• Nora Sun

Tags: Columbia, first generation

Institution: Columbia University

Study: Major in global public health/biology on pre-med track

High School Experience

I really enjoyed my high school experience. I attended a semi-competitive school which encouraged me to do better in class. I made some great friends and have had experiences that I will remember for a lifetime. My high school really helped me mature and find myself, but if I had to change one thing it would be the elective classes I took. I wish they were geared towards what we wanted to pursue and made it more interesting.

Course choices


I grew very interested in engineering, thus I took a lot of math and physics classes. For AP exams I took BC, Physics: Mechanics, and English Language my junior year. I got a 5 on BC, 4 on Physics: Mechanics, and a 5 on English Language.



Standardized Testing

SAT: 1380

ACT: 31

SAT physics: 760


Throughout high school I did a lot of extracurriculars, but I’ll name the important ones. I joined the Advance Science Research program and my school and conducted research in aerospace. I had an internship under the chief engineer at CCNY. I participated in the rocket club at CCNY and then formed my own team. In the summer I went to MIT and attended an entrepreneurial program called Launch X. I did the Advance Science research program for 3 years, the internship for 2 years, and the rocket club for 2 years.


I had a very strong bond with the teachers who wrote my recommendation. They knew who I was in and out of the classroom. I didn’t have as strong of a relationship with the guidance counselor, but she had known a lot about me due to some of the programs I attended.


I wrote my essay in the format of how I was taught to solve physics problems and used formulas to describe how I made difficult experiences work for me.


My extracurricular activities, my essay and short responses.


I would encourage students to take out the time and explore their interest through extracurricular activities. I made so many connections and learned so much through these experiences it gives you a lot to talk about as well as a strong support system while you are going through the college process. I would also suggest for your responses to get creative. Don’t settle with the first essay you write; try and think of different ideas and merge them until it feels as if your short response really reflects you.


I was a first generation student born to immigrant parents who did not speak english, thus I lacked support in that aspect. Filling out the financial applications felt nearly impossible, but I received a lot of help from my friends and at school. I also grew up in an underserved community, but I went to a fairly decent high school thus when I entered my high school I was very unprepared, however eventually I adapted.


I chose Columbia because of the students I met there. I felt as if they really reflected me, thus I knew I’d be happy there. Columbia also has one of the best engineering programs and I really liked the idea of the core curriculum since it would allow me to explore outside of my field.

#Columbia #First_generation

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