• Nora Sun

Tags: Stanford, low income, first generation

Institution: University of Stanford

Study: Major in biomedical engineering

High School Experience

My high school experience was really fun for me. I was able to stay focused for all four years and join fun and exciting extracurriculars where I met new people. Fortunately, I was able to balance my education. I sometimes didn't like the competition between students. But overall high school was not bad except for the coronavirus.

Course choices

In high school I gradually started taking AP classes. My freshman year I started with one AP class and then each year I added another AP. Fortunately, I was able to take numerous honors classes that challenged me in school.


AP Calculus BC: 5

AP human geography: 5

AP Computer Science A: unknown

AP English Language and Composition: 3

AP English Literature and Composition: unknown

AP Statistics: unknown

AP Chemistry: unknown

AP World History: 4

AP US History: 4

AP Biology: 3


4.0 unweighted, 4.6 weighted

Standardized Testing


In school I was involved in numerous activities. I was in Premed club(4 years), student council (2 years), cross country (4 year varsity), track (3 year varsity), equity team (4 years), NHS (2 years). I was captain of my cross country team, president of national honor society, and president of premed club. I was also one of the five student body officers for student council. I also got involved in summer programs such as QuestBridge and SCS Noonan Scholars. And I was able to work with the district to help find more solutions for equality in our school district.


My relationship with my teachers was important to me. One of my letters of recommendation was written by a teacher that I have had for my freshman, sophomore, and junior year of high school. He served as my AVID teacher and my AP Lang teacher. The second teacher who wrote my letter of recommendation was my AP US History teacher that I met in my junior year. The third letter of recommendation was written by my program college access counselor from the SCS Noonan Scholars program. My fourth letter was written by my Student Council teacher. My relationship was really good with all of them. And they offered to write me strong letters of recommendation before I had even asked.


I tried to have my essays be really unique and connected to medicine. In my common application essay I talked about visiting my family in Sudan (developing country) and how there was a lack of access to healthcare and how it changed my view of the world and the opportunities provided to me. In my supplemental essays, I tried to paint myself as someone who is really curious about the world. Some of my essays I wrote about my mother and how she sacrificed everything for a better life for me. Some of the essays I did for schools were very weird but they all revolved around the idea of curiosity, persistence, and resilience.


I think what made me a strong applicant was my essays. Although my test scores and gpa were considered average for the schools that I applied to, the effort I put in pushed me into getting accepted. I started working on my essays everyday the summer of the senior year. I was in a summer program called QuestBridge and SCS Noonan Scholars and I had access to many admissions officers and people who helped me with my essays. I kept working on my essays till two days before the deadline. In my opinion, I think that applying early action (November 1st deadline) helped me the most. Usually kids who apply early action are wealthy and in the higher class of society. Being a low-income, first generation student may have helped me stand out in that aspect.


The advice I would give is that you should always apply to your top choice early rather than later. I also think that students should try to work hard in high school and balance their activities so that they don't burn out. They should make sure to keep their gpa up as well. In addition, they should make sure that they have at least one teacher that they have known for most of their high school years so that he/she can write their essays. They should also try to always ask for help whenever they need it and never by shy to ask questions. For college applications, students should always remember to start their essays very early because writing is a process.


I applied to college as a low-income, first generation student. My single mother raised me by herself and I came to the US at a later age. My life story may have helped me stand out in the application process because I know that the struggles that I have faced may have been quite different from other students.


The biggest reason why I chose this university was because of the amount of money I was getting. My cost of attendance and personal expenses were all covered for me. Some of my other schools did not offer this to me. However, I chose Stanford specifically because the students at the school are very collaborative. Based on high school, I realize that I fit better in a collaborative environment. At Stanford, I will be able to thrive and be more comfortable meeting, and learning, with new people.

#Stanford #low_income #first_generation

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