How much of a "hook" do we really need to have? If I volunteer at an animal shelter, TA for an AP Chemistry class, and have 5s on all my AP exams... is that enough to get into Harvard or Yale? What about Tufts?
Hi and thanks for the question. It appears you are a strong applicant with good grades, activities, and interests. While the notion of a “hook” is often good to grab a reader’s attention at the start of a common app personal essay, there is no single thing that will get you admitted to top colleges. Instead, we would encourage you to consider your application as a complete narrative about you rather than a series of impressive “hooks.”
Given your interest in science and animals, an example narrative might proceed as follows. Your grades and scores evince that you can do high level academic work. Your activities list shows engagement and passion for science and volunteer work. Your activity essay might focus on your love for animals. Finally your personal essay might tell a story about your interest in science and aspirations to become a veterinarian (we’re extrapolating the veterinary part). As each of those details leads to the next, your admissions officer reads and builds a more detailed portrait of who you are as an applicant, student, and future professional.
By creating a complete narrative that shows you as a genuine and multifaceted person, you will be a much more compelling applicant than one who simply makes a laundry list of impressive accomplishments. Hopefully this feedback was helpful. If you’d like more personalized help with your application from one of Veritas Tutors’ former ivy league admissions officers, please don’t hesitate to contact us.