What does Harvard look for in its applicants? What do they find to be most important (grades, extracurriculars, jobs, volunteering, etc.)? Many people have told me that you have to be passionate about something, but how do you convey your passion in your college application?
Be yourself. This is something that takes four years to figure out in terms of communicating yourself to others. Something they take leaders, sometimes artists, sometimes musicians, so yes, be yourself. Debate captains have been rejected and so have seven-year musicians. I think superficiality in titles comes out strongly, so your essay HAS TO reflect that you obviously are seriously into what you do.
Sadly, nothing is really a guarantee--but Good Luck with your app!!
I agree with Seeker99. Just go for it. Be completely and totally honest, and simply try to express yourself in your application. All your hopes and dreams and successes and talents--translate them into energetic, excited words, pour all your emotions into your essay, and the rest is up to luck!
In my personal experience, I do believe passion counts for a lot. If you want to convey it, just talk about it in your essay (but make sure you're actually passionate enough about it to merit spending your essay on it).
I want to tell you something along the lines of "just do what you love to do outside of the classroom, and devote your energy to this actitivity so that you can pursue it to some depth", but I've found after a few tries that people generally do not like to hear this kind of advice, so I've stopped posting it.