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Dandelion Dreams Essay | Top Harvard Personal Statement Examples

Top 50 Harvard Application Essay Example #50

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to help many high schoolers write their personal statements.  Fortunately, many got into their dreams schools including Carnegie Mellon University, Northwestern University and UCLA.  Frankly, some of them probably wouldn’t have garnered admissions if it weren’t for the examples they were able to emulate before obtaining acceptance.  However, most of them didn’t even know these existed.

Fortunately for them, I did.

I have a batch of favorite essays I share with my students.  With our blog, I plan on sharing many of them with some of you out there who are aiming to do the same.  The following is one of my favorites that I’ve had the privilege to discover.  And it wasn’t because it was right in front of me.

This one in particular was the LAST essay example in the book “50 Successful Harvard Application Essays.”

“Dandelion Dreams” By Emmeline Chuang 

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Top Personal Statement Examples: The Zebra College Essay

This is one of my favorite creative college essay examples for students.  It shows how a student can answer the boring personal statement prompts with flair.  At the same time, it answers the question in a strong effort to be like a … well … zebra.

The Zebra College Essay Video

Model Personal Statement: The Zebra Essay                 

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must answer a character-defining question: If you could have a super power, what would it be? This hypothetical subject has been debated among underage heroes for centuries; it has been heard on playgrounds, in tree houses, and under manholes all over the planet. Its answers come as varied as transliterated spellings of “Hanukkah.” Read more

Best Summer Programs for Elite High Schoolers

Elite Programs for High Schoolers

Summer Programs at Harvard

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

The Pre-College Program and Secondary School Program (SSP) will be offered this summer in an online format.

Changes to Courses and Course Formats

Pre-College: Courses open to Pre-College Program students will be offered as Online (live) web conference and taught at the time listed in the course catalog. While we understand that it may be difficult for students who are not in Eastern Time to participate in synchronous courses, we feel it is important to maintain a seminar-style experience in Pre-College Program courses. Please review the Admitted Students page for more information.

SSP: Harvard Summer School courses, in which SSP students enroll, are offered in several online formats. Updates to the Summer School course catalog are forthcoming.

Summer at Harvard

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Best List of Gifted & Summer Programs for Kids

Gifted Programs for 3 yos through 12th Grade

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY)

“Our core mission is to serve bright learners and their families through our renowned programs, research, counseling services, and advocacy. Because in identifying and developing the talents of advanced pre-university students to better our world today, we hope to improve it for generations to come.

Mission

CTY is dedicated to identifying and developing the talents of academically advanced pre-college students around the world.

Our educational programs offer young scholars an opportunity to join a learning community like no other. Led by world-class educators, students engage with rigorous academic work alongside peers who share their exceptional abilities and love of learning.

      • Learning pathways for grades 2–12
      • Online courses available worldwide
      • Summer sites across the U.S. and Hong Kong
      • Scholarships and financial aid available

Online Programs

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The education wasn’t worth a damn. ”

~Rainer Weiss, Nobel Laureate in Physics

The Nobel Prize is one of the top accolades anybody can achieve.  As a result, we regularly associate the winners with being the “best minds” in society.  As a result, we’ve collected both the latest “Nobel Minds” series from 2014 through 2020 and all the videos on “Education” from the organization.

For our future learners, we hope this is as didactic as it was for these people who have  learned whatever it took to win.

5 Nobel Laureates on their Favorite Teachers

The Nobel Minds Series of Videos

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What SSAT Scores are needed for Groton School?

We’ve been spending a bit of time helping aspiring students and caring parents get a gauge of the scores needed for top boarding schools.  In this series of posts, we’ve covered the top 5 programs where we show up as the top answer on Google.  As a result, we’ve decided to dive into the rest of the Top 10 Boarding schools.

At the high end, we’re seeing the same high SSAT percentiles that would be commanded by Andover or Exeter.  You can see from the following, you may need scores north of the top 10% of scorers:

Groton’s students score in the 85-93% Percentile Regularly

The academic community of students, parents and advisers to both constituents College Confidential regularly shares anecdotal examples of scores obtaining admissions.  For Groton, two shares highlight the range of scores:

Korab1 shared:

Groton has a roughly 13% acceptance rate and 93rd percentile SSAT average. Groton is also very small, meaning that they need every kid to contribute in multiple areas in order to maintain the vibrancy of the campus. If your child would be an impact athlete there – exploit that. If not, I would stress the computer interest/ability and show he can contribute to Groton with that skill and take advantage of what they have to offer in that area. Your child should be taking the SSAT soon to get a handle of where he might fit in. Schools like Groton turn away hundreds of perfectly qualified kids every year. When looking at schools of Groton’s caliber, don’t get too enamored with one school, because unless you have a real hook, chances are you will end up disappointed.

Nomad001 responds with:

Thanks Korab. Many of the good boarding schools start at 9th grade. Groton one of the few that accepts at 8th. You aware of any others on the East coast start at 8th?

My son did the ISEE a few month’s ago and averaged 89% with lowest individual category score of 87. It was for a non boarding private school where he got accepted but I chose not to send him there. I don’t know how comparable the ISEE and SSAT are but 93% is incredible. I offered to send the ISEE results to Groton but they didn’t want to see them.

Also if you’re aware how does the school assess? Based primarily on the interview with the child? The school have told me not to bother getting all the different forms filled out ahead of the interview or to do the ISEE, made me think you have to get past the interview before doing all those.

Source for both answers/thoughts.

Several test prep companies and services have preached to their clients the following: 

Upholding the reputation of Northeast boarding schools, Groton had a 90th percentile SSAT score requirement for 2013, and admitted 19% of its  applicants.

Source

Some schools want SSAT scores in the 80-90th+ percentiles.

This is the case for more competitive and/or elite institutions, such as Phillips Exeter AcademyPhilips Academy Andover, and Groton School.

An SSAT score that is not in the 80-90th+ percentile doesn’t necessarily preclude a student from admission to these schools.

However, it does mean that most of the students admitted to these schools will have SSAT scores in this percentile.

Source

A site that sometimes shows graphical representations of what percentiles that are “looking good” when applying to the top boarding school.  The site says that 89-99% Percentiles look good and 75-89% is “almost there”:

Source: TestInnovators

Two other test prep services claim:

High SSAT or ISEE scores prove to a prospective school that the student is prepared for the rigorous course load of prep school. SSAT scores account for a third of the decision process, aside from academics and extracurriculars. The following schools reported average SSAT scores above the 85th percentile: Exeter, Groton, Milton, Miss Porter’s, Deerfield, Cate, Choate, Hotchkiss, Middlesex, and St. Mark’s.

Source

Hotchkiss remained one of the most selective this year once more at a 16% admissions rate, tied with St. Paul’s. It required an 85th percentile SSAT exam score for 2013.

Source

Great advice on “How to get into Groton”:

And to round this off, a great post from Alex Kogler, ’19 and Sports Editor for Groton talks about the subject:

March 10 holds a special place in the minds of many prospective students: it is the day on which the School releases admission decisions. Envelopes arrive, and the online portal opens. The endless pages of questions, hours spent writing essays, and standardized tests have led up to this moment. To an outsider, the admission process is vague and mysterious. Little is mentioned beyond the universal – strong students with vibrant extracurriculars. This raises the question: what exactly happens behind the closed doors of the Admission Office?

The powerhouse behind this complex and lengthy undertaking is the Admission Office, consisting of seven admission officers, an office manager, two administrative assistants and fourteen admission prefects.

Director of Enrollment Management Cort Pomeroy’s job is identifying and accepting the best students out of over 1,200 applicants. According to Mr. Pomeroy, application begins with the submission of “four recommendations – school, English, math, and one supplemental form from a teacher, coach, family friend, music instructor, etc.” In addition, the majority of students interview, either via video chat or in person, with one of the admission staff. Other elements include a statement from the parents and the submission of a Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) score.

Groton prides itself on its decreasing and competitive acceptance rate. Simply put: it’s hard to get in. Mr. Pomeroy explains that with such a competitive applicant pool, Groton does not possess enough room to accommodate the number of applicants. Rejected candidates “don’t meet the basic requirements” an admitted student possesses, says Mr. Pomeroy. Connection to the school, whether by a sibling or a legacy, does not assure a spot. He adds, “Each year, we have to deliver disappointing news on March 10th to families who are connected to Groton.” In regards to reaching out to traditionally underserved communities, Mr. Pomeroy says the Groton Affordability and Inclusion (GRAIN)  initiative was established to “attract and enroll talented students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Admission officers scour the pool for applicants who are, as Mr. Pomeroy says, “intellectually curious” and apply themselves academically. Also considered, he says, are an applicant’s “benevolence, work ethic, empathy, growth mindset and leadership skills.” Striving to create a diverse class, the office looks to accept a varied class in many regards, socioeconomic status, geographical location and previous school type being only some of them. Besides analyzing character, the interview proves a crucial measure to determine the level of interest for the school which “provides another layer to our evaluation process,” says Mr. Pomeroy.

Once acceptances are sent out, the school still has to convince the admitted student that Groton is the perfect place to spend the next four years. In addition to the Instagram account @ChooseGroton, which is specifically aimed at admitted students, the Admission team organizes what they refer to as the Groton Embrace, which involves a gathering of admitted students alongside current parents. In recent years, Groton Embrace events have occurred in China, North Carolina, Illinois, California and New York. Lastly, the Admission Office organizes two revisit days, times when prospective students shadow a current student to experience a typical day at Groton.

After that year’s admission process is over, the Admission Office begins the cycle all over again, travelling to various cities and reaching out to prospective applicants. On-campus, the Admission Office has recently begun hosting open houses for prospective families.

Last year’s admittance rate was 12 percent, significantly lower compared to the 26 percent admittance rate a decade ago. The higher yield reflects a similar trend, with the newest yield as 64 percent (in 2012, the percentage was 55). Over the years, steady improvement in both admission rate and yield indicate a growing interest for applicants as well as the increasing number of individuals choosing to attend Groton for high school.

Although there is no formula for gaining admission into Groton School, intellectual curiosity, among other virtuous qualities, increases the chances of a coveted “Yes” and is crucial to thrive at Groton. The talented and diverse community populating the Circle with musicians, artists, performers, athletes and scholars stem entirely from a standard set by the Admission Office.

Source

And a couple of interesting answers from contributions to Quora also highlight some of the nuances and challenges in getting into the top boarding school.  This answer which got 5 upvotes (at the time we read this 5/13/21 6:31am):

Groton is one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the nation. The first question is, why do you want to get into GS? Secondly, applying to private schools is somewhat similar to applying to universities. If you’re applying to one of the many private schools like Groton, it is a competitive process. You need a bunch of different recommendations, a student interview, school tour, and testing. I’d say you have a 15% or higher chance of getting into this particular boarding school. It also depends on who you’re competing against for a spot. Like I said above, test scores are just one factor. A high percentile SSAT or ISEE score will give you a boost. That’s not the only thing private schools look for; they look for motivated students. They want to keep a diverse community. If you have any extracurriculars you do, putting that in your application will help. Don’t just put it in your application, but write how passionate you’re about that certain extracurricular. You never know if Groton will accept you, so apply to many other schools. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

If you’re interested in applying, don’t wait to apply after the deadline. Start talking about it with your family. Most deadlines are around the January 15th mark. Some other schools you can apply to are Phillips Exeter Academy, Phillips Andover, and many more. Like I said, don’t just apply to one!

I hope that helps! – If you have any other questions, please message me. I’m always here to help my fellow peers. 🙂

Source: Jade Starbird

And Miguel Ali, who went there in 1999 says:

I graduated from Groton in 1999. The major things I’ll add here:

  1. RIGHT FIT: Boarding schools ‘know’ the type of student that will thrive at their school. I’ve seen phenomenal candidates rejected from Groton, and similar schools, because the personality of that student simply did not fit (and the same great students usually found the right school). Hopefully you have many achievements under your belt – but the most important favor you can do for yourself is to be HONEST. Write a great essay that communicates your feelings (not someone else’s) and be honest about who you are. Groton’s application tends to be writing-heavy and that’s by design. Present your true self and you’ll end up at the right school.
  1. PATH: Careful of coming across as a star student who achieves at everything – this could actually look unfocused. My advice is to show off that you’re excellent at one thing, and intellectually curious at everything else. Those applications tend to stand out with greater light.

    What SSAT scores can get you into Phillips Exeter Academy?

    What SSAT scores can get you into St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH?

    What SSAT scores can get you into the Hill School in Pennsylvania?

    What SSAT Scores do you need to obtain admissions into Hotchkiss? 

    https://ssatmaster.com/whats-the-average-ssat-score-for-deerfield-academy-admissions/

Remaining 2021 SSAT Dates in the US

For the rest of the exams that are available at physical locations in 2021, here is the list:

Test Location

Baylor School

171 Baylor School Road
Chattanooga, TN 37405
United States
Test DateExam TypeExam LevelGeneral Seats
Remaining
Testing Accommodation
Seats Remaining
Saturday, May 22, 2021FlexMiddle/UpperAvailableNot Available

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School

805 Mt. Vernon Highway, NW
Atlanta, GA 30327
United States
Test DateExam TypeExam LevelGeneral Seats
Remaining
Testing Accommodation
Seats Remaining
Wednesday, May 12, 2021FlexMiddle/UpperNot AvailableNot Available
Sunday, May 30, 2021FlexMiddle/UpperAvailableAvailable

Sage Ridge School

2515 Crossbow Court
Reno, NV 89511
United States
Test DateExam TypeExam LevelGeneral Seats
Remaining
Testing Accommodation
Seats Remaining
Friday, May 21, 2021FlexElementaryAvailableNot Available

Walsingham Academy

1100 Jamestown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185
United States
Test DateExam TypeExam LevelGeneral Seats
Remaining
Testing Accommodation
Seats Remaining
Saturday, May 15, 2021FlexMiddle/UpperAvailableNot Available

To register, visit the SSAT.org site.

And don’t forget there are many other options now including:

The Most Challenging Public University to Get into in 2021

“UCLA received the most applications in its history in fall 2021…”

We received news recently that we got another student into possibly the hardest public university to get into these days.  Interestingly, it wasn’t the toughest when I was growing up.  With that said, this university is where hundreds of thousands are applying to every year (these days).

UCLA is almost as tough as an Ivy League

The University of California, Los Angeles is more difficult to obtain admissions than the traditional top public University, UC Berkeley.  There’s been a surge of applications in recent yearsAlmost 168,000 students applied for regular and transfer admissions for the fall of 2021.  This is 50,000+ more than applied for UC Berkeley — what many have considered the best public University in the United States for years.

A few reasons for the larger influx of applicants include:

  • Freshman applications from African Americans and Latinos increased by 48% and 33% respectively since 2020, according to the Newsroom. American Indian Freshman applicants grew by 16%, while Pacific Islander Freshman applications grew by around 34%.
  • UCLA’s outreach efforts and partnerships with organizations and high schools in underserved communities contributed to the increase in the application pool…
  • The removal of standardized testing as an admissions requirement also contributed to the increase in applicants

UCLA Admissions Rate is lower than Top Private Liberal Arts Programs

Comparing the admissions rates and Freshman Class sizes to other Top Public Universities, it appears UCLA may be the toughest:

Frankly, UCLA is harder to get into than some of the best known universities in the world including:

  • Carnegie Mellon
  • NYU
  • Emory
  • Harvey Mudd
  • Williams
  • or Wellesley

And who said that the popularity of higher ed is waning?  

What’s a 2100 on the SSAT equate to in terms of Percentiles?

We are regularly asked “is xyz score good enough for abc top boarding school?”  First off, the boarding schools are operating off of percentiles and not a gross score.  Your 1998 may look good overall, but it actually only equates to a 47% Percentile as an 8th grade boy.  It’s a 53% Percentile as the opposite sex in the same grade.

SSAT Percentile Examples for 8th Grade Girls

  • 2004 Total Score = 55% Percentile*
  • 2049 Total Score = 65% Percentile*
  • 2094 Total Score = 75% Percentile*
  • 2145 Total Score = 85% Percentile*
  • 2226-2244 Total Score = 95% Percentile*
  • 2295+ Total Score = 99% Percentile*

SSAT Percentile Examples for 8th Grade Boys

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What SSAT Scores are Needed for Admissions into the The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut?

SSAT Scores for Top Boarding School Programs

As you can see from our ranking of the Top 25 Boarding Schools, Hotchkiss ranks towards the top.  As a result, you can already estimate that it would require a very high score on the boarding/Independent school exam to be considered into the top program.  If you want to see our recommendations, skip below for SSAT scores guidance and ignore the news that the top private school recently shared.

“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the school has decided to give: 

We appreciate that many applicants will complete some form of standardized testing and will want to include these results with their applications, which we will continue to welcome. In parallel, however, we are aware that the pandemic has made it significantly more challenging for many students to register and sit for administered tests. Some students may also face technology barriers to testing at home.

It is our belief that standardized testing is only one component of a student’s application. Assessing whether or not a young person will be a good fit with the Hotchkiss community relies on the broader context of each student’s academic and lived experience, and we do not want testing to be a barrier to entry for talented young people. Therefore, our application process will be test optional for the coming admission cycle.

Students are welcome to submit SSAT or ISEE, but they will not be required. Students who are unable to take the SSSAT or ISEE, or who choose not to submit their scores, will not be disadvantaged in the application process.

Now, does that mean everyone should simply ignore the exam?

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