I completed 24 college applications, submitted 17 (to Princeton, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Rice, Amherst, Georgetown, Emory, UCLA, UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, UNC-Chapel Hill, UVA, University of Pittsburgh, Williams, Washington University in St. Louis, Harvard and Yale) and received admission to all except the last four.
N.B. Some of this info may be dated/inaccurate and 100% of it is tinged w/ my own bias.
Things To Think About
Why do you want to apply to so many colleges?
If it’s hubris (i.e. “I want to collect admissions offers like trophies”) or fear (i.e. “If I submit more applications, I’m less likely to be shut out from every school I apply to"), stop and reevaluate. I applied to Vanderbilt even though I knew I’d never want to head south. The reason? It traditionally takes a lot of kids from my HS. Yeah, don’t be like me.
Do you really want to spend all that money?
I ended up wasting $2500 (and that’s a conservative estimate) on 17 schools. I’ll only be attending one college in the fall.
That said…it can be done.
The “Why Us” essay isn’t asking “why would you choose our college?” so much as “why should our college choose you?” Emphasize how you’ll contribute to the college—inside the classroom and out—by referencing specific programs, classes, and extracurriculars.
Creating a template is a major time-saver. Once you have an effective “skeleton,” all you have to do is insert school-specific details.
Create a spreadsheet. These were my columns: College Name, Application Type, Application & Aid Deadline, Standardized Test Report, Transcript & SS Form, Recommendation Letter Deadline, Creative Writing Supplement (Y/N), Interview (Y/N), Merit Scholarship (Y/N), CSS Profile, FAFSA, Sticker Price, Response Date.
If you use Google Drive, create a folder for each college.
Consider making a CV/resume. Keep it short (~1 page). Possible uses: upload as a part of your application; hand it to alumni interviewer.
Don’t apply to Georgetown unless you really really like it. There’s a separate application (not Common App) that’s cumbersome to fill out, and you can’t access it until you pay the application fee (which also happens to be p expensive)
Optional essays are NEVER optional. Hopefully, this is obvious.
The more selective publics (UC Berkeley, UCLA, UVA, UNC, UMich) are more holistic than you think. They reject high stats kids on the reg (anecdote: a dude from my school who got into Caltech didn’t get into Berkeley; another who got into Cornell didn’t get into UMich) so PAY ATTENTION to the essays.
Alumni interviews don’t matter AT ALL unless you make a terrible impression—or possibly if you’re a borderline applicant.
N.B. Applying to colleges based on the perceived difficulty of the application isn’t the greatest idea. That said, for your reference:
Easy College Applications
Very easy. Only a 100-word extracurricular essay, I believe. Unless you want to fill out a scholarship application.
Washington University in St. Louis
Also very easy. No supplement unless you fill out scholarship app.
Zero work if you have a graded school essay you’re proud of (can upload in lieu of a college supplement)
I think there’s just one supplement and you can write about whatever you want.
Just one “Why Us” essay
University of Pennsylvania
One “Why Us” Essay, unless you’re applying to Engineering or a special program like Wharton, M&T, etc.
Moderate College Applications
Three supplements, I think. All fairly straightforward. There’s a diversity essay that’s optional (refer to the Miscellaneous section)
A lot of short, lighthearted questions (favorite keepsake, favorite movie, etc.) and an essay (they give you three prompts to choose between)
Three fairly straightforward, 150-word essays. There’s a letter to your roommate, an intellectual interest essay, and something else.
Easy, short supplements, but there are three of them.
All the UCs
There’s one UC application for all the UC schools (Berkeley, LA, Irvine, etc.) so same essays and everything, but you have to pay an application fee for each school you apply to. There are a lot of questions (called Personal Insight Questions) so it’s not quick, but once you’re done you’ve covered multiple schools. Also, if you are applying, ask your counselor about the UC GPA.
Three short essays, one of which is “Why Major.” Another is an extracurricular essay. Don’t remember the third.
I don’t really remember the supplements, but they weren’t that bad.
Difficult/Thought-Provoking College Applications
This is hard because there are a ton of questions with 35, 100, and 150- word limits. “Why Yale” essay. Hard to come up with insightful answers/make an impression with so little space.
I personally wasn’t a fan of the cutesy/philosophical prompts, and the essays that I wrote (but ultimately never submitted) reflected my utter lack of interest. If you enjoy them, UChicago may just be the school for you :P
Only three short i.e. 150 word essays, but one of them referenced Sesame Street. Something along the lines of ‘It’s not easy being green. Discuss.” There was another one on describing a time when you said YES to something. Anyway, I disliked them and never completed my application.
I think there are three short essays, but they require a decent amount of thought. Although UVA is a public school, craft your essays well. The admission officers care a lot about them.
There’s only one short supplement, but it’s a real pain. Hard not to veer into cliche territory.
Tedious College Applications
So many (five?) supplements. Some are generic though. “Why Columbia,” a list of books you’ve read/media you’ve consumed.
Also a lot of supplements. “Why Rice,” “Why Major,” Diversity essay, the famous box (where you can upload any image you want).
I’m now an incoming freshman heading off to college this fall. I’m very happy to say that I survived the college application and acceptance process. Here are some tips/advice I have for high school seniors applying to college in the U.S. Best of luck to anyone applying this fall! Feel free to drop an ask if you need advice.
Some schools use Common App, others don’t. Visit the college’s official website. If you search them on the Common App and they’re not there, chances are you’ll have to go to another website to apply.
Avoid asking friends to look over your essay. You might feel tempted to ask them for advice. You’re better off asking a teacher for critiques. They’re professionals, and they can help you get your essay in the right direction. I suggest asking English teachers because they’re great when it comes to grammatical errors and the like.
For the Common App essay, keep brainstorming. Keep writing. Keep editing. I cannot stress this enough. If you feel that your essay isn’t working, toss it out. Don’t waste your time writing something that doesn’t reflect who you are.
Avoid reading other people’s essays. There’s a reason why their prose and topic works for them. Your essay is meant to reflect who you are as an individual. Reading their essays will not help you in writing yours. There’s no formula. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to write about an accomplishment or the time you won something. Don’t write it for them, write it for you.
START EARLY ON ESSAYS. This is not an essay you can write the night before. A majority of colleges view your essay as one of the main factors in your acceptance. This is not something to blow off or take lightly. You need to spend at least a few weeks or more to craft your essay.
Schools will require ADDITIONAL ESSAYS. Check the Common App or an alternative website for these additional essays. They’re often called “supplemental essays.” Make sure you get these extra essays looked over as well!
Recommendations. Some colleges require none. Others ask for as many as 3. Most applications ask for a rec from a counselor and teacher. The Common App gives you the option of getting a rec from a non-academic teacher like a coach.
Some teachers get swamped with several requests for a recommendation. Start asking within the first few weeks of school.
The teachers you’re getting recs from should know you very well, they should be familiar with your success as a student and as an overall person.
If you’re planning on asking, the best way to go is by seeing the teacher in person. It’s more genuine and direct. Send an email as last resort.
Own a planner or notebook to keep track of deadlines and tasks. I suggest getting a mini notebook just for college applications. In the notebook, I would write down: deadlines, essays that need to be edited/looked over, colleges you’re applying to, transcripts that need to be sent, etc. Check off tasks when you get them done. Use the calendar for deadlines.
Work on applications during the weekday. It sounds hectic, believe me, but you’ll save yourself the stress. Work on application related tasks every night, whether it’s editing a paragraph of your essay or sending in those AP scores. That way, you can be efficient during the weekday and weekend.
DEADLINES ARE DIFFERENT FOR EARLY ACTION, EARLY DECISION, and REGULAR DECISION APPLICANTS. KEEP TRACK OF THESE DEADLINES.
Early decision: If you apply early and you get in, you’re automatically binded to that school. You must attend and decline all your other applications to other schools.
Early action: If you apply early and you get in, you don’t have to worry about applying later on. You are not binded to that school.
Regular decision: You apply at the normal deadline. They notify you later than the early applicants. You are not binded to any schools.
Do your research about your colleges, their test score policies, which AP test scores they accept, etc. Your best bet is visiting the college’s official website and/or checking the requirements on Common App. Write these down because colleges ask for different requirements.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a teacher, counselor, Google, a college representative, family, and your friends. They are your greatest assets. I pretty much got the best help from asking my friends because they had older siblings who went through the college app process.
Avoid College Confidential. Enough said.
Don’t hold back, and don’t give up. I never would have imagined getting into my dream school but I did. You’d be surprised at what you’re capable of as long as you stay true to yourself and work hard.
Senior year will take a lot of your time away from friends and family. Make sure to keep in touch with them frequently! Take breaks. Please do not prioritize school before your mental health. Your health is more important.
Your test scores are just a number. It does not define your actual intelligence nor does it define your value as a human being. Your scores may not be within the range of the school but it doesn’t mean you won’t get in because of it. That being said, you should still try and study for them. You have the option of taking the ACT/SAT again in senior year.
Your activities and extracurriculars are really important. Colleges want to see what you’re passionate about when you’re not a student in the classroom. They will ask you to list what clubs or activities you’ve been involved in since entering high school. Leadership positions and volunteer hours are wonderful additions.
It can get stressful and frustrating, so make sure you space out all the tasks you have to get done. Remember to take breaks, have fun, and relax once in a while. A clear, relaxed mind works better than a mind under severe stress and lack of sleep.
Senioritis is real. You sometimes have to step back and punch senioritis in the face. Even the best students fall prey to this contagious disease. Colleges DO look at your second semester grades, don’t let them slip. Start strong, finish strong.
Senior year is said to be one of the best years of your life. Sure it’s gonna get tough in the beginning but once you’re done, you’re ready to go off to college before you know it.
hello appblr world!! I recently graduated high school (c/o 2015), and I will be attending Duke University in the fall, hoping to pursue a double major in English and Political Science with a minor in either Psychology or Neuroscience :’)
applying to colleges was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, so I really want to help out anyone who is now currently feeling those tidal waves of anxiety and panic. my intention is to help and hopefully alleviate any nerves about applying to college (in America)
the summer before my senior year, every time I read the word ‘college’, my heart rate spiked & I started internally freaking out. for me, the whole process was super overwhelming, and my distaste for the education system (specifically, the american education system) quadrupled. I remember feeling incredibly confused and alone because I didn’t know where to start, so here is a lil guide thingy!!!
THE SUMMER BEFORE SENIOR YEAR:
make sure and finish all your summer assignments – I know that college applications are a strong focus, but get what you’re supposed to do out of the way first + you will feel less overwhelmed and more productive
start making a list of colleges that you want to apply for – my best suggestion is to categorize them into safety schools, match schools, and reach schools
ref: generally people look at a school’s admitted profile (on the school website) and compare stats, which means gpa, rank, test scores, etc. if you can, it’s also helpful to read into their supplementary essay prompts and examples to give you a general idea of what a college is looking for (ex. UChicago is notoriously known for their quirky supplementary essay prompts; famous past prompts include: Find X, Where’s Waldo?, Why are you here?, What’s so odd about odd numbers?)
do lots of research on schools you’re interested in – ok now I know that reading these long paragraphs on school websites can get really tiring, so try watching some youtube videos or looking the school up on reddit, and be sure to talk to current students to get a first-hand account
look at location, diversity, the programs offered in relation to what you’re interested in, size, public vs private institutions, sports, social scene, political affiliations, financial aid offered, study abroad, etc)
try and figure out a general field of what you’re interested in – you do NOT need to know what you want to major in, but when you’re applying for colleges, you will most likely need to select an intended major; if not, you will apply as undeclared, which has its advantages and disadvantages!! but even with an intended major, most colleges don’t make you officially select a major until sophomore, sometimes even junior year, so it is okay to not know what you wanna do when you’re 16/17/18!!! but explore and reflect and try and figure out a general field of what you’re interested in. do NOT use your grades as a sole factor in deciding; if you are good at math and have really high grades, that does not necessarily mean that you should be a math major - pursue your passions!! if you know that you like writing and reading, then consider a major in english or literature. if you think you’d like to work with computer software, then consider a major in computer science or computer engineering. ALSO know that there are so many potential majors + even the option to create your own at some universities!! and also know that many people change majors, and that is totally ok :)
in august, common app will open, which is what many colleges use for the application process. certain schools will have specific websites themselves (i.e. MIT, University of California schools, etc) – if you make an account BEFORE august, it will be deleted by then, so be careful!! now, when you make ur account, you can add schools and you can look at their supplements and stuff. be sure and note deadlines!!
DURING SENIOR YEAR:
keep up with your school work – senioritis is REAL AND ALIVE, my friends. you will think it’s really bad first semester, but then it just explodes into a frenzy of apathy and indifference second semester + you basically don’t care about anything; this is normal, but still try and focus. colleges can rescind their acceptances, altho it’s not likely unless you suddenly fail everything, but overall, it’s just important to still try
keep good relations with your teachers (both current teachers and past teachers) & decide on which to ask for a rec – for many schools, they will require at least one teacher recommendation, so you must decide between which teachers you wanna ask. I would advise picking the teachers you’ve always had good relations with, and in a subject where you’re really passionate about learning the material. when asking, be respectful of deadlines (aka don’t ask them to write you a rec two days before the deadline. they are people too), and be sure and say thank you. if you can, make them a card or make/buy them a little gift; I promise you, they’ll appreciate it!!
if the school you’re applying to requires multiple teacher recs: many people advise asking teachers of different subjects to emphasize your well-roundedness – you can do that or you can ask teachers of one subject that you’re really interested in; weigh your options and politely ask. asking teachers can be really scary sometimes, especially if you’re very shy, but they’re there to help you and it’ll all work out :)
write a common app essay (if applicable) – common app has 4 prompts that you can choose from, and then you’ll submit that to all the colleges ur applying to thru common app. this is very important. if you’re not a good writer, do not fret!! most of the time, the subject of these essays are very personal. a lot of people write about some trying time in their lives, but plenty of other people write creatively about something small, but important. remember that essays are a way for admission directors to get to know the real you :’) that sounds super cliche, but keep in mind that you are more than ur gpa and ur sat/act score. prove that to them by writing about something you care about
if you are ok with it (and it’s totally ok to not be ok with it), ask someone you trust to read over it and edit it. a lot of people ask their language arts teachers just bc they’ll help with grammar and structure, but asking other trusted adults and peers will be helpful too!! keep in mind the potential of bias from parents + friends though
you will most likely write your common app essay multiple times. you will have lots of drafts & it can be really stressful, but patience. you will be so happy when you finally finish
finalize your college list and start writing supplementary essays – many colleges will have supplementary parts to the application on top of common app. this can range from totally separate essays to lil short-answer questions, so be prepared and give yourself plenty of time to write!! just as with your common app essay, getting feedback can be super helpful
also remember that many colleges accept arts supplements (this range depends on the college, but I’ve seen colleges accept writing, dance, music, visual art, etc) & these fall under a different deadline, usually. if you want to submit in an art supplement, you may have to submit in your essays and everything earlier
OH ALSO some colleges will have an early decision or early application deadline – this is basically an earlier deadline for ur app in exchange for an earlier decision. be careful on the difference between EA and ED!!! ED is BINDING, which means that if you get in, you have to go (you can get out of it for financial reasons tho), and EA is NONBINDING, which means that even if you get in, you can decide to go to another school
submit in your transcript and any test scores you need – different schools have different policies, but most fall under either the SAT + SAT 2 scores OR ACT + writing scores; I would suggest contacting the counseling office asap, but be super nice!! counselors are there to help you through this process, but it can be really overwhelming for them too
pay close attention to whether or not ur college requires a counseling rec or not
double check everything for small details – some colleges accept peer recs, but sometimes they don’t publicize that detail very much so just be observant! same with priority deadlines for interviews; you may have to submit in your app earlier if you want priority for an interview
accept ur interview opportunities – meet with an alumni or go on campus if you can and give an interview!! they’re really helpful sometimes bc it provides the school with a look into who you are as a person, not just as a student. also, from my experience, the alumni are super nice and really interested + it’s nice to just talk and nerd out about the school you like :’)
submit ur apps (hehehe of course!)
apply for scholarships – this is something that I wish I had taken more seriously, but really, college is expensive and scholarships can make all the difference. talk to your counselors if you don’t know where to start & literally just google for them!! be careful you are eligible for the ones you’re interested in and make sure you submit everything in by the deadline too
AFTER SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATIONS:
distract yourself like crazy – the wait is horrible and the anticipation is killer, if you’re anything like me at least. hang out with your friends and just enjoy your senior year!! this is the last of high school & i promise you that as much as you may hate it (if you do hate it), you will feel bittersweet by the end of the year. so make memories and make the best out of the time you have left in high school
check your email – colleges oftentimes send you emails if they need you to send them anything more, or they’ll update you about things. they’ll usually also email you with where you need to go to check your decision
don’t let the senioritis take over ur soul
RECEIVING YOUR DECISIONS:
acceptances – YAY CONGRATULATIONS!!! be proud of yourself and know that you deserve it 100000%, wholeheartedly. they did not make a mistake, and you ARE that amazing. celebrate your accomplishment, but also be humble. it’s likely that you have a friend that either got waitlisted or denied, so be careful what you say
rejections – i’m sorry, my dear!! but you are not meant to be at that school, and that is okay. even if it is your dream school. this does not reflect ur self-worth & this def does not mean that you aren’t good enough. this simply means you aren’t a good fit for the school!! most people have to deal with rejections, so take some time for yourself. eat some comfort food and watch some tv. read a book if that relaxes you. take a bath with lots of bubbles. do whatever is necessary to cleanse yourself of any negative thoughts you may have, and then realize that you can accomplish SO much wherever you end up!! UR A BRILLIANT SHINING STAR & I HAVE FAITH IN YOU :’)
waitlisted – being waitlisted (or deferred during EA/ED, which basically pushed you back to the regular decision time) sucks so much bc you just want to know; take a deep breath and consider all your options. make backup plans. if you’re really interested in the school, email them and tell them that!! make sure if you want to be on the waitlist, that you notify them of that (usually via mail or online somehow). if you don’t wanna be on the waitlist, make sure you take yourself off so you give everyone else a better chance :)
weigh your options through careful, careful consideration – there are so many factors that may come into play when finally deciding on which college to go to
money is usually a huge factor, and sometimes you won’t be able to go to a great school even though you got in bc it’s too expensive. but do not be sad about this. give yourself time to feel sad, but don’t let it dictate your life!! you need to stay logical and rational. think long-term. sit down with your guardians and discuss the option of taking out loans and so forth. if you’re planning on pursuing grad school afterwards, you need to keep that in the picture as well
talk to current-students and compare important things – if you’re really big on community service, ask the current students at different schools how it is there. this applies for everything!! first-hand accounts are incredibly helpful. you can also consider emailing professors of departments you’re interested in for a more professional and academic perspective
look into their programs and try and avoid putting too much emphasis on rankings - be specific and read up on the department that you’re interested and compare them with different schools. don’t blindly let an overall ranking mislead you!! (i.e. Duke is ranked higher overall than Georgia Tech, but Georgia Tech is ranked MUCH higher in many of its engineering programs)
talk to people – talk to your parents. talk to your counselors, your teachers, your peers. basically everyone is talking about college your senior year, so take advantage of it. talk with other people and get second, third, fourth, fifth opinions. expand your mind and consider everything!!
senior year is this giant conglomeration of sweat and tears and happiness and anger and jealous and confusion, so do not worry if you are feeling overwhelmed!! it is normal, and i promise that everyone has felt scared about the future at some point. but with that, be confident in yourself. you’re absolutely lovely + you will go far in life!!
ok 1) I apologize for how absurdly long this post is and 2) I am here to help if ANYONE has ANY questions about anything!! literally I would love giving advice, so feel free to msg me anytime (my main account is @naiveety though, so whichever works)
ALSO if anyone is interested in Duke, please please please come to me & I will help!!!
GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE APPLYING TO COLLEGE & MAY YOU ALL HAVE A WONDERFUL, BRILLIANT FUTURE :’)
For incoming high school seniors, your last year in high school is approaching, and this means you’ll start applying to different colleges and/or universities where you could potentially spend the next chapter of your life in. Here’s a list of tips that will guide you every step of the way, from choosing schools to filling up your application form.
The Evolution of a Common App Essay: Tips and Excerpts
Do’s and Don’ts:
Do choose a topic that you feel strongly about even if people say it’s cliche. A “unique” essay isn’t effective if it comes across as outlandish, unfocused, or worse—contrived; it’s the way you approach a subject that matters, not the subject itself.
Do aim for sincerity over memorability.
Don’t address risky (sensitive) subjects like mental illness or drug use. There’s a fine line between vulnerability and TMI; what strikes a chord with one reader might offend another. Think about how you can communicate similar ideas using different anecdotes. See below.
The Evolution of an Essay
I went through seven drafts from start to finish; this is a shortened (and slightly exaggerated) version of my thought process.
What’s the most integral part of your identity?
My struggle with it has probably shaped me more than anything.
Okay, too risky. What’s an event you keep revisiting in your mind?
That time when I got caught in a riptide.
Why is it significant? Jot down a few key words/ideas.
Helplessness. Fear. Saving myself. Writing. This became:
Surrounded by yet estranged from humanity, so close to shore yet so far away, I began to despair. The sharp pulse of my fear ebbed into resignation; my kicking and flailing slowed. But almost as soon as I stopped struggling, it dawned on me: all I had to do was tread. From this experience arose my poem “Fujian.” This piece is a memorial of the boundless joy I had felt upon reaching land, an elegy for the arrogant girl who had thought that she was greater than the sea. But it is also a lesson for days to come. Don’t waste energy fighting life’s many storms. Weather them out.
I went through several drafts and changed the topic several times, but noticed a recurring focus on the third idea—overcoming a seemingly insurmountable obstacle by ceasing to struggle. In my first draft, I was only able to swim back to shore after I stopped resisting the tide; in my final draft, I was only able to speak up after setting aside my fear of ridicule:
I think about how I’ve exchanged no more than a few words with my grandfather during the entire trip, fearing that he would rue the foreign lilt of my Mandarin. But silence is too high a price to pay. My aloofness has shielded me not from hurt but from connection; it is the weakest defense, mere child’s armor in a grown-up world. And so I clear my throat, my Mandarin an old tune whose lyrics I am only just recalling, and begin to speak.
First things first, I’m the realist, I’d like to point out that you do not in any way have to set up your college list like mine. I just wanted to provide my own personal view on how I narrowed down colleges and how I did my research. Feel free to use this as a template. In this post, I’ll break down exactly what I did.
This was created through google docs (form), but can be applicable to an excel spreadsheet as well. What I started off with at the top were my current stats, meaning GPA, class rank, SAT and/or ACT scores. These are all general, just for reference on where you stand in terms of colleges.
The next part is the fun part (and by fun part, I mean the part I spent two weeks creating and editing). On the top are the names of the colleges that you want to research. I categorized them by color: red is for colleges that will definitely be applied to, blue is reconsidering whether to apply or not, green is for my definite safeties, and purple is for whether or I should still apply or not. Now these are all according to my personal preferences, so you don’t have to use this for your list. I do recommend having a color for safeties, reaches, and matches.
The different rows on the left are also based on what I look for in a college and information that I should know:
Ranking: Whether it’s a match, reach, or safety school.
Size: The number of undergraduates that they have on campus.
Public or Private
Admit Rate: Acceptance rate
Freshman Housing: Is freshman housing guaranteed?
Overall Cost: Cost per semester/year-round
Average Financial Age Package
Urban, Suburban, or Rural
Mid 50% SAT CR: Average score out of 800 for critical reading section of the SAT
Mid 50% SAT M:
Average score out of 800 for math section of the SAT
Mid 50% SAT W:
Average score out of 800 for writing section of the SAT
Mid 50% ACT: Average ACT score
Avg. GPA: Average GPA of incoming freshman
Music Programs Available: Whether they have a band and orchestra
Minority %: Percentage of Asian population
Intended Majors: Whether it had the majors that I wanted to pursue (in my case, computer science and graphic design)
Early Action/Early Decision: Whether they had an early action or decision option when applying.
Campus Rating: How much I loved their campus when I visited.
SAT II: Whether subject tests are recommended or required, and how many you need if it’s the case of the latter.
AP Credit: Whether their offer AP credit an/or placement
Supplements: What else is needed to apply.
Application Fee: How much is the application fee.
But like I said guys, this is all unique to my preferences. I just hoped that it inspired you guys on how to set up your college list, or at least helped you figure some things out on where you want to apply. Making a college list has really helped me narrow down decisions on where I want my future to be. My list right now does not hold my final college choices on where I want to apply, but it’s really helping me get there. I hope this post helps you guys too!
I recently stumbled upon a twitter thread that was discussing how our view of someone who’s well educated is very much defined by the amount of privilege someone has. A lot of people replied to this thread in a way similar to me, where they admitted they held this idealized version of being well educated that had to do with learning about different cultures and having access to a lot of resources. I had never realized until I saw this thread just how insecure I was of my own education, especially during the college application process where you’re being compared to students all over the world, you start to see where you don’t measure up. For someone who isn’t rich or someone who doesn’t have access to a lot of resources that would build your application, it’s easy to get discouraged, but you have to realize its okay if you don’t know shit about french culture because you’ve never step foot out of your home country or if you don’t know too much about classical music. This idea that having certain luxuries makes you more valuable than another human beings is toxic and elitist; You can’t expect someone who doesn’t have time to learn a second language because they have to have a part time job or can’t learn coding because they don’t have a computer, to be on a level playing field as someone who’s more fortunate and only focuses on school. As a community of students we need to look within and stop judging ourselves for the education we got. Education is a privilege, as much as it shouldn’t be, it is and while there are things we can do to take control of our own fate, there a circumstances that are just out of our control. So the next time you feel embarrassed for not knowing shit about international politics or modern art just remember that you’re not stupid, you’re just not rich.
DISCLAIMER!!: This is in no way against people who are wealthy and/or have a great education, I’m just highlighting how as students we tend to discount how much opportunity has to do with education. As someone who’s surrounded by a lot of people who feel guilty for not being as “cultured” as they should be, I thought it was important to encourage everyone to practice empathy with themselves and realize that we are all going at our own pace and we can’t berate ourselves for things we can’t control.
hello, your favorite clueless incoming college freshman here. i was accepted to stanford university as a part of the class of 2021, and i’ve been getting a lot of messages on tumblr/social media and from friends at home too about how to get into stanford. i hate answering this question, because, as you will notice, i did not title this post “how to get into stanford” because the truth is i don’t know. (really. i was accepted into some great schools, but i was also rejected from schools. who knows what stanford saw in me that others didn’t?)
but, stanford being my dream school since the 8th grade, i can relate to the nervous i-just-love-this-school-so-much feeling & having millions of questions about the application process. so i thought i’d write out a couple of really random and maybe helpful tips that are VERY SPECIFIC to my own personal application (as i can’t say for sure about any generalities).
if you have any questions about this, or about the college app process, or if you just want to say hi, feel free to shoot me a message (just turned on my anon messages!). much love & good luck.
grades / test scores / class rank: i did not have even close to perfect test scores. this fact stressed me out immensely, but in hindsight i think i was dumb to worry over these numbers. when i say that i don’t think that this section makes or breaks your app, i truly mean it. to me it seemed like such a small part of my application. i do believe i had good grades and such, so i won’t lie and say that it doesn’t matter…but if you are in your senior year, applying to college…the truth is it’s too little too late. so don’t stress about this, and worry about what you can actually do. so, you don’t have the best of grades. play up your other strengths - let someone else be the person that stanford chooses for great academic capability. you don’t have to fill that niche. find your own, and show stanford why they can’t be without it.
common app extracurriculars / accolades: or for me, lack thereof. i didn’t win major awards, did not play at the olympic level for sports, and i did not start a business or intern at a prestigious lab. i think these are all great things, but they have to make sense with your application. when you’re choosing what extracurriculars to put on your app, choose ones that will tell a story (hint: the “academic” side of your story should be what you put as your major interests! if you put your #1 major interest as computer science, but then you have nothing in your extracurricular activities about anything cs related…that doesn’t tell a compelling story. your essays and your common app could be two separate people!)
i don’t think i really played it “safe” with my application. this isn’t to say you should rely on shock value or wit to get you through, but i for sure did not write super formally for any part of the essay (use correct grammar and punctuation though). see the next tip.
common app essay: don’t be afraid to push the limit a little, play around with how you tell your story, especially if you are writing about something that many other people might be writing about. imo, this is the place for you to be creative and try and stand out. this might mean you add humor, or play around with the order that you tell your story, or utilize dialogue, or use a unique way to format your story. but this is also not the time for you to try something new…if you aren’t a creative writer my advice would be to not try and do that. i’m not a super funny person, so i didn’t take a comedic approach. if anything i think after reading tens of thousands of applications (and the tens of thousands more from previous years), admissions officers definitely can tell when the voice you use isn’t yours.
“short takes” or short answer questions: this was my favorite part of the application. boy oh boy did i squeeze everything i could out of this section. i used the space, especially the questions that asked about what books, films, artists, newspapers, etc. i enjoyed, to the best of my ability in a way that would showcase me as a real human being. i wanted whoever was reading my application to, by this point, have a pretty good understanding of who i was. i love journalism, film, witty books, philosophy, and art - so you bet my list included all of those things. i could do a whole other post about just the short takes so let me know if you want that. however, i do want to reiterate that this is the BEST TIME for you to fill in those missing gaps that you just couldn’t fit in a common app essay or activities section, or use it to emphasize just how involved you are with your passions/interests
intellectual vitality essay: one word - interdisciplinary. one of stanford’s mottos is “the wind of freedom blows” and i think of this to represent stanford students coming from a diversity of backgrounds, stories, experiences, interests, talents, coming together and finding ways to share what they love and know and grow as both a person and as a community. you can be the best physicist in the entire world, but if physics is all that you know and all that you are willing to talk about, then i just can’t be convinced of your intellectual vitality.
roommate essay: this probably isn’t good, but i literally wrote one draft for this essay. straight through, i just wrote what i felt like i would want to share with my roommate. i think here is also the moment for you to share how much you would really fit in at stanford - the practical bits. stanford is one of the few schools that doesn’t have a “why stanford” question, so find a way to fit that in, either subtly like i tried to do throughout my app, or a little more blatantly like i did with this essay. for example, i mentioned some of the things on stanford’s campus that i could see me and my roommate doing together. i also mentioned disney, cher from clueless, ferris bueller, the amazing race, the mowgli’s, how to get away with murder, and my favorite existentialist play. so you see, this was truly a mess of things that i believed represented me.
what matters to you, and why? essay: i used this essay to add the emotional leaning to my extracurriculars. i was very into politics and government, and had done canvassing and worked with state representatives, etc. while that may or may not be impressive, it still is just one line in my common app. so, i used this essay to re-emphasize my emotional connection with politics and culture, relating it back to my personal story. i also used this essay to give the admissions officers a look into my worldview, and how my surroundings have shaped my worldview.
most importantly, though, TELL YOUR STORY. idk how many times i have to say this, but all i truly did on my app was thing long and hard about what it would be like to be a college admissions officer reading thousands of essays. i didn’t even care if each of my essays were, on their own, super super amazing. i cared more about how well they supported and leaned on each other, so that at the end of the day the admissions officers would hopefully feel that they were meeting me, a whole human being, and not me, applicant #12940.
ok thanks for sticking with me. send me some love and/or questions here. :)
The Personal Statements that got me into Grad School in the UK
Key points to hit: 1. Intro 2. Relevant Knowledge/ Skills 3. Career Goals
Application sent to:
University of York, MSc Archaeological Information Systems
University of Edinburgh, MSc Geographical Information Science & Archaeology
University of Birmingham, MSc Landscape Archaeology
Throughout my undergraduate career, I have developed a strong passion for the cultural heritage of the world and connecting to the past through archaeology. My interests lie heavily in the rising technologies now being implicated into archaeological practices. These techniques play a very important role in not only preserving the past for future generations, but also in helping to discover new ways of inquiring about past civilizations. I believe that the University of Edinburgh and its opportunities for research and access digital resources, would be perfect for advancing my interests in Digital Archaeology. My suitability for the MSc in Geographic Information Science and Archaeology comes from my previous and current experience in GIS and Remote Sensing applications in archaeology. I have conducted research using technologies such as ArcGIS, QGIS, ERDAS Imagine, and Photoscan, and feel as though the University of Edinburgh could assist me in building a foundation of expertise in archaeological computing to help further my academic and professional careers.
Since discovering my love for cultural heritage, I have taken advantage of as many archaeological opportunities as I could. I have done fieldwork in Teotihuacan, Mexico and in the states of Washington and California, specializing in the digitization and illustration of artifacts, as well as the conducting of archaeological surveys. I was also a part of the Syrian Heritage Initiative and CORONA Atlas Projects from 2016-2017. These projects focused on the orthorectification of CORONA satellite imagery for archaeological applications, implementing remote sensing models into ArcGIS, and using the imagery to monitor and record the looting activity in the Middle East over time. Throughout these projects, I was exposed to the power and importance of GIS and Remote Sensing technologies in archaeology, and as a result I modified my undergraduate major to accompany GIS and Remote Sensing coursework.
My current extracurricular activities and hobbies reflect my interests in research and education. I chose to be a substitute teacher for the Lake Elsinore School District during my intermediate period between Undergraduate and Graduate programs in order to give back to the community that fostered my interests in history, and encouraged me to achieve my academic goals. I am also the softball coach for American River College, where I work to inspire young women to continue their education through the development of athletic and academic rigor. With my free time, I enjoy practicing illustration in a variety of mediums. I have been drawing since a young age, and this hobby has helped me to excel in illustrating opportunities that arise in archaeological research.
My career plans are to establish myself in the world of archaeology and cultural heritage preservation. I would like to specialize in archaeological fieldwork and research in prehistoric archaeology, and work for an institution that seeks to discover new ways of recording archaeological data. After attaining a masters degree, I would like to further my education at the doctoral level. In addition to this, I would like to become a professor of anthropology and digital archaeology in order to inspire and educate people about the importance of our past civilizations.
What schools have good directing, film, writing, programs
University of Southern California New York University University of California - Los Angeles American Film Institute California Institute of the Arts Columbia University Chapman University Loyola Marymount University Emerson College University of Texas - Austin Syracuse University Boston University University of North Carolina School of the Arts Northwestern University Wesleyan University Stanford University DePaul University Florida State University Columbia College Chicago Savannah College of Art and Design
How To Navigate College Alumni Interviews (Part 2)
I’ve compiled below a list of questions which might come up. If any of y’all are curious, shoot me an ask & I’ll talk about how I approached/answered them.
The Sales Pitch
Tell me about yourself ***
This should be around one minute long and give the interviewer a sense of who you are. What are your favorite classes? What activities are you involved with inside and outside of school? How do you see yourself?
What sets you apart?
I suggest emphasizing how you sought out opportunities. You want to demonstrate, ideally, that you’ll take advantage of a university’s resources and student organizations.
Interviewers often ask softball questions in order to ease you into the interview and (in some cases) obtain a better understanding of your particular circumstances. Some common questions are:
What do your parents do for a living? Do you have any siblings? Are you close to your family? What did you do over the summer? What do you do for fun? What is your favorite book? What courses have you taken? As a follow-up: which ones have you enjoyed?
These questions are (hopefully) trivial.
Tell me about your high school. What do you like/dislike about it?***
Now this question warrants a bit of thought. Is your high school STEM-oriented or focused on the humanities? Consider the social dynamics. Do you fit in with its prevailing culture? If not, have you found a niche?
Self-Reflection and Self-Perception
What is a stressful event that has brought out the best in you?***
Have you grown since you entered high school?
What is your greatest accomplishment/what are you most proud of?
What has been your greatest failure and what have you learned from it?
What are your best qualities/strengths?
Think of three adjectives that describe yourself. None of my interviewers asked me this question, but you might as well err on the side of preparedness: it’s hard to come up with thoughtful words on the spot.
Conversely, what are your weaknesses?
How do you hope college will be different from high school?
Why do you wish to study (your indicated major)?
Why do you want to go to (the school by which you’re being interviewed)?***
Do your research; don’t be afraid to cite the school’s course catalog or website. But whatever you do, have clear reasons. A poorly-articulated answer to this question can leave a negative impression.
Is there anything else you haven’t conveyed either during this interview or in your application?***
Every single interviewer I had asked me this question. I recommend saying something if possible, even if it’s only a reinforcement of what you’ve previously said—my most successful interviews have been the ones where I either elaborated on points I made earlier or talked about the impetus for joining much of my extracurriculars. Answering this question provides a memorable coda; saying ‘no’…does not.
Imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.
As we come to the end of our senior year in high school, we thought we would share some tips that we learned over the past year for dealing with college/uni applications. We know the college process can be super stressful and confusing, so we hope you guys find this helpful! <3
uh basically what i did to get recommendation letters secured for grad school + study abroad? this is like for ….anxious people lol? i researched for HOURS on how to actually go about getting recommendation letters….but there weren’t too many tips for the actual process, just ‘oh! get recs from professors who love you’ haha…
Before you even think of asking…
Do your research: Thinking about graduate school? scholarships? studying abroad? Fulbright? anything that you have to apply to, you’re going to be asked for recommendation letters. this most definitely did NOT occur to me, so I probably added more stress to my plate than I needed to. But yeah….you can’t just get in on your own merit for most things. You need people to vouch for you in the form of rec letters, and most times your applications won’t even be considered without them. PLUS when you DO ask for a recommendation letter, you want to show that you have done some research into whatever you are applying for, and share some of that information with your potential recommender.
Prepare statements of purpose and academic CVs: In order for your recommender to write a letter, they need some background on, well, you! Even if you talk to them often, it’s still nice to have your specific ideas and goals about the program ready and laid out. Plus, they may not know of all your academically-related accomplishments, so detail them in that CV! It’s basically a resume in a different format, but if you get it done early, your recommender may even go over it and send you back suggestions.
Who to ask….
Quality of your recommender: Honestly, you can’t just get any old recommendation letter and hope that’ll fly. Oftentimes when recommendation letters are provided as a side thing (at least for college), they can be pretty basic and impersonal. It’s best to get a letter from someone who has had 1-1 conversations with you where you shared about who you are, not necessarily just what you do. That can add a lot to your letter.
So many options….: It’s actually really okay to ask if your potential recommender feels they can write a strong, POSITIVE letter for you. You don’t want a petty supervisor (or someone with which you butted heads or got a less than stellar grade in their class) writing your letter. If they can’t immediately say yes, then they won’t be golden. Once you weed out the so-so choices, you can focus on the strong candidates.
HOW to ask...
Building rapport: it comes to a point where you really do have to put yourself out there if you want your professor to remember your face. I’ve gone to events and seen professors (future, former, or current) present, and had little small talk convos just to say ‘hey! I’m your student!’. just walking around campus I might run into one, so that’s always a good time to ask questions about things in general (I would save assignment related questions for office hours!). I always email my bilingual professor every week because he doesn’t post the assignment slots ahead of time, and let him know ‘hey! I’ve finished my assignment and want to submit’! Not only is that helping him keep things running, but he’s realizing ‘wow…she’s always finishing her assignments early’. bonus points! I usually spend half an hour in office hour sessions, talking about school, asking questions about their research, going off on tangents …it’s okay to treat your professor as a mentor, they want to see you succeed, so show that you are putting that effort in! It’s also a good chance to practice your language skills with your language professors…
Schedule a talk ahead of time: When you actually ask for rec letters… do NOT just drop in! Show a level of professionalism by emailing your professors ahead of time and asking if you can speak with them regarding grad school/study abroad program, and ask them a question. :-] That’s what I did anyway lol! I didn’t ask for my rec letter officially over email, but face to face.
Set them up: Discuss the program(s) you are interested in, and give them enough detail so that they have a general idea of what you want to get them involved in. Don’t just sit down and ask ‘Can you write me a rec letter?’ but show that you are prepared! If you need to, provide them with pamphlets now.
Just ask!: Okay, now you can literally ‘just ask!’ When I had to ask for rec letters from one of my professors, my CURRENT professor was in his office just chatting with him! That was a bit nerve-wracking, but I just spit out my request before my anxiety took over (I totally wanted to run out of the office). It didn’t really matter that we had an ‘audience’, as he accepted with no problem!
What to do after…
APPLY!: Now that you’ve asked, you have to follow through! Start working on your application if you haven’t done so already, keep researching the process, and keep your recommenders up to date with deadlines, reminders, and additional information you discover. For me, I have to keep my professors up to date with my writing samples, statements of purpose, application process, and deadlines for my study abroad program. Whatever I need to know, they need to know!
um, I hope this is helpful! I can’t really cover the ‘okay I’ve applied and they’ve sent their letters in’ parts because…that hasn’t happened yet! I only asked two weeks ago, but I’ll definitely add onto this post once I can talk about the end results. :-]
how to get your dream internship !! or at least a paid one.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a long post, and I have little free time tonight, so here’s some internship knowledge for you.
Just a little disclaimer: this process is different for everyone. I’ve had more than my fair share of trial and error, so I’m gonna tell you what worked and what didn’t. And how I landed a PAID INTERNSHIP for the summer.
I’ll be documenting my internship experience on Instagram this summer @parissdb. Follow me there!
1. Start applying early. Summer applications usually go live in the fall and winter. Don’t wait until the spring to start doing your research. Plan ahead. Make a list of your top choices, and then make a list of your second choices. Write down the deadline for each one, and try to submit it before the deadline. Which brings me to my second point–
2. Submit your applications as soon as possible. Sometimes positions are filled on a rolling basis, so someone could already be interviewing while you just started applying! Be that someone! Gather your materials and show them what you got! What do I mean by materials? Well,
3. Spruce up your resume and cover letter. This post isn’t about how to do that, but make sure your highlighting your major experiences and accomplishments. Write a carefully worded cover letter and tailor it to the company.
4. Don’t just apply for a summer position. Your chances of securing a fall or spring internship are higher than summer! This is because there are fewer applications. I’d recommend applying for ones close to your college down so you have easy travel access, and then you’ll have enough experience to intern at a bigger company over the summer.
5. Send out a ton of applications. My freshmen year of college, I applied to three (3) internships. None of them worked out, and luckily I was able to use a little bit of nepotism to get an unpaid position. This year I applied to more than 30. I heard back from half, and got interviews for a quarter. The job market is competitive, but if you send out enough applications, something will stick. A good rule of thumb is to send out another application for every rejection you get. That way the door is always open.
6. Be patient. I’m still trying to practice this one myself. But there’s a lot that goes into selecting candidates, so don’t panic if you don’t hear back within a week. That being said, if more than three months go by, it may be time to search for other opportunities.
7. Collect your references. Maybe you have a supervisor who adores you or a professor who thinks you’re brilliant. Use them to your advantage. Tell them about your interests and see if they know of any opportunities.
8. If you can, work your way up. I started off as an unpaid intern. I realize not everyone has the financial stability to do so. (Now that I’m looking at applying to grad schools, I don’t either.) Regardless, try to gain as much experience as you can. If you can’t afford to be an unpaid intern and can’t find a paid position, gain experience on the side while working. There are many part time unpaid positions with a flexible schedule that will allow you to take up paid work elsewhere.
9. Be patient.
10. Believe in yourself. Because if I can do it, you can too.
Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
You can trace mental illness through my family tree like a streak of gold through a Rocky Mountain mine. We’ve got all the cliches: tortured writers, hermits, opiate addicts, and the ever-present obsessive compulsive who was invariably the butt of many a Monk jest. For many years, that’s all those things were to me. A distant problem that “other people” had. Something we collectively laughed at when examining family histories, like ha-ha, wasn’t great-great-grandma Mary so funny? She heard voices tell her that her broomsticks were possessed by the devil. Until, in the usual way of things, it wasn’t. Sophomore year, under a combination of stresses both real and invented, I stopped eating. That’s a simple way of putting a very complicated thing, but I found that school was so much easier when I was starving. For two years, the hunger sharpened my brain and ate away at my muscle, until my ravaged body wouldn’t even let me sleep for fear of my heartbeat slowing to a stop. All, the while I spend [yes, this is a typo. I didn’t proofread my essays before I submitted them.] my days taking tests and writing essays, maintaining my straight A’s like nothing ever could be wrong. When I transitioned into recovery at the start of my Senior year, my grades suffered. It was like a constant buzzing in my ears, every moment that my stomach was full. And that’s when school took the backseat. Maybe I’m not supposed to say that, in a college essay. I’m probably supposed to tell you that school comes before everything, always. But the truth is that it doesn’t; this year, I’ve dropped out of the vast majority of my extracurricular activities. I’ve chosen Honors Statistics over Honors Calculus, a study hall where I can eat my morning snack in peace over Physics. At the moment, every bite is excruciating, a reminder of the brokenness of my brain. But this is not forever, because I am taking those bites. With a mix of mood stabilizers and good ol’ fashioned cognitive-behavioral therapy, I am getting better.