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Stanford, Harvard etc Acceptance

RonaldP66RonaldP66 23 replies13 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
This is kind of a broad question/observation. We toured some colleges this summer including both Stanford and Harvard. One of the questions I asked the student tour guides was, "Why do you think you were accepted and some others weren't. Is this something you and other students ever think about?". The general answer was "I have no idea how I got in here." But one thing really stood out is that (at least the guides we met) had very interesting backstories. For example, the Stanford guide had a prosthetic leg and she also taught her sister Sign Language. The Harvard guide was from a country in Africa. So I'm wondering out of all the tens of thousands of applications these types of schools get (and I'm sure the majority have amazing grades and stats) are these types of universities looking for students who really jump of the page in any way, shape, or form ? I know it's a tough question but this was my observation after touring about 7-8 schools this past summer including a few where the acceptance rate is in the 5-10 % range.
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Replies to: Stanford, Harvard etc Acceptance

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34123 replies377 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Remember, there's a full app (and usually a supp) to present. Covers 3.5 years of hs and the choices one makes (academic, EC, and even how you craft the app pkg, down to which LoRs,) reflect a lot of one's thinking.

    And since the tippy tops are interested in a level of thinking- and doing- that's it more than being terribly unique. Certainly, not factors one has no control over, like a prosthesis or one's birth country. Those may be finer points, some kids will impress with how much they achieved, "despite." But they aren't sole distinguishers.

    Match is more than jumping off the page- something a lot of chance me threads miss.
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1386 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would not make this judgment based on such a limited and self selected segment of students who are tour guides. The tour guide jobs are competitive, and the AO's generally want to select out-going kids who will make an impression.

    S, who goes to an HYP, and almost all of his friends are "regular" kids. They are all very very smart, accomplished and for the most part ambitious and conscientious. There are all kinds of personalities, and while there are extroverts and introverts, I have not come across anyone who can't engage with others. There are some super geniuses, national and international award winners, but that is not most students. There are rich kids of privilege, middle/upper middle class kids and there are kids who had to overcome a lot of adversity, but no, they are not all superman or superwoman.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78232 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Remember, most applicants (whether admitted or not) have no visibility into how certain parts of their applications compare to those of others in the applicant pool. Those parts include the essays and recommendations.

    The parts of the applications that can be more easily compared do little to differentiate many of the applicants (test scores and high school record) or get exaggerated in importance (ethnicity, legacy). Many people here treat the non-visible/comparable-by-outsiders parts of the applications as if they were less important, even though they may be the greatest differentiators between top-end stats applicants.
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  • RonaldP66RonaldP66 23 replies13 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I think you're 100% right. the majority of kids applying to the Harvard and Stanfords of the world have 4.0, 1400 SAT minimum. But what else is there about you ? IMO that's what the admissions people are looking for.
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  • lkg4answerslkg4answers 1639 replies193 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 15
    I'm not sure how many women at Stanford have a prosthetic leg but if it is the one that I know, she has MUCH more to her story than the prosthetic leg. She is extremely bright, talented and accomplished in many areas.
    edited September 15
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34123 replies377 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Good point, not to boil one down to a prosthetic leg.
    What many miss is that this is about the sum total of a kid, as shown in the app pkg. Not some one disadvantage, sad tale, or even "spike."
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  • RonaldP66RonaldP66 23 replies13 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    It was just an example of someone accepted to a school like Stanford who is more than just grades and SAT scores.
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  • compmomcompmom 10762 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Admissions is based on intangibles but is really about assembling an interesting class that can sort of cross-pollinate. It is also about who might carry/continue the schools reputation after graduating. I think the real question is how the applicant might contribute to the mix of a class.
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