How to write your personal statement

Quintessential Guide


How to write your personal statement

Writing the personal statement can be one of the most challenging tasks among those required for university admission. This task requires you to reflect upon your life and determine the experiences leading to your desire for study in your chosen field.

STEP 1: Think about what makes you stand out, research on the university and your course of interest

⎫ What is special, unique, distinctive or impressive about you or your life?

⎫ When did you originally become interested in this field of study? Why does this subject interest you? Include evidence that you understand what is required to study the course. How does this particular university fit in that picture? What do you know about the course at that university?

⎫ Why do you think you’re suitable for the course(s)? Do you have any particular skills and experience that will help you to succeed on the course? Have you taken part in any other activities that demonstrate your interest in the course? Universities like to know the skills you have that will help you on the course, or generally with life at university, such as any accredited or non-accredited achievement. Make a list of your hobbies, interests and social activities. Then think about how they demonstrate your personality, skills and abilities. Try to link them to the skills and experience required for your course. Include details of jobs, placements, work experience or voluntary work, particularly if it’s relevant to your chosen course. Try to link any experience to skills or qualities related to the course.

⎫ What are your career goals? If you know what you’d like to achieve after completing the course, explain how you want to use the knowledge and experience that you gain. You might say something to suggest to the committee that you have a realistic perception of what this field or profession entails.”

⎫ Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record you should explain?

⎫ Have you overcome any unusual obstacles?

⎫ What are the most compelling reasons you can give to the admissions committee?

⎫ Research the school, the program, the faculty, and possible areas of focus within the graduate field of study and/or associated career field.

⎫ Have a very clear understanding of why you want to go to the school, and why each school or faculty is a good fit with your background and interests.

⎫ Think about what makes you unique. An experience or person in your life may have molded you or contributed to your desire to attend graduate school. Do you have a hobby or artistic ability about which you are passionate?

⎫ Determine how you can express what distinguishes you from other applicants and how your goals or research interests match the program and its faculty.

STEP 2: Brainstorm on the angle of the personal statement

Do you notice a repeated positive theme in your answers?


If not, you might ask a trustworthy reader to peruse your answers and offer thematic suggestions of possible interests. Keep in mind that the format for your personal statement will likely be that of a story and you will not only want to catch but also maintain reader interest.

Engage them from the first sentence. Out of thousands of essays, why should yours stand out? A perfect introduction will leap out to the reader and grab their attention.

The best way to do this is through as much detail as you can muster. If you have chosen a sport or activity you excel in, show your reader through your words a split second of what participating in the activity is like. Write as if you are telling a story: what was the setting? What was the weather like? Were there other people there? What emotions were coursing through you at that exact moment?

Many students will begin their essays, “The most life-changing/important/difficult moment in my life has been___.” Over time, admissions officers will lose steam over the constant repetition, and all essays that begin as such will fail to make an impact.

Make it easier for your reader to remember you by writing a story as your introduction. The more specific detail you add in, the more the reader will get into the story and the more sold they’ll be on you.

Also try to include characteristics good schools are looking for. In general good schools value:

⎫ Community involvement/passion development over pure academic success.

⎫ Curiosity-whether that curiosity is academic, intellectual, extracurricular, or philosophical. Excellent students, for the most part, are really passionate about something; you want to convey how you will also contribute to that pool in an outstanding university.

⎫ A sense of citizenship or regard for humanity in the essay – excellent students for most part are genuinely good people who want to give back to society

Style and Approach

The perfect style and approach to writing a personal statement is the one that best fits who you are as an individual. Beyond that, the style should be clear, well-organized, and specific with special attention given to transitions that facilitate the flow of the document

STEP 3: Double Checking the grammar and flow of language
Be careful against entering the Essay Hall of Shame: Errors and sloppiness, misspellings. Spelling errors, poor English. Avoid:
⎫ Anything that starts out, “I’ve always wanted to be a ___________.”

⎫ We ask for dates on activities. It’s a red flag if all the activities are brand new.

⎫ A whole essay on deep personal problems or excuses for past performance. It’s amazing how common that is. The essay should be upbeat, convincing and persuasive.

⎫ Essays that are too long. It shows no discipline.

Don’t tell me what ___________is. I know what my own discipline is! What can they be thinking? Tell me what____________means to you.
The admissions committee must get a good sense of “who you are, what makes you tick, and how different you are from other applicants..
Avoid the inclusion of the references of potentially controversial subjects. The most important concern is that you are honest. If the university asked a question in their requirements of the personal statement, be sure you answer that question within the word limits.

Step 4: Self Criticism and Retrospection, Feedback from Others

Ask others to read and answer the following questions.
1. Did my opening paragraph capture your attention?

2. Did you find the statement as a whole to be interesting?

3. Did you find it to be well written?

4. Did it seem positive, upbeat?

5. Did it sound like me?

6. Do you regard it as an honest and forthright presentation of who I am?
7. Did it seem to answer the question(s)?

8. Can you think of anything relevant that I might have inadvertently omitted?

9. Is there material within the statement that seems inappropriate?

10. Did you gain any insight about me from reading this?

11. Did you notice any typos or other errors?

12. Do you think the statement has in any way distinguished me from other applications?

13. Do you think my application to __________ is logical?

Step 5: Finalising the Personal statement.

After rounds of Criticism and revision, you can finalise and submit your essays. Be sure that you have met the timeline, answered the questions and the essay in check with the word limit.

Personal Statement Checklist

  • Does it have good central themes?
  • Is there a compelling reason to admit this candidate?
  • Does it give insight to the personality and character of this candidate?
  • Is this personal statement about him/her or some famous person?

The Ivy League Students Least Likely to Get Married


Ben Dobkin, then a junior at Princeton University, leading a prospective class on a tour of the Princeton campus. Laura Pedrick for The New York Times

Princetonians like to marry one another.


Although the university is coy about the exact number of Tiger-Tiger marriages, Princeton tour guides are often asked about matrimonial prospects, and sometimes include apocryphal statistics — 50 percent! Maybe 75! — in their patter. With an insular campus social scene, annual reunions and a network of alumni organizations in most major cities, opportunities to find a special someone wearing orange and black are many.


People care about matrimony for good reason. Society has been profoundly shaped by what academics call assortative mating: the tendency of people to marry others resembling themselves. Educationally assortative mating rose for decades after World War II, as more people went to college and more good jobs were reserved for college graduates. Income inequality is now significantly driven by well-paid college graduates marrying one another, and by poorly paid high school dropouts doing the same.


But a recent analysis of education and economic mobility complicates this story. At Princeton, and in the American higher education system as a whole, there remains a strong correlation between marriage and economic class. Even for college graduates, where you’re going depends a lot on where you came from.


Marriage rates at selected colleges for people born from 1980 to 1984

1. Concordia University-Wisconsin 66% 72% 34% -38
2. Birmingham Southern 62 65 27 -38
3. University of West Alabama 49 67 30 -37
65. Princeton 53 56 34 -22
184. Dartmouth 52 54 38 -16
225. Columbia 48 50 35 -15
241. Brown 47 48 34 -14
258. Harvard 49 51 37 -14
324. M.I.T. 51 53 41 -12
354. Yale 50 52 40 -12
373. Cornell 53 55 44 -11
434. Duke 56 59 49 -10
506. Stanford 49 51 42 -9
567. Penn 53 55 48 -7
671. University of Chicago 46 47 45 -2
695. Eastern Oregon 61 59 66 7
696. Willamette 53 53 62 9
697. Susquehanna 63 62 73 11

Rankings are shown for selective four-year colleges with an average of at least 100 male and 100 female students per cohort. Children were assigned to colleges based on the college they attended most between the ages of 19 and 22. Marriage rates are measured between the ages of 32 and 34. Data for some colleges is not available.


Marriage rates for young adults just out of college are low across the board. But as people get into their 30s, trends diverge. For example, more than half of Princeton students born into upper-income households in the early 1980s — roughly, the classes of 2002 through 2006 — were married by 2014. They didn’t all marry other Princetonians, of course, but it’s common.


But for Princeton alumni from the lowest-income households — the bottom one-fifth compared with the top one-fifth — the trends are different. Only a third were married by 2014. This pattern holds for other elite colleges and universities. For people born over the five years from 1980 to 1984, the marriage rate for upper-income students who attended Ivy League institutions was 14 percentage points higher than the rate for lower-income students.


Alana Tornello, Princeton class of 2012, grew up in a working-class community on Staten Island. Her mother ran a small hair salon where Ms. Tornello spent her afternoons after school. Her father was a social worker. She tested into a specialized high school and applied to Princeton on a whim. When the acceptance letter arrived on April 1, she thought someone was pulling her leg.


Those doubts followed her onto campus, where she struggled academically her freshman year. The Princeton social scene revolves around “eating clubs,” to which people apply for membership, much like rushing a fraternity or sorority. The clubs, mostly housed in a row of imposing old mansions next to campus, are implicitly part of extensive social networks connected to exclusive private boarding schools and families with multiple generations of Princeton alumni. Eating clubs are where many upper-income marriages begin.


Ms. Tornello didn’t feel at home there. And while Princeton gave her a generous scholarship, the eating clubs were still expensive. She decided to be an “independent” — the telling label for students who didn’t eat at a club. “If you were independent,” she said, “you were kind of seen as a lone dog.”


The Ivies aren’t the only universities where students from different economic classes have very different experiences. In their 2013 book “Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality,” the sociologists Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton studied a group of women who started college in the same dormitory at Indiana University in 2004.

Five years later, none of the working-class students had graduated. By contrast, all of the affluent ones — even those who mostly neglected studying in favor of partying — graduated and found jobs. Armstrongnoted, “Since none of them had loans, they could afford to live on their own, and were positioned to meet and interact with men who were marriageable.” The Indiana University system has a double-digit gap in the marriage rate between low-income and high-income students.


Class does not explain everything. As Robert Kelchen of Seton Hall University has found, geography, student demographics and other factors also influence marriage rates. Brigham Young University has one of the highest marriage rates in the nation, presumably because nearly all undergraduates are Mormons, who are encouraged to marry early.


There are also big differences even among colleges in similar strata of wealth and prestige. Princeton’s marriage gap for the classes of 2002 to 2006 was 22 percentage points. At the University of Chicago, it was only two percentage points.


Tiger-Tiger marriages are not uncommon. But for Princeton alumni of different economic classes, marriage trends diverge.
Mark Makela for The New York Times

Ms. Tornello thought she’d study something “practical” at Princeton, like engineering or pre-med. Instead, she fell in love with her humanities courses and majored in comparative literature. In her spare time, she became interested in faith-based organizing. After graduation and a short stint in Washington, D.C., she moved back to Staten Island to help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Today, she lives with six housemates in Brooklyn and recently started work in emergency planning and operations for a city agency. There are a lot of other Princeton graduates nearby, many commuting to Wall Street. She leads a different kind of life.


Ms. Tornello has mixed feelings about the path she chose. “You don’t quite belong anymore to where you’re from,” she said. “But I also didn’t belong at Princeton. There’s a meaning in my life that I can’t deny was created by my time there. I traveled the world from Princeton. I’m not in a better place than my family financially, but I have something I wish they had, too.”


There’s more to life than marrying and making money, as her example makes clear. But from a broad social and financial perspective, marriage matters: Growing income inequality is a central fault line in American society. Assortative mating might seem like a strange thing to blame, though. After all, in theory, everyone has a chance to go to college. By those lights, if people who work hard and become educated want to marry each other, that’s just how things are.


In reality, access to higher education remains highly unequal. Elite colleges that recruit students with large amounts of social and financial capital get much more public funding than open-access schools that enroll a greater number of academically and economically diverse students. Rising tuition prices make it difficult for low-income students to enroll and graduate, and leave many with large debts. Inequality then becomes intergenerational.


Princeton has improved its economic inclusiveness in recent years. But historically, for every student enrolled at Princeton from households in the bottom 20 percent of income, the university has enrolled seven from the top 1 percent.


As the sociological research and new data show, even within individual universities, social experiences and long-term outcomes are widely unequal. Instead of being places that provide equal opportunity to everyone based on merit, colleges are often complicit in the forces that push us apart

Medicine – Part 2 (Sydney Medicine)

Medicine FAQs

University of Sydney

Course: Medicine (MD, postgrad)

What subjects did you do at IB/A levels and what were your CCAs?

Chemistry, physics, maths, GP  . Rugby

How does the workload of university compare with IB/A levels?

Undergrad is manageable, you’ll have time for a part-time job.

Postgrad medicine is pretty full-on, there’s no time for work.

How did you decided on this final university?

I did my undergrad in sydney too, so i like this city. Also, i heard that Sydney University Medicine is among the top2 in Australia.

What are the cost of living and cost of school fees for the entire duration of the degree?

Annual fees ~$69000 AUD

cost of living

accommodation ~$320 per week

food ~ $20 a day

How do teaching and learning work in your school? Are the faculty accessible?

It is mostly up to you to attend the lectures and do your own readings. Half the lessons are compulsary and have attendance taken. When u dont understand the material, u can email the respective staff for help.

How large are your courses?

~350 at the start, but people unenrolled/repeated the year and now it is about ~310

Are people very competitive academically? How many exams are there in a year? What happens if one fails the year?

Not academically competitive because results don’t matter much; its more about passing, and quite many people offer help to other students, usually online.

There are about 3 major written exams, 3 small written exams, and 1 osce per year.

If one fails, they have to repeat the year.

How would you describe the school culture?

Work hard, play hard. Lots of study-time is required to pass the course. Once its over, people know how to let loose.

Is there an established Singaporean presence at your university? How many Singaporeans are there per batch?

yes. approximate numbers

2016 – 32

2015 – 29

2014 – 10

2013 – 25

2012 – 20

How are freshmen/freshers welcomed to your university?

There is a general Orientation’week for the whole university, when societies set up their booths. U can walk around and decide which one u want to sign up for.

In Medicine, there is a medicamp, which goes on for an entire weekend. it is always quite wild with lots of alcohol.

How are international freshmen/freshers welcomed to your university?

same as previous question. international students also usually look to join their country’s society. eg. Singapore Student’s Society

Is your school “cliquey”?

I would say, relatively, yes. but everyone talks to each other, as good communication and teamwork is required in the course.

Do people tend to hang among people of their own major/course/social class/race/nationality only, or is there a high degree of integration?

As above, moderate integration, but people mostly hang out with their own ethnicity. Asians will hang out with asians from other countries, aussies with aussies, etc.

What do students normally do in their spare time? Have you joined any extracurriculars? How do you find them. 

Sport. Australia is big on sport. I have joined touchrugby and ultimate frisbee. It is fun and important to exercise during non academic time, to keep healthy.

How would you rate the following “scenes” in your college and its surroundings: shopping, drinking, clubbing, fine arts, and sports?

shopping : not much

drinking : a lot

clubbing : not much, with the exception of a few people

fine arts : only the students who did undergrad in artsy subjects

sports : many people get involved. some try to learn new sports

How’s the accommodation? Do most people stay in college dorms/halls, or independently? How should one look for accommodation?

Most people stay independently to save costs.

A large group of people stay in student accommodation (private). While about 15% stay in student accommodation (college life).

One can look for accommodation on the university accommodation services website, reputable public agents, or websites without agents(at your own risk. , , etc)

How is the transport like? Does one need a car? If so, how should one go about getting a car?

A car is not needed especially if u live near campus.

A car is more for convenience in other aspects of daily living. Cars can be gotten from private car yards or directly from the company merchant eg. Toyota.  Websites like Gumtree are cheaper, but at your own risk.

Is Asian food readily available? If one is to cook, where can we get the Asian food from?

Yes, plenty of asian marts around.

Do most people cook, eat at a catered facility or cafeteria, or eat out? How’s the catered food?

Most people cook, as it is much cheaper.(labor cost in aus in high, hence eateries are expensive, average $10 per meal)

few eat at a catered facility because its expensive and repetitive.

There are some students who can afford eating out all the time.

What are the laundry arrangements like?

In private housing, usually it is provided.

In student dorms, $7 for a complete dry and wash.

Is it easy to find places of worship?

Yes. Even the university has them.

Do you think Singaporeans will experience a major culture shock?

Not in Sydney, there are many Singaporeans around.

Do you ever feel peer pressure to do something you’re uncomfortable with?

Sometimes, you have to speak to a group of students during discussion class, or speak to a patient when you are not prepared. Those can be challenging sometimes. Other than that, no.

Do you think that there might be any groups which might feel uncomfortable or marginalized at your school?

Only a few. As there are many people from different backgrounds here, most people find others that they can get along with. Open discrimination is not commonplace in a university

What’s the best experience you’ve had so far in college?

It is simply making close friendships with your neighbours, getting a good support group.

Is there anything that you wish you knew before leaving?

Not much, it is not hard to adapt in an asian-populated city like Sydney.

Any final things you’d like to tell Singaporeans about your school?

It is very big, and takes time to walk from class to class. some people even skateboard.



bridge of sighs

Choosing your UCAS university

Choosing your university

For those of you applying to the UK for university, you will have to choose 5 universities for your UCAS application. Here’s how you do this.

  1. Find rankings.

Here are a few university ranking guides that you can use to decide on which university you want to apply to. This should be your first step. Decide roughly what type of university you want to apply to: top 10? top 20? top 50? You can decide where you want to aim by looking at your current grades. The grade requirement typically becomes higher as you go higher up the rankings.

Bear in that mind that the first two links below are the more popular UK rankings.

  1. The Guardian: 
  2. The Times:
  3. QS:
  4. The Complete University Guide:

Take the guides with a pinch of salt! All the guides base their rankings on slightly differing criteria, such as research quality, student satisfaction, entry standard, completion rate. So I suggest reading up on what criteria each guide uses. But if you’re too lazy to do this, a safe way would probably be to cross-check the rankings across the guides, e.g. top 10 universities across all rankings.

One more tip is that it is normal for people to have a ‘back-up’ choice or a ‘safety-net’. This is really important. You don’t want to have all 5 universities requiring 3A*. So for example, if your first 4 universities require 3As, you would want your 5th choice to require 2As 1B in case you don’t meet your 3A offer.


  1. Research differences in the course in different universities.

I failed to do this for my own UCAS application. Can you believe it? This is very, very important and you mustn’t skip this step. Courses differ hugely across universities and this will literally make or break your academic experience in university. There are several ways that they can differ: the lecturers, the amount of options you get, the exam structure, the day-to-day lecture-tutorial ratio.

For example, I did not know when I applied that Cambridge’s Law course offers more choice of modules than Oxford, and has exams at the end of every year, instead of 100% of your final grade being based on your final year exams.


  1. Is it right for you?
  • Do you want to go to a university that has a campus lifestyle or is in a city?

The universities in London don’t have a campus lifestyle, e.g. UCL, LSE, KCL, Queen Mary, due to the space constraints. That was one of the reasons I chose to apply to Warwick, Durham and Oxford (in addition to LSE and UCL). The university buildings in London are dotted around the city so it feels like you’re not in university, whereas in Oxford you’re in a university town so it feels really cozy and homey. Bear in mind that cost of living in London will also be much higher than outside of it, e.g. accommodation, cost of food, transport.

  • Does the university have all the facilities you require?

This question would most likely apply to science students. You would want really great lab facilities. However, for humanities students this doesn’t hugely apply.

  • Still unsure?

Order a prospectus from the universities!

Go to an Open Day to visit the university and see if it’s right for you! This is probably the best way to see if you’ll enjoy being there. After all, this is 3 or 4 years of your life. I would say visiting it for a day and having a tour is more than worthwhile. Check out the dates for open days on the official university website, or at a combined calendar on

Contact us and we will be most happy to give you advice on what to do and how to choose your university.







golden gate bridge

America (Part I) : The Good.

America (Part I) : The Good.



There is a huge variety in the kinds of people you meet in the States. From East to West, North to South, all sorts of individuals with different values and belief systems. Honestly, the US feels like a continent made up of countries, instead of states. Each state has their own laws, their own politicians, their own personality, and they function almost independently from one another. Because of this, the different states tend to attract different types of people, and hence why each has their own characteristics.



No matter what sort of person you are, be it city or country, working or studying, there is somewhere in America for you. Take California for example, if you like wine, go to Napa Valley; if you enjoy wilderness, Yosemite is just a few hours drive away; if you love the city life with beautiful weather and access to beaches, Los Angeles is the place for you; if you want to go somewhere rich in culture and open to all sorts, San Francisco is a lovely place to be. Expand this scope to the entirety of the States? You have New York, probably the busiest metropolis on the planet, St. Louis for that neighbourhood suburb feel, Atlanta to get your fill of wonderful country music, Boston for the breathtaking architecture. Whatever your taste may be, you can decide where to go accordingly. And of course, since it is all considered domestic, you are able go just about anywhere with your student visa!



Ah shopping, my largest vice. In my opinion, is a godsend. Back when I was still studying in Berkeley I bought almost everything off Amazon. And with a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime (free for the first year if you’re a student!) that offered 2-day free shipping, I was receiving packages to no end. Everything from chia seeds to toilet paper, furniture to high-heeled boots, Halloween costumes to makeup organizers, all paid for and delivered conveniently to my doorstep. Gone were the days of walking 10 minutes to the nearby Target only to stand in the makeup aisle for hours trying to decide which mascara to buy. Instead, I got to cut down on time by reading reviews and within the comforts of my bed. In every apartment I moved into, I was known as the ‘package girl’. Boy do I miss those days… Furthermore, now in certain states, Amazon even offers within 2-hours delivery! Oh what time it is to be alive.



As you could probably gather from above, living in the States can be very convenient. You can get just about anything delivered to your door at almost all hours, even alcohol and groceries. Of course while the more remote areas may not enjoy such luxury, there is a general effort in Big America’s part to make the lives of their consumers easier. Moreover, since Silicon Valley, the home ground of most start-ups, is in the US, you will also get access to a variety of very useful and fun apps.


All in all, there are many pros to living in the America, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. But where there is good, there will also be cons. Watch out for Part 2 of this instalment, The Bad.



rejected ivy league

Best, Brightest and Rejected: Elite Colleges Turn Away Up to 95%

Best, Brightest and Rejected: Elite Colleges Turn Away Up to 95%

rejected ivy league

Stanford University accepted 5 percent of applicants in the latest admissions season, a new low among elite colleges.

Enrollment at American colleges is sliding, but competition for spots at top universities is more cutthroat and anxiety-inducing than ever. In the just-completed admissions season, Stanford University accepted only 5 percent of applicants, a new low among the most prestigious schools, with the odds nearly as bad at its elite rivals.

Deluged by more applications than ever, the most selective colleges are, inevitably, rejecting a vast majority, including legions of students they once would have accepted. Admissions directors at these institutions say that most of the students they turn down are such strong candidates that many are indistinguishable from those who get in.

The college was “declaring war on the whole rigmarole of college admissions,” its president said.
Isaac Madrid applied to 11 colleges, a scattershot approach that he said is fairly typical at his private high school, Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, Calif. Students there are all too aware of the long odds against getting into any particular elite university. “It was a crazy amount of work and stress doing all those essays by the deadline and keeping up my schoolwork, and waiting on the responses, and we had more than $800 in application fees,” he said.

Isaac Madrid, who attends a private high school in San Jose, Calif., applied to 11 colleges and was accepted at Yale.
Mr. Madrid, 18, got a taste of how random the results can seem. He was among the 95 percent turned away by Stanford, but he got into Yale, which he plans to attend, and he admitted having no real insight into the reasons for either decision.

Bruce Poch, a former admissions dean at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., said he saw “the opposite of a virtuous cycle at work” in admissions. “Kids see that the admit rates are brutal and dropping, and it looks more like a crapshoot,” he said. “So they send more apps, which forces the colleges to lower their admit rates, which spurs the kids next year to send even more apps.”

For most of the past six decades, overall enrollment boomed, while the number of seats at elite colleges and universities grew much more slowly, making them steadily more selective. Enrollment peaked in 2011, and it has dropped a bit each year since then, prompting speculation that entry to competitive colleges would become marginally easier. Instead, counselors and admissions officers say, the pool of high-achieving applicants continues to grow, fed partly by a rising number from overseas.

At the same time, students send more applications than they once did, abetted by the electronic forms that have become nearly universal and uniform applications that can make adding one more college to the list just a matter of a click. Seven years ago, 315 colleges and universities accepted the most widely used form, the Common Application; this year, 517 did.

Students applying to seven or more colleges made up just 9 percent of the applicant pool in 1990, but accounted for 29 percent in 2011, according to surveys by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and counselors and admissions officers say they think the figure has gone higher still. While people have lavished attention on a Long Island teenager who was accepted by all eight Ivy League colleges, admissions professionals say it is remarkable that anyone would apply to all eight.

Stanford received 42,167 applications for the class of 2018 and sent 2,138 acceptance notices, for a first-year class that, ultimately, will number about 1,700.

The University of California, Los Angeles, the national leader in applications, had more than 86,000 requests — twice as many as in 2005 — for space in a first-year class of about 6,000, and it also received 19,000 applications to transfer from other colleges and universities. This year, for the first time, the admission rate for first-year applicants at U.C.L.A. and the University of California, Berkeley, could drop below 20 percent.

A generation ago, it was rare for even highly competitive colleges to offer places to fewer than 20 percent of their applicants.
“For most kids, this really used to be a regional process, but they have access to so much information online now, so every school seems local,” said Richard H. Shaw, the dean of undergraduate admission at Stanford. Admissions directors at several top Eastern colleges agreed, saying that they now received more applications from California than any other state, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Some of them also pointed to colleges’ increasingly aggressive outreach to prospective students, with mailings, emails and advertising — some of it well intentioned, and some of it more cynical.
“One of the ways that colleges are measured is by the number of applicants and their admit rate, and some colleges do things simply to increase their applicant pool and manipulate those numbers,” said Christoph Guttentag, the dean of undergraduate admission at Duke.

A generation ago, it was rare for even highly competitive colleges to offer places to fewer than 20 percent of their applicants. In 2003, Harvard and Princeton drew exclamations of dismay (from prospective applicants), envy (from other colleges) and satisfaction (from those they accepted) when they became the first top universities to have their admission rates dip below 10 percent. Since then, at least a dozen have gone below that threshold.

This was the second year in a row that Stanford had the worst odds of admission among top colleges, a title that in previous years was usually claimed by Harvard. This year, by the April 1 deadline for most colleges to send admission notices, Harvard and Yale had accepted about 6 percent of applicants, Columbia and Princeton about 7 percent, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago about 8 percent. (Some rates will increase by a few tenths of a percentage point as colleges accept small numbers of applicants from waiting lists.)

Several universities, including Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, had admission rates this year that were less than half of those from a decade ago. The University of Chicago’s rate plummeted to a little over 8 percent, from more than 40 percent.

The most competitive small colleges draw comparably accomplished applicants, but far fewer of them relative to their size, so their admission rates are higher. Even so, the acceptance rates at Pomona, Amherst, Harvey Mudd, Bowdoin, Claremont McKenna, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Williams and others were between 10 and 20 percent this year.

Mr. Shaw, the Stanford dean, said he could not predict where the rates would bottom out — in fact, he never expected them to go as low as they have.

“Honestly,” he said, “I’m sort of in shock.”




MMI Mark Scheme

Our Quintessential Medicine Tutors share some of the common mark schemes for MMI ( Multiple Mini Interviews). Note to pass, you must have good discussion of both sides of the issue with regards to the MMI scenario.


MMI Mark Scheme .