kellyhrdunn
kellyhrdunn,
Stanford ‘22
B.S., Biology, , Earth Sciences
A pun-loving vegan aerialist
Features Included
32
Essays
8
Schools
14
Scores
13
Advice
9
ECs
0
Sports

Background

Hometown Santa Monica, California
GenderFemale
EthnicityAsian
First Gen College StudentNo

Results, Essays, and Advice

Accepted
Waitlisted or Withdrew
Denied
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
  • University of California - Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
  • University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
  • University of California - Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  • California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)
  • Columbia University (New York, NY)
  • University of California - Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)
Tap/click a school logo above to view essays and advice specific to that school.

Stanford University (Stanford, CA)

Accepted and Enrolled Legacy: No

School Specific Essays

Visits with my grandmother have always been awkward. I speak to her in mildly incoherent Mandarin as she pats my hand and smiles. It never bothered me much—that is, until my sixteenth birthday. My entire family had come to celebrate at a local restaurant, including my distant cousin, with whom we had only spoken to through brief phone calls. Despite the initial strangeness of her presence, she naturally fell into conversation with my grandmother; it soon erupted with my...
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Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
For the past four years I have been an aerialist- climbing up silks and performing tricks, much like the acrobats in Cirque du Soleil. Despite the various bruises, burns, and blisters I receive, I love the art. It is something tangible- a welcome break from pixelated screens- where I can shake off the general lethargy of the day. When thirty feet up in the air, I am aware of every minutia of my body, from my strained biceps to the...
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Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
To most, the world seems a chaotic, mystifying entity. We ask ourselves questions like: "Why does the Earth shake?" or "What exists in the depths of our oceans?" Yet amidst this entropic system of colliding molecules, turbulent eddies, and the like, science manages to find answers. My love for science is rooted in this ideology; it is a way to understand the world's complexity, yet simultaneously, appreciate the beauty behind it. Geological and cosmological processes have baffled people for thousands...
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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?
Miles away from Taipei, tucked away in the mountains, lies Li Dao- the village where I spent my summer two years ago, teaching thirty children how to read, write, and speak English. When a family friend had first invited me, I was ecstatic. Teaching was something I loved and going would help improve my own Mandarin. However, it was only until I arrived that I realized the enormity of my responsibilities. Not only did I have to maintain my own...
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Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
Education is highly prioritized in my family. Though I had many toys as a child, I had twice the amount of books. My parents always urged me to push myself in school, taking advantage of afterschool programs, from programming to fencing. However with this opportunistic approach came a subtle yet undeniable expectation to do well. I was consequently funneled into the upper echelons of my class, taking the rigorous courses alongside a series of extracurriculars on the weekend. However, rather...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
302 Words
Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate -- and us -- know you better. (100 to 250 words) I know it’s drizzling, but look out the window. You see that girl in flip-flops and shorts? That’s Kelly. She’s the one who doubled over laughing in class yesterday (did I hear the hint of a snort?), who’s so ticklish that...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
283 Words
The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning. (100 to 250 words) In my youth, I immersed myself in fantastical worlds. I role-played as Legolas at home, carrying hair-bands “arrows” on my arm and cramming crackers (lembas) into my pocket. I read and re-read the Ender series, watched Star Wars religiously, and even dabbled in WoW. Over time, this appreciation of...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
586 Words
Chicago author Nelson Algren said, "A writer does well if in his whole life he can tell the story of one street." Chicagoans, but not just Chicagoans, have always found something instructive, and pleasing, and profound in the stories of their block, of Main Street, of Highway 61, of a farm lane, of the Celestial Highway. Tell us the story of a street, path, road—real or imagined or metaphorical. About ten miles west of Los Angeles lies the Pacific Coast...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
66 Words
When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? (50 word limit) I read everything, from Scientific American to blurbs on snack packaging. I devoured Les Miserables in a week and have twice-read half of Infinite Jest (‘the horror, the horror!’). I get lost in Wikipedia's maze of hyperlinks, learning about Godel's incompleteness theorem in one moment and Scheherazade in the next.
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
60 Words
What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 word limit) Too often people with the most potential to create change are more motivated by greed than empathy. Focused on financial security, they often study computer science or business, neglecting the humanities along the way— subjects engendering compassion, creativity, and ethical maturity, which would ultimately improve global conditions.
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
65 Words
How did you spend your last two summers? (50 word limit) -Hiked to Sandstone Peak at sunrise, bleary-eyed -Earned my SCUBA certification and met a goliath grouper along the way -Embraced veganism—trust me when I say nutritional yeast tastes better than it sounds -Reading (everything) -Visiting the Carlsbad Canyons: a (karst) topographical masterpiece! -Learning R: handy for scaling graphs
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
67 Words
What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 word limit) The removal of the Elwha Dam released a lifetime of trapped sediments and activists’ anticipation in a brilliant whitewater fury. I’d love to have witnessed this moment, where efforts like those of Mikal Jakubal’s, who trespassed and scaled Elwha to paint a crack on its side, finally came to fruition.
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
26 Words
What five words best describe you? (Keep in mind, this question's limit is actually 10 words! They just don't list it ;) ) naturephile, evolving, balanced, prodding, Beatnik
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
65 Words
Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 word limit) While visiting La Maison Française, I met a Korean linguist and a Texan biologist. Conversing, they naturally gravitated towards the particulars of their disciplines while still united by a natural curiosity. I see myself as a part of this eclectic community (a microcosm of Stanford), sharing similar perspectives over crepes.
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
69 Words
Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time? (50 word limit). I would try something new everyday. I’d tackle the didgeridoo (an addition to my current skill set of viola, harp, and ukulele), or take the time to listen to the white noise that fills a silent room. On others, I’d derive formulas spoon-fed in class or discover new theorems.
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
244 Words
Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100 to 250 words) About ten miles west of Los Angeles lies the Pacific Coast Highway— a sinuous road of plain asphalt, tucked away along the coast, surrounded by mounds of earth traced with rills. Cars, stuffed with coolers and towels, broken sandals and half-used tubes of sunscreen, speed by with surfboards strapped to their roofs. It is a picture unfocused, where minutes drip from the clock and everything hums golden....
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
406 Words
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago. UChicago is “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a dream, a nostalgia” (Steinbeck, Cannery Row). It is a hub of diversity, of contradictions, housing both the different and the eccentric. Yet rather than diminishing...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
371 Words
Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side. For the past four years I have been an aerialist- climbing up silks and performing tricks, much like the acrobats in Cirque du Soleil. Despite the various bruises, burns, and blisters I receive, I love the art. It is something tangible- a welcome break from pixelated screens-...
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
370 Words
Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. To most, the world seems a chaotic, mystifying entity. We ask ourselves questions like: "Why does the Earth shake?" or "What exists in the depths of our oceans?" Yet amidst this entropic system of colliding molecules, turbulent eddies, and the like, science manages to find answers. My love for science is rooted in this ideology; it is a...
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
378 Words
Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time. Miles away from Taipei, tucked away in the mountains, lies Li Dao- the village where I spent my summer two years ago, teaching thirty children how to read, write, and speak English. When a family friend had first invited me, I was ecstatic. Teaching was something I loved and going would help improve my own Mandarin....
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
393 Words
Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California? Education is highly prioritized in my family. Though I had many toys as a child, I had twice the amount of books. My parents always urged me to push myself in school, taking advantage of afterschool programs, from programming to fencing. However with this opportunistic approach came a subtle yet undeniable expectation...
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
513 Words
UChicago author Nelson Algren said, "A writer does well if in his whole life he can tell the story of one street." Chicagoans, but not just Chicagoans, have always found something instructive, and pleasing, and profound in the stories of their block, of Main Street, of Highway 61, of a farm lane, of the Celestial Highway. Tell us the story of a street, path, road—real or imagined or metaphorical.
About ten miles west of Los Angeles lies the Pacific Coast Highway— a sinuous road of plain asphalt, tucked away along the coast, surrounded by mounds of earth traced with rills. Cars, stuffed with coolers and towels, broken sandals and half-used tubes of sunscreen, speed by with surfboards strapped to their roofs. It is a picture unfocused, where minutes drip from the clock and everything hums golden. The people come in with the tide—a rush of water in the...
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
369 Words
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.
UChicago is “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a dream, a nostalgia” (Steinbeck, Cannery Row). It is a hub of diversity, of contradictions, housing both the different and the eccentric. Yet rather than diminishing those capacities, UChicago amplifies them with activities like zombie day which ultimately foster the creation of something greater than the student herself—a masterpiece of a gestalt. Much like the student body, I am an amalgamation of...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
104 Words
2. Please list three books, along with their authors, that have been particularly meaningful to you. For each book, please include a sentence explaining their influence upon you (200 characters max). Please note that your response is not limited to math, science or school-assigned texts.
Walden instilled a new philosophy in me by prioritizing simplicity and truth; I began to view urban life as disingenuous, a gilded simulacra of an actual experience. East of Eden- I was inexplicably drawn to ‘evil’ Cathy rather than the struggles of the Trasks; I found her actions necessary and saw her strength, causing me to reexamine other canonical “heroes.” GON is reminiscent of my youth: similar to the narrator, I agonized over every action, making me lose sight of...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
205 Words
4. Caltech students have long been known for their quirky sense of humor, whether it be through planning creative pranks, building elaborate party sets, or even the year-long preparation that goes into our annual Ditch Day. Please describe an unusual way in which you have fun. (200/200)
When I was seven, I played Purple Apple with my sister. It was a game we created that required nothing but our minds. In it, I was a fairy fighting dark forces. I meticulously tracked my inventory, full of items procured from various realms, from strength potions to invisibility runes. When I was ten, I carried hairbands on my arm (arrows to fight orcs) and tucked crackers in my back pocket—lembas that would keep me satiated while I ventured...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
472 Words
6. Scientific exploration clearly excites you. Beyond our 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio and our intense focus on research opportunities, how do you believe Caltech will best fuel your intellectual curiosity and help you meet your goals? (461/500 word max)
My school is a melting pot of people—34% Latino, 11% African American, and 8% Asian—and activities, with over 100 clubs and 15 music groups on campus. This multitude of communities provides great diversity to the campus. However, while I am a part of many of these, I find that my peers sometimes lack the drive necessary to create the intellectual excitement and community that I crave. On the other hand, I know that if I get into Caltech, I will be able to...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
254 Words
3. At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc.
In many of my classes, students don’t ask questions, withholding their curiosity for fear of judgment. Despite this pressure, there are a few who do ask for help, and while I typically understand the material at hand, I greatly admire these people who don’t. Consequently, I often hold a high regard for others’ academic preparation. At school, I offer free tutoring. Before tests, I create and record lectures reviewing material for my peers. And, as irritating as it...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
255 Words
4. Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?
Education is highly prioritized in my family. Though I had many toys as a child, I had twice the amount of books. My parents always urged me to push myself in school, taking advantage of afterschool programs, from programming to fencing. However with this opportunistic approach came a subtle yet undeniable expectation to do well. I was consequently funneled into the upper echelons of my class, taking the rigorous courses alongside a series of extracurriculars on the weekend. However, rather...
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
252 Words
5. Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?
All my life, food has played an integral role in my family. Every night, we sit at the table—devoid of books, phones, and distractions—to eat together. Food verges on sacrosanct; we chase after it in our own sort of pilgrimage, driving for hours for the tenderest kakuni and the crunchiest fried crickets. When traveling, we base our agenda off of local eateries, and during road trips, our customary game is “Restaurant #5”—counting the first four restaurants we see...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
152 Words
Please tell us more about your cultural background and identity in the space below (100 word limit).
Though not uncommon for first-generation Americans, I’ve always felt disconnected from my culture. Deemed “too Asian” by peers and “too white” by relatives, I didn’t know who to be. A part of me wanted to embrace Taiwanese culture, speaking to my grandparents in fluent Mandarin, while another part wanted to be like my peers, eating Lunchables and watching SpongeBob. Growing older, however, I’ve learned to assimilate both these identities. I make mochi with my grandmother to share...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
130 Words
1. List a few words or phrases that describe your ideal college community. (150/150)
Kind: a trait too often underrated; beyond being amiable, being an inherently good person, guided by morality rather than material achievement Balanced: maintaining balance amidst an increasingly competitive world, leaving time for family, going on a sunrise hike, or cooking pasta from scratch with friends Aware/Appreciative: a community that puts that one daunting exam in perspective, who is aware of its privilege and subsequent responsibility in giving back to others Stimulating/Collaborative: people who come back from class raving...
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Supplemental Essay: Time off from school
304 Words
Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.
Not unlike the city in which it resides— a pleasant cacophony of soulful musicians and evolving scholars, culinary artists and Wall Street billionaires—Columbia’s student body possesses diversity in both thought and composition. Yet rather than diminishing these traits, Columbia unifies them under the Core Curriculum, ultimately fostering the creation of something greater than the student herself—a masterpiece of a gestalt. Like the student body, I am an amalgamation of unique (and sometimes contradictory) qualities: in class, I...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
35 Words
List the titles of the required readings from courses during the school year or summer that you enjoyed most in the past year.
The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Kesey), Cannery Row (Steinbeck), Fundamentals of Oceanography (Sverdrup), La Cantatrice Chauve (Ionesco; in French), The Sympathizer (Nguyen), A Confederacy of Dunces (Toole)
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
97 Words
List the titles of the books you read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year.
Les Miserables (Hugo), Beloved (Morrison), The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Wolfe), Dharma Bums (Kerouac) Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), Catch-22 (Heller), Interpreter of Maladies (Lahiri), Winesburg, Ohio (Anderson), White Noise (Delillo), Oblivion (Wallace), East of Eden (Steinbeck), The Interpretation of Cultures (Geertz), Me Talk Pretty One Day (Sedaris), Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez), Waiting for Godot (Beckett), Our Town (Wilder), The Tin Drum (Grass), A Pickle for the Knowing Ones (Dexter), -The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Diaz),...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
24 Words
List the titles of the print, electronic publications and websites you read regularly.
The Scientific American, The New York Times (even when incisive hurts), The Sun Magazine, foodpolitics.com, https://minimalistbaker.com (I highly recommend the falafels!)
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
87 Words
List the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year.
Lectures/Exhibits: The Science of Ensuring a More Sustainable Future (Alumni College 2017 Caltech event), Meteorites from Mars and on Mars (lecture at UCLA Meteorite Gallery), Cassini’s Grand Finale at Saturn lecture (at Santa Monica College Planetarium), Exhibition w/ Hope Gangloff (Stanford Cantor Arts Center) Musicals/Movies/Concerts: Hamilton: An American Musical, John Williams: Maestro of Movies (LA Phil), The Silk Road Ensemble w/ Yo-Yo Ma, The Frights at The Smell (experimental music venue for local artists) Films: Bakara, Loving...
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School Specific Advice

What might make for a good “Why Us” essay topic at my school
63 Words
This isn't so much a "why us" tip as opposed to a "UC Insight Question" tip. Remember that the...
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Why I ultimately chose my school
278 Words
The college process ultimately boiled down to two choices: UChicago and Stanford. They're about the same tuition-wise, but culturally, they're entirely different. Let me just say that I love UChicago for it's dedication to academics. It has a core curriculum and is notorious for its grade deflation. It's also jokingly known as "where fun goes to die." Weirdly enough, this seemed incredibly tempting for me. All my life, things had seem handed to me, and with UChicago, I knew I would have...
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List of schools I interviewed with and my interview experience
232 Words
Since I am a native Californian, Stanford didn't interview me. Here are my thoughts on college interviews though: If they aren't required do them only if you really want to learn more about the school. When colleges say these interviews are for you, they mean it. How well or poorly you do on your interviews doesn't really dictate whether or not you get in. Of course, if you...
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5 adjectives that describe a typical student at my school (Feel free to elaborate!)
7 Words
Balanced, inquisitive,...
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How to increase chances at my school
87 Words
Be quirky. Be weird. Take chances. Devote your time on essays more than test scores or anything else. If you have a weird hobby that you've...
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How to increase chances at my school
132 Words
Alright so here’s the tip top secret for Stanford. You ready? . . . STANFORD LOVES ITS DIVERSITY AND CONNECTIONS. I cannot stress this enough. I had the opportunity to intern at the Hopkins Marine Station. It's a part...
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More Essays

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

General Admissions Advice

How to deal with the stress of applying to college
197 Words
College is an individualistic process. I cannot stress this enough. It doesn't matter where your peers are applying, or what that other person's SAT scores are. Focus on yourself and what you want to get out of college because at the end of the day, it's your life! Try not to rely entirely on the "big names" (although I'm...
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What set me apart from other applicants
118 Words
Make yourself human. Don't be a robot, rattling off whatever test scores you got or what AP classes you're taking. When writing my essays, I wrote about things I truly liked to do-- things that...
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What I’d change about my application process
91 Words
Don't get me wrong- I'm incredibly grateful for where I have gotten into. However, if I could do the process over again, I'd actually do some research...
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My advice about getting recommenders
79 Words
5 words: ask early and ask soon. Also getting them a little gift post-writing is always a nice idea :) Also, (although this depends a...
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Whether I took out loans or applied for scholarships, and my advice
178 Words
So you applied. That's half the battle (crazy I know). Now it's scholarship crunch-time. My school was lucky in that they already had some school-based scholarships available. I ended up earning some money from that, as well as through the National Merit program. So first off, check if your school has any scholarships...
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Whether I used a private admissions counselor, and advice I received
329 Words
So I didn't really have a college counselor going into this process. Granted, I felt the stress of it. All my friends were getting their own respective counselors and clambering over each other to approach teachers for help. Some had their parents who were journalists or writers and consequenlty, were heavily involved in their child's college process. In short, my parents didn't even know where I applied. I had a teacher read over some of my essays (although by the second college I had applied to I had an idea of what to do...it gets easier the more you...
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How I narrowed down my essay topics
136 Words
Freewrite. Sit down some time during the summer, and write down four or five essay topics you think you could write an essay about that pertain to whichever personal statement (or prompt in general) you chose. Then write each one out...
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High School Performance

Unweighted GPA
4.00
 
Rank
Top 1%
 
Academic Performance in High School Steady

Test Scores

Highest SAT
1500
 
SAT Score Details
 
Other SAT Scores
SAT Prep
SAT IIs
PSAT Scores

AP / IB Classes and Scores

Details9 classes and scores

Sports

Extracurriculars

ActivitiesTutoring/Mentoring, Dance, Art, Local Orchestra / Symphony / Band, Clean Ocean Beach Sweeps / River Cleanup, Foreign Language, Quiz Bowl/Academic Bowl, Research, Foreign Language
Elaborate on Extracurriculars or Work

Experience & Awards

Volunteer Experiences
Awards Received
Application Additional Materials

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