I’m an 11th grader in the Middle East. I can’t go to the US directly after school due to family reasons. I plan on studying Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics in an Egyptian University (I’m Egyptian) for a year (or two at most) and then transferring to top universities for engineering in the US like MIT, Caltech, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UPenn, or UChicago.
Currently, I have a perfect GPA and I’m still improving my SAT scores.
I’m starting extracurriculars this year but I’m not doing too much because I don’t know if it’ll help since I’m going to an Egyptian University (that doesn’t require extracurricular) first.
I really need to know what the requirements and chances are for a future transfer student with my descriptions to get into one of these top schools.
What should I be doing now?
What do they require?
How do I up my chances of getting in?
What are the requirements for a transfer student?
Transfer admissions tends to be less competitve than undergraduate admissions. For a long time, if you got rejected by a Top 20 school people would say you should just apply as a Transfer to get in. Transfer Admissions tend to be easier than regular admissions since you don't have to submit a lot of stuff. Schools such as UCLA even have gateways where as long as you keep a high enough GPA and take the required classes, you are guaranteed admission to the California public college system. But that is only one example. Many colleges have different ways of reviewing transfer students.
Most of the time when people transfer, they do so from Community Colleges. Since CCs tend to be cheaper than going to college, so they go to fulfill General Requirements. I'd focus on fulfilling those while at the Egyptian University since it will help you.
As for right now, just focus on gaining admission to that college. When you finally get in, focus on your grades and on doing activities that are on your major such as research or student groups. These will up your acceptance chances. But just keeping your GPA up will be more than enough.
I'm going to start with some of the last questions first.
Here are the requirements for the 6 schools you mentioned.
The requirements are not very different for transfer students than incoming freshman, so if you look at these links you will know better what the requirements are:
https://mitadmissions.org/apply/transfer/transfer-eligibility/ (only admits transfers who have complete 2-5 semesters of college prior to starting).
https://www.admissions.caltech.edu/apply/transfer-applicants ( Must take 2 entrance exams have taken these courses: Calculus of One and Several Variables, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics, Classical Mechanics and Electromagnetism, Waves, Quantum Mechanics, and Statistical Physics)
https://admission.ucla.edu/apply/transfer (must complete at least 60 credit hours)
https://admissions.berkeley.edu/transfer-requirements (must complete 60 credit hours)
https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/apply/transfer-applicants (regardless of how many courses you have taken, you have to enroll in 2 full years and take the core curriculum as well)
Admit Rates for Transfer Students (keep in mind that these are from last year so this year will be harder, and next year harder still).
MIT - 4.28% overall, (international students have a 3% admit rate)
UCLA Samueli School of Engineering - 15%
UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering - 6.7%
UPenn - 5.9%
I do not agree with the other respondent's answer because the school you have mentioned are extremely competitive for Electrical Engineering. For instance, more than 112,000 high school students have applied for a spot in the University of California, Berkeley’s fall 2021 freshman class, an all-time record high. A total of 112,821 freshman applications were submitted, a 28% increase, compared to applications for fall 2020. So if the pool size went up 28%, then we know that the Electrical Engineering admit rate is going to be like 5% this year.
My recommendation to you is counter-intuitive because I truly feel that if you are applying as an International Student and a Transfer Student you have a double disadvantage versus US Students. The respondent gave you some advice but I wouldn't follow it nor rely on it. It's more applicable for US Students who say going to transfer from Santa Monica community college to UCLA in the same public UC system. I recommend that you do not enroll in an Egyptian University because you do not know with any certainty if any of those courses you take would be considered equivalent coursework for such top schools. You are taking a huge risk, and if you commit 2 years to Egypt and apply and find out that maybe they'll take 10%-15% of your classes, then you will have wasted a lot of time and effort.
If I were you I would enroll in an ONLINE American High School as an HS Transfer Student and take all the AP Classes, or IB Classes that many of the successful admit of these colleges take before applying. Stanford is clearly the best online school and very hard to get into. The next 2 or 3 are really good. And if you are on a budget, I would consider St. Demetrios in Astoria, NY which is only $8500 tuition versus $25000-$40000 for the other schools.
So I would go to an American online school for 12th grade and then if you still need to do more coursework, I would either take online college courses to make up the missing transfer requirements to MIT or Caltech. If you are permitted to travel, another option is taking a PG Post Graduate year at a Boarding School which is technically the 13th grade of High School. That is very popular here in the US for smart kids who want to get into the best colleges. So if you know that the best school you can get into is say a Public University like UMich or UCLA but you want to go to an IVY league college, you might take a gap year and attend a boarding school as a PG student and take more college prep courses and use that time to get better ECs Extracurriculars and get higher SAT/ACT test scores.
If you have either a US high school diploma or a PG diploma, high test scores, and lots of APs or IB coursework and high test scores, and better ECs, you will have a better chance to get into these schools versus attending an Egyptian college and applying as a transfer student. One thing I didn't talk about is that you will be able to communicate better in oral and written English which is a pre-requisite for applying. MIT/Caltech/UPenn etc expect you to have 100 scores on the TOEFL or a 7.5 on the IELTS exams. If you consider doing online American schools, you will be better prepared for your English exams and your interview when that comes up.
Good luck in your future EE career, I hope this was helpful.
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