Study at top university

Last week I received an email from a mother who asked: “My son will graduate this June and I would like to send him to study in the U.S. What are the requirements to study at the best universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, or Carnegie Mellon? What does he need to get accepted there? Please advise.”

Answer: To get accepted to the top U.S. universities, your son needs to have the best score in the college entrance examinations such as the SAT/ACT and a high Grade-Point-Average (GPA) in high school. Besides that, he should take strong courses in his high schools such as Honor math and science courses etc.. He also needs recommendation letters from his teachers, school principal, and other important persons to accompany his application. He needs to write a Statement of Purpose essay to explain why he wants to attend this university, what is his career aspiration and what he wants to do after finishing his education there. Every university has a different view on what their graduates should be so your son needs to research more about the university and what their graduates are doing so he can write something that the admissions committee like. For example, some universities prefer a strong academic achievement in certain subjects when others like to see more about extracurricular activities such as leadership, charity, sports etc. In the essay, your son needs to write about his life, his personal achievement, and educational goals etc.

Most top universities only admit a limited number of international students each year so he will have to compete with others from different countries. My advice is he should apply to many schools as possible just in case if he gets rejected from his “dream university.”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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