Monday, 11 November 2013

Criteria to enter a Ivy League university

Eager and hopeful parents wishing to enrol their children to enter Ivy League universities should heed to Ms Sally X (Identity withheld as confidential)'s advice. As an experienced student recruiting officer for Harvard University for 21 years, Sally is willing to share with aspiring students the secret of successful acceptance into the famed institute of higher learning and research centre. Contrary to general belief Harvard does not open it door widely for geniuses alone. As a matter of fact it rejects hundreds of candidates with 4.0 GPA's in favour of students with lesser academic achievements. While the truly brilliant students are almost admitted, but the other 90% of each class is comprised of students who meet a combination of factors, including intellectual ability, unusual attractiveness of personality, outstanding capacity for leadership, creativity and athletic ability, maturity and motivation for a certain liberal arts education and geographic distribution.

In a preliminary meeting with the expectant students, Sally asked the floor: Which one of you can cook? Who can drive? Who is willing to do laundry at home? Who con speak three or more languages? Do you know what will your life be in 5 or 10 years into the future? Sally continued: In the US, there are 400 institutes of higher learning do not require the submission of certificates or any examination result slips etc. from the applicant students before admitting them. Some of these universities are part of the Ivy League institutions. Sally singled out one applicant among twenty others and studied the papers. It was a distinguished candidate who scored top marks in all academic subjects he undertook. He spoke fluent Spanish besides English, played the voila in the high school string and wind band. Besides he showed promises in the field of mathematics and physics, and was rated 25th in a related national competition. After a group panel's discussion, the acceptance committee headed by Sally decided to turn down the application for admission. Why? Sally then explained that Harvard wanted students with well-balanced, multi-facet development mentality instead of just academic excellence. She and her team did not see anything else outstanding apart from the applicants' examination results. Though he claimed to be enthusiastic in pursuing higher mathematics, he failed to impress the committee as he expressed an 'anti-social' approach in his written essay to introduce himself and his ideology, aspiration etc. All his words did not reflect his keen interest in mathematics. As a matter of fact, he was hiding something. Sally concluded in such case: we certainly like to provide places for students par excellence, but we discard 'learning machines'.  
               This used-to-be a nerdy student is now a millionaire.
                       It is necessary to study hard at the university
                        but Harvard does not encourage students to
                      become bookworms, they do not want to churn
                                      out "learning machines". 
Students spent days and hours on 'Application Essay writing' in which they dipped deeply into their grey matters, scratching their heads to conjure ideas how to express themselves, and how to impress the acceptance committee of the university. 'Simple!' Sally says, just be truthful to yourself, 'there's no perfect score in this, just present the real you!'. Sally reminds the students, do not employ others to help you in writing your Application Essay. After going through tens of thousands of application essays, it would be easy for Sally to determine whether the essay was authentically written by the application himself/herself or otherwise.

Sally sighed: I feel so sorry for the young students sometimes. They often engaged specialised 'ghost writers' to reach for their aim, and ended up failing miserably. The papers they presented always sounded 'too matured', indicating some professionals did the penning. She continued: I have encountered some brilliant students who fitted well into the pictures of being accepted, as their SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) results were impressive; however due to their lack of confidence, thus had their essays written by others, they lost their chances. If they chose to write and present some simple facts about themselves in real life with a little bit of wits and details, they would have stood much better chance.


Translated from a Chinese text.
Alan CY Kok

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