• Nora Sun

Tags: Duke

Institution: Duke University

Study: Major of chemistry and public policy

High School Experience

I went to a fairly small college-prep private school with class sizes around 80. The school was great for providing lots of opportunities with clubs and plenty of interaction with teachers. That said, it was a competitive environment in which the top 15 or so kids were pretty engaged in resume-building for college apps.

Course choices

I was fairly certain that I wanted to become a doctor, so I focused on taking the most rigorous STEM course load possible. At the same time, I was interested in public policy, so I made sure to complement my schedule with classes in the humanities (history, ethics, economics etc).


My school heavily discouraged APs until junior year, but I took a full AP course load that year: AP Bio, AP Physics C: Mechanics, AP Calc BC, APUSH, AP French, AP Stats, and AP English Language. I also self-studied AP US Government. I got pretty lucky and was able to get a 5 on all of them. Senior year, I took AP Chemistry, AP Microeconomics, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, AP Comp Sci Principles, and self-studied AP World History. Waiting on scores for these.


4.0 unweighted

Standardized Testing

SAT: 1570

SAT Math 2: 800

SAT Biology M: 790

SAT US History: 780


I played on the varsity tennis team all four years (state champ grades 10-12 and captain my senior year). I did Model UN all four years (Exec Board member grades 11-12). I also started my school’s DECA chapter and was its co-President (grades 11-12). I tutored younger kids in the community and headed my school’s peer tutoring program. And I did research over the summer after my sophomore and junior years (don’t want to elaborate for privacy reasons).


Relationships were strong (I hope!). Spent lots of time with my teachers, asking questions, being nice, developed personal relationships that extended beyond the classroom.


I wrote my common app essay about my cultural identity. And used the supplements to talk about how my past experiences helped shape my career goals.


I think my course load and interviews are what really helped me stand out.


Scores are important, but they don’t decide the outcome on their own. For example, I took every standardized test just one time because I knew that past a certain point, it was more important to focus on other aspects of my character development.




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