stanford admissions


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!

Diyanshu Emandi

hello, your favorite clueless incoming college freshman here. i was accepted to stanford university as a part of the class of 2021, and i’ve been getting a lot of messages on tumblr/social media and from friends at home too about how to get into stanford. i hate answering this question, because, as you will notice, i did not title this post “how to get into stanford” because the truth is i don’t know. (really. i was accepted into some great schools, but i was also rejected from schools. who knows what stanford saw in me that others didn’t?)

but, stanford being my dream school since the 8th grade, i can relate to the nervous i-just-love-this-school-so-much feeling & having millions of questions about the application process. so i thought i’d write out a couple of really random and maybe helpful tips that are VERY SPECIFIC to my own personal application (as i can’t say for sure about any generalities).

if you have any questions about this, or about the college app process, or if you just want to say hi, feel free to shoot me a message (just turned on my anon messages!). much love & good luck.

  • grades / test scores / class rank: i did not have even close to perfect test scores. this fact stressed me out immensely, but in hindsight i think i was dumb to worry over these numbers. when i say that i don’t think that this section makes or breaks your app, i truly mean it. to me it seemed like such a small part of my application. i do believe i had good grades and such, so i won’t lie and say that it doesn’t matter…but if you are in your senior year, applying to college…the truth is it’s too little too late. so don’t stress about this, and worry about what you can actually do. so, you don’t have the best of grades. play up your other strengths - let someone else be the person that stanford chooses for great academic capability. you don’t have to fill that niche. find your own, and show stanford why they can’t be without it.
  • common app extracurriculars / accolades: or for me, lack thereof. i didn’t win major awards, did not play at the olympic level for sports, and i did not start a business or intern at a prestigious lab. i think these are all great things, but they have to make sense with your application. when you’re choosing what extracurriculars to put on your app, choose ones that will tell a story (hint: the “academic” side of your story should be what you put as your major interests! if you put your #1 major interest as computer science, but then you have nothing in your extracurricular activities about anything cs related…that doesn’t tell a compelling story. your essays and your common app could be two separate people!)
  • i don’t think i really played it “safe” with my application. this isn’t to say you should rely on shock value or wit to get you through, but i for sure did not write super formally for any part of the essay (use correct grammar and punctuation though). see the next tip.
  • common app essay: don’t be afraid to push the limit a little, play around with how you tell your story, especially if you are writing about something that many other people might be writing about. imo, this is the place for you to be creative and try and stand out. this might mean you add humor, or play around with the order that you tell your story, or utilize dialogue, or use a unique way to format your story. but this is also not the time for you to try something new…if you aren’t a creative writer my advice would be to not try and do that. i’m not a super funny person, so i didn’t take a comedic approach. if anything i think after reading tens of thousands of applications (and the tens of thousands more from previous years), admissions officers definitely can tell when the voice you use isn’t yours.
  • “short takes” or short answer questions: this was my favorite part of the application. boy oh boy did i squeeze everything i could out of this section. i used the space, especially the questions that asked about what books, films, artists, newspapers, etc. i enjoyed, to the best of my ability in a way that would showcase me as a real human being. i wanted whoever was reading my application to, by this point, have a pretty good understanding of who i was. i love journalism, film, witty books, philosophy, and art - so you bet my list included all of those things. i could do a whole other post about just the short takes so let me know if you want that. however, i do want to reiterate that this is the BEST TIME for you to fill in those missing gaps that you just couldn’t fit in a common app essay or activities section, or use it to emphasize just how involved you are with your passions/interests
  • intellectual vitality essay: one word - interdisciplinary. one of stanford’s mottos is “the wind of freedom blows” and i think of this to represent stanford students coming from a diversity of backgrounds, stories, experiences, interests, talents, coming together and finding ways to share what they love and know and grow as both a person and as a community. you can be the best physicist in the entire world, but if physics is all that you know and all that you are willing to talk about, then i just can’t be convinced of your intellectual vitality.
  • roommate essay: this probably isn’t good, but i literally wrote one draft for this essay. straight through, i just wrote what i felt like i would want to share with my roommate. i think here is also the moment for you to share how much you would really fit in at stanford - the practical bits. stanford is one of the few schools that doesn’t have a “why stanford” question, so find a way to fit that in, either subtly like i tried to do throughout my app, or a little more blatantly like i did with this essay. for example, i mentioned some of the things on stanford’s campus that i could see me and my roommate doing together. i also mentioned disney, cher from clueless, ferris bueller, the amazing race, the mowgli’s, how to get away with murder, and my favorite existentialist play. so you see, this was truly a mess of things that i believed represented me.
  • what matters to you, and why? essay: i used this essay to add the emotional leaning to my extracurriculars. i was very into politics and government, and had done canvassing and worked with state representatives, etc. while that may or may not be impressive, it still is just one line in my common app. so, i used this essay to re-emphasize my emotional connection with politics and culture, relating it back to my personal story. i also used this essay to give the admissions officers a look into my worldview, and how my surroundings have shaped my worldview.

most importantly, though, TELL YOUR STORY. idk how many times i have to say this, but all i truly did on my app was thing long and hard about what it would be like to be a college admissions officer reading thousands of essays. i didn’t even care if each of my essays were, on their own, super super amazing. i cared more about how well they supported and leaned on each other, so that at the end of the day the admissions officers would hopefully feel that they were meeting me, a whole human being, and not me, applicant #12940.

ok thanks for sticking with me. send me some love and/or questions here. :)


Hey friends! Let me talk for a minute about decision day. That’s today, in case any of you were wondering. I’ve seen a slew of posts along the lines of the title of this post and while I understand that being deferred can suck, it is not the end of the world, nor is it the end of your chances. 

My decision day was hell. I was so nervous that I shook all through dinner. I knew that I had the email sitting in my inbox, but I couldn’t make myself look at it.

At around 8pm, I looked. Unsurprisingly, it was the deferral letter. I was so relieved that I ended up puking.

A few of you are probably wondering why I would be relieved at being deferred from my first choice school. Here’s why. A deferral here is not a courtesy. It’s not an “honorable mention” or any sort of sick joke, no matter how much it may appear to be so. Deferral means that you’re good enough. The problem is that a whole lot of people are good enough and there aren’t a whole lot of spots in the incoming class. Deferral is by no means a reflection on your character or your worth as a person. It’s literally just the school’s way of saying hey, I think you’re really great, but I don’t know if I’m ready for this relationship. Give me time? and as much as that sucks to hear in both academic and romantic contexts I promise it is not a no.

If you were deferred, I think you’ll have an opportunity to fill out an ~optional update form~ to strengthen yourself as a candidate (since cool stuff happens between December and March) but that’s going off of what they did last year.

No matter what happens, know that a deferral means anything but what it feels like to many of you. If you want to talk about anything or are feeling discouraged, as always, feel free to message me or come over to my mental health blog if you feel like that would be more appropriate.
Stanford Admission Rate Drops to 0%
“We had exceptional applicants, yes, but not a single student we couldn’t live without,” said a Stanford administrator who requested anonymity. “In the stack of applications that I reviewed, I didn’t see any gold medalists from the last Olympics — Summer or Winter Games — and while there was a 17-year-old who’d performed surgery, it wasn’t open-heart or a transplant or anything like that. She’ll thrive at Yale.”
By Frank Bruni


anonymous asked:

What were your extracirruculars & are leadership positions really important?

Ah yes… extracurriculars… 

Four years of working with the Service Club on campus (closely associated with the Soroptimists of America organization); I held leadership positions during my junior and senior years by serving as secretary during my junior year and co-president during my senior year.  As result, I did a lot of work with blood drives and community building events.  It was a lot of fun, especially when we got the blood drop costume out for the blood drives.  :D 

Then, there was my pride and joy (*read: my baby*) the Shakespeare club I founded at my high school.  I spent a year and a half working with a friend of mine to get the club established, and through my junior and senior years, worked to keep the club going.  Since then, the club has continued on, and has had a pretty successful first year without the founders there.  

In addition to leadership roles (which yes, I think they have some importance, but don’t freak out if you’re not a strong leader), I played tennis for three years.  I wasn’t particularly good at it (I’m still not stellar) but I had a lot of fun doing it, which is why I kept playing.  For me, this wasn’t something I had to lead the pack with, which was a nice contrast to my other extracurriculars.  

As a word of caution though: I don’t want you to believe that you have to go out and do ALL the extracurriculars (insert relevant meme here) in order to be a strong candidate.  I started out high school with this notion engraved into my forehead, but eventually found that I hated having so much to do.  I couldn’t just sit back and relax because I was busy running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  

Now, in regards to leadership positions: any school is going to look at their candidates and see what they got out of their extracurriculars.  If you’re a leader within one of your activities, you’re going to get something out of it that someone who isn’t in a leadership position won’t necessarily experience.  Both are perfectly valid, and as long as you convey your passion for whatever it is you’re doing, you should be in good shape.  I have a good friend who applied last year who went through the motions of being extremely active in a lot of different groups, a jack of all trades but a master of none, and ended up not being accepted.  

It’s tricky to maneuver, but my advice to you is this: yes, participate in extracurriculars, but don’t worry about it if you aren’t a leader.  What you need to focus on is if you are happy being a part of this group or activity and if this is something that interests you.  This is what they are looking for in their applicants: people who actively seek out what makes them happy and pursue this, because they can get a really good idea of what sort of a student you will be.  If you’re just going for everything and only focused on a leadership role, they can’t gauge you as well.  

I hope this answers your question, and because it’s the Friday before finals and I feel like adding a gif, enjoy this gif of Troy and Abed.  

(Oh, okay… here’s another one)

Writing Killer Stanford Supplements Part 2: The Letter to Your Roommate

Why does Stanford want you to write a letter to your imaginary future roommate? Are they going to show it to your actual roommate if you get in??

The answer to the second question is no. As for the first question: the letter to your roommate is a sneakily great way to get you to talk about yourself in a more uninhibited, colorful way than you were likely to do in the personal statement or other supplements. 

Where the Intellectual Vitality Essay (IVE) is an opportunity for your to nerd out, to show Stanford how you think (see Part 1), the Letter To Your Roommate Essay (LTYRE) is an opportunity to show a lighter, quirkier side of your personality. So.

The Prompt:

“Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.”

Notice the wording: “write a note … that reveals something about you.” This essay is meant to peel back the layers of your application to glimpse the super unique, fun, funny, and most importantly, interesting individual that you really truly are.

(Just don’t be creepy.)

Let’s start with an example this time:

Entry #1, Site 11362, October 24, 2189 C.E. Now here is an interesting site to observe. We have ventured into what seems to be the lair of a typical adolescent male of the species. A few artifacts merit closer inspection.

There seems to be a collection of golden cups mounted to tiny pedestals with inscriptions at the base (research indicates that these were called “trophies”). The inscriptions can be roughly translated into, “Chess Nerd from Michigan.”

Nearby, there is a large oblong bag lying on the ground. After inspecting the contents, four seemingly identical tools were found inside. Looking like nets with handles, they must have served a purpose. Perhaps they were an agricultural digging tool. They can’t possibly have been used for whacking these green rubber balls back and forth. (My assistant informs me that these were an ancient tool for the now-defunct game known as Tennis). 

A red poster plastered on the door in a foreign script possibly represents a deep cultural connection with said language. Perhaps the inhabitant enjoyed chow mein and believed in feng shui, although the bed was obviously pointed in the wrong direction.

Continuing with the inspection, we come across a handmade poster that had the words “Preventing Cancer Metastasis” plastered on it. It appears to be a preliminary investigation into the causes and prevention of this archaic disease, and indicates that the inhabitant was also a giant chemistry nerd.

We will collect these findings and send them back to the lab for further analysis.

About a third of the way through this essay, you were probably like, “Whaaat?! This isn’t even a letter!”

Exactly. OK, not “exactly” exactly, but more like, yes, it’s creative and quirky and out-of-the-box. This student was interested in history, archaeology and geology. His motif, or organizing principle, is an archaeological dig, and his bedroom is the dig site. As an exercise, I often have students think about what’s in their room - on the desk, on the floor, on the walls, in the drawers and on their bed. How do the things around you reflect who you are? What do they say about you?

Here’s an example from my room (my living room, actually, because, you know, I don’t live with my parents anymore). On my wall hang a variety of framed photographs, some of me and my family, some of writers and jazz musicians who have had a profound influence on me and my work. One of them is a portrait of saxophonist, flautist, and bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy, who taught me that notes don’t always have to be in key to be powerfully moving. He used dissonance like others use melody, and this principle of the un-beautiful, or the “off,” has deeply inspired me in my writing and research. (Right now you’re probably thinking, “I can tell.” Thanks.)

This exercise is a good way to start thinking beneath the surface of your life - which this student took a little more literally than most.

So here are some tips for writing an awesome LYTRE:

1. Be creative

There is no template for writing the LTYRE, which is exactly the point. I recommend that my students avoid actually writing a letter. If I see “Dear Future Roommate” on their first draft, this is what they get back: “Dear Future Roommate.” I know, I know, it’s supposed to be a “note,” as in a letter. But for our purposes, it’s really a “note,” as in a quirky, fun, layered, imaginative communique of whatever kind to someone who doesn’t know you at all but will probably want to get a sense of who you really are, like, really. 

I’ve had a student write a Wikipedia entry on herself as an animal observed in the wild; another wrote a series of Tweets from different parts of campus as a “day in the life at Stanford”; another described himself as a D&D character, complete with categories of strength, magic, and skill. I’ve also seen students write really, really good stories about themselves in a more traditional format, but the key here was:

2. Be detailed

In a previous posting, I sang the praises of one exercise in particular that has helped my students dig out their quirks. It’s called the Thirty Random Facts List. Follow the link, scroll down to it, read about it, and then come back. 

Now make a list of your own and come back.

Ready? OK. 

Which items on your list are the least obvious in daily interactions but perhaps the most essential to who you are? How about the opposite? Which qualities are your quirks, and how do you imagine these will manifest themselves at Stanford? Which elements do you really want your roommate to know about? To not know about? 

What you’re looking for is a way to string these details together in a way that unifies them. Look for a theme or a motif, an organizing principle like I mentioned above. 

Here’s an example I like, from a student who used the fact that she wrote for the school newspaper to organize her “letter”:

I’m quite infamous, apparently. As divulged in the following article… Topping the list of this (school) year’s most wanted outlaws again is TPHS senior D.F., juvenile at large with a record of offenses like overachieving. “I tell her every layout she needs to stop working so hard and go home,” newspaper adviser M.S. said. “But she’s still there at who-knows-when, editing pages in not just her Feature section but News and Sports as well. It’s ridiculous.” According to reliable sources, D.F. is also regularly spotted as late as 9 p.m. in UCSD’s Pacific Hall laboratories scribbling hazardous data in a lab book. While loyal friends refused to betray her whereabouts, neighbors are encouraged to watch for a short, bubbly figure lugging an oversized backpack and a Canon EOS Rebel. Never seen without a voluminous ponytail adorned by at least 3 fluorescent bands, D.F. will likely be clad in varying hues of blue. Known for a laugh resembling a D Major scale, D.F. does not, authorities warned, possess the stereotypical criminal appearance, as she always waxes an enduring smile and is fond of assisting peers in writing or calculus. “Seriously, people need to be careful; she looks so sweet, but she’ll hit the highest note on the clarinet and blow your eardrums to shards,” band director A.W. said. Indeed, D.F. tends to carry concealed weapons such as ink pens (to engage in lethal literary battles) and an army of post-its. As she is prone to prowl local streets on rollerblades, residents are advised to spread all driveways with sand or water to deter her escape. “There’s only one way to catch her,” former lab partner J.L. said. “Make a trap with a Steinway grand and an unlimited cache of Chopin impromptus. Or burnt cookies. She absolutely adores burnt cookies.”

I count 18 unique details, from her newspaper editorship to her fondness for wearing blue to her love of burnt cookies (I’m with her on that one). It’s not the number of details you squeeze in there that matters - you could easily just cut and paste your 30 random facts list into the text box on the application and be done with it. Rather, it’s the execution, the way she presents her personal details, and connects them in a coherent and meaningful way, that makes this such a good LTYRE.

3. Be light

The essays in your application should counterbalance each other in tone and subject matter, like puzzle pieces of different shapes, sizes, and colors that fit together to create the final picture: you. The LTYRE is a light-hued piece, a palate-cleanser to help transition the reader from the serious nerdery of the IVE to the more subdued, reflective tone of the next essay, “What Matters to You and Why?” (WMTYAWE).

But that’s for Part 3.

Admission to Stanford (TIP#6 WHAT MATTERS TO YOU AND WHY?)

This is one of the supplement essays in which you are required to write about what matters to you, and why it matters to you. Don’t talk about materialistic stuff like ‘money’ , or ‘grades’ , or 'work’ . Talk about something that truly, deeply matters to you as an individual person. It can be anything that you feel is most important to you, and this must come from your heart. 'Family’,'happiness’,'self love’ and 'satisfaction’ are good examples of what you can write about. A good way to write this essay is by first stating what matters to you, and share an experience or event or any hardship that you faced in your life that made you realize its importance. You can impress with this essay if and only if you are passionate about the topic that you chose.

anonymous asked:

Hi, Stanford is my top university choice, and it would be wonderful if you gave tips and shared experiences about how you got in! Thanks so much

I did high school wrong & then wrote a really compelling essay about it tbh, plus my arts supplement was pretty solid & my admissions officer apparently liked the fact that I wrote a fuckton of music & my interviewer was chill af

Tip #1: write your common app essay about a specific Thing, a specific Story, and stay focused on that Thing/Story. 

Tip #2: get weird in the supplement

Tip #3: jump at the chance for an interview and charm the pants off your interviewer

Tip #4: like what you do, do what you like, don’t pad your resume but do push yourself to be ambitious in your activities

Tip #5: choose your recommenders early, choose your recommenders wisely

Ultimate Pro Tip: if you come across as a real person you’re already ahead of most applicants

Daddy’s Lil Stark pt 4

A/N : I wrote this while listening to Without Me by Eminem on a loop because for some reason that song really really helps me write??? I was going to make this longer but its a perfect 1234 lol 

pt 1 / pt 2 / pt 3

Summary: (AU) After Maya dies Tony is shocked to find out she has a daughter product of that night 20 years ago. Alone and with no one else to go to, Victoria moves in with her newly found father, Tony Stark. How will the world and the avengers react to the a new Stark? Set after iron man 3.

Warnings : Angst and slight cussing

Words : 1234

Pairing : Tony Stark x Daughter

Originally posted by duckbuttt

Immediately after Fury left Natasha lead me to my room. Nobody wanted me to stay in the living room. something about Tony panicking. “I’m sorry if the place looks a little, well dead. Tony likes the cold modern style.” The red head stepped aside for me to soak in the environment.  

The white marble floors contrasted with the dark grey furniture decorating the place. I dragged my bag as I looked around trying to find a splash of color. Besides the few potted plants the entire room was made of several shades of grey and white.

“I feel like I’m in Cruella de Vil’s room.” 

Keep reading


I’m assuming this will become some sort of meme so I’m getting in on it early. Everybody dreams of getting a knowyourmeme entry…mine shall read “Haha scrubs, I’m taking credit for this!”

Reblog Princess Ford for a blessing on your sexy quest, and he shall await your return with bated breath…

Define 'Want'

Fic Request: Senior year & Lydia gets an acceptance letter to the college of her dreams & randomly kisses Stiles out of excitement

Rating: K+

Genre: Fluff, Romance

Author: huntingfeels

Quicky little author’s note: I’m from Britain so writing this was hard because what even is senior year? ;) - but anyways hope you like it!

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Writing Killer Stanford Supplements #3: What Matters to You, and Why?

In Part 1, I cracked open the black box of Stanford’s Intellectual Vitality Essay (IVE); in Part 2, I coaxed the Letter to Your Roommate Essay (LTYRE) to give up its stubborn secrets. Today, I will use flattery and chocolate to get Stanford’s What Matters to You and Why Essay (WMWE) to hand over the goods.

The Prompt:

What matters to you, and why?

Yep. That’s it. Simple prompt, simple answer, right?

Well, sort of. Or not really. Hm, actually, no, no, not at all.

Like the LTYRE, the WMWE has no template, no mold in which to pour the batter of your imagination (kind of a gross metaphor, sorry). This essay requires real thought and reflection. 

If your first instinct is to answer like this…

… then you are not thinking or reflecting. You are practicing the intellectual equivalent of watching a thirty-minute infomercial because the remote is just out of reach.

Try a little harder.

In fact, try a lot harder, because there is no easy way out of thinking. Thinking is hard.

Here’s what you can do to get started.

First, notice that there are two parts to the prompt:

1. The What

2. The Why

Let’s start with The What.

Go here, and scroll down to Exercise 3, The Values Diptych. Take 10 minutes to do the exercise, and come back. 

Ready? OK.

In the righthand column you should have listed several values and qualities. What I want you to do now is list 10 more, but focus on the values in particular. What is important to you? What objects, people, ideas, memories, concepts, experiences, historical moments matter to you? 

Here are some value categories to choose from:

commitment, leadership, family, trust, creativity, intelligence, community, independence, curiosity, first impression, open-mindedness, success, considerateness….

I could list 100 more, but you know what would be better? If you did! 

Next, I want you to start eliminating the ones that matter less than the others. I know, painful, nigh impossible even! But do it anyway. Keep chipping away at your list until you have only one or two values left. These are your core values - The What that matters to you most - and this is what you should be focusing on in your WMWE.

Now for The Why.

Why do these things matter to you so much? This is where the real reflection begins. You have to probe into your belief system, your world view, your Weltanschauung (such a cool word). You have to ask yourself, in other words, why do I care about this? 

Here’s what you can do to get your thoughts flowing. Turn the Values Diptych over, and on the back start to free-write about what your core values mean to you: When did they develop and why? Was there an experience that volcanically disgorged these values, or a series of experiences that slowly nurtured them to life and strength?

Values are not born in a vacuum. Like everything else, they came from somewhere, and this essay demands that you discover the origin story of your value system, and share it.

Now you can see why I described this essay as the heaviest of the three Stanford supplements. It’s existential. That doesn’t mean it can’t be funny or plainspoken. But it does mean that it has to be real, authentic, true, personal, and thoughtful. 

Now for an example:

My family doesn’t have the sort of structure you might expect, with a white picket fence and a nightly family dinner, but we do have a deep commitment to one another’s passions. I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a university-town where my parents weren’t often home. My earliest memories were of my grandparents taking care of me and of my brother, 9 years my elder, lobbing snowballs at me in the backyard.

However, when I was ten, my family split apart. My mother, a scientist with Pfizer, was relocated to San Diego, California, while my brother stayed behind at the University of Michigan. At the same time, my father moved to China to pursue his career in management, and my grandparents went with him. My mom suddenly became a single parent and I an only child.

Through this transition, we supported each other’s goals, but an even bigger obstacle loomed: my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my grandmother with Alzheimer’s. Everyone came together to help them, and my own desire to protect and support them led me to pursue such activities as studying cancer metastasis and hospital work.

The wounds that we endure eventually heal, and the heart of my family is as strong as ever. Today, my mother is in remission and I can’t wait for the coming weeks when I’ll get to see my family in China. Despite the hardships, I know what matters to me: the constant support that we give each other

This student’s values are clear: they are not only explicitly stated in the final sentence, but also implicitly shown throughout. The family bond, togetherness, support, determination and focus in the face of hardship. This student also writes a successful “cancer essay,” a genre that can all too easily slide into cliche and sentimentalism. This essay does neither.

“But my life is so boring and normal!” you cry, frustrated at the injustice of having had such a peaceful, pleasant, untroubled life. Oh, the humanity!

(Couldn’t resist the sarcasm, sorry.)

Here’s the thing. You could be Buddha post-nirvana and still have things that matter to you worth talking about. Having a good life is not the same thing as having no values. One student I worked with wrote about long walks she liked to take; another wrote about comic books. The point is to reflect on why these activities or hobbies or beliefs are meaningful to you. 

Reflect. Think. These are your key words. They’re also some of the most rewarding activities you’ll ever do, and I highly recommend making a habit of them.

Epiphany: stanford waitlist and a memorable rivalry

I wasn’t quite ready to talk openly about this matter with anyone apart from a few individuals who are very close to me. However, today I feel the need to disclose this story. I feel the need to get this off my chest.
Since 6th grade, Stanford has always been my dream school. The reason was simple: which top, overachieving students wouldn’t dream of attending Stanford? All this time, in my eyes, an acceptance from Stanford would be equal to my level of competitiveness, my self-worth, and regconition among my peers and generation.
As I entered high school, I understood that this was the wrong mentality to have. Everything I did in high school, everything I acquired, everything I believed in, started to turn from “do i actually like doing this?” to “will stanford actually like what i do?”, from “what will i learn from this?” to “is this good enough for stanford?” This mentality, together with other unfortunate situations that occured in my life, caused me a severe mid-life crisis and endless self-doubt and demotivation.
As painful as it was to endure the fear of not being accepted to your dream school, to not be “on top” and recognized by your peers, I had no choice but to continue fighting, to achieve the high expectations that I and other people imposed upon myself, and to find a tangible evidence that I was worth something. There had been multiple ups and downs along my journey, and at times, I couldn’t help but feel Stanford was nothing more than a dream that would never come true. Along the way, I’ve encountered countless talented and assiduous young students like me. We became friends and rivals, we fought our ways to the schools of our dream and watched each other grew. The most memorable of them all was my biggest rival: an all-perfect guy from my sister school who also had his sight on Stanford. We’re similar in so many ways: in our beliefs, interests, personalities, and goals. Yet, we’re drastically different: he was strong, calm, and positive; I was weak, vulnerable, and pessimistic. If he tried 1 to get into Stanford, I had to try twice his efforts to overcome my personal issues and circumstances. Our rivalry was unspoken yet intense and painful. I couldn’t recount how many times I had looked at him, jealous, frustrated, fear, wondering how he always seemed to win everything, afraid that one day I would lose stanford to him.
As time passed by, I realize that this invisble fear of losing my dream school, of losing to my rival, of losing my recognition in other people’s eyes had consumed me. It was so intense and deadly to the point that I lost myself. At times, I looked in the mirror and I couldn’t see the idealistic, cheerful, eneretic girl I once was anymore. All I saw was a fearful, broken figure, lost and drained. Yet, in the darkest moments, I somehow found a glimpse of inner peace. In the darkest moments, I realize that I had reached the depth of my dark side, and nothing could ever be more fearful. In the darkest moments, I found myself and saw the true me: both the light and the dark. In the darkest moments, I realize that if I could face the demons inside me, I could destroy them and let the light in. That was when I decided to let go of everything. I let go of the notion that Stanford was my dream school. I let go of my rivalry and any grudge I held against him. I let go of my demons.
And that was when the light started to come to me again. I picked up every shattered pieces of myself and placed them together. I carried on despite the pain that cut through every inch of my soul. I reached out to the world, to anyone or anything that could help me mend myself again. And it worked. As painful as it was, it worked. I started to get better. I started to rediscover the girl I once was before the dark times. I started to reconnect to the ones I lost and established new relationships with the most amazing indivduals anyone could ever met.
Every journey came to an end. For a while, I thought I was certain of the outcome of my journey: that stanford would reject me, and that my rival would win. Yet deep inside, I couldn’t help but fear how I would shatter if my predictions became reality. I couldn’t help but fear how losing this battle would cause me to lose myself again.
When Stanford decisions came out, my prophecy became true. My rival did win, he got in. However, I was wrong about myself.
I was not at all upset that I lost Stanford to him. I was not at all crushed that I didn’t get into Stanford. Instead, I was proud and elated. Stanford waitlisted me. They didn’t reject me. As absurd as it might sound, deep inside, I was beyond happy. Someone on the stanford admission committee fought for me. Someone on the stanford admission committee saw something in me and gave me a glimpse of hope. I accepted the waitlist, but I also knew that I wouldn’t expect anything from it. I had my sight on another school, which I believe would be a much better fit for me, only that I would have to wait to see whether they would love me the way I love them. I looked at the stanford waitlist and smiled happily because to me, it’s an indication that I do belong at stanford, however, now is not the time. Perhaps one day, in the future, whether it be grad school or a career path, I will be at stanford. i will be at stanford when i’m stronger, happier, better.
Thank you stanford, for helping me see and learn to handle both my angels and demons. Thank you stanford for letting me meet all the wonderful people and encounter miraculous opportunities on my journey. Thank you stanford for believing in me, for letting me know that I was close to a shot at being at your place, that I have a future ahead of me that I shall walk strongly and proudly.
And lastly, thank you to my stanford rival. thank you for always being an obstacle that i felt like i needed to overcome, because striving to defeat you helped me defeat my own demons. thank you for being such a great friend and rival to me, for no matter how much i hated you for causing me countless emotional trauma, you are always there for me when no one was, you believe in me when i didn’t even believe in myself.
Thank you for accompanying (and dragging) me through an amazing journey that taught me so much about myself, about others, about the world.
The end is coming close, and I have learnt to believe in myself, to believe in a bright future again. Thank you

Teacher AU Update!

Author’s note: I don’t have a title for this yet, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know! Also, since I wasn’t planning on this being a multichapter work when I first posted, let’s pretend Abby broke into Jasper’s locker in the first chapter. The first part of this chapter is all related to the kids, but Kabby interaction occurs later in the update. I hope you like it! :) 

Chapter 1

“Guess what?” Octavia Blake said over a mouthful of cafeteria food, daring Jasper to answer with a wiggle of her eyebrows and a smirk.

“What?” he asked, and she grinned.

“I heard Mrs. Griffin and Mr. Kane hooked up last Friday.”

“Gross,” Jasper said, leaning back in his chair. “How’d you find out?”

“I have sources,” Octavia said. She paused for a moment to check her phone, glanced around the room until she located her brother sitting at a table of seniors. They shared a knowing smile. “And that’s all I’m gonna say about that. But that’s not all on Griffin and Kane.”

“Do tell,” Monty said, shoving a forkful of wheat pasta into his mouth.

“They did it here,” Octavia said, drawing out the last part of her sentence for effect. “In Mr. Miller’s classroom. On the couches.”

A volcano of chocolate milk erupted from Nate Miller’s mouth, and Monty resorted to clapping him on the back to ensure his medical stability.

“In my dad’s room?” Miller said, aghast. The disgusted look on his face – his widened eyes, his slack jaw – drew a manic cackle from Octavia. This was going better than she’d imagined. Jasper, she found, wasn’t fairing much better. His face had gone beet-red: a textbook case, she thought, of secondhand embarrassment.

“Which couch?” he asked. “Do you know which one they…did it on?”

Octavia shrugged. “I’ve heard different things,” she said, relishing the upper hand she had in the conversation. “Seems most likely that it was the one closest to the microphone. The blue, velvety one.”

Monty let out a loud, anguished moan. “Dammit. I sit there for sixth period creative writing.”

Jasper rotated in his cracked plastic chair to punch his friend on the shoulder.

“Maybe Kane’s luck will rub off on you,” he goaded with a smirk. “I mean, we all know you haven’t gotten anywhere with Harper. Like, does she even know you exist, dude?”

“What about you and Maya?” Monty retorted. “Not like you guys have gotten past first base. And I’m going slow with Harper because I don’t want to screw it up!”

Octavia and Miller locked stares, shared an eye-roll in unison.

“Shut up!” Octavia exclaimed, and the bickering ceased. “This isn’t a dick-measuring contest. There’s something weird going on here, and it’s not about your egos.”

“Why were they still here on Friday in the first place?” Miller asked, taking a page from Octavia’s book and ensuring the topic of conversation remained changed. “Did they get trapped during that storm?”

“Maybe they stayed back on purpose,” Jasper suggested. “To –“ he made his left hand into circle and pointed his right index finger, making the unmistakably crude hand gesture for banging.

“Could be,” Octavia acknowledged. “But there’s something you’re all forgetting.”

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