• Nora Sun

Tags: Columbia, low income

Institution: Columbia University

Study: Major in applied math

High School Experience

I went to a STEM focused engineering high school, so it was generally very competitive. In a way this was both a pro and a con. It was a pro bc it forced me to work extra hard to accomplish things I wanted to and it was a con bc stress culture was very prominent.

Course choices

My academic interests were very STEM/physics based which matched what my high school’s specialty was. Because of this, we didn’t have much choice in the courses we could take.


I took AP Compsci sophomore year and AP Calc BC junior year, in which I got a 5 on both. I don’t think this affected my college admissions in any way bc i forgot to include these in my common app. This year I took AP Stat and AP physics C mechanics/E&M.


96-97 unweighted

Standardized Testing

SAT: 1520

ACT: 35

SAT Math 2: 800

SAT physics: 800


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.


My Latin teacher I had a very strong relationship with and I know she wrote a strong rec for me. My other engineering teacher i didn’t have as much of a strong relationship with but i still think he wrote me a good recommendation.


For all my essays I tried to keep a theme of my own curiosity and wonder about the world and my pursuit of knowledge. For my common app I went through all my different interests throughout my life. for my why Columbia I wrote about all the different people I had met at Columbia and what I liked most about them. and for my why major essay, which is applied math, I wrote about a math YouTube channel.


I think my letter of recommendations combined with my high academic success and unique narrative in my essays made a strong applicant. I think I stood out because I was able to show my very real desire to learn and expand upon my passions and make an impact on the world.


Honestly my advice is just to follow your interests and don’t get too wrapped up in college stuff. When you do follow your own interests, colleges will see that and see you as a potential candidate. But if you only do things for college admissions, I feel like admissions officers can see through all that and figure out your intentions. Also, getting into a good college isn’t the end all be all. It doesn’t matter what college you go to, it only matters what you do there.


Low income


This uni was my first choice and I applied here early decision. I liked it because I already had a connection to it through my various activities, it had a very diverse student body, and it was in a city environment.

#Columbia #low_income

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