Earlier this week, as it is tradition, we had panelists from our soon to be College Freshmen class give their words of wisdom to the class of students applying this year and starting college Fall of 2017.
And so, a HUGE Thank you to the Class of 2020 Panelists who came to give their Words of Wisdom to the Class of 2021 in our “Simplifying the Application Process” Workshop at the CollegeCore Office!
Our Panelists were:
– Aditri Bhagirath – Carnegie Mellon University
– Anahita Sehgal – UCLA
– Ananya Mittal – Princeton University
– Aryaman Sethi – University of Chicago
– Rishab Srivastava – UC Berkeley
– Shankar Salwan – Northwestern University
– Shivam Bajaj – University of Southern California
– Simran Arora – Brown University
ICYMI: We had pages and pages of notes but since we can’t share them all, so see below for 5 Key Takeaways from our students.
1) Make a Balanced University List:
Enthusiastic parents and ambitious students may say “Ivy League or nothing else” but be realistic about it.
Dreams are dreams for a reason. You may feel right now that you want to apply to all the Ivies even if you have no chance of getting in, but each rejection hurts a lot. You need targets and safeties to balance that.
And we mean targets too. Applying to 8 Ivies and 1 safety like Drexel isn’t good either. What if you only got into Drexel? Would you go there?
Plan out Early Action and Early Decision as well but understand where it gives you an edge versus where it may be better to apply Regular Decision.
2) SAT / ACT Tips
The sooner you finish your SAT / ACT testing the better. Plus a reminder to Self-Study. No one can teach you to take the SAT, you have to put in the effort. The tutors have tips and tricks and ensure practice. Remember you are taking the test and not your tutor so the effort has to come from you in the test and before the test.
But don’t put too much pressure, the SAT / ACT isn’t the be all and end all. An excellent SAT score won’t save you if your school grades aren’t there. Remember, the SAT is a reflection of one day of exams and not of four years of prep like your grades. So balance your efforts.
3) Get cracking on your Essays
Start soon. You may write one CommonApp essay or you may write three. The most difficult part is starting. Remember you’re trying to stand out, so don’t make it generic, it needs to be about something important in your life. Don’t harp about your achievements, the rest of the CommonApp will cover that. Instead talk about challenges and motivations. Don’t be clichéd. If you are talking about a somewhat generic topic (like sports or community service), bring a new perspective like talking about your motivations why rather than narrating what happened. Don’t get too much feedback. Each perspective will confuse you and will be distracting. Do keep your focus narrow. This is a “Slice of Life” essay and a small experience and not story of your entire life. Follow us on Facebook because keep posting the latest essays available.
4) Take Charge of your Interviews
Unlike job interviews, these interviews are informal. They aren’t subject specific and can feel random at times. Prepare the questions but don’t rehearse them otherwise you will sound stiff. Balance. Guide your interviewer: You can guide the interview to discuss things you want to talk about. Suppose you want to discuss your dance and your interviewer chats about Bollywood. This is what you can do.
- I’m a huge Bollywood dance fan!
- But my favorite is Jazz which I’ve been learning for the last three years (showing your accomplishment)
- In fact, I was really interested in the Jazz dance troupe at XYZ college (connecting to the college)
But don’t talk the entire time, let your interviewer talk to and let it evolve into a conversation. Remember to be prepared with questions at the end.
5) Don’t Overdo the Recommendations
There are school recommendation and external recommendations. Each University allows a different number of external though they all want 1 Counsellor recommendation and 2 Academic Teacher recommendations. But just because the college allows more, doesn’t mean you should send more. College Admissions says heavier the file, the faster it sinks. Only send them if they add value and aren’t repeating the same thing over and over.
Mantra of the Day: BALANCE
Don’t spend all the time on school, or all the time on applications
Don’t overdo or underdo extracurriculars
Don’t make crazy unrealistic University lists