envision yourself exactly where you want to be. what motivates you? picture that, and never let it go. keep it in your mind and heart as you construct a plan to achieve what you want. with discipline and some confidence, you will reach your goal. you will.

The SAT was created by a noted racist and anti-immigrant activist who had previously written difficult, biased exams intended to prevent immigrants from becoming citizens. Happy test day!!

Please fire me. I work at an coffee shop near an Ivy League campus and these spoiled, rich students are generally terrible customers. And one time, a parent of one of these kids came in, and was digging around for the change for her coffee. When she realized she didn’t have it, she reached her slimy old hand into my tip jar and pulled out the change she needed!

To my studyblrs x

If you’re running low on motivation remember that my mock exam grades were;

Maths B
English Lit C
English Lang B
Physics C
Bio B
Chem B
History A*
economics A*
Second Language B

And that everyone told me to stop hoping for Ivy leagues and Cambridge but when my real IGCSE grades came out they were A*s throughout.

So no matter how shit things are right now they won’t be the same always. You need to focus and you need to work right.

Getting into the Ivy League: Some Unpopular Opinions

Background: I am an “unhooked” (i.e., upper-middle class Asian-American) Princeton SCEA admit, and these are some of my thoughts on the college admissions process.

Disclaimer: Everything I write below is solely a high schooler’s opinion—I’m by no means in the know, so take everything with a grain of salt.

Overrated elements of a college application:

  • Leadership-Leadership is seen by many as a mark of success in extracurriculars. While it can be immensely valuable, having extensive leadership positions is not necessary: I’m President of exactly one club and one of many officers at my HS literary magazine—and not even Editor-in-Chief at that. 
  • Well-roundedness-My extracurriculars are extremely narrow in scope. They can be divided into exactly two categories: Classics-related activities and writing-related activities. In my opinion, depth of accomplishment (pointiness) is more important than breadth (well-roundedness); above all, passion is more important than objective stats and awards.
  • Teacher recommendations-If you’re an introvert like me, don’t fret. I didn’t click with any of my teachers, and I honestly don’t think it hurt me. That said, there are some ways to get to know them even if you don’t participate/contribute actively in class. Approach them after class; show that you care. For example, I asked my English teacher to provide feedback on my submissions to various writing contests. Also, make sure to supply your recommenders with a “brag sheet” outlining not just your accomplishments but also your goals for the future.
  • Affirmative Action-Being an under-represented minority or first-generation student isn’t as much of a boost as you think it is. Conversely, being Asian or Caucasian isn’t a drawback unless you make it a drawback. I’m privileged to pretty much be the antithesis of a typical “hooked” applicant, and yet I got into some pretty decent schools. Just don’t be a test-taking robot. Set yourself apart. And I don’t mean cultivating uncommon extracurriculars: if you’ve played piano or violin your entire life, that’s great. Show your passion and—this is the important part—try to connect it to something bigger than yourself. Why does it matter in the greater scheme of things? Again, nothing deep. Be genuine, humanize yourself, and you’re good to go.

Underrated elements of a college application:

  • Packaging-Packaging yourself well is paramount. By packaging, I don’t mean planning out your extracurriculars in middle school and doing things that look good on a resume. I’m talking about communicating a cohesive narrative through your application—what do you care about? how will you make an impact to the college community and the world at large? Essays are really helpful vehicles to convey your passions and best qualities.
  • Scores-For most unhooked applicants, there’s a baseline—2100+ and 3.8 GPA—under which it’s very hard to get into a school with a sub-10% acceptance rate. That said, scores only prevent your app from being tossed out; they won’t get you through the door.