How My College Application Essay Got Me into Stanford


The college application essay: it’s probably the #1 biggest hurdle facing a high schooler applying to college. At least, it was for me. I wrote and rewrote my essay fifty times over, adding and then deleting whole paragraphs as often as I changed clothes. Every day it felt like I was approaching a different beast… and I didn’t even have a college admissions consultant to help me!

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How I tacked the college application essay

What I ended up with was more of a story than an essay. It was the story of how I taught myself to code. I taught myself to code computer games – mostly because I liked to play things like Super Mario Bros. and I wanted to design my own levels. But I told it like a story. I explained how I took the task in front of me, and broke it down. I conquered small parts. I made many side projects that also cotributed to my knowledge of coding – before I designed my capstone project: my own version of The Legend of Zelda.

I got lucky; I did what a college admissions consultant would have recommended.

It worked. I got into Stanford. (Though not Princeton or Yale; a college admissions consulting service could have really helped me refine it!) What I did correctly was to focus on a small, personal achievement, and explain in the essay how it made me the person that I am today. I taught the admissions counsellor reading y essay something that they wouldn’t have known otherwise. This is one of the top tips for writing a great college application essay.

So, in short, I got pretty lucky. Even without professional help, I did what a professional tutoring service would have recommended!

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Was my college admissions experience the norm?

When I was in Stanford, I met some great friends – many of them international students from all over the world. And I learned, in a conversation I had with a friend from Hong Kong, that other students’ experiences with applying to Stanford were quite different from mine. She took advantage of academic tutoring – which she got online, from an online 24/7 tutoring platform designed for students from Hong Kong. In short, she took advantage of all of the services – such as online professional tutoring services in Hong Kong – that my family hadn’t even known about!

I had a lot of things going for me. I was a native English speaker, unlike my friend, who needed help from a native English-speaking tutor in Hong Kong. I had worked on my own, self-directed projects – without even knowing, as an admissions consultant would have told me, that this shows leadership. But I hadn’t used professional services, and I’d gotten into Stanford only – which was my parents’ alma mater. My friend, who’d used a private English tutor and admissions consultant in Hong Kong, told me that she’d picked Stanford over Harvard and Yale.

Do you really need a college admissions consultant?

I got into zero Ivy League schools. (Stanford isn’t an “Ivy”.) My friend, who used professional tutoring services in Hong Kong, got into two. I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that her method was better.

However, she was fortunate indeed that there are great academic tutoring services in Hong Kong! If you’re from Hong Kong, you’re in luck. Consider making an appointment with our tutors at Helppo – an online English tutoring platform in Hong Kong. Founded in Colorado, USA, in 2016, we understand that it’s not easy to find affordable native English tutors in Hong Kong. But we can provide! Our team of friendly staff and tutors are available to help you, Monday to Saturday, 24/7.

Write that killer college application essay – with help from our college admissions experts in Hong Kong – and get into the school of your dreams!