Many Bangladeshi students, each year, try to pursue the Ivy League colleges and other top universities in the United States (US)–such as Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and Columbia–which are also among the top-ranked in the world for graduate degrees and higher studies.
Nasrullah Babar, who is now a student of Stanford University, also dreamed of gaining admission to these colleges and universities, but did not know what the application process entailed.
In most cases, a large portion of students fail to get a placement in top US schools due to a lack of proper counselling or information. While filling out application forms, students mainly focus on answering questions based on facts and they forget to express their emotions or motivation for admission to these colleges–which happened in the case of Babar.
Nasrullah Babar was unaware of the writing style for applications and shared how he developed his skills at a webinar organised by The EducationUSA and the EMK Center held on September 13, which was hosted by career counselling advisor Razoun Siddiky Tohin.
While applying for many foreign universities, such as Stanford, Babar found out that the key to being accepted by these universities was writing good essays during the application process. Many universities ask for short essays. They are required by admissions officers to select the best suitable candidates among the thousands of applicants.
"Essays in most cases can make or break your application while applying for Stanford," said Babar. Essays not only provide an insight into the ideas and values of the applicants, but also help the university to determine whether the applicant is a good fit for them–in terms of values, academic style and lifestyle of the university campus.
Universities like Stanford ask applicants to write about three short essays–consisting of 100 to 250 words–as supplements, excluding the 25-50 word short questions which applicants also have to fill out to be shortlisted.
One of the short essays Stanford asks is writing about one's own idea or experience about being excited to learn new things, as Stanford is very interested in students who have a curious and driven mind. This essay is known as the Stanford Intellectual Vitality Essay and is a very important one that could help applicants in being selected.
The idea of this essay is to help admission officers determine the thirst for knowledge the applicants have. As the university prioritises "knowledge gained outside the academics," the essay should express how the applicant is keen to learn from work and environment, rather than just hit the textbooks.
Secondly, Stanford asks the applicants to write a letter, which is to be both formal and informal. The key to mastering this question is keeping a balance between a formal and an informal conversation that the admission officers would like.
The question is about writing a letter to their future roommate that reveals something about them or something that will help their roommate–and the admission officers– to get to know them better. This essay is popularly known as the Stanford Internal Roommate Essay, and the main focus of this essay is to provide an in-depth perspective of the student's personality, which includes the student's: personality, habits, quirks, and what the student likes to do in their free time apart from academics.
In this essay, the applicants must just be themselves. They should not be afraid to show their real side, as they can never actually share too much about themselves, and that is what helps them score on this question. They can write about their love of wearing flip flops, eating nachos and burritos and reading comics – which actually goes well with Stanford's legacy and culture.
The last essay that Stanford asks applicants to write is about the things that are meaningful to them. As these will vary from applicant to applicant, in this case, a generic answer can be given. In this essay, applicants must express their interests and focus on things that helped them grow.
For example, debate and Model United Nations can help students improve public speaking and diplomacy in some cases. Interests in art, culture, dance, music, sports and other extracurriculars which are not a part of academics are to be focused on in this essay as most universities, and not just Stanford, believe that only education does not make an exceptional student, but extracurriculars do.