Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

I had half resigned myself to the fact that I will always be the newcomer or the outsider. I would barely start feeling at home somewhere and soon enough it would be time for us to move again. It got to the point, where I preferred not to get too attached to any place, as that only made saying goodbye that much harder. 

As the son of an army officer, I was used to the fact that we would not be staying in one city for more than a couple of years. Sometimes, the thought of starting somewhere afresh sounded appealing, but that was very rare. Feelings of nostalgia and a rising panic at having to settle into a new place were more common.

The people of Nowshera weren’t so quick to welcome an outsider in their closely-knit groups. The more time I spent in one of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s largest cities Peshawar, the more I realized how culturally different the locals were from me and my family. The Pakhtoons would almost always prefer to speak in their native tongue Pashto amongst themselves, instead of the national language, Urdu. Women, and children however, were liberated here. Education was emphasized on, and devotedly pursued. 

Multan

Just when I began to understand this new life, it was time for us to move again. And this time, to an entirely different city: the capital of Baluchistan, Multan. Much in contrast with Peshawar, I began to witness the control of the feudal system: to maintain their power they relied on oppressing the masses, especially females, by denying them education. The province bordered with Afghanistan, and hence, we were forced to live a life of seclusion in an army cantonment area, cordoned off to the outside world.

Year after year, we changed cities. Questions upon questions remained unanswered. Why must I leave my house just when it starts to feel like home? Why must I leave my school when I just started to fit in?  Why must I make new friends just when I start to form special bonds with the previous ones? Living this nomadic lifestyle had its downsides, but as I grew older, I realized how these new vistas introduced me to new dimensions. For most of my childhood, I felt as though along with each place and person left behind, I had left behind a part of myself. Yet, I had also taken something from them, and a memory of that place that remained engrained in my mind and became my companion for the next two years in a different place. 

In my current city, and on meeting my current social circle, I realized, that my lifestyle had been anything but a problem: it was rather a privilege. Contrary to the stagnant, one-dimensional attitudes I witnessed here, I understood now that the exposure to diverse backgrounds, values and mindsets had enabled me to view different perspectives. It has been enlightening to experience how different people behaved and reacted to certain things; how their culture, religion and socio-economic conditions affect the way they look at things; how certain ways and acts are considered right among some, while others consider them wrong. 

Contrary to my early-life apprehensions, instead severing me, the pieces of all the things I have loved, places I have lived in, and people I have met became part of me – built me into ‘me’. Rather than making me insecure, this life has made me confident…accepting; rather than a misfit, it has molded me into a perfect fit for any place or scenario; rather than leaving me homeless, my home’s boundaries have extended across ethnicity, cultures and backgrounds. My apprehensions have translated into a need to keep adding to my experiences, currently out of reach. I want to be a source of connection between people, empowering them, and playing my part in creating a harmonious global community aided by my multi-cultural experiences.

Describing an extra-curricular activity – Response #2

Many colleges ask applicants to briefly elaborate on their extra-curricular activities or any pertinent experiences. This is a chance for applicants to showcase how meaningful, productive, and interesting their activity was. The best way to respond to a question like this is to write a descriptive answer instead of simply listing down what you did, what you learned, when you did it, and all those straightforward details. A sample response is given below.

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words)

Three games to love. Game of three sets. I was on top of the game and my mind told me I would continue to do so. I was excited about earning my first national match win. I would be one for one. Proudly, I signaled to my family in the stands that I was three games up. Forty-five minutes later, I lost 4-6, 5-7.

Looking back at this match in hindsight, I now know what went wrong. It was my mentality that was at fault. I had forgotten what my coach had taught me and what I had learned from my idol, Rafa Nadal. That one should never underestimate their opponents. That overconfidence is inexcusable and unacceptable. That it’s not over until it’s over.  tennis-sport-tennis-ball

Like this one, I continued to get several humbling experiences over and over again. However, the lessons I have learned from them is not only useful for tennis but also my day to day life, my character, and how I react to certain circumstances in my day to day life.

I relate life with tennis except tennis is a logarithmically scaled-down version of life. They share similarities in a handful of ways: the self-reflection, the perseverance, the constant adjustments, the failures, and the rule of never resting on our laurels. Tennis for me is more than just a game, it’s my advisor. Every training session or match I play; I unravel a lesson I connect deeply with life.

Describing an extra-curricular activity – Response #1

Many colleges ask applicants to briefly elaborate on their extra-curricular activities or any pertinent experiences. This is a chance for applicants to showcase how meaningful, productive, and interesting their activity was. The best way to respond to a question like this is to write a descriptive answer instead of simply listing down what you did, what you learned, when you did it, and all those straightforward details. A sample response is given below.

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extra-curricular activities or work experiences. ( 250 words or less )

The yellow ball kicked off the clay, drifting away from my racket with pace. I stretched my sweaty legs to return the tennis ball, only managing to strike it straight into the net. Breathing in the crisp, refreshing air, I watched my opponent’s game score flip from four to five. I was 3-5 down in the final set. But neither my feet tingled nor my nerves rattled as performing under pressure had become normal for me after competing in so many tournaments.

“Hit the ball deep in his backhand side with heavy topspin”, I continually told myself during the next point as I kept on returning the ball, waiting patiently for my six-foot opponent to miss. After a few more rallies, my coach and my friends sitting in the stands clapped as my patience and strategic thinking – two qualities that tennis has developed – earned me a point. Not showing much excitement just like most of the time during matches, I went back to the baseline, standing with my eyes forward and hips slightly bent, ready to receive my opponent’s serve.

Eventually, I lost that match. However, just like after every training session, I felt refreshed and lost all worries about my assignments and upcoming exams. Throughout my tennis Journey, I know that I am bound to lose sometimes no matter how hard I may try. The outcome of a match doesn’t matter to me. All that matters to me is giving my 100% every single time.

US VISA EXPERIENCE #1

Applicant: Good Morning!

Visa Officer: Good Morning! Please pass me your I 20, passport and transcript. Which university are you going?

Applicant: It is [Removed for privacy]

Visa Officer: I haven’t heard that before.

Applicant: It is a new school but is different than any other traditional university. It is preparing to graduate its first batch. The thing that attracted me the most was the Study Abroad program and courses in the Foundation year. I believe that these courses will not only prepare me academically, but it will help me gain invaluable life skills.

Visa Officer (angrily): You have great grades and you want to invest your life in an institution where there are no graduates?

Applicant (looking into his eyes): Yes sir. I have searched a lot about it and it was my top choice school. I even attended ….

Visa Officer (stopping in between): Did you take help of a consultant for applying?

Applicant: No sir. I searched and applied myself.

Visa Officer: How many other colleges did you apply to?

Applicant: I applied to about 20 colleges in the US and one in Hong Kong.

Visa Officer: I don’t care about Hong Kong. Did you get accepted by any other college?

Applicant: I got waitlisted in [Removed for privacy].

Visa Officer: My colleague denied your visa. Is there anything new?

Applicant: Yes sir. My CIE A Level final grades arrived a few days ago. You can see that in my transcript. Also, my plans after graduation were a little vague last time.

Visa Officer: So, what do you plan now?

Applicant: Actually, I want to improve the navigation system. I plan to study Computational Science and want to improve network and navigation in remote areas. Connectivity is poor in my country and…..

Visa Officer (stopping in between):  My concern is your intent…

Applicant: Would you like to see additional letters?

Visa Officer: No. (Handing the yellow paper) If you wish to reapply here is the reason.

Applicant: Thank you sir


Feel free to give your views regarding the visa experience. We wish you all the best for your visa process.

University of Virginia (2018)

Academic:Very ImportantImportantConsideredNot Considered
Rigor of secondary school recordx
Class rank x
Academic GPAx
Standardized test scores x
Application Essayx
Recommendation(s) x
Nonacademic:
Interview x
Extracurricular activitiesx
Talent/abilityx
Character/personal qualities x
First generation x
Alumni/ae relationx
Geographical residence x
State residencyx
Religious affiliation/commitmentx
Racial/ethnic status x
Volunteer workx
Work experiencex
Level of applicant’s interest x

Smith College (2018)

 Very ImportantImportantConsideredNot Considered
Academic
Rigor of secondary school recordX   
Class rank X  
Academic GPAX   
Standardized test scores  X 
Application EssayX   
Recommendation(s)X   
Nonacademic
Interview X  
Extracurricular activities X  
Talent/ability X  
Character/personal qualitiesX   
First generation  X 
Alumni/ae relation  X 
Geographical residence   X
State residency   X
Religious affiliation/commitment   X
Racial/ethnic status  X 
Volunteer work  X 
Work experience  X 
Level of applicant’s interest   X
Source: CDS

Average GPA of top US colleges

University/College name Average GPA Percentage of students who submitted GPA
Princeton University (2018)3.999.03%
Harvard University (2018)4.1899.52%
Stanford University (2019)3.9681.80%
University of Pennsylvania (2018)3.995%
Washington University of St. Louis (2018)4.1589%
University of California – Los Angeles (2019)3.95,845 students submitted
Emory University (2018)3.7895.40%
University of California – Berkely (2018)3.79100%
University of Southern California (2018)3.79100%
Carnegie Mellon University (2018)3.84100%
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (2018)3.8692%
Georgia Institute of Technology (2018)4.0799.46%
New York University (2018)3.6299%
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (2018)4.792.30%
University of California – Santa Barbara (2018)3.5597.05%
University of Florida (2018)4.4299%
Brandeis University (2018)3.8391.62%
Smith College (2018)3.9863.60%
Colgate University (2018)3.72100.00%
Davidson College (2018)3.93100.00%
Kenyon College (2018)3.9485.00%
Mount Holyoke College (2019)3.8480.00%
Oberlin College (2019)3.5887.59%
Scripps College (2018)4.1298.80%
Bucknell University (2018)3.56100.00%
Pitzer College (2018)3.9499.63%
Lafayette College (2019)3.5299.43%

Total acceptance and enrollment rate of top colleges in the US.

College NameTotal AppliedTotal AdmittedTotal EnrolledTotal Acceptance Rate (%)Total Yield (%)
Williams College (2019)9715122454612.644.6
Amherst College (2019)10569119547011.339.3
Swarthmore College (2018)1074910204149.540.6
Wellesley College (2018)6631129661419.547.4
Pomona College (2019)104017704167.454.0
Bowdoin College (2018)908193251010.354.7
Carleton College (2018)7092140752919.837.6
Claremont McKenna College (2019)606662532810.352.5
Middlebury College (2019)9754149860515.440.4
Washington and Lee University (2018)5855123947421.238.3
Colby College (2015)7593171050822.529.7
Haverford College (2018)467287835718.840.7
Smith College (2018)5780178961331.034.3
Grinnell College (2016)7370148841420.227.8
Hamilton College (2018)6240132848121.336.2
Vassar College (2018)8312204368524.633.5
Colgate University (2018)9716242281524.933.6
Davidson College (2018)5724111651519.546.1
Wesleyan University (2019)13264218677116.535.3
Bates College (2018)7685136752217.838.2
Harvey Mudd College (2019)404555322413.740.5
University of Richmond (2018)11882358583230.223.2
Barnard College (2018)7897109960513.955.1
Macalester College (2019)6598212950232.323.6
Bryn Mawr College (2017)2936111635438.031.7
College of the Holy Cross (2018)7054268186838.032.4
Colorado College (2018)8546128354415.042.4
Kenyon College (2018)6152220453935.824.5
Mount Holyoke College (2019)3908149149638.233.3
Oberlin College (2019)7708280679836.428.4
Scripps College (2018)316076625224.232.9
Bucknell University (2018)10144335297433.029.1
Pitzer College (2018)435858127313.347.0
Franklin and Marshall College (2018)6557231661135.326.4
Lafayette College (2019)8521268269831.526.0
Source: CDS

Beyond percentages: the exact numbers; Female acceptance and enrollment rate of top colleges in the US.

College NameWomen AppliedWomen AdmittedWomen EnrolledWomen Acceptance Rate (%)Women Yield (%)
Williams College (2019)523764830012.446.3
Amherst College (2019)579264224011.137.4
Swarthmore College (2018)63755312088.339.2
Wellesley College (2018)6631129661419.547.4
Pomona College (2019)63343882286.158.8
Bowdoin College (2018)5,3404992669.353.3
Carleton College (2018)370175126520.335.3
Claremont McKenna College (2019)319433417310.551.8
Middlebury College (2019)542970933013.146.5
Washington and Lee University (2018)297166226822.340.5
Colby College (2015)402792425922.928.0
Haverford College (2018)260948118218.437.8
Smith College (2018)5780178961331.034.3
Grinnell College (2016)396478921719.927.5
Hamilton College (2018)361073124520.233.5
Vassar College (2018)5801121540420.933.3
Colgate University (2018)5240140345926.832.7
Davidson College (2018)312960026519.244.2
Wesleyan University (2019)8256119642514.535.5
Bates College (2018)429367724515.836.2
Harvey Mudd College (2019)123029311123.837.9
University of Richmond (2018)6734191542828.422.3
Barnard College (2018)7890109960513.955.1
Macalester College (2019)3963128628532.522.2
Bryn Mawr College (2017)2936111635438.031.7
College of the Holy Cross (2018)3831130343834.033.6
Colorado College (2018)499072230214.541.8
Kenyon College (2018)3456132528838.321.7
Mount Holyoke College (2019)3908149149638.233.3
Oberlin College (2019)4488167845937.427.4
Scripps College (2018)316076625224.232.9
Bucknell University (2018)4913174451535.529.5
Pitzer College (2018)294034416011.746.5
Franklin and Marshall College (2018)3459134734538.925.6
Lafayette College (2019)3844137334135.724.8
Source: CDS