top of page

Try Harder to get into Ivy League? Or try being yourself more!

Updated: May 4, 2022

The documentary “Try Harder” follows the lives of several overachieving students at Lowell High, the top high school in San Francisco, California. Predominantly Asian- American in demographics, students compete in taking the most APs (APs are part of the US curriculum that offers college-level coursework to high school students) and the highest SAT/ ACT scores. No doubt that academic wise, these students are the crème de la crème!

Yet, when admissions season came, these students faced one rejection letter after another. For almost everyone (and their parents) at Lowell High, Stanford is their dream school. Yet, Stanford didn’t even accept one student from this top high school in that cycle.

But why?

Top US schools, including Stanford, are not looking for study machines. Admissions officers are looking for the leaders of tomorrow, students with passions, dreams, mindsets, and skills needed to bring new ideas to their college campuses.

In their quest to ace every single test in their high school career, these students overlooked one of the most critical factors in college applications – uniqueness. In such a competitive admisisons environment, students need to convince admission officers that they will become an irreplaceable presence on campus, whether it’s with their passion, ideas, personality and/or perspectives, if offered a place on to study at these elite schools.

Top high schools in Asia, much like Lowell High, put most of their emphasis on academics. Whereas being a straight-A student may be sufficient to get you into a local university, it is most definitely not enough for a top US school. Students need to be strategic about every single component of their top school applications, including their profiles, essays and interviews.

36 views0 comments
bottom of page