Institution: Stanford University
Study: Major in computer science
High School Experience
Overall, although I would still say I enjoyed high school, there are things I would change if I could go back. I love my friends, and I’m so lucky to have such a close group of people. But I do wish I had spent more time just hanging out with them or even going to school events, like dances or football games, which I almost never went to because I didn’t think it was worth it or because I was too busy. Looking back, especially having missed out on the last part of my senior year, I wish I had done more “high school” things during high school, and overall just had more fun. Not to say that I didn’t have fun, but it was just never my focus.
I was interested in a lot of different areas, from journalism to math to computer science. Mostly, I joined activities and clubs, like robotics, and that really cemented my love for CS in particular. I didn’t have room to add AP CS A to my sophomore year schedule, so I self studied and took the AP test at a different high school. I also knew I was interested in the intersection of business and technology, so I enrolled in PLTW courses that required us to do things like design and 3D print our product and give a sales pitch presentation to the class.
AP Euro: 5
AP Calc AB: 5
AP Chemistry: 5
AP Spanish: 5
AP Language and Composition: 5
AP Calc BC: 5
AP Microecon: unknown
AP Stats: unknown
AP Literature and Composition: unknown
AP CSA: 5
AP Physics Mechanics: 4
AP Physics E and M: 3
SAT Math 2: 790
SAT Chemistry: 770
I did marching band for three years. I volunteered for a STEM summer camp, where I was a teacher/counselor. I had a physics internship at Columbia university. I also did Saturday science classes at Columbia. I also tutor and work at Kumon Oh to add to that I was president of my school’s national honor society chapter.
I had a very close relationship with all my teachers that wrote me recommendations. For my PLTW teacher, it was my third year taking his class and he has chosen me to compete in competitions in earlier years. I also asked my Calculus teacher, who I only had junior year but I get really close to her and would often have casual conversations with her during class and visit her even when she wasn’t my teacher anymore. I also asked my history teacher, who I had junior year, but I really liked because history is one of my favorite subjects, so we talked a lot during class, and sometimes I ate lunch in his room, etc. so he also knew about my achievements outside the classroom. The Assemblyman I interned for also wrote me a letter.
I would say if I had to pick a narrative my essays had, it would be how I became interested in programming. For example, it started from my love for problem solving, then making websites for my friends, then seriously pursuing it in high school by learning programming languages and through extracurriculars (and I gave examples and descriptions throughout).
I think all my letters of recommendation were strong because I performed well academically in all the classes I asked teachers for recommendations for. I also had a rapport with all of my recommenders. I also chose unique essay topics, and all my college interviews went well. Test scores and GPA are important too, but the real answer is that I can never be completely sure what was on my application that schools liked.
Start early, but not too early. Start early enough that you can write many different drafts of your essays (sometimes, my final essay was on a completely different subject than my first draft). However, for me, the summer before my senior year was one of the most influential summers in terms of shaping my career objectives, so if I had started my applications over the summer, it would have looked completely different. Don’t start your essays so early that by the time you’re actually applying to college, your opinions, passions, and experience will have changed drastically (because they most likely will evolve throughout high school).
Stanford has been my dream school for a long time for many reasons. Obviously the academics and professors are a big advantage, especially if you’re majoring in CS. The connections to companies and the Stanford Alumni Network and ability to have internships while in school in the Silicon Valley since we are so close is also really exciting. Stanford students also seem to have a well balanced social life, and there are many dorm bonding activities or off campus trips. Since I live in Southern California, I was also looking to go somewhere with a nice climate and beautiful campus. There are also just so many weird and fun traditions at Stanford, like fountain hopping, and I’m so excited to be a part of it.