site of Carnegie Mellon that it doesn't give fin aid to international students.

By Vulcano (Vulcano) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 01:26 pm: Edit

Most universities don't give financial aid to foreigners.`

By Boomer01 (Boomer01) on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 02:42 pm: Edit

Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Princeton do provide aid to international students and are need blind to them. The OP has got enough stats to get into one of them at least. BTW - Rose Hulman and cornell do not provide financial aid to foreigners and stanford does provide aid but it is stingy when it comes to foreign students.

PS - You should also look at some LACs as they provide good financial aid to internationals.

By Goc9000 (Goc9000) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 10:24 am: Edit

Thanks for the help you've offered so far...

After some collegeboard.com searching, here's a revised list:

California IT (Pasadena, California)
Connecticut C (New London, Connecticut)
Williams C (Williamstown, Massachusetts)
Cornell U (Ithaca, New York)
Amherst C (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Princeton U (Princeton, New Jersey)
Simpson C (Indianola, Iowa)
Macalester C (St Paul, Minnesota)
Trinity C (Hartford, Connecticut)
Brown U (Providence, Rhode Island)
Yale U (New Haven, Connecticut)
Harvard C (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Stanford U (Stanford, California)
George W. U (Washington, DC)
Bennington C (Bennington, Vermont)
Michigan TI (Houghton, Michigan)
Bard C (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York)
American U (Washington, DC)
Northeastern U (Boston, Massachusetts)
Washington U in SL (St Louis, Missouri)
Drexel U (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Worcester PI (Worcester, Massachusetts)

(Note that there may be some mistakes in it...)

Now I'd have a few more questions:

- Are any of these extremely unlikely to accept me, given my stats (like Harvard, for instance...) ?
- Which of these be a bad choice for an int'l student looking for massive aid, but willing to work to help pay his tuition ? Which of these are good choices ?
- How do most of these rank in CS (excellent, medium, dismal, etc...)
- How is 'int'l financial aid' applied and how should one interpret the "Number who received aid" (let's call it N), "Total amt. awarded" figures (let's call it T) ? If we vaguely approximate the 'average aid' as T/N, is this received only upon admission or is it received once every year ?

Sorry for the barrage of questions :)

Thanks in advance....

By 007 (007) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 10:59 am: Edit

firstly, great stats, ur already in a great position.

Nearly all the colleges on ur list are probably gonna accept you, except maybe Caltech, it accepts about 10-15 intls each year and the competition is keen, so you might wanna drop that.

i think you have too many safeties you might cut that down to around2-3 safeties.

good luck

By Rtkysg (Rtkysg) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:43 pm: Edit

Am I missin' something? You leave out MIT ?!!
California IT :) .. hmm Caltech sounds better hehehe

Your stats are good, good luck

By Neolinski (Neolinski) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:40 pm: Edit

SAT I: 790 Math, 800 Verbal
SAT II: 800 MathIIC, 800 Physics, 710 Writing
TOEFL: Not taken yet, but expecting a good score... Tell me if the English used in this post indicates otherwise... :D

with 800 on verbal and 710 on writing (very impressive!), i dont think you really need to take TOEFL.. or am i wrong? (cuz i am also a international student and i thought i dont have to take TOEFL if i can get enough verbal..)

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 09:51 pm: Edit

Bennington? For computer science? Definitely not.
Drop it.

Same goes for Bard.

You might take a look at the College of Wooster in Ohio. They do give both financial aid AND merit money to internationals and would snap you up in an instant. Very good liberal arts school with a large international population. Another possibility might be Lawrence U in Wisconsin.

However, I agree with everyone else - you should have a good shot at MIT, Harvard, Princeton, etc.
Good luck!

By Bluesalamander1 (Bluesalamander1) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 11:34 am: Edit

Goc - as a general rule you should assume that universities don't give aid to foreigners and keep in mind that the only jobs that you will be able to hold have to be on campus (w/o a work permit) - that said I think there are some colleges that do give $$ although few and far between

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 12:15 pm: Edit

One additional safety school you might want to look into is Hendrix College (www.hendrix.edu) - they have a decent cs department for a small LAC and do provide some generous scholarships to internationals with stats like yours. Overall cost of Hendrix is significantly lower to begin with as well. Good luck.

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