For many students and families, Harvard is the dream. Consistently one of the few best schools in the world, Harvard is also one of the most competitive. With application season getting more and more difficult, how can students step up and make their essays stand out? Take a look at the following essay intros from Harvard students on AdmitSee:
Class of 2019
I would be perfectly content if I were to meet Dave Grohl, the singer of the band Foo Fighters. Of course the situation would have to be a bit more contrived than just bumping into the man on the street; it would happen at a concert. View full profile.
Class of 2020
We didn’t call our car the “Pile of Junk” for nothing. That was just the most logical title for a vehicle that broke down so often that my dad recognized the men who operated the tow trucks. The name made sense given the pervasive odor of French fries that followed the car wherever it went, the swim gear and tools cluttering the backseat, and the shuddering sound that betrayed its approach from a mile away. Read more.
Class of 2019
I sit anxiously as I wait for the light to turn from red to green. Anticipation consumes me as I clench my hands around the steering wheel, prepared for the hard left turn that comes after the start/finish straight. The vibration of the twin engine that sits about five inches behind my seat shakes my whole kart. I can hear the spilling rain slam against the asphalt and my helmet and I can feel its moisture covering my hands. Continue reading.
Class of 2018
As I struggled to understand the theory of relativity, the opening of my door startled me. No one was there. Then…BAM! In came a dancing fool, wearing only a pair of tighty-whiteys, high socks, a vest of chest hair, and a thick coat of shaving cream covering his face (except his prized mustache, of course). It was my papa! Using his microphone razor, he started singing his personal rendition of “Party in the U.S.A.” But then he realized I was over-preparing once again, so he stopped in his tracks and, on cue, shouted his famous phrase: “Just get a zero!” This was just another one of my papa’s orchestrated shenanigans to teach me to be optimistic. I couldn’t help but smile. View full profile.
Class of 2018
I think it is safe to assume that no one would consider me incredibly ladylike. I usually have a calculator in one hand and my lacrosse stick in the other. I’m never one to draw any attention to myself either. During school, I sit quietly working on my latest math or science assignment. After school, I have been known to roll my eyes as my team announces that tomorrow is “dress-up day,” which is a regular promotion for our game. I have always been content to be a silent force, wearing blue jeans and sweatshirt. Read more.
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About The Author
Drew is a content and social media guru. When he’s not working, he loves to photograph, play music, play sports, and travel. He is also weirdly obsessed with Thai food, Girl Scout cookies, and learning new languages (even though he’s not fluent in any). For any editorial ideas, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent Harvard University graduate Soa Andrian used one of her childhood memories as a jumping-off point on her college admissions essay.
She told the story of a visit to Antananarivo, Madagascar, where she has relatives, and of an impending incident of bullying. A deeply personal story, at first she was going to write about something a little less private.
"My original common app essay was about a poster presentation I made at a summer program and what I learned about being less shy," Andrian said via email to Business Insider. "But it felt disingenuous. I think it felt disingenuous because I wrote what I thought admissions committees would want to see — a little humility by sharing an insecurity, but a small one that ultimately was easy to overcome."
Ultimately, she wrote about her more personal experience, and it certainly paid off. In addition to Harvard, she gained acceptances to Brown University, UChicago, Columbia, The University of Florida, Johns Hopkins, the University of Miami, MIT, Northwestern, UPenn, Princeton, Rice University, Stanford, and WashU.
Andrian's other impressive stats are included on her Admitsee profile. AdmitSee is an education startup that has 60,000 profiles of students who have been accepted into college with their test scores and other data points for prospective students to browse.
Andrian graciously shared her admissions essay with Business Insider, which we've reprinted verbatim below.
Four boys stood above me on a pile of garbage. Their words, "Bota, bota, matava" — "chubby", "fatty" suffocated me:
A familiar sensation of frustration and hurt gripped me. Looking for defense I only saw a cinderblock at my feet, impossible for my eight year old body to heave, so, I screamed in English:
"You are just jealous that you are poor and I am American!"
As the words flew out of my mouth, I knew I was wrong — there was no sense of triumphant satisfaction. I abruptly turned and ran into the refuge of my aunt's home.
Upon finishing a tearful narrative to my aunt and father, I preferred the comfort of the former's arms. I avoided my father's disappointment: I knew as well as he did, that I was not the victim.
Later, my hysteria subdued and guilt temporarily forgotten, I ventured outside to explore the crevices of Antananarivo. The boys were still playing atop the rubbish, then seeing me, scrambled off their mountain and ran in the opposite direction.
It's okay, I thought, I wouldn't be a fan of me either.
As I began walking up the street, I heard shouts:
The boys caught up to me and proudly waved hundred ariary bills in my face. In their broken English, they said in earnest and without malice,
"Look! We are not poor! We have money! We are Amreekan too!"
I agreed they were right and smiled sadly: one US dollar was the equivalent to seven thousand Malagasy ariary.
I was made sharply aware of what separated me from these children: oceans, experience, money. Politics, ignorance, the apathy of millions. Ironically, it was also the first time I belonged to my "motherland". I could share in the simple joy of relishing what "is", be proud of the sense of resourcefulness engendered by scarcity.
This memory has woven itself into my philosophy and my dreams. The very personal knowledge that millions live in a way such that electric toothbrushes are an unfathomable luxury (my cousin, Aina), has given me the following personal rules:
- Education is an opportunity, not a burden;
- You always have enough to share.
While I may not be certain of my future, I know for certain that I want to serve. I realize that service is as important an aspect of education as is academic work. I know this passion will follow me throughout my life and manifest itself in my actions at Harvard. This memory is a mandate to serve indiscriminately and without prejudice towards those I work with. I am all the more willing to cooperate to bring improvement to the community within the College and beyond the campus. I can bring innovation in problem solving born out of the deep desire to help others. I work for these boys, for all the proud Malagasy (and even those who are not proud to be Malagasy), and the children who cherish "what is" instead of mourning "what could be".