Student Makes Rap Video After Harvard Deferral

We don’t advise that deferred candidates for admission submit music videos to admissions offices.

When students are deferred from their Early Decision / Early Action school, their first instinct to try to improve their odds of admission in the Regular Decision round is often not so well thought out. Maybe they think to inundate the school that deferred their admission with lots of additional letters of recommendation coupled with a letter that consists of updates on all they have achieved since they first applied just a couple of months ago. Maybe they think to call admissions officers at that school to find out why they didn’t get in. Maybe they think to send baked goods to the admissions office…rhubarb pie anyone? Or maybe it’s their parents who have all these not so brilliant ideas (it so often is!). In any case, in our experience over the last quarter of a century, none of these approaches are the right approach for deferred students.

Deferred Students Should Keep It Simple by Submitting One Powerful Letter

We’ve outlined for our readers many times over the years what is the right approach for a deferred candidate. The right approach is to write one powerful letter that contains no brags or updates (what has one really achieved since one first applied two months ago and how are those brags going to sway admissions officers to root for a student?). The right approach is to wow admissions officers with how you’re going to contribute your singular hook to that specific university. And if lots of sentences in that letter can be applied to any school in America, well, those sentences should be erased as they are wasting valuable real estate in that one page letter. A key objective of this letter must be to showcase your genuine love for this school in a wholly original way.

One Deferred Student Made a Rap Video Instead

But not everyone listens to us. Or maybe not everyone reads our blog. Hey, it’s possible! A piece by Steve Annear in The Boston Globe entitled “Harvard deferred him. So he made a rap video to show why the school should let him in” highlights a student — one who is certainly not an Ivy Coach student — who created a rap video in the hope of earning admission in the Regular Decision round at Harvard after a deferral. As Annear writes, “When Ethan Kim found out in December that he was deferred by Harvard College’s early admissions program, the 17-year-old high school senior couldn’t just sit back and wait to find out if he’d be accepted in the regular pool of applicants in March. So, he made a rap video to plead his case. And he called it, ‘Harvard, Please Let Me In.’ The nearly four-minute song, which he whipped together in a month with the help of his brother and close friends, was the North Carolina native’s way of giving himself a bit of an edge over other student hopefuls vying for a spot at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.”

Deferred Student’s Rap Video is Engaging But It Says Little About Him

And what do we think of Ethan Kim’s approach? Well, we generally aren’t in favor of doing super fancy videos that garner press attention. And, yes, every year there’s at least one student who gets lots of attention for creating a viral video after a deferral. And while Ethan is immensely talented and we very much enjoyed his rap (and his personality!), the lyrics didn’t really say anything about him. He’s an Asian American young man from North Carolina? He likes music? He does Taekwondo? He doesn’t test so well? Instead of telling Harvard that they’ll be missing out by not admitting him and instead of playing into Asian American stereotypes that regrettably hurt so many Asian American applicants’ cases for admission to elite universities, if he was intent on making a rap we’d have told him that the lyrics are everything. And his lyrics, well, they fall short. They fail to show why he wants to go to Harvard. They fail to show what he will contribute to Harvard. But we’re rooting for him anyway because he did get one thing right: he made himself likeable.

 
 

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