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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

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/

Are there any Tulane graduates and/or professors who would be interested in speaking with me about the school?

Elaborating beyond the comment I added:

What I wrote:

I hope so. Great question, but I’m curious if they feel comfortable to answer here publicly. You may want to reach out to them directly though admitsee, the university’s website and alumni association.

(expounding)

I imagine you went to the University’s website, as I suggested, but as you know, it’s one big brochure that will most likely say Tulane is the best (or a version of it). That’s why you came here and tried out the question. This type of question is starting to grow on Quora and I hope you get even better answers.

However, in the meantime, I understand your needs. As a result, I shared one of the best resources I know to get direct feedback from current students. Read more

Phillips Boarding School Interview Questions

What interview questions do they ask you when applying to Phillips Academy Andover? Exeter?

After obtaining your top SSAT score with our help, you obviously need to hammer out all the other elements of your application to the top boarding schools.  One of the most nerve wracking exercises in the process can be the interview.  Since we help students get over the anxiety and prepare them effectively as a bonus to our services prepping them for the exam, we know many of the questions they will encounter.  So, we thought we would share a good number of them here.

And if you didn’t notice, we even include at the beginning what the folks at Andover say in a YouTube video.

Nevertheless, let’s address some of the questions prospective students are very interested in learning before they set their time with the admissions team:

What are the most asked interview questions in Phillips Andover or Exeter?

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lawrenceville campus

What SSAT scores can get you into The Lawrenceville School?

In most of our estimates, we identify it’s very rare that the school itself tells us exactly what their SSAT requirements are.  However, for Lawrenceville, we have several estimates straight from the top boarding school’s website and recent past publications of the school.

Straight from their admissions pages, they answer the question: What is your SSAT score average? Read more

St Pauls School

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

As with any top boarding school, St. Paul’s School’s (SPS) admissions requirements are quite high.  As we’ve already reported, the top 2 programs in the United States have standards that approach almost perfect.  St. Paul’s in Concord ranks as as high as the #3 boarding school program in the United States.  Being a top 3 private institution, you’ll see it requires very high scores.

SSAT Median Ranges for SPS’ Class of 2022

From their SPS at a glance from their admissions for 2018-19, they tell you:

NEW STUDENTS FOR FALL 2018
Applications 1374
Percent admitted 16.8%
SSAT Middle 50% Quantitative 710-767
SSAT Middle 50% Verbal 686-758
SSAT Middle 50% Reading 674-725

However, these ranges depend on what grade the student is and what sex.  We’ll make an assumption that most of these kids are 8th graders applying to start their 9th grade at SPS.  Applying these assumptions, the median for admitted applicants are estimated as:

8th Grade Girls’ SSAT Median Percentile Range Estimates for SPS

Quantitative 710-767 (72-94%)*
Verbal 686-758 (68-95%)*
Reading 674-725 (63-93%)*

8th Grade Boys’ SSAT Median Percentile Ranges Estimates for SPS

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What’s the Average SSAT score for Phillips Exeter Academy’s Admissions?

“90% Percentile at a bare minimum” for Exeter

You could easily argue that prospective students should score as high as 99% Percentile for the SSAT for Phillips Exeter Academy.  At the same time, as we’ll repeat time after time, it depends on all the other aspects of a student’s application/profile.  For example, if you’re an Olympic grade sprinter or child prodigy that’s discovered a new element to add to the Periodic Table, you may not need to score as high as a student who lacks other characteristics Exeter may be looking for in a future alum.

With that said, most future applicants are still looking for guidance (as well as their parents).  Without further adieu, we’ll provide all the guidance that’s been documented online.

Test Prep Company Argues 90 or 94% Percentile as an Average for Exeter

SSAT Score for Exeter Admissions by Top Test Prep

In a 2013-14 guide provided a test prep company that provides insights re: boarding school admissions, they identified the above as their bottom line.  At the same time, in another online publication of theirs, they point out that 94% Percentile is their average.

91% Percentile is Argued by Exeter Student

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Harvard front gate

Top 10 Tips on How to get into Harvard University as an Undergraduate + Several Bonus Strategies

My answer became quite popular on Quora.  As a result, I thought I would share it with our readers here on our site helping many of you potential Harvard applicants.

Top 10 Strategies for Applying to Harvard + 4 Bonus Tips

For our Quora visitors, scroll quickly to the #11th tip in blue below for the extra tips: 

1) Become the valedictorian of Stanford’s Online High School and tell Harvard’s admissions team that you’ve had a change of heart. You’ve realized you should have went to Harvard’s Online High School. And since there is no such thing, Harvard Undergrad would be a fine substitute.

2) Get your parents to donate $400 million and 1 dollars to Harvard edging out A Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Made Harvard’s Biggest Donation Ever. I’m thinking the admissions committee “might” give you a stronger look at your application. Ridiculous? Quite possibly. However, the typical 5% chance most people are faced won’t be the same for this future donor most likely.

Further support for this point comes from an edit:

Peter Malkin graduated from Harvard Law School in 1958. He became a very wealthy real estate businessman, and huge donor. In 1985, the university’s indoor athletic facility was renamed the Malkin Athletic Center in his honor. All three of Malkin’s children went to Harvard. By 2009, five of his six college-age grandchildren had followed suit. (One brave boy dared to go to Stanford instead.)

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