Successful harvard admissions essays


Find people similar to you. Unlock their application files and message them for advice.

I ranked at the national level, before the US selected their final team — a study camp of 20 students. But this was still a national level honor, in a well-known competition. This is why I say a big Spike makes you stand out clearly among a bin of well-rounded applicants. At Harvard in my class, I knew International Math and Physics Olympiad gold medalists, people who were on their national teams for the hardest subjects AND ranked in the top percentiles worldwide.

And there were students with similar level accomplishments in other arenas, from music performance to writing. Earning this kind of honor was nearly a golden ticket to getting into schools like Harvard , because you literally are the best in the world at what you care about. But remember there are thousands of nationally-ranked people in a multitude of honor types, from science competitions to essay contests to athletics to weird talents. And I strongly believe the 1 differentiator of high school students who achieve things is work ethic, NOT intelligence or talent.

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Yes, you need a baseline level of competence to get places, but people far undervalue the progress they can make if they work hard and persevere. Far too many people give up too quickly or fatigue without putting in serious effort. The truth is everyone who achieves something of note puts in an incredible amount of hard work. My research work took up the next two honors, one a presentation at an academic conference, and the other Siemens a research competition for high school researchers.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, think about how many state medalists there are in the country, in the hundreds of competitions that exist. The number of state to national rankers is probably at least less than because of variation in state size , so if there are 2, nationally ranked students, there are 40, state-ranked students in something! So state honors really don't help you stand out on your Princeton application. There are just too many of them around. On the other hand, if you can get to be nationally ranked in something, you will have an amazing Spike that distinguishes you.

How could anything I write compare to these tales of personal strength? The trite truth is that colleges want to know who you really are. But they do want students who are:. I do think my Spike was nearly sufficient to get me admitted to every school in the country. Back then, we had a set of different prompts :. I chose to write on a topic of my choice, which no longer exists as an option probably for good reason - kids just went all over the place. I also felt a need to be distinctive and thought that a free essay topic might give me more freedom.


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The way I saw it, the personal statement was a vehicle to convey my personality and my interests. To build my Personal Narrative, I wanted to showcase my personality and reveal a bit about my life experiences. The idea I used was to talk about my battle against the snooze alarm. Frankly this personal statement is really embarrassing. Each time I read it, I cringe a bit. I think I sound too smug and self-satisfied. But again in the interest of transparency, here goes:.

I want to as well. The theme of the essay — battling an alarm clock — shows this well, in comparison to the gravitas of the typical student essay. The frank admission of a realistic lazy habit — pushing the Snooze button — served as a nice foil to my academic honors and shows that I can be down-to-earth. So you see how the snooze button acts as a vehicle to carry these major points and a lot of details, tied together to the same theme.


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  8. So overall, I believe the essay accomplishes my goals and the main points of what I wanted to convey about myself. Note that this is just one of many ways to write an essay.

    It worked for me, but it may be totally inappropriate for you. Looking at it with a more seasoned perspective, some parts of it are WAY too try-hard. I try too hard to show off my breadth of knowledge in a way that seems artificial and embellishing. With just words, I could have made the essay more cohesive by keeping the same theme from beginning to end. Some phrases really make me roll my eyes.

    A key principle of effective writing is to show, not say. The mention of Nietzsche is over-the-top. I mean, come on. Where in the world did fried rice come from? I could have deleted the sentence and wrapped up the essay more cleanly. I think it accomplished my major goals and showed the humorous, irreverent side of my personality well.

    However, it also gave the impression of a kid who thought he knew more than he did, a pseudo-sophisticate bordering on obnoxious. I still think it was a net positive. At the end of the day, I believe the safest, surefire strategy is to develop a Spike so big that the importance of the Personal Essay pales in comparison to your achievements. You want your Personal Essay to be a supplement to your application, not the only reason you get in. There are probably some cases where a well-rounded student writes an amazing Personal Essay and gets in through the strength of that.

    Without a strong application to back it up, your mileage may vary. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. This is a really fun section. Teacher recommendations are incredibly important to your application. The average teacher sees thousands of students through a career, and so he or she is very well equipped to position you relative to all other students.

    /19 Harvard Business School Essay Analysis [Downloadable Sample Essays]

    Furthermore, your teachers are experienced adults — their impressions of you are much more reliable than your impressions of yourself see my Personal Essay above. They can corroborate your entire Personal Narrative as an outside observer. The most effective recommendation letters speak both to your academic strengths and to your personality. For the second factor, the teacher needs to have interacted with you meaningfully, ideally both in and out of class.

    100 successful college application essays

    Check out our guide on what makes for effective letters of recommendation. Starting from sophomore year, I started thinking about whom I connected better with and chose to engage with those teachers more deeply. The minimum requirement for a good letter is someone who taught a class in which you did well. Beyond this, I had to look for teachers who would be strong advocates for me on both an academic and personal level.

    These tended to be teachers I vibed more strongly with, and typically these were teachers who demonstrably cared about teaching. This was made clear by their enthusiasm, how they treated students, and how much they went above expectations to help. If you honestly like learning and are an enthusiastic, responsible, engaging student, a great recommendation letter will follow naturally. The horse should lead the cart.

    Read my How to Get a 4. She was my favorite teacher throughout high school for these reasons:. By the time of the letter writing, I had known her for two full years and engaged with her continuously, even when I wasn't taking a class with her in junior year. All of this flowed down to the recommendation you see here.

    Remember, the horse leads the cart.

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    The Common Application now has 16 qualities to rate, rather than the 10 here. You can tell that the updated Common App places a great emphasis on personality. The more experienced and trustworthy the teacher, the more meaningful this is. You'll see below how you can accomplish this. As you read this, think — what are the interactions that would prompt the teacher to write a recommendation like this?

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