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. This webinar is specifically designed for high school students applying to college and their parents, providing valuable information and guidance to help you make informed decisions during the college selection process.

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.

By the end of this webinar, you will have a better understanding of the Ivy League colleges, enabling you to make informed decisions when choosing which institutions to apply to. Join us for this interactive session where our panelists will answer your questions and provide valuable insights to help you navigate the complex college admissions landscape.

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 07/17/2023
Duration 1:01:25

Webinar Transcription

2023-07-17 – Comparing Ivy League Colleges: Panel

Lonnie: Hello everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar, “Comparing Ivy League Colleges Panel.” To orient everyone with the webinar, we’re first going to begin with our panel presentation and then we’ll have the opportunity to answer your questions in a live Q&A. Before we get into our panel, let’s first meet our panelists.

Maria: Hey, everyone. My name is Maria Acosta Robayo, and I graduated from Harvard, uh, class of 2020, almost three years ago.

Stacey: Hi, everyone. I’m Stacey Tuttle. Um, I graduated from Yale University in 2015, currently still working there, um, at the Yale School of Public Health.

Juliana: Hi, everyone. My name is Juliana Furigay, and I graduated from Columbia this year, actually, this past May.

Lonnie: Nice. Well, congratulations. Recent grad. That’s such an exciting accomplishment. Major accomplishment. Okay. So we want to get a sense of what grade you are in. So I am going to start the panel and given that we are in July, we’re nearing towards the start of the college application season. And Juliana, as the most recent college grad, I am curious, when did you start your college applications?

Juliana: So in terms of when I actually started my college applications, um, so I, I think college applications are a process where you have to start setting yourself up early on. And so freshman year, I was setting myself up to, you know, be in the best position that I could be for college apps. And I think it was summer after junior year that I actually, you know, started getting those apps together.

Lonnie: Nice. Nice. So the journey doesn’t just start right when you get right into your senior year. It starts as early as even your ninth grade year in high school. And so with that, we actually have representation from all high school grade levels this evening. We have 35 percent of our audiences in the 12th grade, followed by that 32 percent 11th grade, 29 percent 10th grade and 3 percent 9th grade.

Great. So with that, we will go ahead and start our panel and we will begin with Maria to share more about what your college application process was like.

Maria: Great. Thank you, Lonnie. Um, so as Juliana said, it’s true. Sometimes you just have to start the process of thinking about college earlier, but when things really start kicking off is, at least for me, it was my junior year.

Um, so junior year, I started doing more of like my test prep back then there was SAT Subject test. So I was seeing SAT Subject test and trying to align them with the When I took AP exams, you all don’t have to worry about that. That doesn’t exist anymore. But I was doing some like standardized testing prep.

Um, then the summer before, uh, applying to colleges, I was really focusing on my essay. I think the common app personal statement was just the biggest milestone that I wanted to get over. I think I’d never written an essay quite like it. And so I just wanted to know. wanted to get a better sense of my ability to do it, what I would write about.

And I thought that that would help me set up my supplemental essays later on. So that’s kind of what the prep looked like. Then in terms of actually applying to places, I started applying through the QuestBridge program, which is a matching program for low income students. At the time, I think it was like your parents or your, your family income had to be lower than 65K.

Um, And that was, uh, what I, I qualified for that. So I applied through QuestBridge and they matched me. It’s a program where you can like rank different schools and you write lots of, lots of essays. It’s really early on. I think my first like submission was in September. And so again, very early start on my essays on getting letters of recommendation.

Um, and then in the end of September. I applied, and again, thinking a little bit more about the prep that went into that, I had to first confirm with teachers about my letters of recommendation the end of junior year, um, just to get a sense of, like, who would be willing to write them. Um, getting a sense for like who would even be there like next year and what opportunities I would have, uh, the following year to just remind people.

Uh, so I wanted to make sure it was on their mind before it’s summer break. Um, and then writing my essays early in the summer. Um, and then I confirmed as I was waiting for QuestBridge to get back to me, I was confirming my safety and likely school applications. So I applied to mostly schools in the area.

Um, in my mind, I had. Um, I was pre med at the time, and so I, I, the focus that I had was, okay, there’s schools that I would really want to go to, but I don’t want to be in debt, especially if I’m going to go into medical school. And so, I mostly applied to my REACH schools, which I knew would have a lot of financial aid.

With the QuestBridge program, it would secure all four years of funding. And so, that’s why I applied through that. And if I wasn’t going to get in through that, then I wanted to stay local, so I applied to all my local schools. Um, and then I found out that I was a finalist for Questbridge in October. So again, pretty early on, even before the, um, early decision, early application deadlines.

So I knew I was matched with Prince, uh, I knew I was a finalist in October, and then I was matched with Princeton on December 1st. It was a huge, like, weight off my shoulder. I knew where I was going. I was excited. Princeton, Princeton’s a wonderful school, and I was, um, Definitely on route to going there.

So I, um, last minute decided to just apply to schools that I felt like I would be a better fit for it. I would enjoy a little bit more. And so. I applied to Stanford and Harvard. Regular decision. Um, and they were both applications that I had been working on previously their way. And so I just decided to submit all the things that I had for that.

Um, and I found out I had been admitted to Harvard in February through like a likely letter earlier on in the confirmation letter in March. Um, and so then it was just a decision of for both schools that were both, um, Need based financial aid. It meant that I had full funding for both. There are both amazing schools.

And so it kind of came down to where do I rather, where would I rather live for four years and what opportunities do I want to pursue? Which teachers do I want to be in contact with? And, um, in general, just like the campus feel and going to Harvard for the pre orientation program. I just felt like Harvard felt like it could be home.

So I landed on that and that was kind of the book end to the process. And so I kind of alluded to this a little bit before, but I was considering other Ivy League schools I applied to. Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. Those are the Ivy’s that I looked at. But the things that really kind of narrow things down was the programs of study, which again, all of them are very similar in that they were liberal arts schools.

They had very similar majors and minors. Um, but what I thought was really interesting was just the professors that were teaching those courses. There’ve been books and things that I had seen from resources I had read from professors that were teaching at Harvard that I just thought would be so exciting to be able to work with them, potentially do research.

Um, the financial aid was again, pretty, um, equal throughout just because all of these schools usually have a pretty substantial endowment and have pretty generous financial aid programs. Um, and I think again, the biggest factor for me was the location. I am from Miami and I wanted to be in a city. I wanted to be, uh, near places where I could.

just explore and see lots of different people. I wanted to be in a diverse location and Boston was, um, definitely a city that matched those things. And I also wanted to, as a pre med, be close to like a medical hub. And Boston is a big hub for pharma and for, um, research. And there’s a lot of research hospitals and research schools.

You could even like do research with the medical school. And so, um, I think it just aligned more with my career path. Um, and then in terms of Like the campus feel Cambridge. Um, Harvard is in Cambridge, which is like a smaller city, but I could very easily go into Boston by just crossing the bridge. Um, and it was also very close to New York and other big cities that I could go for, like, you know, or could go for a weekend and explore.

And so all these things were super exciting to me. Um, so I think that kind of covers also professors and the postgraduate opportunities. The culture was another thing that stood out to me. I think at first being, again, a low income student, I was worried about, you know, do only like a lot of rich people go to Harvard and like the expectations of like, well, what if I don’t fit in?

And what if I don’t find like people who, you know, I, I could form close relationships with, and what I realized is people were really down to earth, or at least the people that I got a chance to, to become close friends with. Um, some of my closest friends today are still from Harvard and they From lots of different ends of the spectrum in terms of like socioeconomic Um, but I think we all bonded through again, being very down to earth, caring a lot about social impact and a lot of, um, issues going on in the world, um, and a lot of sports.

And so I realized that in any of these schools, you can find a niche community of things that you love and enjoy. And there’s others that will join you in that. And so. Um, to me, it was evident even in like my pre frosh week where I met a lot of those people, um, that I would be able to find community there.

And the last thing is extracurriculars. Again, when you find a school that has a large endowment, it also has opportunities for you to travel with your extracurricular, like, At Harvard, there was like acapella groups that did spring break trips that like went through the Caribbean and you were just like, that’s, it’s kind of crazy.

Like that was an opportunity that was really cool. Um, I got a chance to do like ice climbing with the mountaineering club and it was all paid for like doing different sports that I had never thought I would do or visiting different cities. Um, because of like a, an extracurricular club that I was doing or a competition that I was part of.

And so. I just thought it was, Harvard’s opened a lot of doors, um, and really cool opportunities to meet folks from other schools. Um, so that was, that was kind of all the different considerations that I had been thinking about as I decided, okay, which of, which of the Ivy Leagues do I want to go to? Um, and then more specifically in terms of my career trajectory, um, I ended up majoring in sociology as my major and health policy as my minor.

Um, and I came in very much convinced and, like, very excited to pursue a pre med path. I, um, had not considered any other career, but I realized going into Harvard that there was just so many things that you could explore. And I knew that I would spend most of my career Focusing only on like the more stem part of medicine, there was obviously like things in terms of like cultural classes and things that are maybe a little bit more in the social sciences that also go along with med school, but I knew that it would be a lot more focused on the biology, chemistry, pathophysiology, all the stem related things necessary to be able to treat, um, treat diseases and treat, um, Yeah, and treat other humans.

And so, um, I really wanted to focus on some of my interests that Was like I wasn’t going to be able to pursue it while I was in medical school And so I took a lot of sociology classes, and when I looked back and realized, wow, like, what do I want to major in, I realized I could take all my pre med, uh, my pre med classes as electives, um, and then take the classes that I wanted to and, like, just personally enjoyed, um, as my major.

So I switched my majors three times. I started out with Molecular and Cellular Biology, which is as STEM as you can get for a pre med, and then I switched to, uh, uh, Neuroscience, which is sometimes like a, a gateway into like working more into the social, uh, the social sciences for pre meds, and then ended up in Sociology, um, and again, that, that thought process was just, uh, What do I want to explore in the years that I have at college?

If I know the next six to seven years, I’m going to spend mostly taking like some classes. Um, and then I, I just really focused on the classes that I loved and that I was passionate about and the professors that I was excited to take more classes from.

I’ll pass it over to Stacey.

Stacey: Thanks, Maria. Um, so you’re, you might hear a lot of themes throughout all three of our discussions of our journeys. Um, so apologies if, you know, my story might seem a little similar at times, but I hope that all of this is useful for you in terms of, uh, hearing and reflecting on different experiences.

For me, I was a first generation college student, so I had to seek a lot of information out on it. Um, and I can imagine that’s a huge reason why a lot of you might be here with us today. Uh, you’re trying to find the information that you need to successfully prepare for college. And I didn’t have, you know, a CollegeAdvisor webinar.

Um, when I was applying, I was doing a lot of that independent research through my counselor’s office, um, and in my community and really diving deep into, Uh, researching the colleges themselves. So I did a lot of college tours. Um, and I did a lot of information sessions because I thirsted really for that knowledge to understand if a college would be a good fit for me and what they were going to give.

back to me in that relationship as well. And so I encourage you, um, in your journeys to really do that research because it is a two, a two way street, right? Um, so I did do a lot of that research. I applied through the common app to about 12 schools. I didn’t mean to do it at the time because I don’t, I want to give myself credit and say I was savvy enough to know I was making a balanced list.

Looking back, it was a very balanced list. I didn’t mean to do that. So it was a happy coincidence. Um, and I heard Maria talk about this a little bit as well in her journey. You know, I did apply to some local colleges, um, some state colleges that were important to me. Those were very much kind of safety or low matches.

I did apply to match schools that were perhaps a little bit more competitive, more private schools, um, in nature. And then I did apply to some Ivy’s, including. Yeah, um, where I ultimately ended up during my search. I prioritize name and I’m going to tell you that in being brutally honest. I understand that there’s a, an attraction to prestige and I’m not going to pretend like I was not, uh, like I was immune to that.

And so I did prioritize that, um, in my journey. And a lot of that was due to. Because, um, I came from a first generation background. So, you know, my parents, my family were really thinking, you know, you’re smart. Go to an Ivy. Um, and so did my counselors who at my public school didn’t see a lot of students going to Ivy league school.

So that was fed a lot into me by the culture that surrounded me. I also prioritize location. I really love my network, my family network, and so and my friends. And so I wanted to stay close to home. Um, hence why I grew up in the New Haven area. So Yale, um, was my top Ivy. Um, but thankfully, you know, a lot of the Northeast has a lot of great Ivies and a lot of top 20s.

So I had a lot of options. Um, I also prioritize flexible curriculum. Ivy’s and in general, I think you’re really well known for this in terms of allowing a lot of flexibility in your core curriculum when you get to school. I’m I’ll talk a little bit about what that means, but a flexible curriculum where I could come in and explore my potential interest in majors before committing to.

My ultimate major of choice was really important to me. Um, and I prioritized STEM majors too. And so that flexible curriculum was really important because as a potential STEM major, I didn’t know if I was going to pivot. And at the time I was an engineering major and engineering is a really hard discipline.

So, um, I wanted that time to take those introductory courses and, and fill that out. Um, and I did love, you know, math. Physics, chem, bio. So it all added up. But I will tell you that the average student changes majors three times in college. So that’s really something that I always encourage students to consider when they’re researching their colleges is make sure that your top choices, the top choices on your list Don’t just have the one program or the one major of interest to you, make sure they have some other ones because you just don’t know, you don’t know what you, where your interest will take you and you might stumble on a totally different major, um, or set of interests while you’re in college.

That’s a beautiful thing. So. Um, know that going into freshman year and embrace it. I did interview at Yale. Um, as part of my journey, it was a very important moment for me and my journey. Some schools, the interviews might be more informational in nature, but they still do record that as a level of interest.

Um, in terms of, you know, admissions, reviewing kind of your engagement with the campus, um, for some schools, interviewing is an important step in the admissions process. And for me, at the time, it was an important step. I, I viewed that as, you know, a really positive, um, experience toward my ultimate admission into the school.

Um, and I did interview, interestingly enough, with a current student. Uh, and so just be prepared going into potential interviews that your entries could range from alumni to admissions officers to current students. It does happen that way. Ultimately, I did apply early action to Yale and I got that decision in December.

And at the time, you know, that was my top choice. So while I did get some other decisions, uh, yellow is it? And I ended up withdrawing actually some of my applications because I made my decision. I moved on. Um, we can talk a little bit later about what early action versus early decision means, but I won’t spend time on that right at this moment.

Um, was I considering other Ivy’s? Yes, I absolutely was considering other IVs. I had Brown and Harvard and Princeton, plus Yale. Um, Yale was my top choice, as I mentioned, because it was closest to home. I loved the New Haven area. I, something that I always encourage students to do is visit the cities, uh, of your top choice colleges.

Because you really don’t know, um, what a campus feels like, what a city feels like until you’re there and cities are so very different. Um, New Haven is a very different feeling than Boston or New York, or, um, you know, I would say anywhere in Rhode Island, very different feelings, um, across the board. So if you have the ability.

Um, so if you’re looking for an opportunity to do that, I would encourage it. Um, virtual tours are also a wonderful means of getting to know a campus. If you can’t do that, Um, and actually, my second choice wasn’t another Ivy. Interestingly enough, it was northeastern. Um so very wonderful, you know, very academically competitive school still, but it was not an Ivy.

And the reason for that was I was really interested in their programs. And this goes back to my discussion about making sure that wherever you end up is someplace that offers. Uh programs and majors that will make you happy and ultimately lead to a final career that you would be happy in um, and so Balancing that along with the top 20 or the Ivy list list is just as important Um as you know getting into the one of those top schools So other important factors to consider for me financial aid was really important.

We’ll talk about this I think collectively a little bit more, but Ivy League schools, um, mostly have need based aid, meaning they meet the need demonstrated by the FAFSA application. Um, and so I was really attracted to that. I knew I was going to get a really competitive, generous package and applying to Ivy League or top tier schools like that.

Um, and y’all did have a generous package. So I was really grateful at the time of my admission, knowing that I had that security, um, flexible curriculum. I mentioned again, I was really, um, happy to see that I had, um. A flexible arrangement when I entered Yale where I didn’t have to take a specific set of courses, but rather Yale said, you know, you need two quantitative courses here, two writing courses there.

You have time to complete them. Um, and so I really was able to explore all of my interests outside of those main liberal arts requirements. Um, academic resources, Yale has some of the most amazing libraries in the world. Um, some really wonderful faculty. I was really amazed at the level of engagement that students had with their academics in touring and talking to students.

Um, and so I felt like that academic environment was really attracted, attractive to me, um, student life. So I love the residential colleges that Yale, Yale has now 14, I believe, residential colleges. Um, and so you kind of were split up. It almost felt like Harry Potter, sordid cat, sordid deal. So it was a lot of fun to see that a lot of schools have that model where you’re sort of.

Um, and then you can kind of convert it into a residential college and kind of create this microcosm of micro community. Um, so that was a really cool feature of the student life. I love their intramural’s. Students were really engaged with those. There’s always a really cool feature of all the residential colleges where you know, you might have a theater in one and like a loom room and the other where you could live, you know, leave things.

Um, I didn’t do that. Clearly, I’m not using the right terminology, but, you know, What I’m saying in that sense, but there was a lot to do on campus very clearly that didn’t have anything necessarily do academics and all about personal growth. So that was really great. Um, they also emphasize extracurriculars at admitted students day in the spring.

So most schools will have some kind of admitted students day. Um, and that really allowed me to stay over in a dorm and get to know what student life would be like. It was really pivotal and kind of solidifying my decision. Peer mentorship was really important. So coming in as a freshman is really intimidating, really intimidating for a lot of students, especially if you’re coming out of state.

Um, and so we had a freshman counselor system that created a really strong network for me amongst my peers. peers, but also with a senior who was called Froco. So I felt like that was a really great model. There was a wonderful alumni network, um, for when I graduated and post grad career opportunities were plentiful.

Um, so those were all really important factors for me. So why did I major in psychology? So I mentioned at the beginning that I was, uh, an engineering major when I started and I hated my engineering classes. And I’m here to tell you, that’s okay. You do not need to love the major that you chose the moment you get into college.

For a lot of students, they’re choosing a major sort of blindly based on what they’ve taken in high school and they haven’t actually taken a discipline or course in the major they’re choosing. So again, average student changes their major three times. Um, and that might not be the case for you, which is wonderful.

Um, but you know, and she’s, for me, I chose a practical major that seemed to align with my STEM interests. Um, but I was actually ignoring my own real interest in STEM, which were actually more social science in nature. And I didn’t know that at the time. College allowed me to explore that. And so I took that time in freshman, early sophomore year to, to sit down with what we call the blue book.

It’s our course catalog book. They don’t do this anymore. Everything’s online, but it was very much a paper book back then. Um, and I sat down with it. It was my Bible. And I reviewed, um, all the potential majors that I could pursue and I started, you know, taking classes and everything. And I ended up settling on psychology because I truly enjoyed my courses.

Um, you know, I found I took a course actually in summer of. Between my freshman sophomore year called evolutionary psychology, and it just lit a light bulb. I knew it was the spark in me, um, that drove me in the direction of that major, um, and neuroscience as a sub-concentration for that major, which is a wonderful addition, um, to the academic options I had at Yale allowed me to really, uh, quench that thirst for STEM and science.

I was able to really pursue the research components, the hard science classes alongside that social science discipline. Um, and one of my favorite classes was actually called the science of free will, and it dealt a lot with the neuroscientist, uh, the neuroscience concept underlying the, uh, the concept of free will.

Um, one of my favorite teachers to this day, um, maybe one day he’ll see this and he’ll say, Oh, wow, I reached that one student, but it was my favorite class. Um, and the combination of that flexible curriculum to pursue multiple interests. was really great for me because while I chose psychology and neuroscience as my main focus, that was where all my research was.

That’s where the majority of my classes were. Um, and that’s ultimately of course, what my major was. I did end up with kind of a secondary interest in Italian and Roman studies. And I studied abroad in Rome, um, through a really great summer session program at Yale. In order to kind of fulfill that interest of mine, I did that in my sophomore summer.

And so while I really did focus on this other major, I was able to pursue other courses because of that flexible curriculum that fulfilled this other need. Um, and then my major did open a lot of research and work opportunities for students. You later. So with that, I’m going to turn it over to you, Juliana.

Juliana: Thank you, Stacey. Uh, so hi, everyone. A bit about my college application process is I actually decided to apply early decision to Columbia. And I know Stacey, you mentioned earlier the difference between early decision and early action. So I guess I can give that information to you all today. So early decision plans are binding, whereas early action plans are non binding.

And what that means is that if you are accepted to an early decision school that you applied to, um, then you are committed to that school. You can’t apply to any other schools and commit to another school. Whereas if you just apply early action, then you just get the chance to be, um, considered earlier in the process, but you don’t actually commit yourself to that school.

So you’ll find out earlier whether you were accepted, rejected, um, uh, or deferred to the regular application cycle, and you don’t have to attend that school. So five of the eight Ivy League universities do have the binding early decision program, whereas Princeton, Harvard and Yale have non binding early action programs.

So my advice to you all is to make sure that you have done extensive research on schools on your list before applying early decision because You are committing yourself to that school, um, if you were to get accepted. And I can speak a bit more later in the next slide on why I decided to apply to Columbia Early Decision and how I knew, you know, it was my dream school and I was willing to commit if I were to get accepted and the college application process actually starts before application.

So I talked about this earlier when I was first posed that question. And like I said, Since freshman year of high school, I really tried to set myself up to be in the best position for college applications as I could be. Uh, so this meant, uh, making sure that my GPA was high. I think I had nearly a 4.0.

I’d only gotten one B in my college career prior to college applications. Um, this is not to say that, you know, you should have a perfect GPA to apply to the Ivy League schools, but, you know, it definitely helps. Those high stats, and I know a lot of schools are also going test optional now, which does put more weight on, you know, the other parts of your application, like your essays or your extracurriculars.

Um, but another thing that I was really mindful of within my high school experience was. To commit myself to the extracurricular activities that I was involved in, and I was kind of involved in a lot of different things, and it’s definitely not going to look the same for you guys, but just for context, I was on the golf team.

I was in band. Um, I was in a 3 year program with the University of Chicago, where I took classes every summer and. attended events throughout the school year. Um, I also took an economics class at Northwestern one summer. Um, the main extracurricular that I did though was interning at an organization called Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

And I think I’ll go into that more in a different slide, but, um, basically my interests were kind of aligned in, uh, academics as well as social justice. And as for standardized testing, um, I, you know, made sure to study ahead of time, make sure I had my testing techniques down. I did get a 35 at my ACT as well.

Um, and I will say the same caveat that I stated earlier in regard to GPA. Uh, so it’s not really like a make or break situation where you have to have, you know, perfect ACT, SAT score, um, But I definitely wanted to set myself up to be in a good position with applying to colleges. So I made sure to do all of that preparation beforehand.

Um, and I also put here developing a passion project and that was Asian American Advancing Justice for me. I was able to work on some policy for English language learner students and really pursue that within my four years of high school. And that is actually what I wrote my Common App essay about as well.

And that’s it. With your Common App essay, you’re kind of submitting that to all the schools you’re applying to, right? Um, unless it’s on the Coalition or QuestBridge or some sort of different application portal, but regardless, there is a personal narrative that kind of You know, encapsulates you. And for me, it did revolve around this extracurricular activity.

Um, but that is essentially all that I did with my college application process. And moving forward, um, you know, was I considering any other Ivy league schools and what made me decide on Columbia? Uh, so my older sister went to Harvard and she really loved it. They’re really found her place there. Um, so I definitely was considering Harvard for a bit.

However, I decided that I didn’t actually want to go to the same school as my sister because I kind of felt like I was falling in her footsteps my whole life and I wanted to, you know, set a different path for myself at that point. And for a while I also really liked Yale because I met some incredible people when I had the opportunity to visit campus, uh, who all really loved the school and were able to pursue their passions at the college.

Uh, so it was definitely a school that I was considering for a while. Uh, UPenn is another Ivy League that I was considering, uh, because I knew since high school that I wanted to enter a business, uh, specifically I wanted to enter the consulting industry. And UPenn is really great for its business school and business undergraduate program at Wharton as well.

And it aligned with my professional goals. However, I ultimately decided that I wanted to apply early decision to Columbia specifically and this is uh The summer before my senior year I was able to go on an east coast college tour Um, I saw Harvard, Yale, UPenn and Columbia And Columbia was really the school that stood out to me.

Uh, one, because I knew I wanted to attend a college in a big city. So, I am originally from Chicago, and I knew I wanted, you know, an even bigger city. So what better city than, you know, New York? Um, The core curriculum is also something that people really enjoy at Columbia, and it’s something that’s also very central to Columbia.

Um, so Stacey was talking about earlier how Yale has a flexible curriculum, uh, but Columbia’s is a bit less flexible and more, um, set in the requirements that we have. So for example, you’re required to take a literature course your freshman year, um, You’re also required to take a course on music and art humanities.

So if you are interested in having a more classical background and knowing history and literature, uh, throughout, throughout the years, then Columbia’s core curriculum will definitely appeal to your interests. Um, and moving on to the next slide here. Um, so why did I decide to major in economics and race and ethnicity studies?

So the first part of it is economics and I knew since high school that I wanted to apply as an economics major to Columbia. And I was able to explore the subject initially through AP microeconomics in high school. So if there is a course available in your high school that, you know, you think you might be interested in, Majoring in college, I would definitely recommend taking that course and seeing, you know, how you like the subject matter, um, and whether it’s something that you want to pursue further.

Uh, earlier I talked about how I was able to take a college level introductory course. macroeconomics course at Northwestern University. So this was actually through a specific partnership that Chicago Public Schools has with Northwestern. So a recommendation that I would have for you guys is definitely to check out if any local colleges or universities in your area have programs where high school students can take college courses because it, you know, can definitely help boost your college application.

Well, also, just allowing you to get a feel for how college courses are. Um, and besides that point, there are different programs that colleges and universities across the nation that you can access online. And I know that CollegeAdvisor also has a resource online where you can search for those. for those programs.

Um, so I was also the treasurer of several clubs and part of an investment club. I also knew I was interested in consulting as a career path. Uh, so I decided to pursue economics. I applied with that major and kept with it. As for race and ethnicity studies, um, I’ve always been passionate about the subject.

I took a course on that matter, um, at the university of Chicago, and that was. Through the Collegiate Scholars Program, which is just open to Chicago public school students. So if anyone here on this call is a CPS student, I would definitely look into that program. Um, and I also had that internship with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, as I said.

Lonnie: Uh, so moving on to the Q&A. Thank you. Thank you, Maria. Stacey, Juliana. I mean, listening to you all share about your college experience made me want to go back to college and do it all over again. That was, that was really great to hear. Um, so now we’re going to move over to our questions and answers. So how it’s going to work is you will paste, or you will actually write in your question in the Q and A tab, and then I will read it out loud for our panelists to answer it.

I will also paste it into the public chat so that you’re also, you’re Also able to see it. If you are not able to see the Q and a tab, just try logging out and logging back in through the custom link that was sent through your email and not the webinar landing page. Uh, we do have a pretty highly attended webinar this evening.

And so we are going to do our best to answer as many questions as possible. Um, But I do want to let you all know that we may not get to every question that is going to be asked this evening. Okay, so our first question is actually to Maria. Could you share? Because you spoke about QuestBridge and that you had applied to QuestBridge.

What is the application process like for QuestBridge?

Maria: Sure thing. So, um, QuestBridge, as again, as I remember it from Almost four or seven years ago, um, was it was an opportunity to apply to lots of different schools in one application. So the way it worked is that you would, uh, write a lot of essays that were prompts, uh, specifically developed for, for students.

Folks applying through QuestBridge. And in addition, you are also applying through the Common App. So it’s like a dual application. You’re applying through QuestBridge and applying through the Common App. Um, and then schools would look at those applications, uh, between September. Um, and like October, and then they would give you, uh, they would let you know, okay, if you’re a finalist or not by October.

And so the process, again, was writing a lot of applications, getting pretty much everything that you would need to apply to school normally, again, because you’re also doing it through the Common App. And then once you heard you were a finalist, um, oh, and sorry, part of that is also ranking the schools that you want to go to.

So, um, you would rank your preferences. And then when you become a finalist, it means that like your applications went through the initial rounds and that schools are deciding like whether they’re matching with you or not. And so what that looked like was, let’s say like your number one was, uh, Princeton, your number two was Yale, your number three was Stanford.

If, um, Maybe Princeton didn’t accept you or like, you know, they chose other people that they match with first, then like Yale would decide, you know, is, are you a match or like, then it would go your number three choice. And so for me, um, I had put Yale as first and then, uh, Stanford or Princeton as second and Stanford as third.

And so I initially did not get into like Yale through that application. And you can apply again, even if you, if you get, you get told, no, um, you can apply it again through your regular decision. And for me it was more so, I only applied to schools I would rather go to than Princeton and so that’s why I applied to Harvard and Stanford again.

Harvard is not part of QuestBridge, or was not part of QuestBridge back then, and so I didn’t rank Harvard at all. Um, but again, part of that process is making sure that you’re, um, You’re matching with the school in the school’s matching back. Um, and then deciding on, um, what schools you wanted to match on also, or you wanted to put in your rank to list also depended on whether you wanted a binding or non binding school.

So most of the schools on there are binding. So it means that if you get in your, your, you have to go. It’s kind of like an E. D. Early decision type of application. But I only applied to schools that I would have a choice. So that’s why I applied only to Yale, or that’s why I only ranked Yale, Princeton, and Stanford.

So that’s kind of what the process was like.

Lonnie: Great. Thank you, Maria. Um, Stacey, could you share, um, you know, do IVs offer more of a need based or merit based aid?

Stacey: Yeah, that’s a great question. So this was something that was really new to me. Um, as a first generation college student, my parents were really anxious about it.

You know, it’s hard to go to your parents, say, I got into this Ivy League school and they’re thinking how I’m going, I going to pay for this. So, um, the most Ivy League schools at this point in time, I believe, um, with some potential exceptions are mostly need based. Uh, in their aid, and that means that they will meet the demonstrated need from your FAFSA and CSA applications.

So, um, while students might be anticipating coming into an Ivy League college, um, and receiving merit based aid, that you can imagine that model doesn’t really work because you do have a lot of academically exceptional students coming into campus. And so, um, Ivy League Schools prioritize then meeting the need of the student as opposed to, um, awarding merit based aid in that regard.

Again, there could be, you know, differences from school to school and, you know, policies do change over time. But I know that at this time, Yale is mostly need based, um, in their aid. Does that help, Lonnie?

Lonnie: Yes, that does. Thank you, Stacey. Um, Juliana, do you mind sharing, um, did you do any internships before applying to Ivy League colleges?

Yes, I did. Or what kind of your recommendation in regards to internships before applying?

Juliana: Sure. So I think I can talk about two experiences here. Uh, the first was a mentorship program that I did with the consulting firm, Accenture, and that really solidified in my mind that I wanted to enter consulting as a career.

Um, it ended up working out because I’m actually starting my first job in consulting, uh, this coming September, which I’m really excited about. Um, but. Through that program, I was able to one, find out what consulting was in the first place, and two, receive mentorship from consultants, um, who were already working in their job, and they were able to help me out with really, with, with personal branding, and That really carried over to college applications as well.

Uh, the second program that I did was that internship program with Asian Americans Advancing Justice. And it was a program that I was really passionate about doing because, you know, I come from an immigrant family and. I was able to work on some policy, as I said earlier, to help out English language learner students, a lot of them immigrants themselves.

Uh, so I would definitely suggest, you know, looking for internships or mentorship programs or opportunities that do align with your interests, whether they’re professional or, you know, social justice based, anything that you’re interested in. It in. But I would also caveat by saying that you definitely don’t need to have an internship to set yourself up to be in a good position to apply to these Ivy Leagues.

I mean, it’s a holistic review approach, so as long as you are pursuing your passion in some way, I’m sure the schools will see that as well. So most of my internship experience was actually in college, but I did end up doing two sorts of internships in high school.

Lonnie: Nice. Nice. Maria, um, this question reads when should I ask my teachers for recommendation letters?

Also, how many should I have?

Maria: Yeah, so I think, um, asking teachers for recommendation at the end of your junior year is best in the sense of just getting a chance to talk to them a little bit about, you know, the schools that you’re interested in, just putting it in their heads to just like, Start thinking about it, but then I and again, that’s kind of like a soft ask and then I would do a harder ask At the beginning of your fall semester for senior year, and I think an important part of that is like approaching it as Understanding that they’re writing letters of recommendation for a lot of students And so thinking about how can you make it easier for them to write a really stellar and unique recommendation for you And so part of that is, um, offering, you know, if it would be helpful for you to share your, like your resume or to think about, um, whether like it would, they would be open to meeting and just talking about some of the things that like you’re really passionate or interested about.

And I think the goal for me was to make sure that that on a piece of paper, they had some of the things that like, I really enjoyed just some like facts about me and some of the. Things that I had done because again, they’re writing for so many students that it’s helpful for them to have it on hand. And then choosing teachers that you really feel like could speak to both your academic excellence, but also other character traits and values and other things that can make you stand out more.

And so those were the things that I was focusing on when I chose, um, teacher, uh, teacher recommendations. I think you need to have two teacher recommendations and then some schools offer an optional teacher recommendation or another optional recommendation. And so for me, I played competitive tennis growing up, and so I asked my coach of my academy to write mine, who had been my coach for several years, and so he wrote my optional, and then I asked two teachers to write my teacher recommendations.

Lonnie: Great, great. Thank you for sharing Maria. We’re going to take a slight pause so I can share with you all more about the work that we do within CollegeAdvisor. So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admission process can be, especially for competitive applicants like yourselves that are interested in applying to Ivy Leagues.

Our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family. Navigated all in one on one advising sessions. Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free consultation using the QR code on your screen. During the consultation, a member of our team will review your current extracurricular list, discuss how it lines up with your college goals and help you find opportunities for growth and leadership.

After scanning the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member of our team. So we will continue with our questions and answers. I will actually leave the QR code on the screen in case you didn’t catch it. And we’re going to go ahead and go to our next question.

So this is going to be for Stacey. What do you think made you stand out? to Ivy Leagues?

Stacey: That’s a great question. Okay, so something that a lot of people don’t want to hear is that the Ivy League colleges are creating a community. Um, and I say this because they receive many, many, many, many academically qualified applicants to their schools.

And so when it comes down to it, um, when you’re, you know, you got all, you narrowed it down to those really academically very competitive students, um, and you’re trying to decide between them, what you’re looking for are those students who are going to contribute the most. to your community in a meaningful way.

Um, that you could see being involved in student life, that you can see taking advantage of a research center on campus, that you could see seeking out a particular faculty member for mentorship, you could see their journey. Um, and so when an admissions officer reviews that application, they are looking at it holistically.

And I really do mean that, you know, it’s, really about, um, okay, who are you as a person and where are we going to see you here? Um, and for me, you know, if I were, I’ve actually never asked this question, you, some students go back to admissions committees and ask, you know, what was that defining factor? Um, I do think it was a combination for me of my Common App essay, um, And my interview, I think both of those things really stood out, um, to the admissions committee, I hope, um, because my interview, I felt was very successful.

I didn’t think I had a very good conversation. And that’s what an interview should really be is a conversation, um, with the person that you’re, I’m having that interview with. Those are the most successful, in my opinion, interviews that I’ve ever had are those that feel natural. Um, and that feel like they came, um, easily and, you know, During an interview, they’re really trying to get to know you more.

And so when you are clearly very passionate and I’m very sure of yourself and confident in who you are and why you are, you know, the right fit for this school and these are the things you want to do and such, um, that comes across really well. Um, my essay, meanwhile, focused on. My participation in theater, um, when I was in high school, theater was a pivotal extracurricular for me, um, in terms of my personal growth as a person.

Um, and I do think I was able to frame that really well. Um, something you’re all going to need to do is self reflect, um, when you write that essay. And, and I always challenge students to ask the, so what? Um, so if you’re talking about yourself, um, that’s a great thing, but the, so what needs to be answered?

You know what? Why was this an experience important to you? What was that thing? That was the turning point for you that made you who you are now, what you hope to do, drove what you hope to do in the future. And so I think my conveying that in my essay and my interview made me a more competitive candidate.

And so that’s something to consider. Um, in addition to, I know everybody focuses on the academics again, nobody likes to hear this, but the essay and the interview and the letters of recommendation where you start, those are all very important components. Does that, um, help answer the question, Lani?

Lonnie: It does. It does. You actually started to touch on just, like, areas to stand out within your college essay, so you’ve answered two questions in one. Stephanie. Um, for Juliana, this question reads as, What if you don’t really have any major extracurriculars going for you? And is it too late to start a passion project?

Juliana: So, I would say that that definitely is. Depends on what year you are in high school If you feel that you haven’t been able to pursue any extracurriculars within let’s say you’re a senior right now And you weren’t able to pursue anything, you know, it’s still the summer It’s not too late to start a passion project or find another way to you know up your application when it comes to application season.

However, there’s one thing that I will say, which is I’ve seen a lot of my high school students who don’t have comprehensive extracurricular activities. The reason for that being that they are taking care of younger siblings at home, or maybe they’re working a part time job to support their family. You know, if there is some reason that you were not able to engage in extracurricular activities because you had obligations at home or had to support your family, you know, that is something that you can talk about in your college applications as well.

And, you know, goes to show your perseverance, your hard work, you know, your commitment to your family and supporting them. So that’s something that’s really admirable and something that you should be proud of. So, um, I guess there’s 2 parts of that where it’s. You know, why haven’t you engaged in extracurricular activities?

And the second part being, you know, are you able to do something right now, start a passion project? So the second part of that question was in regard to passion projects and, you know, this is kind of a buzzword that is thrown around with college applications and it’s like, Yep. Yep. What does it really mean to have a passion project?

And it’s definitely not a requirement to have a passion project for applying to these Ivy League colleges But you know, it is one of the things that you can do And for me it was you know, Asian Americans advancing justice, like I said another part I was able to work on within the organization was, um, Asian American curriculum being implemented in public schools across the United States.

So that actually became approved after I graduated high school and was in college. So, you know, Illinois became the first, um, state to mandate the teaching of Asian American history in schools, and it was really gratifying to have all that come together, but I was also working on that in high school, so I’d say just explore what you are passionate about and see, you know, how could I broaden this range and make this something that is scalable, whether it’s, you know, Starting a podcast on something you’re interested in, starting a blog, you know, there’s endless possibilities for starting a passion project.

So if that’s something that you do want to pursue, I’d say go for it. And it’s, it’s not too late.

Lonnie: Okay, Juliana, I’m going to ask you another question back to back. Um, just given your recent graduating from college, did you find academics to be super stressful and did you have any free time?

Juliana: Uh, so for me, my high school was actually a college preparatory high school, which was kind of intense within itself and was also set up very similarly to college, where I didn’t have.

Class on any Wednesday like of the year. So my high school classes took place Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday, um, which is kind of similar to college where you just have like, you know Two three classes a day and they don’t meet like every single day. They meet like every other day Um, and I guess intensity level wise Since my high school was pretty rigorous, I guess I was more prepared than some others when I started off at Columbia.

Um, but also because I knew that I wanted to study economics from the get go, I didn’t really have to take, you know, extra courses to find out what I wanted to major in. So because of that, I actually only had to take, you know, four classes each semester Whereas some people who were exploring in the beginning had to load up on like five or six classes within the semester And that would get pretty intense.

But for me personally, I I was able to have free time You know during the week to grab meals with friends and things of that nature so I guess I was pretty prepared but I know that it’s not the case for everyone as well. And I You know, definitely lean on your support system if things get stressful and too, too much to handle, um, with college and the transition.

Lonnie: Thank you. Um, Stacey, how did you prepare for an interview? Um, do you remember, like, the questions or just, like, expectations?

Stacey: Yeah, that that that’s a really hard question to answer because in high school, I don’t feel as though they’re I mean, having a college prep process might be helpful if your high school does have one.

But I know my high school didn’t have an interviewing resource. So that for me was a lot of individual research. I did a lot of, um, You know, online searching for potential interview questions that could happen, not just at any college level, but specifically at the Yale College level. What I will say is I think I was surprised at the questions that were asked to me, not because they weren’t intrinsically about me per se, or they didn’t ask me questions like, what animal would you be and why?

That’s. That’s not how it went. It was really conversational and I think that’s why I was surprised. Perhaps there was one or two directed questions in the beginning, um, maybe about my extracurriculars, um, but then it sort of tumbled into more of that organic conversation. And, um, so I, I would say in terms of prep, it, there’s no harm in looking up.

Interview questions that you might encounter and then practicing those with family, friends, mentors, counselors. Um, the more I will tell you that the more you practice, the better you will be. Um, in your interview, that is a defining factor in interview skill building is the practice, practice, practice.

And there are a lot of ways to do that, but I think one of the best ways, um, is to, uh, Actively answer a question and record yourself and hear it back, or get that feedback from somebody else. Um, because if you’re isolating and answering those questions in your head or writing them down, that is not gonna replicate what an actual interview experience will be like.

And so I really challenge you, um, to make that effort. Um, and if you, you feel you are a very confident public speaker, that’s wonderful. Um, but putting yourself in the context of a very. intimidating interview process for a school that you’re really, really interested in. It’s a, it’s a different experience entirely.

And so having that, um, practice will be really important.

Lonnie: Thank you, Stacey. Um, Maria, is it more beneficial to go to a more affordable college than the Ivy or what are the benefits of going to the Ivy?

Maria: Yeah, so there’s a lot of benefits that like range from financial to just like opportunities that sometimes open up. Um, I think again, I mentioned this in one of my slides that, um, going to a school that just has a larger endowment usually means that they can be more generous with financial aid.

And so, Um, for a lot of the Ivy’s, they have need based financial aid instead of merit based, which means that they’ll just look at how much your family income is. Um, sometimes there’s situations where folks have like, uh, just different family situations where like parents are not present or where they can’t help pay.

And so they’re, they will work through all of the different. types of financial and family situations. And so they will, I know a lot of, well, I know for sure the IVs have financial aid officers that work through this in order to get a better sense of how much is your actual household income. Um, And so I, I think that’s just the benefit of knowing, like, the merit part is just getting in, and then the, once you get in, they will work with you to make sure that, um, to get a good sense of what you can pay and what you can’t.

Um, so I think that’s, like, a huge benefit, and then the benefit of just, like, Again, the, the opportunities that it opens, um, for working with some top tier professors, um, as, uh, Stacey mentioned, just some of the, the prestige that comes with going to these schools can sometimes open doors in terms of like getting jobs or the network that you get with alumni.

And so those are things that are not negligible, but I would also say lots of other schools that are lower in the ranks, like still have very strong alumni networks. And I’ve ended up I have friends and I myself have ended up in places where there’s folks from all different universities and so it’s not just the one pipeline that you could only get to because you go to an Ivy League.

Lonnie: Excellent, excellent. Um, next question, uh, for Juliana, what do you suggest to do over the summer before entering your senior year of high school?

Juliana: So the senior year before or the summer before senior year is really the time that you should be doubling down on your college applications. And it definitely depends on the student, whether, you know, you started your applications earlier than that. Maybe you did in your junior year or even sophomore year, if you wanted to get ahead of time.

things, but I would definitely say, um, summer before senior year to be working on your common app essay, making sure that, you know, that is probably, it’s probably good to have it finalized, you know, before the start of the school year. It was my advice. So you have some time to do some editing, um, and have another pair of eyes look over it as well.

Um, and really just working on those supplemental essays, um, because there are so many different essays that you have to do for all of these schools that you’re applying to. Um, so I guess at this point you would probably have a finalized college list of, you know, some target schools, some, um, breach schools and some safety schools.

Um, and from there, seeing what requirements you have, you know, what essays you have to write and really just working on tailoring those supplemental essays to those schools and getting started on those, um, I’d also say, just try not to get so stressed out about the college application process. And I know that it’s.

It’s very overwhelming, you know, having all of these requirements and being uncertain of what schools that you’re going to get into. But as long as you start early and, you know, make sure to make the most of the summer before senior year, um, you can really make it easier for yourself during the school year where you don’t have to, um, handle academics on top of applying to these colleges. Um, that’s that’s my advice there.

Lonnie: Thank you. Thank you for sharing. And with that, everyone, that actually concludes the end of our panel this evening. So thank you, Maria, Stacey, Giuliana for sharing some really amazing information about your experience attending your your institution. And for everyone that’s still here, I want to let you all know that we do have more webinars that are coming up this month.

Every webinar that CollegeAdvisor offers are all geared toward supporting you and preparing you for the college application process. So we hope to see you at a future webinar. Thank you, everyone. Have a great evening. Good night.