Harvard undergraduate application essays

A familiar sensation of frustration and hurt gripped me.


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Looking for defense I only saw a cinderblock at my feet, impossible for my eight year old body to heave, so, I screamed in English:. I abruptly turned and ran into the refuge of my aunt's home. Upon finishing a tearful narrative to my aunt and father, I preferred the comfort of the former's arms. I avoided my father's disappointment: I knew as well as he did, that I was not the victim. Later, my hysteria subdued and guilt temporarily forgotten, I ventured outside to explore the crevices of Antananarivo.

Tips for Answering the Harvard Supplemental Essay Prompts [12222 – 2020]

The boys were still playing atop the rubbish, then seeing me, scrambled off their mountain and ran in the opposite direction. The boys caught up to me and proudly waved hundred ariary bills in my face. In their broken English, they said in earnest and without malice,. We are not poor! We have money! We are Amreekan too! I agreed they were right and smiled sadly: one US dollar was the equivalent to seven thousand Malagasy ariary.

I was made sharply aware of what separated me from these children: oceans, experience, money. Politics, ignorance, the apathy of millions. Ironically, it was also the first time I belonged to my "motherland".

I could share in the simple joy of relishing what "is", be proud of the sense of resourcefulness engendered by scarcity. This memory has woven itself into my philosophy and my dreams. The very personal knowledge that millions live in a way such that electric toothbrushes are an unfathomable luxury my cousin, Aina , has given me the following personal rules:. While I may not be certain of my future, I know for certain that I want to serve. I realize that service is as important an aspect of education as is academic work.

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. There's likely a standard code for different types of occupations and schools. So it seems higher numbers are given for less prestigious educations by your parents. I'd expect that if both my parents went to schools like Caltech and Dartmouth, there would be even lower numbers here. 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.

How to Write the Harvard Supplemental Essays

But this can be shorthand to help orient an applicant's family background. 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.

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. Now, it took a lot of prior work to even get into RSI because it's so selective. 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.

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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. The result? 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. First, developing a Spike requires continuous, increasingly ambitious foundational work. It's like climbing a staircase. From the beginning of high school, each step was more and more ambitious — my first academic team, my first research experience, leading up to state and national competitions and more serious research work.

Second, it is important to do things you enjoy. Finally, note that most of my activities were pursued over multiple years. But this guide is already super long, so I want to focus our attention on the main points. Please describe which of your activities extracurricular and personal activities or work experience has been most meaningful and why.

I chose RSI as my most significant activity for two reasons — one based on the meaning of the work, and another on the social aspect. This is only the beginning of my cringe-y writing - wait until you get to my Personal Essays. I chose to spend this clarifying my extracurriculars even further. My main motive in this section was to add more detail around my most significant activities : what I did, why they should be noteworthy to the reader, and what I personally gained from them.

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The only parts the reader underlined were the name of my research supervisor, and the fact that my research was then a Siemens-Westinghouse Semi-Finalist. Both of these legitimate my research. I highly recommend you take the time to write an Additional Information section.