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Nov 16, 2016 12:36 AM EST

Essay Featuring a Painful Childhood Memory Gave Student Entry to 14 Colleges Including Harvard

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A certain Harvard graduate recalls that a simple essay filled with a painful childhood memory allowed her entry into not just one - but 14 colleges.

Soa Andrian, a recent graduate from Harvard University, told the Business Insider that in applying for college, her original essay felt insincere, and felt the need to write something else.

"My original common app essay was about a poster presentation I made at a summer program and what I learned about being less shy," she said. "But it felt disingenuous. I think it felt disingenuous because I wrote what I thought admissions committees would want to see - a little humility by sharing an insecurity, but a small one that ultimately was easy to overcome."

Instead of submitting that essay, Andrian wrote a personal one that featured one of her painful but cherished memories while visiting relatives at Antananarivo, Madagascar. This essay earned her acceptances to 14 colleges: Harvard University, Brown University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, The University of Florida, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Miami, MIT, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, and Washington University.

In that essay, she wrote of an experience wherein she was made fun of by four boys. They kept teasing her "fat" in their native language. In response, young Andrian shouted, "You are just jealous that you are poor and I am American!"

She ran home to her father and aunt, and was comforted by the latter. Later, when she walked along the area, the same boys saw her, but this time they ran away. Moments later they returned, waving some paper bills and saying innocently,

"Look! We are not poor! We have money! We are Amreekan too!"

Andrian said the sight taught her many things, and has given her a passion to serve. She said her passion to serve will enable her to bring improvement to the community in the college and beyond.

"I work for these boys, for all the proud Malagasy (and even those who are not proud to be Malagasy), and the children who cherish "what is" instead of mourning "what could be"," she said.

Andrian's other noteworthy stats can be found in education startup AdmitSee.

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