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  • Nora Sun

Tags: MIT


Institution: MIT

Study: Major in biochemistry


High School Experience

My high school experience was quite different from what I thought it would be, because I ended up actually going to St. Paul's School, a boarding prep school in New Hampshire. Overall, it was a really good experience, because I very much made the most I could out of it. I think one of the things that made it a little bit hard for me while I was there was not so much the rigor of the work, but the high-stress environment, which had a lot of factors to it. I ended up going on full financial aid, and only 39% of the school is on any financial aid, and there was and continues to be a disparity in privilege which also lead to disparities in academics. I went and made a lot of opportunities for myself, though, whether that was taking classes over the summer, or reaching out to places to find more things to do, and in the end, I got the most I possibly could out of my experience. I will say one thing that I do like about the school is the strong aspect of community that we have.


AP/IBs

The only AP I ever took was for chemistry because my school's weird and does not have AP classes, but I earned a 4.


GPA

My GPA is on an unweighted 7-point scale. My unweighted GPA is a 5.83, and on the 4-point scale it translates to a 3.89, though it would higher be if my school actually weighted our GPAs.


Course choices

What's funny is I started with mostly academic interests in humanities, and specifically I really liked geography and studying world cultures, but after a chemistry class, I became all about science. I took biology over the summer after chemistry. My school does science weird where we start with conceptual physics, where no one kind of knows what is going on, and then chemistry and biology. But I took bio online, and then I went to a molecular biology class my junior year and I really enjoyed it. From there, I got accepted into the school's Applied Science & Engineering Program (ASEP), and I ended up doing lab work at Johns Hopkins last summer, which helped me greatly. I also really enjoy math classes, and I finished through Calculus 2 and took an elective in Linear Algebra.


Standardized Testing

SAT superscore: 1550; 750 in reading, 800 in math

ACT: 31

SAT Molecular Biology: 740

SAT Math 2: 720


Extracurriculars

Outside of academics, I did acapella for 4 years, and I became the head of my acapella group, Deli Line (it's been around for a while at school like since the 50s or 60s, so I don't what inspired the name). The other activity that I did was varsity softball -- I will say I am not that great at softball, but I love the team dynamic. I was voted captain for the season, but we did not have a season. We still kept in touch and had team bonding on Zoom, though!


Recommendations

I am still singing praises to my teachers because they must have written good recommendations! I wouldn't have ended up where I did without them. My Humanities teacher, Ms. Blackmer, is tough as nails, and I was a little intimidated at first, but she helped me so much last year with my writing, and she fostered an environment that was very productive. My other rec came from Ms. Boylan, who has been supportive of my overall academic and personal growth during my time at school. She's my softball coach, she's the director of the ASEP, she taught my chemistry class in my sophomore year, and she is always doing things to better herself and those around her.


Essays

To be honest I didn't really have any sort of theme to my essays -- I just kind of wrote about things that either a) I found of interest or b) popped into my head on a whim.


Strengths

I think one thing that led 2 me getting into the places I did, was the fact that I was being my genuine self the whole entire time. I didn't have over 10 extracurriculars, or do a crazy amount of anything other than school work, because that's who I am. I'm a workaholic and all of the work I did and the energy I put into places that I cared about showed in my application. SAT scores and grades helped, but I really think the main thing was the essays and my recommendations.


Advice

I think by just writing to enjoy the writing and not trying to squeeze in and mention all of my accomplishments over and over again separated me from other people. It's really important in the essays to just be genuine, and show something that people wouldn't see by looking at your transcripts. For me, that was talking about the cosmological argument and its correlation to the "unlimited" number of breadsticks you get at Olive Garden -- at least that's one example. That wasn't my main college essay, but it did show up on my applications. Also, start your applications as early as possible, even if that's just setting up your common app. By having more things done sooner, you will feel less stressed. And to students who still have a few years left of high school, seek out opportunities for yourself. Show your independence and your drive for learning.


Circumstances

None.


Why?

MIT was not at the top of my list because it had such a low acceptance rate, so I didn't want to get my hopes up. I applied early and got deferred, and I kind of didn't think of it again until I saw that I got accepted, which was kind of a shock for me. After that, I just kind of knew that this was the school. The two main factors for me choosing MIT were financial aid and academic programs. Because I'm so invested in biology, I wanted to go to a school where there is a space for biology and had a very decent program. MIT is number 2 in biology, and they recently opened up a Bio Makerspace, so I can pursue creative bio projects.


#MIT

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