Institution: Duke University
High School Experience
I really enjoyed my high school experience. I liked the flexibility of my classes and most of my teachers, and I made a great group of friends through a sport that also provided me with a structure throughout my first few years. If I had to have something to gnash my teeth at, it would be the lost ACT scores from freshman year. That stung, but I had a decent SAT so I wasn’t too worried.
Academic interests were STEM based, but I really just signed up for every AP that was available to me after knocking out every graduation requirement.
I took ten AP courses: Calc AB and BC, Chem, Bio, Human Geo, World History, APush, Psych, And the English courses.
Sports and NHS, as well as lots of working. Was a football captain before the varsity level.
I had wonderful relationships with my teachers.
There was a narrative aspect used mostly to illuminate the theme of family and sacrifice that is central to my heritage as a Latino.
I think my essays were a driving force in my application, and set me apart from others with only great grades. I think I showed a work ethic that really came through; my admissions officer hand wrote a letter to me commending my giving up football to work and save money.
Be well rounded. Don’t stick to the typical debate/AP/Volunteering/orchestra archetype that most top schools see in their applicant pools. That environment, at least in my experience, is not as diverse in race and experiences enough as to truly provide perspective. That perspective of being close to people not represented in my academics and clubs through sports allowed me to be well rounded. Of course, I had the added benefit of being of Colombian heritage and spending time in another country.
Duke made almost too much sense. As a top 10 school with good science programs, it would have been attractive regardless, but its proximity to my home and family was a huge part in my application. They also gave me a very comprehensive financial aid package.