michellezhang
michellezhang,
Northwestern ‘24
B.A., Economics
Aspiring entrepreneur interested in comp sci, sustainability, and art; applied to college as an econ/environmental science major; world's #1 phineas & ferb fan
Features Included
22
Essays
13
Schools
15
Scores
23
Advice
11
ECs
0
Sports

Background

Hometown Chicago, Illinois
GenderFemale
EthnicityAsian
First Gen College StudentNo

Results, Essays, and Advice

Accepted
Waitlisted or Withdrew
Denied
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
  • Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)
  • University of California - Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
  • University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
  • Rice University (Houston, TX)
  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
  • Columbia University (New York, NY)
  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
  • Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
  • Brown University (Providence, RI)
Tap/click a school logo above to view essays and advice specific to that school.

Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)

Applied for a B.A. in Economics

Accepted and Enrolled Legacy: No

School Specific Essays

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
My grandmother once told me that I must be the only person in the entire world who could stand to listen to her talk all day. Every year, I eagerly anticipated her visits to my family in America when she would weave tales of fetching water during neverending mosquito summers in her home country and making a living as a schoolteacher surrounded by sick children and three-legged dogs.  Sitting in my air-conditioned and decidedly disease-free room, I felt very lucky....
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The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
My childhood best friend Jaylynn and I invented hundreds of stories about superheroes, ranging from Super-Sop, the giant sponge who epically absorbs oil spills in the oceans, to Handyman, the advice-giving hand-puppet who epically matches your shoes to your outfit. With imaginary capes trailing behind us, we re-enacted our stories on the playground, saving the world from mad scientists and crazed fashionistas. We were an inseparable duo and vowed to be the force of good no matter what evil we...
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What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
"Hello." That was the first thing Kayla, a new student who had just moved from South Korea, ever said to me. In her thick accent, the two syllables in that simple word tumbled on her tongue like clothes in a washing machine. I became friends with Kayla. We liked the same books and bonded over the trials and tribulations of navigating fifth grade. Whenever she spoke, however, her voice seemed to swallow up her sentences so that you couldn't help...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
360 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.
"Black and white to full technicolor," our director told us. "You guys will have about eight seconds." My jaw dropped. We were working on a production of City of Angels, the most technically challenging production our school theater company had ever been tasked with. The show switched constantly from scenes in a writer's fictional black-and-white world to vibrant 1940's Hollywood. To distinguish these two locations, the scene changes couldn't be small: we had to completely transform the entire set. Doing...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
285 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.
The summer after my freshman year, I joined a program called Free Street Theater. Instead of a traditional theater experience, we spent hours interviewing people on the streets to learn about the issues that the members of our city community face in their everyday lives. We workshopped a myriad of techniques for raising awareness for said issues. I ended up writing, producing, and performing in an original theater piece with two other teens. Our piece, which was based on a...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
295 Words
Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
Climate change: many people want to combat it, but not many people know how to do so. When I studied the economic viability of solar energy in my junior year, I was surprised to find that the current solar technology is not as effective as I had assumed it to be. I saw that the issue lies in people ardently supporting widespread usage of solar power without realizing that it's inefficient, and resources could be better allocated toward improving solar...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
104 Words
Why Dartmouth
As a child, I relished in visiting my neighborhood pond to search for turtles. The more I looked, the more the pond offered. Dartmouth embodies the same persistent curiosity. With its many research opportunities and focus on undergraduate education, I’d be able to grow academically and challenge myself to apply my skills. Dartmouth’s beautiful location and dedication to sustainability also perfectly suit my interest in environmental issues. I can see myself participating in Sustainable Action Workshops or even...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
278 Words
“I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your curiosity.
“We make dumplings from recycled food,” the man told us. We were twenty kids crammed into a tiny restaurant in Berlin that, apparently, made dumplings out of garbage. We were a little adamant about the idea at first, but the man continued to explain. “The average German throws away 60 kilograms of perfectly usable food every year,” he said. “We take that food that would’ve been wasted and use it in our product.” My slight repulsion blossomed into fascination as...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
300 Words
Why Northwestern.
Economics is about simplifying the complex reasons behind why people make decisions into analyzable frameworks. Thus to understand why I want to study economics at Northwestern, I’d like to model the situation using supply and demand: I have a demand, an innate desire, to explore the world around me, and Northwestern supplies countless opportunities to match it. While searching the Internet to prepare for my research project on retail food waste, I discovered a powerful, widely-cited research paper on...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
252 Words
Academic interest statement.
“I think The Presidant shold clean up all the garbege in the world,” I stated in my magnum opus — a speech I wrote in second grade about what I believed was the most practical solution to pollution. Perhaps my ideas weren’t the most realistic, but getting others to understand them was exciting nevertheless: my voice and my thoughts were being heard by my peers. Years later, I found another outlet for my voice when I founded Luftbloom, an online...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
262 Words
Prompt 2: Share your favorite quote, and tell us what it means to you. The quote can be from an author, leader, musical artist, family member or other source—famous or not. (Your response should be 200-250 words not including your quote.)
“So the whole war is because we can't talk to each other?" - Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game “We make dumplings out of recycled food,” the man told us. We were twenty American kids crammed into a tiny restaurant in Berlin that, apparently, made dumplings out of garbage. We were adamant about the concept at first, but the man continued to explain. “The average German throws away about 60 kilograms of perfectly usable food every year,” he told us. “We take...
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Supplemental Essay: Amusing anecdote
313 Words
Prompt 3: We want to understand you better! Tell us about a skill you have (useless or useful) and what it says about you.
My hands quiver. My heart tightens up. I blink and accidentally unleash a flood of tears, running down my cheeks like a river. I watch as my favorite childhood stuffed bear speaks. Suddenly, the lights come up again and I’ve returned to the red movie theater seats, clutching my ticket for Christopher Robin in my first. “Why are you crying?” my friends ask through their laughs. One of them nudges me in the side. “It’s just a movie!”...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
146 Words
There is a breadth of intellectual opportunities here at Rice. Further explain your intended major and other areas of academic focus you may explore. (150 word limit)
When I wrote a paper my junior year on the economic viability of solar energy, I was surprised to find that current solar technology is not as effective as I had assumed it to be. People seemed to support solar power without realizing that resources could be better allocated toward improving solar technologies instead of implementing the current faulty ones. I hope to further research the connections between economics, environmental science, and social policy and continue to explore using economics...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
155 Words
What aspects of the Rice undergraduate experience inspired you to apply? (150 word limit)
I felt euphoric: I had finally found my match. My computer was open to the Rice website. I was impressed by many things: the strong economics curriculum, the resources offered through RISE, the myriad of clubs to explore, and the beautiful campus. However, those were things I already knew. What truly piqued my interest was the President’s Lecture Series. I envisioned myself attending one of the many on-campus lectures, getting to hear what the leading voices in every field...
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Supplemental Essay: Amusing anecdote
270 Words



Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspectives would you contribute to life at Rice? (500 word limit)
My family doesn’t say “I love you.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard those words come out of my parents' mouths in my entire 17 years of existence. Instead, they say things like “Put on a jacket, you’re gonna get cold” or “It’s getting dark out” or “You need to eat more fruit.” When people ask if this bothers me, I tell them this story. I had to interview people around the city for a theater...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
151 Words
Describe an extracurricular.
Students lovingly call The Young Company "hellscape." While it's true that spending 200 hours on a production over eight weeks is exhausting, high-pressure, and often-thankless work, Company always gives back to me tenfold. I started Company knowing nothing about theater and doing the bare minimum to help out. However, Company culture is about proactivity, not waiting to be told what to do. I've since directed the construction of mountains and 20-foot brick walls. I've sacrificed countless lunches to work in the...
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Supplemental Essay: Amusing anecdote
280 Words
Communities essay (UMich)
I open a bag of chips. Pure bewilderment plasters itself onto the face of anyone within a five-foot radius. "Why?" people always ask. "Why the chopsticks?" One of my biggest pet peeves is eating chips with my hands: to put it simply, it's messy. Eating chips with chopsticks is the perfect solution to that problem. My seemingly-absurd little idiosyncrasy always gives people a good laugh, but I think there's something more to it. There's an age-old adage that there's only...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
522 Words
Why UMich
I was twelve years old, scrolling through YouTube at 10 PM on a summer night. Aha! At last, I spotted a video that piqued my interest: "A Very Potter Musical" — a Harry Potter parody musical produced by Team StarKid, who were apparently students at some college in Michigan. As I watched the show, I saw the unbridled creativity that had been poured into the work. I knew then that whatever my future might hold, I wanted to be part of a...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
248 Words
USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning. (250 words max)
From gushing over In The Heights at age 13 to designing my own sets for school plays at 17, theater has always fascinated me. Whether it be the unique connection between the performers and the audience or the way tiny set details can reveal an entire life story, theater seemed to me one of the most effective forms of storytelling imaginable. However, it wasn't until I joined Free Street Theater in 2017 that I found that theater is not only captivating, it's powerful....
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
250 Words
Academic interest/Why USC
Scrolling through the USC website, the vibrant energy of the campus and the beautiful location were what first caught my eye. However, those qualities aren't what make USC stand out to me. USC stands out because of its focus on making a difference. At USC Annenberg, I can envision myself learning not just how to communicate but how to communicate with impact. When I researched the economic viability of solar energy my junior year, I was surprised to find that...
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Supplemental Essay: Other
4 Words
Describe yourself in three words.
Looking to push limits.
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
185 Words
Favorites/unique questions
What is your favorite snack?: Baby carrots: I love them so much my friends get me bags of carrots every holiday season. Best movie of all time: Spirited Away: a film about magic, childhood, man v.s. the environment, and discovering who you are. Dream job: Writing Disney movies and normalizing telling stories about princesses of color. If your life had a theme song, what would it be?: My Shot from Hamilton Dream trip: The moon: I feel like space...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
640 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.
My favorite thing about the University of Chicago has always been Botany Pond. Walking into that little pocket of peace for the first time, six-year old me felt like I was Mary Lennox discovering the secret garden. My favorite part of all was the turtles. I would play a game where I tried to find as many turtles as I could before I had to leave. However, every time I thought I had counted them all, I would spot another...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
501 Words
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry (and with the encouragement of one of our current students!) choose one of our past prompts (or create a question of your own). Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun!
There’s an age-old adage that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. However, did life really give us lemons? Lemons are believed to be a hybrid between the bitter orange and the citron. No one knows for sure exactly where they originated or how they came to be. It’s an interesting mystery that exemplifies how little we know of the history behind even the most mundane of things. Perhaps lemons came from some bizarre genetic mutation that produced...
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School Specific Advice

What might make for a good “Why Us” essay topic at my school
151 Words
Dartmouth has a very specific set of core values and they really care that you hit on them. The biggest for them is COMMUNITY. Dartmouth is a tiny lil school w only like a 2000 student freshman class. They care that you want to live in...
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What might make for a good “Why Us” essay topic at my school
161 Words
UMich is very known for having a high yield protection. For them, I made sure to put a LOT of effort into the Why UMich essay. My general structure was to pick something very unique to the school (I picked Team StarKid, a theater company I really love...
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What might make for a good “Why Us” essay topic at my school
115 Words
Northwestern says the Why Us essay is optional. It's not. Especially if you're out of state. As someone from Illinois, I know NU takes a TON of instate/Midwest area kids, and my personal theory...
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What might make for a good “Why Us” essay topic at my school
65 Words
Rice is another high yield protection school, so you NEED to focus on the Why Rice essays. I brought up...
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5 adjectives that describe a typical student at my school (Feel free to elaborate!)
51 Words
People who like granola haha. But also caring, curious, community-oriented, very outdoorsy, maybe a...
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5 adjectives that describe a typical student at my school (Feel free to elaborate!)
141 Words
If you would enjoy sledding to class in the freezing cold (true story) and hearing five minute long jokes about vector fields, NU is the school for you. People are very passionate about what they do, love learning, and everyone is looking...
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How I would rate the alumni network at my school
57 Words
Insane alumni network. You'll meet someone from Northwestern practically anywhere in the country. In my experience with...
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How I would rate the diversity of the student body
50 Words
NU is noticeably much more diverse than many of the other colleges I was admitted...
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Research, job or internship opportunities available to students at my school
103 Words
I literally cannot stress enough how amazing Northwestern is in this aspect. Once you're admitted, they will literally bombard you with more information about different opportunities. I remember in my first...
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My schedule on a typical weekday
392 Words
I'm a freshman and right now, it's my first quarter at Northwestern. I typically have two or three classes a day for four days a week. I'm super lucky in that my current schedule gives me one day of the week completely free, so I basically have a three-day weekend haha. I usually use my free day to work on homework or side projects, or just take a mental health day. I'm in the MENU program, which is essentially an accelerated math sequence. It's by far my favorite class. I've never particularly loved math, but my professor for this class...
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The stress level and competitiveness of a typical student at my school
200 Words
I'd say Northwestern is definitely stressful, but there's also a strong sense of community so even if you're struggling, we're all struggling together, which makes it a bit better, ya feel? I think because NU is on the quarter system, we cover a lot of content very quickly, so everything feels very fast paced and busy. Midterms and assignments definitely...
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What I like about my school’s location and culture
299 Words
New Hampshire is so gorgeous, especially if you like the outdoors. I know lots of kids go hiking in the mountains near campus just to see the sunrise. If you haven't experienced a New England fall, I definitely recommend. Freezing winters aren't for everyone, but being from Chicago, the cold wasn't a deal-breaker for me. Plus, snow means there's lots of opportunities for winter sports, which is super fun! However, Dartmouth is basically in the middle of no where, which is both a blessing and a curse. You get...
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How I would rate the diversity of the student body
145 Words
Ugh. Sadly, not that great. In terms of racial and socioeconomic diversity, the divide is very clear. The school is Overwhelmingly white and wealthy kids, with a lot of legacy admits, although you could argue that this is true about most colleges. Another thing...
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How I would rate the alumni network at my school
59 Words
Dartmouth's alumni network is absolutely incredible. I think that heavy involvement in Greek life combined with the whole ...
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Why I declined other schools
629 Words
When I was choosing colleges, my top choices were Northwestern, Dartmouth, and UChicago. I was super lucky in that they all offered me roughly the same amount of aid, so finances weren't an issue. For Northwestern, I was mainly worried that NU wasn't particularly known for strong undergrad teaching and the stereotype was that the students are pre-professional to a fault. However, these cons ultimately did not outweigh the pros (and once I came to NU, I found that these stereotypes don't ring true to begin with). I ended up choosing Northwestern because for me, it offered the best of...
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What I now know about my school that I never would have known prior to enrolling
132 Words
I was always told in high school that college professors are rarely going to be good teachers, esp. at big research universities like Northwestern bc they're gonna be more focused on their own research and on grad students. That literally...
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5 adjectives that describe a typical student at my school (Feel free to elaborate!)
229 Words
Smart, studious, constantly busy, usually really friendly. Also def ppl who put their Harry Potter house in their insta bios in middle school lol. One of my fav things about them is how hard-working most of the students at UChi are. However, I will say that there is a small portion of the UChi student body that I cannot stand and for...
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What are opportunities unique to my school
327 Words
NU has so many unique things to offer! Here's a short list: One of the largest university endowments in the country, so there's TONS of research money available for undergrads Extensive internship and study abroad opportunities, including partnerships with most major universities overseas Focus on interdisciplinary education Emphasis on undergraduate teaching and nearly all classes are taught by professors, not TAs (I haven't had a single TA-taught...
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What I like about my school’s location and culture
174 Words
Rice is CRIMINALLY underrated. Their campus is BEAUTIFUL and im sure Texas weather beats most other regions expect maybe Cali. Tbh, would've been my third choice school instead of UChi if they had given me more financial aid haha. Students are so smart and very sweet. I'd say the vibe feels very...
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What I like about my school’s location and culture
695 Words
NU is in Evanston, which is a suburb north of Chicago. Personally, I think it's the perfect distance from the city. You get a traditional campus just a 25 minute train ride from Chicago's downtown area, and even closer to the north side. Evanston is a cute little town with a ton of shops and restaurants, and regular events like farmers' markets, which are always fun. I've lived in Chicago my entire life, so the city isn't super exciting to me haha but it's probably a pretty big...
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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 I narrowed down my essay topics
184 Words
I went through like a million different versions of my personal statement but I think the most important advice when it comes to figuring out what to write about is to figure out exactly who are you first. I did a lot of very different extracurriculars that probably didn't make a lot of sense when...
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How to deal with the stress of applying to college
198 Words
Your goal is not to get into college!!! Your goal is to leave a college prepared to make an impact on the world. If you are truly passionate about something, it doesn't matter where you end up: you'll be able to succeed anywhere. Remember that although this is partially about you trying to impress colleges, this is also about...
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My insights about AP (Advanced Placement) courses and exams
391 Words
I have specific advice for APUSH, AP Econ, and AP Capstone. For APUSH, Crash Course US History and the Gilder-Lehrman website will save your life. The BIGGEST thing about this exam is to recognize what it's testing. History is all about cause and effect. Beyond just knowing that events happened, you need to be able to recognize that X occurred BECAUSE Y occurred in the past. History repeats itself, so recognizing similar events is also important (i.e. the Whiskey Tax parallels Prohibition). For Econ, all you really need to do is watch Jacob Clifford's videos on YouTube. I personally...
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High School Performance

Weighted GPA
5.00
(equivalent to 4.00 unweighted)
Rank
Top 5%
 
Academic Performance in High School Steady

Test Scores

Highest ACT
36
 
ACT Score Details
 
Other ACT Scores
ACT Prep
Highest SAT
1510
 
SAT Score Details
 
Other SAT Scores
SAT Prep
SAT IIs
PSAT Scores

AP / IB Classes and Scores

Details9 classes and scores

Sports

Extracurriculars

ActivitiesSchool Theater/Plays, Community or summer theater/plays, Yearbook, Other Club/Activity, School Newspaper/Magazine/Journalism, Research, Science/Math, Tutoring/Mentoring, Academic, Choir, National Honor Society
Elaborate on Extracurriculars or Work

Experience & Awards

Volunteer Experiences
Awards Received
Application Additional Materials

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