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    Hi everyone,

    I'm a Year 10 (going into Year 11) student and am looking to apply for American university in a few years time. My top two choices are Harvard and Stanford and I'm hoping to major in maths, but I also have a strong interest in languages and physics. I was wondering what kind of things you have to do to get an 'edge' in terms of admissions and what I can do now. Charity work? Volunteering? Lots of extra-curriculars? Work experience? 2400 in SATs? A combination? I'm happy to give information about myself and what I currently do if that would help. I've heard that going to lectures, reading books (on the subject) and winning prizes for your subject makes you stand out a little because it's evidence of your passion, but is that just applicable for UK universities where you are applying for a specific major?

    Thanks
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    Bump! Any answers at all would be appreciated.
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    Hey
    So the US application process is a little bit different than the UK's one but still manageable.
    First of all grades , get straight A's . No it won't determine your fate if you get a B but try and get straight A's - personal experience. Also if you can manage doing more than 4 A levels that would be a point in your favor.
    Second recs : they must be brilliant. On the MIT website there's a page where they explain how a rec should be - long , detailed and amazing - anything else will spoil your application.
    Test scores : these are the most important . The most important thing ever. They say they don't but they do , they do toss your application in the bin if you don't have at least 2200 SAT ( try and get 2300 ) or a 34 ACT .
    Also do a lot and I mean a lot of SAT II , like 8 if you can , especially in a subject that is not your area of expertise.
    Now the bitter bits :
    Essays : you are not supposed to write an essay , you are supposed to write a little masterpiece. Please do that , don't send anything that doesn't look like a TS Eliot diary page - you can buy some books on the web that explain you how to do it.
    Ecs : they want something outstanding . - this doesn't apply to certain cases but I wouldn't risk to much
    Pick the areas you are passionate in and give the best in those :
    THE BEST.
    Physics : do research , go into the Intel thing , publish if you can . Call the first university now and ask some physics professor to let you do research at his lab. Then start some physics newspaper at your school . Do let's say 5 outstanding things.
    Also very important . They want to see breadth . If you don't like a certain subject , never say it. You have to come across as a perfectly put togheter person who has only positive sides and can manage hard work. It's not about how you really are . It's about how they think you are.
    Also if you do some kind of research . Have your mentor write a letter of reccomendation ( a proper letter ) to the admission office and don't forget to write the research abstract.
    On the financial side : can you afford the tution? Otherwise Stanford won't be a good choice.
    If you are well off get some expensive admission tutor .
    Get the book A is for Admission too.
    Your app must be perfect. If you follow every step I mentioned then yes you can make it.
    It's an overwhelming process. It will stress you but you can do it
    Feel free to PM me
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    (Original post by Emypeach)
    Hi everyone,

    I'm a Year 10 (going into Year 11) student and am looking to apply for American university in a few years time. My top two choices are Harvard and Stanford and I'm hoping to major in maths, but I also have a strong interest in languages and physics. I was wondering what kind of things you have to do to get an 'edge' in terms of admissions and what I can do now. Charity work? Volunteering? Lots of extra-curriculars? Work experience? 2400 in SATs? A combination? I'm happy to give information about myself and what I currently do if that would help. I've heard that going to lectures, reading books (on the subject) and winning prizes for your subject makes you stand out a little because it's evidence of your passion, but is that just applicable for UK universities where you are applying for a specific major?

    Thanks
    Also check the Common Data Set of every university!!
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    (Original post by CAROLAL1)
    Hey
    So the US application process is a little bit different than the UK's one but still manageable.
    First of all grades , get straight A's . No it won't determine your fate if you get a B but try and get straight A's - personal experience. Also if you can manage doing more than 4 A levels that would be a point in your favor.
    Second recs : they must be brilliant. On the MIT website there's a page where they explain how a rec should be - long , detailed and amazing - anything else will spoil your application.
    Test scores : these are the most important . The most important thing ever. They say they don't but they do , they do toss your application in the bin if you don't have at least 2200 SAT ( try and get 2300 ) or a 34 ACT .
    Also do a lot and I mean a lot of SAT II , like 8 if you can , especially in a subject that is not your area of expertise.
    Now the bitter bits :
    Essays : you are not supposed to write an essay , you are supposed to write a little masterpiece. Please do that , don't send anything that doesn't look like a TS Eliot diary page - you can buy some books on the web that explain you how to do it.
    Ecs : they want something outstanding . - this doesn't apply to certain cases but I wouldn't risk to much
    Pick the areas you are passionate in and give the best in those :
    THE BEST.
    Physics : do research , go into the Intel thing , publish if you can . Call the first university now and ask some physics professor to let you do research at his lab. Then start some physics newspaper at your school . Do let's say 5 outstanding things.
    Also very important . They want to see breadth . If you don't like a certain subject , never say it. You have to come across as a perfectly put togheter person who has only positive sides and can manage hard work. It's not about how you really are . It's about how they think you are.
    Also if you do some kind of research . Have your mentor write a letter of reccomendation ( a proper letter ) to the admission office and don't forget to write the research abstract.
    On the financial side : can you afford the tution? Otherwise Stanford won't be a good choice.
    If you are well off get some expensive admission tutor .
    Get the book A is for Admission too.
    Your app must be perfect. If you follow every step I mentioned then yes you can make it.
    It's an overwhelming process. It will stress you but you can do it
    Feel free to PM me
    May sound "over the top" at first - but this seriously is what you have to do as an international applicant (if you want to have a very good chance).
    Don't stress yourself out too much though! Try your best but be prepared for a rejection because nothing can guarantee you in.
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    (Original post by CAROLAL1)
    Hey
    So the US application process is a little bit different than the UK's one but still manageable.
    First of all grades , get straight A's . No it won't determine your fate if you get a B but try and get straight A's - personal experience. Also if you can manage doing more than 4 A levels that would be a point in your favor.
    Second recs : they must be brilliant. On the MIT website there's a page where they explain how a rec should be - long , detailed and amazing - anything else will spoil your application.
    Test scores : these are the most important . The most important thing ever. They say they don't but they do , they do toss your application in the bin if you don't have at least 2200 SAT ( try and get 2300 ) or a 34 ACT .
    Also do a lot and I mean a lot of SAT II , like 8 if you can , especially in a subject that is not your area of expertise.
    Now the bitter bits :
    Essays : you are not supposed to write an essay , you are supposed to write a little masterpiece. Please do that , don't send anything that doesn't look like a TS Eliot diary page - you can buy some books on the web that explain you how to do it.
    Ecs : they want something outstanding . - this doesn't apply to certain cases but I wouldn't risk to much
    Pick the areas you are passionate in and give the best in those :
    THE BEST.
    Physics : do research , go into the Intel thing , publish if you can . Call the first university now and ask some physics professor to let you do research at his lab. Then start some physics newspaper at your school . Do let's say 5 outstanding things.
    Also very important . They want to see breadth . If you don't like a certain subject , never say it. You have to come across as a perfectly put togheter person who has only positive sides and can manage hard work. It's not about how you really are . It's about how they think you are.
    Also if you do some kind of research . Have your mentor write a letter of reccomendation ( a proper letter ) to the admission office and don't forget to write the research abstract.
    On the financial side : can you afford the tution? Otherwise Stanford won't be a good choice.
    If you are well off get some expensive admission tutor .
    Get the book A is for Admission too.
    Your app must be perfect. If you follow every step I mentioned then yes you can make it.
    It's an overwhelming process. It will stress you but you can do it
    Feel free to PM me

    8 SAT2's! I was only intending to do 5 with the SAT and ACT, are you sure you don't mean A Levels/AP?

    For internationals its much difficult due to increased cost, commuting to centres etc.
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    Thanks so much for all your advice, everyone. All these tips are so helpful! I will buy A is for Admission ASAP!

    Does anyone have any ideas as to things that will really make you stand out (mostly in terms of ECs)? As in, how do they regard overseas volunteering or music / LAMDA grades etc.? I read somewhere on the forum that you can't get into a. US university unless you are an Olympic swimmer, have danced with the Royal Ballet or have found a cure for cancer etc. Obviously this person was exaggerating, but what can I do that will put me in that kind of position? A girl at my school got into Harvard this year and she was a member of the National Youth Theatre and a youth representative of a massive charity, for example.

    Thanks again. I really appreciate it!
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    (Original post by Emypeach)
    Thanks so much for all your advice, everyone. All these tips are so helpful! I will buy A is for Admission ASAP!

    Does anyone have any ideas as to things that will really make you stand out (mostly in terms of ECs)? As in, how do they regard overseas volunteering or music / LAMDA grades etc.? I read somewhere on the forum that you can't get into a. US university unless you are an Olympic swimmer, have danced with the Royal Ballet or have found a cure for cancer etc. Obviously this person was exaggerating, but what can I do that will put me in that kind of position? A girl at my school got into Harvard this year and she was a member of the National Youth Theatre and a youth representative of a massive charity, for example.

    Thanks again. I really appreciate it!
    Stanford team managed about 27 gold medals for the USA at the last Olympics. That gives you an idea.
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    (Original post by Emypeach)
    Thanks so much for all your advice, everyone. All these tips are so helpful! I will buy A is for Admission ASAP!

    Does anyone have any ideas as to things that will really make you stand out (mostly in terms of ECs)? As in, how do they regard overseas volunteering or music / LAMDA grades etc.? I read somewhere on the forum that you can't get into a. US university unless you are an Olympic swimmer, have danced with the Royal Ballet or have found a cure for cancer etc. Obviously this person was exaggerating, but what can I do that will put me in that kind of position? A girl at my school got into Harvard this year and she was a member of the National Youth Theatre and a youth representative of a massive charity, for example.

    Thanks again. I really appreciate it!
    Honestly, doing one 'special' thing will not guarantee you admission. The most important thing to remember is that you should be doing something that interests you - don't do something just for the sake of admissions...

    I remember reading that doing something long, intense (lots of hrs per week) and something that really shows your passion in a subject is better than doing something 6 months to a year (for a short period of time) before you submit your application.

    Also, I did the SAT 1 twice - improved my math and writing scores, but not my reading score. Reading is the hardest to improve on because it is based a lot on vocabulary. Go for the ACT if you don't want to learn a whole bunch of words just for the sake of a test - albeit - a very important one for admissions.
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    (Original post by EmmaBxoxo)
    8 SAT2's! I was only intending to do 5 with the SAT and ACT, are you sure you don't mean A Levels/AP?

    For internationals its much difficult due to increased cost, commuting to centres etc.
    I am pretty sure :rolleyes:
    Well most people do have 4-5 but I remember reading the profiles of those who got into Harvard and this guy had 8 perfect SAT II's and no particular ec's and the tutors were very impressed with him.

    Also they tend to be a bit kinder with UK applicants so that works in your favor , keep in mind that a spotless school record , amazing recs and a test scores work a long way.
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    (Original post by Emypeach)
    Thanks so much for all your advice, everyone. All these tips are so helpful! I will buy A is for Admission ASAP!

    Does anyone have any ideas as to things that will really make you stand out (mostly in terms of ECs)? As in, how do they regard overseas volunteering or music / LAMDA grades etc.? I read somewhere on the forum that you can't get into a. US university unless you are an Olympic swimmer, have danced with the Royal Ballet or have found a cure for cancer etc. Obviously this person was exaggerating, but what can I do that will put me in that kind of position? A girl at my school got into Harvard this year and she was a member of the National Youth Theatre and a youth representative of a massive charity, for example.

    Thanks again. I really appreciate it!
    One thing that works are those subject oriented Olympiads , like physics olympiads they do work .
    A girl from south africa got into 6/7 Ivies with choir and some olympiads ( but that may be a particular case ).

    The thing is : if you stand out in every possible way , you are an amazing case and they will rarely put your admission in doubt ( yale words ) but that means really being outstanding.
    You still have a chance if you are not the best youth swimmer in the country you just have to come across as an amazing student.
    That's why I push a lot on the research thing. My first physics research was just sitting at the computer and looking for stuff my mentor told me to , but in the end you'll be able to have them send their research abstract and the tutors will be impressed.
    Keep in mind that some US kids do stunning stuff , like Alzheimer research and whatever they can think of , you don't need to be like that , you don't need to win the Nobel prize but you do need to stand out in you community.

    Also look on youtube the admission tutors tips , they are really helpful and give you an insight on the admission process.
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    I have friends at both Harvard and Stanford. Based on my observations, it seems that in addition to being well rounded, these universities look for specific qualities. Harvard seems to look for strong leadership skills. Stanford seems to look for dedication to a specific focus area that makes you memorable (don't try to add every single possible EC on to your application--they will question how involved you really were in these activities). SATs are important, but they are only one small factor in admissions. If you can break 700 across all elements you should be fine. I've seen people with perfect scores across all elements getting rejected (especially with Stanford this past year).

    You will be competing against the best of the best. Both schools' acceptance rates are continuing to decline. It's hard to have an edge when it seems as though everyone applying has an "edge". I have a friend who is a concert pianist and got acceptances to Yale and Princeton as well as an unconditional acceptance to Cambridge (w/ scholarship) coming straight out of US high school and didn't get into Harvard.


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    (Original post by CAROLAL1)
    I am pretty sure :rolleyes:
    Well most people do have 4-5 but I remember reading the profiles of those who got into Harvard and this guy had 8 perfect SAT II's and no particular ec's and the tutors were very impressed with him.

    Also they tend to be a bit kinder with UK applicants so that works in your favor , keep in mind that a spotless school record , amazing recs and a test scores work a long way.
    Dude, what where you smoking when you read those?

    You need 2-3 SAT 2s max, doing anything more than that will make you look silly. I'm absolutely certain, he had some type of EC, Harvard don't care much about test scores after a certain threshold - they care more about the impact someone has had in their community, school or life. The reality is; a large majority of Harvard's applicant pool have these amazing scores, "spotless" school records and extraordinary reccomendations the question is: how do I, with the same qualities they have, stand out?
 
 
 
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