Grace Liu Shares Insight for Getting into Competitive Schools

Liu gives guidance for tackling the college application process



Something’s in the water at ELHS because yet another swimmer, senior Grace Liu, swam her way into Harvard’s Class of 2026, following 2021 ELHS graduate Grace Vlaun.

“It was surreal,” said Liu. “I’m not saying this to be the cringey humble, but it was genuinely so much luck.”

At ELHS, Liu is involved in many activities which reflect her well-rounded nature, such as community service with Leo’s Club and Key Club, music with orchestra and Tri-M Music Honors Society, and athletics as a swim captain.

“Only do things that you are passionate about. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s true,” said Liu. “You want to get into college for what you want to do, so why not do things you like in the first place?”

Liu emphasizes pursuing what you love because it will make for a much more enjoyable high school and life experience. It also demonstrates passion and excitement, providing inspiration for others.

“She was a great swim captain, always ready to help out other teammates, and was always creating a positive environment within the team,” sophomore Grace Xu said.

Liu impresses not only members of her swim team and students at ELHS, but also Harvard admissions interviewers.

“My interview for Harvard went extremely well. My interviewer really got to hear my voice and understand who I am as a person,”
said Liu. “It got very personal and emotional. I formed a great connection.”

By expressing herself and demonstrating her love for learning, Liu has shown that by being yourself and accepting open door opportunities when they arise, success will follow.

“She is very intelligent, but she does not rely on that to get her through classes,” said AP Calculus teacher Brian Bergeron. “Grace is unique in that she is receptive to getting help from others when needed. Some students do not realize the value of giving others extra help in that it helps you understand the material better.”

Liu explains that students do not have to give up their social life to dedicate themselves to academics in order to get into a competitive school. In fact, it may hurt students in the long run.

“There are definitely people who focus on school way too much and may feel that they missed out on the high school experience,”
said Liu. “I don’t regret anything, honestly. I’m not saying I partied every night, because that’s not true. I had a great balance between
my social and academic life.”

Liu took on new experiences as a senior to make the most out of her final year at ELHS, for example, stepping out of her comfort zone by participating in the spring play “High School Musical” with her friends for a “last hoorah.”

“If you have your life planned out, it’s easy to close off doors for new or better experiences,” said Liu. “I’m going to take the craziest and most all-over-the-place-classes like Astrophysics, Greek literature; I want to do everything.”

It’s easy to get stuck in one place, planning out your life, having a dream school, an exact vision for the future, but when things don’t go according to plan, it can feel as though everything falls apart.

“A lot of people have their one dream school in mind, but that’s dangerous,” Liu said. “When you fully put yourself into the application, and you don’t get into that school, you have to tell yourself you were not meant to be there. If they didn’t want me for the things I wanted to do, there’s a better school out there who wants me for me.”