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2 months ago
Admissions Advice

Are my essays on the right topics?
Answered

Hi, I'm applying to Harvard Early Action and was wondering if my essay topics are well-selected; I'm confident in all of the drafts I have and have received positive feedback on the writing itself, but want to make sure they make sense thematically as a group in addition to as individual essays.

My common app essay is about coming to terms with my queer identity through reading, which aligns with my activity of starting a queer book club at my (Catholic and largely homophobic) school.

My main Harvard supplement (for the "a project you're passionate about" prompt) is on struggling with mental health and social issues, and how that led me to get involved in my community; it centers on an organization I founded to help young people get involved in activism, as that's been my main activity in high school (in addition to other advocacy work).

My Harvard supplement for extracurriculars is on how I found my voice through doing speech and debate, and connecting that to how I've fallen in love with the community and started a speech team at a local school for kids on the autism spectrum that didn't have a speech program.

Do these paint a cohesive but nuanced picture of myself as an applicant and the work I've done in my community? I'm trying to convey how personal experiences have led me to get involved, but am wondering if this is an effective way to go about doing that. Thank you!

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Accepted Answer
2 months ago[edited]

Thematically, your main essay and supplemental essay topics are well thought out and planned. My only 2 cents is not to leave an opening in the reader's understanding that you still struggle with mental health and social issues. It's better to leave the impression that your prior condition was the impetus to effect change in your life and that volunteering in your community was cathartic and impactful to younger students in encouraging them to use their voices. My other advice is not to waste many words repeating ECs or Co-curricular activities in these essays. You can refer to the ones on your 10-point list but keep in mind these essays are about introducing new information and data points about you that are not clearly evident in your Common App.

Harvard wants to glean whether or not you are a natural leader who will enhance student life on campus, someone who takes maximum advantage of the opportunities and resources Harvard provides, and will be a future asset to Harvard in terms of alumni impact, future engagements that spread the Harvard brand and lastly, become a potential benefactor to the school as you advance your career. There are plenty of smart applicants who want to dine and dash at Harvard and leverage Harvard for their own pedigree. But I think if you can express through your essays that Harvard provides a mutual symbiotic opportunity, you will be taken more seriously.

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