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Ivy League Study Tips, from a Current Harvard Student

December 24, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Ivy League, How To, Study Strategies,

Studying is not fun, even for Ivy League students.

As an undergraduate at Harvard, I have a lot of friends who talk about studying the same way kids at my high school did -- namely, not affectionately.

I have noticed one key difference, though, between my high school and Ivy League friends:

A default mindset of showing up.

This is a picture of a Harvard library in the middle of the day on a Friday.

Even on weekend mornings or afternoons, libraries will be full of students studying, hoping to finish their work so that they can go out in the evening.

Harvard and Ivy League students in general seem to be aware that simply showing up to an environment that encourages hard work will eventually influence them to be productive.

The important lesson here is to set your environment right, it may just make or break you.

Another theme one may notice in Harvard libraries are just how many groups there are. While there inevitably is some goofing off, there is also something to be said for utilizing group sessions to improve your study habits.

More minds around you means more chances that someone can explain topics that you cannot understand.

And the habit of doing the same for someone else is proven to increase your own understanding and retention.

I used group sessions for almost every single one of my problems sets in my freshman year at Harvard. They were invaluable to my success in those math classes.

Lastly, Ivy League students talk to their professors.

It can be scary at first, but building a relationship with your professors/teachers and probing them on any gaps in knowledge you have is crucial to the studying process. Almost always, they will be glad to spend the time to reteach the parts you struggle with.

Together, all of these steps enable Ivy League students to set themselves up for success on test day, even if they dread it just as much as any other student.

How To Answer the "Why Our School?" Essay

December 24, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Essays, Why Us?, Georgetown

Writing the "Why Brown?" or "Why Stanford?" or "Why Harvard?" essay is the same as writing pretty much any "Why this school?" application essay: no one can tell you why to choose a school but you.

For example, when writing my "Why Georgetown?" essay, I talked about a nose bleed I got in their school store when visiting.

This was a pretty bad nose bleed that caught me by surprise and went all over the floor, even on the jacket I was attempting to buy.

Already nervous about visiting the school, causing such a problem was the most embarrassing possibility to add to the mix.

To my delight, though, store workers (who were students) rushed over and brought me tissues and showed me where the bathroom was to clean up.

Upon coming out, I was ready to help with the cleaning, but the students had already done so and even had grabbed a new jacket for me.

Needless to say, this left an incredible mark on me of how caring and kind the students at Georgetown were. Rather than making a big deal out of an already bad situation for me, they took off the stress and just thought to help me.

That story could never be told by any other applicant. It was unique to me and shared a light-hearted anecdote that highlighted what I valued in a school community, and how Georgetown would provide that.

Even my interviewer expressed appreciation of my story and wrote about it even more in his report to the school. Telling stories like these awakens readers’ own love for their school.

The importance of this example is that I did not write about how many resources are at the school, or how great their faculty are. Georgetown already knows that it is great; the admissions officers don’t need nor want you to tell them about that.

These schools want to know why their specific campus fits who you are and your life journey.

Personal stories will always be more effective at this than generic encomia.

Answers about how great the academic program is, how beautiful the campus is, or how generous the financial aid is will not win over readers, even though that’s what many schools point out on their “About Us" webpages.

Answering "Why Us?" requires introspection about what makes you love that school.

It can be a particular program that fits perfectly into your passions, or maybe it’s how students make you feel accepted unlike any other place in the world. Until you find this answer, the best essay will not come out of you.

At the end of the day, "Why Us?" is really "Why You and Us?," and can only be answered by a story so personal to you that no other applicant could have written it.

How to Get Into Harvard: Advice from Admitted Students

December 23, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Harvard, How To, Applications

It’s not a popular answer, but the truth is there is no secret formula to be admitted to Harvard University -- Harvard itself writes this as the first thing on their admissions page:

"There is no such thing as a typical Harvard student."

That being said, though Harvard students come from all different walks of life there are clear trends within this group.

Harvard students are not just well-rounded students who were near the top of their high school class.

More importantly, they are typically highly passionate and accomplished in one specific area.

For many Harvard applicants, a stellar academic record is a given, so Harvard must look further to differentiate between candidates.

As a result, Harvard often selects students who have state or even national-level recognition in their craft. This can mean Science Olympiads or musicians who have won international competitions.

This can also mean service projects that have deeply affected your local community.

A sense of deep passion, grit, and work ethic will have the best chances of wooing the admission committee.

The Harvard admission process requires discussion of each candidate after an initial first check.

In order to stand out in this setting, candidates do not want to be just a student with good test scores and grades, or a jack of all trades. Rather, candidates are most memorable when they have a clear arc to their application: the notable scientist, the future political and community leader, the bridgebuilder in times of division.

The best strategy, then, seems to be ensuring a few things:

  1. A Steller Academic Record
  2. An Established Pattern of Passion
  3. Recognition on a Large Scale for that Passion