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Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced. (Maximum: 350 words)

The girl with a locker next to mine begins to ask about the math homework, and then stops herself.

“Oh wait. You’re a PRISM kid.”

PRISM. Synonymous with over-achievement, arrogance, seclusion, perfectionism, but above all: expectations.

I’m fortunate to have grown up in Bellevue, where successfully testing into the elusive PRISM program (a dual AP and IB honors curriculum) implied boundless opportunities. But by senior year, PRISM’s class of 2015 had dropped from 120 to less than 70 students who had endured the rigorous curriculum, a reflection of the competitive atmosphere and unhealthy obsessions with test scores and résumé building. In that sense, it was both an opportunity and a challenge, a test of how many stressed days and late nights we could push through while still maintaining academic excellence.

Graduating IB a year early means that I have time to explore a career interest this year—the knowledge from my business course has been brought to life in an internship at the University of Washington. PRISM allowed me to explore my creative bounds both within academia and outside in the real world: from analyzing the ethical implications of forced sterilization in my Extended Essay to running a debate camp for less...

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