Advice from CollegeAdvisor Alumni
The college admissions process can be difficult to navigate. Join CollegeAdvisor alumni and current students of top schools Sarah Owensby (Emory ’25), Shayan Shivji (UPenn ’25), and Devangana Rana (Harvard ’25) as they provide an overview of their college admissions experience and how CollegeAdvisor’s support benefited them. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-04-27 Advice from CollegeAdvisor Alumni
Hi everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar Advice from CollegeAdvisor Alumni. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hi, my name is Devangana Rana. I’m a first year at Harvard university and I’m originally from our banner, Illinois. Hi, my name is Sarah Owens, I’m from I go to Emory university. I’m a first year there and I’m from Indonesia. Hey, my name is Shayan Shivji, I’m from Miami, Florida, and currently attending university of Pennsylvania as an under.
Great. Okay. So tonight’s webinar is going to be run a little bit differently. We’ll just go through some questions and our panelists will answer them. And then when we get to [00:01:00] the Q and a, you all can ask y’all’s personal questions, uh, and get some tips and advice, um, from our panelists. So for our first question, where do you go to college and what’s your major?
Um, I go to Harvard university and my major is economics. I go to Emory university and my major is a joint major in history and art history, um, in the Warren school at the university of Pennsylvania, studying finance and minoring in consumer psychology. Great. Uh, we have a very good mix in the, um, odd in the panel, um, right now.
Um, so please get your questions prepared. So going on to our next question, how did your CollegeAdvisor advisors help you and your family navigate applying to college? Yeah. So, um, CollegeAdvisor, um, advisors helped me in my family, um, immensely. So first of all, they really made sure that I knew, [00:02:00] um, what each part of the application process consisted of ranging from the essays, um, the financial aid requests as well.
Um, as well as just helping me present my best self to colleges and they helped with the essays, um, immensely, um, by providing like details, feedback on my essays and making sure that, um, I crafted my stories and my messages in the best way possible. Um, also they helped me prepare for my interviews as well.
Um, so that I was confident to, um, answer any questions that my interview is had and overall helped me be a successful applicant.
Um, so I worked with an advisor when I was applying from CollegeAdvisor, obviously. And, um, I think that the most important thing that they did for me was really give me the confidence in my application. I think that there were aspects of the application that I knew about, and I was pretty well-informed on the application itself, but they truly gave me the confidence [00:03:00] to write those essays, to present myself in a way that I wanted to, and I felt was most appropriate for the applications.
And I think that one other thing that I went into kind of blind was financial aid and they were super helpful with that. And I think that as a financial aid, the confidence, and that really pushed me to present an application that was as good as.
Well said. So, yeah, I come from a first-generation household, so my parents were largely unaware of how to even go about the college system and I had to kind of navigate through myself. So I think CollegeAdvisor really kind of helped me help guide me through that process and definitely gave me the confidence I needed, because at times it was hard.
And sometimes you just feel like giving up, especially when your essays aren’t meeting up to a certain, um, expectation. So I think they definitely helped push me to the next. Yeah. So I noticed a theme of confidence and really getting [00:04:00] that extra support from the advisers, um, which is very important, especially since the college admissions process is a very personal one.
Everyone has different needs and wants, um, from their process. And so having that personal, uh, personalized help can really help with, um, getting through difficult times and the application process, having somebody to connect to. Um, maybe you do have a school. Counselor is someone at home that can help you, but really having a person designated to help you can really help.
And Sarah, you mentioned that you’re also an advisor here, uh, at CollegeAdvisor too, right? No, I’m not an advisor. I am a I’m on the match team. So I facilitate matches between advisors and clients, but I am a, um, an advising fellow from matriculate. So the work that my college counselor, my CollegeAdvisor did for me, really pushed me to explore other opportunities to give back to the committee.
Definitely. That is so great. And then we do have many people at [00:05:00] CollegeAdvisor that are really trying to help you with the application process, from our wonderful match team that try and pair you with the best, um, advisor for you and kind of going off of that. Um, do y’all feel y’all were matched with someone that really understood you that you could really connect with?
Um, yeah, personally, um, my advisor shared like many of the same interests as me, so he was studying international relations and political economy at Princeton. And so, um, much of this things that I did in high school, he also did in high school. So, um, I guess like we really bonded over that and, um, he also came from like an immigrant family, just like mine, just like me.
And so I was able, like, he understood my experiences and was able to help me, um, convey those messages to like, um, like college, um, like interviews as best.
Um, I definitely felt like my [00:06:00] advisor was the best match that I could’ve gotten. Uh, she did not have a similar major as me. She did not do the same activities, but she took the time to get to know me and to get to know who I was to understand my trajectory and where I fit into the puzzle and really worked hard to make sure that I had the best experience with CollegeAdvisor and also applying to college.
Yeah. Um, my advisor was that similar, um, similar career objectives as me and had already accomplished most of them. He was a little bit older, but he definitely helped me guide through the process. I still text him today. We’re probably gonna meet in New York soon. So I think all of that just represents how CollegeAdvisor builds long lasting relationships.
Those those connections last lifetime, just a side note. I’m also meeting my advisor in new York’s. Wow. Everyone’s coming up to New York. Um, I hope y’all are going to the city and not upstate I’m currently in [00:07:00] Ethica, uh, at school. So, um, New York city is definitely a lot more fun to meet people. Uh, going on to the next question.
How did working with your CollegeAdvisor help you stand out in the college admissions process? A lot of students here are worried about like really standing out, really being able to represent themselves in the application. And it can be a bit overwhelming, especially talking about yourself. So can y’all touch on that a bit?
Yeah. So, um, I’m also international student from India and like, um, like application, there’s like tons of obligations from India and it’s really, um, competitive. So I think my CollegeAdvisor helps me craft my unique story of growing up in both India and United States and also not being fully in an Indian American or Indian international, and being somewhere sort of in the middle and the, like the unique experience of growing up and like, um, the university of Illinois, their family and graduate housing there.
Um, and just helping showcase my love for like [00:08:00] multiculturalism and how I’m like a more adaptable person because of my experiences. So I think, um, Like CollegeAdvisor does a really good job of finding what makes a person unique and what sets them apart from the crowd as, and it doesn’t have to be something big, like a unique interests that you have, or like a unique passion that you have that is really quirky.
Or maybe even not, maybe it’s just like a regular sport that you play. Um, but really, um, like bringing out what your experience with that thing is and how it has helped you, like helps shape you as a person. I think, um, like advisors from CollegeAdvisor do a really good job of doing that. Um, so I’m from Jakarta Indonesia.
I’m an American citizen, so I’m a dual citizen, but I grew up in a foreign country. So it was a very. Difficult experience applying to college in many ways, just because of the complications of that. But I [00:09:00] will say that my advisor saw the things in me and saw the things in my experiences that made me who I am.
And when I presented my common app essay idea to her, I was like, I, this is bad. Like, I’m sorry. And she fully gave me the confidence to just push forward with it. And she edited it. We refined it. And I think that the reason it was helpful in standing out in the college process was that it helped me realize the parts of me that did stand out that I didn’t realize made me stand out.
Yeah, just to reiterate, I think it’s all about the story, especially when the college admissions officers are looking at you, they want to see what makes you unique and stand out from everyone else. And I think my CollegeAdvisor definitely helped me with that. The most crafting your extracurriculars to match your common app essay is key.
And to build that story off of that is kind of what [00:10:00] the connection I was missing. And that’s what he helped me facilitate. He also helped me plan out who to ask for my, um, recommendation letters and referrals, and that also helped. Get accepted to the college on that now? Yes. Um, when I was working with my students, this past admissions cycle, I really enjoyed, um, our calls where we would just talk and get to know each other.
Sometimes we wouldn’t necessarily get work done, but, um, we would get to know each other a bit more and really being able to hear them and see like what their interests are, what things may be scared them, um, what they, um, how they see the world, how they speak really did help me with, um, uh, advising them, especially with the essays, making sure that their voice came out, um, and their essays and their application overall, and like what their interests are.
And I really do feel like having somebody that knows you and can help you in the process is really good, just because they can, [00:11:00] um, point out those things, um, that you may not have noticed, like they mentioned, or, um, that maybe, um, aren’t being talked about enough in your application that somebody else sees as like, wow, that’s so great about this person.
So going on to the next question, what extracurriculars did you do in high school? Yeah, so, um, my main extracurriculars were mainly, um, social impact oriented. So I’m really passionate about female empowerment, especially in my home country. And so I worked with a lot of like NGOs in India, um, really, really, which related to like gender equality and providing access to education, um, to young girls, which may, um, have like abusive households or, um, are located in rural areas.
And then in school I did, um, key club and model UN, um, those were my two main and tennis. Um, those were my main extracurriculars in school. And then I also worked in city [00:12:00] government, um, in like my city in Urbana, Illinois, and yeah, that’s about it.
Sorry, I forgot. That was me. Um, uh, so my extracurricular, so I mainly focused on environmental organizations and, um, education organizations. So I was involved with a, with the chapter of my city’s chapter of the global organization by my plastic bags. I was a board member there and I worked with a local organization that was geared towards providing resources and, uh, improving the educational experience of local kids in the area.
And in school I was in student government. I was, um, in, I was on my volleyball, my school’s varsity volleyball team, and I, uh, was in the hydroponics club.
I wish I was as [00:13:00] pointed as the other two panelists, but I was just kind of focused on leadership and social impact as a whole. Um, I went to a small charter school, so I founded the debate club there. And then I ran, uh, during their tragedy and George Florida ran a protest, gained national attention, started, uh, equality campaign with the mayor of my city.
Um, and then I transitioned to, well, not transition, I’m sorry. I was the VP of my NHS club, VP of my senior class and varsity captain of my track team. But I would just push that leadership is important. And, but try to like taste a little bit of everything before you kind of make your choice of what you want to do in life.
I agree. Um, so moving onto the next question, um, what was your experience transitioning from high school to college?
Yeah. So, um, my experience [00:14:00] experience transitioning to high school to college was a bit tumultuous. I would have to say, um, in the beginning, I think it all happened like way too quickly. It was really hard to like get into the swing of things. Um, it was my it’s like my first time living away from home. Um, and like, like is like very, I think like it is a collaborative space, but it’s can be like a tough place to be in.
Especially like went and bought imposter syndrome, like sort of kicks in, but overall it has been like a really good experience. And second semester has been like way better than first semester for me. And yeah, I’m, I can’t believe their freshman year is almost over for me and yeah, I’m looking forward to the upcoming years.
Um, so the transition from high school to college for me was. Quite honestly, the most difficult experience of my life. Um, I moved from a foreign country to the states, never having lived here, um, and was kind [00:15:00] of thrown immediately into being in school, being in a different country and being away from most of my family.
And so that was definitely the hardest part. I will say that the, the academic aspect of it is quite difficult and the aspect of meeting new people, creating a community can pile up. But at the end of the day, you just have to remind yourself that this is where you’re going to be for four years. And this is the life you’re living now.
And it’s kind of the reality of it. You got to make the best of it. You can’t focus on how hard it is or how much it’s straining you, because sometimes just got to remind yourself that it’s, it’s going to be great someday. And that someday is going to come sooner than you think.
Definitely well said, um, that moving and being alone for your first [00:16:00] year is definitely the hardest transition ever because you don’t have your mom to kind of cook food for you and you don’t have someone to tell you, Hey, get out, wake up, like it’s time to get up, do some work and not having that discipline can really like push a Rocky start.
But once you get the hang of it, I think it’s really an amazing experience. Having a social support group is the most the thing I would emphasize the most only because my friends have probably helped me through the worst times of just too much stress with clubs, classes, et cetera. So I think definitely create a support group, but the transition you’ll make it through.
Definitely. So I’m a sophomore at Cornell. So I understand the feeling I do not miss freshman year in the slightest. Um, it is a big transition. I moved from Georgia where Emory, uh, university is all the way up to New York. Um, so it was a big transition, especially the weather, um, going off of that, [00:17:00] um, which McCauley, uh, you mentioned the discipline aspect and I know that transitioning to college, especially now that I’m in my own apartment, I have to clean, I have to make doctor’s appointments.
That’s a big thing. Um, what would you say are some things, uh, like time management adult saying that students can start working on now in high school that can really prepare them for college? Um, I would say for the most part, like really like taking this time to like plan your day, I think has been like key for me because, um, like.
And make like a list of things that you have to do and like schedule specific time blocks of when you’re going to do them, because that just makes you way more accountable into actually doing them and not just like pushing them over to the next and the next day. And like the loop goes on and on. So I think like really like getting a planner and like, if you have like a summer internship or just like, or like any like summer tasks, they can take the summer to really like plan your day.
And that will, um, hopefully get you in the swing of things by the [00:18:00] time the semester starts. Okay, I’m going to go the exact opposite direction. Don’t lose your hobbies. That’s my one big thing and be kind to yourself because just focus on the things you love right now, and don’t forget how to love them because good being in college, you can be stressed out.
You can have that discipline and you can plan your day. And it’s a fantastic thing to do, but sometimes you’re going to have those moments where you just want to go on your phone and go on it forever. So instead of doing that, um, focus on some hobbies that are really productive and things that you genuinely love doing and remind yourself how to do them.
Once you get to college. And before. I’m going to take the middle route here. Definitely make a list of what you have to do, but at the same time, be kind to yourself and make that commitment. Okay. I did three things. Let me take a break. I can be 15 minutes on my phone. I can even talk to some friends for 30 minutes, like [00:19:00] it’s okay.
I’ll get my stuff done. So as long as you prioritize your work and at the same time prioritize your mental health, that will lead you to be a sustainable student at university. Um, just adding to that sustainable student, um, when you’re at university and never be afraid to reach out if you’re ever at a point where you think that you’ve gotten where you’ve hit rock bottom, or you’ve hit a wall, find like, find the people in your community and in your school’s administration that can help you because they’ll always be there.
Definitely. And I’m kind of going off of that. My big thing, while you’re in high school, get used to making phone calls for yourself, talking to people, um, whether that’s making a doctor’s appointment or ordering a pizza, those are very important in college, unless you’re going to three-way call your parents.
Every time, something. And then also, yes, definitely. Um, I want to echo what has been said, um, taking care of [00:20:00] yourself in planning in those breaks and time for yourself into your busy schedules is really important. I know for me, getting back into sewing was really important and this is my way to de stress.
Some people it’s working out, um, even like when you’re making your schedules, I’m pretty sure we might have a question about this later, but, um, ha um, planning into your schedule, um, days off or breaks on what your course load, if it’s possible is definitely good. I know I love my days off to catch up on work or to just relax or just taking a day out of the weekend where you just do absolutely no work, um, do something you love, spend time with friends.
It really does make a difference. So going on to the next question, uh, is college what you expected it to be. Um, like, I’m not really sure how to like, answer this question because like I don’t in high school. I don’t think I had an, any idea of like, I don’t think I was thinking about like life after getting in, like, honestly, [00:21:00] like, like in high school, I only thought about like getting into, um, a college that, um, like would be financially feasible and affordable, but so I didn’t really have an expectation or idea of what college would be like, but I think that overall college has really been an amazing experience.
And though it had a lot of like ups and downs, like overall, um, it has helped me like grow as a person and I’ve changed so much even though it’s been like less than a year, but, um, yeah, it’s, I think it’s just like part of growing up and turning into like an independent person. Um, and yeah.
Um, so I been dreaming of going to college since I was like 12. I remember having like multiple colleges, like pictures of colleges pasted up on my wall. Um, I loved the idea of college. So I had a really strong idea of college and I [00:22:00] expected to be a lot of things. And a lot of the things it’s definitely has been, it’s been an amazing experience.
It’s been something completely different in my life will never be the same after college, but I will say that it is harder than you think it’s going to be. And you know, sometimes it can be a bit lonelier than you expect it to be just because you’re on your own for the first time. But as you grow, you kind of learn how to be strong within yourself, how capable you are.
And it’s a really eye-opening experience.
Yeah, I definitely agree. Um, my college camp has loves the phrase, work hard, play harder, and that’s kind of what I’ve been surrounded around 24 7. It’s definitely a lonely experience because everyone’s grinding from Sunday through Friday, but then as soon as Friday comes around, you are everyone, everyone you would expect to be staying in is going out, having the time of their lives.
So I [00:23:00] think it was way, way more overwhelming than I would have thought, but it definitely changed me for the better I’ve realized I’ve learned to balance my social life and my academics in a different light. And honestly, it’s made me better, better as a whole. So yeah. Yes, and kind of going off of that.
And we have one more question after that, before the Q and a, um, you mentioned balancing social life and all of y’all touched on like the big transition and stuff. And like, when I, what I expected of college was it to be like how I see it on TV and movies with all the parties and the doing all these crazy things and stuff.
Um, it hasn’t been like that with the pandemic and personally I’m not a party person. So, um, how do you, um, like how does someone, um, as a student really, um, make the experience their own and not worry so much about like some fantasy of what colleges are, what other people are doing and really, um, do stuff that they enjoy rather than, you know, like trying to follow the.[00:24:00]
Yeah. So I think I really learned that the hard way, like the first few months of college, I think there was like a huge pressure on campus to like go out and about like go out every weekend or just always be at every single event. Um, and that was really overwhelming, like for me, because I think like, I’m S I’m not like an introvert, but like, not like that much of an extrovert, you know, so were like in the middle, but, um, it got really overwhelming really fast.
And so, um, I think this semester I’m much better about maybe going out, like when I want to and not, um, like, not because like other people are going or if it’s this huge thing and like, I have a lot of like S uh, work to do all. I definitely do my work rather than go. So I think. Accepting and like accepting who you are, what your personality is.
And like, what you’re comfortable with is really important and like setting those boundaries for yourself as well as the people that you’re around is really important and like managing your social life as well [00:25:00] as your I could look like. Um, I think that I definitely had a hard time with that, especially the following the crowd part.
I think that you, you look at everyone else around you and you’re always going to ask yourself, why does it look like they’re having a better time than me? And they’re probably just having about the same time as you, you know, and it’s just about really looking at the silver linings and your own situations and just little things to make you happy, because those are the things that are gonna matter.
Most of the long run, the few relationships that you value the most, the organizations and activities that make you the happiest, you know, focusing on the parts that don’t suck as much. Yeah. Be true to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. I think that’s so important. Like why are you running?
You’re running your own race. Stop watching someone else’s race. You’re you’re nowhere near them. You’re not, [00:26:00] that’s not what you’re doing. And that’s not anything that has to do with you. Just focus on yourself, go into the organizations that obviously make you happy and don’t be pressured to go anywhere.
Sometimes it’s okay to let loose. It’s okay to let yourself go from an every now and then, because we get it. It’s stressful, but then hone down and just grind because that’s the point is your future, not the temporary things you have now. Definitely. And I kind of had the opposite end. I don’t really like parties so much.
The music here is terrible at most parties. So, um, I was always comparing myself about academics, even though I’m a humanities major. I was originally pre-med, um, and a stem major. And then I chose peace and happiness and something that I really enjoyed an education. Um, but I’m always like worrying like, oh, I’m only taking 14 credits or 15 credits, which is kind of a light load for Cornell.
Whereas my friends are taking like 1820 credits because they’re, pre-med still, and then, um, so [00:27:00] I feel like I’m behind or not doing enough, but then like having to remind myself like, oh yeah, I have a job. Oh, I’m doing this research project on doing stuff that I actually like, and I could not stand pre-med.
So there’s no point trying to compare myself to them or what they’re doing because I’m doing stuff that I really enjoy. And then also. Again, not a party person, but like hanging out with my friends at their places and just watching movies or just having hour long conversations and eating good food is always a good thing.
So like, don’t feel like you have to don’t feel so pressured to like go out, spend money, or like go to big parties all the time and maybe do stuff that you may not want to do. Always just do stuff that you feel happy doing and feel comfortable doing. Oh, did you want to add something? Yeah. Just on the note of money, please budget please.
[00:28:00] Definitely. Okay. So our last question before the Q and a, before we open it up to the audience, um, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give your high school?
Um, I think like the advice that I would give the most of my high school self was just like be in the present because I felt like in high school, I was always worrying about the future. And like, I just used to like stress out so much because, um, like coming from like a low income, like, um, like international student background on you, then missions were going to be really tough.
And like I used to spend, I like, I think I really missed out on like, like spending some moments with my friends that I could have that would have been so memorable, like to study like a little extra for the sat or like to write this one extra essay to like edit something one last time. And I think that high school is such a precious time before you’re out in the real world.
And it’s like, your last senior year is like your last year. [00:29:00] Being a kid. And I think if I just like slow down and just took the time to like soak it in more, I think I would, that would have definitely been a lot better. So I would tell, um, all of the seniors that are currently watching to just slow down and just take it all in because you’re never going to get this signed back.
Okay. I have two things. First of all, spend more time with your family. You’re going to miss them. Like how, um, and second of all, I think that when I was in high school, I spent a lot of time worrying that I was not good enough or that I was going to disappoint someone or look around me and I’ll be happy one day.
I think that the most important thing I would tell myself then is just that everything works out in the end. And at the end of the day where other people’s successes are not going to bother you because you’re going to be focused on putting yourself first. And that is [00:30:00] the most important part. I think that putting myself first was what I should have done.
Yeah. I would definitely tell myself to not take life too seriously. Um, you only get it once to just have a good time. Enjoy it. Smile more. I promise you, it takes actually less muscles to smile than to turn it upside down. It’s squeezed say, but it’s, it’s true. So just keep smiling and just have a good time because it’s not going to last.
Definitely. I remember when I was in like eighth and ninth grade, I was at the track at the track at practice and a bunch of like adults in their forties and fifties were telling me that high school and college were just going to zoom by high school. I still don’t believe them because 10th grade felt like 20 years.
Um, but as soon as I got to college, it’s like it started. And now I’m 20 years old and about to be in my junior year. Um, and it’s crazy. Cause I have two more years before I’m an adult adult. Um, [00:31:00] and. It can get a little bit overwhelming if you’re worrying about the future and like really trying to worry about like growing up too quick or trying to get your first apartment paid bills and stuff.
It’s not fun. Trust me. I know. I go grocery shopping. It sucks. Um, but like really enjoying like every day, not being too focused on, um, everything really, um, enjoying time at your friends going out to hang out with your friends is not going to kill your week. Yeah. Trust me I’m this past weekend I had essays due and I was about to start crying because I thought I wasn’t going to get them done because I spent all Sunday doing absolutely nothing, but being outside with my best friend.
And I got that essay done hours before it was due. So. The moral of the story is really due to take that time. So, yes. So, okay. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slide from the link in the head outs tab, and, um, [00:32:00] this webinar is being recorded also.
So if you would like to view it again later on our website, um, moving onto the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions you submitted in the Q and a tab and read them aloud before a panelists gives you an answer as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page.
Also known as the website. If you join from there, you won’t get all the features of big markets. So just make sure you join through the custom link. Now let’s get on with the Q and a, um, okay. So going on to our first question, um, did you always know you wanted to go to school? Did you have a dream school?
Um, yeah, I always knew I wanted to go to school and yeah, my dream school was Harvard. Um, like ever since I knew what college was like, I always wanted to come here and, um, yeah, so it was like, doesn’t feel real, but yeah, I’m here. I think that my dream school changed like every week, [00:33:00] so it was just a little bit different for me, but I, I ended up writing stuff and I’m pretty happy.
So I think that that’s okay with me. Yeah. Since I was 12, I wanted to go to Harvard. Um, long story short, I got rejected, but, um, I still eat to Penn because honestly I just felt like that was the place for me to be just heard a bunch of reviews from students. Watch S Dominique, Cynthia on YouTube. She did a bunch of interviews of college students.
So it just kind of helped me make my decision. And I’m more than happy with what, where I am. Definitely Cornell was my number one school and I applied ed also. Um, and the first year, especially that first semester, it was just weird being here, especially at, it was a pandemic too. So it was just weird.
Like, it just didn’t feel real. And my best friend from high school also got in, so we were both just care, like, ah, um, so that was an experience. Okay. So I see a really good question. Um, so, um, what do you do if [00:34:00] you are in a country where there are not a lot of resources or opportunities for young people to do stuff that cause impact?
Um, yeah, that can be a really tough situation to be in. Um, I think I would recommend like two things. One thing is that. Maybe like do things virtually there’s like so many opportunities to do like virtual internships, virtual. I know there’s like, even like virtual, like volunteering or working with like organizations, um, like online.
So I think that’s, that can be one thing. Another thing is that like, maybe like, um, like really think about the issues in your community and take the initiative to like start something if that is feasible. But I know that it can’t be feasible. Like it may not be feasible, but yeah, I would really recommend like maybe you searching for a virtual opportunity.
Um, I would definitely recommend just working like locally in your community. I know that [00:35:00] there may not be like resources or opportunities that you can always create opportunities. There’s always issues around and there’s always ways for you to help out individuals or like. Certain individuals or certain ass, like aspects of your community that need help or simply volunteering, or I think that the most important part is just not forget that it doesn’t have to be big.
It just has to mean something.
Yeah. I, a hundred percent agree with that. Just make the mess that, of what you have. They will look at your application holistically. So they’re definitely going to see what resources were available to you and how you made the most out of them. So just keep pushing, figure something out. I I’m sure there’s a problem around that you definitely have faced or seen other people face that you can tell.
Yes. And just to bounce off of that, um, you, when you’re going through the application process, um, you aren’t being compared to every [00:36:00] single student that’s applying instead you’re being, uh, your application and like what you did, which you took advantage of in your area at your school, um, is being compared to other students from the same school you went to that are also applying to their university.
Um, so it’s, it balances itself out. You’re mostly being compared to other students at your school that I’ve also applied to the same schools, um, that you’re trying to apply to. Um, In a sense, that’s pretty much what it is. Um, and yes, I do really love what’s. Um, Sarah said about, like, it just has to mean something to you, um, cause that everyone thinks that they need to cure cancer in high school before they graduate.
When really you just need to do stuff that you care about that matters to you. It doesn’t need to change the world, but it can. Um, but it doesn’t need to, to get into college. Um, okay. So going on to the next question, this one is a very broad question, but, um, a student’s asking how to apply for the admissions process.
We do have other [00:37:00] webinars that go more into detail on the different aspects of the admissions process, as well as just the admission process overall. Um, if you want to check those out, but, um, to kind of broaden it a bit, um, when did y’all start preparing for college, um, and for like the application process, how did y’all start that.
Um, so for the application process, I think I definitely started the summer before senior year. So I did this program called QuestBridge, which is, um, this program for like high-achieving low income, um, juniors and basic or seniors. And basically, um, they’re the, they do applications like way early, um, because it’s like a different like pool of students or something, but yeah, so I began writing essays for that.
Um, ultimately I did not go through with QuestBridge and so I switched over to the common app and I think common app, like, I don’t really remember the deadlines, but I think it’s like sometime in October, [00:38:00] maybe. Um, so I wrote like wrote essays for that too, and then supplemental essays as well. Um, and I know that like some like schools have like, um, early, early out like rounds application rounds, but I think really using like the summertime, I know it can be.
Really overwhelming, but when you have the time to actually write the essays and like don’t have classes to worry about, I think starting on essays early can be really beneficial.
Um, I second that I finished my common app essay by around the end of the summer. And I was working on it like the summer before senior year and I was working on supplementals throughout the entire fall. And I think that I, yeah, I started around mid to the end of junior year. So yeah, mid to end of junior year, I probably started like my extracurriculars and like sophomore year just to get a head start.
But other than that, [00:39:00] my application process didn’t start till then. Yeah. Definitely. And again, there are other webinars that go into detail, but just for a quick rundown, um, the application process, well applying for college is all a whole high school process cause you really want to have, um, those extracurriculars, um, from earlier on throughout high school, um, getting the sat act done.
If you’re from another country, you may have to take the tall fellow, which is like the English language exam. Um, different schools have different requirements and scores, um, that when you have to look on the website for more information for, um, and then, um, so coming into junior year usually is when most people start taking the sat act 10th grade year people take the PSVT, um, which gives.
10th grade and 11th grade people take the PSVT, which can help with getting the national merit scholarship. Uh, and then, um, coming into end of junior year is when most people start thinking about like what schools [00:40:00] they want to go to, um, get, start thinking about essays, perhaps, um, thinking about who they want to ask for letters of recommendation.
Cause you typically ask your junior and senior year teachers, um, or people that you’ve interacted with for those coming into the summer is when most people start writing their essays, that they can, um, the actual common app and coalition and all the other portals open August 1st, um, where you get your supplemental essays, which are school specific.
Um, and, um, though you can start like, um, filling in demographics, student name, all that good stuff information during the summer before the application really opens, um, FAFSA opens up October 1st, um, early applications are due Halloween through mid November, depending on the school. Some schools have other dates, priority deadlines in November, December, um, typically regular decision, which is what most students apply is around new year’s to, um, February like mid, [00:41:00] February different schools.
Again, different dates, definitely check out our other webinars where we talk about early admissions, regular decision and all the other aspects of application process. Okay. So going on to the next question, um, how do you find out actual information about colleges? How do you search for, or find colleges that best fit you?
Uh, and then also with like the ranking systems and advertisements about like the number one school in the country, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Um, so like one thing that was like really helpful for me was I think, like, I’m not sure if the website was college board or just this website where like you put your like interests and like what you want to study and then you would get like personalized school. Um, we tailored to your recommend, like tailor to your profile.
I think it was Def I think college board does that. Um, but like I found out a lot of schools about through that. I also found a lot of, a lot about schools through QuestBridge. So, um, through QuestBridge, [00:42:00] I found a lot about, um, liberal arts schools, which I really hadn’t considered, or even like heard of before I applied to QuestBridge.
So, um, if you’re like international or if you’re like also low income, like considering like a private liberal arts schools can also be a really good, um, option. And overall, just maybe like, I also just like Googled like the best schools for like econ or what I want to study.
Um, so I would say that the best thing you can do is reach out to people who. Once your school and are going to college and like what their experience is like at that college, but also going online, finding YouTube videos, finding Instagram posts, finding, take talks, even, and just learning more about the college from the perspective of the student, not from the perspective of the institution or rankings.
Yeah. A hundred percent on [00:43:00] point YouTube was literally the thing that changed my decision. I’m telling Dominique, Cynthia is she’s a Penn student. I’m not trying to, you know, um, give him, I give her a little shout out, but she definitely, um, hosted a bunch of webinars with students from every single Ivy, even, um, non Ivy schools.
And then they sat and she asked them all the questions from how the party life is to how the academic life is and how the regular dorm life is. And I think all of that together definitely shows you what a college encapsulate. It’s not just a generic us.
Definitely. Um, for me, I found out about college. Well, my dad was showing me colleges since I was little. We went to a lot of HBCUs as I was growing up cause he went to an HBCU. Um, and then as I got to, um, high, um, junior year, I found out about a program called thrive scholars, which I just put the name in the chat.
It was known as a [00:44:00] different name back then, but it started scholars now. Um, they really helped me through the college application process. I call it the better version of QuestBridge, my opinion. Uh, it has a little bit more oft, but QuestBridge doesn’t get pretty good scholarships too. But, um, those are some places that I’d consider.
If you’re about to be a junior, this coming year, um, you can apply to that. And then QuestBridge is senior year. Um, there’s also, um, posse scholars. Yeah, I think that’s what it’s called or posse. Um, which is another, um, like, um, program for minority students, minority and low income, low income students, um, that can really help you through the admissions process.
If not those definitely ask your school counselor or college counselor. If your school has one, YouTube is always a great place to Google. CollegeAdvisor has a pretty good place. If you go to app.CollegeAdvisor.com, you can. Um, well, since we’re on it, um, for those in the room who are already working with us, we know that the college admissions process is [00:45:00] overwhelming for parents and students alike our team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts.
This is not the right slide, sorry. Um, uh, our team of over, um, 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions and last year’s admission cycle. Our students were accepted into Harvard at three times, the national rate and accepted into [email protected]tionwithusbyregisteringforourfreewebplatformatapp.college adviser.com their students and their families can explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines, research schools, and more, all right on our website.
Now back to the Canada. Okay. So yeah, so, um, CollegeAdvisor does have this, I put a few names in the chat, um, for some resources, Google is always just a great place to start. Just type in whatever you’re interested in. Start with your majors, start with whatever location you want to live in. Start with whatever about college, peaks, your interest, and [00:46:00] go from there and really just start exploring.
And then as you get closer towards the end of your junior year is a really good time to start really thinking about like, okay, what do I want to study? Where do I really want to go really forming your college list? And we do have other webinars that go into more detail on that. Okay. So going on to the next question, kind of going off of CollegeAdvisor, um, what, uh, how can students, um, maximize their experience, um, working with CollegeAdvisor, um, like how can they really use it to the.
Um, I think that the most important thing is like fully building a relationship with an advisor, like making sure that they know who you are as a person and what your interests are, what your goals are. Um, because the more that they know you, the more, that more, they will be able to help you. Like, as I mentioned earlier, like craft the best story or narrative to colleges as possible.
So just taking the time to really get to know your advisor [00:47:00] and, um, building a relationship with them is essential. Um, so that is definitely a very important point. Gets your advisor. Um, another thing I would say is realizing that while your advisor is there to help, they’re not there to do the process for you.
Like you have to fully commit to being prepared to work with your advisor, not just make your advisor beg you to work, you know, just focusing on putting in the effort to. Give what you’ve got from your side.
Yeah. Just make sure your goals align with your advisors. And you’re putting in that work to kind of facilitate that process to maximize the productivity of it. Because a lot of times I think it’s mistaken that the advisor’s going to pick up your slack. That’s never the case. You will have to kind of hone down and do it yourself.
They’re just there to facilitate, make that process a little bit easier and help guide you. [00:48:00] So use them to your advantage, but do the work yourself. Um, so going off of that, um, before CollegeAdvisor, um, what were some things that y’all used or some resources y’all used, or even while you’re using CollegeAdvisor, um, that really helped you through their process that maybe students that aren’t working with us can look into to really help navigating that process resources or people, or, yeah.
So, um, Yeah. So like college essay, guy.com like that, like their videos, their articles were super helpful. They also have a program called, um, it’s called the match lighters program and it’s for low income students who aren’t traditionally, um, who traditionally can’t afford like essay editing services.
And so, um, they do like pro bono essay guidance, or just like college guidance. So if you’re an FGLI student, um, definitely check that out. I use that, um, and it shouldn’t like, I like YouTube [00:49:00] online. Like I watched so many YouTube videos on like how to write college essays. Um, and I know that like locally, there can also be a lot of programs that help, um, that can, can help, like students write essays or just scrap the application.
Um, yeah. Um, so those are really, really good points. Uh, YouTube, definitely. And, uh, the resources organizations that are looking to help. Definitely. Um, though I think the resource that I used the most often was honestly Reddit. Um, that’s going to sound really pathetic, but Reddit was definitely a place I lurked on a lot while applying to college and, um, shameless plug, uh, matriculate is an organization that helps low-income students as well.
So there are organizations all out, like all over America and all over the world that are looking to help you be the best self for college. So,[00:50:00]
yeah, I’m going a second. That YouTube was a savior Reddit. It definitely has some amazing material. You’re just not, you just got to know how to like look it up. Um, definitely blogs, blogs really facilitated my. Um, transition only because there’s some that are super helpful and have alumni actually writing in them and peop or academic like, um, advisors.
So I think it’s essential. Also, if you talk to other Ivy league students, even on LinkedIn or anything, reach out and they kind of can send you their extracurriculars, they’re common app essay, what happened? What helped them? There’s also books, three books online. It’s just like a hundred Ivy league accepted essays.
You can, you don’t have to read all of them, but there’s a separate into sections where you can kind of whatever makes the most sense to you. And your story can actually help you write it in a different aspect and maybe even better. So yeah, all those things, I dropped a few links in the chat. Maybe those can help, but.
Definitely I’m CollegeAdvisory [00:51:00] does have the free webinars, as well as our blog, where you can find information on specific schools, supplemental essays, as well as personal statements and other information about college. There is even stuff for parents there. Um, also, um, different schools and colleges, um, I’m interested in education, so I just find these randomly, but, um, I, um, there are different college students and high school students, even that are starting college readiness clubs for, um, students, whether it’s at their own score in their community or just, um, uh, globally.
And you can reach out to them and see if they, um, how they could help you, um, what information they could provide or resources. Um, I know at my high school I started at college readiness clubs, so that was something, uh, it is something that’s pretty common, um, now, and you can just find them on Instagram, even reaching out to college students though.
Don’t be, um, don’t be rude about it. Just like. Politely reach out to them and say like, Hey, I’m interested in such and such [00:52:00] school. Can you give me some information and see if they respond? College students are pretty nice. Um, don’t try and take advantage, but college students are pretty nice. Um, so, um, you may be able to reach out to them and ask them some questions, uh, or coming to CollegeAdvisors webinars and asking your questions here.
Um, okay. So, yeah. Um, okay, so those are some other resources. So going on to the next question, uh, what is your advice for those applying through, um, applying early decision or early action? Um, do you have any advice, uh, did any of y’all apply early also, by the way?
Uh, I applied to an early decision school. I applied early decision to a school and early action, but not where I ended up. So yeah, I just applied to ed, but I did apply already. I would say 16 different other schools. Um, I rescinded most of them. I just wanted to see [00:53:00] where I would have gone in if I didn’t eat it.
But yeah. Um, yeah, no, I did not apply early. I did mostly like. Um, okay. With the rescinding, your applications after you applied ed, technically, aren’t supposed to do that. If you are ready, got into the school, if you hadn’t been accepted into the schools, into your ed school, um, you can still apply to other schools, which is recommended.
Um, but yeah, once you get into your ed school, you can’t, um, you can’t continue applying and you have to resend any application you sent in, um, or else you could get your ed taken away. Uh, I applied ed to Cornell. It was a long time decision. Um, not even that long, it was about a month’s worth of planning, but I knew I wanted to apply ed.
Um, and then, um, but really to apply ed, you want to make sure that you really feel confident in your application, what you’ve done throughout high school. What you have to say, your letters of recommendation. Um, a big thing [00:54:00] again, this is, there is another webinar on it. But I’m really making sure that you built connections with teachers since more than likely or early decision.
You haven’t had much time to go relationships with your senior year teachers. You’ll definitely have to lean more on your junior year teachers. So really just making sure all aspects, letters of recommendation, everything, um, for your application is really ready. Um, because you do have to apply sooner, um, for, um, ed EA.
Um, so you really just want to make sure your applications together. Um, otherwise, um, regular decision is a great option just because you can, um, you have that whole first semester of senior year to really get ready. So, okay. So going on to the next question, um, and we are getting close to time, but, um, what did y’all write about in your application essays, whether it’s your personal statement or supplements and how did you really let your voice shine through and get across like any interest or anything.
Yeah. [00:55:00] So, um, my personal statement was about my experience with gender inequality in India. And it basically was a tale of like, um, through generation. So I started off like with me talking to my grandmother and it just told the tale of how, if like, like gender based violence in gender inequality is like a cyclical generational thing.
And I, I chose to write my essay about that because my extracurriculars were mainly geared to female empowerment. And I felt like that really showcased my true interest in passion. But I chose to write about my, my supplementals about different topics, which ranged from, um, my love for multiculturalism. I left for food.
Um, I, for Harvard supplemental essay, I wrote a letter to my roommate that was like one of the essay topics. So basically, um, in that letter, I just talked about my various interests and how like excited I am to. Um, come to Harvard, but I think my, the advice that I would give is that, um, supplemental essays are [00:56:00] like a great way of showcasing your additional, like quirky interests or, um, like interesting stories that you have.
And it can be a great way to really, um, like show, like present yourself in another way. And I would recommend not talking about the same topic that you did in your personal statement. Um, if possible.
Uh, so for my, um, calming up personal essay statement thing, um, it’s been a while I wrote about my hair, which makes less sense now, but Indonesia was humid. Um, I wrote about the relationship between my. Like the confidence I had in a lack of confidence I have because of how my hair was different from those in Indonesia and talking about multiculturalism and the sense of my own identity and how I felt whenever I would visit like the states and come back or [00:57:00] how I struggled with things like my self-esteem.
And, um, I started my essay recounting the make-over soon from princess diaries. So just like I would say, definitely try to pick a topic that means something to you or definitely is very personal for you, but don’t shy away from making it.
Yeah, my common app essay was about Americanization, basically assimilating to the American culture while facing like, uh, Pakistanis traditional household, um, at home. So it was just kind of cultures clashing. And me breaking out of that. My supplementals were definitely more catered toward Penn and the environment.
It has definitely name drop a class and a professor, just to kind of show that you did your research. If this all helps trust me guys. And, um, the supplemental is [00:58:00] definitely put more work in, I would say if you really want to get into that college, because they were really looking to see how. How much research you did ask some students around, Hey, what are some hotspots on campus?
Um, I didn’t even know about locus walk, which is kind of where all the college students walk around campus. And I had named job then, and I said, can’t wait to be walking on locus with the greatest minds of all time. And it it’s just small things like that. They’re like, whoa, like this kid really did his research.
So definitely, and as our webinar is coming to a close or just going to end it off in some general advice, uh, Sarah, if you could start off, um, what your answer first that’d be great. So just any last minute advice you want to give to the students, um, just don’t forget the college, like applying to colleges.
Isn’t a daunting experience. I know that, but don’t forget to really focus on being yourself in the application and not trying to be someone you’re not. That is my biggest piece of it. [00:59:00] Um, my last minute advice would just be to take a deep breath. Yeah. Realized that nothing. I know it can seem so serious because I was like equally stressed and like thought it was the end of the world.
If I didn’t get into the college that I wanted to, but know that everything will work out in the end and what’s meant for you will never miss you.
Yeah. I would say along the same lines, just make the best out of whatever you got. Your college is definitely not the ending factor of your career. There’s always much less. And after you do get in, don’t lose the goals because I know after you get into your dream college, what’s next, right? You just want to maintain what your GPA, keep making those goals, keep reaching and you’re.
You can be great guys. Don’t worry about it. Definitely. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our panelists. So that is the end of our webinar. We hope you ha uh, had a great time, um, listening to this information and [01:00:00] advice from former, um, CollegeAdvisor, um, clients and alumni, um, here is, uh, well actually we only have one more webinar, um, tomorrow in our April series, but our upcoming may series is gonna go into more detail on various aspects about really talking about yourself and presenting yourself in the application process and really figuring out what you need to do over the summer to really prepare you for your application process or what you can do over the summer, um, to help you just in high school to get ready.
Um, so yeah, so thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you panelists.