Seal Your Harvard Application
What does “brand” mean in the context of an admissions essay? If an admissions officer from Harvard had to describe you in one sentence to a colleague what would he or she say? Here is an example of a fictitious personal brand statement that has been created for the purposes of this post to help you identify your own personal brand. Personal brand statement:
‘Entrepreneurial leader with a passion for design-driven businesses and empowering people, who plans to transform a small family-run business into an international company that inspires creativity and enriches lives’.
What is your personal brand and how to achieve your own brand statement? Below are some helpful tips.
It is important to be yourself on your admissions essay. Harvard may have never met you before, so it is important to paint a picture of your character to them. The only way to do this is for you to address who you truly are on paper. Harvard reports that there is no magic formula for admission to their school. Rather, they want students who are true to who they are and not afraid to show it. One of the worst things you can do is paint a picture of someone you are not. You will not only do a disservice to yourself, but the Harvard community as well.
Many students write about learning from adversity or finding life lessons through sports. Just remember that YOU are the topic and provide your personal stamp on the essay from your unique point of view. You don’t need to have a super original theme to stand out from the crowd. The difference is in the details.
Harvard wants to know about YOU. The best applicants are comfortable in their own skin. They don’t try and make themselves out to be something and someone they are not. There is no prototype student for the Ivy League. Admissions officers look for a wide array of students so it is best to be yourself. The best application essays come after periods of intense introspection and soul-searching. Throughout your read of this site you’ll learn helpful tips to facilitate the soul-searching process.
Flaunt Yourself Without Sounding Conceited
Your application and admissions essay is a great place to showcase yourself without sounding conceited. It is okay to talk about your achievements and successes, but you still want to remain humble in doing so. Don’t discuss how you led the football team to a winning victory single-handedly, because in doing so you are eliminating your ability or inability to work as a team. You need to paint a picture of comradery not independence.
Harvard wants to hear how great you are but not at the expense of others. Remember to avoid putting people down, playing the victim or coming off as prideful or arrogant. You will do yourself a disservice and may even cause yourself a rejection letter if you are unable to eliminate pride from your application package. Humility and confidence are an award-winning combination for the Harvard Admissions Board.
Admissions officers read thousands of essays. Failing to engage their interest through your passion and ability to communicate may result in your application ending up in the wrong pile. The vast majority of applicants are qualified to attend an Ivy League school like Harvard, so it often comes down to a memorable essay and showcasing yourself. Don’t let your application get lost in the shuffle by having no passion.
One of the best ways to show off some passion is to write about what you are interested in. Think about something or someone that has impacted your life in a great way and write about it. Avoid writing about a class you hated or a teacher you didn’t get along with, and stick to topics you love.
You also want to show passion for the Harvard community. You don’t want to mention ties to other schools or back-up possibilities in the event that you don’t get accepted. Although this may seem obvious, the admissions committee at Harvard reports that each year they receive some application essays that reveal a defensive tone from the start. Show that you support Harvard and are dedicated to building its strong team oriented community. This leads us into the next section.
How YOU Will Contribute to Harvard
The admissions officers at Harvard are looking for applicants that will make unique contributions to the university community. While past accomplishments are a good indicator of future potential, be your own advocate by being explicit about how you want to contribute to your dream school.
Will you lead a specific student group? And do what? Will you organize campus events? Tell the admissions committee why they want you at their school. This is super important. This is one of the considerations that applicants need to keep in mind as they translate their bio stories to themes to essay concepts. Reference away!
Overcome Application Weaknesses
(grades, EC’s, test scores)
The key to overcoming application weaknesses is to not let these individual barriers prevent you from achieving success. Just because you received a poor grade in a class or were sick the day of the SATs, you must not allow the issue to prevent you from moving forward. Success is about taking risks and rising to the challenges that are presented your way. It is better to confront the situations head-on and not let them overcome you. If you don’t see the application weakness as a problem and can address it for the admissions board, Harvard may not see it as a problem either. Confidence is your best friend.
Think about the various ways you have turned hardships into advantages. Maybe there was a problem in your family that you had to face, or an unusual circumstance in your life that you had to overcome. Use the difficulty and implement a strategy to show how you overcame. Now is not the time to be shy. Describe the issue, be upfront, think about it, and determine a plan of attack. Figure out how the issue made you a stronger person and how you are better off now because of the problem you had to face.