The Simple Guide to a Great Personal Statement


© 2008 flickr user toolfan.hess …………..© 2008 flickr user Adriano Agulló

You filled out the entire application, asked teachers for recommendations, and now you’re staring at a blank page wishing you didn’t have to write that college application essay. Don’t despair. This doesn’t need to be a soul-wrenching experience where you wish someone would put you out of your misery. This post gives you 5 quick tips to help you write a great college essay.

  1. Who’s the audience? Remember that the admission officers are also human. They can get bored by uninteresting writing, especially when they read thousands of essays a year. They won’t tolerate spelling or grammar mistakes, or an essay that’s bland or too generic. Their goals are to spot if you can write, and then use the essay to learn more about you that they can’t get from your grades or test scores.
  2. POW! Capture attention right away. (Please don’t use POW! unless it makes sense in your essay). At best, you only have a few minutes to make an impression, so an engaging beginning will make the reader want to read more. You’re telling a reader a story so use imagery to bring the writing to life but remember not to use clichés. Keep the reader interested throughout the essay and have a powerful conclusion.
  3. Be genuine. Just picking something of personal importance in your life and talking about it in an engaging way will make you stand out from the crowd. Write an essay on something you are passionate about. You stand a much greater chance of connecting with the reader if you show why the topic means so much to you.
  4. One simple idea. Make the essay revolve around a simple message you want the reader to get about you. The best brands in the world are able to break down what they do into one or a few words. People can be branded too. President Obama’s election campaign is a great example. Out of all the words he said during the campaign, the word Change stuck. If your simple message is that you are passionate about learning, use the essay to give vivid examples to convince the reader of this point. The truth is that the reader will in a matter of moments assign labels to what they’re reading and remember only a few things to support that label. What do you want them to remember about you?
  5. Edit and repeat. Before writing anything give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm on what you want to write about. You will not write a perfect essay in a day. Once you have a solid draft give it to as many people as possible to hear their comments. Give your essay to teachers, friends, family, and anyone you think is a good writer. If any sentence is confusing, rewrite it. You’re almost there once everyone understands what you want them to remember about you. If it’s also a powerful essay, you’re onto something, and just keep working at it a little more.
  6. Have fun. Make sure to have fun writing your essay. It makes the whole process more bearable and it definitely shows in your writing.

There are entire books out there on writing the college essay. We know you don’t have time to read all of them so the above 5 tips are meant to get you started. If you have specific questions just post them in the comments section of this post.

Try to guess what this special code is for: 26YJU3EU9JMG


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What’s new with

Time Crunch Secrets for Seniors Applying  to College

We are happy to announce that yesterday we rolled out a new product on called “Get IN Time Crunch: Secrets for Seniors” specifically for seniors applying to college this year. Get IN Time Crunch includes 29 pages of insider secrets and advice just for seniors that go over how to fill out the applications, how to write a great essay, and how to ace the college admissions interview. We also included a video and an audio interview with Harvard graduates telling you what they did to get into college. We tried to do our best to make this information affordable so the entire package is only $9.

We were inspired by the feedback we received from people who wanted targeted advice to the application process they were going through right now. We believe this offering complements our “Get IN: Secrets to Get Into Your Dream College from Harvard and Ivy League Grads?” very well and is also available on our main site.

So check out for more details.

Let us know what you think!

The Team

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Admission Statistics for Ivy League

Best University PictureCopyright 2008 flickr user digitalismo

In this post we wanted to discuss admission statistics for all the Ivy League schools, including MIT and Stanford. We all know that thousands of students apply each year. We organized the numbers of students in the Class of 2013 who applied to the best schools by looking through the official sources. The  numbers listed here are a little different than most other statistics that are out on the internet because they were assembled in October 2009  and include actual enrollment figures that we could find on college websites and news sources.

Class of 2013 Admissions Statistics for Ivy League, MIT, Stanford
University Admitted Applied Percent Admitted % Admitted Last Year
Brown 2,797 24,988 11.19% 13.3%
Columbia 2,496 25,428 9.82% 10.71%
Cornell 6,567 34,371 19.11% 20.4%
Dartmouth 2,279 18,132 12.57% 13.47%
Harvard 2,175 29,114 7.47% 7.09%
Penn 4,024 22,808 17.64% 16.44%
Princeton 2,209 21,963 10.06% 9.25%
Yale 1,951 26,003 7.50% 8.6%
Total for Ivy League 24,498 202,807 12.07%
MIT 1,675 15,661 10.70% 11.6%
Stanford 2,385 30,428 7.84% 9.49%
Total for MIT and Stanford 4,060 46,089 8.80%
Total for Ivy League, MIT and Stanford 28,558 248,896 11.47%
The information is as accurate as possible.                    We are not responsible for errors. Updated: October 2009

We then took the number of students who applied for each school and how many were actually accepted and neatly put it into a bar graph for you. The image lists all 10 schools we gathered information for and their numbers for the Class of 2013.

Admission Statistics for Ivy League Colleges

What does all of this mean? First of all, the competition is fierce. It seems that each year universities are announcing record numbers of admissions. Certainly, the fact that the Ivies have made financial aid more available to more families (some schools even allow students attend for free) increases the number of applicants who no longer have to worry about being able to afford college. Another reason for increased admissions, at least at Harvard and Princeton, is that they eliminated Early Action all together in order to give an equal chance to all applicants no matter what their background is.

Secondly, although the competition is fierce, qualified students are still able to get in. If you stand out as a student and a leader you shouldn’t let the numbers deter you. Sure there are thousands or applicants, but students are still getting in. Don’t give up hope that you will be part of the statistic of students who got into the best college.

We will continue looking at how many students got into the best universities in the country in the next post by publishing the most updated numbers for students who applied early and regular to the Ivy League, and how many students actually choose to go to the Ivy League school they were admitted to.

Class of 2013 Admissions Statitstics for Ivy League, MIT, Stanford
University Admitted Applied Percent Admitted % Admitted Last Year
Brown 2,797 24,988 11.19 13.3
Columbia 2,496 25,428 9.82 10.71
Cornell 6,567 34,371 19.11 20.4
Dartmouth 2,279 18,132 12.57 13.47
Harvard 2,175 29,114 7.47 7.09
Penn 4,024 22,808 17.64 16.44
Princeton 2,209 21,963 10.06 9.25
Yale 1,951 26,003 7.50 8.6
Total for Ivy League 24,498 202,807 12.07
MIT 1,675 15,661 10.70 11.6
Stanford 2,385 30,428 7.84 9.49
Total for MIT and Stanford 4,060 46,089 8.80
Total for Ivy League, MIT and Stanford 28,558 248,896 11.47
The information is as accurate as possible. We are not responsible for errors. Updated: October 2009

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Deadlines for Ivy League Applications and Supplements

We all know it’s application season. It’s the time to write college essays, ask for recommendations, and still find time to study hard to get great grades. If you’re applying to the Ivy League you should know exactly when the deadlines are so you’re have enough time to finish the application and look over it. You could look through all the websites or admissions packets you got for your top schools, or you could have all that information at your fingertips right here.

Table for Deadlines to Ivy League

We compiled all the deadlines for when applications (early and regular), supplements, and financial aid applications are due for the best schools in the country. We also decided to add the SAT (CEEB) and ACT school codes for each school just in case you still need to take the SAT or ACT and are looking everywhere for the school code. Most schools on the list accept the Common Application which makes it easier to apply to multiple schools using the same application. Be aware that even those schools which accept the Common App still probably require that you send in a supplement. We hope this information is helpful for all the seniors applying to college and anyone who is curious.

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Just the beginning

Welcome to the official Blog!

We started this blog to help make the college admissions process transparent for immigrant, minority, and low-income students. We believe that no matter what your background is, you can get in to best college. We have experience applying to the Ivy League and other best colleges and we want to make this blog a resource to help get you into your dream school. We came from modest backgrounds, worked hard, got into the best schools, and now want to share what we learned. Together we can make sure underrepresented high school students have the chance to get into the top colleges.

You can learn more about us at

The Team

Group Picture

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