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Learning from Experience: Leveraging Current College Students

How to connect with current college students + questions to ask students while visiting a college

Learning from Experience: Leveraging Current College Students

How to connect with current college students + questions to ask students while visiting a college

What is it Like to be a Harvard Student? A Harvard Undergrad Shares a Day in Her Life

Get a sneak peak of what it's like to be a Harvard undergrad from one of our Essay Mentors.

Harvard | How To | Applications

How to Get Into Harvard: Advice from Admitted Students

December 23, 2020

A successful applicant's advice on what Harvard looks for in applicants.

Essays | Guide | How To | Brainstorming | Personal Statement

How to Overcome Writer's Block and Ace Your College Essays

October 06, 2020

Our Essay Mentor walks you through the steps of drafting an outstanding college application essay.

Yale's Admissions Office Reveals the Secrets of Writing a Great College Essay

September 13, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Essays, Admissions Officers, Yale, Podcast

Yale’s Admissions Office did an eye-opening series of podcasts last month on what really goes on in the admissions committee when acceptance/rejection decisions are being made.

The most frequently covered topic in this series?

Essays, with half of all episodes dedicated to them.

Let’s analyze why that is the case, and what makes essays such a critical (and often misused) component of the application.

1. What makes essays so important?

Here’s an excerpt from the Yale Admissions Office’s 6/11/20 podcast:

"Essays are one of the first things that we see in the application. It's not the first piece, we are going to get some information on where you go to school, we'll probably see what your courses look like. We will see what activities you're involved in. And then we go straight to the essay.

We love essays because [they] introduce[] us to those folks... So, by all means, the essays as you say are the first impressions ...

It's like the opening scenes of a movie or the first page in a book, it sets the table not only for the rest of the movie, or the book, but in the case of these essays, it often sets the table for the person we meet.”

2. What makes for a great essay?

In that same podcast episode, the Yale Admissions Officers explain what the best essays all have in common across the 1,000’s of essays they’ve read:

“For most students, the greatest sort of effect that [the essay] can have is in tying the pieces together, drawing together the other parts of the application where we feel like you know what, I'm meeting the same person consistently throughout here.

So think of it as a kind of piece of glue that's going to bind together the other parts of the application.”

Being able to tell this story and capture the uniqueness of your candidacy is incredibly important for the overall strength of your application — it’s the "glue" that holds together your case for admission.

But yes, this can be a difficult task for high school students who have never had to write this sort of essay before, which is why it’s one of the key things that we have our mentors prioritize when advising students.

3. Why are essays the best place to “make or break” your application?

The essays collectively comprise the part of your application that you have the most control over as a senior in high school. As the podcast continues to explain:

“Honestly, when you get to fall of your senior year of high school, and you're starting to put together your college applications, most of the work is done.

You've got three years of high school grades behind you, you've put in hours to your extracurricular pursuits, you've made positive relationships with teachers...

The essays are your big task right now when it comes to actually putting together that college application. So appreciate the fact that this is something that's in your control.”

If you want Ivy League students who've successfully gone through this daunting process themselves to help you strengthen your own essays, click here to see some of the services that we offer for 1-on-1 mentorship.

Three Tips for Improving Your College App

September 09, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Applications, Essays, Early Action, Early Decision, ECs

Here are three simple strategies to make your college application stronger, more unique, and stand out from the rest of the pile.

1. Invest the Time to Write Essays that Stand Out

Your college essays offer the highest impact for the least amount of time.

Unlike your GPA and extracurriculars, you won’t need to spend 4 years carefully developing this aspect of your application.

With the right preparation and mindset, you can craft an exceptional suite of essays within a month of starting.

And it doesn’t need to be Nobel Prize-winning literature. Check out one of our Quora answers here to read about how a friend got into UChicago by writing about the magazines you always see on planes. In the hands of a skilled writer, any topic can stand out.

The core purpose of the essays is to inspire your admissions reader to advocate strongly for you during admissions committee discussions.

It’s as simple as that.

Standing out has less to do with being overly exceptional and more to do with being exceptionally thoughtful.

You need to be memorable, and for the right reasons.

Admissions officers agree

2. Apply Early.

OK, I may have lied earlier about the highest impact decision for the least amount of time.

Not counting the time needed to get your materials ready sooner, the real winner is deciding to submit your application early.

Ivy League colleges and other top universities have an almost 2–3x higher early acceptance rate than regular acceptance rate, a gap that continues to widen every year.

Overall , the early decision acceptance rate of all US colleges is 12% higher than their regular admit rates, according to a survey of US colleges by the National Associate for College Admissions Counseling .

3. Craft Your Narrative

A “well-rounded” applicant dabbling in several unconnected things is not nearly as compelling as someone driven by one central passion. Your past activities and future aspirations need to be tied together in a single, unified narrative.

Otherwise, it looks like you were just doing stuff for the sake of getting into college , which can sink your application.

  • Do you compete in debate and also program websites in your spare time? Then combine these passions and say that you have an interest for studying policy at the intersection of technology and law in college.

  • Do you compete in linguistics competitions and also lead your school’s Science Olympiad team? Then share how these two activities demonstrate your deep (and unique!) interest in pursuing ethnolinguistics or human evolutionary biology from the lens of language and migration.

How to Pick Which Colleges to Apply To

August 22, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Choosing a College,

Picking the right school is like picking the best dance move – you better feel comfortable with what you choose.

Otherwise, it may be uncomfortable for you and everyone else in the room.

When deciding what school might be the place for you, ask yourself the following questions:

Wait, do I even like this city?

This shouldn’t be the only factor. But if you hate the feeling of living in a bustling metropolis like New York City, it’s probably going to make your time at Columbia or NYU a lot more difficult.

You can learn to love a city (I learned to love Boston) – but it should cross your mind that you’re signing on for a 4-year deal (usually), and that comes with the city.

Who the heck even are these people?

Check out the college kids, of course! See if they’re nice, see if they’re friendly, see if they are welcoming to the new class or resentful that you are taking over.

One of the reasons I didn’t choose Duke is that I noticed a lot of people walking around with headphones compared to other places I visited.

Maybe it was just me, on that day. Maybe that’s just normal campus culture. I’m not saying Duke is bad, I just didn’t think I’d want to be part of that crowd.

Decide if you like the vibe those colleges kids are giving off, because you’re likely to act just like them.

Does the library feel like a place you could study for 4 hours a day?

Comfortable libraries are always a plus, since you'll spend way more hours studying there than you expect (or hope).

Is the food good?

Good food is always a plus.

Does it pass the classroom test?

This is the question I asked myself a lot. It’s sort of, like, my “academic” check.

Basically, I found an empty classroom and imagined it to be filled with students on a busy day. Then I examined how I felt – if I was excited to be hearing from some professor at the campus or pulling out my laptop in that space.

It’s not a hard rule, but it can be a really solid gut check.

Going to a live class is a good idea too.

Those are just a couple of questions I would ask myself when deciding what to get out of a college campus.

Hopefully you bring your best dance moves along too.