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University of Chicago: Where Fun Goes to Die?

UChicago's acceptance rate has continuously trended down

July 30, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | University of Chicago, Admissions, Chances

“Where fun goes to die”

When The New Yorker refers to your college that way, you know your school has got to be selective.

UChicago, currently the 6th most selective university in the world, has earned this tongue-in-cheek moniker for good reason — it had a 6.2% acceptance rate in 2020, lower than half of the Ivy League. ( Source )

The University of Chicago has achieved this by dramatically outpacing all other elite colleges at reducing acceptance rates over the past decade .

The reasons for this are too long for this answer, so I’ll point you to this article if you want to learn more about what’s driving this race. But the below chart captures this trend perfectly — UChicago is the very negative line at the very bottom.

Regardless of why it’s doing it, UChicago’s methods have clearly paid off.

The college has reduced its acceptance rate 6-fold over the past decade, from an astronomical 38% in 2006 to a microscopic 6.2% in 2020.

UChicago now rubs shoulders with the most elite institutions in the world, as the below chart from US News & World Report shows clearly:

UCs v. the Ivy League

What Makes UC Berkeley, UCLA, and the UCs Unique

July 30, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | UC, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Ivy League, Admission, Chances

The University of California schools (UCs) are a collection of public universities and institutions located in California, comprised of 10 campuses, 5 medical centers, and 3 national labs.

The Ivy League, on the other hand, is a collection of 8 private universities in the Northeast . They receive far fewer applicants per year — UC Berkeley and UCLA receive 88,000 and 110,000, respectively, while <40,000 apply to Ivy League colleges on average.

However, the Ivies also have much lower acceptance rates , all at <11% versus 16% and 17% for UCLA and UC Berkeley, respectively .

The distinction between the University of California schools and the Ivy League colleges can be most clearly seen by comparing the UC system’s two most famous members UC Berkeley and UCLA — to the Ivy League.

With its close ties to Hollywood and Los Angeles, it’s no wonder that UCLA has a long list of prominent alumni who’ve made strong contributions to music , theatre , and the arts .

The Ivy League has much weaker connections to industry than UCLA, which is why UCLA has the #4 ranked film program and #1 ranked theatre program in the nation.

UC Berkeley is the engineering powerhouse of the group. It is the oldest of the UC schools, having been founded in 1868, and has had a total of 107 Nobel laureates pass through its gates, the 3rd most of any university in the world.

UC Berkeley is mainly known for its strength in engineering and CS , counting Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) and Eric Schmidt (ex-CEO of Google) among its alumni.

If you graphed the performance of students as a bell curve, the “ tail ” of weak performers at Berkeley and UCLA is probably longer than the tail of such students at a school like Harvard or Yale.

However, at the top of that curve, students at both schools will be virtually indistinguishable , and the faculty at UCLA and UC Berkeley is similarly top-notch (if not substantially better in certain fields).

Both are fantastic schools; just because they aren’t “Ivy League” does not mean they aren’t as good, if not significantly better in some fields, than schools like Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, etc.

How to Set Yourself Apart from the Crowd

July 20, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | How To, Admissions, Chances, Early Decision, ECs

1. Be a bridge-builder between fields. The way to set yourself apart is to do something no one else is doing. But how do you do that in a field like “History” or “Computer Science?”

The answer is simple: Don’t .

The easiest way to distinguish yourself as a senior in high school is to showcase an interdisciplinary interest that bridges multiple, disparate subjects.

“Oh, you’re interested in Computer Science and built an iOS game, just like 30,000 other applicants? Yawn.”


“Oh, you’re interested in Computer Science AND want to combine it with your love of Shakespeare to do Natural Language Processing analyses on historic texts? That’s different. That’s memorable.”

MIT researchers used a neural network in 2019 to estimate which parts of Shakespeare’s plays were written by another famous playwright, John Fletcher.

2. Apply 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.

According to a survey of US colleges by the National Associate for College Admissions Counseling ,

Among all colleges with early decision, their regular admit rate was 50.7 percent, but the rate for early decision was 62.3 percent.

3. Learn how to brag about your Extracurriculars . What matters in college admissions is NOT JUST what you choose to pursue, but also HOW you frame your accomplishments to the admissions office.

The sum of your Extracurriculars is greater than the parts. All of your activities should tell a unified story about yourself, no matter how disparate they are.

A “well-rounded” applicant dabbling in several unconnected things is not nearly as compelling as someone driven by one central passion.

I’ve provided 7 examples here of how the same extracurricular can be framed or pursued in increasingly impressive lights.

Help on Writing the COVID-19 Common App Essay Question

July 18, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | COVID, Common App, Essays, Personal Statement

The questions that are likely on every applicant's mind this year are:

What will college admissions officers do in 2020 when everyone's application essays are about COVID-19?

How do I address COVID in my Common App essays?

And how do I stand out from the crowd?

Thankfully, the company behind the Common Application has anticipated these concerns by adding an optional, dedicated prompt for students to address the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. The prompt has a maximum length of 250 words.

By including this new prompt, the Common App is strongly suggesting that your primary Personal Statement essay not focus on the pandemic.

Instead, students should:

  1. Proceed normally on their Personal Statements as they would in non-pandemic application years, writing a Personal Statement that sheds light on the qualitative aspects of themselves and their candidacy that aren't conveyed elsewhere in their applications.

  2. Take advantage of this extra essay prompt to provide information on how COVID has affected them and their families.

What is the COVID Essay?

As stated in a blog post from the Common App in May of 2020:

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives and postsecondary plans for many students. We want to reduce anxiety for applicants affected by these events and provide them with a way to share their experience with colleges and universities.

Next year, on the 2020-2021 application, Common App will provide students who need it with a dedicated space to elaborate on the impact of the pandemic, both personally and academically. We want to provide colleges with the information they need, with the goal of having students answer COVID-19 questions only once while using the rest of the application as they would have before to share their interests and perspectives beyond COVID-19.

Below is the question applicants will see:

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.

Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N

Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

The question will be optional and will appear in the Additional Information section of the application. The response length will be limited to 250 words .

What’s more, the Common App has added an additional question to the school counselor section of the Common App, providing your counselor with the opportunity to elaborate on changes to grading scales, graduation requirements, course offerings, or other circumstances that have been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

You should make sure that your counselor is aware of this question and uses the opportunity to provide relevant academic details for your candidacy.

How to Write the COVID Essay

The next question is how to answer the COVID-19 prompt .

The biggest piece of advice I have for applicants is avoid trying to do too much on this essay.

It may be tempting to simply list everything that has happened to you over the past 6 months.

But within a 250-word allowance, it will be impossible to tell all of those stories at once in the detail needed to leave an impression on an admissions reader who will be reading hundreds of the same exact essay.

Select two or three of the most concrete impacts that the pandemic has had on your life.

Whether a parent lost a job and you were forced to pick up work, you faced the death of a close friend or loved one, or you started a new hobby during your quarantine, your application reader wants to get a sense of how you deal with an adversity that has affected everyone to varying degrees, and the depth of that shared adversity in your individual case.

Stylistically, this essay can be written as a straightforward list of events with the usual beginning, middle, and end structure:

  • Beginning: How were you/your community impacted?

  • Middle: How did it challenge you, and what did you do to push through that adversity?

  • End: What did you learn from this experience, or will continue to work on?

Alternatively, your essay could take a more creative/story-telling approach and focus on the show, don’t tell principle, most commonly used in the larger 650-word Personal Statement essay.

In this approach, the focus might be centered on a specific anecdote of how you/your community were impacted by the virus. You could tell a short story about this one instance, and how it changed your relationship with a particular person or how you view yourself in the world.

While this may be hard for some students to accomplish successfully within 250 words, it may be more appealing to read for an overworked admissions officer who has seen more essays of the aforementioned "list" variety than the latter "story-telling" approach.

Sending AP Scores to Colleges - What Should I Report?

July 18, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | AP Exams, Admissions, Ivy League

Here are answers to 5 common questions about AP exams, AP score reports, and how AP scores affect college admissions chances.

(1) Do AP scores matter when applying to top colleges?

Yes. AP scores demonstrate proficiency in a subject that has been standardized in a way that can be used to evaluate candidates across the country. It used to be expected that for schools like Stanford/MIT/Ivies, applicants should have at least half a dozen AP scores with 4’s and 5’s (assuming that their high school offered them).

However, low AP exam scores are not necessarily bad, as will be explained below.

(2) What is the distribution of AP exam scores?

In 2018, the distribution of AP exam scores for all exams was as follows. (Data taken from this Tableau visualization)

STEM Exams

Arts & Humanities Exams

Language Exams

Social Sciences Exams

(3) Does having mostly AP scores of 3's and 4’s hurt my college admissions chances?

Yes, if that’s the best you have to offer. An AP Score of 3 or 4 will likely not get you any college credit or respect at a top school like Stanford/Ivies/MIT.

A score of 5 may not either — top colleges like to think that their courses are more rigorous than APs and thus should not be passed out of, and earning a 5 is simply expected for top admits.

(4) Since I can self-report by AP exam scores, do I have to report all of my scores to colleges or do I not have that obligation? Will low AP scores hurt my chances?

You can save yourself from low AP exam scores by simply choosing to NOT self-report your 3’s.

Colleges ask you to self-report scores for a reason. If you were expected to submit all of your exam scores, then colleges would simply make reporting mandatory, just as they already do for the SAT/ACT.

Top colleges will let you self-report your AP scores. Take advantage of that and don’t report scores that you don't want to share. Including 3’s will weaken your application to a school like Stanford.

Only a year ago, this would not have been the case. Schools would have read your omission of AP scores as suspicious.

However, things are different in 2020 because of COVID-19. Schools are much more understanding of students who report fewer AP scores this cycle.

But don’t take my word for it.

Here is Yale’s Dean of Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan on the matter:

Students who have completed AP Exams, IB Exams, or AICE Exams prior to submitting their applications may opt to self-report scores in the application, but there is no expectation that students enrolled in academic-year courses associated with any of these tests complete exams in spring or summer 2020.”

And Dartmouth’s Dean of Admissions Lee Coffin :

At Dartmouth, we will welcome any testing element a student chooses to share—the SAT, the ACT, a subject test, an AP score—or none at all.

Our admission committee will review each candidacy without second-guessing the omission or presence of a testing element.

And an official statement from Columbia’s Admissions Office :

Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), SAT Subject Test and other proficiency exam scores are not required by Columbia, but we will accept your results if you choose to submit them in the testing section of your Common Application or Coalition Application. Optional SAT Subject Test scores can also be submitted on the Columbia application status page after you have applied.

You will not be at a disadvantage should you choose not to take these optional tests or submit the scores to Columbia.

(5) How do I know which AP scores I should report? Don't schools have different standards for what they consider a "good" or "bad" score?

Here’s a quick method for determining whether you should submit your score to a specific school or not (Stanford is shown below).

First, go to the College Board's AP Credit Checker here.

Second, type in the college to which you’re applying. The website will pull up a list of every AP exam and the school’s policy on granting academic credit for that exam.

Third, look at the Min Score Required column of results. This tells you the minimum score needed for that college to give you academic credit for taking that AP.

If your AP score is below this threshold, then you probably should not report it. You should only self-report scores that make you look smart.

(6) How prestigious is the "AP Scholar with Honour" award? Will it increase my chances of getting into a top college in the US?

Let’s do some math. According to The College Board, in 2019 the following numbers of students received AP Scholar awards (listed in increasing prestige):

  • AP Scholar: 305,822 students
  • AP Scholar with Honor: 128,491 students
  • AP Scholar with Distinction: 219,925 students

The “AP Scholar with Honor” is the 2nd most prestigious AP merit award.

That means that every year, 348,416 students will receive an AP Scholarship award that is equivalent to or more prestigious than your AP Scholar with Honor award.

According to The College Board, the “AP Scholar with Honor” is given to students who fulfill this criterion:

Granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams

The College Board used to give out 10 AP-based merit awards. However, in an effort to “reduce the burden on students, the AP Program is discontinuing awards that encourage students to take large numbers of exams” starting in 2021.

These are marked with asterisks in the chart below:

And the State AP Scholarships were also discontinued:

What It's Like to be an Ivy League Student

July 11, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Ivy League, Student Experience

What is the Ivy League student experience like?

Here are the 6 things that struck me the most as a recently graduated Ivy League student.

  1. You’ll meet classmates who are already 1000x more famous than you’ll ever be. A few may even call the most powerful person in the world “Dad.”

  2. You’ll quickly learn that studying is such a senior-year-of-high-school move. Thanks to grade inflation , you won’t be sweating most of your classes.

  3. You’ll be surrounded by breath-taking architecture . You’ll take classes in some of the most historic buildings in North America on some of the prettiest campuses in the world.



  4. You’ll participate in traditions older than the US . You’ll watch sporting events created decades before their professional counter-parts. But you’ll also experience traditions that are problematic and anachronistic, remnants of classes from prior decades and centuries.

    Harvard-Yale 1920 Football Game

  5. You’ll be able to roll out of bed and hear a Senator deliver a seminar before going to your afternoon class taught by a Nobel Prize winner. You’ll randomly bump into thought leaders and politicians on your way to class.

    Hillary Clinton

  6. Applying for a job in finance, consulting, or tech will be infinitely easier than if you were at a “non-target” school. Almost too easy, in fact. Many of your high-achieving peers will find themselves drawn to a comfy job in one of these “Big 3” industries which heavily recruit Ivy League students.

    Princeton Yale Harvard

These charts were made in 2011, before the big boom of tech recruitment at the Ivies.

How to Get into an Ivy League School

A list of the exact metrics used by Ivy League Admissions Offices

July 10, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Admissions, Ivy League, Guide, Admissions Secrets

While each Ivy is unique, they share similarly high standards for accepting applicants and tend to draw from the same pool of exceptional individuals.

They are also incredibly secretive about their admissions practices.

Luckily, one of them -- Harvard -- was forced to reveal incredibly detailed information on its admissions practices through both a recent federal lawsuit as well as FERPA records requests submitted by our own Essay Mentors to view their admissions files.

Read on to learn the Ivy League admissions secrets behind getting into an Ivy League school, and use this information to better prepare your application to get into the Ivy League. (Note: No other Ivy League school has released such detailed information on its admissions practices, so this may be the best glimpse into what are likely common practices amongst Ivy League admissions offices)

Q: How are applicants selected?

A: First, they are graded on 4 dimensions using a scale of 1 (best) to 6 (worst) with +/-’s in between.

After taking into account background factors (legacy, donor status, minority, geographic location, etc.), the applicants with the best ratings are selected.

At Yale , on the other hand, they use a scale of 1 (best) to 4 (worst), but the principle is the same.

Nassau Hall, Princeton

Q: How are ratings assigned to applicants?

A: The 4 dimensions on which all applicants are graded are:

  1. Academics
  2. Extracurriculars (“ECs”)
  3. Personal Qualities (“PQs”)
  4. Athletics

Each applicant is rated on a scale of 1 (best) to 6 (worst) across each dimension, with +/-’s for more nuanced ratings. The scale is interpreted as follows (image taken directly from Harvard’s Internal Admissions Handbook :

Admissions Handbook

Q: What do admissions officers talk about during admissions office proceedings behind closed doors? How fast do admissions officers read applications?

Admissions officers read essays on their own time, then reconvene during admissions committee meetings to discuss applications and decide on admissions.

Admissions officers read applications incredibly fast, a skill sharpened by churning through 40,000+ applications. During a 2-hour committee session, a group of admissions officers will read and evaluate roughly 300 applications, then decide on accepting or rejecting each application.

As Yale Admissions Officer Ed Boland writes,

You could look down at the names of four or five kids from one school who were terribly smart but not exceptional and say, “Reject the entire high school”; sometimes you could go further and say, “Reject the page,” and send 20 kids on a single page of computer paper packing; or, most famously, “Reject the state,” when it came to sparsely populated places like North Dakota or Wyoming.

Q: What does my application look like to the admissions office?

A: For Harvard specifically, your admissions file will get boiled down into the following one-page summary sheet:

Summary Sheet

Q: How do I get the best rating in each category on which my application will be graded?

A: The answers, quoted directly from Harvard’s Admissions Handbook, are as follows.


  1. Summa potential. Genuine scholar; near-perfect scores and grades (in most cases) combined with unusual creativity and possible evidence of original scholarship.
  2. Magna potential: Excellent student with superb grades and mid-to high-700 scores (33+ ACT).
  3. Cum laude potential: Very good student with excellent grades and mid-600 to low-700 scores (29 to 32 ACT).
  4. Adequate preparation. Respectable grades and low-to mid-600 scores (26 to 29) ACT).
  5. Marginal potential. Modest grades and 500 scores (25 and below ACT).
  6. Achievement or motivation marginal or worse.


  1. Unusual strength in one or more areas. Possible national-level achievement or professional experience. A potential major contributor at Harvard. Truly unusual achievement.
  2. Strong secondary school contribution in one or more areas such as class president, newspaper editor, etc. Local or regional recognition; major accomplishment(s).
  3. Solid participation but without special distinction. (Upgrade 3+ to 2- in some cases if the e/c is particularly extensive and substantive.)
  4. Little or no participation.
  5. Substantial activity outside of conventional EC participation such as family commitments or term-time work (could be included with other e/c to boost the rating or left as a "5" if it is more representative of the student's commitment).
  6. Special circumstances limit or prevent participation (e.g. a physical condition).

Personal Qualities (Essays, Teacher Recs, School Rec, Interview)

  1. Outstanding
  2. Very strong
  3. Generally positive
  4. Bland or somewhat negative or immature
  5. Questionable personal qualities.
  6. Worrisome personal qualities


  1. Unusually strong prospect for varsity sports at Harvard, desired by Harvard coaches.
  2. Strong secondary school contribution in one or more areas; possible leadership role(s).
  3. Active participation.
  4. Little or no interest.
  5. Substantial activity outside of conventional EC participation such as family commitments or term-time work (could be included with other e/c to boost the rating or left as a "5" if it is more representative of the student's commitment).
  6. Physical condition prevents significant activity.

Q: How are my academics (GPA, transcript, SAT score, ACT score, AP scores, etc.) weighed?

A: All of the Ivies use the Ivy League Academic Index (AI) to score applicants' academic aptitudes on a scale from 60-240. All applicants are graded on this AI.

The Academic Index was originally used by the Ivy League as a standardized metric for assessing the intellectual quality of each school's incoming class of athletic recruits.

The Ivy League colleges all compete in a sports league that is also referred to as the "Ivy League." In order to ensure that some Ivy League colleges don't "dumb down" their classes, and thus tarnish the intellectual reputation of the Ivy League, by recruiting students who excel at sports but aren't academically inclined, the Ivy League requires that all admitted athletic recruits have an AI above 170, and that the average AI of students on sports teams is within a standard deviation of the overall campus's average student AI.

The average AI of an incoming student is about 220 at Princeton, Yale, and Harvard.

The average Academic Index at Dartmouth, Brown, and Penn is about 215.

And the average Academic Index at Columbia and Cornell is about 210.

Q: How is the Ivy League Academic Index calculated?

There are 3 separate components to the Ivy League Academic Index, each of which is scored from 20-80.

  1. Class Rank Conversion: Takes your unweighted GPA and adjusts it to the reputation of your school/strength of your courseload.

If you are an international student and have taken IB tests and courses under the International Baccalaureate system, then then following conversion chart is used to convert your IB grades into an "American" GPA. Higher Level courses are given double the weight as Standard Level courses.

7 = A+ = 4.3

6 = A = 4.0

5 = B = 3.0

4 = C = 2.0

3 = D = 1.0

If you are an international student whose high school follows the British system for grading, then the following conversion chart is used to convert your British grades into "an American" GPA. A Level grades are weighed twice as heavily as AS and GCSE grades.

A* = 4.3

A = 4.0

B = 3.0

C = 2.0

D = 1.0

If you are an international student from Singapore , then the following conversion chart is used to convert your H3 grades into "an American" GPA.

Distinction = A = 4.0

Merit = B = 3.0

Pass = C = 2.0

If you are an international student from New Zealand , then the following conversion chart is used to convert your grades into "an American" GPA.

Excellent = A = 4.0

Merit = B = 3.0

Achieved = C = 2.0

Not Achieved = F = 0.0

So then how does the Ivy League calculate your GPA and convert it into a raw AI score?

The table below shows how to convert the most common grading scales (percentile scores, 6.0/7.0/11.0/12.0 grade scales, letter grades, etc.) into a raw AI Class Rank Conversion score (CGS):


  1. SAT/ACT Scores: A perfect score on either the SAT or ACT will give you the maximum 80 points for this category.
  2. Best 2 SAT Subject Test Scores: If you get an 800/800 on two of the SAT Subject Tests that you report, then you'll receive a full 80 here.

5 Tricks to Get Accepted with a Low GPA

Is it possible to get into a top college with a low GPA?

July 10, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | How To, GPA, Admissions, Chances, B Student, Ivy League, AP Exams, SAT, Essays

Can low GPA (i.e. "B" students) get accepted into a top school?

The answer is a bit more nuanced than a hard "yes" or "no."

Are you a "B" student, or have you gotten B's?

Though these questions sound the same, their answers have very different consequences for the purposes of college admissions.

I went through every top university that reported the distribution of unweighted GPAs for its admitted students, and plotted them below.


The small black sliver at the top represents students with a “ B ” average or worse (3.0 GPA).

These are students with extremely extra-ordinary circumstances, so unless you have a building named after you or can throw a 95mph fastball, a “B” average is likely disqualifying. Thus, averaging a straight “B” is likely a death knell for top colleges.

All is not lost, however, if you generally do well in school but have a handful of B’s (e.g. a GPA between 3.6–3.8).

Having a lower GPA will require you to play your cards more thoughtfully, but you are still very much in contention for a spot at a top university.

Here are 5 tricks for making your application stand out despite a lower GPA.

1. Take more APs

Since they are graded on a 5-point scale, you can raise your weighted GPA to appear more in-line with a college’s admissions standards. The average weighted GPAs of Ivy League admits, shown in the USA Today chart below, is quite attainable:


2. Ace your standardized tests.

A high SAT or ACT score can help offset a lower GPA by demonstrating that you have the intellectual ability to perform at a high level.

3. Shine elsewhere in your application.

Your essays, for example, are a fantastic place to explain or indirectly shed light on personal circumstances that may have caused your lower GPA.

They also allow you to directly frame your application and convey why you — and only you — can add something uniquely meaningful to the incoming class.

As Logan Powell, Dean of Admissions at Brown University, writes:

“The essay is one of only two places where the student can tell us exactly who they are, in their own words (the other place is the interview).”

And Mitch Warren , Director of Admissions at Purdue University, adds:

"We receive about 54,000 applications from high school students each year, and despite that really large number, [the essay] truly is an individual and holistic review...[it] helps us to better understand the life of the applicant, especially things with grit, humor, motivation. I think also it helps tell stories that we may not have picked up on elsewhere in the application."

This is something that our Ivy League mentors specialize in.

4. Show an upward trajectory

If you got straight B’s freshman year but gradually worked your way up to consecutive semesters of straight A’s as a senior, then colleges will look much more favorably upon your transcript, as it demonstrates growth as a student.

As Dartmouth Assistant Director of Admissions Ariel writes,

[W]hen we review an applicant's transcript, we look at grade trends that will help us understand a student's academic trajectory in his or her secondary school.

We see transcripts that show steady grades throughout a student's high school career or a positive/upward trend from 9th-12th grade. We see transcripts where a student has bounced back from a transition or dip in grades. We also see downward trends in grades.

We use the rest of the application to try to fill in WHY the trend looks the way it does. If you have a particular reason for, say, a dip in grades in your junior year, please let us know about it in the "Additional Information" section of the Common Application.

Keep in mind that we will be looking to see how you have done in your most recent coursework since this will be a good indicator of how ready you are to move into a rigorous academic environment at Dartmouth.

5. Take the hardest classes offered

The negative impact of lower grades can be partially softened if they occurred while taking the hardest classes your school offers.

In the eyes of admissions officers, taking a rigorous course-load and challenging yourself, even if you do get a B or B+, can be equally as important as acing your classes.

An aside: These high GPA cut-offs are largely due to (1) increasingly high numbers of applicants and (2) rising grade inflation at the high school level.


Why is it So Hard Getting Into a Top College?

July 09, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Early Action, Early Decision, Acceptance Rates, Ivy League, Stanford, Harvard, University of Chicago, Cornell, Dartmouth, UPenn, Duke

Why do top colleges and universities have much lower acceptance rates than they did only a decade ago?

It’s a tragic saga of prestige, tradition, statistics, and a decade-long race to the bottom. Watch it slowly unfold in the charts below:


In the “good ole’ days” depicted on the left , your last name was your college application. Today (on the right ), the high school students competing with you are basically curing cancer.

Unfortunately, the number of spots at top colleges has not kept pace with the explosion of applications:


And yet the total number of students admitted to top colleges has remained stagnant :


This isn’t just a phenomenon of “top” colleges — this problem occurs across the board for all US universities:


As the saying goes, scarcity creates value.

So from the perspective of top colleges, this surge in demand has been a blessing rather than a curse.

Consider the two most prestigious colleges in America — Stanford and Harvard.

Once upon a time, over 1 in 10 students who applied to Harvard and Stanford got in (2001). Now, that number is less than 1 in 20 students.


Both elite schools have fought a race to the bottom in terms of acceptance rates, closely tailing one another for the “top” (or “bottom”) spot.

At the same time, the number that matters most to colleges for prestige — Yield Rate — steadily increased. Yield Rate is the percentage of accepted students that choose to enroll in your institution.

Luckily for top colleges, low acceptance rates and high yields go hand in hand:


The reason why top colleges have much lower acceptance rates than they did a decade ago is because prestige is relative.

If you’re the dean of the only college in your division with a double digit acceptance rate, then you can expect to be reprimanded by your Board of Trustees for failing to uphold the prestige and exclusivity of your college’s brand. Angry alumni who see the value of their diploma depreciating relative to the peers from other institutions will demand action.

And that’s why you see the craziest drops in acceptance rates for institutions that lagged behind their peers in prestige a decade ago.

Consider the Ivies:


Note the most dramatic drops in Ivy League acceptance rates come from schools like Cornell, Penn, Brown, and Dartmouth, which are typically considered the “less prestigious” Ivies.

Their acceptance rates have plummeted from a completely reasonable 15–35% in 2007 to an intimidating <15% by 2018 .

That’s because these “less prestigious” top universities have the most “catching up” to do.

Deflating acceptance rates while filling your incoming class was difficult to do 1–2 decades ago. But now, thanks to...

  1. The Internet

  2. Standardization of the Common App/Coalition App/Universal App

  3. Higher number of international applicants

...there is enough demand for any college to achieve their desired prestigiously low acceptance rate by simply spending enough on marketing/ad flyers/outreach.

The table below shows the 16 colleges with the largest decrease in acceptance rates over the past decade:


You’ll note that most of these schools are good, but not in the upper echelon of “elite” schools.

These are schools like the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Duke, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Rice, Vanderbilt, etc.

For these schools, a low acceptance rate is a fast track to prestige, something that could otherwise only be achieved through hundreds of years of achievement.

So while all elite colleges have seen their admissions rates decrease over the past decade, colleges like the University of Chicago have been able to attain roughly comparable admissions selectivity as Ivy League schools by simply out-pacing more "prestigious" colleges at lowering their acceptance rates.


To summarize: Top colleges have much lower acceptance rates than they did a decade ago because there’s too many applicants and not enough spots.

This benefits colleges by making their diplomas more valuable, and thus there have been no substantial efforts to resolve this race to the bottom.

Is There an Advantage in Applying Early Decision/Early Action?

July 08, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Early Action, Early Decision, Ivy League, Stanford, Northwestern, Emory, Williams, Harvey Mudd, Admissions

Contrary to what most admissions officers will tell you, the answer is a definitive YES.

Here are 4 data visualizations and a study which prove that applying early decision or early action makes it easier to get into your dream college.

1. Numbers don’t lie; Ivy League colleges have an almost 3x higher early acceptance rate than regular admission rate! Applying to Harvard early action, Yale early action, Princeton early action, Cornell early decision, UPenn early decision, Columbia early decision, Brown early decision, or Dartmouth early decision will increase your chances of acceptance.


  1. On top of being relatively easier to get in, more overall students are being accepted early action and early decision by Ivy League schools. As the chart below shows, the overall number of spots being filled by early action and early decision applicants has increased almost every year for the past decade:


  1. This trend of higher early decision acceptance rates than regular decision acceptance rates holds for non-Ivies as well. Just to name a few shown below: Northwestern, Skidmore, Wellesley, Harvey Mudd, Carleton , Emory , and Williams :




  1. As a result of confirming which students will enroll sooner in the process through early decision and early action, the Yield rate of colleges has steadily increased ( This is an incredibly important measure of a college’s prestige , as it measures the percentage of students accepted who choose to actually enroll.


But why does applying early decision or early action make it easier to get accepted into a top college?

As Jed Applerouth, PhD in Educational Psychology, reports :

In a study undertaken by Avery, Fairbanks, and Zeckhauser…in their book The Early Admissions Game , the authors surveyed thousands of high school seniors, hundreds of thousands of applications, and five years of admissions records from more than a dozen colleges…Their conclusion was surprising:

“Colleges were much more likely to admit an early applicant than a regular applicant with the same qualifications.”

Why would colleges seem to reward students who apply early decision?...

[1] Typically, colleges can count on ED/EA students to be more enthusiastic about their first-choice school if accepted...

[ 2] Furthermore, colleges can manage their selectivity rates better through ED/EA, which in turn influences U.S. News & World Report rankings...

[3] [W]ith early decision, an acceptance is binding, which is of great benefit to the school..[A] student waives the right to shop financial aid packages, meaning that he will pay the full-tuition, or accept whatever financial aid his early decision school offers. This arrangement places much of the control in the college’s hands...

How Private Prep Schools and Public Exam Schools Impact College Admissions

July 07, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | High School, Private, Public, Acceptance Rates, Ivy League, Admissions

The conventional wisdom on how going to a competitive, top prep school affects your college admissions chances is wrong.

The downsides of “being a small fish in a big pond” during high school doesn’t matter. When it comes to admissions chances for top colleges, students of prestigious private schools have a clear statistical advantage over students from public high schools.

According to MarketWatch, 94 of the top 100 feeder schools to Ivy League institutions were private.

Overall, the benefits of going to a well-resourced prep school tend to outweigh the drawbacks of increased competition from your peers.


There are a few reasons for this.

(1) Private schools have more money, resources, and experience to throw at high-achieving students applying to elite colleges. As former Dean of College Admissions Jason England writes,

“A prep school applicant curated by elite counselors, tutors, essay writers, and a manipulative school profile is routine, even though it inspires less backlash.

Private schools create applicants who are difficult to reject.

The candidate is “prepared” (the assumption is that private schools’ courses are more rigorous), has a relatively high SAT score (a reflection of parents’ incomes and education levels), and is touted by carefully crafted recommendation letters from counselors who have many fewer students and far more resources than their public school counterparts.”

(2) Students can take advantage of more opportunities at top prep schools.

As University of Georgia Professor Greg Woniak, who specializes in higher education, writes:

“Attending a high school that is a known pathway to institutions like Princeton has a direct resource benefit for [a] student. In some ways, it can serve to offset other deficiencies a student might have if they’re not the strongest.”

Imagine if your high school looked like this (Philips Andover):

And had the following academic opportunities, as reported by The Daily Princetonian :

Flip through the pages of elite high schools’ catalogs, and it’s easy to find exotic course titles that the average Joe wouldn’t see until their later years of higher education.

Multivariable calculus and linear algebra — subjects normally reserved for college sophomores or juniors — are widespread among moneyed high schools.

Thomas Jefferson students can take electrodynamics and differential equations. Phillips Academy Andover offers organic chemistry. Stuyvesant High School teaches artificial intelligence.

(3) According to The Atlantic, grade inflation is more rampant and second chances are more frequently afforded at private schools, and thus students’ transcripts look better.


That’s why in 2015, the top 14 private high schools in the US had an average of 33% (!!) of their graduating classes attend an Ivy League college.

In order, they are:

  1. Trinity, NY (Percent admitted to Ivy League: 40%)
  2. Collegiate, NY (40%)
  3. Brearly, NY (37%)
  4. Horace Mann, NY (36%)
  5. Roxbury Latin, MA (36%)
  6. Phililips Academy Andover, MA (33%)
  7. The Spence School, NY (33%)
  8. The Winsor School, MA (31%)
  9. Dalton, NY (31%)
  10. St. Paul’s, NH (30%)
  11. Chapin, NY (30%)
  12. Harvard-Westlake, CA (30%)
  13. Phillips Exeter Academy, NH (29%)
  14. The College Preparatory School, CA (29%)

But that’s not the full story...

The above numbers make things look better than they actually are for public schools.

That’s because the vast majority of public school spots go to students from highly selective exam schools and charter public schools, not students of schools you'd typically think of as "public schools."


These are public high schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Boston Latin.

They have rigorous admissions standards, with even lower acceptance rates than Stanford, Harvard, and MIT! These nominally “public” schools will typically send 10–25 students to Harvard every year.

That’s how you get stats like this at Princeton in 2020:

One in 20 undergraduates at the University, for example, came from just five high schools. Four of them were world-class magnet schools, and the other was the $69,000 per year Lawrenceville School.

And this stat from a 2017 article in The Crimson :

In total, one out of every 20 Harvard freshmen attended one of the seven high schools most represented in the class of 2017—Boston Latin, Phillips Academy in Andover, Stuyvesant High School, Noble and Greenough School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Trinity School in New York City, and Lexington High School.

And the below chart of Harvard’s 2017 admissions, which shows that the top 10% of high schools sent almost a third of the student body to Harvard:


Does Your Choice of Major Impact Your College Admissions Chances?

Be careful when "declaring" that you're an undecided or undeclared major

July 04, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Declaring, Majors, Advice, Admissions, Application, Mistakes, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Harvard, UCs

Should I declare an intended major on my college application?

If not, does being undeclared or undecided hurt my admissions chances?

The short answer to both questions is YES, your declared major or the specific program to which you are applying can have a significant impact on your acceptance chances.

Even if schools pretend otherwise, the statistics bear this out (as shown later in this article).

Students who demonstrate interest in different majors/programs have widely different acceptance rates at certain colleges.

I've listed 5 case studies of different schools below to illustrate how the way in which you choose a major for your college application can improve or decrease your admissions chances.


At UCLA , different programs have vastly different admissions rates (shown below).


Additionally, even within the pool of students interested solely in engineering, the School of Engineering explicitly evaluates students by the specific engineering major that they intend to pursue.


At Harvard , students interested in “humanities” are admitted at almost double the rate as students interested in “engineering”:


Carnegie Mellon (CMU)

At Carnegie Mellon (shown below), the acceptance rate of different programs ranges from 7% to 26%!


UC Berkeley

At UC Berkeley , applicants intending on studying “computer science” have an 8.5% acceptance rate, compared to 17% overall.


At Cornell , each application is individually considered by the specific college that a student applies to.

As Cornell Vice Provost of Enrollment Jason Locke stated in The Cornell Sun,

"Unlike many other colleges, which review all applications from a central undergraduate admissions office, Cornell has a 'somewhat unique system,' according to Locke.

Once an application is submitted, it will be given to the one — and only — college or school that the student is applying to, where his or her material will undergo what Locke called a 'first review.'"

This leads to wildly different outcomes for students who apply to different schools. For example, the undergraduate acceptance rate for Cornell's School of Industrial & Labor Relations was triple the rate of applicants to the College of Arts and Sciences.

What causes this statistical difference?

There are two main factors which make your choice of intended field of study important on your college application.

  1. Colleges have different strengths. Johns Hopkins’ world-renowned Biomedical Engineering (BME) program is much stronger than its English department. MIT’s Computer Science (CS) department is much stronger than its History department. Thus, more students interested in BME will apply to Johns Hopkins, and it will be harder to distinguish yourself as an applicant interested in BME. Same goes for applying to MIT as a CS major.

  2. Colleges have different weaknesses . Every program or school that a college offers represents a significant investment of time, money, and resources. Applicants that have the potential to dramatically improve relatively weaker programs (e.g. English at Johns Hopkins, or History at MIT) offer a larger marginal return on being admitted than students who would have to be literally world-class (e.g. win a Nobel Prize) to make a noticeably lasting impact on their stronger departments.

Use this knowledge to your benefit!

Most colleges will allow you to switch majors after enrolling.

If you can frame your application to provide an unmet need or fill spots in an under-enrolled program, you can greatly increase your admissions chances .

To learn more about college admissions from Ivy League students who’ve successfully gone through the process themselves, check out the services we offer here

What Do Colleges Look for in Applicants?

Learn How to Best Focus Your Application for Your Dream School

July 03, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Inside Info, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, Yale, Ivy League, UCs

What is a competitive college GPA?

What is the GPA needed for Stanford? What is the GPA needed for Yale, or the GPA needed for MIT?

What are the best ECs for college?

What are Stanford's requirements for admission? What are the UC admissions requirements for each school?

What do colleges look for in students? What do Ivy League schools look for? What are the college admissions requirements for my dream school?

How do colleges decide who gets in?!?!

These are all great questions!

And answering them may seem overwhelming at first.

A lot of people on the Internet claim to miraculously have all the answers. Somehow, they've synthesized the collective knowledge, opinions, and beliefs of thousands of admissions officers across the US.

I, however, am unfortunately not a mind-reader -- I will openly admit that I know the answer to very few of these questions. Yes, I can tell you generally what ECs are preferred, how to write a great essay, what you should be focusing on in high school, and specifics for my alma mater (Harvard).

But to immediately know how an MIT admissions officer I've never met will weigh your specific community service experience against working a part-time job? Impossible (unless of course you're one of these mind-reading college consultants found around the Internet).

Does that mean there's no way to know the answers to these questions?


In fact, there's an even better solution.

What if you could directly ask your dream college how it decides who'll be admitted?

Amazingly, you can.

You just need to know where to look.

That's because the federal government mandates that accredited colleges report this information every year to the National Center for Education Statistics.

This data is conveniently collected by College Data into a neat admissions database. Thus, I’ve pulled a few interesting examples for you below (Stanford, Yale, MIT, and UC Berkeley).

These are the factors that Stanford uses to grade applicants, as well as their relative importance:

Personal Traits

Collectively, this table (as well as the ones below) show that a much wider variety of factors beyond just GPA (essays, extracurriculars, rec letters, etc.) go into your admissions decision, and how each will be weighted differently by different colleges.

These are MIT’s preferences:

Personal Traits

And here is the corresponding chart for UC Berkeley :

Personal Traits

As you can see, there are a ton of factors that influence your admissions decision.

Additionally, each school has its own unique culture which will be reflected in how it preferentially evaluates different candidates.

Finally, here is the relevant chart for Yale :

Personal Traits

It's important to make sure that in each of your applications to these schools, you highlight the elements of your application that correspond to those most prioritized by that school.

An amusing anecdote from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates perfectly illustrates this point:

As a senior, he [Bill Gates] applied only to three colleges — Harvard, Yale, and Princeton — and he took different approaches to each.

"I was born to apply for college," he said, fully aware of his ability to ace meritocratic processes.

For Yale he cast himself as an aspiring political type and emphasized the month he had spent in Washington as a congressional page. For Princeton, he focused only on his desire to be a computer engineer. And for Harvard, he said his passion was math. He had also considered MIT, but at the last moment blew off the interview to play pinball.

He was accepted to all three, and chose Harvard. "There are going to be some guys at Harvard who are smarter than you,"" Allen warned him. Gates replied, "No way! No way!"

The College Data website also lays out the requirements and benchmarks for admission to each school.

Here are the admission statistics of students admitted to Stanford :

Personal Traits

If you fit the profile of the typical student admitted to the school you want to go to, that's amazing news -- Congrats! You now just need to polish up the rest of your application.

If perfecting your essays is something still on your bucket list, you've come to the right place.

If you want direct 1-on-1 mentorship from top Ivy League students, or a review of your materials before you press submit, consider signing up for a free 20-minute consultation or learn more about how we can help you here .

The 7 Extracurriculars that Will Impress Your Admissions Officer

What matters is not the What, but the How and Why

July 03, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Admissions, ECs, Examples, Guide, How To

What high school activities and clubs look good on college applications?

Is a question I'm often asked.

Unfortunately, the very premise of this question -- and thus any answer to it -- misses one key insight:

There is no such thing as an “impressive” extracurricular.

There is also no such thing as an “unimpressive” extracurricular.

There are just extracurriculars.

The same activity can be impressive for one student, but meaningless for another.

What matters is NOT what you pursue, but how you pursue it, what you achieve , and most importantly, how you frame those accomplishments to the admissions office.

I’ve listed 7 common activities, and for each given 3 examples, to show how common high school clubs and activities can be pursued, or spun, in increasingly impressive lights.

(And by "spun," I mean how you describe your activities in your personal statement, supplementary essays, and Coalition/Universal/Common App Activities section.)

Student Council

1. Student Council

You were elected to your school’s student body. Congrats.

1. Unimpressive: You were elected as a class representative, or served for a year in an executive role (e.g. Treasurer).

2. Notable: You were elected School President.

3. Impressive: You were elected School President. You took the initiative to start several new programs at your school which were widely successful, from a book drive for local middle schools to a fundraiser that earned over $20,000 to spearheading the creation of a recycling program on campus. You fought for the main issue students cared about, issue X, even though the administration pushed back, and after months of back-and-forth you eventually succeeded at convincing your school to implement X. While none of these achievements are necessarily earth-shattering on their own, they collectively show that you’re a go-getter who takes initiative.


2. Research

You spent a summer or two doing research in a local college's lab.

1. Unimpressive: You contributed to a small, discrete portion of a larger project. You don’t really understand the science behind the larger project, or why it matters. You don’t make an effort to connect with your lab-mates, and your only souvenir from the summer is a short PowerPoint detailing your work. You don’t keep in touch with your mentor afterwards.

2. Notable: You contributed a small, discrete portion of a larger project. You understand the basic principles and goals of the project, and make an effort to finish your portion early to help others. You connect well enough with your mentor to have them write a recommendation letter for you for college. You get your name on the authorship list of a published paper.

3. Impressive: You independently design and execute your own experiments under the supervision of a well-respected investigator in your field. You connect well with your mentor and have them write a recommendation letter for you for college. You are the first or second author on a published paper in a prestigious journal. Given the scope of your ambition, you develop this project over multiple summers or continue during the school year.


3. Sports

You play a varsity sport for your high school.

1. Unimpressive: You play varsity level all four years and perform well. You win a few tournament MVP awards and your team wins the regional championships. You don’t reach out to college coaches or train on your own time.

2. Notable: You win a league MVP award for your performance. You attend recruiting camps over the summer and winter break, and reach out to college coaches. You train by yourself, and spend the summers practicing and competing.

3. Impressive: You commit to having sports be your ticket to college. You attend recruiting camps, train by yourself, spend the summers practicing and competing, play on multiple teams, and are unarguably qualified to play at the D1/D3 level. You are in frequent communication with college coaches and get a verbal or written commitment that you will be recruited/scholarship offer/likely letter.


4. Play an Instrument

You play the piano, trumpet, or some other instrument

1. Unimpressive: You’ve taken lessons for 12 years.

2. Notable: You’ve composed your own music, recorded it, and posted it online to YouTube and SoundCloud. You’ve won performance competitions. You’ve performed for large crowds in your church/community center/school.

3. Impressive: You’ve composed your own music, recorded it, and distributed it to 10,000’s of people. You’ve performed for large, paying crowds in concert halls. Alternatively, you started an educational outreach program to teach younger students how to play your instrument, and have had hundreds of middle schoolers advance through your program by your senior year.


5. Debate

You competed in Policy Debate all four years of high school.

1. Unimpressive: You’re the team captain, you’ve won a couple local tournaments, and you’ve placed at a few national tournaments.

2. Notable: You’re the team captain, you’ve won a couple national tournaments.

3. Impressive: You’ve only competed in local tournaments and won them all; however, before you there was no debate program at your school. After starting the team, you grew it from 2 to 50 kids by the end of your junior year. You led fundraising to pay for travel to tournaments, hired coaches, and ran team meetings. You independently competed in a few national tournaments with your partner and placed well. Alternatively, you won the national or world championships in your event, or consistently ranked among the top finalist for multiple years.

Science Olympiad

6. Science Olympiad/Academic Quizbowl

You competed in an academic event.

1. Unimpressive: You competed every year, served as your team captain, and placed first in state.

2. Notable: You were qualified for the national championships and placed well in the competition.

3. Impressive: You won the national championship or represented your country in the international championships. Alternatively, you began your school's participation in this event or competition, and led your fledgling squad to a strong placing at your state/national tournament. You fought the uphill battle of convincing the administration to let you compete, and enjoyed the rewarding experience of inspiring younger students whom would otherwise be discouraged to pursue their passions in the field.


7. Volunteer Work

You volunteered at a local soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity.

1. Unimpressive: You volunteered every week for a few hours.

2. Notable: You led or started the initiative to have students at your high school volunteer. You worked multiple days a week, or spent a summer volunteering full time.

3. Impressive: You led or started an initiative that drew from multiple high schools in your area, you began your own independent charitable organization for an under-covered issue, and/or raised significant funds for said efforts. You demonstrate a clear interest in continuing to pursue this cause in college, and have made a clear, tangible impact on individual peoples' lives that you are able to eloquently article in your application.

To summarize, colleges aren’t necessarily looking for a particular extracurricular pursuit (with the exception of sports, for which coaches will actively recruit).

Instead, colleges want you to demonstrate valuable personal qualities through your extracurricular pursuits. Qualities like:

  1. Leadership
  2. Initiative
  3. Integrity
  4. Determination
  5. Passion
  6. Dedication

If you can show that your extracurricular activity or involvement in a high school club demonstrates these qualities at a significant level, then your extracurricular will be impressive.

The key is to frame your involvement in these activities in such a way that these positive personal qualities shine through application.

Obviously, not all of your activities will be as impressive as the examples listed above.

But every one of your activities can be spun in a more impressive light, and thus the descriptions provided in your application can be just as important as your involvement in those activities themselves.

By way of illustration, note that all of the "impressive" examples listed above had much longer descriptions than the "unimpressive/notable" examples. That was on purpose: The very act of telling a story about an activity will make it sound more impressive.

(1) The most common place to do this is in your essays.

That is something we specialize in, and would be happy to offer you a free 20-minute consultation to ensure that your accomplishments come across as strongly as possible in your application.

(2) The second most common place is in the form of strong recommendation letters from teachers, advisors, coaches, bosses, and/or mentors who have personally witnessed your involvement in these activities.

If you can get your lab mentor, boss at work, or teacher/advisor to write you a stronger rec letter by investing yourself more fully in an extracurricular pursuit, then the “impressiveness” of that pursuit is instantly multiplied by the testimonial offered by such a trusted source.

The 7 Common App Essay Prompts for 2020

July 02, 2020 by Veritas Essays Team | Essays, Common App, Essay Prompts

The seven 2020 Common App essay prompts have been reproduced below.

The Common App essay word limit is 650 words, and requires a minimum of 250 words. The submission portal can be accessed here . The Common App deadline is the same as whatever the deadline is for the institution to which you are applying.

To get advice on how to best attack these Common App prompts from students who have successfully done so, check out our companion article here .

Prompt 1

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Prompt 2

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Prompt 3

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Prompt 4

Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

Prompt 5

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Prompt 6

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Prompt 7

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

It's never too early to get started on perfecting your application! If you want direct feedback on your essays from Ivy League students, or want to work 1-on-1 with an experienced mentor to craft your application, learn more about us here or click here to schedule a free 20-minute consultation