Comparing Ivy League Colleges Panel

Are you a high school student who dreams of attending an Ivy League college? Are you a parent supporting your child through the college application process? Join us for an insightful and comprehensive webinar where we bring together a panel of alumni to discuss their experiences at the prestigious Ivy League colleges.

During this engaging webinar, our panel of alumni from Harvard, Yale, and Columbia will delve into the unique characteristics, strengths, and opportunities offered by the Ivy League institutions.

They will explore the following key topics:

  • Introduction to the Ivy League: Gain a deeper understanding of what makes the Ivy League colleges renowned and highly sought-after educational institutions.
  • Academic Excellence: Discover the academic programs and resources available at each Ivy League college, and learn how they differentiate themselves in various disciplines.
  • Campus Culture and Student Life: Explore the vibrant and diverse campus cultures within the Ivy League, and learn about the extracurricular activities, clubs, and student organizations that contribute to a well-rounded college experience.
  • Admission Process: Understand the nuances and requirements of the admissions process at Ivy League colleges.
  • Alumni Network and Career Opportunities: Discover the extensive and influential networks offered by Ivy League colleges, and understand how these connections can provide invaluable career opportunities after graduation.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to gain exclusive knowledge about the Ivy League colleges. Register now and secure your spot in this enlightening webinar!

Date 10/10/2023
Duration 1:00:47

Webinar Transcription

2023-10-10 – Comparing Ivy League Colleges Panel

Stacey: Hi, everyone. My name is Stacey Tuttle, and I am your moderator as well as one of your co-presenters tonight. Welcome to, “Comparing Ivy League Colleges a Panel.” To orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start off with a presentation and then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar.

You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q and a tab. Now let’s go ahead and meet our panelists. So I’ll just introduce myself really quickly and I’ll turn it over to you, Maria, and we’ll all introduce ourselves in order. So I’m Stacey Tuttle. I work at the Yale University School of Public Health.

That’s also where I’ve gotten all of my admissions experience post undergrad. But during undergrad, I did go to Yale University for my degree and I will talk about that. more about that and my experience. Um, so Maria, turning over to you.

Maria: Great. Thanks, Stacey. My name is Maria Acosta Robayo. Sorry. Uh, my name is Maria Acosta Robayo and I graduated from Harvard University class of 2020, where I studied sociology and global health policy.

And where I also, uh, was on the pre med track.

Mariko: Hi, everyone. My name is Mariko. I’m also Yale University affiliated. I graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in the history of science, medicine, and public health, and a second in ethnicity, race, and migration. I also graduated from the School of Public Health through the combined five year program, which I’ll talk a little bit more about later in 2022 with a focus in social and behavioral sciences.

Lynn: Hi, my name is Lynn Dao. I graduated from Barna, Columbia in 2020. So right at the height of the pandemic with my bachelor’s of arts in urban studies and a concentration in public health that we’ll dive into a little bit in my slides. And now I’m currently a fourth year doctoral student at Columbia. So it seems like I never left, but we’ll dive into that as well.

Stacey: Amazing. We clearly are very public health heavy tonight. So I hope we have some of those folks in the room as well who might be interested in hearing about that. And shout out to Marco over there, my Yale School of Public Health aficionado. I’m going to put a poll out here for you all. We want to get a sense of who is in the room tonight or this afternoon, wherever you are, whatever the time zone might be.

Um, are you. Before high school. Are you during high school? 9th, 10th, 11th grade? Are you senior working on your applications? Or are you none of those? Are you a parent? Are you somebody who is helping somebody with their application process? Give us a sense of who you are. And I have to say, I don’t Recall really thinking about my college applications until junior maybe year.

Um, probably wasn’t as prepared as I could have been. So kudos on you all for being here tonight. How early, um, did you all, um, Lynn, Maria, Mariko start your application process in high school?

Maria: So I started my junior year, um, pretty much just started thinking about things, uh, fall of my junior year and then started actually Thinking about what I would write for my essays and what scholarships, um, and the deadlines of all the different schools that I wanted to apply to in my spring of junior year.

Mariko: I actually had a little bit of a different timeline than average because I was being athletically recruited at a couple of schools. So I started a little bit earlier. I would say by sophomore year, I had a pretty good idea of where I might be, might have been interested in. And so I started doing visits the summer after my sophomore year.

More here, but I would say in terms of the actual deliverable that need to be handed in on the college application. Definitely not until the end of junior year. Did I start writing my essays and finalizing my list and sort of where I was looking at most seriously. So for sure, yes, big kudos to everyone who’s getting started early.

Lynn: Yes, similarly, like, um, junior year, um, fall junior year, and I’ll talk a little bit more about the program that sort of helped guide me through the process. But, um, yeah, very much similar to everyone else junior year.

Stacey: Yeah, regardless of, you know, where we all ended up, I think we have really unique pathways to where we did end up.

So I’m really excited for you all to get those different perspectives. And it looks like we have a fairly even distribution. Amongst sophomore junior and senior year based on the poll results. We have somebody else who doesn’t categorize as a high school student. So welcome to you as well. We’re looking forward to answering your questions later tonight with that.

I’m going to turn it over to Maria to get us started.

Maria: Hey, thanks, Stacey. Um, so I’ll just share a little bit more about my college application process. I, for me, it started, uh, pretty early in my, um, senior year, um, with the QuestBridge program, and I’ll talk a little bit about that, but before even applying for QuestBridge, I knew junior year was going to be a big year to prep, so I didn’t feel at Overwhelmed my senior year.

I had a couple of friends who were year above me and I remember seeing them being really strapped for time and feeling very overwhelmed. And so, um, I tried to prepare junior year. So I knew that there was going to be letters of recommendation that people were going to be, um, asking teachers about senior year.

And so I wanted to make sure that I reached out to teachers ahead of time that I really wanted to talk to. And so, um, the spring of junior year. I chatted with a couple of teachers and asked them for letters of recommendation. And, um, a big part of that process was, uh, actually getting a chance to sit down with them and talk to them about the reason why I was applying to the schools that I was applying to some of my own, um, career ambitions and things that I wanted to do in the future.

I wanted to be a, um, A doctor at the time. And so I knew there was going to be several years of study before I got there, but I knew that I wanted to be heavily involved in research during my undergrad. And so there was a lot of things that I share with them about my background, about the things I wanted to study in those sessions.

And that really helped them to kind of piece together some of the things that they had already seen in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Uh, some of my extracurricular like, um, coaches, I guess, or the people who were sponsoring the extracurriculars I was a part of. And so I remember that, um, Just getting a chance to tell them more was going to be probably very helpful for them to write a letter that was more unique and specific to me.

Um, and then I started writing essays in the summer. Um, and that kind of spilled into early fall semester, but I wanted to make sure that my, at least my Common App, um, personal statement was done in the summer so that I felt like that weight was off my shoulders. I had done it once and felt like I could do, Other smaller essays again.

And so the reason why that was important to get done ahead of time is because I was applying through QuestBridge, which was this program that helped students and low income families. At the time, it was for families who made less than 65k. And so it was very specific. Um, uh, it was helping very specific, uh, students that came from those low resource families.

And so, um, for that, I had to submit my application by end of September. And so I knew that was going to be a super quick turnaround, so I tried to get those things early, and the way it worked is that it would, you would rank the schools that you would want to go to, you would fill out their applications on the Common App, and then also fill out a couple other essays on the QuestBridge, um, Like, platform, and so it was a lot more essays, but it also, the pro of doing this, or the reason why someone would, would do the Quest Switch program is that if a school matched with you back, so let’s say one of the schools that I ranked with, that I ranked in my list, um, also matched with me.

Then I got the chance to go there with full tuition paid for all four years. And so there was different types of schools that I could have selected. Um, and the majority were, uh, binding decisions. So that meant that if they matched with me, I had to go there. Obviously, there were some, some room for, If for whatever reason something like happened where I had to stay home or some other like extraneous reasons why I couldn’t fulfill that commitment, then obviously I’d get an opportunity to back out.

But for the most part, it was something that again was kind of like early decision where it was a binding commitment. And so there was only a couple schools that didn’t have that and I applied only to those. Um, and, At that same time, I was also, while I was waiting to hear back from QuestBridge, I just wanted to make sure that I confirmed some of the safety and the likely school applications just to make sure I was kind of covered on that end as well.

And then, um, I found out that I was a finalist for QuestBridge in October, and then I found out that I matched with Princeton on December 1st. So pretty early on, I figured out what school I was going to go to, um, and, or the school I thought I was going to go to. And then decided, okay, I know for sure, I’m going to Princeton, but let me apply to some other schools that I was also very interested in, um, through regular decision.

And then I can make a, um, a choice between those schools and Princeton. And so I applied to Stanford and I applied to Harvard and I found out I got into Harvard, um, and just decided to go to the pre orientation weekend and just realized that. Harvard was the school I really wanted to go to. And so that’s kind of the whole arc of the story of, um, how I applied.

And so I’ll talk a little bit more about why I chose Harvard over Princeton. And that’s a really personal choice. Some folks like got into Harvard and Princeton and chose Princeton and both schools are fantastic, but there’s different characteristics that appeal to different students. So for me, It was really important to, um, and I guess to answer this question directly, there was other, uh, Ivy League schools I was considering, primarily Princeton or Harvard.

And things that I was considering for Match Day, of like, what school am I actually going to go to, was the, first, the programs of study. Um, and this was pretty equal between Princeton and Harvard, in that they both were liberal arts programs. They had majors and minors and different. They were called something different.

Harvard majors were called concentrations and minors were called secondaries. But pretty much there was the opportunity to study something big like a major and then to also focus on another specific other like set of courses in my minor. And so I knew that I would be able to maybe study At the time, I thought I was going to do like biology and then maybe minor in sociology or something more in the social studies that ended up being flipped.

But, um, I just want to make sure I was able to do both. Uh, there had really great study abroad programs and opportunities to study at other universities and take classes in other countries. And so. In terms of the programs of study, I felt like they were both very similar. They had the same majors that I was also interested in, so that felt fine.

Financial aid, both of them gave full financial aid and so I also felt like that was pretty equal. But then when I started looking at the location, that’s kind of where for me, the balances, the, Yeah, the balance. It’s a tip on in the favor of Harvard. Um, so Harvard is in Cambridge, which is in Massachusetts and just across the river from Boston.

And Boston is a huge medical hug hub. Sorry, a huge medical hub where, um, there’s just a lot of, uh, different universities that are doing research. There’s a lot of research hospitals. Um, and people there were just very, I think like it’s a, it’s a hub for academia as well. And so I was really interested in being able to study in a smaller city like Cambridge, but then being able to cross the river and be in a bigger city like Boston and the proximity to that.

Um, I also liked that the campus was very close. Um, it was, it was pretty much. Not as integrated into the city by all means as like NYU or Columbia, but it was definitely not isolated from the city of Cambridge. And so on any given day, I could just see residents of Cambridge or tourists and be able to eat at the same restaurants as they did, but then also have like my residential house.

Um, and so it was a good integration of being able to experience a close knit community. while also being within a broader city and very close to an even bigger city like Boston. When it came to ranking, um, to be honest, like all these schools are at the very top. And so there was no need to nitpick, oh, like which one is better than the other.

And in this scenario was more so like, um, I had gotten the opportunity to go to, or to choose between two of my REACH schools. And to me that was enough. And so, um, yeah, Ranking again was pretty equal, but then looking at the professors, um, there was, uh, a couple of professors that I was really excited to either do research with or to take their classes.

Um, one of them included the former Paul Farmer, Dr. Paul Farmer. Um, I was able to take a class that was one of the last taught by like the father of medical anthropology, who’s Arthur Kleinman. And so. Like folks that I had, uh, read about their work were teachers at Harvard. And so I immediately that caught my attention and I was able to take, um, or I was thinking about taking classes with them.

And that’s something that I considered during match day. And then it was really excited to actually be able to do once I was at Harvard. Uh, postgraduate opportunities both had really great postgraduate opportunities, but I knew Harvard had a medical school associated with it. Um, and so I wanted to make sure I would be able to maybe do some research with the medical school or go to some events to potentially get more connections and more, um, I guess like network with folks there and get a chance to maybe, uh, bolster my, uh, My resume, so I’d be able to, when I apply there, so like, okay, well, if I was still interested in Harvard, in the, in Harvard’s medical school program over others to give some evidence for why I felt like I would be a good fit.

And I felt like having experience doing research there, which I got a chance to do with one of, um, uh, with like some of the teachers there, um, was really great. Um, again, I didn’t end up applying to medical school, but that was something I was considering. Um, and then the culture and extracurriculars I’ll speak about together, um, because they were very intertwined for me.

I felt like folks were just really curious, and that’s probably something that sounds very vague and true of a lot of other, um, a lot of other schools. But for me, I, when I went during opening days, it just felt like everybody was very excited to be there. Um, everybody wanted to study something very different than me.

I guess I made a lot of friends who weren’t. Uh, thinking about medical school, and it was just really interesting to hear people who were super excited about very different things than I was, who would tell me about their classes, tell me about their research. Obviously, there was a lot of time where conversations had nothing to do with academics, but I knew that there were opportunities to talk about things that would stimulate my mind and would help me.

Just make me curious about different things. And I think in combination with Harvard’s like very, um, like generous extracurricular opportunities, I got a chance to do things I never thought I would from joining the mountaineering club and going ice climbing and being able to. Um, do internships in places where, you know, I was just looking to like learn to surf and then also be able to do some internship out of like a financial organization close by, being able to present that as like a summer application and knowing that Harvard had the funding to be able to.

Um, helped me do that was just something that was really cool and a lot of, uh, stories that I heard about students who were older than me and did things like that just inspired me to try new things. And again, Harvard had the resources to support that. And so that’s one of the things that really pushed me over, over the edge.

And I, I, um, signed with Harvard. Um, and I think this might be the last slide for me, but I ended up majoring in sociology and global health. Because. Pretty much, uh, I guess the main thesis of this slide is that the pre med journey isn’t always linear or just STEM. Um, I came in thinking I would do molecular and cellular biology, which was like the most STEM that I could think of to prove that I was ready for medical school.

And then I realized, well, I did love taking like chemistry and biology and all these other classes that I knew I would have to take for medical school. I realized that those were classes that I would continue to take into medical school and wanted to try something different in college. And so I, uh, declared my major sophomore year because Harvard, uh, gives you like about a year to explore different classes before you declare your sophomore year.

And, uh, after exploring a lot my freshman year, I realized I really love classes in the sociology department. And so I ended up, um, majoring, uh, in sociology and then kind of tying in, um, some of my interests in like health and especially the, uh, More of like the social studies behind health, which was like some of the cultural practices, different things within policy.

And that’s why I ended up minoring in global health policy. Um, and then, um, yeah, I think again, kind of to sum up the reason for that is I knew that I would spend the next six to seven years really focused on practicing medicine and taking a lot of STEM related courses that would help me to be a good practitioner.

And so. I wanted to think about what other foundational knowledge that I want to build in college and how that would shape me into someone who would think about medicine differently. Um, and so obviously, even though I was doing sociology and global health policy, My electives were my pre med recs so that I would be prepared and eligible to apply for medical school.

Um, so yeah, and then I, I chose, like I said, those because I really love the classes and the professors. Stacey, I’ll pass it over to you.

Stacey: Thank you so much, Maria. Such a great. Um, overview of your experience and what a cool, um, overview of the QuestBridge component, which some students will be going through.

Um, so my college application process, I was a first generation college student, so I did have to go and look for a lot of this information on my own. I went to a public high school, and so there weren’t a lot of really great dedicated resources to helping students who might have been academically more advanced.

looking to apply to these top 20 and Ivy League schools. Um, and that’s what my sites were set on at that point. But despite the fact that I really wanted to aim high, I actually ended up finding myself with a balanced college list. And so what I mean by this is I had Some what we consider reach schools.

So schools that are in the Ivy top 20. They’re very selective, have very low admissions rates, but it also had some what we call match schools. So schools that, um, really match my academic profile, meaning that, you know, typically students with my academic profile will be accepted at those schools and they have sort of these middle of the, um, the ground admissions rates somewhere, you know, in that, in that 25 to 75 percent dial, um, area.

And then I did have some safeties as well. So schools that have very high admissions rates and I very likely would get into those schools. And so I did have a balance list in the end and I didn’t mean to do that, but it did happen upon it. Um, so for example, some of the local state colleges ended up being Somewhat more of my safeties versus at the time, like Tufts, Northeastern Boston University were more of my match schools again.

This was years ago, a long time ago. So those admissions rates might be a little bit more competitive. Now. I know Tufts, for example, has changed drastically in recent years. And then, you know, of course, I had those I B’s. Um, what I did prioritize during my search, and this is how I ended up with my balance list was not just the name of the school rate again.

I did not have blinders on when it came to this. I did prioritize the prestige and I understand that some students do do that. Um, but I also prioritize location. I mentioned, you know, state schools. I wanted to stay in the new England area, preferably Connecticut. I had a strong family network and I wanted to stay close to home.

So the location was really important to me. And that’s why Yale really ended up on the top of the list. Right. Um, flexible curriculum. I was looking for curriculum that would allow me to really have interdisciplinary, um, exploratory, exploratory. excuse me, exploratory studies. Um, and then stem major. So at the time, I was really interested in engineering in particular.

And that was really my focus when I was looking at academics at all of these schools. Um, I also loved, you know, statistics. I loved physics. I love chemistry. And so I was not Entirely sure that engineering was going to be my focus at the time, but I wanted to have kind of this breath of really strong stem basis at all of these schools.

I did go on a lot of college tours. So this is really helpful for me. And I was able to do that because I was so close. In proximity to a lot of these schools, right? If I had schools on my list in California or Texas it would have been a lot harder for me to go on so many tours But I was lucky enough to be able to go to a lot of these schools within driving distance And and actually helped me eliminate some schools that were originally on my list um So some Boston colleges, I chose not to include on my list when after I visited them, for example, and I also added some schools along the way, um, realizing, you know, I might pop by a campus in the area of another school and fall in love with that campus.

So that was a lot of my journey leading up to my college list. I ultimately did want to go to Yale in the end. Um, and I actually was able to get an interview at Yale at the time. Interviewing was a pretty standard part of the application process. I think interviews are a little less common these days, but interviewing was part of my application procedure and it’s.

A day that I’ll remember forever. It was very meaningful for me. I ended up meeting with a current student and had a wonderful discussion with them. Um, and it just really solidified how I felt about the school. I, I’ll always talk about school exploration as a dating process. That’s my, um, my go to parallel and it’s, it works in both directions, right?

So you want to make sure that the school is a good fit. For you. Um, in addition to the school, making sure you’re a good fit for them, right? It has to go in both directions. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. And so that match really felt strong for me after having that interview. I also applied early action. And so we can talk a little bit more about this later.

If there are more questions, but essentially, there are earlier deadlines for some schools. Early action allows you to apply early to a school, get a decision early, but you don’t have to go to that school just because you got. Decision early. Um, so that’s early action. That’s different than early decision, where if you do get into the school early, it’s binding, meaning you need to go to that school.

Um, and then there’s regular decisions, right? There’s variations of all of those, but regular early action and then early decision are typically what you see. I did get in early action at Yale. So I found out in December, again, a moment burned in my memory forever. I took a work break, checked online, and it was just, it was a really great moment for me because then I knew like this is where I was going to go without question.

I knew I was going to get a good financial aid package from the school. Um, so I was able to right away kind of withdraw a lot of my applications and I did find out from a few other schools, but at that stage I was really just focused on Yeah, um, I was considering Harvard and Princeton and Brown at the time I was applying.

I love all their campuses again. Academics was, was a really strong focus for me. I liked their STEM programs. I really. It really made a difference for me to visit the campuses though. I’ll never be able to really put my finger on what I mean by this, but that feeling that you get when you walk on a campus and you just know it feels like home, um, that is something that you can’t really get from a virtual tour online.

So other important factors when I was making my list included financially, I mentioned I knew I was going to get a really good financial aid package from you. So a lot of these top 20 and Ivy League schools have need based aid packages, meaning that, um, they’re really focused on meeting your need. If you, in terms of your finances, if you are admitted into the school versus merit based.

Aid, which is based on your merit as an applicant, as an applicant, excuse me. So, um, different schools have different aid models. A lot of the top 20 and Ivy League schools do have need based aid models in this way. And so, they base that information on your expected family contribution through the FAFSA.

A lot of them ask for a CSS profile. And so financial aid was really important to me when I was reviewing those options. I mentioned flexible curriculum being important to me. Location, campus feel, academic resources, the libraries on campus at Yale are some of the best in the world. And so libraries were places that I spent a lot of my time as an undergrad.

It’s where I study. It’s where I met up with my friends to connect. There’s usually a little cafe. outside of one of the main libraries, um, under one of the main quads on campus. So libraries was an important part of student life as well. The residential college structure was really cool. Um, I think, you know, Hogwarts house selection, that’s sort of how it’s paralleled all the time and marketed, but essentially you’re affiliated with one of several residential colleges on campus, and that’s your primary home while you’re at the school.

A lot of the Ivy League schools have similar models to this. extracurriculars. So I remember at admitted students day or bulldog days, um, they had this big extracurricular fair and it really, um, gave me such a wide sense of all of the opportunities that I had available to me at the school. Peer mentorship.

So I had a freshman counselor group when I was an undergrad and that was a really important resource to me. And then I knew that there were strong alumni networks and post grad career opportunities for our students. So I chose Yale. It was close to home. I also love New Haven. New Haven is like the smaller city feel.

Um, it’s very different from Boston and New York. I encourage you to visit if you have not already. Uh, and so. Those were a lot of the really important factors for me. Interestingly enough, my second choice was not an Ivy League school. My second choice was Northeastern. Again, thinking through all the factors above that school felt the like the best match for me personally.

So my second choice was not Harvard Brown at Princeton. It was actually Northeastern. Um, so I ended up, I told you I started as an engineering major. But I did not enjoy engineering once I got to the school on. It’s not because the engineering department is not a good department. It just wasn’t a good fit for me.

I didn’t have engineering classes when I was in high school, so I didn’t really have a good sense of what that was. But I didn’t have a robotics team at my high school. So I didn’t really have a lot of good insight into that academic area as well as that career. So I ended up spending a lot of my freshman year sitting down with what we called the Blue Book.

I’m aging myself because it was a printed catalog. Um, and we would go through this and look through all of the potential majors and the courses and descriptions associated with those majors. So I spent a lot of time reviewing that and trying to pinpoint what’s important to me. Um, I also spent time working through the required skill areas at Yale.

So they do require you to kind of hit targets and writing and science and social science. So, fulfilling different courses in those requirement areas allowed me to explore other potential majors. And through this, I ended up finding a love of psychology. I took an evolutionary psych class that completely changed my trajectory.

Um, And I ended up choosing a neuroscience concentration, which really quenched that need for that harder scam area of my interest. I love statistics too. And there’s a huge area of research and statistics in the psych department. So all of that kind of met my needs. I also within the psychology major, not only had the opportunity to concentrate in neuroscience, but I was able to pursue other interests through elective work more easily because I had a flexible curriculum.

So I actually studied abroad in Rome one summer, and I took a lot of courses in Italian and Roman studies. That was not a concentration. It was just a personal interest of mine. So that was really great. And I do think the major opened up a lot of research and work opportunities for me when I graduated.

So that’s a little bit of my story. I want to turn this over to Mariko. And actually, another story.

Mariko: Hi, everyone. Um, thank you so much, Stacey. I’ll try not to repeat too much of what Stacey said, um, as I walk through my application journey, which I will say is a little bit different than hers. Uh, as I mentioned in my introduction, I had both academic admissions and athletic recruitment during my high school application process.

And so that meant that there were some um, which actually included Yale, but I knew that I was applying to, uh, sort of a regular student and that there were some schools such as Wellesley and MIT that were recruiting me athletically, which would mean that I was on a little bit of a different timeline. I was, uh, at that point, primarily focused on softball.

And so I would go to camps and different showcases where college coaches would meet and connect with you. And if you decide to commit to a school, For the IVs and IV level schools, that commitment isn’t binding the way that it is for some division one schools, but you do enter into discussions with coaches much earlier, so your sophomore and your junior year in particular, to determine whether you’re interested in potentially applying and if you are going to apply early to those schools to solidify that athletic commitment.

And so, as I was moving through this, the big focus on me for me was. Not so much, you know, what is the quality of the education because I knew as other people have iterated already that when you enter into the level of sort of top 20 academic schools that no matter where you go, you’re going to get a quality education that the opportunities, the professional connections that you’ll make, the level of academic rigor, the students that you’ll surround, be surrounded by.

Things will be incredibly strong. And so what was more important for me was the atmosphere because I think that’s something we don’t always think about when we’re in high school is that for the most part, you’re going to live on your college campus and you are going to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week there.

And so, for me, the things that were really important. Had a lot to do with where would I feel comfortable and where could I see myself spending almost all of my time there? I’m also from California And so that meant that any college that I was going to on the East Coast would be really far away from home So for me the sort of vibes of the school were really important.

I found that for the really selective students It was actually quite hit or miss, which made my process pretty easy. There were a couple of schools that I stepped on campus and I just said, I can’t see myself here. And whether it was, you know, all, while all the students were nice and all of the tours that I went on were lovely, whether it was just sort of something about the way that I didn’t personally connect to the other people on campus or the geography of the campus or how it was sort of arranged.

It just I sort of knew almost immediately when I was doing this visitation process where I was interested and where I was not. And so I think I was really lucky about that. But I would really encourage folks to really trust their instincts in this process, because if you don’t intuitively feel that this is a place where you can truly see yourself for four years or maybe longer, then I think listening to that is really important because There is something that, you know, you are telling yourself, right, about where you feel like you might be happy or where you feel like you might be comfortable.

And then the last part of my application process was really focused on going where you’re wanted, which I think was one of the most helpful pieces of advice that I received during my application journey. When it came to Yale specifically, uh, Yale was one of the few schools that I had applied to. Just based on sort of academic merit and interest.

I knew that I personally was not going to be recruited for Yale’s team. They were overburdened in my particular position in the sport that I played, but I really loved the campus. I really loved the tour that I had taken of the campus. I echo everyone’s thoughts about in person tours. They are incredibly helpful in getting a sense of the space.

And so I decided to apply anyways. And Yale liked me. And, you know, like a sort of Maria with Harvard gave me a likely letter, which meant that they let me know early that I had been admitted into the school. I didn’t even interview. I was told in early February. And from then on, they did a fantastic job of having students call me every other week to talk about programs that I was interested in to.

Answer any of the questions that I might have at Yale and my admissions officer as well was a really wonderful resource. And he was quite available for me. And so knowing that, you know, it wasn’t just where I wanted to go, but where people felt genuinely that I could succeed or that I would be a good match for this school was something that I think really helped ground my decision.

Uh, when I sort of really sat down and thought about decision day. And so. On that note, right, what made me decide on Yale and where was I looking at, right, when it came down to April or May, Dartmouth and Pomona College were my final other two choices besides Yale. And for me, what made me choose Yale primarily was the level and scope of institutional support.

Um, as Stacey mentioned, right there for first years are a number of different resources that you can. Access through the college. Um, they’re very determined that you will not fail out your first year, right? And that you will make this transition. So everyone from your first year counselor who is like an RA on steroids.

Um, I’m actually still really good friends with my first year counselor. And we’ve had this really wonderful relationship that’s developed, uh, over the years. And, uh, Also for children, uh, for students that are in marginalized communities. Um, so if you are a racial or ethnic minority, LGBTQ student, you’re also assigned peer liaisons, which are older students who literally get paid to take you out to coffee, to help you, um, talk through your transition to give you advice on classes, to give you advice on your social life.

And so knowing that those support structures were in place for me and that I could access them whenever I needed to was something that made me feel again, More that, that increased comfort about the potential of being so far away from home. Uh, the friends and the social structure were part of that.

Stacey also talked about the residential college system. And for me, what was really valuable about that was the fact that the way that the colleges are physically structured allows you, um, this, the literal space to get to know more people. Unlike some schools that have sort of just rooms in a hallway.

In a row, right? Um, you just sort of walk through the hallway and enter your bedroom. Yale’s suite system allowed me to share space with between four and six other people from my first year onwards. They give you a living room where you can sort of, uh, you know, connect with people, study. We were really into weekly bachelor night in my suite for a couple of years, whatever that might be, right?

And so I loved that that was, And that’s a big consideration. I think when you are looking at how the campus is structured and what is that structure prioritizing another great example is that on the oldest part of campus, which is called old campus, there are all these crazy cobblestone pathways that intersect in kind of quirky ways.

And that was also deliberately done to encourage students to interact with each other as they passed each other on these different paths. Um, and since. Old campus is where the majority of first years live. It was really wonderful for me to have these, you know, what I thought would be right, like five minute hellos with people as I walked across old campus, um, that turned into our two hour long talks with folks.

And I really treasure those memories. Um, and the last sort of element of institutional support that was particularly important for me was as a student who identifies as black and Asian, having the resources there to. that I was in community and that I would be supported by people who looked like me and had similar experiences to me.

And so Yale has fought, or technically five, if you count the LGBTQ center cultural centers that have professional staff and paid student staff designed to develop programming and advocate for. for marginalized students on campus. And so as someone who worked at the cultural centers and spent quite a lot of time there, having that community was really important and valuable to me.

And I actually still live with people that I met through the cultural centers, um, at Yale. There’s also a really fantastic, by POC, uh, black indigenous people of color, pre orientation program called cultural connections. And doing that program really set the tone for me for the rest of my. Total of five years at Yale and some of the friends that I made in that program are still some of my closest friends today.

The last thing that I think I really valued about Yale and that really stood out for me was that Yale’s approach to learning. Whenever I talked to students who were at Yale who were older than me, I saw so much joy and curiosity and unironic enthusiasm about wanting to see and learn and discover more about the world.

And I found that to be really resonant in my time at Yale as well, that even if my friends and I were studying completely different things that I could walk in to a dining hall, sit down at dinner and say, Hey, I just learned this really cool thing today and to have everyone else celebrate and ask questions and engage me about that, um, in a way that felt like it was.

rooted in wanting everyone to have a wonderful learning experience and much less indirect competition with other students. And so I think that was something that was really important to me coming out of a more competitive high school environment was that people were there to learn for the sake of learning and they really understood how valuable and wonderful that kind of experience can be.

And so that was something that I found pretty unique to Yale. I think that every sort of top. School will have a different approach to learning and a different approach to student development, and all of them are fantastic. All of them produce, right, really great students. But what you prioritize and what motivates and encourages you is really important in thinking about where you’re going to feel the most comfortable and learn the best in your environment.

So, in terms of my particular majors, uh, I was a double major in the history of science, medicine, and public health, and ethnicity, race, and migration. And so, basically, all of this boils down to the fact that my work today still looks at how systems of oppression affect marginalized communities, and what these communities are doing to heal themselves and advocate for better health outcomes in the face of, uh, uh, discrimination.

these various disparities. And so I chose the history of science and medicine primarily because of the five year program through which, um, I actually met Stacey. And I knew that going into Yale there was this fantastic and pretty selective program that allowed you to complete two degrees in five years and normally it would have taken six.

Uh, that there were going to be That I was going to be able to do that and complete that in the same environment, especially this became super valuable for me because COVID took away most of my senior year, so I almost had to do over senior year the next year, which was an experience I was really fortunate to have.

Um, knowing that I would have this sort of opportunity to springboard and expand the work that I was doing. Through a dual degree program was something really valuable to me, and I had a really wonderful time in the program. The other thing that I found with this particular major was that I had incredible faculty members.

I actually still do research for one of my professors at Yale, but they completely transformed sort of the way that I thought about and approached my Uh, sort of intervention, development and delivery and public health. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that without this particular department. Um, and also, I think from a sheer academic learning standpoint, my favorite subjects in high school were biology and history.

And so getting to combine these and learning that one can combine these in a particular major was really exciting for me and really, I think, stimulated all the areas of my brain that, uh, you know, maybe really want to wake up in the morning and actually go to class. Right. Uh, when it came to ethnicity, race and migration, which is our ethnic studies program, I had actually originally thought that I was not going to double major in this particular field at all.

My dad is in a sort of ethnic studies related field, and I was very like, I will not be like my parents. I will do something different. Um, but what ended up changing my mind was. The amount of student activism and organizing that was centered in this particular department. Um, there were student uprisings at Yale in 2015, and when I was there in 2019, focused around, uh, anti racism and making sure that all students have equitable opportunities to learn about their histories, cultures, and present, right, um, within the context of Yale space.

And so, um, Being part of and having so many friends and community members who were part of the 2019 uprisings, which largely focused on getting better tenure and pay for ethnic studies professors made me realize how important the program was, how much there could be learned from being in the program.

And how much we owe to the labor of the folks that are teaching these kinds of classes and on top of that, they had really flexible requirements. So I honestly didn’t have to go out of my way to complete the major. I think I had to take maybe one extra class than I would have normally. And so between those two things, it made me feel like.

This was both a doable and a meaningful second major. And I’m really glad that I did it because I don’t think I would have produced as much academic work or as thoughtful and interdisciplinary academic work had I not had this second major as well. So that was how I sort of navigated my academic pathway.

I will say that I knew going into college that I was interested in public health that stayed pretty firm. Throughout college, so I didn’t have a lot of fluctuation, um, in terms of what I wanted to study. And one of the reasons that I chose public health was because it is so interdisciplinary, the kinds of academic work and also the kinds of jobs that you can get in the field span from sort of very focused scientific, quantitative and engineering work to work.

Um, that’s a more in line with. What I do that focuses a lot more on community development and engaging the people around you. So knowing that I had that kind of flexibility was also really valuable in making these kinds of decisions and being able to stick with them in a way that felt authentic and true to who I was and who I was becoming at the time.

Okay, that’s all I have. Um, feel free to ask me any questions in the Q and A if you are curious about any parts of this particular process, and I’ll turn it over to Lynn to round us out.

Lynn: Thank you. Um, so very similarly, I, um, also studied public health, um, but, uh, my path to public health, and we can talk a little bit about that, um, in this slide where we talk about our major, um, but, so my college application process as a first generation low income student, Um, really started in the fall of my junior year when I had a really close relationship with my counselor, um, and went to a public high school in Portland, Oregon.

Um, and so I really didn’t have my eyes on East Coast schools. I. My parents never really left Oregon after we immigrated from Vietnam. So it was really like, it was more about money and like, can we plan? And I had a family of five. So it was, the East coast was sort of never really on my radar until a program, um, like, Uh, the one I did at Princeton, it was called Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America leader.

For short, they’re based in New York City. They’re a nonprofit. Um, if your family makes less than 90, 000, you would be eligible for the program. It is a completely free program at Princeton for seven weeks. Um, at the time, I did it in 2015. So now I believe after the covid and, um, some feedback from scholars, they, uh, they Me bumped it down to five for, um, you know, it’s a factor in and it was 100 students from across the U.

S. So, um, myself and three others were from Oregon. And this program really opened my eyes and really helped me envision sort of. what was really out there. And I, my parents didn’t know what Princeton was. Um, when I got this program, they thought it was a scam. Um, but I had not, I had known it wasn’t a scam because somebody from my high school had done it the year before me.

And so I really had to sell it to my parents after I got in. And so when I was at Princeton, it really helped me, um, Not only see the schools, we did so many college visits, um, throughout the East Coast being based in New Jersey. It was easy to go to Yale to see, um, Wesleyan, um, to see, like, Georgetown, Hopkins, um, you We saw Columbia, of course, and Barnard, and I’ll speak a little bit about why I chose to apply to Barnard over Columbia, but LIDA really helped me improve my SAT score, which really didn’t improve, like one of the biggest, um, one of the biggest insecurities I had throughout my application process, and I think some people don’t talk about it, but I’m very proud of it, is I, um, When the S.A. T. was out of 2400, I actually applied to college with the 1380, which is incredibly low, and I never would have thought that I would end up, um, getting into the schools that I did in the schools. I didn’t get into. And so, um, you know, that. The SAT part was something that really was on my mind, and I had a lot of schools that were test optional.

I know now with COVID, a lot of the IVs have gone test optional completely, so that was a big factor in sort of how I looked. at the college application process. And Alida really helped me build my list. We had like weekly meetings. Um, I had to take an SAT practice test every Saturday. So they really drilled a lot of the prep that I should have done prior sophomore year.

And so, um, That Alita like helped me write my college essays, particularly my personal statement and all the other supplement essays. So it was really, um, a program that held my hands throughout the, throughout the whole process, um, from that, um, junior summer to, um, throughout my senior year. And, and like I said, you never know what will happen.

And, um, And having a low SAT score was really something that I would always read about. And I, I just, I didn’t know what really were my chances, but, um, I spent, you know, the seven weeks at Princeton, just envisioning what schools would be a good fit. I had visited so many schools and that they packed in that those seven weeks.

And, and, um, Nothing really stood out to me other than Barnard and Columbia. Just because coming from Portland, I always wanted to move to the East Coast, but I didn’t know quite how, how that was financially possible for my family. And so, um, I saw New York and the just the opportunities and sort of how much it would push me and I’ve Been living in New York for, you know, since I was an undergrad, so it’s been seven years in the making, and I still feel like New York is home and it’s really pushed me and provided opportunities that I don’t think, um, anywhere else I would have been able to just because of how big New York is.

But, um, we’ll talk a little bit about why location was also a factor in my decision, but I ended up applying to 13 schools. Didn’t really get into like half of them six admits that I never thought I would get into particularly like top schools I’m like Princeton Dartmouth and Barnard and then a few others.

So I’m gonna try to Go through why I applied under undecided. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do I just knew that I was really interested in public health and interested in just Being able to tie in my immigrant background and working with diverse populations and translating for my parents. So I knew I wanted to be in the city.

I knew I didn’t want to be in like a college town, which is sort of what Princeton and Dartmouth was. And I knew I was looking for a sense of community just coming from a smaller city like Portland. And so I really was torn between Princeton just because it was quite close to New York, but I knew as a first generation low income student, I just wouldn’t be able to have the money, um, to get on the NG transit, uh, as frequently as I would have probably taken it.

So I’d rather just have been in the city. Um, and Dartmouth, the, the, the, the deed plans they have, which, you know, I think you get your junior year to do internships and fellowships, but someone coming from Portland, it, uh, housing and sort of, you know, The logistics of being able to find an internship that was paid.

Um, I just, it didn’t feel like a good fit. I never got to visit Dartmouth. Um, but so that’s why it was really never really on my radar despite getting into it. Um, but I studied public health, um, with, uh, was, it was a concentration, but it was an urban studies major and I did an internship in Uganda really like formed.

Like it really helped me. Understand like public health was what I wanted to study even despite going in undecided and the urban studies classes were phenomenal just because New York City was such a great like case study to be able to learn about homelessness, affordable housing, food insecurity, a lot of the issues that are very real in big cities.

And so I also had a senior thesis that I knew I was, it was going to prepare me for graduate school. I had gotten the keys. Um, scholarship, which was the last year that they were awarding it for my, um, graduating class in high school. So I knew I had graduate funding, um, after undergrad. And so, um, and they also funded my undergraduate, but I knew the schools I was applying to financially, um, was going to be fine, but it was more about what are they going to be able to get in.

So, um, I studied abroad in Jordan and that really honed in, like, my public health interests, but that’s, um, I know we’re tight on time. So I knew I just. Freeze through my slides, and we can have a Q and a for the remaining time. If anyone has questions, I’m happy to elaborate

Stacey: Lynn fabulous and everyone fabulous presentations tonight.

I know we don’t have a ton of time for Q and a, I do want to take. A second to just go over a great resource here. Um, at CollegeAdvisor, a great opportunity for everybody in the room. CollegeAdvisors team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate the college admissions process in one on one advising sessions.

We’ve already helped over 6,000 clients in their college journeys. And after analyzing our data since 2021, we have found that CollegeAdvisor students are 3.7% Six times more likely to go to Stanford again into Stanford. Excuse me, um, Stanford university 4.1 times more likely to get into Vanderbilt university and 2.7 times more likely to get into Harvard university. So increase your odds and take the next step in your college admissions journey by signing up for a free 45 to 60 minutes strategy session with an admission specialist on our team using the QR code here on the slide. During this meeting, we’ll review your current extracurricular list and application strategy, discuss how they align with your college list, and outline the tools you need to stand out in the competitive admissions world.

And so that QR code is going to stay on the slide here while we go through a few Q& A questions. I know we’ve answered everything in the chat, but feel free to pop in a question or two in the chat in the time we have remaining. Um, For the rest of the panelists, if you can bring your cameras back on, um, I think at this stage, I’ll probably just pick on one of you to answer a question in the interest of time.

Um, the first question I have, Maria, I’d like to turn it over to you since it’s been a little bit since your slides happened. So we’d love to hear from you now. Um, can you. give insight into how one could contact admissions officers in an efficient way, in a way that will help them in their application journey.

Maria: Sure thing. So, um, one of the key things that students think about when they’re applying to colleges is how to get their name out there, um, how to stand out out of a lot of different names and applications that are going through. And, um, some schools have a formal way of doing that in terms of, uh, talking to an admissions officer.

They really like when you go to campus visit, sometimes that’s seen as something that’s very officially, uh, like accounted for in your application. For other schools, it’s not like that at all. Like for example, I didn’t get a chance to, uh, visit a lot of schools or talk to admissions officers just because there was a more of a financial constraint ongoing.

Um, but so again, if you’re like maybe thinking about how do you do this, um, and maybe not having the Again, I’m an example and there’s a lot of different students who Didn’t get a chance to go and visit in person or do any of those things. And it’s still very possible to get in. Uh, but one thing that students like to do is to talk to admissions officers.

And there’s a couple of things that I just want to highlight as things that are important to keep in mind. The first is that if you’re reaching out to admissions officers, make sure that you have a series of questions and things that you’re curious about in the school that you’ve done some of your research and know some of the foundational things about, you know, is this a liberal arts school?

Um, is this school that has opportunities for, um, There are different extracurriculars that you might be interested, just come prepared to engage in conversation with the admissions officer. Again, they’re really busy and so coming in prepared with a list of things that you’re curious about instead of just kind of sitting there and asking them to tell you about the school, which you can do by reading the website or by going on a tour.

is not the best use of either of your time. So I would say please come prepared. Um, if, if you’re going in person to do that, another way to contact admissions officers to ask for a call. Um, again, that’s become more popular because of especially COVID and not everyone had having the opportunity to go in person.

Um, but those are some, just some things to keep in mind if you’re reaching out to admissions officers. I

Stacey: mean, thank you so much for that. Um, I want to turn over to you actually for the next question and I’m happy to chime in on this a little bit from the admissions perspective, but I wanted to get your insight into.

Um, I’m just going to actually read this question word for word because I think it’s. It’s a key to the phrasing. What are college admissions truly looking for in candidates? A great SAT, exceptional service and leadership experience, high marks on AP exams and valedictorian status doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

And so can you, if you have insight, can you give insight into what type of profile, um, Admissions officers might be looking for. And again, I can chime in as well. So I think the first thing to realize,

Mariko: right, is that all the things that are sort of listed in that question are, at the end of the day, statistics or benchmarks rather than the whole or the sum of an application, right?

And so when it comes to these super elite schools, right, those are like, The bare minimum, frankly, right? Everyone is going to have good grades. Everyone is going to have good test scores. Everyone is going to have right extracurricular activities that fill up all 10 slots on the common app list, right?

And so I tend to encourage my students who are competitive for these schools to think of those more as just sort of the business items that just need to be taken care of, right? That prove that you have the sort of Baseline, uh, capacity to be able to take a kind of intense, like the intensity and the kind of workload that you’ll get in an IV.

And again, if that’s not you, that’s totally okay. It is a wild experience, right? To go into an IV in terms of the pacing and the case and the class load and all those things, right? And you can have a fantastic education at a school that does not prioritize speed and volume the way that the Ivy’s do, right?

And so it’s so okay. Okay. So, okay, right. Um, but when it comes to, right, then how do we select from the kids that have all of these sort of benchmark options, right, that are all completed, it’s really going to come down to, in my opinion, two things. The first is going to be, what do you care about and how do you see the world, right?

And how do you put what you care about into the world, right? Um, it’s one thing to, uh, Be the president of a club that already exists that does sort of routine volunteer work. It’s another thing to build your own volunteer based initiative because you saw a problem in your community that needed to be addressed that you felt that you could address uniquely based on your positionality and the needs of those around you.

Right? And so taking that extra step to really, and you don’t have to know precisely what it is you are deeply passionate about forever and ever, right? But to see the ways in which you create things and you bring other people into those acts of creation is hugely important differentiating who can check off the boxes and who’s going to add something to our school once they arrive there.

Right? And so I think that’s the first. Bit of it. And I think the second is knowing what the school is about. Right? We’ve all talked about the sort of differences in everything from atmosphere to location to resources at these different universities, all of which are top tier schools. And so you need to demonstrate that you’re applying to the school because you truly want to go there and you understand, right?

The culture, the environment and the hopeful outcomes of that school. If you are just applying to these schools because they are brand name schools or because they’re supposed to be good schools, but you don’t have clear and concrete reasons for why you like Yale versus, right, Harvard, and that’s why we have these kinds of panels is so that you can start to think about what might you like, then that’s going to be read very clearly in your application.

And as an advisor, I see that all the time, right, where I’m like, cut out the sort of resume building, cut out the sort of extra things you’re trying to plug in about yourself. What do you like about this particular school? Right? And do you understand what it means to go there? And I think that goes a long way in being able to differentiate who will contribute to campus culture and the way in which admissions officers are envisioning when they’re putting together an entire class.

Stacey: Amazing. I think you have a second career in admissions, so I’ll leave it at that. I know we’re at time. Lynn, I apologize. I know we didn’t get to hear from you a lot tonight. I hope to see you in a future webinar. Um, we had such a great time talking to you all. Uh, the panelists, wonderful job with your presentations.

That is the end of our webinar. We hope you enjoyed learning about, um, Comparison of all of our experiences and our, um, all of our application processes. You had a wealth of knowledge here. Um, and here’s our October webinar series. If you do want to join us for some future webinars as well, we wish you all a great rest of your days and thank you again to our wonderful panelists.

Bye everyone. Bye. Thank you, Stacey, for moderating. Thank you everyone.