This story was originally published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) group. It has been edited for clarity and flow.
My son attended a fairly well-ranked public high school in California and graduated in 2021. Here is his college admissions journey.
To help provide some perspective, my son had a 4.0 unweighted/4.93 weighted GPA (in high school, an Honors course A is a 4.50 and an AP course A is a 5.0), and took ten AP courses. He graduated with 350 units though he only needed 220 to graduate. As a result of COVID and schools going online, he had no test scores, but he did have SAT subject scores from sophomore year, with an 800 on the math and 800 on chemistry.
He was National Merit commended, one of several valedictorians, and played lacrosse (club and high school). He did VEX Robotics — made it to the World Championship two times, canceled in 2020 due to COVID — and volunteered at a wildlife rehab.
Although my son is primarily interested in robotics engineering, he also looked at mechanical engineering at schools without robotics engineering programs.
Both my husband and I graduated with engineering degrees from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly SLO). My husband earned both his Master’s and PhD from University of Southern California. I earned a law degree from Southwestern University.
Here are the colleges my son applied to, the results, and merit awards offered. We didn’t (and knew we wouldn’t) qualify for any financial need.
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute: robotics engineering, accepted, $16,000 merit per year and $5,000 research grant
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: mechanical engineering, accepted, no merit
- Carnegie Mellon University: waitlisted, ultimately he declined to continue to wait
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: mechanical engineering, accepted, $24,500 merit per year
- Rochester Institute of Technology: mechanical engineering/electrical engineering, accepted, $18,500 merit per year
- Colorado School of Mines: engineering, accepted, $14,000 merit per year
- University of Colorado Boulder: mechanical engineering, accepted, $6,250 merit per year
- Stanford University: mechanical engineering, rejected
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: mechanical engineering, rejected
- Rutgers New Brunswick: mechanical engineering, accepted, $13,000 merit per year
- Boston University: mechanical engineering, accepted, no merit award
- Cal Poly SLO: mechanical engineering, rejected
- California Institute of Technology: mechanical engineering, rejected
- Northwestern University: mechanical engineering, rejected
- University of Michigan: Ann Arbor, waitlisted, ultimately he pulled his application
- Oregon Institute of Technology: mechanical engineering, accepted, $4,000 merit per year
- Cornell University: mechanical engineering, rejected
Because of COVID, we only went on tours after acceptance. That’s when he fell in love with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). It was the absolute perfect fit for him.
Now a sophomore in college, my once fairly introverted son has completely thrived at WPI. He made the eSports team and he’s playing club lacrosse (they don’t have a varsity team). He also pledged a fraternity, lived in the frat house over the summer for his engineering internship, and is living there this school year.
Overall, he’s doing very well. Not only has he made good friends, but he’s excelling at school. He was really down about all the rejections, but I’m telling you, they do end up where they need to be.
CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT
HOW TO PAY FOR COLLEGE
JOIN ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS: