2 years ago
Harvard prospective students

Does my essay idea satisfy the prompt? (Harvard supplemental)


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5 answers

2 years ago[edited]

Both Harvard and Stanford have these types of questions that query your 'intellectual vitality. Your interest in religion is borderline a passion project not necessarily answering the prompt with clear academic evidence of "supervised or self-directed projects not done as school work, training experiences, online courses not run by your school, or summer academic or research programs not described elsewhere."

I'm not sure "I wanted to understand the beliefs that are so central to my classmates and friends" is enough of a thesis to validate your activities as having intellectual vitality.

Let's say you want to be a doctor one day. So learning about advanced topics isn't something available in your HS. But to keep your mind occupied you decide to do the following, a.) create a COVID-19 testing app, b.) learn Python and C++ programming, c.) get an unpaid internship at the local hospital, and d.) get the 3 HSs in your school district and 6 jr. Highs to use the app for Beta Testing. That does answer the prompt in terms of "intellectual vitality" because they are all related to your major, professions, and academic interests.

If your goal is to get a Ph.D. in Theology from Yale or Harvard, and your whole academic narrative is about religious studies and you currently have a YouTube channel called "Dave's Wide World of Religion" with 25K subscribers where each show is a deep dive into a specific religion for the pure academic sake of disseminating accurate information to your audience. And in your free time, you created a religion club at school in order to work on the ground level to help your peers. Then gathering research is part of that academic narrative. I won't make assumptions but it would certainly help if you were interested in majoring in religion.

Once you have something written, put it through the CV essay review. It might be useful to opt-in for the paid review since this is very specific.

Good luck.

2 years ago

This sounds like a really great submission for a live topic check! We do these livestreams quite frequently, and we even have one this evening. You can check it out here: https://www.collegevine.com/livestreams/4259/topic-check-with-elias. We are also doing a few live topic checks on Instagram live as well.

2 years ago

Hi @Fried_Rice!

I think your response about religion would be really unique for this question! Like @HelloHome said, I would make sure that you aren’t describing just your experiences with these religions on a surface level. Talk more about what you studied within these religions, what you have learned about principles and beliefs, how religions differ, if there is a commonality amongst all the religions you’ve studied, etc.

Hope that helps!

2 years ago

I think it definitely could satisfy the prompt. You would have to make sure you made a case for why it is an intellectual pursuit, though. I know many of my atheist friends would argue religion is not at all an intellectual pursuit, but understanding religion at the very least helps you understand human behavior better!

I would suggest talking about:

1. What similarities you have seen between religions?

2. What makes people in each congregation you've attended believe in their religion

3. How does religion relate to knowledge? Are religious beliefs knowledge?

4. How can learning about a variety of diverse religions help you in your major/career?

5. What lengths have you gone to in your quest to understand the different religions? (Have you read any religious texts? Learned Hebrew or Arabic? Learned to play hymns? Taken classes on a church history?)

6. How has learning about religion helped you in school? Have you been able to make better philosophical arguments with your knowledge of religions during a philosophy class? Do you understand allusions and symbolism in the texts you read for your Literature/Language Arts class better?

7. Have you gained a greater appreciation for religion or are you less convinced of its purpose?

Out of curiosity, how many churches/places of worship have you gone to total? Which were your favorites? Which denominations did you attend? Did you only attend once at each or did you go to one several times?

I hope this helps! Good luck!!!

2 years ago

Hi yes that absolutely would. The prompt is rather broad and your experience doesn't need to fit under any sort of category. Showing them what you did to pursue this will definitely help you.

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Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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