US College Applications

About group

We have created this group after seeing a number of questions from both US and foreign students about US college application process. Our goal is to help college bound students navigate relatively complex college admission process by directing them to the right resources and having related discussions here on RoundPier. RoundPier community is about sharing ideas and learning from one another - we hope that those who have successfully navigated this process can share their insight and help others. Members of our team have attended leading universities in the US and Europe and would be happy to share their experience.


I think this has been asked before but was wondering what number of colleges do you recommend to apply to?
1 day ago
To synthesize the points offered by numerous admissions counselors who has visited my school, and my own points which have become quite apparent during my own college journey:
The number depends on your academic prowess and your confidence about “safety schools”. The answer I’m sure you will hear or (have heard already) is the 2-2-2 rule. 2 safeties, 2 good fits, and 2 reach schools. I think there is some strength to it, and I have friends who have abided by this rule as their personal Bible, but there are changes to this rule that have to take place for some students. As such, my personal model has been 1-2-3. Get a safety school in there (safety meaning you KNOW you will get in). Get two good fits (you have to consult with your own counselors and parents and friends to see what these are). Finally, get three reach schools. Reach schools aren’t schools so far out of your league that you will never be able to get in. These should be schools where your chances are below 50%, but hopefully not schools where your chances are ~1% (although I know of schools that have those rates no matter how strong of an applicant you are).
The main point to take away from this is simple- no formula will ever be perfect. If you have 7 reach schools and one safety, you are doing yourself a disfavor. If you flip those numbers around, you are wasting money and time. Find a balance (whatever that means for you).
Hope this helped to some extent!

Ps: If you’d like to discuss college applications on a one-to-one basis, you can send me a private message. I can also review college essays if you need someone to look at them, though that can be discussed “in private.”
1 day ago
For international students it has to be more than 6 imo. But you do need a few back up schools at home or elsewhere.
22 hours ago
School application strategies can depend on your goals and what type of school you'd like to attend: finances, the caliber/selectivity of your ideal school(s), and how many options you'd like to have at the end of the application process all play a factor in determining the right amount of schools to apply to. The most important part of your school list is finding a solid group of safeties that you would be 100% okay with attending if they were your only option. Targets/reaches can be easy to add on, but finding safety schools that are genuinely interesting to you will make sure that you have options regardless of what happens!
Which college would be best for major in engineering physics, study Medicine and minor in robotics
1 week ago
Hi Jamila

There are many schools that offer engineering and physics as well as medicine. Robotics is a rare undergraduate major and is typically graduate coursework although some universities undergraduate robotics classes. If you want to pursue medicine and become a doctor then you should look at some pre-med programs. But it seems that based on your interests you may want to check out biomed engineering programs in which case have a look at these posts

www.roundp... reparation

www.roundp... /view/7800

RP Team
1 week ago
Don't worry about robotics at the moment focus on general engineering. And yes biomed engineering sounds a good option.
Which schools do you recommend for an international student who is unlikely to qualify for financial aid? I am interested in top 30 schools in the US and have options elsewhere. I would like to major in something business related. Thanks!
2 weeks ago
Any need-aware school will be great.
You may consider UChicago for example
Importance of Extracurricular activities:

As early decision and regular decision application are coming close, I want to write this note about extracurricular activities. As I'm seeing below some people worry that they don't have as "impressive" extracurricular as compared to their peers. 2 things I want to make it clear at first:

- if you're senior and already applying to colleges, THERE IS NO POINT of worrying or stressing about it right now. Honestly, what can you do right now? The only thing you can do is be honest and optimistic, and list down all the extracurricular that you've done. PERIOD.

- if you are junior or below grade, you better start thinking about the type of activities that'd make your application look standout. Now here is the tricky part. Those activities don't necessarily have to be founding a club or going to Mexico to work on international internship. It could be as simple as being a captain team of your soccer club or working in starbucks to support your family financially. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't stretch your limits and try to go beyond what you've done right now. Don't compare yourself to others. DON'T COMPETE WITH OTHERS. "COMPETE WITH YOURSELF". I'm quoting one of my favorite speakers, Simon Sinek here. What he means by this beautiful phrase is that, try to outdo yourself incrementally. In your context, find out the clubs that you really have passion to participate in and put an effort to rise up to leadership positions, if you can. If you're a team member in a club this year, compete with yourself and try to become a organizer or coordinator or even co-chair of that club next year.
Last thing, "which clubs you wanna attend for college" should be phrased as "what do you have passion for". Of course, you might not have passion for every club you attend but make sure that what you put effort comes at least interesting to you. Don't think about college, think about your interests.

Hope that clears things up and good luck in your applications.
Let me know below the comments section, if you have any particular questions.
2 weeks ago
@Brian. This is a good question. I don't know about non-US colleges, but most prestigious American colleges do look at your circumstances and assess your accomplishments in your own circumstances. That being said, if you've grown up in a rural part of X country only with a soccer club in your school, then you obviously won't be compared to someone who've grown up in urban Boston with full list of extracurriculars. In fact, I've heard that Harvard has accepted someone from Y country who hasn't even taken SAT because SAT weren't conducted in that country. Look as long as you do compete with yourself and try to achieve more than what you can, that'd be it. Even if you had only one soccer club in your school, and you've started another debate club so that you could address students' needs (as opposed to show off in college application) then you'd be a really impressive, standout applicant even relative to other applicants have done tens of ECs.
2 weeks ago
Thanks for this!
2 weeks ago
Thank you!
Hi there ! So I have worked for a hotel as an internship for about 3 months now and also been a volunteer for a orphanage for also 3 months .But a problem is my major is Computer Science and some of my friends told me that these activities are not relevant to computer so I shouldn't mention those .Is it true ? Should I mention these things in my application ?
2 weeks ago
You should definitely mention them.
2 weeks ago
Are you applying this year? If so, it's likely too late to make any major changes to your extracurricular activities, considering that early apps are due in less than a week.

Leadership positions can show a deeper level of commitment in an activity, yes. But any activities that you've spent significant time on are important and should be mentioned on the application.
2 weeks ago
I am actually taking a gap year ,but I don't know how to get leadership positions right now .I don't actually have any ideas for starting a club or founding an organization.So what should I do to right now ?

P/S: And again , thank you very much for all your answers !
Some relevant comments for international student here

www.scmp.c... e=3ee6eee6
Hello everyone, I was wondering if anyone here has any useful tips for NYUAD's admission? I am planning to apply for early admission 2
3 weeks ago
I head they are trying to have a really diverse student body so showing that you are interested in variety of things is probably helpful. Essays seem to be important too as is the case at most top schools
A lot of second tier public colleges provide significant aid for international students. I'd advise you to look into those.
For example, UT Dallas has a scholarship that covers all tuition fees + 3k per semester and international students are eligible.
Similar universities would be University of Nebraska Lincoln and UT Tyler.
3 weeks ago
thanks this is very helpful! i didnt realise UT Dallas has anything for international students
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago
Do you know of other full-ride or near full-ride scholarships?
Hi guys, I am thinking about taking a gap year .Is this a disadvantage and if yes, what should I do ?
3 weeks ago
Hi An - we have seen a few gap year students and some success stories! It is difficult to say whether or not gap year helps but you should definitely know what you are going to do during this year. The last thing you want to do is waste a year of your life. So make a plan and it better be more than just filling out college applications...
3 weeks ago
I am thinking about it too but just more to enjoy some time off
Is the University of Rochester good for Engineering?
Approximately 30% of their class is international and they provide significant merit scholarships to international students.
3 weeks ago
@Kristen do they actually keep track of this?
3 weeks ago
@Brian University of Rochester specifically extremely cares about demonstrated interest.
I know someone who got rejected from there and got into MIT.
2 weeks ago
Yes, schools keep track of demonstrated interest. There are even some mail tracking softwares that certain college use to see if you open their emails and click on links.

For schools that don't weight demonstrated interest in the application process, demonstrating interest shouldn't be much of a concern; for those that do, however, it is a part of your file and can affect your likelihood of admission. You can check a school's Common Data set to see if demonstrated interest is considered in the admissions process.
Hi guys ! I am a student from VietNam and I am planning to study in the US.My question is what I should do in order to increase my chance of a full-ride scholarship ? This is what I got so far :
1.1520 SAT
2.780 in SAT Math II and 780 in SAT biology
3.90% GPA in my school
4.99 Toelf

About my activities :
-I have made some small computer apps for my school
- I am currently working for two non-profit organization in my country : one is about environment and one is about science

So I don't really know what I should do next ? Do I need to increase my activities ? Do I need to take AP exams or do I need to focus more on something else?
3 weeks ago
I am actually in grade 12 but I am thinking about taking a gap year , my GPA is about top 5 or even higher in my class and we don't have any APs courses in my school so if I take APs ,does it increase my chance ?
3 weeks ago
At this stage there is no point wasting time on AP classes especially since your school doesn't offer it. You have very good SAT II scores. It is all about picking the right schools now and applying to as many as possible. Top 20 schools are very unpredictable but have a look at this list of colleges that are most generous for international students here.
3 weeks ago
I'd advise you to start your application as soon as possible because the deadlines are close.
What do you think of Minerva Schools KGI?
4 weeks ago
I have done some research on it. It is a unique place but reviews are mixed. I also couldn't find what options they have after graduation. Here are a couple of good posts on Quora www.quora.... ols-at-KGI
4 weeks ago
Is it really that hard? And what kind of exam do they give you when you are applying?
4 weeks ago
Acceptance rate is lower than most of the top schools
I have made some small computer apps for my school .They are not something big but these apps does help to reduce the work my teachers have to do. So I wonder if I should include this in my college application ?
1 month ago
By the way , I just want to to add a few details about some of my apps .Basically , these apps are able to gather students'information (their name,national award,scores,...) from excel files and then use these information for different purposes (each of my apps has their own mission) .So I don't know if these apps are complicated and "great" enough to be included in my college application
P/S: Thank you very very much for the answers !
1 month ago
Hi An - this is more than most of the students will do during their academic careers. If you have built a project that has been used by the school it is an excellent example to show the depth of your experience and passion for technology. Unless you have 5-7 other more impressive activities this is definitely something that is worth mentioning and explaining how your school benefits from the work you have done.
4 weeks ago
Definitely include it!
Here is common app question from another group we have - see if you guys can provide some feedback www.roundp... evelopment
Hi guys :) I need some (a lot actually lol) help. Do colleges consider your unweighted GPA (and average) or weighted? If so, what would a weighted GPA of 4.0 be considered unweighted? And what would a weighted average of 94 be? Do they really consider these aspects of “weight”?
1 month ago
Hi Jared - it depends on your school's weighting system. See what the premium is for honors/AP classes your school has and you can calculate it. They look at both weighted and unweighted (many schools dont report weighted GPA) and the level of classes you have taken.
1 month ago
They basically look at the classes and grades rather than just gpa - if you have 94 out of 100 and that includes a mix of AP and honors it is a great result
ED or not to ED? Comments please
1 month ago
It is better to ED if you want to increase your chances but you can't compare financial aid offers, that's why I am applying EA not ED.
1 month ago
But if you don't you become desperate and start getting paranoid about RD or this this just the feeling I get? And what if I do but can't afford it, can I still get out of the contract?
1 month ago
Yes you can if the financial aid package doesn't suit you
Does having someone from your country accepted at the university last year decrease your chances of admission? (If the university didn't admit students from your country before)
1 month ago
Which category does Rice University fall in?
1 month ago
*Sohbet ;)
1 month ago
Rice has lots of intl students I doubt anyone will tell you if they will reject students based on someone else attending the school a year before
Will Dartmouth become need-blind again?
news.dartm... -call-lead
What is your advises when writing the main personal essay?
I have no problem with the supplements because they are mostly straightforward and short, but the main one is too broad.
What is your advice about where to apply in the early round? Is it better to apply for a highly selective school or a less selective one?
On the supplement essays, is it okay if you miss the word limit by a few words, say 8 or 9?
1 month ago
Thanks for your advice, I also didn't like the idea of a binding decision.
1 month ago
So now, I plan on applying to Yale SCEA, MIT, Vanderbilt, Swarthmore, Dartmouth, NYUAD. Do you have any other suggestions to add to my list?
The problem with 3-2 programs is that there isn't financial aid available at the partner university, so I will have to apply only to universities that have an Engineering department.
I have safeties in Egypt and in Malaysia.
1 month ago
If you are aiming for top schools we suggest to add UPenn. We have seen at least one international success story here on RoundPier in the previous admission round (www.roundp... .machaidze ) and while it doesn't mean anything for the next year it is still a large school with sizable international student representation.
Hello, I am a senior in high school located in California. I am currently in the midst of doing my college applications but I seem to be having trouble on my uc personal statements. I understand colleges don't want to hear a full on sob story, but at the same time they'd like to hear about obstacles that I've overcome. I have my fair share of obstacles, but i was wondering if anyone had any advice on finding a balance between boasting and being humble at the same time on the uc personal statements?
1 month ago
I haven’t started writing college essays but I think if you focus on how you’ve overcome the obstacles and learned or improved from them it won’t sound much as a sob story. Opening up like most wouldn’t ( maybe about mental issues) doesn’t sound bad to me as long as you focus on what good came out of it.
1 month ago
Hi Benson - agree with Faith. All about how you present this and "lessons learnt" that shaped you as a person/student. You also need to realize that there are many students out there overcoming obstacles so try to make the story about your personal growth rather than focus on things that distracted you from this. If you are talking about personal insights questions make sure to choose the questions that relate to you and where you can add your accomplishments. Finally, try to make it memorable and fun.
1 month ago
Memorable is key imo. This is true for any college essay