Institution: Duke University
Study: Major in biology or neuroscience, minor in math and Spanish studies
High School Experience
Honestly high school wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the drama or the immaturity. I was just working my way through it, but senior year was a lot more fun for me. I went through a few really tough things that made it harder for me to actually enjoy high school. I did really like my teachers and the close friends that I had.
I was interested in STEM. I took every AP course in that area besides AP stats. I doubled up on science classes my junior and senior year and ended with Calc 2 for math my senior year. I also took Spanish all four years.
AP Calc (5), AP Bio (4), AP Lang (3), AP Micro (5), AP Macro (4), AP Lit (didn’t take), AP Physics 2 - Algebra Based (didn’t take), AP Chem (don’t know score yet, aiming for 4), and AP Calc 2 (don’t know score yet, aiming for 5).
I actually didn’t have that many extracurriculars and worked a lot. I was a SPARK tutor at my school and held a leadership position, in a club for mentoring incoming freshmen and held a leadership position, and in student council. My school actually doesn’t really have that many clubs since it isn’t super big. For jobs, I worked at Jimmy Johns and had a leadership position (a shift manager, taught me a lot about leadership) and a CNA at a nursing home. I’ve been working 20 or more hours a week since I turned 16.
One of the letters came from my math teacher who I’m close with. I’m also friends with her son who is in my grade. She was my teacher for 2 years and is honestly probably my favorite teacher ever. Another letter came from my english teacher. She was my teacher for 2 years and I chose her because english wasn’t my strongest so I went in for help when I needed it. We’re pretty close and she is an awesome person. My last letter came from my manager at work (Jimmy Johns). We were very close and I chose her so she could talk about my leadership.
My essay was about how in elementary school I really struggled in math (I was very average) and wanted to get better, so I worked with my teacher every day before school until it became my strongest subject. Then, I connected that to life and how I’m going to take on college. My overall theme was about my personal drive and how that’s helped and will help me in the future.
My stats were pretty good and I also think my essay helped me stand out since it wasn’t one of the common topics. I had solid recommendation letters and I think all my work experience helped.
Don’t live by other accepted students’ stats. I was stressed because I didn’t have 5s on every exam and still got into my first choice school. At the same time, don’t depend on stats. There’s people with perfect stats that still get rejected. I would say the most important thing is to find what you're passionate about and focus your essay on it, if possible, and make sure your classes reflect that interest.
I dealt with a lot of death (family, friends) during high school that definitely affected me and led to some mental health issues but I didn’t mention it on my app because my grades were still fine (school helped me cope, actually).
I chose Duke because I wanted an amazing education (like the Ivy League) and to be able to have the college experience that makes it so fun, like sports. Personally, I thought an ivy league school would be too competitive for me. I love the collaborative environment at Duke and all the research opportunities. I also like the location and the campus is beautiful. I applied early decision.