Institution: Duke University
Study: Major in biomedical engineering
High School Experience
Balance is key in terms of the high school experience. A mistake that I made early on is focusing too much on academics, leaving me little time to do things that I actually enjoyed. It's important to keep up with things you enjoy, even though some might consider it a "waste of time.”
I was fortunate that I knew that science was my passion. That allowed me to structure my course schedule around that and maximize the number of STEM classes I took. Overall, I took 16 APs, which was a mix of STEM and humanities tests. My scores weren't the highest, but were enough to meet a certain threshold and qualify for placement at my college.
I took both the SAT and ACT. Personally, I liked the ACT a lot more for its fast pacing. I ended with a score of 36. In the course of high school, I took about 5 different SAT Subject Tests, but only submitted two to colleges. As I am a prospective STEM Major, SAT Math II and SAT Chemistry were the ones that mattered the most. After a couple tries, I got 800 and 790 respectively.
Throughout high school, I was involved with mainly HOSA Club (club officer; sophomore to senior year), Ocean Science Club (club officer; junior to senior year), and the Varsity Tennis Team (captain; Freshman, Junior, Senior years). Outside of school, I volunteered with Hopelink Food Bank and Evergreen Health Hospital.
I was pretty close with the teachers that wrote my letters of recommendation, one more than the other. They were my teachers for at least one year and were people that I continued to visit and keep up with after I completed their classes. They were both classes I really enjoyed, but most importantly, I enjoyed their teaching styles and connected really well with them as a person.
My goal in my essays was to make them particularly meaningful to me. The only way that the reader would be able to get to know me was if I wrote about something I cared about. I didn't worry too much about using what is considered "stereotypical" topics. Particularly in my personal statement, I tried to show the readers my personality, even the flaws.
To me, what made me a strong applicant in comparison to the other students at my school was my diversity in extracurriculars. Most of my peers didn't play a sport outside of school or inside of school like I did, and I think that it gave me an edge by allowing colleges to see my varied interests outside the academic world.
One piece of advice I would give is to worry less about what other people are doing. I've seen a lot of people spend their time worrying about what their peers are doing instead of focusing on themselves. I can't say that I never did it either, but keep in mind that what other people are doing doesn't directly affect you.