Yo peeps, so as you can probably tell, I’m about to blow your mind. You might want to sit down, grab some water, you know, keep yourself hydrated. Maybe do a few stretches.
Now that you’re all ready, let’s begin! A girl who wrote about hotdogs and Costco got into Stanford and most Ivy League Schools, a student who wrote about his love for food got into Stanford, while Cornell’s admissions officer’s favorite essays were about lint and failing the driver’s test four times. Observing a pattern here? All these people chose kind of silly topics to write about. You might be wondering, “Yo,why would I want to sound stupid in front of the admissions officer, this doesn’t make sense!” . Well, that’s a valid argument. Now read this excerpt from one of the essays I mentioned above.
“While enjoying an obligatory hot dog, I did not find myself thinking about the ‘all beef’ goodness that Costco boasted. I instead considered finitudes and infinitudes, unimagined uses for tubs of sour cream, the projectile motion of said tub when launched from an eighty foot shelf or maybe when pushed from a speedy cart by a scrawny seventeen year old. I contemplated the philosophical: If there exists a thirty-three ounce jar of Nutella, do we really have free will? I experienced a harsh physics lesson while observing a shopper who had no evident familiarity of inertia’s workings. With a cart filled to overflowing, she made her way towards the sloped exit, continuing to push and push while steadily losing control until the cart escaped her and went crashing into a concrete column, 52” plasma screen TV and all. Purchasing the yuletide hickory smoked ham inevitably led to a conversation between my father and me about Andrew Jackson’s controversiality"
Yes, yes, she’s literally talking about hot dogs and Costco. Now don’t underestimate her, this girl got accepted to 5 Ivy League Schools and Stanford. Jeez, that’s impressive. So now, you might be thinking , “Okay, enough of this, just get to the juicy part, give us the magic potion!” . Luckily enough for you, I’m getting to the point.
If you want to write an essay that slays everyone else’s like Beyoncé, first you gotta be true to yourself. You’re 17 or 18, you don’t want to end poverty or save the world. Maybe you enjoy pepperoni pizza, maybe you love watching horror films, maybe you love shopping at Macy’s, whatever it is, write about it.
The key is to choose a seemingly silly topic and present it in an intellectual light. Your ability to turn something silly into something genius will impress them and make you more memorable. In order to do that, you need to have a lot of knowledge about the topic you chose, which is why you need to be true to yourself. But then again, don’t write a pointless essay, don’t tell the officers that you can stuff 20 cheese balls in your mouth. Although I think it’s impressive, the admissions officer will beg to differ.
So there’s the secret formula to write a winning essay. Best of luck and I hope you get into your dream school!
Who had their dreams come true today! Congratulations!
Who are still anxiously awaiting admissions news:
Who received waitlist emails (don’t give up! Keep those grades up! Send updates to the schools):
Who received rejection letters:
And most importantly:
Regardless of the outcomes of October 15th, I think you should all be hella proud of conquering the nearly year-long process (read: 7th circle of hell) that is AMCAS. Jumping through all those hoops requires a great deal of sheer determination and a strong work ethic, so:
Admissions. A puzzling process. That one point missed. That one hour more spent on a project. That important class you skipped so that you could walk around a track for cancer awareness while writing your first young adult novel. The decision you made. The decision you didn’t make. The decision your parents made for you.
Terrifying isn’t it?
Take a deep breath. Make some tea. Now listen.
The greatest trick the colleges ever pulled was convincing you that the application process was about them. Which one looks good on a resume? Which one offers a course taught by a Nobel laureate? Which one stocks froyo at dinner? Which one likes you? Which one doesn’t like you? How cruel of them to make you believe that your worth is defined by whether or not they say no.
The truth is, the application process is about you. It’s about who you are. It’s about all the experiences that have taken you to where you are today. It’s about the things you value, the stories you tell, the secret pipe dream you hide under your pillow.
There is no secret to getting into college. Barnard takes a holistic view of your application. Columbia asks what magazines you read. Others just want to see some numbers. Don’t try to game the system, because you’ll lose yourself. Thing is, the system tells you more about them than it will tell them about you. Do you prefer a school that places heavy emphasis on statistics and test scores? Do you prefer a school that is looking for you to write stories about your experiences? Do you want a school that values their legacies? Because in the end, the application process is your chance to figure out, not which college will have you, but which colleges deserve you.
Look. Instead of asking what’s a good hook, just take stock of the hooks you already have. Because those are good hooks. They are your hooks. You worked hard for them. They make you sentimental, make you incensed, make you cry, make you keen. You don’t need to wait for my permission or the permission of a college to think your hooks are awesome. Your hooks are pretty damn great.
Don’t ask me whether or not the admissions officers at Barnard will look at this or look at that. The party line is that they look at everything. That may or may not be true. But it doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t. If you put all of yourself into that application, it doesn’t matter what they see. All that counts is how they see it, and that’s not something you can control. They aren’t faceless figures, dramatically backlit with leonine features hidden by shadow. They are people. People with likes and dislikes. People with backgrounds and experiences and good days and bad days. You can’t predict how they’ll see your numbers or your words. You can’t predict how they’ll feel when they pick up your application.
There’s only one thing you can do.
Figure out yourself. Ignore the schools and their ideal candidate. Who are you? What’s your story? That is what will take you where you need to be, and if that place is not somewhere you expect or if that place is the very place you knew you’d end up, then all’s well that ends well. Don’t do yourself a disservice. Don’t hide or mold or maneuver yourself to fit into their door. Knock your knock, and if they hear it, they’ll open up. If they don’t, try the next one.
Pre-meds and medical students are a high achieving bunch. Maybe high school was a breeze, maybe you aced Orgo, or maybe you got an amazing score on the MCATs. Maybe you didn’t, and that’s OK.
I am not the student who eased through life and woke up one day to find myself in medical school. Sure, I did well in high school where no one was challenging me, but once in college I realized that there are a lot of really smart people out there and that among smart people I am pretty average. I found myself working really hard only to walk away with a B in Orgo I. I came close to failing Orgo II and ended up re-taking both classes after I graduated from undergrad. My first time applying to medical school (before retaking Orgo) I got ZERO interviews. My second time applying I got two, after which I was wait-listed at both schools. Just when I had started to reassess my life goals I got a call telling me I had been accepted.
Since starting school I have struggled with the transition from the intellectual curiosity that predominates the liberal arts, to an academic environment based on multiple choice tests and memorization. There are days that I love everything about medicine and days that I wish I were still capable of carrying on a non-medical conversation. Despite all the ups and downs I cannot imagine doing anything else. The deeper into this whole medicine thing I get, the more convinced I am that this is the place for me.
The road to medical school is long; the road to becoming a practicing physician is longer. At some point you will struggle and will doubt yourself and your ability to succeed. Don’t panic or give up; buckle down figure out what’s important and work as hard as you can.
My personal statement:
I'm lazy and I spend lots of time on tumblr but please, let me go to your university, my biggest asset is that I will not do drugs, maybe just weed, but not like... not like everyday. Best regards.