rafaelr
rafaelr,
CMU
B.S., Computer Science
CMU CS
Features Included
33
Essays
9
Schools
9
Scores
4
Advice
0
ECs
0
Sports

Background

Hometown Queens, New York
GenderMale
EthnicityAsian, Hispanic
Class of2024
First Gen College StudentNo

Results, Essays, and Advice

Accepted
Waitlisted or Withdrew
Denied
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
  • California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)
  • Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)
  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
  • University of California - Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Cooper Union (New York, NY)
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)
  • Harvey Mudd (Claremont, CA)
Tap/click a school logo above to view essays and advice specific to that school.

Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)

Applied for a B.S. in Computer Science

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.
In the August of 2015, tensions between North and South Korea reached a dramatic climax after a conflict initiated due to border propaganda, resulting in gunfire and an announcement that the North would invade that day. Eating breakfast in my apartment in Incheon, South Korea, about twenty miles away from the border, I watched as news reporters discussed the revitalized conflicts. Living so close to the border, the threat seeded panic among the people. Residents between Seoul and the border had...
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Personal Statement
351 Words
Art/acting/singing, Creative personal story
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.
I was only four years old when I pressed my first piano key. With one stroke of the finger, I had sentenced myself to ten years of rigid lessons and regimented practices. Over the years of training, I felt increasingly trapped, as if my musical progress had no value. The source of this discomfort became clear after I witnessed an acoustic guitar battle between two of my friends in the halls of my middle school. Spontaneously, my friends played impressively...
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What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
“Don’t take the AP, you’re not ready. I haven’t taught enough content.” My Biology teacher’s discouragement felt like a challenge. “I’ll sign you up if you insist, but don’t let studying intrude on my class.” With only one month before the test date, this meant that spring break would be my only opportunity to study. On the first evening of my freshman year spring break, I opened the AP Biology reference book, highlighter in...
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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?
The summer of 2013 was a major turning point in my life, when my family left a quiet suburb in Pennsylvania for Songdo, South Korea. Songdo was a brand new city, constructed on reclaimed land, and filled with high-rise apartments. Looking down from our 25th floor apartment was a shock compared to the view from our quaint house in Pennsylvania, but even more shocking was the diverse community at my school. The “melting pot” of the United States has ethnic pockets,...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
239 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.
3D modeling has proven to be an enthralling opportunity to combine my passion for artistic creation with practical engineering. It offers a platform where I can realize my artistic intentions without limitations. After spending weeks modeling various pieces of artwork, I decided to actualize one of them into a physical object. Having done research on the best hardware, I ordered and assembled a new SLA (Stereolithography) printer. Utilizing resin which cures in ultraviolet light, SLA printers can attain a level...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
265 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—get to know you better.
Hey dude! Let’s have a good year! To get the boring stuff out of the way, I have major allergies. While I can manage myself with shellfish and chickpeas, nuts are the real problem. Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, you name it, I’ll die if it gets into my system. While it’s a convenient way to assassinate me without getting your hands dirty, I hope that you’ll take pity on me and refrain from bringing nuts or nut...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
250 Words
Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?
Progress means, step by step, becoming better than the person you were before. At the Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center, teams of therapists help developmentally challenged pre-schoolers prepare for education. I became involved with the center to better understand my then six-year-old brother with mild autism spectrum disorder. Once a week for a morning, I work with a group of six three-year-olds on the autism spectrum, navigating them through their daily routine. Progress for these children means improving...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
143 Words
Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work or family responsibilities.
n the summer of 2019, I participated in the summer STEM Computer Science for Social Good program at the Cooper Union, wherein I worked with three other high school seniors to design a functional website with the purpose of resolving a social issue of our choosing. Between complex necessary features and a wide array of impractical hopes, getting to a cohesive final product took effective project management on my part. Utilizing the Agile Programming Methodology and prioritizing necessary features, we completed...
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
50 Words
What is the most significant challenge that society faces today?
Short attention spans. Granted, larger problems exist, such as climate change, but fundamentally, the drop in attention span of the public has made it impossible to solve those problems. It offers society the challenge to take prolonged action, going beyond its comfort zone to eradicate threats as a global community.
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
46 Words
How did you spend your last two summers?
Summertime travelling has influenced my hobbies in art, music, and computer programming. In 2018, I travelled to Japan and Thailand, and taught middle schoolers at a Summer Camp in South Korea. In 2019, I visited my family, then programmed a website for environmental good at The Cooper Union.
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Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
50 Words
What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed?
On August 5, 882, King Louis III of West Francia chased a beautiful townswoman on his horse. To escape, she ducked under a low lintel. He followed, didn’t duck, and suffered a fatal blow to the head. His brother’s line eventually split West Francia into two nations, France and Aquitaine.
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Supplemental Essay: Strong beliefs/principles
6 Words
What five words best describe you?
Determined, Pragmatic, Meticulous, Friendly, Open-minded
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
51 Words
When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch?
Music sets the tone for my life. With this in mind, I’ve come to acutely appreciate atmosphere. Some of my favorite music comes from specific game soundtracks, such as those from Breath of the Wild and Persona. Designed to guide user experience, they’re perfect for building a peaceful atmosphere.
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
50 Words
Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford.
Walking through the halls of the Huang Engineering Center, I was struck by the efficient study group discussions in the basement between students and professors alike. As someone deeply involved in peer tutoring, I look forward to engaging with and contributing to Stanford’s passionate and socially active academic community.
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
49 Words
Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time?
Assuming we maintain a 365-day year, the earth’s orbit must slow down significantly to accomodate a 25-hour day. This velocity change would launch people into the sky or ground at ~1400 m/s. Thus, I would have a 50/50 chance of spending my last moments in freefall, playing my guitar.
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
626 Words
Tell us about your interest in engineering or what you hope to achieve with a degree in engineering. Describe what appeals to you about Cornell Engineering and how it specifically relates to your engineering interest or aspirations.
As the self-proclaimed owners of the Earth, we as humans can do a lot more to protect it. At the moment, a large majority of people are doing more harm to the planet than good. However, I believe that the human race has the potential to remedy our mistakes. In 2019, I participated in the summer Computer Science for Social Good program at The Cooper Union, where teams of four were challenged to design a functional website with the purpose of...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
350 Words
Describe three experiences and/or activities that have helped develop your passion for a possible career in a STEM field. Use the separate spaces provided below, one for each STEM experience and/or activity.
1) Having had an enriching experience in my Junior physics class, I was compelled this year to share what I have learned with struggling underclassmen as an after school peer tutor. Monday through Thursday, I have been privileged to help Juniors with their questions and prepare them for upcoming physics assessments. They come to me for help with problems ranging from complex dynamics to basic vector resolution. What originated as a way for me to give back to my school community...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
402 Words
Much like the life of a professional scientist or engineer, the life of a "Techer" relies heavily on collaboration. Knowing this, what do you hope to explore, innovate, or create with your Caltech peers?
As the self-proclaimed owners of the Earth, we as humans aren’t doing enough to protect it. At the moment, a large majority of humans are doing more harm to the planet than good. According to a March 2019 press release by the UN Environment Programme, “human health [is] in dire straits if urgent actions are not made to protect the environment.” It claims that the world has the resources necessary to move towards sustainable paths, but lacks initiative from the...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
378 Words
Caltech students are often known for their sense of humor and creative pranks. What do you like to do for fun?
Michelangelo once said that “every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Growing up as a pianist, something about Michelangelo’s words resonated with me. Somewhere in the sheet music in front of me lay a masterpiece, and I was tasked with finding that masterpiece. However, after years of struggling with my piano, trying to make it play the sounds I wanted it to play, I realized that...
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Supplemental Essay: Diversity statement
382 Words
The process of discovery best advances when people from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech’s community?
The summer of 2013 was a major turning point in my life, when my family left a quiet suburb in Pennsylvania to relocate to Songdo, South Korea. Songdo was a brand new city, constructed on reclaimed land, and filled with high-rise apartments. Looking down from our 25th floor apartment was a shock compared to the view from our quaint suburban house in the forested hills of Malvern, Pennsylvania. However, the diverse community at my school was even more shocking. The “melting...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
506 Words
What influenced you to apply to Harvey Mudd College? What about the HMC curriculum and community appeals to you?
Harvey Mudd’s impressive curriculum follows the governing philosophy that engineers should “assume leadership in their fields with a clear understanding of the impact of their work on society.” Hearing this is what first interested me in HMC. Additionally, Mudd’s core courses, including biology, chemistry, and mathematics, will impart upon me a broad scientific knowledge. Taking hands-on computer science courses and diverse HSA courses, I know that I will be prepared to make a positive impact on the world...
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Supplemental Essay: Other
492 Words
What is one thing we won’t know about you after reading your application?




Progress means, step by step, becoming better than the person you were before. At the Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center, teams of therapists help developmentally challenged pre-schoolers prepare for education. Once a week for a morning, I work with a group of six three-year-olds on the autism spectrum, navigating them through their daily routine. I became involved to better understand my six-year-old brother with mild autism spectrum disorder. Progress, for these children, means improving their communication and socialization...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
435 Words
The Cooper Union is a small, highly specialized, and academically rigorous school in New York City. Beyond these traits, what other aspects of the school attract you? Why do you believe Cooper is a good fit for you?
My parents are both graduates of Cooper Union’s Albert Nerken School of Engineering. Growing up, they both influenced me greatly on my path to engineering. Working on Science Fair projects with them during elementary school helped awaken my sense of scientific curiosity. Hearing them discuss problems they have at work and watching them work together to solve those problems, I hoped to become as prepared and professional as they are. Seeing their careers flourish because of their strong practical...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
507 Words
What do you know about your chosen major (e.g. Chemical, Civil, Electrical, General, or Mechanical Engineering) and where do you hope it will take you?
I am eager to participate in solving the technical problems of the future. Earning an Electrical Engineering degree in Cooper Union will help lay the academic foundation for me to become part of the solution. Having parents who graduated from Cooper, I am well aware of the academic demands. The rigorous and challenging curriculum will challenge and prepare me to perform at the highest level. In my freshman year I exhibited strong academic determination when I decided to take the...
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Supplemental Essay: Other
461 Words
Tell us something interesting about yourself that we wouldn’t otherwise know from reading your Common Application.
Progress means, step by step, becoming better than the person you were before. At the Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center, teams of therapists help developmentally challenged pre-schoolers prepare for education. Once a week for a morning, I work with a group of six three-year-olds on the autism spectrum, navigating them through their daily routine. I became involved to better understand my six-year-old brother with mild autism spectrum disorder. Progress, for these children, means improving their communication and socialization...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
244 Words
Why are you interested in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?
I am eager to participate in solving the technical problems of the future. These topics will be defined or heavily influenced by computer scientists. In the summer of 2019, I worked on a web application to encourage trash collection in NYC due to my passion for environmental sustainability. Pursuing a degree in Computer Science will help lay the academic foundation for me to become part of future solutions. RPI provides an ideal setting where I can continue to improve upon my...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
293 Words
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.
Progress means, step by step, becoming better than the person you were before. At the Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center, teams of therapists help developmentally challenged pre-schoolers prepare for education. Once a week for a morning, I work with a group of six three-year-olds on the autism spectrum, navigating them through their daily routine. I became involved to better understand my six-year-old brother with mild autism spectrum disorder. Progress, for these children, is improving their communication and socialization...
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
304 Words
Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study?
Computer Science has been a passion of mine since I was very young. In the summer before my first year of middle school, I decided to create a website. Cracking open an HTML book, I began to learn to code. What had started as a whim became a hobby. It was rewarding to learn new concepts, and eventually my knowledge branched into other web-based programming languages, such as CSS and JavaScript. As I entered school that year, I joined the...
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Supplemental Essay: Issue of personal significance
268 Words
Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience?
Most fundamentally, I wish to graduate from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science with a strong pool of computer programming skills and contacts from which I can springboard myself into a career or further academic studies in Computer Science. In regards to classwork, I want to explore my programming strengths more astutely, considering the wide concentrations which I can pursue. In particular, the Human-Computer interaction concentration is an ideal place for me to expand on my interests in both...
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Supplemental Essay: Other
293 Words
Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites please).
Progress means, step by step, becoming better than the person you were before. At the Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center, teams of therapists help developmentally challenged pre-schoolers prepare for education. Once a week for a morning, I work with a group of six three-year-olds on the autism spectrum, navigating them through their daily routine. I became involved to better understand my six-year-old brother with mild autism spectrum disorder. Progress, for these children, is improving their communication and socialization...
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: Strong beliefs/principles
596 Words
Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.


“The most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see.” From This is Water by David Foster Wallace. Perspective is invaluable in any discussion about what is “normal.” “Normal” to a middle class office worker is drastically different from “normal” to a homeless man sleeping on the streets, and yet both would agree that a typical day for Bill Gates is in no way normal. At ten years old, living in the suburbs of...
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Supplemental Essay: Extracurricular activity
197 Words
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (About 150 words)


Progress means, step by step, becoming better than the person you were before. At the Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center, teams of therapists help developmentally challenged pre-schoolers prepare for education. Once a week for a morning, I work with a group of six three-year-olds on the autism spectrum, navigating them through their daily routine. I became involved to better understand my six-year-old brother with mild autism spectrum disorder. Progress, for these children, is improving their communication and socialization...
Read more...
Supplemental Essay: Time off from school
165 Words
Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held
During vacations, I enjoy travelling and exploring my hobbies: music, art, and computer programming. In 2018 I travelled to Japan with some friends, indulging in Japanese technology, food, culture, and art, as well as visiting Thailand. Additionally, I spent time with my family in South Korea and worked at a Korean SAT Summer Camp. At the camp, I was in charge of tutoring a middle school class, proctoring practice SATs, and monitoring self-study sessions. During my free time, I also self...
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Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
510 Words
If you are interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree, please write a 300-500 word essay describing why you are interested in studying engineering, any experiences in or exposure to engineering you have had and how you think the programs in engineering offered at Princeton suit your particular interests.


Engineering is, for me, an opportunity to combine my passion for artistic creation with practical science. Engineering is all around us, in the intricacies of new technologies like 3D modeling and in the simple sophistication of applications which revolutionize industry and private life. In that respect, my whole life can be seen as an experience which has primed me and inspired me to pursue engineering through Computer Science. But if I could choose three experiences which were the most formative,...
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Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
351 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.
In the summer of 2019, I participated in the summer STEM Computer Science(CS) for Social Good program at Cooper Union, wherein I worked with three other high school seniors to design a functional website with the purpose of resolving a social issue of our choosing. Getting started was difficult, as we had conflicting concepts, but by discussing the benefits and drawbacks of each idea, we decided a practical concept would be the most effective: a large digital map on which...
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Supplemental Essay: Other
191 Words
Describe anything you haven’t had the opportunity to explain elsewhere in your application, i.e. Family Circumstances, etc.
In my eighth grade, I was accepted to the prestigious Regis High School in Manhattan. My parents had been passionately pursuing their careers in South Korea, and decided not to leave them behind. Thus, I made the decision to move back to the USA without my family. My older brother stayed behind to finish high school and my four year old brother had to stay with my parents. My grandparents took me in, as they lived in Queens, New York....
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School Specific Advice

How to increase chances at my school
64 Words
Academics academics academics. This school (CMU SCS specifically I'm talking about) is full of uber nerds and it shows....
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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
138 Words
College essays are all about giving a waxing tale of how you became you. You want it to be an autobiography, but the gold is in trying to make the committee recognize that you, the person submitting the application, are a...
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What set me apart from other applicants
196 Words
Honestly, academics. I didn't get into schools that cared a lot about extracurricular achievement, and I did get into schools that primarily accept nerds. GPA is a long-standing battle throughout school and by the time you're reading this I assume it's not particularly changeable, but luckily standardized testing depends entirely on you right now. For my SAT, I spent...
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What I’d change about my application process
127 Words
I had almost all of my relatives sticking their hands into my essays, editing them, revising them, advising me on what to say and how. Avoid that. You don't need the collective conscious of your whole bloodline coming...
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High School Performance

Unweighted GPA
3.90
 
Rank
Top 10%
 
Academic Performance in High School Steady

Test Scores

Highest SAT
1600
 
SAT Score Details
 
Other SAT Scores
SAT Prep
SAT IIs
PSAT Scores

AP / IB Classes and Scores

Details3 classes and scores

Sports

Extracurriculars

Experience & Awards

Volunteer Experiences
Awards Received

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