US Universities

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US Universities
Applications and Experiences
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Contents
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Academics and school
Extracurriculars
SATs
The Common App and other applications
Financial aid
Choosing schools
School and Academics
High-School Options
• Private schools
• Large school/small schools
• High-school programs
– International Baccalaureate
– Gifted
– TOPS
– CyberArts
– Other Arts
– Athletic programs
Finding your fit is important,
even for high school.
Academic Requirements
• Goals
– Meet academic requirements
– Go beyond (competitions)
– Have good relationships
• Harvard-recommended:
– 4 years of math
• Rigour
– Academic < Enriched = Gifted
< IB/AP
– Do not sacrifice more than 5%
for a more rigorous course,
unless you are actually
learning
• MIT: Requires Calculus
– 4 years of science
• MIT: 1 year of each of the 3
sciences (Grade 11)
– 3 years of history
• MIT: 2 years
– 4 years of foreign language
(French)
• MIT: not required
• Marks
– Range: preferably >90
– Rank in top 10%
– Not declining
Recommendations
Do:
• Work fairly hard, especially
early on
• Schedule
• Take a variety of courses
• Know the system & teachers
• Be flexible to yourself if you
can handle it
– Procrastination may help if you
have control over it
• Balance schoolwork and
extracurricular
Don’t:
• Appear lazy or complacent
• Kill yourself over one
subject
– Admit that we have strengths
and weaknesses
• Take a course without
knowing what it’s like
• Give up a course at school
because of a conflict: there
are other options
Competitions
• Work for competitions
– Shows interest
– Shows academic ability (if
you’re good at some of them)
– Helps with the SAT and doing
the SATs helps
• Nice to do, regardless of skill
• Common: math
• Other great options:
– Physics: CAP, OAPT, AAPT, SIN
– Chemistry: CCO, Avogadro &
Chem-13
– Biology: CBO, National BioComp
– Computing: CCC
Contest Participants
10000
8000
6000
4000
2000
0
Approximate
Books for Science Competitions
• Physics: Fundamentals of
Physics by Halliday and
Resnick
• Olympiad level physics:
Physics by Halliday and
Resnick
• Chemistry: Chemistry by
Zumdahl
• Organic chemistry:
Organic Chemistry by
McMurry
• Biology: Biology by
Campbell
• Buy from U of T book
store, online on eBay and
bookstores, or from
senior students
Competitions
• If your school doesn’t have it
and you want to do it
– Do invest time in preparing if
you do this
– Get helped!
• Others
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
French
Philosophy
English speaking
Science fair
Tournament of Towns
Linguistics
Arts
Design/Engineering
Aristotle Competition
Extracurriculars
Extracurricular Activities:
In-School
• Something you like
You like the
activity
You actively
participate,
practice and
excel
Your efforts are
recognized, and
you get a
leadership role
Extracurricular Activities:
In-School
• Sports!
• Common clubs and
activities
– Reach for the Top
– DECA
– Newspapers
– Yearbook
– Student government
• Don’t have it? Make it!
– Music and shows
– Debate
– Robotics
– Model UN
– Academic (science,
language) clubs
Extracurricular Activities:
Out of school
• Volunteering
– Hospitals/Health care
providers
– Community
organizations
•
•
•
•
YMCA
Toronto Youth Cabinet
Cultural organizations
Churches
– Camps
Extracurricular Activities:
Out of school
• Jobs
– Something meaningful preferred
• e.g. Librarian >> Canada’s Wonderland
• Academics
– University of Toronto Mentorship program
– Ask teachers for opportunities (e.g. research,
music groups)
Extracurricular Activities:
Out of school
• Randomness!
– Start a webcomic
– Write a play
– Ensemble music
• Competitions, Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra
• Start a serious band
– Do film production
– Start a website/write an application
– Invent something and patent it or even better, make a
company that sells it!
• Meeting people is easy
Summer Activities
• Avoid
– Summer school to get
ahead, unless necessary
– Doing nothing
• Do
– Meaningful jobs or
volunteering
– Camps:
• Shad Valley!
• Deep River
• ISSYP
– Olympiads
– Study on your own,
preferably while doing
one of the above
Make Your List
• Keep track of what you do: example
Activity
Year/Date
Details
Debate club
2009
President
Qualified for OSDU
finals
Canadian
Computing
Competition
2009
Score: 60 (qualified
for Stage 2!)
Robotics
• United States FIRST Robotics Competitions
• International: two Canadian regionals
• Prestigious, started by world famous inventor
Dean Kamen and MIT professor Woodie Flowers.
• Over 1000 teams, from many countries.
• Gracious Professionalism
• Scholarships to American colleges and UT & UW
• $6000 automatic sponsorship from TDSB
• Business, engineering and math science oriented
• Start-your-own friendly!
SATs
SAT
• SAT I: Reasoning
• Very important
– Goal: >2200/2400
Reading
Math
Writing
25%
690
690
690
75%
780
790
780
Reading
Math
Writing
25%
650
720
660
75%
760
800
760
Reading
Math
Writing
Harvard
• Low scores will not
prevent you from
getting in if your other
credentials are great
MIT
Reading
Math
Writing
25%
690
700
700
25%
660
660
670
75%
780
790
780
75%
760
760
760
Princeton
Amherst
How to Study
• Grade 9 and 10:
– Read, read, and read
– Great for reading and
writing, and interesting
• Use the books, do lots
of questions
– Contingency: do SAT
classes
• Study vocabulary: small
investments of time can
pay off
Schedule
• Grade 11 and 12
– Do SAT I: late grade 10
or early grade 11
– Redo if needed(score
choice)
Grade 11 start
SAT II (Math II, physics):
November
SAT I: November
SAT II (Chemistry): January
SAT II (Math II,
chem): April
SAT II (phys.): May
• SAT II
– Get the books
– Finish before grade 12
– 800s much easier to get
SAT I: October (best)
SAT I redo: December
• Aim for 800
Grade 12 end
Application
Application
• Electronic or paper
• Common Application or Universal College
Application
• Single application, multiple universities
– Pesky MIT
• All have similar layouts
Early Action and Early Decision
• Can apply earlier than
the normal deadline
– Deadline: November 1
for most instead of
December 31
• Early Decision: must
accept offer if admitted
– Higher admit rate;
easier to get in
• Cornell, Brown,
Dartmouth, Penn,
Columbia, Williams
• Early Action: don’t have
to accept offer if
admitted
– More flexible
– Single choice: can only
apply to one
• Stanford & Yale
• See notes for full list
Early Application Acceptance Rates
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
Regular Decision
Acceptance Rate
Early Decision Acceptance
Rate
Early Action Acceptance
Rate
Sections of the application
•
•
•
•
Personal Info
Demographics
Family
Academics Info
(schooling)
• Academic Awards
• Extracurricular
• Employments
• Short paragraph on one
activity
• Essay
• Disciplinary actions
• Recommendations(incl.
ratings)
• Other info
Important Sections:
Five Awards
Important Sections:
Seven Activities
You must have seven activities
The School Report
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
School profile
Ranking and estimations
GPA
Courses and difficulties
Counsellor/Principal rating
Counsellor/Principal recommendation letter
Transcript – read the Ontario Transcript
Manual before Grade 11.
Important Sections:
Written
• Components
– Common
application essay
– 150-word snippet
– Supplementary
essays
How to write your essay
• Provide insights into your personal character
and who you are outside of academics
• Anything
– Personal stories are popular and easy
• Plays a crucial part in admission
– Something you can start early
– Get it edited
• Read sample essays
– Preferably not online
Teachers’ Recommendations
• Start building relationship with teacher early
• The perfect teacher:
– Taught you recently
– Likes you and knows you well as a great student
and person
– Is familiar with the American admissions system
– Is eloquent and knows how to write
recommendations
• Don’t be surprised if your teacher asks you to
write a rough draft
Asking for the Recommendation
• Do you think you know me well enough to
write me a strong recommendation letter for
_____?
• Sit-down interview: helpful, but rare
• Give all materials at once
– Do it online if possible; easier for teacher
Teachers’ Recommendations
Counsellor’s Recommendation
• Principals/Vice Principals can do it too
• Get acquainted with:
– Guidance counsellors
– Vice principals (and possibly principals)
– Help with course selection, club creation, student
govt, etc.
• Ask early
• Try to avoid bothering your counsellor for other
trivial things, but do try to get to know them
• Don’t be a flatterer
Counsellor’s Recommendation
Counsellor’s Recommendation
• Also includes a part for any extra issues
• Make sure they mention
– Changes in schools
– Long absences
– Achievements that don’t fit on the Common App
lists
• Provide them with a list of activities, achievements at
the school to help them
Financial Aid
Financial Aid
• Don’t worry: No one left
behind in many schools
• Cost: Max $58,000 for 1
years and increasing
• Income
– <40~60K = (Nearly) Free
– Between 60K and 100K =
Cheap (no more than usual
Canadian universities)
– > 100K = larger percentage
of tuition
Average Aid Given (USD)
45000
40000
35000
30000
25000
20000
15000
10000
5000
0
Princeton Harvard
MIT
Evaluation of Need
• Financial Aid is purely based
on your need of funding, not
your merit
• You submit:
– T1 forms
– CSS Profile (CollegeBoard)
• Offers are calculated using set
formulae
– See online calculators
– # of children, etc. are
considered
– Can ask for more in some cases
Need aware and need blind
• Need blind:
– College does not consider how much financial aid
it will have to give you when making acceptance
decisions
• Need aware is the opposite
• NB/NA is largely based on endowment
– Policy could change over years
Need-blind is fine
Unlimited
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Harvard
MIT
Yale
Amherst
LAC’s (Williams, Middlebury)
Penn (Canadian citizen or PR)
Columbia (Canadian citizen,
not PR)
• Dartmouth (new policy?)
Limited – does not always give
enough to satisfy full needs
• Brown
• Cornell
Need-aware: don’t be scared
• Rumor has it that some of the need blinds are
actually need aware anyways
• Need aware:
– Smaller chance of getting in
– If admitted, you will also receive 100% of your need.
• Schools with a large endowment can be generous
• Lots of people gets scared off by need aware, so
it may not be that competitive
Great need aware schools
• Northwestern
• Johns Hopkins (does not
commit to meet 100%)
• Duke (very recent
donation, very generous)
• Stanford
• CalTech
• Columbia for Canadian
PR’s and intl’s
• UPenn for internationals
Merit Scholarships
• “What’s so good about the Ivy leagues? No
merit scholarships and crappy sports?”
– A CC’er
• Non-ivy leagues offer merit based scholarships
• Full ride for 4 years plus possible
summer/research benefits
• Best for:
– Students with large family incomes
– Athletes
Merit Scholarships
•
•
•
•
•
•
Morehead Cain
Duke Robertson
Duke Scholarships
UWSL (high school nomination)
Johns Hopkins Engineering (2)
Outside the US (discussed in choosing college
section)
• And more…
Choosing a College
Choosing a college
Before choosing colleges to apply for:
• Reflect on your goals
• Know your academic interests (leave space for
exploration)
• Research, research, research!
• Visit the campus early (strongly
recommended)
– Look into overnight stays
Considering colleges
•
•
•
•
•
•
Academics, departments, degrees
Finances and financial opportunities
Reputation and rankings
Student resources and support
Geography and location
Alumni and after-undergrad
destinations
• Student life and campus
• CollegeConfidential.com
Making the decision to apply
• Questions to ask yourself:
– How does it compare to a Canadian university?
– Is the cost realistic?
– Parental approval necessary?
– Do I meet the requirements?
– What are my chances?
• Finally, apply to as many as you can afford to,
financially and otherwise
Making the decision to attend
• Same considerations as before
– Compare aid offers if any
– Special programs/scholarships
– Visit during visiting days
• Atmosphere is important
• Consider visiting during lowseason (January, February)
• Talk to students, alumni,
faculty, admin
– Friends, classmates can help a
small bit too
• CollegeConfidential.com
Advice on CollegeConfidential
Other Colleges: outside of the box
• UK Colleges
– Whole different set of requirements
– AP’s are recommended
• UK/International scholarships
• Canadian Scholarships and programs
• Asian and international colleges
Let me be so bold as to suggest a list
• Sample College list: Engineering
–
–
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–
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–
–
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MIT
Stanford
Cambridge
Cornell (Eng. Sci)
Berkeley
Caltech
Imperial College London
Duke and Johns Hopkins (Biomed Engineering)
Penn, Columbia, Georgia Tech, UMAA, UIUC
Miscellaneous
• Books
– A is for Admission
– Acing the College Application
– The Gatekeepers
• Disclaimer: advice is not absolute; use your judgment
• Common Application website: register and
familiarize
• The Internet
Well-roundedness
• Important for most American universities
– Good balance between schooling, extracurriculars
and other interests
– Knowledgeable about many issues
– Able to communicate, write, analyze, and lead
– Good personality
• Enjoy life in Toronto!
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