How does USACO look on a college application

I’m a former professional programmer who started tutoring USACO about two years ago. I mainly coach young students who are just starting out. Some of the parents are wondering about how USACO participation looks on a college application.

Especially, how a good score on Bronze (say 60%) looks if the student didn’t qualify for Silver. I know from my work with these students that a good score on Bronze (but not qualifying for Silver) puts a student in the top sliver of college applicants with respect to computer science preparation. One of my former students, who is a freshman this year, tested out of the first year of CS and is finding the second year to be a walk in the park.

Or does it only look good if the student qualifies for Silver?


I don’t know that much about college applications and it depends on the college you’re applying to, but I believe you need at least USACO gold qualification for your performance to stand out on a college application, and for top universities, you might need to make it to USACO camp or IOI for your USACO performance to stand out.


I want to know about this, too. Do you mean that “top universities” mean like top ten in the world? or like ivy league? I was thinking of applying to the university of washington.

I’d say for top 10 you need at least USACO Plat (or camp if that’s your only hook). For top 20-30, Gold is impressive. For anything lower than top 30, maybe silver would help slightly.

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Yeah, I figured. At least I have two years to get somewhere. Annoyingly, sources differ on which colleges are ranked where. Can you believe that one list for US colleges puts the University of Washington at #59, while a global list from the same site puts it at #7, and yet another ranking puts it at #85?
Applying for colleges seems like a nightmare…

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Imagine how it would be like for an international student!