Comparing Colleges in the Ivy League: College Panel

Not sure which Ivy League is a good fit for you? We can help! Join us for a Ivy League panel where advisors Maria Acosta-Robayo and Juliana Furigay provide an overview of their experiences in their respective Ivy League schools. 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!

Date 05/16/2022

Webinar Transcription

2022-05-16 Comparing Colleges in the Ivy League – College Panel

[00:00:00] Hello everyone. My name is Rachel D’Amato. I am a Northwestern University class of 2017 grad and your moderator today. Welcome to Comparing Colleges in the Ivy League – College Panel. 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.

You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q and a tab. Now let’s meet our panelists. Hey everyone. My name is Maria Acosta-Robayo. Uh, I am a Harvard grad. I graduated in the class of 2020, um, and I studied sociology and global health policy and was also pre-med.

Hi everyone. My name is Juliana and I’m currently a junior at Columbia university studying financial economics and at the scene.[00:01:00]

Wonderful. Well, before we let these wonderful presenters kind of dive in and talk about their experiences at their respective schools, we’re going to run a real quick poll. Um, so the poll is asking, what grade are you in? And if you’re a parent in the room, feel free to select the grade for your student.

Um, while that, uh, you know, we’re getting answers in, I’m curious to hear from both of you, Juliana and Maria, um, you know, what was your favorite part of being a student at your respective school or currently for Juliana?

I guess I could go ahead. Um, so I’d say my favorite thing about attending Columbia is probably that the campus is also New York city. Um, so on the weekends or just in my free time, there’s so much that I’m able to do in the city, you know, from visiting museums, to seeing my friends all around, you know, you never run out of things [00:02:00] to do in your city.

And I just really liked that about the campus. Awesome. And Maria, what was your favorite part of Harvard? Yeah, I mean, I think the campus was also really beautiful. We’re in Cambridge, so not quite in Boston, but also really easily accessible to a big city. Um, but I think my favorite part of college was just being able to.

Um, not only take really great classes, but also like have residential housing where I was able to like, you know, share thoughts about like what I learned in classes, but also just do life with, um, some of my closest friends. Um, I saw, I think the residential setup at Harvard really made that possible, um, and made some of my best, uh, college memories.

Awesome. Well, thank you both for that. So, um, with regards to the poll, I am about to close it. We have, um, a majority of folks in the room are in the 11th grade at 48% being 11th graders. Um, only about 4% are 12th graders. Uh, 39% are 10th [00:03:00] graders and 8% our ninth graders with zero being in eighth grade or other.

All right, I’m going to close the poll and pass the tumor area to start. Sounds good. And I see we have a big mix of, uh, students here. Um, so I hope you all take something away from this, regardless of what stage in the college process you’re at. Um, so we’ll talk first, a little bit about my own college application process.

So I started out with applying to QuestBridge at the end of September. Um, and for those of you who might not know about the program QuestBridge, uh, was it’s a matching program or it’s a program that helps low income students or students from low-income backgrounds, um, have access to applying to schools really early.

So I had access to this at the end of September and knew that I could be matched to some of the, like, there’s a lot of Ivy league schools on there, but there’s a lot of other really great schools. Um, I started just doing research on the schools that were on that match list. [00:04:00] Um, and I had to, what that meant was I had to really speed up my application process.

So I had to confirm teachers of recommendation my junior year, and then bump that ask the first week of school. Um, I also have to start writing some of my essays in the summer and, um, really fast track with my supplements in the fall semester. Um, so I, during that time, as I was applying to this course bridge schools in the early fall, I also tried to confirm like what safety and likely school applications I wanted to apply to.

Um, and in that process, I found out I was a finalist in the QuestBridge program around October. Um, and that meant that I was in the running for getting matched with the school and getting all four years of tuition paid for. So that’s a big plug for that program. Um, and, uh, on December 1st I found out I was matched with Princeton.

So that was a big, um, just weight off my shoulders to know, like, you know, there’s a school that I’m going, that I really enjoyed, um, or that I really enjoyed learning about that would be really great fit for [00:05:00] me. Um, so I decided to only apply to other schools I would rather go to. Um, so I applied to Stanford and to Harvard, um, for different reasons, I was looking at an, all of these schools are amazing.

I was mostly looking at like location professors, access to schools in, um, to other universities like research universities, um, and, uh, hospitals. So I could do research. Um, so those are the two I applied to in the meantime, Um, and I found out I had been admitted to Harvard in a likely letter in February and then a confirmation letter in March.

And so that’s when I made the choice between Princeton and Harvard. Um, and I went to Harvard’s like opening days for, um, freshmen, or like it’s called like a pre frosh weekend, um, and really fell in love with the school I loved, um, that it was like in Cambridge, which is a small city, but also had access to like boss in and it was close enough to like go to New York if I wanted to, or to go hiking.

Um, so it was a really good fit for me. Um, and that’s, that’s where I ended up going. [00:06:00] Um, and then, um, something to dive a little bit deeper into my decision making process here is, um, I was considering other Ivy, uh, Ivy schools at the time. Um, and as I mentioned, I ended up settling with Harvard. Um, like I said, at QuestBridge, I was matched with Princeton.

So that was the other idea I was looking at. Um, and so during that, or for match day, the things that I was really looking at was, um, the programs of study. So again, both liberal arts schools, but I wanted to get a better sense for what was like in the core curriculum of those liberal arts schools. Um, I also looked at the majors and minors.

Um, I looked at like their study abroad programs, which I was really interested in. Um, and I just realized like for me, like the programs that Harvard was offering fit more in my interests, the classes that I wanted to take, um, also just fit my interests more at Harvard. Um, the financial aid was like the same, so that was a big consideration because I’d gotten full, um, a full ride with QuestBridge, uh, to go to Princeton.

And [00:07:00] so I wanted to make sure that I had that. Like financial standing with Harvard and they have a really great system where you don’t get married based financial aid. Like the merit is like, you know, getting in, um, with that like low admissions rate. But, um, they can’t really afford to do more merit scholarships on top of that.

What they really want to make sure is that once you get in, um, that you’re able to go, regardless of like, you know, what your socioeconomic background is. And so they commit to paying whatever your parents can’t. And so, um, with my financial, with my socioeconomic bracket, um, I had a near full financial aid, um, which made that very comparable.

And then, um, like I mentioned, location, um, loved Cambridge, loved being close to Boston in that compared with Princeton and that, like, it was an as close to a city, Princeton wasn’t as close to a city. It was a little bit more, um, more of a. College campus that felt less integrated with the city. Um, and at the time I was interested in taking classes in like urban ism.

And so, um, [00:08:00] I thought being closest city was also going to help with that. Um, obviously like ranking are things that you consider. Uh, professors, I, there was a couple professors I really wanted to work with. Um, some of like the big names in like medical anthropology, uh, were professors at the medical school and also did like some graduate school classes and like the, the schools of arts, um, arts and sciences.

And so I was able to, you know, cross-register at some of those and take classes there. Um, and then, um, just like the culture and the extracurriculars available again. Um, once you visit schools, you get a better sense for like, Hmm, do I see myself being here for the next four years? Um, and sometimes that’s like really subtle and you just have to be very intentional when you’re visiting schools or as you’re reading about them, just being really conscious of like, where would you like potentially call like a second.

Um, so that was my decision making process. Um, and then once I had decided on the school, um, I had to think about, you know, what major I wanted to study, um, [00:09:00] and the route to studying sociology and global health policy was not straight at all. Um, my pre-med journey, wasn’t linear or like very stem-like like is the kind of like the normal path.

Um, I actually switched majors three times. So, um, at Harvard, you don’t have to go in with a declared major. You can declare your major sophomore year. And even after that, you could still choose. So I came in, um, and, uh, I was a freshman and I thought like the usual path is you take like a very stem, uh, like a stem major, because if you’re pre-med like that just made sense.

Um, but it turns out that like Harvard at least provided a lot of guidance and counseling around. How do you study something you’re really, you really enjoy. And that you’re really passionate about while also meeting those pre-med requisites. Um, and so even I came in being like declared, uh, um, molecular and cellular biology, which is very stem.

Um, I ended moving a little bit more qualitative. Um, I moved first scenario science and then ended up in sociology and health [00:10:00] policy. Um, And what I really like was thinking in my mind, as I was making those transitions is, you know, if I was going to spend the next six to seven years of my life, like very focused on practicing medicine in medical school, um, like what foundational knowledge that I want to build in college, um, and what lens would help me to practice medicine better.

And so I felt like having a better understanding of people and cultures and languages and, um, different norms in different societies was really going to help me to do that. Um, and I just loved the classes and the professors that I took, I really explored a lot my freshman year. And, um, as I looked back on my transcript, I was like, oh, a lot of these fall under the sociology department, maybe I should major in that.

Um, so that was kind of my, my journey there. Um, and then I’ll pause here for.

Wonderful. Maria. Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of insight into your, your background and your experience at Harvard. We’re already starting to get some questions in about your [00:11:00] experience. Um, before we move on to hearing more from Juliana, um, I wanted to do another quick poll. So just curious to know, you know, where are you at in the college application process and, you know, while that is, um, folks are kind of filling in their responses, going to ask a kind of walkie question of, I’m curious to hear your answers.

So if you could possibly do undergrad at, you know, two different locations, what other school would you have chosen? If not the school that you wound up with? That is a good question. I feel. If I had the option to study in two places, I wouldn’t choose a place in the United States. I’d want to do a study abroad.

Um, so a lot of my friends have done like a cross-program with Cambridge university. Um, Columbia has some affiliate schools that send a lot of, you know, abroad programs with our students. So I probably want to do Cambridge also because I can’t [00:12:00] really speak fluently any other languages than English. So I’d want to do some place where it kind of seamlessly fit in, but also experience that culture and living abroad.

Awesome. Yeah, that sounds like a great call. Um, I probably, if I wanted to study, so I studied French. French. And in college, I probably would’ve wanted to go to likes lists or bone or a different like French university, but, um, to not piggy piggy back off your answer, um, I always was interested in like studying like animation, like I think Pixar and Disney just holds a dear place in my heart and very impactful company.

And so I would have loved to have done like animation courses at like, uh, uh, school of arts. Um, I’m not sure which one, because I did not do my research, um, before this, on this, but, um, definitely some type of school that would teach me those skills. Very cool. And I appreciate the different ways that you, you answered it.

Um, awesome. So I’m about to [00:13:00] close the poll. It’s looking like 21% of our attendees haven’t started yet and they are in the right place getting to kind of learn a little more about the different college options. Um, You know, possible, uh, 64% are researching schools. Currently 10% are working on their essays.

4% are, you know, kind of finalizing their application materials. And 1% is almost done. So I’m going to go ahead and close this poll and pass that over to you to. Alrighty. So it seems like everyone’s kind of at these different stages of the college application process. So it might be kind of helpful to see, you know, what my college application process was like.

Um, so for me, I was considering other Ivy league schools. So my sister actually attended Harvard. She’s a graduate of 2019. Um, she went there and she loved it, but kind of my whole life, I felt like I was following in her footsteps that I wanted to forward a different path for myself. Um, so I [00:14:00] decided to start looking at different Ivy league schools because they can be comparable and, you know, the different course offerings and post-graduate opportunities.

Um, so I was looking at Yale, U Penn and Columbia. So Yale, I really liked because they also had the residential college system that Harvard has. Um, so what that is is they kind of divide their students into these different houses and you’re able to really form a tight knit community with those students.

And it follows you all throughout your four years. Um, so I liked that, um, U Penn I was considering because I always knew that I wanted to study economics potentially go into finance and consulting, and I knew that I’d have vast post-graduate opportunities if I could attend Wharton. Um, so that really aligned with my professional goals, um, and Columbia.

So I visited Yale, U Penn, uh, Columbia and Harvard, uh, the summer before my senior year. So I could gather some insights [00:15:00] into the campus and kind of get a feel for what it would be like to be a student on those campuses. Um, And I loved Columbia the most out of all of them. One tip that I’ll give you guys and, you know, visiting these colleges is to keep a note pad and write down, you know, what did you like about the campus?

How did you feel? What kinds of conversations did you have with students or professors or whoever else that you met on the campus? Um, because sometimes it’s hard to look back when you visited all these colleges and, you know, your feelings can get muddled between like the different colleges. So definitely make sure to have, um, a written note pad of everything that you took away from your campus visits.

Um, so yeah, I decided to apply early decision to Columbia. I believe that’s a November 1st deadline. Um, I decided to do that because I really, really love the campus when I visited, um, The prime location in your city? It was also a plus, like I [00:16:00] talked about earlier, I grew up in Chicago and I knew I wanted to go somewhere that either was in a big city or, you know, it was in close proximity to a big city or generally the east coast.

Um, So I knew I wanted to go to a school and a big city like New York. Um, and the second part of that is also the core curriculum. Um, the core curriculum is probably what differentiates Columbia from a lot of different schools and amongst the other Ivy leagues. So we have this core curriculum that takes up around like 25% of the courses that you take here at Columbia.

And it really centers itself on like the history of Western civilization. And we’re able to take these different core classes and, you know, art, humanities, or music, humanities, and really get this well rounded education that you probably can’t get at another school unless you decide to intentionally take those classes.

So it’s something that you’re able to bond over with your classmates. Like [00:17:00] otherwise I probably would have only. People within my major, but now I have friends all over from different majors because we were able to meet in our core curriculum classes. Um, so with all of those factors considered, I decided to apply early decision to Columbia and got in.

Um, so moving on to this slide, uh, why did you major in financial economics and race and ethnicity studies? Um, so I always knew I wanted to study economics. My interests formed in high school. Um, I took AP microeconomics in high school and really loved it. So I decided to take this college level, introductory macro economics course at Northwestern university.

And this was through the Northwestern college bridge program. It’s only available to students who attend Chicago public schools, but if you somehow fit into that small demographic, I would definitely recommend, you know, applying to that program. It really provides some insight on what a college class is like.

And you’re able to see, you know, what [00:18:00] subjects you like as well. Um, I was also the treasurer of several clubs and, you know, handling the finances of different organizations. It really gave me that hands-on experience that allowed me to realize my. Um, my interest and passion for economics and. I’m also pursuing either a double major or concentration in race and ethnicity studies.

I’m trying to figure that right now to see how many classes I can pack into my senior year. Um, but my interest in that also formed in high school. Um, so I interned at this organization called Asian Americans, advancing justice. If you guys are interested in Asian-American activists, um, I would definitely recommend this program and this organization getting involved.

They have a couple of offices throughout the nation, but you know, I was an intern for them and it was something that I started in eighth grade and I carried on with me, you know, throughout my high school experience. And I really found a passion for, you know, this [00:19:00] advocacy and helping out within race relations.

But it wasn’t something that I had really studied in an academic setting until I was able to take a race and ethnicity studies course at the university of Chicago. And I was a part of the collegiate scholars program, kind of my. Four years of high school. Um, and I would definitely recommend applying to this collegiate scholars program.

If you do fall into the subset of Chicago public school students, I was able to spend all of my summers at this program and take these college courses all for free. It was definitely a very impactful program. Um, Let’s see the next slide I saw that this slide at the beginning got skipped, so I wanted to return back to it.

Um, yeah. So just to differentiate between early decision and early action, um, admissions, early decision plans are binding, whereas early action plans are non-binding. [00:20:00] Um, so Columbia does only offer early decision. So when you apply early decision to a school, you’re kind of committing to that school. If you get in you, you have to attend.

Um, so five of the eight Ivy league universities have this binding early decision program. And there’s these three Ivy league schools that have a non-binding early action program. So that’s Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. And I saw a couple of questions in the queue asking, you know, how it works to that.

Maria was able to attend Harvard despite, you know, applying early to Princeton. And that would be the case it’s because it’s an early action plan. It’s non-binding. And a piece of advice there is to make sure that you’ve done your extensive research on these schools on your list before applying early decision.

Um, you know, that’s because this is finding, you’re telling the school, if I get accepted, I would like to attend. Um, and the way that I was able to do the bulk of my research [00:21:00] is just honestly, online and also visiting the school. If you don’t have the means to, you know, go and pay. School and visit, I’d say online tours are vastly available online, check those out.

If you know anyone that attended the school, whether it’s, you know, a friend, um, the relative, or, you know, someone who previously graduated from your high school, but now it tends to at school, try to get in touch with them, try to ask them about their experiences. Um, and if those are not available to you, you know, here at CollegeAdvisor, we have hundreds of advisors that have attended different schools or have been accepted to different schools.

So if you’d like to be connected to an advisor to facilitate that conversation, that is also a possibility. Um, but I cannot stress enough that. I understand the binding part of that contract and make sure that you really, really can see yourself attending a school before committing to early decision. Um, and I’d say that the college application process [00:22:00] starts before applications.

Um, for me, I attended a selective enrollment high school in Chicago, which means that I was kind of preparing in this process back in seventh and eighth grade, I had to take a series of examinations to, you know, get into this high school and I had to have good grades and, you know, Freshman year after I got accepted into this high school, I really just tried to set myself up to be in the best position for college applications.

I didn’t know where I wanted to attend, um, my freshman year of high school, but I did know that I wanted to personally be in the best position so that I would be able to have that choice that later in high school to kind of apply to different procedures colleges and decide from there where I wanted to attend.

Um, so the different facets that go into that are having, you know, a high GPA, impactful extracurricular activities, you know, good standardized testing scores and having, you know, a passion project. Um, and for me, it was my internship with Asian [00:23:00] Americans advancing justice that I would say was my main passion project.

Um, so yeah. Um, I think that brings me to the end of my slides and brings us to Q and a. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much, Juliana. And my apologies if I was the one that skipped that first slide on you, I’m glad that you remembered to go back there. Um, so that is the end of the presentation part of tonight’s webinar.

Um, you know, please do remember you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. Now we’re going to move on to the live Q and a. So I will read through the questions that you submit in the Q and a tab, publish them so that they are alive in the public chat. So you can see and then read them out loud before our panelists give you an answer as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just double-check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email from big marker or from my name, our D’Amato at and not from the webinar landing page.

All right. So, uh, [00:24:00] first question that we received. Is, um, and this is directed to both of you. So Maria I’ll have you start off. Um, can you go into a little more detail about, you know, what clubs and extra curriculars did you partake in when you were in high school and how big of a role that they play in your application?

Sure thing. Um, so I think I, um, had a really great mentor who, um, she was just a year older than I, but we were both like immigrants to the U S didn’t have like, networks of like what someone to tell us exactly like what path to do. Um, and she had also gotten into Harvard and her recommendation was to just do the things that you were really passionate about and put like your whole like effort and like heart into the ones that you really like wanted to be involved with.

And so I did re like very different internship, uh, internships and like activities. Um, I played competitive tennis all my life, so I played USTA. Um, and I loved it. And that was like a big part of like my middle school elementary, middle school, high school [00:25:00] career. I tried it several. I got injured my, uh, sophomore year, um, and couldn’t play as much tennis, but I loved being outside.

And so I played lots of different sports ranging from like water polo to cross country. Um, I like even picked up like my senior year. Um, I, I’m not very artistic. Um, but I was like, I wanted to try ballet. And so like, I just went for it. Um, and it wasn’t something that I was like really deeply involved with involved with, but something I could come back to just say, like, I was a very curious person and like it showed in like the types of extracurriculars that I did.

Um, that doesn’t mean like only do like a, uh, like surface brush over a lot of, um, like extracurriculars just to show like diversity. It was more like I jelly was really interested. There were some that I did a deep dive in, like I did with like cross country and tennis others that I just wanted to explore.

Um, I picked up the violin also senior year was not a very successful violin career for me. Again, it was just really [00:26:00] interested in just joined like a ensemble that my school offered. Um, I did also, I, um, again was a pre-med applicant and so I did volunteer a lot of hours at the hospital near my house. Um, there, I got to do a lot of like, like lab errands where I got a better understanding of like medical terminology and like kind of the process of like care.

Um, I did a lot of shadowing, so I got to witness some really cool, um, surgeries. And so, um, for anyone who’s, pre-med like definitely check out if there’s clinics or hospitals near you that offer programs with COVID. I know that it’s been really tough. A lot of my advisees have had a tough time finding, um, uh, internships or programs like that.

But, um, there are some things that are remote. There are somethings that like, you might be able to influence more of like outpatient care. Um, so I would say definitely talk to your advisors about how to be more creative with that. Um, but those were just like some of the, just wanted to give like a breath of like, Of extracurriculars that you could do.

There’s some people that really narrowed down [00:27:00] into one and like, that’s great for some people that’s like schools are looking for a diverse student body. Um, but this was just like my personal experience with extra credit. Sure. And adding onto that about my own experiences, I kind of alluded to the main extracurriculars that I did early on.

Um, but like I said, I think my internship with Asian Americans advancing justice was such a big part of both my high school experience, but also my college application. Um, when I was applying to colleges, I did like some of my main, main common app essays, um, on that as well as some of my supplements. Um, and what I was able to do under that role was, you know, work on some policy changes for English language learners, students.

Um, the main one that I did was I assisted an English language learner students being able to waive the world language requirement, um, which meant that they could focus on learning English and have higher attrition rates, um, graduation. And, you know, that was something that I [00:28:00] was really passionate about coming from, you know, an immigrant background and, you know, also really.

Valuing education as well as something that I wanted to work on. And, you know, I was really passionate about it and I was able to talk extensively about it in my application. Um, like I said, I also always knew that I wanted to study economics in college and I was able to show my passion for that through taking AP microeconomics at my high school, um, through taking that college level course at Northwestern on macro economics, um, being the treasurer of some clubs.

I was also part of this magnet tarred with investment academy, where I was able to learn about stock trading and participate and, you know, competition. Um, let’s see some other things I did. I also did some things here and there. Like I was part of the golf team. I was also, I also played the trumpet in the van and these were things that, you know, I didn’t really get to touch upon too much in my application because you know, it was [00:29:00] something that I kind of saw as a hobby.

It wasn’t one of my vein extracurricular. No, it was something that I enjoyed. And, you know, that’s some advice that I’m going to give to you all is don’t pursue an extracurricular activity just because you think it’ll look good for a college application, you know, do something that you’re passionate about.

And if you are passionate about the, the activity, then you’re able to talk about it with passion in your essays. And colleges will see that that’s something that you’ve really dedicated yourself to something that you’ve wanted to do. Um, and I think that’s, what’s most important. I don’t think that there’s like a skeleton that you should follow of what activities you should do to get into X school.

It’s really just about finding activities that you’re passionate about, passionate about, and really developing yourself and obtaining leadership roles within that organization or activity. Um, and that’s something that will really impress colleges. Um, and yeah, I’d say that’s about it. There were some other things that I did in high school, but I’d say those were probably the main.[00:30:00]

Wonderful. Thank you both. Um, for those well thought out answers. Um, so the next question we got, again, I’m going to kind of, um, push it to both of you both as, um, you know, students and former alumni of Ivy league schools, but also as advisors here at CollegeAdvisor, you know, how, how do applying students, you know, to these top tier schools compete with, um, you know, legacies or other kind of diversity standpoints, kind of, how does, um, you know exactly how does these Ivy league schools kind of go through holistically?

Um, applicants?

Sure. So I can take a stab at that first. Um, so I think I want to preface this by just saying. Uh, admissions officers are mostly, again, looking for students that will represent a wide variety of experiences on their campus. And so they’re not just looking for like, all the legacies are all like the 4.0 [00:31:00] kids or all the athletes.

Like they really are looking for a cohort of people who even like, apart from like the classes will help you learn more about different cultures, different life experiences. And so that is like the framework to like, think about this question with like, they want a diverse campus. Um, that means that like, not everybody just because you’re a legacy you’re not going to get that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get in.

Um, just because like you’re an athlete or like some of these things that like, you know, people point to as like that kind of tips people in. Um, I think the, the way that this has been, like, I’ve heard this and like explained to me, and I’ve explained to others before in general, the consensus. You usually have like a set core of like skills or activities that like, you know, uh, show that you’re a competitive, um, applicants that you have a rigorous course load that you have rigorous activities.

And that is not because like, you know, if you don’t show that it, like, the purpose of that is because these schools are very rigorous. They’re very competitive. Like the car, the courses [00:32:00] are not easy. And so they want to make sure that the students coming here have the background and kind of the characteristics that want to pursue that as well.

And so that’s what they’re trying to look for, like on the like baseline. And so a lot of these schools, if you look on their websites, they’ll have a GPA minimum or maximum. They don’t have like any of these like numerical indicators of like, you’re going to get any, or, you know, we’ll only consider you if you have a GPA higher than this, or like a test score higher than.

Um, they’re looking for like a general range. Again, they don’t say ever on like their websites or at least Harvard doesn’t. Um, and then they look at like life experiences. They really index on, like, if you’re a legacy, like, great. Maybe that’s something that could tip you in like a plus. But like, if you don’t have like very strong grades, if you don’t have like a good essay that like really talks about how your experience potentially even as a legacy, like will help add diversity to the campus.

Again, that’s not a for sure, like tip in, like you have to have like some other attributes that they can point to. Um, if you’re not like a legacy, if you’re [00:33:00] not an athlete, if you’re not like, um, you know, that 4.0 student, like, again, don’t be discouraged. Like there’s so many things that you can use it from your own life experiences.

Yeah. Life experiences that can help you stand out. Um, so it’s more thinking about how can you craft a story about who you are, what your character is like. You know, you can really like show admissions officers that are outside of like, um, what you can show in your test scores and your GPA. Um, so that’s, again, that’s kind of the lens to think about it through like, how do you best show who you are as a person outside of those like numerical scores.

Yes. I definitely agree with everything that Maria has said. Um, I also think that it’s really easy to see college applications as a competition. You competing one-on-one with these athletes or these legacy students. And I think that that can be really detrimental to, you know, your self esteem and your mental health and kind of add more unnecessary stress [00:34:00] to college admissions than there really should be.

Um, I think when you’re crafting your college application, I think you should really focus on yourself and not so much get muddled in the competition. And though it’s hard to not think of it that way, because you see these really low acceptance rates and you’re like, okay, there’s these people that have this advantage over me and this advantage over me.

But I think that if you focus on, you know, putting your own, you know, best step forward, Thing that you can really do for yourself. Um, and in terms of logistically, how most colleges do their admissions, you know, there’s regional admissions officers. Um, you know, whether it’s for like in the Midwest, there’s like, you know, Chicago, um, within Illinois and just those different demographics and these admissions officers are well aware of, you know, the neighborhood that you come from, the high school that you came from.

Like, for me, I attended this college preparatory school in Chicago, but you know, [00:35:00] there’s a big dichotomy between, you know, this college preparatory school and Chicago, and also kind of the lower income, you know, maybe charter high schools in Chicago. And, you know, they know that for me, there were a ton of AP classes that I could have taken, but maybe a student attending, you know, a less privileged high school, wasn’t able to take too many AP classes because only like one or two AP classes were offered.

College admissions officers are kind of just looking to see how you were best able to, you know, make the most of the situation that you were in and the opportunities that were available to you. Um, so you should never think of it as like a competition, you know, head on with all these students from across the nation and internationally acclaimed, you know, students as well, but you know, really just focus on, you know, yourself and trying to make, you know, the best of your college application, given whatever opportunities were presented.

Fantastic. Thank you both. Um, and [00:36:00] just a quick reminder to attendees, I ask that you please don’t vote for your own question. I try to go in order of submission and when you vote, it does kind of reorganize things. Um, and it will not have me ask your question quicker. So please do not vote for your own question.

Um, so Maria, this next question, I think it’s a little more of a clarification question from earlier about how you got into Princeton and then wound up going with Harvard. This person’s wondering, I thought with, you know, QuestBridge, it was binding. Can you talk a little more about the QuestBridge process in relation to early admission?

Yeah, sure thing. Um, so QuestBridge does have schools that are binding. Actually most of them are binding. Um, I chose to only go only, uh, um, like put schools on my list that were non-binding. Um, I wasn’t sure what school I wanted to go yet and like all of them sounded great. So I, um, specifically what made up my list was pretty much the only [00:37:00] schools that weren’t binding were on my, um, on my QuestBridge list.

Um, I think also a good point here to like, um, just dress is that, um, binding in this area was like, you were essentially applying like early decision. Um, there are different types of early applications. I think there’s questions about this as well in the chat where. Early action, early decision. There’s also like restrictive early action.

Um, and so there are different types of like binding, um, scenarios there. Um, but for me specifically, it was between a binding school or a nonbinding school, and I chose the only non-binding schools. And so that’s how I was able to match and then go back and say that I wanted to go to, um, Harvard instead.

I was muted. I was starting to say. Awesome. And then I also saw, um, uh, later on question, so just to kind of add it into here, um, you know, somebody is curious, what is crest QuestBridge? They aren’t familiar with it [00:38:00] to think. Um, so that, uh, QuestBridge is like a program that has several different like facets and programs geared to different students.

So I know there’s like a junior program where you can apply and it’s like, Uh, from the, you do your junior summer. Um, the one that I was specifically involved with is a senior year, um, program. And it’s specifically for students who are, um, under, I think the income requirement is still 65 K, but it’s, it’s geared towards like students of low income households and it provides, um, the support and also just an expedited application process.

It’s still very rigorous. It’s still, uh, involving having to do all of the common app steps. If anything, it adds you have to do more questions, um, to apply through QuestBridge. Um, but it’s an opportunity to apply through some of these schools, to some of these schools, um, in a different pool of applicants.

And so that’s just helpful because even if we think about like strategizing for doing [00:39:00] early or like regular, like something that I tell students is like, Like you are, um, kind of putting your name into different pools and being compared to different students. And so for me, diversifying where, what pool of applications I wanted to be in was really helpful.

Um, I also really enjoyed the support that I got from QuestBridge officers. And so overall kind of to put that all under one sentence, it’s like a program for it to help, um, students of low income households prepare for and apply to colleges. And it does have several different facets. And so I would definitely encourage you to go onto the QuestBridge, um, website.

Um, if you’re a sophomore, you can still apply to like the junior program, if you’re a junior, think about potentially doing it for your senior year application. Wonderful. Thanks so much, Maria. Um, so we’ve got a few questions regarding GPA, um, with, you know, these top tier competitive schools. Um, right now, what would you say is kind of the, the, the range of, you know, high school GPA’s that, [00:40:00] you know, these schools are admitting.

And maybe Juliana I’ll start with you. Okay. Um, so that information is typically published online. So you can see the range of GPA scores, um, that the colleges typically accept or like the middle 50%. Um, so definitely check that out. But advice that I have on that is, you know, if you’re on the lower end of that scale, now don’t be afraid to apply to those schools.

There’s so much more to the application than just, you know, the quantitative numbers, the sat act scores, you know, your GPA. You can definitely compensate for, you know, a lower GPA score just by, you know, having passion and impactful extracurricular as a passion project. Um, you know, something else to supplement the application and, you know, essays essays are really important.

I’d say they’re probably the most important part of your application because it’s, you know, speaking about your experiences and, you know, really [00:41:00] being able to have the opportunity to differentiate yourself from those other applicants and, you know, show your narrative. So I’d say, you know, don’t really frat over these scores.

You can Google and see what those numbers are, but don’t think that it’s an end all be all like Maria said earlier, there’s no GPA minimum to apply to these calls. Fantastic. And, um, a great resource, uh, for kind of diving into some of those numbers is, you know, on our, uh, CollegeAdvisors, web platform,

We have a database of over 2000 colleges where we have include data on, you know, average sat, ranges, um, costs and financial aid, uh, diversity of students, academics and popular majors. So be sure to check that out again, that’s So next question that we [00:42:00] have is, um, so I’d love to hear more about each of your, like, you know, class sizes about how many folks were in, um, you know, Maria, if you can remember your class at Harvard and Juliana, how many people are in your class.

I guess I can go first. So like the undergraduate population size at Columbia is around 6,000. Um, so that’s around like 1500 1000 students per undergraduate year. But in terms of actual classes, this kind of depends on the class itself. Um, so at Columbia we have like the core curriculum classes and those are small discussion style seminars.

So you can have anywhere from, you know, 10 to 20 students in those classes, um, in my ethnicity and race studies courses, those are also some of the are so around 10 to 20 students. Um, but in my economics classes that has really varied. I’ve had these, you know, large lectures of, you know, [00:43:00] 70 to a hundred students, but we also have economic seminars as well, that around like 10 to 30 students.

So it really depends on the class itself and whether you’re taking, you know, more seminars or more lectures, but I’d say. Yeah, it just really depends on what you’re studying, but for Columbia, I think we pride ourselves on having more, you know, smaller classes. I can’t really speak to CS since I’m not in the engineering school, but for Columbia college, we like having seven.

Yeah. Um, and I’ll also answer that question by first, like talking about like the overall class size and then like the specific class sizes for us as well. Um, so unfortunately some of you might have already seen this, but the class sizes have gone, uh, have become smaller after COVID. Um, my class size was about 2000, um, and the class size, uh, for this year was I think two thought 1200 almost.

Um, so that’s almost half. Um, and part of that is just because there’s a [00:44:00] lot of students that took time off, um, and now are returning to Harvard. And so you have a lot of students that would have graduated before limiting class sizes for future classes. And that’s just, again, one of the unpredictable consequences of the COVID pandemic.

Um, and I’m not really sure like when that rollout will end, but probably in the next year or two years or so. Um, just because again, there are students who. A year off, two years off. And so, um, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of papers written about this. I, again, my sociology background, as soon as I hear this, I’m like, okay, this is going to be a really interesting study in the future.

Um, but that’s, uh, I think that’s something that’s not just a Harvard would probably be something across the board. Um, and so a potential like, you know, con or, um, something you might want to keep in mind for that is like one, if you don’t get in again, the percentages are so small and it’s so much out of your control that like, you can just do the best that you absolutely can, but ultimately like the numbers and the statistics are what they are.[00:45:00]

Um, and also to diversify the portfolio of schools that you’re applying to. Um, normally don’t sleep on like some of those, like 20. Like 15 to 25% rate, like range acceptance rate schools. Um, because a lot of those schools might be seeing greater increase in classes. And so, um, just think more strategically about how you want to apply to a mix of, of ranked, uh, schools.

Um, and then when it comes to, uh, class sizes, we also have a range of like really large classes. Um, some like our CS 50 costs, which was like our introductory computer science, like. Hundreds of students. Like it took up the entire like Annenberg. Um, like one of our biggest, like classrooms was definitely filled up by students.

It was actually like it’s our performing center. Um, and it was all filled up with students. Um, and then we also have like smaller classes. You have like seminars that in themselves can be like 12 students. Um, but in some of those larger classes [00:46:00] you have what’s called sections. So even though you take a big, like, um, lecture class with tons of students, you break off into sections where you’d like dive into either discussion or like P sets or like some like smaller elements of the.

Awesome. Thanks book. Thank you both. Um, there’s also an Annenberg, uh, roof, not room, but building at Northwestern where we have a pretty big, uh, big lecture hall into. So, um, I wonder if it’s named after the same Annenberg, probably. Um, awesome. So before we go onto the next question, I just wanted to take a real quick moment to talk a little more about for those in the room who aren’t familiar with us.

Um, and so, you know, we are, um, a community of 200 plus, um, admissions experts of former admissions officers and CollegeAdvisors like, um, Juliana and Maria here. [00:47:00] Um, and our team is really able to, you know, help you and your family navigate the college admissions process in one-on-one advising sessions. To, to kind of show off our stats a little bit.

In last year’s admission cycle, our students were accepted into Harvard at three times, the national rate and accepted into Stanford at 4.4 times the national rate, which you know, with, um, low acceptance rates, um, those numbers are really exciting and impressive for us. And so, you know, you can sign up for a free consultation by registering for our free web [email protected].

That same website I mentioned earlier, um, their students and their families can explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines, research schools. All right on our website. So again, if you’re interested in connecting further with our team and possibly getting one-on-one admissions advice on how to, you know, really stand out in the application process, please go to [00:48:00]

I’ll include the link in a sticky note in the chat as well. Um, so that you’re easily able to easily click through. Um, so now back up to the Q and a, um, a, uh, so a kind of follow up to that last question. Um, you know, what was your, both of your experiences like kind of adjusting to college? Was it a hard transition?

Was it easy to adapt? Um, and Maria, since you ended the last question, I’ll start with Julia. So since I attended a college preparatory high school, and I also had that experience doing the four year program at university of Chicago and also taking that Northwestern course, um, I felt like I was pretty set up for the college environment and it wasn’t too much of a transition for me.

I think, you know, moving out into New York city all by myself was kind of a difficult transition for me. You know, if you’re [00:49:00] attending a college that’s not in your hometown or your first time living alone, which for many of us I know is the case. You know, you kind of forget about the transition there. So it’s not just the academic transition, but also the transition in your lifestyle.

And, you know, I was homesick for a lot of, at the time when, you know, the first couple of weeks just being here on campus, not seeing my friends, not seeing my family. So if it’s something that, you know, you share with a lot of the students, and I was able to really confide in my roommate about that and, you know, talk with my friends about that and just, you know, also FaceTime home whenever I was missing them.

So, you know, it’s something that you kind of just have to get through and transition with. Um, but at the end of the day, it’s super worthwhile because you meet so many new people, you gain so many new experiences and college is such a transformative time for a lot of us. I think I’ve grown the most in the past three years.

So far, you know, entering entering college as this little freshmen and now with junior and, you know, soon after moving [00:50:00] on to senior year and graduation. Um, so I think it’s important to think about the transition, not only from an academic standpoint, but also from that lifestyle standard.

Yeah. Um, and I really love that we’re both on the panel because I feel like I have like the very opposite experience where I was like really excited to like live on my own. Like I love my family and like, I love my community. Um, I grew up in Miami, so it was very different than Boston. I had never even seen snow, but I was excited.

I like, I think the, one of the things I was most looking forward to is being in a new city and kind of like being on my own. Um, and so that part was like pretty easy to get used to. Like I loved meeting new people, um, trying new things. And so that was right up my alley. Um, I did not go to a prep school.

I went to a public school, but I did, I had done like a, um, uh, the high school that I went to offered like a dual enrollment program. And so had taken courses at like my community college and like, [00:51:00] um, it was a very different experience. Um, Between, like I had gotten like part again, part of the high school was like getting your associate’s degree as you were like in school, because you were taking like college courses in the morning.

And so I got the experience of what it was like, you know, having a professor, like, even like, uh, uh, like the transition from calling your like teacher teacher to like professor, um, and like kind of the other lingo and day-to-day of like being in a college class, but I was not prepared for the level of rigor, um, at Harvard.

Um, I had to study a lot more, had to be a lot more, um, I think I had a pretty strong academic background. Um, but I think what was the most difficult was getting used to the types of questions that I was asked. Um, so I was taking like my math class, like just like a calculus class. I had taken like the whole like AP Cal series.

Um, and I was like, oh, this is going to be so easy. This is like pretty much the same material that I did in like, APBC. And the questions I was being [00:52:00] asked, it was like, there was no like bubble in answer. There was no fill in the blank. There was like social problems that they were giving you that you had to figure out using math concepts.

And that was just a whole new way of thinking that I was like very shocked to like, well, when it was super interesting, uh, very relevant, but also just like tapped into a different part of my brain that I had not exercised that much in school where I felt like I was eating a lot of busy work and answering like questions that were, um, different than I was being asked at Harvard.

And so, um, I recognize that regardless of what class you’re taking, even the most stem of classes kind of brought it back to like, uh, like a word problem, essentially like an elevated word problem. Um, and I think. Um, allows you to become more of a creative problem solver. Um, but also it was really difficult for me to kind of get in the groove of my freshman year.

Thank you so much for sharing is kind of cool to hear kind of, um, the two different, uh, experiences both in [00:53:00] high school, but in that kind of first year in college. Um, and I can attest, I know that, um, you know, my first year was also a challenging one kind of navigating, um, you know, a totally new kind of world of education.

And, um, but it’s one that it sounds like each of us were able to survive and thrive in and, uh, really get to have a wonderful experience. So I wouldn’t stress too much about that adjustment period. Um, it, it, it’s something that, you know, you can build a really wonderful community at school to, to help you, um, navigate at all.

So. The next question, um, that we have here is, um, if you are shy or introverted, um, you know, is there an Ivy league that you would best recommend to help with building friendships and getting connected? Um, do either of you have [00:54:00] an answer to that?

um, I could take a quick stab. I think that at any school, all the IVs have slightly different. Maybe not reputation, but just like things that like you think of, um, that like you kind of develop a sense of once you get into college, I think, or once you get into that college and hear other people talking about the other schools, I think maybe some of the things that you can look for, like the S the social structures, um, you can make friends at any school.

Um, I think there’s students who are from different issues of being introverted and extroverted at all the schools, but I think something that’s helpful is to think about what are the structures in place that like navigate some of the social life. So, for example, like at Princeton, there was a things called eating clubs, um, that, like, it was like a place where you, um, you know, in your freshman year, you kind of figure it out like, The like social group that you wanted to be a part of.

And like, they had like, uh, like a building with a dining hall. And so you could apply or like you could submit an [00:55:00] application, whatever the process was to like eat there in like a, it was actually a bigger part of, um, the Princeton college experience. Then for example, Hartford, there are, uh, final clubs and there’s also like Greek life.

And so if, um, I grew up in Miami and Florida, sometimes it’s seen as like, not part of the south, but there was still a pretty big Greek culture around it. Um, and sororities and fraternities were big social structures for the schools that like I had grown up hearing about, but our Harvard, like Greek life was not that big of a deal.

Um, and final clubs, uh, tended to have very low. Acceptance rates as well. And so, um, our, our, like residential housing ended up being the big social structures. And that was a little bit more egalitarian where like everyone was put into a house, um, within your house community. And I say house, but it’s, uh, it’s a giant building with its own like dining hall, its own like amenities, its own like gyms.

And like, uh, it was pretty much like this big residential building. Um, but if you were [00:56:00] part of that house, you were like already, you could participate in like, uh, um, intermural sports. And so you can make friends there. We had like house events. So you, everyone was put into a house. You had access to all these like built in social structures to make friends that maybe could have been harder if you were going to a school where like you have to rush to do that, like Russian in Greek life, or like if you had to join like an eating club.

Um, and so again, th maybe not all of those are Ivy league answers, but I just wanted to like mention the importance of looking at the social structures. I definitely agree with what Maria said. I think just speaking to Columbia, um, I’m not going to tell you all like, oh, if you’re shy, introverted, you shouldn’t go to a certain Ivy league.

But you know, one thing to be wary of at Columbia is we don’t have that, you know, residential college system that maybe like Yale and Harvard and other schools have for us, like the social system, I’d say it’s like, You build a community that you see yourself fitting into. [00:57:00] Like, for me, I feel like I struggled a bit with finding community because we don’t have that system.

You know, I made some friends in my dorm and some friends in my classes, different clubs, things like that. But I felt like I was really lacking in that community. And especially because we were kicked off of campus my freshman year, because of COVID, um, you know, I wanted to find that community for myself and that’s why I decided to join Greek life.

So I’ve been in a sorority right now and I’m actually living in our sorority house and, you know, I was able to find that community there and find my. Place I feel and like the social, um, categories of Columbia, but, you know, because we are in New York city, um, a lot of students kind of hang out outside of campus and not so much on campus.

So if you’re someone that’s, you know, more shy or introverted, you have to be cognizant of the fact that, you know, at Columbia, a lot of people won’t be on campus for most of the days there’ll be off campus. Um, so it’s really more so up to you to find your place and find your community within the school.

But I think that some other schools that are not located in big [00:58:00] cities and kind of have, you know, more of a smaller community around their campus, find it easier to fit into the, you know, social community there.

Wonderful. Thank you both. And with our final two minutes, we got a few questions related to passion projects, and I know that you both have done passion projects in your high school, um, experience. And so I’d love for you each to kind of talk a little bit about your passion project and how you think it impacted, um, your application and Maria, I’ll start with you.

Um, sounds good. So I’ll preface this by saying passion projects can be great ways to show how passionate you are about something. Obviously, given the name, um, to take a deep dive, into showing some of the skills and like leadership and, um, things that maybe don’t show up in your application, like through like, uh, your GPA, your standardized test scores, or like individual activities.

Um, but it’s also not like it’s not like necessary, uh, plenty of my peers that Harvard did not have passion projects. And so I just [00:59:00] want to caveat like all of this, with that, like you’re hearing from two people who did do passion projects, but that is not like the rule. Um, my specific passion project was, um, I started a nonprofit in high school.

Um, I really wanted to do international service work, um, and couldn’t travel at the time, um, uh, to other countries. And so I started like recognizing there was like this mismatch need between, um, you know, I was in Miami, which is a very poor city. Uh, it’s a, it’s a port city to many, uh, cities around the world.

Um, so a lot of people like pass through there to go on international flights. And I noticed that a lot of like service organizations were going and doing international service. Um, and they were going to. Some like rural, um, towns in my own home country and Columbia, and in other places that were in need of some material goods that looked like hygiene products, school supplies, clothing.

Um, and I also noticed that like, uh, in the institutions here in the U S there was a [01:00:00] lot of like hospitals and schools who were doing like, you know, like opening days. And there was tons of t-shirts that like, you know, were then putting closets because there were so many extras. And there was like a lot of like, drives that like happened because clubs wanted to do.

Um, community like gift students, community service hours. And a lot of times, like there was, um, like an overflow and again, put into storage. And so, um, their organization that I started kind of build that bridge between, um, I got together with like sort of several service organizations heard what the needs were in those specific, um, rural towns, you know, it wasn’t just like everybody gets like school supplies.

It was more like, okay, what are the specific needs hearing from people on the ground and really, um, being sensitive to what the needs were, um, and then trying to make a match of like, who could supply those needs, um, who could supply those materials in the U S and using them as like the avenue using the service organizations as the avenue to deliver them.

Um, so I know we’re close to time, so I’ll stop there and pass it over to. I think I spoke [01:01:00] pretty extensively about like Asian Americans advancing justice earlier. Um, but just some advice for finding a passion project, just really identify, you know, what you’re interested in and don’t try to pursue a passion project just because you think it’ll look good on your college applications because colleges can see right through that.

So just make sure it’s in something that you’re passionate about. And like Maria said, it’s not something that’s necessary for your application either, you know, just pursue activities that you’re interested in kind of find leadership roles within that, or deepen your involvement within those activities.

And, you know, you’ll end up on something that, you know,

Wonderful. Well, thank you. Thank you both for a wonderful panel conversation. It was so great to kind of hear a little more about your experiences, kind of navigating the college admissions processes and landing at some really awesome schools. Um, so that is everyone in the room. The end of the webinar, we had a really wonderful time talking to you more [01:02:00] about the college application process and comparing colleges within the Ivy leak.

Um, you know, for, uh, if you’re interested in more webinars like this and hearing more from our team, we have a bunch of other great webinars the rest of this month. Um, even this week tomorrow, we have finalizing your extracurriculars as a high school junior in college, major deep dive on Wednesday for humanity folks interested in the map.

Um, next week, we have a really cool webinar from a former admissions officer from Vanderbilt on how to admissions officers make decisions. Um, as well as the last day of the month is maximizing your admissions odds as a first-generation student. Um, so if you are interested in these webinars, you can register for [email protected] at the same link I keep repeating.

Um, but again, thank you to both of our panelists. Thank you all for joining and have a great rest of your night. Thank you [01:03:00] for having us. Thank you.