Elite schools will all tell you the same thing: “there is no definite formula for getting accepted” but there actually has been a formula for acceptance for the hundreds of years these prestigious schools have existed, but it’s not like they’d give out the biggest admissions secret in the game in the middle of a tour.
High school students want to attend elite schools for the purpose of wearing their name on a hoodie and brag when of people ask them if they attend that school, but the name on the hoodies of the people who actually attend these prestigious colleges is just the tip of the iceberg. The secret exposed in this article is major, and people pay thousands of dollars to figure it out, but you get it for free for reading this paper.
The secret is this: to have a “spike” in one area. This means being practically one of the best in the world at something—but only something rather than somethings.
So many high school students strive to perfect one profile: “well-rounded.” The most prestigious universities in the world want you to be exactly not that. Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page (the founders of Google) were all 17 once, too, and when you think of each of them, you think of one person who is good at only one thing, and you bet they started pursuing that when they were in high school if not before.
All athletes, billionaires, and most meaningful people in our social order are good at only one thing, and they started pursuing it when they were in high school as well. This is what elite schools look for. They don’t want someone who does community service and AP classes, they want someone who will be our future President along with another person who will cure cancer, and you can bet both of these people will be terrible at mostly everything else, but they will make up for it with how good they will be at the one thing they love. They didn’t figure out what they like doing until after college, they found what they like doing in high school and worked at it, and that’s why they got into top colleges, and that’s why they succeeded in life.
If you want to have a balanced life as a high schooler, stop wasting time on a thousand different things that have no meaning to you and that no one will care about in five years (by then, no one will care if you played a varsity sport or took Calculus) and instead focus on being world-class at the one thing you actually enjoy.
Find what you love and drop everything else for it, because if you join any other activity that is not related to your area, you will lose the opportunity of exploring your area to the fullest extent.
If you like math, quit everything and practice to be on the US Math Olympiad. If you like acting, quit everything and act until you star on a show. If you like soccer, quit everything and play until you win a national honor. Spend every weekend practicing how to become better at what you love whether it be politics, writing, math, dance, or music, and then happily dump extracurriculars that mean nothing but stress to you. If you’re stressed out from AP chemistry, two orchestras, and community service, you’re digging your own hole for failure.
The person who crafted the iPhone and MacBook right next to you, the people who have saved us from world war, and the person who invented chemotherapy, didn’t achieve so by focusing on that, and community service, and ten extracurriculars, and ten AP classes. They achieved that by spending hours and hours every day working on the one thing they’re good at, and only that thing.
No one has ever been a Pulitzer-Prize winner, Olympic medalist, and top neurosurgeon at once. The more things you explore, the less you will be able to explore one area, and if you want to achieve the highest possible honor in your area, you’re going to have to give up sleep, much more any other activity that means nothing to you to pursue what you actually love full time, and that’s what Harvard and the best universities want to see.
And when you do follow this advice and get into Harvard, you might realize the same thing Matt Damon, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Robert Frost did when they dropped out of Harvard: once you know what you want to do with life, the university name on that paper — the diploma — has no meaning.