Heartbreaking College Essay Lands Teen Early Acceptance To Harvard

Harvard University is one of the most prestigious post-secondary schools in the country. With a startlingly low acceptance rate of only 3.43%, it is easily ranked as one of the most competitive schools in the entire world for admissions.

A low acceptance rate, extensive application process, and a personalized essay requirement are enough to deter many high school students from ever applying. That didn’t stop one teen from shooting for the big leagues. Her entrance essay is making waves online because of the heartbreaking reason behind the words.

18-Year-Old Abigail Mack Caught Everyone’s Attention With Her College Essay

Girl in white graduation gown hugging woman, wearing blue cardigan and black pants.
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram

Abigail Mack is the brilliant young mind behind the college entrance essay that caught the attention of Harvard, and then the world online.

Abigail shared the introduction to her heartfelt essay on TikTok where it quickly amassed millions of views. Currently, her original video has been viewed over 17 million times on TikTok alone.

Her Entrance Essay Landed Her A Coveted Spot At Harvard University

Screenshot of girl speaking from TikTok video linked in caption
Photo Credit: @a_vmack / TikTok
Photo Credit: @a_vmack / TikTok

After receiving Abigail’s application, Harvard reached out to offer her a rare “Likely Letter” which essentially informs an applicant that they have been admitted prior to the official decision date.

Harvard does this to try and encourage students to make the school their first choice. Lucky for them, Harvard was Abigail’s first choice (duh!). Abigail recorded her reaction to her acceptance and then decided to share the essay that changed it all.

The Essay Focuses On Her Relationship With The Letter “S”

Screenshots from the original TikTok video linked in the caption.
Photo Credit: a_vmack / TikTok
Photo Credit: a_vmack / TikTok

Abigail begins by clearly stating that she hates the letter “S,” she says it’s the only letter in the alphabet that she grapples with.

She knows it’s not normal to condemn an entire letter because of the way it is used “0.0006% of the time,” but continues to say that the “one case changed 100% of my life.”

“Cancer Doesn’t Listen To Edit Suggestions”

Screenshots from original TikTok video linked in the caption.
Photo Credit: @a_vmack / TikTok
Photo Credit: @a_vmack / TikTok

Abigail writes that “S” follows her around in her life. She can’t get through a day without being reminded that while her friends go out to dinner with their parents, she eats with her parent. Singular.

As she writes her essay, the Grammarly app underlines the word “parent” in her work, suggesting she add an “s” to the end of the word. She says that “even Grammarly assumes I should have parents, but cancer doesn’t listen to edit suggestions.”

She Kept Herself Overly Busy To Deal With The Grief Of Losing A Parent

Girl in tan overall dress and white sneakers staring at ground with hands in pockets.
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram

Abigail’s essay continues to reveal that she began to pack her schedule with extracurricular activities, sports, and projects to avoid thinking about the crushing loss of her mother.

“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.”

She Slowly Started To Heal

Screenshots from Abigail Mack on TikTok link in caption
Photo Credit: @a_vmack / TikTok
Photo Credit: @a_vmack / TikTok

As time passed, Abigail noticed that life was becoming easier to juggle in the quiet moments. She decided to lean into her rhythm and embrace it. She says she “stopped running away from a single ‘S.'”

Instead, she began “chasing a double ‘S’ – paSSion.” She smiles and says that passion has given her purpose and freedom from the “S” that shackled her to “the confines of the traditional familial structure.”

She’s Not Fully Ready To Accept “S”

Abigail in TikTok clip from link in caption
Photo Credit: @a_vmack / TikTok
Photo Credit: @a_vmack / TikTok

Abigail finishes off her video by admitting that she doesn’t quite feel ready to embrace the letter “S” fully. She says that while motivation keeps her moving forward, it also helps her from looking back at the past.

“So “S” must stay on the sidelines, and until I am completely ready, motivation is more than enough for me.”

She Has Found Fulfillment In New Passions

Girl and senate candidate bump elbows. She holds a Green New Deal sign
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram

As soon as Abigail started chasing that double “S” in passion, she found herself with a new love for theatre, singing, and politics.

She has been active in her community in every way possible over the last few years and will undoubtedly carry that energy straight into Harvard come September.

She’s Entering Her Freshman Year With An Undecided Major

A girl in a Harvard Class of 2025 ball cap, Harvard T-shirt, standing in front of school
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram

The early acceptance was surely not a part of Abigail’s plan but she’s excited nonetheless. She went to the campus to snap some pictures wearing her new school swag.

Abigail plans to pursue the fields of humanities and social sciences, possibly with a focus on foreign policy and French. Is there anything this girl can’t do?!

A Word Of Advice For High School Students

Girl in Harvard T-shirt and hat holds up
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram
Photo Credit: @abigail_vmack / Instagram

Abigail offers this advice to anyone else going through the college applications process: “Pour your passion, whatever it is, into every fiber of your application.”

“Your college application is a culmination of everything you’ve done in high school. You’ve already put in the work, so the hardest part is done. Now, you just have to put pen to paper, share what you’ve accomplished, and, most importantly, illustrate how you plan to make a difference going forward in your own, unique way.”