What distinguishes those who have entered the best universities in the world from the rest? What qualities do Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford look for in young people worldwide? How to develop an individual strategy for entering the desired university? How to write the “perfect essay” that will distinguish you from hundreds of competitors? Do letters of recommendation help?
I have hundreds of friends who have deep knowledge, thanks to which they could enter a prestigious university but do not do it. They do not believe that it is possible. There is a stereotype that only “elite,” “chosen,” and “rich people” enter Oxford, Harvard, or Stanford. But the example of some other friends and acquaintances proves that this is not true – the secret is to choose the right strategy.
Write an essay that Mark Zuckerberg would envy.
Many people do not know how to write an essay. This is a fantastic opportunity to improve your application.
The essay should highlight those traits of your character that standardized tests will not show. The goal is to show what kind of person you are and focus on your goals. If you feel overwhelmed with the importance of this paper and think, “Oh, I wish someone would write me an essay‘ – there are such services. The problem is that they are less personal sometimes, so if you feel you have enough time but need a little encouragement – I share some tips that might help you.
- The essay needs a main story.
- Each paragraph should have one critical thesis.
- The first and last paragraphs of the essay should overlap – there should be thoughts on the same topic.
- In the piece, you have to describe yourself favorably.
- Your story, of course, will be completely different. But there must be something in it that seriously catches you.
It would help if you also understood how the admission committee works. First, all materials are proofread by specialists. They go through hundreds and even a good thousand stories. Then the admission committee sits in a circle (I’m not kidding!) and begins to “pitch” the best candidates. Each specialist chooses about 30 best stories and begins to “advertise” them – briefly argue why they should hire this person. To make this person you, write a report that the specialist can physically tell others.
The secret mission of CV and how to implement it
The purpose of a CV and essay is to demonstrate your biography beyond grades and tests. They have even more weight than grades. Please do not make the classic mistake of having too much text. The committee will not read your most beautiful CV for ten pages. CV is used exclusively to understand who you are and what you are about in 30 seconds. Therefore, in these 30 seconds, you need to explain to people why you are great.
Hide the “hook” at the beginning of the story. You have only 2-3 sentences to make your account continue to be read carefully, not just glanced at with one eye. Capture the reader’s attention, break the mold, and shock skillfully (and in moderation!). Write original and cool in these first three sentences. It should touch emotionally, but do not overplay it: “squeezing” tears is the way to failure.
Be “polygamous” and tireless.
Choose different educational institutions and other study programs. If you are not lucky in the first year – try the second and third. If you “gave up” after the first time – do not say that you “failed.” I succeeded the second time, and I still consider it great luck.
Study what the admissions committee is looking for and do not focus on tests
Each educational institution puts something different in the concept of “the best applicant.” But all without exception, cherish the hope that you will become the one who will make them famous: the founder of excellent companies, NGOs that will change the world for the better, a scientist who will receive the Nobel Prize. Such graduates not only strengthen their reputations but also make significant charitable contributions.
No wonder everyone has started to focus on preparing for standardized tests. This is also a mistake. I recommend looking at the statistics available to everyone about the average score on standardized tests of those who apply to this particular program, and not to try to “outdo everyone” and achieve the maximum, but to leave your energy for more important things.
Destroy the most significant enemy – abstractness
When your application is ready, imagine yourself as a critic with an insufferable character. What is the problem with it? I will voice the concern I most often encounter: the abstractness of the application. Destroy it by any means. Nobody needs reflections about the country, the future, exciting plans, and ideas. All people who apply to universities are a priori quite clever, and you do not need to prove it again and again. Remember again that specifics and facts are expected from you.
But what will not hurt to voice in the application – a great ambition. Do not write that you want to become a “good doctor”; write what problem of humanity you want to solve. But do not let it look like science fiction. They choose the ambitious ones.
External recommendations are your extra superpower
Let’s be honest: an application with ten pages of text does not allow you to get to know someone. But references play a significant role: they allow others who have seen you in different situations to give you a more objective assessment.
Choose what the application should say about you: 2-3 character traits that will resonate in people’s hearts. This will set you apart from other candidates.