There's not much to say here, other than the fact that my Principal wrote my recommendation for me, which we'll get into next. If you're part of a big school, this is CRITICAL to distinguish yourself from other students. If you honestly like learning and are an enthusiastic, responsible, engaging student, a great recommendation letter will follow naturally. First, developing a Spike requires continuous, increasingly ambitious foundational work. Halfway in the essay, I also explicitly acknowledged the Asian stereotype of parents who drove their kids, and said my parents were no different. If you're a notable minority, this is where you'd indicate it. Looking back I don't mind this much because I generally enjoyed my musical training and had a mostly fun time in orchestra (and I had a strong Spike anyway). I received similar successful letters from every college I applied to: Princeton, Stanford, and MIT. You are a movie director, and your application is your way to tell a compelling, cohesive story through supporting evidence. The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points, How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer, Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests. Are you struggling with your SAT/ACT scores? In ratings, you can see that I only earned 3 of the "one of the top in my career." I would say that after your coursework/test scores and activities/honors, they're the 3rd most important component of your application. But I would have done far better by making it more sincere and less overworked. 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). Because this is invisible to you, it looks like talent is what distinguishes the two of you, when really it's much more often diligence. Here are the biggest questions for you to answer: At PrepScholar, we've published the best guides available anywhere to help you succeed in high school and college admissions. So there we have it—my entire college application. I still enjoyed playing the violin and being part of an orchestra, and I really enjoyed my school's academic teams, even though we never went beyond state level. (This is only the beginning of my cringe-y writing—wait until you get to my Personal Essays. Follow these pointers for crafting a rich and memorable Common App activities page. Once again, the point of my showing this to you is NOT to give you an application to replicate, but rather to talk you through how to craft a compelling, coherent application. In the long run, both predictions turned out to be wrong. However, their standards are still very high. Let's talk about my school principal writing my recommendation, rather than a school counselor. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. This 1 tip is exactly 149 characters long. As you read this, think—what are the interactions that would prompt the teacher to write a recommendation like this? This was how my application worked. This section is pretty straightforward and is similar to what you'd see on a Columbia application. The Common App is essentially a standard form that allows an applicant to input basic information, which will then go directly to university admissions.Some sections of the Common App are You don't say "I'm passionate about X," you describe what extraordinary lengths you took to achieve X. You can see that this was the only activity my admissions reader circled. That's why I don't see my time with academic teams or volunteering as wasted, even though in the end they didn't contribute as much to my application. But you can accomplish a lot more than you think if you work hard and strategize smartly. You'll really have to dig yourself out of the hole with an amazing application. You can tell that the updated Common App places a great emphasis on personality. HEY GUYS! I don't remember exactly how this came to be, to be honest. They were overworked and ornery, and because they were the gatekeepers of academic enrollment (like class selection and prerequisites), this led to constant frictions in getting the classes you wanted. But the counseling department was still the worst part of our high school administration, and I could have guessed that the letters they wrote were mediocre because they just had too many students. I do think my Spike was nearly sufficient to get me admitted to every school in the country. The other pieces I'll present below—personal statements, extracurriculars, recommendations—will matter less. Reading it now, I actually think this was a pretty bad essay, and I cringe to high heaven. This letter is probably the weakest overall of all my letters. Packaging my points together under the snooze button theme makes it a lot more interesting than just outright saying "I'm such an interesting guy.". You can see how there's so much more information than appears in my brief list of activities. Our school had nearly 1,000 students per grade, and only 1 counselor per grade. If you're stuck thinking, "well I'm just an average person, and there's no way I'm going to become world-class in anything," then you've already lost before you've begun. Unlike the other optional components (the Additional Information in the Common App, and the Supplementary Essay), I would actually consider these letters optional. This day has divided my life into two parts: before and after. This might be worth spending a disproportionate amount of time on. Ethan helps students write amazing college essays by offering free resources, one-on-one essay sessions, online webinars, and in-person workshops. For most top colleges like Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and so on, you will need to complete a supplemental application to provide more info than what's listed on the Common Application. What I did might not be as impressive as it used to be. It signals insincerity, actually, which is bad. So how did my Principal come to write my recommendation and not those for hundreds of other students? I decided to attend Harvard. We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. The reader made a number of marks here for occupation and education. At this point, we've covered my entire Common Application. Very often, students underestimate the importance of activities list when filling in their college application. Please do not copy them, as this is plagiarism. In retrospect, one "mistake" I made was spending a lot of time on the violin. This might be what you're picturing as you read this Personal Narrative, which is good, because it's distinctive. You are given 50 characters for the title/position of your extracurricular activity, and 150 characters for that activity's description/your responsibilities. This is a good sign of developing a strong Spike. OK, please. Don't worry if you're taking a different number of AP courses or have lower test scores or do different extracurriculars or write totally different personal statements. Now let's look at this essay's weaknesses. We'll get to areas of improvement later, but first, let's talk about what this personal essay did well. You should get a very strong flavor of who I am, which is the hallmark of a memorable, effective application. I took AP Chemistry in 10th grade and had Miss Cherryl Vorak (now Mynster). Overall, Miss Vorak's letter perfectly supports my Personal Narrative—my love for science, my overall academic performance, and my personality. In junior year, I didn't make it onto the international team to compete (I did in senior year, too late for college apps). I ranked at the national level, before the US selected their final team—a study camp of 20 students. Applying to the right number of colleges. Trained 7 state qualifiers; developed fundraising, recruitment campaigns to raise $1200 in 1 year, increase membership from 6 to 40 members in 2 years – I don't have any other applications to compare these to, so I'm going to interpret these marks as best I can. If you were the first one in your family to go to college, for example, you'd be excused for having lower test scores and fewer AP classes. Some application readers would argue that it also happens to be the section that applicants most often overlook and under appreciate. More than 70 examples of impactful Extracurricular Activities 18 June 2020. Fill out the real Common App This is one place I would have spent more time, maybe in the time I'd save by not practicing violin as much. Here are the next two pages of the Harvard supplemental form. Just like Like when writing a resume, you can use “incomplete sentences” in your activity list descriptions to maximize the amount of information you’re able to fit. I'll point out mistakes I made that I could have corrected to build an even stronger application. She was my advocate for much of the US National Chemistry Olympiad stuff, and in this capacity I got to know her even better outside of class. Then we'll go into the Harvard supplemental application. In addition to all this detail, there are two special parts of this college application breakdown that I haven't seen anywhere else: For every piece of my application, I'll provide commentary on what made it so effective and my strategies behind creating it. Preparing your Common App activities can be just as stressful as completing the personal statement and college-specific supplements. You want your Personal Essay to be a supplement to your application, not the only reason you get in. It does not represent all your complexities and your 17 years of existence. Deadlines are not suggestions. On the micro-level, her diction and phrasing are precise and effective. But this was still a national level honor, in a well-known competition. Just as in my Common App, I noted that I was most likely to study biological sciences, choose Medicine as my vocation, and participate in orchestra, writing, and research as my extracurriculars. College application checklist. The more unique and noteworthy your Personal Narrative is, the better. Ask below and we'll reply! I talk a lot more about the Growth Mindset in my How To Get a 4.0 GPA guide. Remember, over 40,000 students fit in the top 1 percentile of students nationwide. I didn't grow up as a refugee, wrenched from my war-torn home! For the Common App, you'll need to reflect on what you have learned from your activities and how they have helped you develop. (In the current Common Application, the Education section also includes Grades, Courses, and Honors. Here's the letter offering me admission into Harvard College under Early Action. The Best Common App Activities Example for Students. She was invigorating and passionate, always trying to get a rise out of students and push their thinking, especially in class discussions. I'm flattered and grateful to have received this support. Looking for another way to help your application stand out from the pack? But this problem can be a lot worse for well-rounded students who are stretched too thin. For the ACT, that's an average of 34, and a 75th percentile of 35 and a 25th percentile of 32. My biggest caveat for you when reading this guide: thousands of students get into Harvard and Ivy League schools every year. 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. I had a lot of teachers who really just phoned it in and treated their job perfunctorily—these people are likely to write pretty blasé letters. My second teacher Mrs. However, it also gave the impression of a kid who thought he knew more than he did, a pseudo-sophisticate bordering on obnoxious. "What is the perfect combination of personal, funny, heartrending, and inspirational?". 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