Rate my dismal chances at upenn and columbia

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: November 2003 Archive: Rate my dismal chances at upenn and columbia
By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Monday, November 03, 2003 - 05:33 pm: Edit

ok ok i know i wrote "dismal" as the topic for the two universities but i just wanna see how bad my chances are. ok i've done this like freaking 2 times and this is seriously gonna be my last..unless some people dont answer. i know im bein annoyin and i dont wanna be but seriously, i just want your input so i dont waste like $120 on sending my applications there, nor do i feel like dealing with the rejection letter if i most
likely will receive one.

oh yea, i heard that colleges like to see a lot of activities down, then i heard that colleges dont mind if someone participated in a few, if the person went all out in each. which statement is true?

anyway, here i go:


GPA: 3.8 weighted
SAT: 700/700
SAT II's: To be taken
RANK: 38/337
CLASSES: All of my classes were Honors/AP except for a few electives and some math courses.

(Includes this upcoming year)

+First chair Viola Honors Orchestra (4 years)+First chair Viola Advanced Orchestra (3 years)
+First chair Viola Chamber Orchestra (3 years)
+Avid member of Academic league since (3 years)
+Religious Club at School
-Freshman: Publicist
-Sophomore: Secretary
-Junior: Vice President
-Senior: Vice President
+Key Club Member (2 years)
+Environmental Club Member (1 year)
+Mock Trial (1 year - got shut down after that)
+National Honor Society Member
+Assistant Teacher at Sunday School (4 years)
+Teacher at Sunday School (1 year)
+Essay competition winner (3rd place)
+Worked for a company (distributor) of household furnishings (2 years)
-Customer Service Representative
- Community Service there
+Tons of volunteer service
-Over 200 hours

for those of you who were frantic seniors last year...please help me out...TheDAd! Fairy! God! ObiwaN!

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Monday, November 03, 2003 - 09:46 pm: Edit


By Cmaher (Cmaher) on Monday, November 03, 2003 - 10:49 pm: Edit

Are you taking the toughest curiculum at your school that you possibly can? I know this is a foregone conclusion for most people here but I still think people should list the honors/APs they have taken or at least describe what their schedule has been like.

What is your intended major?

This forum seems to be all about rank and SAT's, there's more to it. Like if your classes and EC's are related to your passion/major/essay. Are you a well-rounded student, or are you the "i dont like math" students that i am sensing?

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 - 03:54 pm: Edit

Cmaher- I want to send my deepest thanks to you for replying to my post. I know people sift through here most of the time, and I appreciate you for taking time to help me.

*I am taking the toughest classes at my school. The total amount of Honors/AP Classes which I have taken (including this year) is 18. The only classes which I haven't had honors/AP was math for my frosh-junior year.

*Intended major: biology/biochemistry. However, I am also aiming for the Bio-Dental Program UPENN.

*Some people have the rank and GPA, as well as the extra-curriculars to back it up. I'd say that I'm a well-rounded student, but I have to admit I'm not so fond of math, either.

Any other people willing to help me? :(

By Kkgirl06 (Kkgirl06) on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 - 06:05 pm: Edit

If you applied regular decision, which I assume you did since you are still contemplating applying:
Columbia: 9.0%
Penn: 32.7%
This is assuming that you are unhooked. If you did apply early, your chances would be:
Columbia: 64.4%
Penn: 79.0%
These stats are from "The Early Admissions Game: Joining the Elite" (f.y.i.) Note that these percentages are based soley on SAT I scores, and your chances of admission could be positively or negatively affected by your other stats (i.e. GPA/rank, ec's, etc.)

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 - 07:36 pm: Edit

Oh my god. I'm a failure...

Is "The Early Admissions Game: Joining the Elite" a book?

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 01:03 pm: Edit


Anyone have any thoughts on my admission to Columbia or UPENN?

By Gchange (Gchange) on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 01:11 pm: Edit

Chances are very slim. Apply to Brown or Cornell if you're into Ivy League.

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 01:18 pm: Edit

Does Cornell require a separate Form for teacher recommendations (if you know)?

Man, I'm so sad right now...

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 09:26 pm: Edit


By Spyrey (Spyrey) on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 09:51 pm: Edit

Yes, Cornell's application has a mind of its own.

By Thiaar00 (Thiaar00) on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 - 11:29 pm: Edit

virgo 007,
ur sat score's decent, okay ECs. make sure u get good sat II scores. btw, which ones have u taken? u shd also have really good recos and a great essay. good luck.

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Thursday, November 06, 2003 - 12:44 pm: Edit


i'm stupid so i didnt take any sat ii's. im taking them in december, i suspect i'll do well. i have awesome recs for columbia and upenn. im still contemplating whether or not i should apply to cornell. are you enrolled in any of the ivies ?


By South1985 (South1985) on Thursday, November 06, 2003 - 01:32 pm: Edit

Your chances are strong, but its basically a roll of the dice for them to take you.

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Thursday, November 06, 2003 - 02:12 pm: Edit

You're right. This whole freaking thing is a roll of dice.

If I don't get in, I'm gonna seriously bang my head on the wall.

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Thursday, November 06, 2003 - 08:37 pm: Edit


By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Friday, November 07, 2003 - 03:20 pm: Edit

Bump again!

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Saturday, November 08, 2003 - 10:47 pm: Edit

Bump damnit.

By Godis (Godis) on Sunday, November 09, 2003 - 12:15 am: Edit

i'm sorry, but your chances are kinda slim.

By Serdu (Serdu) on Sunday, November 09, 2003 - 12:50 am: Edit

You have to present yourself well. You're right it is a game, and you have to learn how to play your cards. OK:
1) Stop calling yourself stupid! You are NOT.
2) Pull yourself together and apply, you NEVER know how generous an ad com might be feeling.
3) Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need perfect numbers to apply, just passion and decent-more than decent numbers. This IS a route you can take.
4) The toll for taking this route? SUPERB, EXCELLENT, FLAWLESS essays. They MUST demonstrate your passion, and your interests and how you have: OVERCOME OBSTACLES IN THEM, DEVOTED YOUR TIME, RISEN TO POSITIONS OF LEADERSHIPS. I just saw your EC list and you strike me as a bit of a "joiner" so i would pick the EC that means the most to you and I would write abut that. Sit down with a literate teacher and have him/her gie you HONEST feedback.
5) TEcher rec's must also be awesome. Which teacher knows you the most? In whose class have you gone above and beyond? In whose class do you actively participate or do extra research? Ask yourself this and figure out which 2 would best represent you
6) Your SAT is VERY good. In my opinion, after a certain point an ad com is OK with any score, as long as it is decent, a 1400 is in my opinion tha point.
7) Study for the II's. They are extremely important and not terribly difficult to prepare for. STUDY. STUDY. STUDY. Take Writing, it is almost implied that u should.
8) RANK and GPA. Guess what? I was just looking over my research and Columbia's average UW GPA is a 3.79! You meet that. Rank is right around a top 10% again, an unofficial cut off.

Because you kinda are a "borderline" i can not stress the importance of passion in your essays, a great interview, ( PREPARE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR INTERVIEWER), and great II's.


By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 05:51 pm: Edit

Anynone know any UPENN students who I can talk to?

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 04:06 pm: Edit


What are my % chances there and at Cornell?

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 05:18 pm: Edit

Are you a senior? Did you apply early? What kind of highschool do you attend? How many AP courses are offered, and how many have you taken? Are you among the top "takers" of the AP courses offered? Honors classes don't count unless AP courses are offered. What are you taking this year? Which APs have you taken, which are you taking? These are all some unknowns that are important.
Let's assess your case, point by point. 1) You look like a 4 for curriculum rigor, but I really don't have enough info so I am guessing based on what you gave. 2) Your grades are a 4 3) Your SATs are a 4 or a 3.5; without SAT2s cannot really determine because Penn and Columbia look at them closely with the SAT1s. So I am guessing and giving you a benefit of doubt. 4) Your ECs are a 3 5)Essay, I am totally guessing, a 3.5 or 4 based on placing on a contest, you are an above average writer 6) Recs- Are you among the best student the school has ever seen? --5 Are you the best in something in the school this year or the last 3-5 years? 4 , OTherwise you are a 3. So given a 24 is a good shot to get in, you, like most kids have a chance but it all depends on how your application hangs together. One problem is the same thing I noticed on several apps. A premed type interest without the activities to support it. A strong premed (or any natural sciences type major---they are a large pool of applicants so are often assessed among themselves by the admissions officers) generally has some research projects, volunteer work in a hospital or other medical or science based facility, science awards and other items showing interest in their intended field of study. Look at your list and tell me if you see a person who wants to study biology? Do you see what I mean? Your most interesting activity is viola, an unusual instrument and it looks like you are quite good at it. Also, Penn and Columbia are both schools that strongly advocated Early Decision and have proclaimed that they are continuing to offer distinct advantages to those applying early so Kkgirl's numbers from "The Early Game" would probably hold pretty fast. For the entering class of 2002 accepted 31% of their early applicants versus 9% of their regular ones. Penn accepted 39% of their early kids versus 18% from the regular pool. Nearly half the class was accepted early at Penn.
That is the tough news. However, you are in the running--a lot of your application is yet unformed. Serdu's post was excellent. I would suggest the book, "Rock Hard Apps" at your local bookstore and a long weekend, pulling your applications together as you take Serdu's advice. Your should be looking at other schools with varying degrees of selectivity, and asking yourself why you want to go to that school. Many applications ask that questions, and if they don't overtly, it is asked implicitly as they look over your application, essays, interview assessments, recommendations. You need a good reason to go to a school and good reasons supporting your choice of major, not just a "I think I like Bio so I'm going to major in it and maybe be a dentist" without support from your application. That is one of the biggest problems with kids' application; there is no distinguishing feature, no compelling reason to accept the student. Look carefully at your post and see if you can understand what I am saying. If you can update your post, give me some reasons to support your intended field of study, what are you looking for in a college other than prestige in name, are you likely to get financial aid, are you looking for merit aid, and I can give some colleges that may fit what you want.

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 09:18 pm: Edit

Jamimom- Thanks so much for taking your time to respond to my post. Let me try and explain my situation.

I am a senior in High School and I did not apply Early Decision/Action to any colleges because I was stupid and I didn't take my SAT II's (I plan to take them in December.) I go to a public High school (it's pretty poor/average.. a considerable amount of students dont go to college.) But the main problem is, we have about 3000 kids in our school. I honestly had to go through hell to get AP Bio and AP History. Our school's guidance department and administration don't give a damn about us. I'm taking this year:

orchestra honors
calculus honors
cisco networking academy (idpt study)
cisco networking academy year 2
ap english
physics honors lab

again, i had to compromise many classes to get this schedule.

my recs are the ish. they wrote bangin recs for me so im not concerned with that. they said that i was the best student theyve had in 13 years. i realize that i do not have many science/science-oriented activities. unfortunately, i didnt know what i wanted to do until this year. i was lingering between music/english/science related careers but i didnt decide until this year for personal reasons (you must be thinking "how is it personal?" well i have a good explanation).

anyway, i want to thank you again for giving me loads of advice. i'll definitely go to barnes and noble and get that rock hard apps book.

youre right, and i guess i was deluding myself to believe that i had a chance at any of the schools. i guess im either extremely pessimistic or blindly optimistic. no activities that ive done so far really convinces the admissions officers (or myself) that i should get accepted.

well the reason that i wanted to become a dentist/doctor was because of my dad. he has heart disease and my moms sick all the time too. i know how it feels to have to see someone sick and take 100 different pills everyday. i really just seems natural to me. and i know this sounds really cheesy, but when i volunteered at the hospital (on behalf of our club), we gave the kids in pedatrics some gifts, and i sat down and talked to some of them. their eyes lit up and they felt so good, knowing that someone knows theyre there. i felt so complete when i volunteered there, but i also am content when i play the viola. i dunno its just something that ive always loved, i pour myself into the music and the melodies are profound...(i know i sound gay as hell)

the main thing im looking for in a college is a challenge and i just wanna be a part of an institution where kids dont see learning as some chore like they do in high school. i remember i spoke to this guy who goes to upenn about stuff ranging from charles dickens, siddharta, theology, philosophy, etc. ive never spoken to anyone who loved reading and learning just out of the joy of it you know. its GREAT. it feels good.

the thing is, i will need financial aid which is probably another factor which will play into my rejection. i am eligible for merit aid at rutgers, tcnj, etc. but i just feel drawn to upenn in particular. its just like when you like someone a lot..and you cant explain it?

i probably sound so stupid right now.

anyway, take care. thanks again.

By Bananabean (Bananabean) on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 12:18 am: Edit

dude, i think you're fine! just give it your best shot!

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 09:40 am: Edit

As Serdu said in his post, and I reiterated in mine, pull your app together and highlight the activities that make your application have a purpose--for example do not hide your hospital volunteer work in your laundry list of activities when you want to go into medicine. Make sure one of your essays touches on your personal interest in medicine/science.A good application has a strong theme running through it that resounds with the applicants purpose. Play up that love of music. It adds another dimension and it looks like you are quite good and dedicated in just the little I can see of your resume.
One issue I see that could be a problem is your class rank. If you are from a mediocre public school, top 5% is generally what they look for. And to get the top mark for curriculum, you should be taking as many APs as possible at that school. Also top recs generally have to be supported by top rank and grades. As you can see, each part of the app feeds into the other. I don't know what the cisco networking academy is , and am willling to bet that many admission counselors will not know either so an explanation of it should be added since it takes up a good amount of your day, probably preventing you from scheduling additional APs. Is this something terrific? Do you have samples of what you do there? Any nonstandard activity needs to be explained so that it can be assessed. One school where I had a child had an impressive math/science combined curriculum block that sounded terrific but was discontinued because it did not benefit the kids for college admissions. The APs were more compelling and if you took the former sequence, you sacrificed the AP subjects.
As for financial aid, if your family qualifies, schools like Penn tend to be generous. If your familiy has assets or high income, it is not so easy to qualify, and schools like Penn do not generally offerer merit scholarships. If you absolutely need aid and it is questionable that your family will qualify, you might want to look at schools that have generous merit aid like Vanderbilt, Casewestern, Davidson,Villanova, Ursinus College along with Penn and your state schools. It is nice to have a variety of schools, those with endowments to meet financial aid if you qualify, those with merit aid where you qualify and schools where you know you can get some aid and the cost is low. Make sure you have varying selectivy rates in each category. You probably should apply to 8-12 schools unless you are sure you qualify for financial aid, in which you can cut down on the merit aid school and focus on those schools that give close to full need.
Good luck in putting your app together. You have as good of chance as the bulk of the applicants to Penn--if you put together you application in a caring, purposeful way, you can enhance your chances.

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 02:45 pm: Edit

Thanks, Jami..i really appreciate it..

i guess i'll just hafta do my best on my apps and apply. btw, if i apply late in november for RD, do i have a better chance?

By Virgo007 (Virgo007) on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 02:44 pm: Edit

BUmp yo

>>btw, if i apply late in november for RD, do i have a better chance?

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