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Spike/Hook or not?

rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 9 replies5 threads New Member
Yes, yes, I know, the application is all about being myself, but from those who were admitted to Harvard, does having a spike/hook make you better or well rounded is the way to go?
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Replies to: Spike/Hook or not?

  • skieuropeskieurope 40797 replies7594 threads Super Moderator
    edited March 2
    Harvard wants a well-rounded class. In each class of ~1660, some will be well-rounded, others will have spikes. At this point, you can't be something you're not, so it is what it is. All you can do is put together the best application package you can.
    edited March 2
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  • rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 9 replies5 threads New Member
    @skieurope I understand that although, I can fashion my application both ways, to present myself well-roundedly and as a spike applicant. As someone applying using SCEA, is either preferred?
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10171 replies564 threads Senior Member
    First of all, you’re hooked or you’re not. Too late to manufacture that.

    They don’t look at the app and think “hmmm, this kid has a spike...this kid is well-rounded.” Neither is preferred. What’s preferred is genuine interest in what a student pursues. They also prefer applicants who deliver what they are looking for. They prefer essays that show and not just tell how a student will fit with what Harvard is looking for. They prefer a student who “gets it.”

    In other words, there is no formula for getting in SCEA or RD. You’ll either be able to show them you are right for them, or you won’t.
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  • rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 9 replies5 threads New Member

    @Lindagaf @skieurope I see... Thanks!
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1546 replies8 threads Senior Member
    I think the worst thing you can do is to try to construct a narrative for yourself of a person you are not to try to game some advantage. More likely than not, to portray yourself with some kind of spike will ring hollow if you don't have the accomplishments to back it up or what you thought of as a "spike" is really a "bump" when compared to applicants with real spikes and you had gone all in with that one attribute. Conversely, to portray yourself as "rounded" with a plethora of EC's more likely makes you look shallow.

    Maybe a good place to start is with your GC, if he/she knows you well, and the teachers that are writing your LoR's. They should have an opinion of what makes you special/worth noting that are not colored by the rose colored tints that you and your parents may have. Sell yourself based on that.
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  • rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 9 replies5 threads New Member
    @gibby So just to check if what I'm understanding is what you're saying. What you're saying is that my application should be based on two themes which need to contrast. I'm applying to major in CS and have excellent ECs in that already, I just need to find a complementary background for CS and build my application around it?

    On a side note, could you please PM me so I could discuss some of my EC questions if you have time? I can't send PMs yet.
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  • gibbygibby 10534 replies246 threads Senior Member
    edited March 4
    To be clear: The majority of high school students try to be all things to all people -- and you can't. IMHO, student's need to stop using every space in the EC section as it just clutters your application and muddies who you are. While there isn't a hard-and-fast rule, presenting yourself with two major contrasting EC's (as opposed to 6-8 or even 12 smaller ones) focuses your application, gives an admissions officer a handle on who you and what you love to do, and elevates you from the crowds of students who are thinking the more I give them, the more they will like me.
    edited March 4
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  • compmomcompmom 11332 replies80 threads Senior Member
    Don''t take the suggestion to focus on two contrasting interests too literally.

    Honestly, you mentioned this somewhat sarcastically in your original post, but yes, just be yourself. Just do an application that reflects who you are, what your interests and goals are, in a natural way.

    You do not need to strategize to this account.

    If you have an intense area of interest, it probably isn't a hook.

    Just remember Harvard is assembling an interesting mix for the class. It really isn't about the individual. They will need some people with narrow talents and some people with multiple interests.

    No need to try to manipulate the process at all. So yes, "be yourself."
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