So write about your grandmother. Or your gym teacher. Or your after-school job bagging groceries. Or math theorems, if they really are your favorite. Write in your voice, whatever that sounds like–whether you love dialogue or description or have a soft spot for terrible Navy puns. Come up with something that’s uniquely you–no matter how long it takes. I spent the first 27 days of those four August weeks trying to wrap my head around how I was even going to put an essay on that blank page at which I was staring. And on the 28th day, in a corner on the floor of my high school’s senior homeroom right before my last first day of school, something clicked, I grabbed my laptop, and I went from lamenting having nothing to say in my college essay to having 2,500 words of stuff to say that I spent the next eight weeks cutting down to 650.
Not all legacies are admitted. Back in the 80’s I was a Harvard legacy from an upper middle-class family from an unremarkable (although I loved it) public high school that did not get accepted to Harvard. I was a well-rounded student – very good grades, ok SAT scores, star athlete, leadership roles in clubs in and out of school, and years of piano. I was accepted to and graduated from Harvard’s rival Yale. I probably got into Yale because I was an athlete, but it also took other qualities and a decent academic background to be accepted, fit in, and succeed at a highly selective college.
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