Chances for an international student with low stats?

Click here to go to the NEW College Discussion Forum

Discus: What Are My Chances?: September 2003 Archive: Chances for an international student with low stats?
By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 06:06 am: Edit

Born in China, immigrated to Germany when I was 6 years old, spent a high school year in the USA. Does anyone think that this background could help when I mention it in my application?

Nationality: German (previously chinese)

GPA: 1,5 (German Abitur)
German Abitur is hard to convert. But it's so freakin' difficult to get a "1" (A) in Germany compared to the US. I took the hardest classes while I was in the US and got a 3.97 (UW).

Class rank: Top 5% of 50 students (no exact rank available)

SAT I: 1440 (640V 800M)
Math IC: 780
Math IIC: 800
Physics: 800
Writing: 620

TOEFL: 627 (paper-based test)

Yeah, I suck at the verbal part. I guess that's the problem with all non-native english speakers.

Extra-curricular activities and honors:

1.) National Political Debate Competition under the auspices of the Federal President
My participation in the National Political Debate Competition yielded a 2nd place on the all-state level, ended up being one of 32 all-nation end-finalists.
As a result of this achievement, I have been invited to a TV-interview and later gained access to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where I spent several days studying the structure and functions of the European Union.

2.)International Mathematics Tournament of Towns
The IMTT is a multinational competition designed to compare the math-skills of different cities in different countries, whereas the main committee is in Moscow. My solution concerning the problems has been sent to Moscow among seven other works representing the team of Hamburg, resulting in an honor award given by the Hamburg School Senator.

3.) Mathematics Olympics
In the most traditional math-competition, I passed the School Round as well as the Regional Round with distinction and was awarded a 3rd place in the All-State Round.

4.) Heisenberg Award and MNU-Scholarship
My High School gives the Heisenberg Award to the most outstanding student of the graduating class in the fields of math/science as well as extra-curricular activities. In conjunction with this award, I have been proposed as a receiver of the MNU-Scholarship of the German Association for the Promotion of Mathematics and Science. The scholarship involves the attendance of a special one-week seminar in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, which gathers the 100 most promising scholars of Germany in the fields of math and science every year.

5.) Invitation by the Major of Hamburg
Just after I had graduated from my school, the major of Hamburg has sent me a dinner-invitation in the guesthouse of the senate in order to honor the most excellent and achieving students in both academic and extra-curricular fields.

Classification: "debating scientist"

1.) Webdesign and Visual Arts
I've been doing Webdesign for more than 5 years. My biggest project, an Anime-Webportal, has had more than 500.000 visitors. My acitivities involve designing webpages and logos for some private firms and/or organizations.

2.) Political Participation
Although I have not decided to join a specific party yet, my interest in current politics included the participation in several political events, such as dicussion and debate forums. I have also participated in a political Visual-Arts contest to promote European cooperation, winning a honor award on state-level.

3.) Guitar
The guitar has accompanied me for over 5 years. Every technique I have learned is self-taught, because I refused to take any lessons at all (too expensive).
I often had solo or duo performences within my chinese community.

4.) Chinese School
I've been attending chinese school for more than 6 years because I did not want give up my heritage, therefore my chinese skills have not decreased too much. One could say that I am raised as a bilingual person.

5.) Badminton and Tennis
It's probably a stereotype of sport regarding chinese people, but I still enjoy playing it in out-of-school clubs.

Work experience
- Webdesign for small firms
- Cashier
- Tutoring 10th, 11th, 12th graders
- Car washing and cleaning jobs

Recommendations and essay
Should receive very strong recommendations from my principal and teachers; working hard to create a good essay.

Aiming for (as an undergraduate):
MIT, CalTech, Harvard, Princeton, Duke, UPenn, Stanford (no EA/ED possibility for int-students)

I know that my chances are slim to none because the international admission is EXTREMELY competetive, but I just want to give it a shot. I mean, what do I have to lose? I've already received admission to the Technical University of Munich, so there's still a place available in case I get rejected by all colleges.

Note on the list of extra-curricular activities:
In Germany, the school-size is normally kept small, and junior/senior high are always combined. Therefore, the opportunities of extra-curricular activities are very limited. There are about 10 clubs in my school, and most of them are sport clubs for the junior high students.

Note on the German School System:
Other than the American system of a combined highschool, the German students receive different teacher recommendations to go to certain types of schools after 4 years of elementary school. The „Hauptschule“ inhabits the students with low academic abilities, the „Realschule“ inhabits students with average academic abilities, and the „Gymnasium“ ultimately inhabits the students with the highest academic abilities and the most promising profile. Therefore, the classes offered in the „Gymnasium“ are always designed to be most rigorous and challenging. Each student passing the „Abitur“ automatically receives the certificate of the general university entrance, allowing them to attend any university they choose. The graduating class is very small compared to U.S. highschools. The class normally starts off with over 100 students but ends up with only 50 or less left. 50% of the students are normally forced to leave the Gymnasium during the 9 years of study because they fail to keep up with the rest of the class.

Thank you for reading my stats... sorry for eating up your precious time. :)

By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 09:51 am: Edit


By Dkm (Dkm) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 10:42 am: Edit

no hope...i am international too...indian living in switzerland...i would not apply to a top not worth wating $50 per application...apply to some uni which r less competative

By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 11:00 am: Edit

Oh my, isn't it kind of pathetic to give up like that? I don't want to look back in 10 years and regret my decision. What do I have to lose? (yes, the application fee, I know that)

It would be great if every international student thought that way, then it'll be easy for me to get in. :D

Anyway, ~60$ per application is really not THAT much, compared to the tuition cost of these colleges at least.

By Alimshk (Alimshk) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 11:05 am: Edit

I would apply, you have a great shot considering your accomplishments. Don't listen to anybody who says it's a waste of an application fee, because compared to tuition, it's pocket change. Good luck.

By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 01:32 pm: Edit


By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 04:45 pm: Edit


By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 08:41 pm: Edit

booya, is everyone too busy to give out a comment?

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 12:58 am: Edit

I would give it a shot. You have an unusual background and very good stats. If you are not applying for financial aid, you are in the running. It's just that those schools you want are all very, very hard to get into and harder to predict who they will take. You might want to add some less selective schools if you want to come to the US. Many of them would love to have you. It's just that with our top schools, so many factors, not just grades and test scores come into play, that it is plain impossible to predict with any accuracy how you will fare.

By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 05:22 am: Edit

Thanks! I know that these schools are the most competitive ones where "outstanding" is just considered average, but that's why I chose them.

If I can't make it as an undergraduate this time, I'll get my Bachelor title in Germany and apply to one of the numerous graduate schools in the US. :)

By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 07:05 am: Edit


By Magenta (Magenta) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 09:31 am: Edit

If you have the money, I always say apply to whatever colleges your heart desires so long as you won't feel emotionally damaged or hassled by family if you don't get into some. Since you say guitar lessons cost too much, I am not sure how it is these applications are a drop in the bucket for you, but since they seem to be, go for it.

As Jamimom noted, it is impossible to predict with accuracy how you will fare, but we can guess all the same, and that seems to be what these threads are all about. My guess, and please don't be offended, is that you won't get into Caltech. Their average SAT score would be a perfect 1600 (I kid you not) if it weren't for their trying to get a mix of students from across the USA, and even in doing that, their average last I heard was 1560. One 1440 would pull down their average such that I think the person would have to have national or international awards of a decent pull (like Intel) to sway them to accept a 1440, but again, this is my *guess*. MIT has a lot of people with SATs at the 1440 zone, but again, my *guess* is that most of these have very powerful ECs, honors, etc. though I also know there are those who don't. So my guess is you have a better shot at MIT than Caltech. Harvard has some wild legacy rate like 40% (anyone heard what is it lately?), so getting in there as an international who has no legacy or serious hook (like being an Olympic athlete or movie star or something) isn't going to be a piece of cake either. Your remaining picks seem like a better chance to me.

Jamimom noted you having a good chance if you don't need financial aid. I know MIT admits or rejects people on a need blind basis. Does anyone know which of these other picks are need blind?

By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 01:37 pm: Edit

Yeah, the SAT scores of CalTech are very impressive indeed. I think I'll substitute CalTech with Yale... not that it would increase my chances, but Yale definitely has more undergraduates and lower demands regarding the SAT I.

So you're actually saying that it is "easier" to get in Princeton or Stanford than MIT or Harvard? I know a German student who got into Stanford last year, and his advanced standing even allowed him to skip the freshman year. He wasn't a movie star though. :)

By Magenta (Magenta) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 02:19 pm: Edit

According to the 2003 US News and Report, here are the stats:

College/# applied for 02/03/# accepted/25&75 SAT percentiles

Princeton/14,521/1,585(11% admit rate)/1380-1550
Stanford/18,599/2,368(13% admit rate)/1350-1540
MIT/10,664/1,724(16% admit rate)/1420-1560
Harvard/19,609/2,066(11% admit rate)/1400-1580

Going by admit rate, Harvard and Princeton are the toughest to get into, but going by 25th percentile, MIT would be the hardest and going by 75th percentile, Harvard would the toughest of the four. It seems to me from those I know who have gone to Stanford versus MIT that the Stanford folks are smart folks, but not quite as brainiac as the MIT folks, even though the 75th SAT percentiles don't support this and so I could just have a skewed perception from my rather small sample size in 3D. If you just go by raw numbers, Stanford should be the easiest as you "only" have to be the 2,368th strongest applicant (or thereabouts depending on the year) to be admitted while at Princeton, you have to be in the top 1,585. So it already really depends on how you define "easy" and I'm thinking they are all pretty much in the "make a sacrifice to the gods" category as they are all a crap shoot if you don't have a legacy, Intel finalist award, or whatever similar thing going for you. Most of Stanford's students are not movie stars, needless to say. :) Most of the students at any of the top 50 schools aren't movie stars. But most of the non-legacies who are not URM who go to these four colleges (5 if we include CalTech) would be considered stellar by people who read their qualifications.

If you are looking into legacies, see and note that Harvard accepts 40% of their legacy applicants, so those who don't have that legacy help have a tougher time. Princeton accepts 35% of their legacy applicants. MIT has NO legacies. So if you are an equally qualified candidate, MIT should be a better bet than Harvard or Princeton as their SAT ranges are similar, but if you are a legacy, the legacy school would be a better bet for you as your odds have just gone from say 11% to 40% at Harvard and to 35% at Princeton.

By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 08:20 pm: Edit

Phew, thanks for the thorough analysis.

Magenta, I've read through the policies of these universities, and it seems that most of them (except Duke and Stanford) are admitting US students as well as international students on a need blind basis. Tough luck!

By Magenta (Magenta) on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 10:05 pm: Edit

Most welcome, Chenfei, and good luck!

By Agamemnon314 (Agamemnon314) on Sunday, September 28, 2003 - 12:42 pm: Edit

Hey Chenfei, I finally found you---- and your long ECs----pretty impressive. Good luck. You have a good chance.

By Cornell00 (Cornell00) on Sunday, September 28, 2003 - 12:52 pm: Edit

that’s cool you got an interesting life and good grades!!
I moved a bit as well, I was born in Mexico city, then moved to Toluca (Its in Mexico but its an hour away from Mexico city), them I moved to Saltillo, Coahuila ( which is in Mexico but 4 hours away from Texas), then I moved to Windsor Ontario (Canada) then I moved back to Saltillo, Coahuila, and now I’m aiming for New Haven (Yale Univ.!!!)

By Chenfei (Chenfei) on Sunday, September 28, 2003 - 01:46 pm: Edit

No international student has a "good" chance. But still, thank you Agamemnon, it would be awesome if both of us could get in - and become classmates. Good luck to you as well! :)

Report an offensive message on this page    E-mail this page to a friend
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.

Administrator's Control Panel -- Board Moderators Only
Administer Page