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How many universities should you apply to? And how do you choose backups?


lewelma
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DS may be considered in state for OH as that is where we vote out of.

 

<snip>

 

Do you own real estate in Ohio? Have any assets (bank accounts, etc.) there?  If not, you are probably not going to qualify for in-state. Each state and each school may have differing views about that.    Do you file an Ohio Income Tax Return with your U.S. Federal Tax Return?  What ties do you have to Ohio?

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I think generally lottery schools are lottery for the majority of people, but for kids like your son, they aren't really lotteries. If my kid were on a math Olympiad team, I would consider MIT somewhat of a certainty. I would also expect Odds for schools like Princeton to be 80/20 in my favor. So I guess what I am trying to say is he will most likely get to where he wants, but just in case go one step down (Emory? Georgetown? Not those in particular since I know nothing about math departments there, but schools in that league).

 

The NZ math olympiad team, while a great accomplishment, is not like being on the US math olympiad team.  It would be like being on the Louisiana math olympiad team.

 

A medal, on the other hand, would be equivalent :)

 

The IMO medal winner in our extended family indeed went to MIT (in the 80s!)  He is a math professor at Berkeley now.

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(I think your chances for Duke, as a legacy, are incredibly high, btw)

 

This is a good point.  Here is a discussion over at CC - indeed legacy is an advantage for Duke:

 

ED admit rate (overall): 23%

ED admit rate (legacy): 35%
 
RD admit rate (overall): 10%
RD admit rate (legacy): 16%
 
I don't know if the same poster's combined numbers were correct, 11% overall rate, 23% for legacy...still, 77% of legacies get rejected.
 
(I think building the college list is enough work for now; think about early admissions strategy later LOL - another can of worms)
Edited by wapiti
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Ruth what does your DS want to do after he gets a B.S. in Math?  Different schools do different things. On the list someone posted

 

 https://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/search?country=united-states&subject=mathematics&page=3

 

For example, I noticed Carnegie Mellon University.   I think they are big into Cyber Security and possibly also into Robotics (Uber cars, etc.) 

 

The things your DS might be interested in working with in industry, if he plans to go into industry after graduating, if they are things that the Research University he attends is involved in, will help him with contacts that may help his career.  If the Professors in his school have worked, recently, in industry, or are currently working,  or have ties, that is "Networking" and will help your DS when he looks for his first position(s).  

 

If he plans to go for a Ph.D. and go into the Academic world, that's another possible path for him.  

 

What are his end goals?

 

 

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I don't know if this would be helpful to you, but some families I know will use Prepscholar's stats assessment (one of several out there) to assess their admittance chances based on historical testing numbers and GPA. While I can't comment on how accurate it is...it at least gives you a place to start. What I did like is that there are suggestions of schools with similar profiles that they will suggest as options to consider that are reach, matches or safety schools. I seen my nephews and nieces who are currently or recently applying for college to try for 3-4 reach schools, 4-5 match schools and 2-3 safety schools. 

 

For example, http://www.prepscholar.com/sat/s/colleges/MIT-SAT-scores-GPA

Edited by calbear
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The NZ math olympiad team, while a great accomplishment, is not like being on the US math olympiad team.  It would be like being on the Louisiana math olympiad team.

 

A medal, on the other hand, would be equivalent :)

 

I know, right!  :001_smile:  He has a reasonable chance of getting a bronze as a junior and a silver as a senior, but admissions would not see his senior medal unless ds applies to attend 6 months *after* 12th grade, rather than 6 months *before*.  We are 6 months off, so kind of a pain. In American, ds achievement would be more equivalent to getting into the USA IMO training camp, given how well he is doing for his age, if that makes any sense.  In addition, most of the American IMO team are seniors, so very few American kids applying to universities would actually have been to the IMO when they apply, so the universities must be using scores on the USAMO instead. At the IMO, he did enjoy hanging out with the American team.  They played mafia together most nights and had debriefs after the exam each day.  DS was quite pleased that he got a problem that one of the American team members did not, especially given the 2 year age difference.  :001_smile:

 

Waterloo has 4 full ride plus living expenses scholarships for kids who can medal in the 11th grade.  So that medal this July is pretty valuable to ds.  I mentioned this to him and he did not much appreciate the extra pressure. :thumbdown:

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So are there no in-state options for the military kids or expats?  how sad. 

 

There are usually exceptions for military.

 

Depending on the state, expats may still be considered residents and required to file a state income tax return. In that case, they would likely be considered residents for college purposes as well.

But if the person does not file a state income tax return, I don't see why that person should be considered "in state" anywhere because they do not contribute to the state's tax revenue that finances the schools.

 

Here is an overview:

https://www.taxesforexpats.com/articles/expat-tax-rules/state-taxes-expat-tax-return.html

Edited by regentrude
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So are there no in-state options for the military kids or expats?  how sad. 

There are certain circumstances when Ohio State will consider a student "in-state" even if they are no longer living in Ohio. I don't know the specifics, but you may want to call OSU and see whether your son would qualify for in-state tuition.

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There are certain circumstances when Ohio State will consider a student "in-state" even if they are no longer living in Ohio. I don't know the specifics, but you may want to call OSU and see whether your son would qualify for in-state tuition.

 

Here is info, including info about various exceptions:

http://registrar.osu.edu/Residency/guidelines.asp

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"As for goals, this is a tough one.  He does not know.  He really needs to go to a university and try a bunch of really hard classes in a variety of mathematically related fields to find out."

 

I cannot even begin to tell you how horrible I believe it is that people need to decide on a career when they are so young.  My DD is taking Chemistry now and it is quite possible that she will go for a STEM career, but I have told her I don't want her to begin to think about that until after she has completed Physics.

 

With regard to your other post about Military families and Ex Pats. The Military Families have a Home of Residence. I can't remember what it is called. That's the State where they are considered to be residents of.  Like us, they vote under the "MOVE Act" law.  

 

If your DS makes contacts with some university and they should be interested in him, that IMO is a huge plus.  It's nice to be wanted and more apt to result in a "Full Ride" scholarship.

 

He will be attractive to them because he is from New Zealand and there are probably not  many people from New Zealand enrolled in any particular university in the USA. More in Canada.  Diversity...

 

If he has other things going on, top notch Soccer player, etc., that would be a plus for him.

 

There are just a huge number of great universities in the USA, where he might do very well and be far better off than if he actually got into MIT or some place like that. 

 

So, Carengie Mellon is into (I believe) Cyber Security and Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, if they are involved in the self-driving Uber Cars which are running around Pittsburgh PA. 

 

Other schools are involved in those things and others.  Tech is highly rated for Russian language which surprised me. One school is probably not going to excel in every possible Major, but a good solid school will give someone a solid education.

 

I just Googled my late Uncle. He got his B.S.E.E. from Purdue and his Ph.D. from Stanford. He was the youngest Full Professor of Electrical Engineering they'd had, when he became a Full Professor at Stanford.  I have a late colleague who got his B.S.E.E.  Degree from Purdue.  We have a neighbor down the street who got his B.S. in Chem E from Notre Dame. After my Uncle left Stanford, he became a V.P. of an Aerospace company and he taught part-time at Cal Tech.  My cousin, an eminent M.D. in his specialty, wrote me a couple of years ago, that he went with our Uncle, a couple of times, to classes at Cal Tech. My cousin said he (my cousin) was the only imbecile in the room. 

 

Why am I writing to you about my late Uncle? Because he told me, when I was about the age my DD is now (16) that he wished that instead of getting his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, that he had gotten a Ph.D. in Physics...   

 

Your son should (IMO) begin to think about what it is he would like to do for a living, when he is an adult and needs to work for 40 or 50 years. That's very hard to do, when someone is very young and has no experience working...

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A couple more thoughts after re-reading here:

 

I think it's okay to apply to as many elite programs as he has time for and you can afford.Do be aware that the application process is very time consuming. Essays vary from school to school, and there are other bits and pieces that take time to compile. He should definitely prioritize his applications, because he may lose steam as time goes on, and want to drop a few. If you are willing to act as his secretary, and fill in the objective parts of the apps (names, dates, and such), that will be helpful in the process. He should start writing his essays as soon as he knows the topics, during the summer (I suppose that is winter in NZ?)

 

Make sure he is very well versed in the nuances of the various schools and their programs. He should have good reasons for wanting to attend a specific school, beyond general reputation. He needs to know how the Harvard experience would differ from MIT and Princeton and U Chicago, and be able to express what he likes about each individual school in the essays.

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A couple more thoughts after re-reading here:

 

I think it's okay to apply to as many elite programs as he has time for and you can afford.Do be aware that the application process is very time consuming. Essays vary from school to school, and there are other bits and pieces that take time to compile. He should definitely prioritize his applications, because he may lose steam as time goes on, and want to drop a few. If you are willing to act as his secretary, and fill in the objective parts of the apps (names, dates, and such), that will be helpful in the process. He should start writing his essays as soon as he knows the topics, during the summer (I suppose that is winter in NZ?)

 

Make sure he is very well versed in the nuances of the various schools and their programs. He should have good reasons for wanting to attend a specific school, beyond general reputation. He needs to know how the Harvard experience would differ from MIT and Princeton and U Chicago, and be able to express what he likes about each individual school in the essays.

Excellent advice. Essay fatigue is real. Getting sick of the college application process is real. (Parental fatigue over the process is real, too. I truly hope we are on our last visit right now and that there will be a decision made.)
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Actually no, if you read CC's analysis. They are independent events so odds do not increase. (But, hey, I am not a mathematician, so no idea myself.)

 

Actually, I think the odds are much higher.  For example, assume that each elite college has an 8% acceptance rate.  The probability of getting admitted to at least one of those elite colleges is, by complementary probability, 1 - the probability that her son does not get in to any of the colleges.  Assuming he applies to 10 elite schools, his probability of getting admitted to at least one school is

 

1 - (0.92^10) = 0.57  which is still not guaranteed, but a heck of a lot better than 8%.  

 

If the acceptance rate of those 10 schools is down to 5%, then his probability of being admitted to at least one is 40% (1 - 0.95^10).

 

If he only applies to 5 schools, each with an acceptance rate of 5%, then his probability of being admitted is only 23%.  

 

But that assumes that each school's probability of acceptance is independent of the rest, which I argue may not be true.  In fact, it's probably more likely that if he were admitted to MIT, then he is likely to also be admitted to at least some of the other elite schools.  

 

Likewise, if I apply to Duke and I don't get in, I'm not going to hold my breath on getting in to Harvard.  

Edited by daijobu
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So are there no in-state options for the military kids or expats?  how sad. 

 

In theory, military parents maintain a state of official residence, which might not be the state they are currently stationed in.  In practice, the state I've claimed as my official residence for almost 20 years was not willing to consider my son as eligible for in state tuition.  

 

I own property, vote and hold a driver's license there.  The main disconnect seemed to be not paying state taxes.  I don't work, so have not met the income threshold for filing a tax return for the last 15 years.  It was frustrating.

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Well, I've talked to him and he has decided that his backup school will be Auckland.  He is willing to suffer the housing situation to go where he knows a bunch of the professors and students. He will have a few peers and have very good focused attention by the profs.  He does not mind staying in NZ for undergrad if no elites happen in the USA.

 

 

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Thanks for the heads up on the essay fatigue.  We are starting the common application essay in March with the help of the English teacher. 

 

Ranking:

MIT (he will apply early admission)

Harvard

Princeton

Waterloo (coop school so very good financials)

Duke

Michigan

 

That is all we got through.  He has not decided to apply to Chicago or UNC yet. 

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Thanks for the heads up on the essay fatigue. We are starting the common application essay in March with the help of the English teacher.

 

Ranking:

MIT (he will apply early admission)

Harvard

Princeton

Waterloo (coop school so very good financials)

Duke

Michigan

 

That is all we got through. He has not decided to apply to Chicago or UNC yet.

I think a NZ school is a great option for a safety.

 

A couple of things. MIT does not offer early decision, only early action. Understanding the distinction will help you decide how to apply. Many schools like to protect their yield through ED. (Yield is the percentage of offers extended compared to the percentage of students enrolling. ED is a binding application. If they are accepted, they are agreeing to attend.) The actual acceptance rate for some schools for their regular decision applicants is actually much lower than the published avg bc the high number of ED 1 and ED 2 offers. While MIT is not an ED school, they expect their applicants to follow the rules of ED and SCEA (single choice early action) schools.

 

So, say for instance Duke is a top choice. Applying to Duke ED with legacy status, you increase the odds of acceptance. What I do not know is if and how ED impacts merit scholarships. You would need to research that question or maybe someone else can chime in. (ETA: It does not impact need-based aid.)

 

A couple of comments you have made also make me want to strongly encourage you to ask for an early read for FA. I don't know if NPC are accurate for non-US residents even if they are citizens. I am not sure how FA deals with foreign exchange and assets. (That is an easy question to ask and have answered.) If NPC are not accurate, after the rush of this yr's application season which is pretty much approaching climax, so now is not the time, I would make contact with FA offices and ask them to give you an early read so you know what you are actually dealing with. You are looking at schools costing $60,000+ per yr. (The mention of the expense of the flights is what has me slightly concerned for you bc you might be facing $240,000 in costs.) You may qualify for institutional grants. (most on your list do not offer any merit at all. Duke does have the Robertson.) Lots of people say that top schools are affordable, but it is all relative. It really only matters if they are affordable for you. (They aren't for us.)

 

I am not positive, so hopefully someone else knows for sure, but I believe that UMich is an institution that does not offer non-need based merit to OOS students. Their meets need for OOS sounds like it might cap at incomes of $90,000. (I just did a quick Google and skimmed. No idea if I am reading correctly, but I have a vague, but possibly incorrect, recollection of poor OOS assistance from posts on CC.) http://finaid.umich.edu/new-undergraduates/non-resident-students-and-financial-aid/

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I think generally lottery schools are lottery for the majority of people, but for kids like your son, they aren't really lotteries. If my kid were on a math Olympiad team, I would consider MIT somewhat of a certainty. I would also expect Odds for schools like Princeton to be 80/20 in my favor. So I guess what I am trying to say is he will most likely get to where he wants, but just in case go one step down (Emory? Georgetown? Not those in particular since I know nothing about math departments there, but schools in that league).

 

 

Man, I wish this was true.  I hated hearing it wasn't true of my dd either, but the more I read and the more I investigated...ugh.  Reach for the stars but have great safeties because no one is safe at schools like MIT, Ivies, or even a school like Duke.  A specialists asked me "does she have absolutely perfect scores and GPA, did she win multiple national titles, and was she personally responsible for feeding a small village in Africa and visited that village every summer since she was like 12?  If not all of those, apply to those schools but don't consider them an option until you get an acceptance letter.  period.

Edited by Attolia
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So, say for instance Duke is a top choice. Applying to Duke ED with legacy status, you increase the odds of acceptance. What I do not know is if and how ED impacts merit scholarships. You would need to research that question or maybe someone else can chime in. (ETA: It does not impact need-based aid.)

 

 

:iagree:

 

You may also want to investigate how much legacy status will help your son in the regular decision round at Duke. 

 

My friend's son was a legacy at a school that was not his top choice, but he knew if he didn't apply ED to the legacy school, his legacy status wouldn't help in the Regular Decision round.  He decided to apply to the legacy school ED, even though it wasn't his top choice and is very happy there two years later. 

 

Good luck to you as you navigate the college admission process. It can be stressful at times. :svengo:

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There are many things one can do with a B.S. in Math.  If he is interested in working in Engineering, then it would be extremely helpful to him if he can narrow down what his interests are and if possible try to get into a school where they are working on that kind of project. If he would like to work as an Actuary, that's a different world entirely.   Artificial Intelligence? Robotics? Unmanned Aircraft? Cyber Security? Data Analyst?  Many possibilities for him to sort through and give some consideration to.  Universities where he can learn about things of  importance to him  will probably have contacts with people working in industry and/or government, who can help him get his first employment position(s) after graduation.  You have time to work on this, a lot, before your trip to the USA during August 2017 and that is a huge plus for you and your DS.

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Thanks for the heads up on the essay fatigue.  We are starting the common application essay in March with the help of the English teacher. 

 

Ranking:

MIT (he will apply early admission)

Harvard

Princeton

Waterloo (coop school so very good financials)

Duke

Michigan

 

That is all we got through.  He has not decided to apply to Chicago or UNC yet. 

Just in case you haven't seen them, the essays are different than they were for the Class of 2017.  Here is the link to the new essay prompts:

 

http://www.commonapp.org/whats-appening/application-updates/common-application-announces-2017-2018-essay-prompts

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Note that MIT accepts very few kids early, though they defer and eventually admit their deferred kids at about the rate of regular admissions. It's best to go into the process knowing you can get a definite "no," but it's hard to get a definite yes in the early round at MIT.

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Strictly anecdotal tracking of homeschooled applicants admitted EA to MIT based on past year patterns...usually only a max of 2-3 a year are admitted EA (I think they are olympiad medalists so Ruth's son might have great odds) followed by a max of couple more in the regular decisions round. This is based on homeschooling parents who report back here and on hs2coll and in gifted circles. There might be others who do not report/announce publicly.

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Strictly anecdotal tracking of homeschooled applicants admitted EA to MIT based on past year patterns...usually only a max of 2-3 a year are admitted EA (I think they are olympiad medalists so Ruth's son might have great odds) followed by a max of couple more in the regular decisions round. This is based on homeschooling parents who report back here and on hs2coll and in gifted circles. There might be others who do not report/announce publicly.

This mirrors my son's experience the year he applied.  The homeschooler I knew who was admitted EA was on the US Math Team.  My son applied EA and was deferred in the EA round.  It has been a couple of years so maybe things have changed, but when I was going through the process with my son, I read that applicants are not given a boost by applying in the EA round, which is not the case at many other institutions.

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The state schools will say "He's not from Ohio, he's not from North Carolina.  He's out."  Or they might say, "He's from overseas so he's paying full freight, and we need the money for a new stadium.  What's IMO?"    

 

I have to defend state schools a bit here, and say that this has not been our experience. Yes, state schools have a mandate to serve their own students in specific ways, but they also want a diverse campus and certainly they want high achieving students. And they are by no means ignorant of activities and achievements like IMO. 

 

 

Reach for the stars but have great safeties because no one is safe at schools like MIT, Ivies, or even a school like Duke.   

 

"Even" a school like Duke? Duke has an 11% acceptance rate and consistently ranks in the top ten - currently they are one spot behind MIT, lol. 

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"Even" a school like Duke? Duke has an 11% acceptance rate and consistently ranks in the top ten - currently they are one spot behind MIT, lol. 

 

 

ummm...that was my point.  Sarcasm  :lol:   It comes from a bit of a background for me too - everyone is convinced that DD HAS to go to Duke and they seriously have no clue how difficult it is to get into.  No, it isn't "ivy", but it is actually ranked higher than 2 (or 3?) Ivy schools.

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Strictly anecdotal tracking of homeschooled applicants admitted EA to MIT based on past year patterns...usually only a max of 2-3 a year are admitted EA (I think they are olympiad medalists so Ruth's son might have great odds) followed by a max of couple more in the regular decisions round. This is based on homeschooling parents who report back here and on hs2coll and in gifted circles. There might be others who do not report/announce publicly.

I know a homeschooler there now, admitted EA, that was not on any sort of math or science team at all, let alone a national one.

Edited by Frances
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Unfortunately, I disagree with this assessment - believe me, I wish I didn't.  MIT (accept 7.9%, 75th percentile for reading 800, for math 800 on Old SAT) is not a somewhat-certainty for students on national olympiad teams (or anyone else) and no one has 80/20 odds for Princeton (accept 6.5%, 75th percentile for reading 790, for math 800).  The landscape is competitive to an extreme and grades and scores are only what gets applications past the first cut and then on to a holistic application review.

 

Georgetown, as another example, is not a safety for anyone either.  Last year's 75th percentile for reading and math for Georgetown were both 750.  The overall admit rate at Georgetown is 16%.  Emory has similar SAT stats but a higher admit rate around 25%.

 

ETA, I saw a video interview with a former long-time adcom from Yale the other day.  IIRC, he implied that more than half the applicants had sufficient academic qualifications.  Yale admit rate is 6.3%, so after a first academic cut of half the apps, they would be picking, say, 1 out of 5 of the remaining academically-qualified apps to accept.

This is all true  BUT -- the IMO is a big plus.  In my experience, kids that have high stats AND a big win on a respected national or international competition will usually get into at least one of the top schools.  Of course, nothing is guaranteed, so he should have a good variety of schools he'd be happy at if he doesn't get into his top choices.

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Interestingly, Deputy director of MIT admissions recommended that ds apply as a *school* student with a supplemental homeschool portfolio.  Because NZ has an exam based high diploma of the equivalent of 5 AP Exams, ds got those done by the end of 10th grade.  Because exams here are national, ds has a *national* class rank even though he is a homeschooler because he took the school exams.  However, these school exams only represent 1/3 of the courses he has taken.  So the admissions guy said apply as a school student and then put in supplemental material.  Apparently, admissions will consider him as what he is - unique.   :thumbup1:

Edited by lewelma
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DS is a legacy at Duke. 2 parents, 2 grandparents, 1 aunt, 1 uncle, 1 great uncle, 2 great aunts, and his great grandfather was a major financial supporter. My sister was valedictorian of Duke Engineering in the 1980s.  All this would explain why m y dad thinks that he is likely to get in there. Don't you love grandparents!!!  :thumbup1:    Too bad ds wants to go to MIT.  Second choice is hovering around Waterloo as it is a coop school, so lots of job experience. Plus full scholarship and living expenses for students who can medal at the IMO in their 11th grade year.  So could be worth a lot of money if ds can pull it off.

 

At this point the touring schedule is: Duke and visit Great Grandmother. Fly to Boston and visit MIT and Harvard.  Fly to Detroit and drive to Waterloo.  He decided not to visit Princeton as his first cousin goes there and he figured he would be comfortable there as he knows someone. :001_smile: I think University of Michigan is off the table because of size.  

Edited by lewelma
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Second choice is hovering around Waterloo as it is a coop school, so lots of job experience.

 

: I think University of Michigan is off the table because of size.

The UG student body size at UM is smaller than Waterloo's, but the grad size is larger. The difference in their actual student body size is probably negligible. Once you are that big, you are big.

 

Is the coop option a good fit for your ds? Is he ready to be away from home and family pretty much yr round or are there established coop connections in NZ where he could do some of those semesters? Just thinking aloud here. It wouldn't be a big sell to me if my child was so far from home already. Traditional research opportunities like REUs would allow for a few weeks off each yr for him to be home with family. But, for some kids, that coop schedule is exactly what they want and is definitely a great opportunity.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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DS is a legacy at Duke. 2 parents, 2 grandparents, 1 aunt, 1 uncle, 1 great uncle, 2 great aunts, and his great grandfather was a major financial supporter. My sister was valedictorian of Duke Engineering in the 1980s.  

 

 

Legacy will help tremendously.  At the same time, all of those schools are a gamble so it is great that you have back up plans just in case.  Applying ED to Duke would help too.  Duke takes a high percentage ED.  But if he wants MIT then he won't want to do that  :001_cool:   Maybe he will really love Duke when he visits this time and decide on ED there?  He has a great chance at these schools, just as DD does at the top schools she has applied to, but we still have safeties because of the gamble.  DD has a stellar applicant friend with legacy to Duke who was denied (perfect test scores, national math title, etc).  Crazy!  He didn't apply ED either because he wanted Stanford but he ended up denied from both (he graduated last year).  He did end up with a great full ride scholarship to UVA even though he is out of state for that school.

Edited by Attolia
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You can always visit your/his top choices and then apply to more. If you don't get in at the top choices, but get in elsewhere you might want to visit before committing.

 

I think you said your backup is Auckland. Hopefully you either have an automatic admit or can find out early and then you don't need to worry about applying to any school lower than that one.

 

As others have said, all the paperwork of admissions applications, scholarship applications, etc gets old. Some (a little) can be done early. The rest I would rank and so the most important schools first. Look at deadlines. Some deadlines may be after you start to get early decisions so you might be able to postpone certain applications in hopes that you simply find out early about MIT. He may or may not get burned out of all the applications and essays.

 

Good luck. It's been fun to watch your journey over the years.

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This is all true  BUT -- the IMO is a big plus.  In my experience, kids that have high stats AND a big win on a respected national or international competition will usually get into at least one of the top schools.  Of course, nothing is guaranteed, so he should have a good variety of schools he'd be happy at if he doesn't get into his top choices.

 

Right, he will probably get into a top school and we will rejoice for him.  But, there will always be significant uncertainty surrounding acceptance to those schools.  (CC likes to invoke the "Malia Obama exception" to that rule, which applies to every. one. else.)  My point was really focusing on the importance of safeties, that low-acceptance-rate schools, which would include the 20% schools, do not constitute safeties, national awards notwithstanding.  This is directed at lurkers who may be new to the idea of crafting a careful college list and could learn from the wisdom of your (the Hive's) collective experience.

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For us, it depended on the major. DD applied to 10, if memory serves, she had two safeties we were pretty certain she could afford, lots of mids, and a couple of reaches. She got into everything and ended up at a reach with scholarship money. She is the only one who has applied to that many, but half were for chemistry major, and half were for nursing. At the time she applied, she hadn't quite settled on which one she would major in so chose six programs for each and hoped by the time housing deposits had to be made she either was landing at one that was strong in BOTH majors, or had made up her mind.

 

Eldest ds applied to four. He was just coming off a terrible car accident that left him permanently disabled though most days one would not notice since he hides his pain well. His schools were a combo of having strong, strong writing departments as well as flexibility for his physical needs, and a good comp sci department as well since that was his double major at the time. He has since switched to a double major with German. Only one school was a potential reach, the others were all safeties. We weren't looking for much drama, nail biting suspense that year because of all he had been through. He also ended up at his reach - University of Michigan - and they were super gracious with him due to his ongoing physical problems and not wanting to necessarily switch medical teams. He maintained an apartment between the Ann Arbor campus and the Flint extension campus. U of MI lets him take classes at both according to what works best for his physical therapy schedule. He'll graduate from the Ann Arbor campus. i can't say enough good things about how kind they have been to him. Hopefully that is a campus wide thing, but sometimes I wonder if it isn't just that he has a very proactive, take no prisoners, adviser who advocates loudly for him.

 

Middle Ds wanted to go into a niche major - water ecology/conservation with freshwater emphasis. There is only one such major in the USA and that is at Western Michigan University. He applied there, and also four back up schools all of whom were for him safeties but also VERY strong in ecology/environmental science and conduct research on the Great Lakes. He got into WMU with scholarships and is very happy there.

 

Youngest has thrown us for a curve. He had been maintaining to this point that he was going into robotics or aerospace engineering. This left us, for any chance of affordability, WMU and U of Mi as well as U of A at Huntsville for aerospace, and U of MI Dearborn for Robotics, and well, for other robotics programs, not that much affordably since they are all OOS and not as generous with scholarships as U of A Huntsville. Thankfully, the Dearborn Robotics department would be a safety for him. BUT, now he is not so certain. He's suddenly talking about Astrophysics, mechanical engineering, and mathematics. GAH! Our instincts at this time are to have him apply to the Dearborn program just in case he changes his mind and comes back to robotics, but to the Flint U of MI campus for mechanical engineering because they have such a solid program at a fantastic price and he can room in with his brother saving us a lot of money, WMU for aerospace and mechanical engineering, MTU for mathematics and mechanical engineering, U of A Huntsville again in case of aerospace, and well, as for astrophysics, I'm just beginning my research. Ideally, dh who has a BS in mathematics, would like to send ds to his alma mater but the school is just simply outside the bounds of what we can afford because they keep making HUGE tuition hikes each year, and shrinking the size of the scholarships at the same time. It's nuts, and not a sustainable situation for us.

 

I think that when it comes to how many, it all depends on the program. No matter what, unless a student is more than happy to take a GAP year and re-coup, a safety school (both admission and finances) should be in the mix. I am a fan of parents talking up the safety, and digging into all of the exciting things offered at the safety, making it a priority to promote the safety and be happy with it so if push comes to shove and the only admittance or financial option is that safety, the student is not terribly disappointed.

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I'm just starting to understand this.  Basically, he is overqualified, so safety schools are not safe?  ug!

 

Please don't quote.

 

I can only speak to my oldest DD's experience, but her safeties all accepted her.  We didn't experience this problem, and every score on every test she submitted with 10 APs, PSAT, SAT, ACT, and 4 SAT subject tests were perfect along with substantial research experience and 6+ years of study in her main areas of interest. She encountered no issues whatsoever with admissions.  

 

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