Profile: Rallying Back From Rejection

Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School grads tell their stories, dish out admissions tips.

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Rose Wang didn't graduate top in her class, but she's headed to Harvard anyway. She admits she had no demonstrable passion for any particular academic subject, and she's undecided about her major. Yet Rose is an excellent student, musician, athlete, volunteer, and student leader. And she is passionate about using her talents to help others.

GPA: 3.95

SAT score: 790 math, 740 critical reading, 780 writing

Extracurrics: Mayor's Youth Council chair, SGA vice president, cofounder and president of Asian Club, cocaptain varsity tennis, violin, volunteering

Essay topic: How an encounter with a maimed boy in China changed her outlook on life

Strategy: Made sure she picked reach, target, and backup schools after seeing a friend last year apply only to Ivies and not get into any.

Inspiration: Getting rejected early admission by Yale (a "crushing blow"). Rose rallied by reworking her Common App essay ("about 30 times") and fine-tuning statements for the 12 other schools she applied to. She got into all but one.

Presentation: "I played up my leadership because I didn't have anything else."

Biggest hassle: Lack of consistency of financial aid process at different schools

Insider tip: Use CollegeConfidential.com to get inside scoop on student life and prep for interviews.

Oops: Missed class trip (she was writing college essays)

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