A high-school senior who got into every Ivy League school shared one of her admissions essays

Kelly Hyles

Kelly Hyles, a senior at New York City’s highly selective High School for Maths, Science, and Engineering, wasn’t sure what to expect on Ivy League admissions day a few weeks ago.

So she gave herself a pep talk before she opened her admissions letters.

“At the end of the day, you put in a lot of work and you’ve tried your very best, and how ever it turns out today, it turns out,” she recalled thinking to herself in an interview with Business Insider.

It turns out that she accomplished the incredible feat of being accepted into all eight Ivy League schools. In fact, she got into all 21 schools to which she applied, which included Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University.

Hyles says she started the application process in mid-September, and it took a full three months to complete all of her applications.

“I had to stay up incredibly late hours,” she told Business Insider.

Hyles, who is the valedictorian of her high school class, says the Common Application was immensely helpful for her, as it allowed her to utilise the same form to apply to multiple colleges. Two of her colleges, however, did not accept the Common App — MIT and Macaulay Honours College. She filled those out separately and used a different essay.

She graciously shared one of her supplemental admissions essays with Business Insider, which we’ve reprinted verbatim below. She sent this essay to the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, Cornell University, and Johns Hopkins University.

Experience has been my greatest teacher; it has changed many of my perspectives and encouraged me to take on courses that I never thought I would. For most of my life, I was convinced I would become a lawyer. As a curious child, I often bothered my older cousins with endless questions, to which they would inevitably respond, “It’s a good thing you want to be a lawyer” or “You ask way too many questions!” Although I was slightly intrigued by the judicial system, the main reason I wanted to become a lawyer was because I was told I would make a great one. However, as I grew older, my interest in the judicial system dwindled, as my appreciation for the sciences grew.

During my first two years at the High School for Maths, Science and Engineering, I was blessed with an amazing chemistry teacher, Mr. Thompson. Most of my science classes prior to his never kept my fascination. However, Mr. Thompson was able to transfer his love for chemistry to me. His class not only interested me, it inspired me. For the first time, I found myself thinking of the importance of science outside of the classroom.

Chemistry has since changed the way I view many everyday phenomenon. For instance, I no longer view sweating as a simple side effect to physical activities, but as the body’s seemingly simple way of regulating its temperature by releasing mostly water. Unfortunately, my high school classes only scraped the surface of the wonders of chemistry. As a student in the biological science department and hopefully a chemistry major, I can delve into these wonders. I hope to advance my interest as I take courses related to cellular and molecular biology, and biophysics.

As a junior in the science track, I was able to work with a research laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospital. I have since worked under the guidance of Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Ocana in the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute. Diabetes currently affects over 350 million people worldwide and this number is rapidly increasing. An alarming amount of those affected are children and young adults — a crisis that was not present in previous generations. The main objective of my laboratory is to better understand this disease so that we can find less taxing ways to treat it.

Every time my results confirm my mentor’s hypothesis or shed new light on a subject that we were unfamiliar with, I am filled with enthusiasm. It is fulfilling to know that, along with my team, I am using my knowledge and skills to help others. Although I may not have the opportunity to continue to research diabetes in college, there are numerous laboratories that I hope to be a part of, many of which are directly related to my major.

Throughout my high school years, I have learned so much about the interaction of various body mechanisms and the simple changes that can have drastic consequences, and I look forward to embarking on a new journey as I expand my critical thinking and grow intellectually. I am eager to experience new wonders through hands-on activities in the lab and be inspired by the experts in those fields.

An earlier version of this post ran Hyles’ Common Application essay. We have updated this post to reflect a supplemental admissions essay.