This year, it was harder than ever to get into Harvard University.
The prestigious college announced their lowest acceptance rate ever, welcoming only 1,968 of 57,435 first-year applicants into their hallowed halls. Thanks to Abigail Mack’s heart-wrenching, insightful essay, she will be one of the lucky students to matriculate this fall.
The Massachusetts high school senior used TikTok to share a portion of the essay that made her one of the 4 percent of applicants who made the cut. Her paper focused on an unusual theme: the letter “S.”
“I hate the letter ‘S,'” she read aloud on TikTok. “Of the 164,777 words with ‘S,’ I only grapple with one. To condemn an entire letter because of its use .0006 percent of the time sounds statistically absurd, but that one case changed 100 percent of my life. I used to have two parents, but now I have one, and the ‘S’ in ‘parents’ isn’t going anywhere.”
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“‘S’ follows me,” she continued. “I can’t get through a day without being reminded that while my friends went out to dinner with their parents, I ate with my parent. As I write this essay, there is a blue line under the word ‘parent’ telling me to check my grammar; even Grammarly assumes that I should have parents, but cancer doesn’t listen to edit suggestions.”
She went on to explain that she fled that dreaded letter by throwing herself into school activities. She joined clubs, sports, and performed in theatrical productions, all in an effort to dull the pain of losing her mom.
I couldn’t fill the loss that ‘S’ left in my life, but I could at least make sure I didn’t have to think about it. There were so many things in my life I couldn’t control, so I controlled what I could — my schedule.
Eventually, she realized she was hiding from her pain and decided to face it head-on. She honed her interests down to academics, theater, and politics, taking over the “S” for her own purposes. Now, instead of thinking about the “S” in parents, she concentrates on the double “S” in passion.
“‘S’ got me moving, but it hasn’t kept me going,” she concluded. “I don’t seek out sadness, so ‘S’ must stay on the sidelines, and until I am completely ready, motivation is more than enough for me.”
Abigail’s essay earned her a spot at several top colleges like Northwestern and Notre Dame, but when she received a “Likely Letter” from Harvard, she couldn’t believe her good fortune. She reacted with “a lot of screaming” and couldn’t wait to get her official admission letter.
She didn’t have to wait long! Abigail has officially been accepted into the class of 2025, and she’s excited to pursue her paSSion in Cambridge, Massachusetts, next fall. She plans to study humanities and social sciences, possibly focusing on French and foreign policy.
In the meantime, her essay has gone viral with over 16 million views! She’s using her social media platform to help other seniors hone their own college essays, advising them, “Pour your passion, whatever it is, into every fiber of your application.”
Abigail managed to channel her grief and pain into a masterpiece that gained her national attention. She’s a great example for other teenagers around the world, and we are certain that her mom is so proud of her!
Share this story to wish Abigail well at Harvard in the fall.
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