B.A., Geography
Applied last minute, didn't get rejected from everywhere to my surprise
Features Included


Hometown SINGAPORE, Singapore
Class of2020
First Gen College StudentNo
English First Language Yes
Other Language(s) Spoken Mandarin, Japanese

Results, Essays, and Advice

Waitlisted or Withdrew
  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
  • Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
  • University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL)
  • University of California - Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Duke University (Durham, NC)
  • Brown University (Providence, RI)
  • University of California - Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
  • University College London (London, England)
  • King's College London (London, England)
Tap/click a school logo above to view essays and advice specific to that school.

Oxford University (Oxford, England)

Applied for a B.A. in Geography

Accepted and Enrolled Legacy: No

School Specific Essays

UCAS Statement My earliest forays into Geography consisted of reading about environmentalism and sociopolitics in the National Geographic. Initially attracted by the study of the intricate relationships between man-made and natural spaces, I have since grown to love Geography for its ability to interrogate complex issues troubling societies, while presenting a rich diorama of our world's complex sociopolitical and environmental dynamics. As an A Level Geography student, I have often appreciated the practical applications of geographical theory, particularly when I...
The year I was born, 1998, Cowboy Bebop was released. It was a highly acclaimed show that won several creative awards, becoming widely hailed as a masterpiece among Japanese animations— and also a subtle, nuanced work that dealt with difficult questions about existentialism and human loneliness. I knew none of that, however, when I first sat down as an unsuspecting girl of eight to watch its first episode with my sister. The result: a simple show about a group of futuristic...
Where else could I find a discipline where I could dabble in environmentalism and human psychology in an entirely legitimate way? Or apply the knowledge of social sciences to understand the malaises of our age, like broken down relationships or socioeconomic polarisation? Even though I’ve never encountered urban studies in its specialised form in my educational experiences, I have gotten a taste of it through urban geography lessons and independent study opportunities at [redacted]. I’ve decided since that...
Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
159 Words
Dearest Duke, how have you been? A little bird said your Nicholas School has been absolutely revolutionary lately. Your students’ groundbreaking research— advocating for sustainable transport, marine conservation— is ever inspiring. It’s clear they’re driven youths who push the envelope in their studies. And that interdisciplinarity! The comprehensiveness of your Environmental Science classes astounds me - it reflects a mature sensitivity to modern global issues that this international applicant appreciates. Ethics, philosophy, science all in Conservation and Development ...
Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
155 Words
Upon hearing of Brown’s commitment to fostering acceptance and diversity, I knew I had to apply. With a tradition of open-mindedness and hallmark programmes like Minority Peer Counselling, I can thrive at Brown, free from arbitrary constraints and social discrimination. Under these precedents of institutional and social support, I will grow like I never have before. Brown’s open curriculum also means I can pursue my multifaceted interests without sacrificing any of them, like I often had to in...
Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
505 Words
Did white men ever have to endure living in a perilous ocean of their own enemies? Did the European masters of the 19th century question their homogenous halls of haughtiness, or realise how conspicuously they must have excluded the women and men of racial minorities outside their realms of privilege? Large unanswerable questions these may be, but that is no matter; I have sought to answer them ever since I began wondering about the world around me. I want to...
Supplemental Essay: Diversity statement
243 Words
Kurt Vonnegut once said, “If you want to really hurt your parents and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, [you should] at least go into the arts.” He was right. I managed to do both, and look at me now: I’m clearly prizewinner of the Disappointment Olympics. Watch out, world! Jokes aside, being a lesbian in [redacted] isn’t easy. 70% of the public deems homosexuality immoral, so coming out remains social suicide (being gossiped about if...
Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
156 Words
Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated earlier in this application?
The myriad of problems in cities unsettles me. I've seen how stressed my parents look after work, and noticed the rumbles of animosity between [redacted]’s urban young and forgotten elderly. Although touted as the magic bullet of poverty reduction and human development, cities increasingly create and intersect with intractable crises, like Syria’s migration crisis and social alienation— crises we need to solve, and quickly. My peers and family think Urban Studies will turn me insular, studying only the...
Supplemental Essay: Diversity statement
139 Words
Tell us where you have lived - and for how long - since you were born; whether you've always lived in the same place, or perhaps in a variety of places.
Tell us where you have lived - and for how long - since you were born; whether you've always lived in the same place, or perhaps in a variety of places. Life as the daughter of two immigrants is inevitably emotionally nomadic. In my childhood, I flitted between [redacted], Hangzhou, and even Switzerland. But despite my crosscultural background (or even because of it), I identify with [redacted] wholeheartedly, especially with the people who pump [redacted]’s fundamental lifeblood. From our...
Supplemental Essay: Diversity statement
106 Words
We all exist within communities or groups of various sizes, origins, and purposes; pick one and tell us why it is important to you, and how it has shaped you.
When I come out of the closet, the first thing I’ll do is thank [redacted]’s local community of LGBTQIA artists. Despite being a lesbian in a conservative Chinese immigrant family, in a country that largely deems homosexuality immoral, I accepted myself early on thanks to their presence and influence. Unapologetically visible writers like Jolene Tan and Cyril Wong convinced me not to fear being different, when I was debating closeting myself my entire life. Slowly, these artists are...
Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
660 Words
Describe two or three of your intellectual interests and why you are excited to pursue them within your chosen major in AAP. What personal experiences, background, or future goals will you bring to your scholarly and artistic pursuits at Cornell?
Being an optimistic realist puts one in a strange position. Growing up, I’ve seen so much within my city, despite living on a dingy island in the Southeast Asian region, which unsettles me and made me pessimistic about ever changing the world. It seems as though wars and inequality, corruption and poverty pervade urban societies by design and are unchangeable. All the same, I still earnestly believe in this world and its people’s power to change our fates...
Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
149 Words
"Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences."
What I value most about about working at a hawker centre, or kopitiam, isn’t necessarily tangible things like job titles or earning spare change. Rather, it’s interacting with a different side of [redacted], a side my education unintentionally blinds me to. At work, I strip off my pretensions from school and become simply another staff member at [redacted]. Contrary to perceptions that kopitiam work is degrading, less illustrious than internships at flagship ministries, I find work endlessly meaningful....
Supplemental Essay: Issue of personal significance
350 Words
"Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?"

When my friend died, I joined in the historical struggle of writers to describe the taste of bereavement. I learned from Elizabeth Browning's grace in crafting elegant elegies, connected with WH. Auden's plaintive vulnerability in "Funeral Blues", and laughed, despite myself, at Sylvia Plath's bleak humour and tragicomic honesty. And after many nights of undignified sobbing, I found my perfect description in Regina Spektor's unpretentious but devastating poetry: "the food that I'm eating / is suddenly tasteless / I know I'm alone...
Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
356 Words
"Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you."
Even if I've gotten used to living under bureaucratic constraints (hello, [redacted]ean examinations and education system), I savour freedom where I can get it. Its scarcity is precisely what makes me treasure it. So when I discovered Geography, the discipline dedicated to studying every worldly phenomena imaginable, I saw what a goldmine that was, even if there were (justified) murmurs that it was an ill-defined and sprawling course. Geography matters substantially to me, and not just as a 'favourite...
Supplemental Essay: Diversity statement
353 Words
"What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?"

Three words: my cultural schizophrenia. For a while, I thought I misplaced my racial roots! I probably inherited ones resembling a ginseng plant from my Mainland Chinese parents, but I wouldn't know; they might've been denuded by the wave of Westernisation. In the past, I had no clear concept of where my cultural 'homeland' was. Officially, it was my ancestral home in Hangzhou. But in my soul, I know I've imbibed many things that complicate this process of self-discovery for...
Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
354 Words
"What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?"
Indubitably, Holly Golightly is the role model I wish I'd had when I was young. She would have been the fresh spot of independence I needed, to counter the naivete of giggling Disney princesses. But where I celebrate Holly's pluck and self-possession, I see where Breakfast at Tiffany's has failed in allowing yellowface and feminine conformity into its sublime world. In my lingering moments of fantasy, I dream up my own film remix: where Holly never remains tied to men,...

School Specific Advice

More Essays

These essays haven't been tagged by school. Click school logos above to see tagged essays.

General Admissions Advice

Whether I used a private admissions counselor, and advice I received
60 Words
I didn't use a private consultant. My high school consultant was unhelpful, emphasising that I wouldn't make...
My advice about getting recommenders
85 Words
Just in my country in particular - the gossip mill in my school did churn out sensational rumours about how even the ethnicity of your...
What I’d change about my application process
106 Words
(GENUINELY) START EARLIER. Pre-college me would have mocked me for believing in that advice now but I regretted it when I was slaving away in December for the January deadlines. I distinguish...
How I made up for low grades in high school
158 Words
I had what might have been considered a valid reason for my failing grade in Economics in 11th grade: personal bereavement. I knew my grade would catch officers' eyes so I emphasised that factor very clearly in Additional Info sections. Tried to get involved...
How I narrowed down my essay topics
263 Words
general advice about writing the essays - someone once told me these things and it's been the best advice i got. try to think of your essay as a way to tell the officers something completely new they wouldn't have expected from you. your formal achievements are for the many other sections; the essay isn't for repeating what other sections could propound already. the Essay is about You As A Person and living, breathing,...
Did you take a gap year? Tell us about your experience.
157 Words
did not intentionally take a gap 'yah' but as an international student coming from a different school calendar there were 10 months between the end of my exams and the start of college. best moments of my gap year: - developing my new skincare...

High School Performance

(no specification of weighting)
Top 10%
High School TypePublic
College Classes In High School
Academic Performance in High School Low at first but improved
Explanation of Low Grades

Test Scores

Highest SAT
SAT Score Details
Converted SAT Score1580
Other SAT Scores
SAT Prep
Other Standardized Tests

AP / IB Classes and Scores

Details4 classes and scores


SportsTrack & Field


ActivitiesSchool Newspaper/Magazine/Journalism, Boy/Girl Scouts, Community Cleanup / Service, School Theater/Plays
Elaborate on Extracurriculars or Work

Experience & Awards

Volunteer Experiences
Awards Received
Application Additional Materials

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