You’re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resources—including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

There is a famous quote attributed to one of the greatest writers of fiction short stories, Anton Chekhov.**

Don’t tell me that the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on the broken glass.

We want you to read that quote once again. It has a powerful meaning.

Too often, students clutter their essays with bombastic adjectives: hardworking, disciplined, driven, passionate, empathetic. Rather than telling them that you are a hard worker, show them that you are a hard worker by talking about how you used to spend every weekend volunteering at the local food shelter.

Clarity of Thought

A core tenet of writing is clarity of thought.

I’m always excited by the rare applicant who clearly has thought through a research area, and has some ideas and real thoughts about problems he/she wants to tackle. It’s fine if the ideas are not likely to succeed, or if the thoughts are not realistic for current research. What matters is that the student showed their logical reasoning skills, and their passion for research at the same time.Professor, University of Chicago*

William Zinsser, a renowned non-fiction writer and one of my inspirations, has said that writing is thinking on paper with clarity.*

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