• Nora Sun

Tags: MIT

Institution: MIT

Study: Major in data science

High School Experience

I went to a public magnet school, with predominantly black and hispanic students. It was fairly easy to excel in school, and I was able to have a great social life in high school. My school had great school spirit, so school wide events were pretty prevalent, and I was very active in social activities during high school. I was able to balance my academics and social life, however a lot of that was done through procrastination.

Course choices

I have always enjoyed solving math problems, so I knew that whatever I was going to study was related to math. Then, the summer after my junior year, I encountered the field of computer science for the first time. During the Leadership in the Business World Summer Program at Wharton, I listened to a presentation by Professor Peter Fader detailing how he builds computer models based on math and was completely enthralled with the limitless possibilities. Dr. Fader described his theories relating to customer-based valuation and gave us some biographical insight, explaining that he had been a very STEM-driven student, so now his work mixes his love of math with his interests in technology and business. This presentation made me realize that this is what I want to study. I would love to combine mathematics and statistics to build data-based models to aid in solving real-world problems.


AP Macroeconomics: 5

AP Microeconomics: 4

AP Statistics: 5

AP Spanish Literature: 5

AP Spanish Language: 5

AP Physics 1: 4

AP Calc BC: 5


4.0 unweighted

Standardized Testing

SAT: 1540

SAT Math 2: 800

SAT Physics: 800


My two main interests when I arrived at my school were math and chess, and my school provided clubs for both of them. I was part of the chess club and competitive math club for all 6 years, and I have been in the competitive science club since my junior year. In my senior year, I was the president of the chess club, competitive math club, and vice-president of the competitive science club. Outside of school, I also undertook some tutoring. As part of my school’s Project 202x initiative, I have tutored high achieving sixth graders to take an exam to gain entrance to my school under a full scholarship. This year, I also started the Chess for All initiative, visiting public schools to teach chess.


I was very close to both of the teachers who wrote recommendation letters for me. I’ve known both of them since I started school in the seventh grade and our relationship has prospered. One was my math teacher who initially taught me seventh-grade math. He then invited me to participate in the Competitive Math Club, which he moderated and sparked an interest in math which I still hold to this day. The other one was my freshman English teacher, whom I met long before because she was the moderator of the chess club. I was involved with these teachers both inside and outside of the classroom, so we could build a stronger relationship.


Although college applications are a grueling process, they allow you to figure yourself out as a person. Initially, I had no idea who I truly was and what I wanted to accomplish. Initially, after college, I wanted to stay in the US and never have to think about Puerto Rico. However, after I read Insularismo by Antonio S. Pedreira, I realized that it was my responsibility to change the country that has made me into who I am. Therefore, I decided that after college, it is my responsibility to come back and work for change. Since I’ve spent most of my community service in high school working on improving education, I hope to use the tools I will learn in my computer science track to construct statistical models detailing various problems with the education system, giving new generations of students a better chance to succeed and thrive.


I can’t know for sure, but I believe it was in part in my large commitment to a few activities. Instead of doing 10 different activities and being mediocre in all of them, I did 3 very well. This demonstrated how passionate I was about these things and how I would pursue these passions wherever I went.


My biggest tip to college applicants would be to BE GENUINE. Many people have passions that they are afraid to talk about because they are embarrassed about it. Make sure that you describe how much you love what you do and AO’s will notice it. Similarly, I would also advise against setting up a façade around fake interests to build the “ideal” application. While this might work and get you in the college of your dreams, the strain on your mental health and the hate towards the things you are doing is not worth it. It is much better to do what you love to do because even if you don’t get into your dream college, you can continue pursuing these interests wherever you go.




When I visited MIT, the thing that stood out the most was that curiosity is celebrated and encouraged. Nerdom is celebrated. No matter what you like, it will be encouraged and supported at MIT. I loved how students do things just because they can. My campus tour guide, Kevin Ren, told me: “I couldn’t imagine what my life would have been if I had not gone to MIT.” In my university visits, MIT was the only one where I felt a sense of closeness and true passion from the guides. That tightly knit community is one I desperately wanted to participate in. After leaving the campus, I realized that I too couldn’t imagine myself not going to MIT.


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