This is the application guide I wished I had when I was in high school. Reading this guide from beginning to end will be well worth your time - you might completely change your college application strategy as a result. I was so thrilled when I got this letter. It validated many years of hard work, and I was excited to take my next step into college I received similar successful letters from every college I applied to: Princeton, Stanford, and MIT.
The application that got me admitted everywhere is the subject of this guide. In this popular guide, I explain:. My biggest caveat for you when reading this guide: This guide tells a story about one person and presents one archetype of a strong applicant.
As I explain in my Harvard guide , I believe I fit into one archetype of a strong applicant — the "academic superstar" humor me for a second, I know calling myself this sounds obnoxious. There are other distinct ways to impress, like:. This is what schools like Stanford and Yale want to see — a diversity in the student population! The point of this guide is to use my application as a vehicle to discuss what top colleges are looking for in strong applicants. What makes a candidate truly stand out is the same, at a high level.
What makes for a super strong recommendation letter is the same. The strategies on how to build a cohesive, compelling application are the same. Technology is much more pervasive, the social issues teens care about are different, the extracurricular activities that are truly noteworthy have probably gotten even more advanced.
What I did might not be as impressive as it used to be. So focus on my general points, not the specifics, and think about how you can take what you learn here to achieve something even greater than I ever did. This is what I believe will be most helpful for you. A sample list of schools that fit into this: The top in that list are especially looking for the absolute best students in the country , since they have the pick of the litter.
For less selective schools, having an overall strong, well-rounded application is sufficient for getting in. In particular, having an above average GPA and test scores goes the majority of the way toward getting you admission to those schools. The higher the admission rate, the more emphasis will be placed on your scores. To state the obvious, an application strong enough to get you Columbia will get you into UCLA handily.
Everything else is unaltered. It could also be that the reader got bored and just started highlighting things, but I doubt this. Finally, I co-founded and run a company called PrepScholar. I want to emphasize that you do NOT need to buy a prep program to get a great score , and the advice in this guide has little to do with my company. This is the story that you tell through your application, over and over again. This is how an admissions officer should understand you after just glancing through your application.
The more unique and noteworthy your Personal Narrative is, the better. This is why I recommend so strongly that you develop a Spike to show deep interest and achievement.
A compelling Spike is the core of your Personal Narrative. Everything in your application should support your Personal Narrative , from your course selection and extracurricular activities to your personal statements and recommendation letters.
You are a movie director, and your application is your way to tell a compelling, cohesive story through supporting evidence. Yes, this is overly simplistic and reductionist. It does not represent all your complexities and your 17 years of existence. These three elements were the core to my application.
Together they tell a relatively unique Personal Narrative that distinguishes me from many other strong applicants. A good test of a strong Personal Narrative: This, again, is why being well-rounded is so deadly — mix ten different paint colors together and you end up with an unappealing, indistinguishable mess.
Note also that point 2 is probably the weakest, least unique part of the Personal Narrative. Most people applying to top colleges have great test scores and grades, so this is rarely distinguishing by itself. You should get a very strong flavor of who I am, which is the hallmark of a memorable, effective application. The major question for you to ponder as you read is — what is YOUR Personal Narrative, and how are you going to show it through every component of your application? We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies.
Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. To set the stage, I applied Early Action to Harvard early in senior year, and this is the application I used to get in early. This is a straightforward section where you list your basic information. But as I point out below, a lot is conveyed about you through just a few questions. There are a few notable points about how simple questions can actually help build a first impression around what your Personal Narrative is.
First, notice the circle around my email address. This is the first of many marks the admissions officer made on my application. The reason I think he circled this was that the email address I used is a joke pun on my name. I knew it was risky to use this vs something like allencheng15 gmail. Second, I knew in high school that I wanted to go into the medical sciences, either as a physician or as a scientist. I was also really into studying the brain.
Figuring out what you want to do is the point of college! This early question is still a chance to build that Personal Narrative. Finally, in the demographic section there is a big red A, possibly for Asian American. This section was straightforward for me. The most notable point of this section: This is notable because our school Principal only wrote letters for fewer than 10 students each year.
Counselors wrote letters for the other hundreds of students in my class, which made my application stand out just a little. After all, schools like Harvard have the pick of the litter, and there are plenty of students who get super high test scores AND have amazing achievements. Remember, over 40, students fit in the top 1 percentile of students nationwide. Top schools are generally looking to see that you fit in the top 1 percentile of the country.
But within that 1 percentile, your score does NOT make a big difference in your chances of admission. Just a sanity check: The 75 th percentile is a , and the 25 th percentile is a They know that there is some amount of chance every time you take a test, so a is more or less equivalent to a However, their standards are still very high. You really do want to be in that top 1 percentile to pass the filter. A on the SAT IS going to put you at a disadvantage because there are so many students scoring higher than you.
Download it for free now:. Even though math and science were easy for me, I had to put in serious effort to get an on the Reading section of the SAT. I learned a bunch of strategies and dissected the test to get to a point where I understood the test super well and reliably earned perfect scores. The tests were so similar that I scored a 36 Composite without much studying.
Having two test scores is completely unnecessary — you get pretty much zero additional credit. Again, with one test score, you have already passed their filter. This section asks for your parent information and family situation. The reader made a number of marks here for occupation and education.
So it seems higher numbers are given for less prestigious educations by your parents. This makes me think that the less prepared your family is, the more points you get, and this might give your application an extra boost. Schools really do care about your background and how you performed relative to expectations. For most applicants, your Extracurriculars and your Academic Honors will be where you develop your Spike and where your Personal Narrative shines through.
This was how my application worked. As instructed, my extracurriculars were listed in the order of their interest to me. The most important point I have to make about my extracurriculars: If I were to guess, I assign the following weights to how much each activity contributed to the strength of my activities section:.
In other words, participating in the Research Science Institute RSI was far more important than all of my other extracurriculars, combined. You can see that this was the only activity my admissions reader circled. You can see how Spike-y this is. The RSI just completely dominates all my other activities. The reason for this is the prestige of RSI. Because the program was so prestigious and selective, getting in served as a big confirmation signal of my academic quality.
I had already ranked nationally in the Chemistry Olympiad more below , and I had done a lot of prior research work in computer science at Jisan Research Institute — more about this later.
But getting into RSI really propelled my application to another level. Because RSI was so important and was such a big Spike, all my other extracurriculars paled in importance. This is a good sign of developing a strong Spike. You want to do something so important that everything else you do pales in comparison to it. A strong Spike becomes impossible to ignore. Apply this concept to your own interests — what can be so impressive and such a big Spike that it completely overshadows all your other achievements?
This might be worth spending a disproportionate amount of time on. As I recommend in my Harvard guide and 4. Each week I spent eight hours on practice and a lesson and four hours of orchestra rehearsals. This amounted to over 1, hours from freshman to junior year. I was pretty good, but definitely nowhere near world-class. Remember, there are thousands of orchestras and bands in the country, each with their own concertmasters, drum majors, and section 1 st chairs.
If I were to optimize purely for college applications, I should have spent that time on pushing my spike even further — working on more Olympiad competitions, or doing even more hardcore research. But this problem can be a lot worse for well-rounded students who are stretched too thin.
While we normally require two SAT Subject Tests , you may apply without them if the cost of the tests represents a financial hardship.
If you have the opportunity to take AP and IB exams, the results may be helpful for academic placement, should you be accepted and choose to enroll at Harvard. If you wish to read more about the role of testing in our admissions process, please go to http: Contributions students make to the well-being of their secondary schools, communities and families are of great interest to us. So indicate for us the time you spend and the nature of the contribution to extracurricular activities, the local community, work experiences and help provided to your family.
Activities you undertake need not be exotic but rather might show a commitment to excellence regardless of the activity. For example, a student can gain a great deal from helping his or her family with babysitting or other household responsibilities or working in a restaurant to help with family or personal expenses. Some students list only activities they feel will appear significant to the admissions office, while others endeavor to list every single thing they have ever done.
Neither approach is right for everyone. We realize that extracurricular and athletic opportunities are either unavailable or limited at many high schools. You should not feel that your chances for admission to college are hindered by the lack of extracurricular opportunities.
For additional thoughts on extracurricular activities, please refer to this article in the New York Times. In this section, please describe the activity and your level of participation. The grades during which you have participated are important because they help us to understand the depth of your involvement in that activity and your changing interests over time.
We are interested to know how you manage your time and to understand how you balance your life outside of the classroom. We know that students are often active both during the school year and the summer — working, babysitting siblings, enrolling in courses, traveling, playing sports, holding internships, etc. Filling out the grid is an act of prioritization: Harvard is a residential institution, and our students are actively engaged in college life.
This section helps us to understand how you might contribute at Harvard. The Common and Universal College Application essay topics are broad.
While this might seem daunting at first, look at it as an opportunity to write about something you care about, rather than what you think the Admissions Committee wants to hear. The point of the personal statement is for you to have the chance to share whatever you would like with us. The essay is an opportunity for students to provide information that might not be contained in other parts of the application.
As an admissions officer, I personally get excited to read through an essay that has a great lead. Think of your opening sentence or paragraph as the hyperlink on your favorite news website. Editing is a critical talent that will become increasingly important as students advance through college, graduate and professional school, and, of course, in their professions.
It can be helpful to have your essay reviewed by another person to check on typos, etc. The essay is not a vocabulary test! We want to get a glimpse of who you are, not who you think we want you to be. Believe it or not, the essay nearly always fits in with the rest of the application.
A terrific one can help and a careless one can hurt. Use the essay to convey more about you and what you value. As we have noted earlier, we realize that students have widely varying help in preparing their applications.
Some students have completed the essay entirely on their own. Others have used appropriate amounts of help from family, friends and teachers. Such help would include proofreading and general suggestions about organization as well as brainstorming about topics.
Take an event from your life that is worth writing about. The event that has affected you considerably or that has changed the course of your thinking or understanding. Talk about an event that had a positive outcome. Rather than writing about your own qualities and achievements, write about a teacher, friend or an elder who had influenced you for the better. We employ only professionals of good academic standing to help our customers with their scholarly presentations.
All your personal information is treated as highly confidential and is fully secure. While preparing an essay, the structure and form is important. The form can assume the nature of a descriptive essay or a narrative essay. The basic structure should comprise of:. You can download sample essay papers for free on how sample page, to learn more about the reasons to buy essays from ProfEssays simply follow the link.
Harvard admission essay would probably one of the most important assignments you engage on. Rather than taking chances it would be prudent to enlist the support of a learned or experienced person to guide and vet your essay before submission.
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