Friday, June 29, 2012

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Quick overview about myself:  My outside projects and extracurricular activities demonstrated leadership and (some) were pretty unique.  I think one of my main motivators in high school was that my mom passed away when I was 12. Shortly after that, I had to move in with my dad, whom she had divorced earlier on. I spent a lot of time since then... soul-searching, I guess, which helped in my essays. 

That is, by no means, a 'hook' or a grab at pity points, by the way. I suppose it served to provide the admissions officers with a sort of context about who I am. Oh, and if it matters to anyone, I'm an Asian male from the Bay Area. 

I really think that what gets you into Stanford, more than for other schools, is a love of innovation (especially through entrepreneurship), nonconformity, and a desire to impact the world in some positive way. You'd think that would be the case for all schools, but I feel that it's true for Stanford in particular. After all, Stanford IS in the heart of the Silicon Valley. There is a strong culture of entrepreneurship here; it's a good mix of lofty ambitions and a strong sense of practicality. I suppose to illustrate the point, a typical Stanford adviser may tell you to find the intersection between your interests, your abilities, and what can be useful to you in the future. 

There will always be those high school geniuses that you can compare yourself to and work (sometimes through a Sisyphean effort) to become like, but quite honestly, I believe that after a certain point of academic performance and extracurricular involvement, it really comes down to how you portray yourself as a person in your essays. Stanford's application is great in that it really gives you a chance to shine (sounds cliche, doesn't it?) Whereas many other colleges are looking for a certain mold, Stanford really seeks diversity and will value you if you tell a compelling story about your person, your hopes, your ambitions, and so forth. 

And that's, I think, how I got in. I wrote most sincerely for Stanford, and it paid off. No tricks or strings attached. 


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