We had the opportunity of interviewing Peter Sauer '23, a student at Carnegie Mellon University, about: Getting into Carnegie Mellon.
Carnegie Mellon is a highly ranked private university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania best known for its top computer science, engineering, and business programs. Read more on their website.
Peter is currently majoring in Computational Neuroscience and Statistics/Machine Learning. His goal is to develop data analysis tools to analyze cognitive function and apply that knowledge in the medical field. Peter is currently an EMT, teaches high school students about statistics and neuroscience through Project Ignite, and is a research assistant at CMU.
Key points Peter made:
"CMU cares a lot about maintaining individuality and authenticity, and the fact that I tried to show these personality traits in my essay, on top of the recruitment process, helped me get into CMU the most."
"Applying to schools is less about the rank of the school and more about what programs are specifically tailored for an individual’s goals."
Q: Carnegie Mellon is very well known for its programs in computer science and statistics. What about it stood out to you in particular?
A: Initially, I didn’t know much about the computer science or statistics programs because I applied for the math program. I just knew that CMU was a stem-oriented and “computer based” school (even though CMU has much more than that) so CMU seemed like a good fit for me. I will say, however, that the computer science courses and statistics courses have been taught incredibly well in comparison to other research-oriented schools.
Q: Why do you think you stood out to Carnegie Mellon as an applicant?
A: I was recruited to CMU on the track and field team. However, the recruiting process on the DIII level isn’t a guaranteed admission like for DI or DII. I think what made me stand out to CMU, aside from the benefit of getting recruited, was that I was genuinely curious about the world and that I conveyed the quirky image they actively look for. To me, it seems like CMU cares a lot about maintaining individuality and authenticity, and the fact that I tried to show these personality traits in my essay, on top of the recruitment process, helped me get into CMU the most.
Q: What type of student does Carnegie Mellon suit?
A: CMU has a lot of students who I would say are relatively “quirky.” A lot of the fun CMU offers is less oriented around traditional college experiences like football rivalries and more on small bursts of unconventional traditions, the two most popular being Booth (students create a little building overnight on the Cut) and Buggy (students race little carts with people in them down a wavy road).
Q: What advice would you give to students who aspire to get into a top university?
A: Don’t try to simply “get into a top university.” Instead, look at specific programs schools offer, and apply to schools whose programs you’re most interested in. Applying to schools is less about the rank of the school and more about what programs are specifically tailored for an individual’s goals. For instance, if you want to be an engineer but prefer a broader undergraduate engineering curriculum and plan to focus more in graduate school, Dartmouth's engineering program, even though Dartmouth is more focused on humanities, would be a fantastic fit for you.
Q: What type of projects did you undertake on your own in high school?
A: Definitely do a senior project of some sort. I wish I had done that in high school. Do something that shows the culmination of what you learned in the past four years.
While you’re here, connect and learn more about Peter Sauer on his LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/pjsauer/.
Subscribe to our *NEWSLETTER* AlumniAlert to stay updated on interviews like Peter Sauer on a monthly basis!
Have more questions based on what you’ve read? Submit them to us here!
Follow us on Instagram and connect with us on LinkedIn @alumnianswers to interact with us!