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  • Nora Sun

Tags: Vanderbilt, low income


Institution: Vanderbilt University

Study: Major in nursing, minor in global health


High School Experience

To start with, my HS experience took away a lot of my MS experience since we start in 7th grade, so I feel like I matured a bit faster than I normally would have. I also didn’t have any of that MS —> HS transition stress. In 9th and 10th grade, I became really active and joined a lot of clubs and activities. Those were fun times- probably the best times I had with my friends. Then I started to become more goal-oriented in 11th and 12th grade, got into the normal HS drama scuffles, but I’m pretty happy about everything that’s happened because I started to appreciate a lot of things a lot more, especially about myself. my six years at HS made me change so much every single year, it’s definitely been a crazy ride. I think academic-wise, I’ve been well prepared for college. I suppose the biggest thing I disliked is actually our (class of 2020) response to covid-19. After surviving 6 years together, apparently all of our togetherness didn’t matter in the face of a pandemic. I understand that a lot of my classmates were upset because they lost senior year to COVID-19. At the same time, I think by now we would’ve at least tried to look at what’s been good. It sort of feels like nobody remembers all the good high school memories, or that nobody realizes that this is nowhere near the end of our journey, but the beginning. I dislike the fact that my class can’t persevere through this tough time together, but I also dislike that this is how it ends: with seniors being too sad to even do a simple countdown. Call it a personal peeve though, I’m sure not everyone feels this way.


Course choices

I always figured I was interested in building/creating things. I came to really like computer science (despite a bad 9th grade intro class to python and a C in APCS). My HS only lets us choose electives in 11th and 12th grade. Up to 2 and 5 in each year, respectively. I took AP psych and really liked it, so now I’m majoring in a subfield of psych (and doubling in compsci). Some fun classes I took were a theater class and Greek myth class. I was in junior orchestra in 7th and 8th, and continued to be in jazz band for 9th-12th. Band ended up as a 6th elective and I also became a counseling intern because I spent so much time at the office, which counted as a 7th elective.


AP/IBs

11th: Computer science- 4

12th: BC Calc, Stats, Psych (no grades yet since I just took the tests).

No IB classes since my HS doesn’t offer.


GPA

~92-93


Standardized Testing

SAT: 1530

ACT: 34

SAT Math 2: 760

SAT Physics: 780 SAT Chem: 730


Extracurriculars

I was in a theater practicum/class for 10th grade. In 10th-12th I was in an animal advocacy club and became treasurer, then Vice President. I also did badminton for 10th and 11th, but sprained my ankle during 11th and couldn’t continue anymore. I think those are my most important extracurriculars.


Recommendations

I loved both of my teachers who wrote my recs!! One was an English teacher, the first to actually make me like english/writing. It’s funny because I usually wrote about how I hate the main character of the book. He seemed to like my new perspectives. My other teacher was just a really really nice person and I love her so much. I had her in the morning and i would always tell her about my day, or some silly story about something. She always listened and responded, even though my friend always said to just ignore me. My counselor was the only one to call the school (actually, we all tell our counselors one school we want them to call and promote us for) and we were definitely close. He’s the one who said I should be a counseling intern, just cuz I was literally in the office everyday for fun (I had nothing better to do).


Essays

My personal essay was about my passion for AI conflicting with my concern for my dad losing his job because of AI. I think my theme was like “girl interested in stem career and liberal arts education because she likes to have fun” or something, I forgot.


Strengths

Honestly, I don’t know. I got off the waitlist for two schools recently (will be attending one of them) and I think it’s a) because of my letter of continued interest since I got into no other school I was waitlisted at, and b) because a lot of students wouldn’t be able to attend due to COVID. My stats are all below my high school avg, I didn’t do amazing extracurriculars, and my essays weren’t strong or powerful. No particular achievements either, other than being a Questbridge finalist (scholarship program for low income students) and doing 400 hours of community service in my HS career. But I also applied to a lot of Questbridge schools with the QuestBridge application (not common app), and I know lots of QB students who had way way better and more impressive extracurriculars than me. I don’t really know why my schools chose me. I’m planning to ask though!


Advice

Don’t apply to 8 reach schools and 2 safeties. Second, if you don’t get in the first time and get waitlisted, don’t give up. Don’t be lazy ass and just write those letters of continued interest! Third, have your friends read and edit your essays. Have even your family do it. Do they think it sounds like you? Do they think you’re missing a key component of your personality? And finally, just know that wherever you go, it’s really up to you how you’ll experience the ride. Don't try to bring other people down, try to bring yourself up instead. And keep your eyes peeled open for any opportunities, and go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose, that’s a lot of power you have (ironically).


Circumstances

I was QuestBridge meaning I’m low income.


Why?

I honestly didn’t even think I was going to get accepted into Vanderbilt, even through the waitlist. I mean, I thought I even had a chance, albeit tiny, at MIT but Vanderbilt? I always disliked the term “dream school” to refer to my top school, as it implies I can’t get in unless a miracle happens, but I think “dream school” applies to Vanderbilt here. It was either I go to an honors city college (ew, the city) or Vandy, not much of a big brainer. Also, the city college was free but I’d have to pay for dorms after sophomore year, and for all my meals. Lots of hidden costs. But at Vandy, I do some work study and that’s it. I only have indirect costs but I can do a lot to reduce those. Also, Vandy has a beautiful campus, is far away from home, has a really great community (where students want to learn for the sake of learning, and not just to get a good reputation or job), and really great food.


#Vanderbilt #low_income

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