• Nora Sun

Tags: Princeton

Institution: Princeton

Study: Major in computer science, statistics, and machine learning

High School Experience

If I could use a single word to describe my high school experience, I would say “diverse.” My high school has predominantly minority students, so I had a lot of friends from different countries and backgrounds who affected my high school experience. In addition to this, my house school is located in a small Texas town that’s mostly conservative, so this added to my experience as well. I really liked the fact that many people in my school are open minded. I also liked that we had access to the IB program and the schools able to cover much of the cost for our tests. I did not like that our schools are limited in funding dispersed to extracurriculars due to property taxes as our school is in a low income neighborhood.


I did the IB Program. I don't know my scores.


3.98 unweighted, 4.83 weighted

Course choices

Standardized Testing

ACT: 34; 35E, 36M, 32R, 33S, Writing: 8

SAT Math II: 720

SAT Chemistry: 690


I was Class President for 1 year and VP for 2; I did NHS my senior year, Math/Science Team for 4 years w numerous medals and awards, UIL for 4 years, I volunteer tutored local elementary students for about 2 yrs now once a week, I was a pediatric reader for one year, helped with Childcare at the Boys and Girls Club and did fun science experiments w them my junior year, and did Business Professionals of America (BPA) my freshman year, and made it to state with a team.


My relationship with all my teachers were very strong but because of relatively small classes, the teachers who wrote my recommendation letters were the ones who knew me best and who I also know best. These were teachers I would often stay after class to have discussions with.


I didn’t particularly have a theme especially in Princeton’s application due to the numerous questions, but for my main essay, like my Common App essay, I reflected on personal experiences and tied them into what I wanted to do in the future. For one of my essays, which I submitted to UMich, I decided to start the essay in the future and made it as if I was reflecting on my experience at the school.


Definitely my essays and probably the fact that I visited prior, which showed interest. There are probably numerous Ivy applicants with just as good or even higher scores than me, more extracurriculars, and more summer internships (I only had one). The school knows this; they’re more concerned with you as a person: who you are, who you plan to be, and how you’ll fit in at their school. I was very raw and genuine in my essays, and I would say I’m pretty good at writing about things that are important to me, as most of us are. So that’s what I did and also what I recommend.


  1. Don’t give up on your grades in school.

  2. If the SAT doesn’t work for you, try the ACT (and take the one in mid-July because you’ll have ample study time). Don’t believe the myth that you have to pay for a tutor. Just buy the official book off Amazon, work through it, and take LOTS of practice tests. Try not to take the test during the school year (big mistake I made for my Subject Tests)

  3. Make sure your essay is unique! Speak about something personal, and format/stylize it in a unique way/w a unique perspective, like my UMich essay, which I wouldn’t mind sharing if it would help others :) Try to avoid sob stories, and don’t brag in your essays. Admissions officers can already see your scores and extracurriculars. You can, however, use an experience learned from an extracurricular- those are unique to you.

  4. Start those college essays in late July before your senior year! Don’t start too late- you will probably have many scrap essays.

  5. Know your goal and stay focused.


I’m an African American (minority) female in STEM (specifically chemistry), and born from African immigrants.


Princeton has (quite literally) been my dream school. I’d watched so many videos about the school, prayed about it, and could always see myself being there. I finally visited July 2018 and being on campus fit perfectly. When I got deferred in December I was upset, but I knew I would end up where I was supposed to by God’s grace. Fast forward three months later and here I am about to attend the #1 University in both the states and my heart.


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