Question: Could anyone please critique my cover letter for Harvard?
Dear Harvard College Admissions:
Thank you for your valuable time and consideration in reviewing my application.
I am writing to inform you of my talent in web development and singing in hopes that they can be of contribution to the Harvard campus. Enclosed are my National History Day champion website titled “Nixon’s 1972 Visit to China: Compromise across a 23-Year Ocean of Conflict” and a CD showcasing my singing.
My experience with web development extends back to seventh grade, when I sat in an advanced web development class at Washington University in St. Louis. In ninth grade, I enrolled in the class, not only receiving a solid A, but also gaining important hands-on experience with web design. From then on, I have designed many sites for local entities and school activities such as the school newspaper. I have even begun my own web firm (Cation Web Groups). This firm has designed websites for local restaurants and other facilities.
Recently, I won the National History Competition for my website on Nixon’s Visit to China out of over thousands of websites around the nation. Additionally enclosed are my process paper and bibliography for this historical project. The site’s design is controlled by Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for efficient site management. DHTML is used to create interactivity on the site including the citations and the virtual tour of Nixon’s visit.
Collectively, I hope to extend this project on the Harvard campus in two major ways.
First of all, I intend to use my web design skills to further improve Harvard’s presence in the online community. I am aware that Harvard Website Development Services (WDS) produces high-quality websites for university departments and many other entities and look forward to possibly contributing to this organization. Furthermore, I hope to someday make an important contribution to the global online community, as did Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who in fact attended Harvard University class of 2006.
Secondly, I hope to do further research into Sino-American relations at Harvard and promote Sino-American understanding. Today, the relationship between China and the United States is more important than ever. Not only are billions of dollars are annually exchanged between these two countries, but the Sino-American relationship is critical to global welfare. At Harvard, I hope promote understanding of Sino-American relations, possibly with the undergraduate group Harvard International Relations Council (IRC). I also hope to make a contribution to the Harvard Chinese Association.
In addition to my talent for web development, I have a strong talent for singing. For two years, I have been selected as one of the top six singers in St. Louis for Artists-in-Training (AIT), a vocal program through the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Last year, I won $800 for my solo baritone rendition at the AIT Spring Recital. In the community, I have organized and performed in many Chinese cultural shows such as the United States Department of Agriculture Diversity Day and the Families with Children from China annual picnic. At school, I am the bass section leader in chamber and show choir. Since freshmen year, I have received superior (I) ratings at both the District and Missouri State Solo Ensemble Festivals.
I am aware that the recently issued Arts Task Force Report makes a strong case for the arts at Harvard. Harvard also upholds a strong tradition for men’s quartets. Hence, I feel that Harvard would be a great place for my singing experience not only to grow, but also to contribute to the community.
Thank you again for your time and consideration. Happy holidays.
With strong interest,
Indeed, it is really long, but if you have time, it would really help me a lot. Thanks.
I don't think you should include singing and neither would the people at Harvard. The best part would be the first few paragraphs about how you started the web design. Talk more about passion and give more examples of how you have succeeded. Good job overall, I would probably do worse.
Wow. The first time through, my only comment was that "happy holidays" may want to be removed since it will likely be past New Year's before someone reads this.
There are several minor details you will want to review though.
*The colon after Admissions in the first line should be a comma.
*In the second paragraph of the body you refer to your talent of web development and singing. Unless you do not consider singing to be a talent, you should probably add an s. Also, you mention your baritone skills later in the letter. Leaving it out at the beginning tells me your singing is significantly better than your brass skills. If that's not so, you should consider changing "singing".
*I believe the title of your website should be in italics, not quotations, though I understand that is probably due to lack of formatting options here.
*While CD is by far more common, I know of some in the academic world who cringe at every abbreviation in formal writing. Compact disc is much safer. (That goes for the DHTML later as well).
*Paragraph three should read "sat in on a class" instead of "sat in a class", unless you're saying you took the class that year and then repeated it in 9th grade.
*Paragraph four: "out of over thousands of web sites". Also, "Nixon's Visit to China" should be "Nixon's visit to China". Your sentence is describing the website, not giving the title again.
*Same paragraph, second sentance: "historical" is redundant and implies that your project was of historical significance.
*p4, s3: is "Cascading Style Sheets" a proper name or capitalized because the abbreviation is? (i.e. CD is compact disc, not Compact Disc.)
*p4, s4: Comma between site and including.
*p5: I see where your project with help with the Sino-American awareness, but how does it further improve Harvard's presence in the online community?
*p6: Mark Z. attended Harvard with the class of 2006, he didn't attend the class itself.
*p7: "not only are billions of dollars are" and "I hope promote understanding of"
*paragraph on music: is Families with Children from China a group that has an annual picnic, or should it be Families with Children from China Annual Picnic?
*next paragraph: Arts Task Force Report or Arts Task Force report? If it's a specific document, you're fine. If it's a generic report from the group, you're not.
Good luck getting into Harvard. It sounds like you'd be a great contribution to their school!
I'm sorry to not answer your question, but is your name really 'Justin Case'? Good luck with Harvard.
Just saw this, but I'll comment for future applicants. I would definitely include singing against Jorda-N's advice. I sang at Harvard and it something for which they recruit. If you can arrange an audition with the conductor, they weight his recomendations very strongly at admissions (espec. Tenors)