Chances at MIT, Stanford, and the rest

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: April 2004 Archive: Chances at MIT, Stanford, and the rest
By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 03:57 am: Edit

I was wondering what my chances would be at MIT, Stanford, Harvey Mudd College, UC Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon University.

Expecting 800s and high 700s on SAT II's (except writing maybe...)
RANK 1 in 600
4.8 weighted GPA
Weak-Mid EC's

Engineering/Drafting A/A
Biology A/A
Alg 2 Honors A/B
Geograph/MUN Honors A/A
English 1 Honors A/A
French 1 A/A

European History AP A/A
French 2 A/A
Precalc/Trig Honors A/A
Eng 2 Honors A/A
Physics Honors A/A
International Studies/MUN Honors A/B
Library Aide A/A

Computer Science A AP A/(projected A)
US History AP A/(projected A)
Statistics AP A/(projected A)
Calculus AB (***TAKING BC TEST***) AP A/(projected A)
English 3 Honors A/(projected B)
*Chemistry Honors A/(projected A)
*Scinece Aide A/(projected A)
*Same teacher, and he likes me, so I can get a real good rec. from him. We are working on getting IB at my school, will not affect me, but he respects me because of this.

12th (projected)
Biology AP (or Compsci AP AB)
Chemistry AP
Physics C AP (probably just mechanics)
English 4 / Literature AP
Economics AP (probably micro/macro)
Academic Decathalon (A team)
Will probably get all A's and maybe one B.
(And I have to somehow throw health and a fine arts in there)

PSAT 198 (I bombed that test because I was going too slow for some reason and omitted the last 6 questions, which were supposedly real easy).

SAT 1570 (800M/770V) not going to retake (only one try--yeah!).

SAT II haven't taken yet, expecting to do well (US History, Writing, Math IIC, Physics, and maybe even Chemistry).

ACT haven't taken yet, no idea (should I take them?)

APs (5 on Euro Exam) expecting at least 2 5's and 2 4's this year (maybe all 5's).

College courses: Currently taking French 2 (HS equivalent of 3 and part of 4)
This Summer I am taking Multivariable Calculus and a course in infinite series, complex numbers, and basic linear algebra at UCI, I may also take a level 2 course in Java Programming at a community college (for internet applet type stuff). Planning on taking Linear Algebra and Differential Equations as a Senior. Better get A's in all those :).

Academic Rank 1 in class of 600 (untied). (>4.8GPA)
UC Rank 4 in class of 600 (untied).
Will most likely be valedictorian or salutorian.

EC's (weak point)
School Site Council--working toward making my school an IB school (student proponent of IB, will not affect me directly)
I'm Persian and I'm fluent in reading/writing farsi if that means anything
Future Scientists and Engineers of America
About 80hrs community service (plan on getting a lot more)
Most community service concentrated in teaching theology to little children at my mosque (yes, I am Muslim)
National Honors Society
English As Second Language Club Officer
Math Club
Has tutored for free.
Planning on founding a Mathematic tutoring club next year and will finally participate in a math type contest or olympiad (never thought of that before).
Planning on doing Mock Trial next year.

Will have four years of Model United Nations (some minor awards, nothing major... yet).

May submit original math discovery to

Expecting two good recs (chem and history teacher).

So what do you think are my chances?

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 03:22 pm: Edit

Oh, and one other question: Is it true that you can take any combination of up to three SAT II subject tests, and you can choose what those tests are on the testing day, regardless of what you bubbled in at when you registered?

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 05:50 pm: Edit

ha ha ha your going to saddleback with those scores sherwin...

JK. r u takeing physics C ind study or as a class

By Zzii (Zzii) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 06:10 pm: Edit

You've got great stats and seems like your ECs are good too, even though you cite them as your weak point. With good essays/interview/recs you've got a great chance at all those schools. What is your intended major, BTW?

"Oh, and one other question: Is it true that you can take any combination of up to three SAT II subject tests, and you can choose what those tests are on the testing day, regardless of what you bubbled in at when you registered?"

Yes, the only exception is language w/ listening I think and writing you have to take first of the three.

Best of luck.

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 06:57 pm: Edit

Socalnick, I'm taking it independent study at school (meaning it's not really structured, but I have to show up every day with the other two-four Physics C students and study), but I will be getting a grade (basically an A if I show up).

Thanks Zzii. I would have to say that my intended major is Math-CS joint or maybe Math and EECS. Not quite sure yet. After undergraduate studies I plan on pursuing an MBA and going into business... unless something else catches my eye, which may very well happen.

As for ECs, if the math club I'm planning to start works well I think I'll be set, otherwise I didn't accomplish all too much in any of those clubs (if I really had then I would have been much more confident with my ECs).

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 09:19 pm: Edit

Any other opinions or suggestions out there?

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 12:43 am: Edit

Well mabe you should show mit cammerichi 2

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 03:28 am: Edit


By Macadamiamin (Macadamiamin) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 11:49 am: Edit

With 1570, no need to take the ACT unless you're applying to a college that only accepts it. (is there such a college?)

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 12:26 pm: Edit

Macadamiamin, I believe there are some schools in the Midwest that are like that (not that I have any interest them at all, in fact, with the exception of MIT (and perhaps CMU, Cooper Union, and maybe something else that might catch my eye), I am looking for an in-State school (California).

However, I used princetonreview's "Counselor-O-Matic" thing (which I think is quite pointless, as it appears to be very formula-driven), and it seems that if you have an ACT score that reinforces your SAT score (I guess a 35-36 in my case), your chances seem to heavily improve. I guess it's not quite that true.

Thank you, and please keep the opinions, suggestions, and whatnot coming.

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 04:08 pm: Edit

Any additional help would be appreciated.

By Staticsoliloquy (Staticsoliloquy) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 04:35 pm: Edit

statistics mean nothing at MIT.

Numbers aren't important. To a point, numbers do reflect ability, but its the passion for knowledge that is most valuable.

MIT definitely doesn't care about perfect GPAs and test scores because there are so many people that have them. You can be such a brilliant person to everyone who meets you, but to an adcom, you're just a couple of pages of text. We ALL deserve to get into such a school, but many of us do not and that's just the reality of the process. Because of this reality, our applications really gotta show how we don't fit the mold of a stereotypical applicant. Is an adcom gonna remember your essay about losing in the semi-finals of a robotics or debate competition, or is he going to remember your essay about how an inspirational (or even traumatizing) childhood experience has molded you into the amazing person that you are today? Showing how you are unique among even the best and the brightest is everything.

let me stress that. You have to show that you are UNIQUE among the BEST and the brightest. Good luck doing so. =)

MIT looks for is people who show that they are truly self-motivated - who go beyond the academic/extracurricular norm by demonstrating active engagement and intellectual curiosity. "Everyone" has good grades, good test scores, a nice list of extracurriculars, and a pile of awards (that's a fair generalization for anyone who has a chance for acceptance). The ones that are accepted do, indeed, have something (or things) more - community college courses, internships, athletic talents, the aforementioned research, direct contact with MIT faculty/admissions/coaches, or just a hell of a story to tell in their essays.

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 07:48 pm: Edit

Thanks for the advice Staticsoliloquy, any other advice out there?

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 04:21 pm: Edit

Any additional advice?

By Tsunashima1 (Tsunashima1) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 10:17 am: Edit

Staticsoliloquy, I think you are exaggerating a bit.

Out of the 7 kids in my school who got into MIT this year, I don't think any of them had anything special in terms of "community college courses, internships, athletic talents, the aforementioned research, direct contact with MIT faculty/admissions/coaches, or just a hell of a story to tell in their essays."

For example, one of them just took 1 AP Course, did some journalism for our school website, got a 5 on the AIME, and was on the school chess team. That was it.

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 01:10 pm: Edit

Thanks for the encouragement Tsunashima1, heheh, but I wish I had entered a math competition such as the AIME before, but I never have. I will try to start our own math club next year to do such a thing (so that'll also count as an EC), and I will be on our Academic Decathalon Team (which usually fares rather well), and furthermore, I'm hoping that the classes I will take at UCI will help a lot, on top of the classes I will take at a community college in senior year.

By Susu (Susu) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 05:20 pm: Edit

Good grief, don't you ever do anything artistic, musical, or athletic? If you had the time to attempt an unusual sport this summer (rock climbing, fencing, rowing, surfing) it would add a charming Tom Sawyer quality to your ECs and might have the makings of a really great essay. ("How I Mastered My fear of Getting Hurt--or even worse, Looking Like a Complete Loser--by Learning to Box")

By Staticsoliloquy (Staticsoliloquy) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 06:05 pm: Edit

i agree with susu. You don't want to present yourself as an one-dimensional applicant

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 06:15 pm: Edit

Like i told you sherwin do badmittion

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 03:02 pm: Edit

That's true, I shouldn't present myself as one-dimensional.

By Pharaohl97 (Pharaohl97) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 08:34 pm: Edit

A well-rounded student is very important to MIT. They think, and are right in doing so, that well-roundedness makes for a better scientist.

Too many scientist today are just pure science and nothing more but science. They are boring to talk to, because all they want to talk about is their research, they have no people skills,and the whole communication process is just horrid.

The whole thing is, how can a scientist appeal to a dumb-old-rich foogie for a grant if he or she cant even identify with humans?

Just being brilliant in science and math is not enough. You need to show you have an understanding, appreciation, and passion for doing things more than science.

You are a full-fledge human being, show MIT that!

By Dasweepa (Dasweepa) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 09:57 pm: Edit

Go to any college and graduate. The NSA would drool for you (they are in dire need of people who speak farsi and other middle eastern languages).

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:30 am: Edit

agent sherwin.... porbably not.... agent quartermaster sherwin possibly

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 02:56 am: Edit

Well, hopefully the fact that I will have taught the children at my mosque things for two years and that I will have completed four years of Model United Nations will serve as some example that I do indeed posess people skills. I also believe that my recommendations will highlight this to some extent. However, I do agree that I have not found myself as having any true talent or passion for the traditional arts (except for maybe film, I make movies in some of my free time, so maybe I can see if I can play around with that a little bit). Anyhow, thank you for all the advice, and please keep it coming. As for using my knowledge of farsi and middle easter languages, I do not know if that would truly be my passion.

By Pharaohl97 (Pharaohl97) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:17 pm: Edit

Wow sherin, you really have everything in the bag it seems. You are a very well-rounded individuals. Lots of things about your character are going to be looked upon favorly by colleges.

I really think that all the "stats" talk flying around this messageboard hinders more than it helps. Colleges know that standardized test are hardly standardized. They don't mean as much as they used to mean.

I really think the most important things are EC (well roundedness), passion, and grades. I consider community service, clubs, and all that jazz ECs. Grades show what you can do when provided with time to work. Standardized test dont do that.

So. concentrate on being the best student you can be, the best person you can be, and you
should be more than fine. :-)

Remember to make sure you choose your words carefully in your essay also. The fun thing about writing is that you can make ANYONE see things your way. Make them see just the kind of person you are and how valuable you will be to the school(s). Also, if you have a weak spot in your application, make sure you whipe it out of their mind. Like make one or two notes about it in your essay and why you feel that it isn't important in your situation. I had to do that in regards to my lower SAT when I applied for RSI. Fortunately they saw it my way.

Hope that helps!

PS-I may not have internet access for the next few days so I will try and reply to whatever you say after...unless i can find a computer.

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:27 pm: Edit

What about weak spots *not* in my application. I shouldn't mention those at all, huh? heheh

Pharaohl97, thanks a lot for the encouragement. Do you think my humanities related ECs (I'm pretty involved in MUN, have a high position in a club geared toward English Second Language kids, and have won some "small awards" and teach theology every other week at my mosque) will counter my lack of involvement with the traditional arts and athletics?

The one thing I am worried about however, is that I cannot recall one single event that had a huge impact on my life, yet of course there have been many people, conditions, or series of events that have greatly molded me into who I am. Yet, for those essays that you are required to discuss a single event, I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with it (general advice, I know one really knows my life), should I make some event bigger than it really was?

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:39 pm: Edit

maby you should mention the time when you told the what is the frech club/international club speach. hey you won both elections without even being a popular canadate.

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:49 pm: Edit

Yeah shouting historically suggestive, vitality-filled, vigorous words, at the top of your lungs does help. It felt pretty good, but then they didn't even let me stay as a french club officer because I wasn't taking french at high school due to a schedule conflict.

Additional advice will be appreciated.

By Modestmouse (Modestmouse) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 04:55 pm: Edit

Sherwin, I think the deciding factor in admitting you are not for the adcom will be your essays. If those are awesome, I don't see why not at any of those schools!

Hey Socalnick, your website is hilarrrrriouss!

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:05 pm: Edit


By Bubbloy (Bubbloy) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:24 pm: Edit

i definitely have almost maxed out ecs, going to isef, intels for next yr in math and chemistry, vp mat, math contests, blah blah, summer research programs in terms of math/sci but i also street and trail ride bmx and freestyle ski a lot. would it be worth it to note these as a sport.

By Bubbloy (Bubbloy) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:25 pm: Edit


By Bubbloy (Bubbloy) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:25 pm: Edit


By Jsberting (Jsberting) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:29 pm: Edit

quality not quantity... bub.

By Bubbloy (Bubbloy) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:32 pm: Edit

double post again i dunno what's gotten into me

By Bubbloy (Bubbloy) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:34 pm: Edit

I double post

By Bubbloy (Bubbloy) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 06:44 pm: Edit

I didn't feel like listing it out but.

Won LISEF, ISEF Regional /500 NY projects.
company and government awards at LISEF.
Lab of RNA Molecular Biology-Research Position
Invited to present work at Bayer aspirin company.
Mu Alpha Theta` Vice President
Newspaper section editor
mock trial
academic team
BC Calculus, Linear Algebra, Probability and Statistics, AP Chemistry, AP Physics B, AP English, AP US History, Math Research.
Work with a mathematician from the bell labs in nj.
taking multivariable, topology, differential equations at a college senior and self study ap comp sci and physics c.

I was just worried about my not having played a school sanctioned sport

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 07:20 pm: Edit

Wow, if you've been prolific in your research, you've accomplished quite a substantial amount, bubbloy. On the other hand, some of your advanced classes certainly speak for themself. I for one don't know many high school students taking topology. And if your own "hobby sports" are something you have a passion for then maybe you can discuss those

Modestmouse, I'll try as to start on those essays as soon as one of these schools get their prompts up, and thanks for the encouragement.

As always, advice is certainly welcome.

By Bubbloy (Bubbloy) on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 12:12 am: Edit

Also, through my mentor, i have been assigned to write a review article for Nature: Drug Discovery or Nature: Biotechnology

By Bubbloy (Bubbloy) on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 12:12 am: Edit

Also, through my mentor, i have been assigned to write a review article for Nature: Drug Discovery or Nature: Biotechnology

By Kousuke (Kousuke) on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 01:05 am: Edit

your school offers too many honors, its unfair, sophmore year i maxed at 3 because we didnt offer "honors" chem 1, or "honors" history, i guess im out of luck...

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 02:06 am: Edit

Kousuke, hopefully whatever colleges and universities you apply to will take note of this. You can also try taking classes at community colleges, they're free for public school students (at least they are here in California, but you still have to pay for the pricy books).

Good luck.

If there be need that I say this again: I am still welcoming advice coming in my direction.

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 07:49 pm: Edit

sherwin you should go to saddleback why because you should

By Pharaohl97 (Pharaohl97) on Friday, April 16, 2004 - 08:36 pm: Edit

Well, colleges don;t judge you soley on the courses you take. They judge you on the courses you take in relation to what your school offers. It really isn't fair to judge the prep school guy against the ubran public school guy. That would create an unfair static aristocratic class sytem of priviledge. We don't want that in the land of opportunity.

If you take only 3 honors because thats all you are offered, you will be fine. Its the kids who are offered 30 honors/ap and only take 2 who are not looked upon favorably.

What really impresses colleges is when you go to a crappy school but you teach yourself and research on your own. They see you as someone who can take matters into his/her own hands. Very valuable quality.

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 08:41 pm: Edit

That's very true, Pharaohl97.

Other advice?

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 09:23 pm: Edit

i dont think that applies to sherwin, the school is running out of honors classes for him to take

By Pharaohl97 (Pharaohl97) on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 09:29 pm: Edit

My only other advice and I scream it at the top of my lungs


I think if you just work as hard as you can doing what you love you will be fine. Admissions isn't about how fake you can make yourself or what you can do to impress the comittee. Its about showing them that you are someone willing to work as hard as you can to learn.

I suggest that anything you are passionate about you work your a** off at doing. You learn everything about it. Do what makes you happy! They can tell when you write an essay about something that you really dont care about but only did for college.

They love to read the essay, and actually it makes you stand out among the sea of nearly identical paperwork, when you talk about doing something and being good at somethign you absolutely love.

My only real advice is to do what makes you happy. Have fun with it, enjoy it, learn from it! Your passion to learn is worth way more than a few pissy test scores.

They want cool kids with great personality who are willing to work for what they want-show them that person-show them yourself!

No tricks

This is all that I can really suggest. Its the most you can do.

By Sherwin (Sherwin) on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 01:48 pm: Edit


By Tenniscraze (Tenniscraze) on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 01:06 am: Edit

But again how would they even know if the school is crappy or not??? esp. if you're in an international school

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 04:45 pm: Edit

I think there is a school resume with your transcript when it is sent to the college.

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