These days, it takes more than impressive grades, a full roster of extracurriculars, and a deep commitment to community service to get into a well-ranked school.
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Experts say that a stellar essay is the linchpin that will win the admissions department over. But what is less well known is that different colleges favor particular topics and even specific words used in essays. This is a key finding from AdmitSee , a startup that invites verified college students to share their application materials with potential applicants.
They can upload their file and when they check back in a few months later, they might have made several hundred dollars. Shyu says that this model has allowed AdmitSee to collect a lot of data very rapidly. But in this short time, AdmitSee has already gathered 15, college essays in their system. Many are from people who got into well-ranked colleges, since they targeted these students first. The vast majority of these essays come from current college students who were admitted within the last two or three years.
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AdmitSee has a team that analyzes all of these materials, gathering both qualitative and quantitative findings. One of the most striking differences was between successful Harvard and Stanford essays.
AdmitSee had essays from Stanford and from Harvard at the time of this interview, but more trickle in every day. High-achieving high schoolers frequently apply to both schools—often with the very same essay—but there are stark differences between what their respective admissions departments seem to want. AdmitSee found that negative words tended to show up more on essays accepted to Harvard than essays accepted to Stanford.
This also had to do with the content of the essays. At Harvard, admitted students tended to write about challenges they had overcome in their life or academic career, while Stanford tended to prefer creative personal stories, or essays about family background or issues that the student cares about. It turns out, Brown favors essays about volunteer and public interest work, while these topics rank low among successful Yale essays.
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In addition to Harvard, successful Princeton essays often tackle experiences with failure. The diversity essay is about YOU, so instead of trying to impress the ADCOM with some great unachievable feat you have been planning, explain who you are, what are your life experiences, perspectives and background.
Mention a story or episode from your life which has affected you. Especially when writing an MBA essay for the admission, please remember "there is a fine line between humour and offence". Keep the humour to a line or two. If you have doubts about the humour, remove it.
Culturally, what is humour for one person might be offensive to someone else. They have already read about all the great feats done and planned. Rather than explaining why you are unique, concentrate on who you are, your upbringing, your culture, your environment etc.
The diversity essay for the poster child of diversity experience. — College Confidential
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