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Standing Out From the Crowd: Some Thoughts After Our (First) Moscow Seminar

And with our Moscow event on November 5, Hermiona has begun another whirlwind tour! It was wonderful to get to see so many new faces interested in American education. We got to see some “old faces,” too, such as Wanderlust CEO (and Hermiona parent!) Olga Smyshlyaeva, Hermiona CEO Yelena Kadeykina, Hermiona consultant Leora Eisenberg, and Hermiona student and summer program alumnus Artem Smyshlyaev. We were also pleased to show videos from Sonya Vasilieva and Sasha Denisenko, two of our alumni who recently finished successful admissions campaigns to a top boarding school and university, respectively. 

We fielded many questions during the event, but one of the overarching themes was how to make yourself stand out. When applying to any university or boarding school, we need to make sure that we meet the baseline: we need to take the correct exams (SAT/ACT, TOEFL/IELTS, SAT Subject Tests, etc.); we need to get the right grades; we need to get good recommendations. But we kept coming back to the idea of how to go beyond the baseline: how do you make the admissions committee decide that you are the right fit? What parts of your application make you stand out from an already distinguished crowd?

Our answer to attendees: passion and sustained, superior interest. It’s impossible to get accepted if you’re not interested in anything — because then you show no aptitude for excelling in an atmosphere designed to create leaders in all possible fields. It’s not enough to get good grades in math for acceptance to a top university: you need to show the admissions committee that you are committed to superior performance in math. An applicant can prove this in a number of ways, such as, for example, participation in math Olympiads, excellent results SAT Subject Exams or AP exams in math, attendance of top math-related summer programs (where one could obtain recommendations from top professors), and so on. 

But that’s not all. This love of math (or of anything, really) must continue over the course of the applicant’s high school experience. It can’t appear in the last year of high school. It has to look real — because it should be real, too. Colleges want to know that their applicants are not only talented, but genuine, too. Just like all of our students — and just like you.

Although you might have been unable to attend our Moscow seminar, we hope you’ll benefit from this major takeaway. But we also hope that you might be able to attend one of our upcoming events — our next one will be in Moscow on November 10, and you can register for it here

We’ll be in Novosibirsk and Kiev soon, too; see our Facebook for more information. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon!

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