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Got into two Ivy League colleges, calmly correcting mistakes

After failing the admissions round early, Minh Tung decided to correct his profile and rewrite his essay when the application round deadline was usually just over a month.

On April 1, the universities of the Ivy League — the last group among thousands of U.S. universities — announced admissions results for the 2021-2022 season. Nguyen Huu Minh Tung, 18, a student at Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted, entered Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Cornell — two of eight prestigious Ivy League schools.

Corresponding US News and World reports, UPenn ranked 8th and Cornell 17th among the top national universities in the US. Although the two schools are not publicly announcing the number of applications this year, the acceptance rate has fluctuated by only 10% in recent years and is among the most difficult to achieve in the United States.

“The tough application process is not for everyone because not everyone has enough mentality, health and determination to pursue it with all their might,” Tung said.





Nguyen Huu Minh Tung, student at Hanoi - Amsterdam High School for the Gifted.  Photo: sign provided

Nguyen Huu Minh Tung, student at Hanoi – Amsterdam High School for the Gifted. Picture: characters provided

Having had the opportunity when he came to the US for almost a year in elementary school and attended famous universities, Tung was attracted to the scenery and learning environment here, so he set his sights on studying abroad early on. “However, this is a long and not always smooth road,” commented the student.

Wanting to be accepted into Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted from mid-intermediate, Tung actively reduced the frequency of participation in extracurricular activities and focused on study. After joining Ams’ English class, Tung was pressured by “You’re too good.” At its peak, in late 2021, when Tung learned the results of American universities’ early enrollment round, Tung was almost depressed.

In Tung’s class, “almost all of you passed,” only he and a few other students stayed. Though genuinely pleased with his friends’ accomplishments, Tung can’t help but feel depressed. For a week, Tung locked himself in his room trying to calm himself down and overcome his sense of failure. Thinking more positively, the 2004-born understood he still had a chance in the regular enrollment round, which took place two months later. “This is the second chance, also the last chance,” Tung said to himself and made a bold decision: Edit the file, rewrite the essay.

The first thing Tung did was find a reason why he couldn’t get a spot in the early round of enrollment. Tung sought advice from those who were accepted and found his profile lacked no criteria or requirements. The standardized scores were all good with GPA 9.4-9.7, SAT 1560, IELTS 8.5. However, the male student found that he had applied with a number of missing documents. Determined to address economic and social inequality, Tung’s extracurricular activities are only relevant to society at large.

“This is the biggest lesson I learned during the application process. So far I’ve always thought about doing as many activities as possible, holding as many key positions as possible. But that’s not entirely true. The resume needs to be focused. a field that helps the school figure out what kind of person the candidate is,” Tung said.

At that time, Tung had to shed a number of jobs unrelated to his field of study while adding work on economic and social inequality.

For nearly two months, Tung successfully organized YouthVoice, a national debate competition for elementary and middle school students. On the subject of economic inequality, Tung and his colleagues invited debate experts to guide candidates in brainstorming and presenting their views. The male student said that YouthVoice not only imparts knowledge to students but also helps them practice thinking and speaking skills.

Tung also spent more time on a study he conducted in the early enrollment phase at Hanoi National University, but didn’t have enough time to dig deeper. Tung’s research relates to the different educational attainments and learning conditions of students in the northern mountainous region and their friends in Hanoi. “By collecting data, highlighting problems and providing solutions related to policy, the research demonstrates my awareness of economic and social inequality,” Tung said.

The essay required Tung to edit almost everything. The study abroad essay is a factor that candidates focus on first and spend many months developing and implementing ideas. Therefore, Tung was under a lot of pressure to change the subject of his main work while the deadline was a little over a month.

First, Tung’s essay focused on his experiences studying in the United States in elementary school. As an Asian student, he has difficulty interacting with teachers and friends and sometimes faces discrimination. On re-reading, Tung remarked that the essay was simple and predictable, and the story wasn’t special or different because “many Asians who studied in the US” had a similar story.

Similar to extracurricular activities, Tung’s new essay topic was chosen to link to career guidance. After living in the suburbs and then moving to downtown Hanoi, Tung recognized the connection between economic conditions and social skills, namely that those with better conditions often learn better. Back then, Tung’s story in the US became evidence in a new essay that emphasized the difference between economic classes.

After many revisions, Tung was satisfied with the new essay. According to the student, the highlight of the study abroad application is the essay, which reveals all three factors: who the candidate is, what they have learned, and what they will do with that lesson in the future.

Ms. Trinh Le Hoa, Tung’s homeroom teacher, evaluated that in addition to her creativity in learning, Tung is also a homeroom assistant who has a positive influence. She often plays a key role in class events and is also the one who has the ability to bond members. “I believe that Tung’s leadership skills and unique personality will help him to easily integrate and excel in the university environment,” commented Ms. Hoa.

From the end of March, Tung began receiving application responses from American universities. Fordham University (Top 68 in the US) was the first school to announce Tung admissions results. “I stayed up until 4am waiting for the notification. When I received the passport letter, I cried out for joy and felt relieved of the burden and pressure for so long,” Tung recalls. After that, Tung successively accepted to two Ivy League universities, Pennsylvania and Cornell, and completed the application to study in the United States with many lessons.

Tung found that he was calmer and braver when faced with difficulties, and the more observant he was, the better he was at solving problems. This helped him edit and complete the profile in just over a short month. Tung believes students should relax by not putting too much pressure and expectations on themselves.

“Me and my friends are only 18 years old, there is still a lot to discover and experience. Therefore, passing a good school is not always the ultimate goal, as long as you do not stop trying and trying, the opportunity will always be there. come on,” Tung said.

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