What words to include in an essay to enter Harvard

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A site that gathers letters from students that were accepted at prestigious universities made an analysis of the vocabulary used in each application.

The possibility of being accepted into a US university in the first leagues was never so low.

According to a New York Times article, elite institutions reject up to 95 percent of applicants. To learn the keys to writing a successful entrance essay, two students created AdmitSee, a site that gathers letters from students that were accepted at prestigious universities in the United States. With more than 20,000 applications loaded, its founders made an analysis of the vocabulary used by each young person.

One of the web co-founders, Stephanie Shyu, gave an interview to Fast Company in which she highlighted the differences between the type of words preferred by the Admissions Departments of Harvard and Stanford respectively. A curious fact revealed was that in the 393 application letters uploaded in AdmitSee that were admitted by Harvard, the terms “father” and “mother” were used more frequently than “dad” and “mom”. In the tests to enter the university of Palo Alto, on the contrary, the logic was reversed.

The analysis of the content loaded to the site created by Shyu also revealed that the words of negative tint have a great presence in the letters of the students who were admitted to the house of studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Terms such as “cancer”, “difficult” and “hard” are more popular in the essays that were accepted by Harvard, while words like “happy”, “passion” and “better” appeared more often in the supported applications by Stanford.

According to this analysis, students accepted by Harvard tend to write about the challenges they had to overcome in their personal or academic life, while those admitted by the California House of Studies talk about personal creative stories or issues of interest to potential entrants. . If we continue with the focus on linguistic analysis, the most common words in the letters for Harvard were “experience”, “society”, “world”, “success” and “opportunity”, while at Stanford they were “research”, “Community”, “knowledge”, “future” and “ability”.

In addition to Harvard, the essays that managed to pass the Princeton filter also mention experiences and failures.

Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania tend to accept students who write about their professional aspirations, while at Stanford, Yale and Brown the essays on racial, ethnic or sexual orientation diversity are valued. In this last house of studies, volunteer work and public interest also add points.

A more universal conclusion is that those who dare to take risks with regard to the content and structure of their essays end up getting better results than those who cling to a more conventional writing style. An example? A student who was admitted to several houses of study wrote about his father’s addiction to pornography.

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