• Nora Sun

Tags: UC Berkeley

Institution: University of California Berkeley

Study: Major in materials science and engineering

High School Experience

My high school experience was all about discovering what I liked. I wanted to come out of high schools with a sense of direction in what I wanna do in life, so I really set out to learn/experience everything. I did overload myself sometimes, which was stressful but I’m glad I got to learn about those things and most importantly learn about myself.

Course choices

My academic interests varied because I wanted to see what I liked to do. I ended up really liking science and engineering. Math was fun and I loved science because of its abstract thinking but concise knowledge compared to the long (but interesting) discussions in English and history. I think the most influential part of my high school experience was when my chem teacher offered for me to join his research class junior year. At the time it was for all seniors, and he invited 7 juniors to take the class. I was hesitant at first but I ended up falling in love with it and it’s basically where I’m gonna continue pursuing my interests.


AP Mandarin: 5

AP Human Geography: 5

AP Computer Science: 4

AP Physics 1: 4

AP Calc BC: 5

AP StatisticsL didn’t take test

AP Physics C: unknown

AP Microeconomics: unknown


3.95 unweighted, 4.45 weighted

Standardized Testing

ACT: 35

SAT: 1490

SAT Math 2: 800

SAT physics: 730


I did a lot of extracurriculars, like I said to find what I liked and what I didn’t: I did basketball for 2 years, track and field for 2 years, I played the Erhu since I was 9 and was concertmaster at the California youth Chinese symphony, I founded a club called biomimicry that participated in engineering challenges using nature inspired structures, and I started a STEAM team club at my school, which is similar to what you do but for low income families instead of just women.


I spent a lot of time in the lab doing research and I had that teacher be my mentor for 3 years so I assume that was a good letter of recommendation, the other teacher I respected and thought it was an adequate letter of recommendation from a social studies teacher.


My narrative in my essays were about finding creativity in everyday life, like nature, TG shows and having fun with it most of all. I don’t think it worked that well because I got rejected by most private schools. I did well on my UC essays though and for the 4 short essays I just showed a different aspect of myself.


I think my UC essays showed that I was a strong applicant because of the diversity of things I excelled in: community, leadership, research and engineering, and music.


Just find something you love and persevere through it. Nothing you do will ever always make you happy, there are days where you won’t wanna do them, but you have to and what you're looking for is the thing that creates an outcome or overall feeling of satisfaction. Also, until you begin to see others not caring about how hard you work, you aren’t working hard enough.



I was deciding between Berkeley, UCLA, and Northeastern. Berkeley had the best engineering program, and its material science was ranked #2, after MIT, if rankings matter. The program is small so it’s nurturing and not too stressful. UCLA is too warm for me. Northeastern gave me full tuition scholarship but Berkeley has so much good research in the materials science field as well as The Lawrence Berkeley national laboratory right on top of the hill overseeing Berkeley, which researchers from all around the world come to use.


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