• Nora Sun

Tags: Brown

Institution: Brown University

Study: Major in biology

High School Experience

I had two distinct high-school experiences, since I attended a private Catholic school for 9-10th grade and a public boarding school for 11-12th. At private school, I did not enjoy the experience overall because the environment wasn't diverse and I didn't feel pushed or challenged. However, at boarding school there were students from all over the state with different backgrounds and stories, which made the student environment a lot more enjoyable. The teachers at boarding school were more engaging and since we run on a college-like schedule, teachers have very helpful office hours. Also, getting to live with all your friends is a plus.

Course choices

I am interested in the arts (especially digital media, photography, film, and printmaking) and engineering, and they led me to take a lot more math, art, and programming/engineering electives.


The boarding school I went to doesn't offer AP/IBs, but my old private school did. At private school, I took AP World History (4), Stats (5), and BC Calculus (5).


4.0 unweighted

Standardized Testing

SAT: 1530

ACT: 36

SAT Math 2: 800


I've been playing piano since I was 5, which I have won awards for; I volunteered as a 3D lab assistant for the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) (junior-senior years); co-founded the photography club at my boarding school; secretary-treasurer of computer science club (senior year); Student Government Organization senior class senator.


I asked one of my math teachers, computer science teachers, and art teachers to write recommendations for me. I had positive relationships with all of them, which was why I asked them to write recommendations for me. I've stayed after class to talk to them multiple times, visited them during office hours, and sometimes I would just pop by to say hi to them. I did fairly well in their classes too.


I did not really connect all of my essays with one major theme, but my common app essay was about a realization (when I realized that being child-like is beautiful), and most of my supplements were about my ambitions, why I wanted to major in CS, etc. I talked about growing technologies, how I want to apply them, and how I want to do research to expand their potential. I guess I used a lot of imagination in my essays- I tried to paint a picture of some sort.


I think my supplemental portfolios helped me the most. I submitted a visual art (paintings, drawings, photography etc) and a piano portfolio to any school that had the option. I think my ECs were strong too and reading my essays again, I don't think they were the strongest but they were in my style and shed some light on who I am.


If I could give any advice I’d say find something you can talk about passionately. While test scores are indicators, their importance is far from that of your essays. If you have something you care about deeply, it will show when you write about it. For your essays, don’t write in circles- make sure each sentence has a meaning and is bringing the reader somewhere. And stay true to yourself. It took me a minute to sit myself down and consider what makes me me- and then I could write my “what will you add to the brown community?” supplement. Def look up “how to write [school] supplements” bc while you shouldn’t copy what they write, they’ll give you inspiration. Don’t lie to them or be generic! Everyone has something different that makes you stand out so if you can highlight that and let them know why you belong at [school] (focus more on how you fit in at [school] and not how [school] fits into your life/why [school] is “so wonderful”- they already know they’re top tier).




It was my first choice. Brown has an open curriculum, which allows for a lot of curricular flexibility to take courses that fit my interests. They also have a lot of undergrad research opportunities. their CS concentration/major also has many different paths to choose from, which I really liked since it will allow me to focus on the parts of CS that I am interested in.


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