2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Is my profile good enough?

I am a junior at high school student in India and I'm planning to major in Economics at the top colleges in the US (Ivy leagues, Stanford, etc). Is my profile good enough and what improvements can I make?


SAT: 1550 (I'm planning to retake it)

ACT: 33

SAT Subject Tests: Math II - 800, Chemistry - 760

Cambridge International IGCSE (10th Grade) - A, A, A, A, A, A (with A being the highest grade: > 90 percent)

AP (I self learnt all of them, because my school doesn't offer any): Calc AB: 5, Calc BC: 4, Microeconomics: 4

TOEFL/IELTS (yet to take)

Extra Curriculars:

1) Leadership: Head Boy of my school - helped organise annual day, sports day and play an active role in the Student Council

2) Community Service: I tutor poor children from the slums in Math and English (5hrs per week)

3) Interest/Hobby: I have a blog about Economics where I give my opinion on current world issues and I have also submitted a research paper

4) Leadership/Volunteer: I'm the President of the Leo Club at school - I have organised many volunteering campaigns and have more than 200 hrs of volunteering

5) Music: I have an ABRSM Grade in the guitar and I'm also part of my school's guitar ensemble

6) Sports: I'm on my school's football (soccer) and cricket team. I have played both at regional level and have many awards in cricket.

7) Employment: I have secured a book keeping internship at a local NGO

8) Summer: I have been accepted into a College-level summer program, where I will visit the college and take college-level courses at an Indian university

9) Interest: Represented my school at a regional level STEM competition and also won an award for it. I was also the semi finalist of an international STEM scholarship program.

10) Initiative: I'm planning to start a club at school or create an NGO addressing key economic and global issues.


Bursaries and Scholarships in STEM

Gold Certificates in National Mathematical Olympiads

Cricket (Best bowler,etc)

Many other certificates and medals in different fields


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Hi, for any elite university, you have met the threshold for all the checkboxes and are quite accomplished so good for you. But remember one thing, it's not a binary application process, it's not about stats and meeting the standard, it's all a grey holistic review. So while you have been working super hard and getting all these qualifications done, what they are going to look at besides a list of accomplishments is something you can't easily put on paper. At the top 10 schools, they are going to need something to judge your personal character, your intellectual vitality, your potential to contribute to the particular incoming Freshman class they are constructing as a portfolio and some sort of easy to use translation guide that allows them to take your ECs and place them in the following buckets: World Class competitor, National competitor, State competitor, Regional competitor, Local competitor. Someone taking a cursory look at your list of ECs will not intuitively know how good you are at any of those things in comparison to other Elite college applicants. Some say the hardest colleges to get into are Harvard and Stanford with less than 5% admit rate. At both these schools, the readers assign a numerical scale from 1 to 6 with 1 being the world-class top and 6 being a waste of time. Most admits have an average of 2+, 2, or 2-, and not too many 3s get in. So what I'm saying that whoever reads your application is human who is either having a good, avg. or bad day, and they are going to take all your info and essays (interviews), etc and transpose a numerical value on a single sheet of paper and tally it up and give you a final score and then take it to the committee and either let the committee decide or they are going to advocate for you. So the process is good but not perfect. There are things that you can do an there are things that are out of your control. For instance at Harvard, what we learned from the latest Law Suit brought against the Harvard College for potentially discriminating against Asian students which they were found innocent of, once an applicant meets the SAT standard of 1500 or ACT standard of 33, they have checked off the checkbox for Standardized tests. That means that if you have 1550, 1580, 1600, you are treated the same as someone submitting 1500. And if you have a 36, 35, 34, you are treated as someone who has a 33. So in that specific category, there is no reason to take the SAT or ACT again. But this is Harvard. If you are applying to MIT the 25/75% range is different and you have to make that choice on your own. So there is no hard and fast rule. Research your colleges first. Also, all these elite colleges are looking for interesting, genuine, quirky kids with either a major "spike" or "multiple smaller spikes" versus generalists, although nothing is wrong with being great at 10 things. So the admissions teams are building a portfolio of talent called the Freshman class out of the 45,000 applicants so sometimes having perfect stats has nothing to do with the exercise they are doing. They might come across a talented Ballerina who already dances in the Boston Ballet Company who is also designing her own "Pointe" shoes using 3-D printing techniques to make the shanks, and say "hmmm this is clever STEM girl who is has a spike in Dancing, let's bring her on". And so forth and so forth. Therefore, if you are reading between the lines of what I'm writing you still have time to develop and explain what your "spike" is. It's not the sum of the parts that will get you in necessarily, it's the quality of what they are tallying up on your final sheet and a story that makes the reader advocate for you. Good luck in your college admissions journey.

2 years ago

Re: whether or not this is "good enough", please use the chancing system — that's what it's there for. You may need to enter in a larger number for APs because your school doesn't offer any. (The system can't adjust based on what your school offers in the way that colleges will.) But all other elements of your profile should be accurately represented there.

From glancing at this re: improvements, at the point that your extracurriculars and academics are at, the most important thing for you to do moving forward will be to focus on essays. In terms of how important they are to the application process, they're about even with academics and ECs, and they need to be particularly strong if you're planning on applying to top schools in the US.

I should mention, for international students, ability to pay is also a huge factor in admissions. Outside of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and Amherst College, which are all "need-blind," being able to pay full price makes your chances significantly better, and needing financial aid will make admission significantly harder. I obviously don't know what your situation is so I can't say how it would affect you, but it's something to be aware of.


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