Seeking Undergraduate Admissions Information.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Gutwrench, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Gutwrench Contributor


    Jan 2, 2011
    What are some of the top undergraduate schools looking for in admissions?

    Our daughter has her eye on a few specific schools (MIT, John Hopkins, Stanford) with expectations for graduate school but we genuinely don't know what they are looking for. She has an excellent GPA, her ACT is excellent, and her last 9 SAT practice exams have been outstanding -- but everyone's score competing for those schools are excellent. I suspect they aren't looking at merely grades. Are they looking for a solid resume that includes community service and leadership?

    Anyone willing to share any experience or thoughts I'd be most appreciative.
  2. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
  3. MICHAELSD macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    They want her to stand out. Try to make the essay memorable. Keep in mind what other students in her position will be writing and do a complete 180.

    What's her SAT practice score? I broke 2k on multiple official SAT practice tests but managed less on the actual SAT.
  4. Gutwrench thread starter Contributor


    Jan 2, 2011
    Ha ha, I thought that but I'm a little fish in a big pond.

    Thank you. The essays are hard to deal with on the practice exams. We graded them basically 4/6. She's taken nine practice exams and her range is 2200 - 2300 mostly falling around 2250 with her first being the lowest at < 2000. We have three actual exams but has only taken two (low 2200's) saving the last one for the day before the actual test.

    Do you mind telling me where you applied, which you decided on, and what field you studied? Also, do you know if any preference is given to an undergrad for graduate work at the same school? That was the case at the Big Ten school I attended many years ago but don't know if that's the case now. It'll be part of our research.
  5. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
  6. MICHAELSD macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    Don't worry about the SAT essay. I was referring to the college essays. For the SAT essay you'll get 4/6-5/6 basically just for filling up the entire two pages. I know people that can't write whatsoever and still receive 4/6. Each essay gets under sixty seconds of individual time. Just make the beginning and conclusion quality work and rush the rest to fill up both pages.

    I'd expect around 2000 on the test in that case. I recall my highest score being over 2000 (2100?) on a practice test but I still got 1800 on the SAT.

    I only applied to Syracuse, which I was denied admission to since my high school didn't send necessary papers in time for consideration. I'm only a freshman in community college since I decided to stay home for the first year or two, then I'm considering a program at Harvard.

    I did receive two generous scholarships from schools I didn't apply to based on SAT scores alone.

    Not sure about graduate work though but I'd assume so.
  7. jav6454, Jan 2, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 7, 2014

    jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    My word of advice, concentrate on the Math and Reading sections. The Writing section is such a cluster ****.

    Try to hit 1600 in Math & Reading.

    Like others have stated, make that admissions essay very memorable. Nothing fancy, but something they'll remember.
  8. Gutwrench thread starter Contributor


    Jan 2, 2011
    Thanks to everyone.

    balamw, we made a trip to New England last summer and visited Harvard, Yale, and MIT and attended brief seminars on this subject. I don't feel those seminars were as helpful as the video you linked in, so thank you very much. While there aren't specific answers to my question (except maybe that there is no answer) it was informative to hear the speakers talk and get a glimpse into the process and the way they think. I believe it was the BU head who made the poignant point that college entrance may be the first experience where a student may do everything right and still not get what they want. And while it may be tough to swallow that experience and process is still 'right.'

    The Lexington principal made some very thoughtful points as well.
  9. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    Getting into a good school is like trying to get a dream job.
    Just because your dream job is working at Apple and you've done everything humanly possible to get a job there (went to MIT for computer science, multiple publications and authored programs on the App Store) you still might not get the job.

    What she should focus on is getting into a good school period and being happy with getting the best admission she could get for her statistics and scores. Thousands upon thousands of students apply to those schools and get rejected, why does your daughter deserve to get in over them?

    The answer: she doesn't. And that's the harsh reality you have to accept as a parent. I'm not saying your daughter isn't fantastic, she sounds like she is and I'm sure she is a gem.

    But your duty as her parent in this situation is to make sure she gets somewhere good enough.

    My friend maxed his SAT, had a 4.93 in a competitive school. He was the #1 student in our high school. He got rejected by Harvard and Yale, got accepted to Cornell, UCLA, got rejected for Berkeley and even by Carnegie Melon. I was very surprised by his admissions. On the flip side, another friend of ours submitted a music video he made where he highlighted the type of person he was. It was basically a video blog showing the things he dealt with on a daily basis, his mother having dementia, his father being an alcoholic. It was highly dramatized. On the flip side, his GPA was around a 2.7 and his SAT was around a 1600-1700 TOTAL. He got accepted to Cal and Princeton. WHAT?! And no he wasn't a "minority".

    I got into UC San Diego but I considered it a guaranteed admission based on the department's "okay" to me and the admissions department basically saying I shouldn't worry.

    What you should do:
    Take the top 30 schools in the country and apply to as many of them as you can afford to from top to bottom. Apply to: All the Ivy League schools, Stanford, UCLA, UCB, Notre Dame, Cal Tech, Georgia Tech, Washington University in St. Louis. All the colleges that have high rank and a very upscale college experience. She might not get into Harvard or Yale, but if she gets into Cornell or Cal Tech or Berkeley, that's NOTHING to be ashamed of.

    And yes, her personal statement needs to be stellar. It needs to paint a picture of what makes her a special person. Maybe about a personal failure she experienced and how she turned it around. What she learned from that failure and how she conquers challenges today.

    Also, you mentioned graduate school. Your undergraduate degree doesn't mean much if you are already planning on going to graduate school. What matters is your undergraduate GPA, having research experience and to an extent, your GRE score. Getting into a good graduate school is a lot more systematic. It's almost ridiculous how much better it is to know your chances of graduate school versus undergraduate. You can practically predict your admissions for graduate school based on your stats. As long as she's in a top 30-40 school in the country, maintains above a 3.5 GPA in college with no or few W's and gets some research experience, she will get into a very good program for her Ph.D.

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