I am currently a grade 11 student in Canada. I have a 4.0 GPA and am planning to write my SAT in May or June. I have 6 AP courses that I am taking. Here is a list of my extracurriculars:
- I am the team lead of my school's internationally competing FRC robotics team. My passion is in engineering, mechanical engineering specifically, and I have multiple small robotics projects I have worked on over the last couple years
- I was a provincial level swimmer up until I had an injury that put me out of the sport, but after 2 years I was healed and competed at the city level with my school's team.
- I am currently part of the AI Ambassador Program with Inspirit AI run by MIT and Stanford, and have partnered with the program and introduced it to my school, where I co-founded the AI club.
- I volunteer to teach young children swim lessons weekly
- I shadow a family doctor weekly
I would like to know what I could and should be doing for the rest of the year to really help my increase my chances into an Ivy league school, as well as others. What activities or other things should I do, and how can I stick out as an applicant to admissions officers? Currently, I am looking to apply to Stanford, MIT, Princeton, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Duke.
Things I would consider doing as an Int'l student to amplify my chances of getting into a T20 school.
-Score a 1550/35 SAT or ACT
-Show evidence that I slayed my APs by getting 5s and 4s wherever possible. 6 APs is on the very low scale for those schools. 9-11 is the sweet spot with a 4.5 AP average at least on 1/2 your APs.
-Write the very best essays possible and hire an essay consultant if possible.
-Curate the very best recommendations possible and start on solidifying your personal relationships with those who are your recommenders immediately
-Explore more Intellectual Vitality activities which are things you do on your own outside of school. They can intersect with ECs but not necessarily so. (Internships, supervised research, college course in subjects not offered in your HS, sharing your passion for this subject matter in blogs, vlogs, and social media)
-Re-Assess your ECs and make sure every one of them helps paint the picture that you want to present to AOs. Cut the ECs that are not memorable or compelling.
-Show activities that reveal you are a real person, not a robot or not typical of your demographic. Why? Because AOs do not find Asian Intl students who do robotics or study AI memorable or interesting. You are the common denominator and not the exception. If you are Asian guy/gal/them who leads an electro-punk band and has 100K streams on or started your own clothing line with sustainable materials that were also gadget friendly like having built in chargers, USB-C plug, speakers, etc, now that would be memorable and compelling but most teen kids are only thinking of doing ECs that every other teen is doing which makes your ECs like a cookie cutter compared to other Asians Int'l applicants. But if you are the electro-punk kid who makes functional streetwear, then you are unique and interesting.
-And if you have run out of runway to make your application the most interesting and compelling, then I highly suggest you ask your parents if you can take a GAP year and do a Post Grad program at a Top Private boarding school and apply the cycle after. To many Int'l students just cram and grind their college applications and 95% of them do not get into top schools because they didn't understand the rules until it was too late. If you really want to compete with the admits who get into T10-20 schools you have to be unique, special, and compelling and work your narrative 4, 5 6 years in advance of applying. Some of these kids have had academic consultants from Pre-School. for 13 years already.
So be a contrarion.
From what I hear, the most important things you can do to stand out are writing really good essays + excellent recommendation letters and showing more interest/progress in one of your extracurriculars. Most people will come off as 'well-rounded,' with high grades, test scores, course loads, and a ton of extracurriculars. If you can show that you put more time and effort into one of the activities that you're especially passionate about, admissions officers will be able to see that there's something you love to do that makes you unique and interesting. Try to get an SAT score in the average range for the schools you're applying to, and start asking your teachers for recommendation letters if you haven't already.
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