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  • Nora Sun

Tags: Columbia, low income


Institution: Columbia

Study: Major in computer science


High School Experience

My high school is a small public school in a pretty diverse area. My friends were almost completely all from different countries, with many even being immigrants, so it was cool to learn about different cultures through them. My favorite part of HS was my teachers, as I had some great ones that really cared about their students and were incredible at their job. My guidance counselor was also great. The only issue I had was class variety, as my school didn’t offer many of the classes I was interested in so I had to take many that I didn’t care about in order to keep my grade high.


AP/IBs

My top 3 favorite classes have been physics 1, calc bc, and psychology, so my interests are varied. I took 14 APs in total and I got above a 4 on the first 8, and I’ll see how I did on the last 6 sometime next month.


GPA



Standardized Testing

SAT: 1520; 790 on math and 730 on English

ACT: 34.

SAT Math 2: 790

SAT physics: 760


Extracurriculars

For extracurriculars, I was involved in mathletes from 7th to 12th grade and began leading and expanding it in 11th grade, I was vice president of Project Green (environmental club) in 11th grade, I was co-president of national HS in 12th grade, and I played football and track from 9th to 10th grade.


Recommendations

I had a great relationship with my teachers, they were my two favorites so I spent a lot of time talking and getting to know them out of school. They both expected me to ask them for letters too so it was really easy to approach them about it.


Essays

My essay was pretty strange, the theme was about learning and how I’ve learned to love it. I started off by talking about my first experience with martial arts and how I was no longer able to instantly excel at something like I could for academics, and how it took time and patience to value the process. I then got into how I used online resources to learn programming languages independently just out of curiosity.


Strengths

I think my well roundedness along with a spike in the stem area made me pretty competitive. I had great grades for every class or AP I had taken along with good test scores, and extracurriculars showed I was a big math/science person as well. I think the online courses showed I had initiative too, which is probably one of the most valuable characteristics an applicant can demonstrate.


Advice

I definitely suggest pursuing some sort of leadership, not just an elected position but taking initiative in an area you’re interested in. This could be through starting a club or business for example. I’ve found that grades and test scores are more of a threshold and don’t provide as much benefit once you’re already near the top, as they show very little about what kind of person you are. It’s definitely important to reach the typical grades for your desired school, but after that, continuing to focus on them would likely yield diminishing returns for you.


Circumstances

I’m an URM (Haitian), have a single parent as of last year, and low income.


Why?

I chose Columbia because of the incredible resources it can offer, the great people, its proximity to home and location in NYC. I did a fly-in program (more of a drive in for me) for the engineering school that gave me a great sense of the culture there, and seeing how laid back but motivated students seemed to be reinforced the idea that it was the place for me, so I ended up doing early decision.


#Columbia #low_income

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