What distinguishes those who got into the best universities in the world from the rest? What qualities are looked for in young people from all over the world at Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford? How do you develop an individual strategy for getting into your desired university? What aspects of your biography should be emphasized when preparing an application? How do you write the "99 papers reviews" that will make you stand out among the hundreds of competitors? Do letters of recommendation help? At a meeting with students of the Ukrainian Leadership Academy at the Oswitoria Hub Ivan Primachenko, co-founder of the online education platform Prometheus, who studied at The Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program at Stanford, talked about this.
I have hundreds of acquaintances, who have deep knowledge that would allow them to enter a prestigious western university, but they do not. They just do not believe that it is possible," shrugs speaker Ivan Primachenko. - There is a stereotype that the "elite," the "chosen," and the "bigwigs" get into Oxford, Harvard, or Stanford. But the example of some other acquaintances and friends proves that this is not the case - the secret is to choose the right strategy. Shall we begin?
Be "polygamous" and indefatigable.
Choose different schools, different curricula. If in the first year you have no luck - try the second and third year. If you "give up" after the first time - don't say that you "failed". Personally, I succeeded the second time, and I still consider it great luck.
Study what the admissions office is looking for and don't get hung up on tests
Every school puts something different into the concept of a "top applicant. But without exception, everyone hopes that you will be the one who makes them famous: the founder of a cool company, a community organization that will change the world for the better, a scientist who will win the Nobel Prize. Such graduates not only build their reputations, but also make significant philanthropic contributions.
Universities are a kind of investment fund in human capital. They make "bets" just like people who invest in startups. Therefore, universities have subtle and sensitive mechanisms for selecting an investment target. They weigh your grades, the results of standardized tests that test your potential. The principle is: "If a person shows good results now, he will also hold himself to a high standard in the future. But the truth of life is that grades from Ukrainian schools will not be taken seriously if, for example, you are applying for an American baccalaureate.
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Unsurprisingly, everyone gets hung up on preparing for standardized tests. That, too, is a mistake. I recommend looking at the statistics available to everyone about what the average score on standardized tests is for those who apply to that particular program, but not trying to "outdo everyone else" and reach the maximum, but leaving the energy for more important things. Namely, writing a curriculum vitae and an essay.
The secret mission of the CV and how to achieve it
The purpose of a CV and essay is to showcase your background outside of grades and tests. They are even more meaningful than grades. Please don't make the classic mistake of having too much text. The committee is not going to read your most beautiful 10-page CV. The CV is used solely to get a sense of who you are and what you are about in 30 seconds. So it is in those 30 seconds that you need to explain to people exactly why you are awesome.
In your CV, people will be looking for what you have accomplished. When I wrote my own at Stanford, I didn't list my title, I gathered facts: how many hundreds of thousands of users on our platform, how many courses we have, what partners with world-famous names we're proud of. So, don't just write that you're fundraising, but what kind of donors have fundraised. Facts, just facts.