Harvard, Yale, and Princeton: College Panel

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 of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. 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.

Our alumni panelists include Theodore Longlois (Harvard), Stacey Tuttle (Yale), and Manuel Gomez Castano (Princeton) who will delve into their unique experiences 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 08/17/2023
Duration 1:04:39

Webinar Transcription

2023-08-17 – Harvard, Yale, and Princeton: College Panel

Hi everybody, and welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a senior advisor at CollegeAdvisor, and I will be your moderator today. Today’s webinar is Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, a college panel. Before we get started, I just wanna orient everyone with webinar timing. Our presenters will introduce themselves to share a bit about their experiences at their respective institutions, and then we will open up the floor to respond to your questions in a live q and a on the sidebar.

You can download the slides to get some of that information under the handouts tab, and you can start submitting questions whenever you get ready in the q and a tab. Now let’s meet our presenters. Theodore, can you kick us off and with a brief introduction about yourself and your background? Yes. Yeah. Hi, I’m Theodore.

I went to Harvard College class of 2016. For the past few years I’ve been working as a health advocate and I’m getting ready to start my Master of Divinity at Pres at Princeton Theological Seminary. I’m originally from South Texas. I’m most recently from Birmingham, Alabama. And I’m gonna pass it over to Stacey.

Thanks, Theodore. I’m Stacey Tuttle. I got my bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 2015. Feels like a lifetime ago now, doesn’t it? And so now I am currently working surprise at the Yale School of Public Health where I work as their Director of Student Affairs and Registrar. I also have my Master’s of public health, and I worked as an instructor in a public health department at my alma mater, Southern Connecticut State University.

I’m excited to be with you all tonight and over now. To you, Manuel. Thank you Stacey. It’s great to be here. My name is Manuel. I graduated from Princeton, class of 2020 in political science. I did my master’s in public administration, currently a PhD candidate. I have worked as a consultant for the un. I was born in Columbia.

I grew up in Miami, later in Canada. So I’ve been I’ve been around and I’m happy to be here.

Awesome. Oh, awesome. Okay. Sorry, my MyPhone was not mut. I’m muting. All right. Thanks y’all for those wonderful introductions. Before we get started, just want to do a quick poll from the audience. So let us know what grade level you’re, you’re in, what grade level you’ll be going to in the fall. It’ll help us give some context to our questions if we’re talking to seniors, juniors, or if there are some freshmen and perhaps middle schoolers even in the mix as we’re waiting.

If everyone wants to let me know, I guess, what was your favorite food spot? I’m a foodie, so I love food. What was your favorite food spot on campus near your campus? If folks have like one answer you could give,

I’m happy to jump. Right. Or maybe theater. Or theater. You went on mute. Let’s go in order. Theodore, you go first. Yeah. There’s an amazing Indian food place, I think it’s called the Maharaja in j f a Square that has a beautiful view of the city and the food is just phenomenal. Really Recommend their Sunday buffet.

Yeah. Awesome. New Haven’s known for its pizza, but that is not going to be my recommendation. There are amazing food carts at Yale in two different locations. So we have a location called the Whale, which is the ice rink, and then there’s the School of Medicine. There’s a lot of food carts around there.

The food cart carts are great. Local, locally sourced food options and they’re always at a really great product price for undergrads. So I really loved the food carts when I was there.

Thanks, Stacey. Manuel, do you have a, a Princeton Eatery? Sure. Mine is a lot simpler. Late night snacking at Wawa was always my favorite thing to do, so Wawa greatly recommended in Princeton I was gonna say pizza at Harvard and Har Boston is not known for it’s pizza, but Pinocchios and Harvard Square is always that, that place that I went to.

So yes, great food options all around. If you are researching schools, you should know what the food is like, just so you know, just to make sure you’ll be happy. But we’ll go ahead and close our poll. I’ll let y’all know just for some context that the majority of folks with us actually today are 11th graders.

About 40% of our audience are from the 11th grade, and it’s an even split between 10th and 12th graders. And then we have some freshmen and some parents, I’m gonna assume in the space, but largely 11th grade. So welcome everybody. We’re excited to talk to you about these free institutions. Just for context, I’m also a Harvard alum, so I might add on some things to dear Nors comments or make Stacey feel bad, but we’ll see.

We’ll see how the evening goes. I’ll stop talking. We’re gonna hand it over to let Theore get started and I’ll be back a.

Thank you and feel free to jump in at any point. So just to start off, what my college application process was like. I did a lot of things wrong and I, luck worked with me, but take this as a lesson of what not to do. So I applied early action, which is definitely something you should do. At the time I was admitted, Harvard had an overall acceptance rate of 6% early action.

It was the first year they had reinstated, it was 18%. So you can see the odds are definitely much more in your favor with early action. And I’d already applied to UT Austin because they had an earlier deadline, but none of my other apps were complete until the early action decision came in. I was very lucky I got in because otherwise I would’ve probably written about 12 essays in as many dates, which is not a good strategy.

And you know, I especially, because if you don’t get into your top early action choice, you’re probably not in a great head space for a few days. So you don’t wanna leave the bulk of your applications for when your family’s over at the holidays, you’re feeling disappointed. That is not a good time. To be writing 12 applications.

I did do a lot of independent research for my college application process. I went to a big underfunded Texas public school. I joked, the only reason I got into Harvard is because Malin Meisenheimer, who sat next to me, knew what to do and she was going to Princeton. And anytime she whined about something, I just wrote it down.

Okay, need to make a resume, need to take SAT twos because that’s what Maylin was talking about at the moment. Very grateful. I sat next to her in digital media. I do really recommend college tours if you can afford to go. A lot of the schools actually have like programs for low income and first gen students starting in like the 11th grade, so definitely take advantage of those.

And I really pr prioritized schools in queer friendly cities. You know, at the time I was out as bi, now I’m out as a trans man and that was something that was really important to me and I think, you know, is increasingly on queer students’ minds for a lot of reasons.

And if we can go to the next slide.

Or if I can, oh, I think I control this. Nevermind. So I was considering, I, I toured brown and Johns Hopkins and realized that they lovely schools, but not for me during the tour. So that’s great to information, to eliminate. I really like Columbia’s ums location in the city. And it’s focused on internships, Gail, and had great academics, beautiful campuses, great senses of community.

And I was looking at like you, Chicago and Stanford. I really just felt at home at Harvard, there’s sometimes you’ll walk into a place and like, this is for me, it may be this intangible feeling. And listen to that. Because you may be picking up on things that make you feel com uncomfortable. Like, you know, coming from South Texas, which is by no means international hearing.

Dozens of languages spoken when I was just walking around campus and seeing how passionate students were both inside and outside of the classroom was really important to me. Also, you know, the residential learning communities were really important to me. You know, Harvard students, Alicia, at the time I applied spent 50% of their time outside the classroom doing extracurriculars and, you know, so that emphasis on experiential learning really was important.

The, I could not have gone without a very good financial aid package. I really recommend looking at the cost calculators very early in your college application journey. I love being niche to a big city, but not in the hustle and bustle coming from a smaller city. And I really like that Harvard had what they call distribution requirements where you have to take a course in the sciences, you have to take a course in the humanities.

It’s changed a bit since I applied, so I’m not going to list all of them. But you know, for some people that’s really important. Some people don’t want that at all, at which point Brown is great for you. Some people really want everyone to have a common curriculum, which would lean you towards Columbia.

So I like something in that, in that middle. And as far as advice you know, the advice to get into Harvard is really the same advice I’ll give you to get into anywhere. The first, it, the most important thing you can do is take advantage of every academic opportunity you can. You know, this can, you know, dual credit and AP and IB courses are obvious ways to do this, but not everyone has the privilege of living in an area that, that is possible.

And Harvard has a policy of were you the best student of where you were? You know, coming from an under-resourced school in South Texas, I was not compared to someone at a New York City Prep school. I was compared to other students in under-resourced schools in South Texas. And you can do, and, you know, I did things like, I took night classes at the community college to give myself classes that my high school didn’t offer, or that I realized my school really didn’t have good pre-calc.

So I took college algebra to fill in the gaps before I did calculus. You know, if you can’t afford night classes or your school doesn’t have a deal on them, which, you know, a lot of schools, districts will pay for take eds, which is an online free course. You can pay for a certificate, but even if you don’t pay for that, you can put it on your application.

Do Duolingo to teach yourself a language. And really, you know, I think a lot of people have the advice, feel like they have to do something of everything. They have to do music, they have to do sports, they have to do trivia team, but it’s okay to be well lopsided where you just do a lot of things in one area rather than well-rounded, you know, especially post covid.

The s a t and a c t are the least important parts of the application. Still take them seriously, still study, but don’t feel like if you aren’t a great test taker that you can’t get into a great school. And honestly, at Harvard, I had like one class that had quizzes, but other than that, I never had a multiple choice test.

They were all a free response test. So just because you don’t do well on standardized tests doesn’t mean that you’re not going to do well at, at a top-notch school. And the website for the certificate, that question just came up in the chat, is called edX. And they have courses from M I t, Harvard, Yale, and other peer institutions in just about everything.

It’s a little bit more STEM focused than humanities, but it’s a great resource. And you also really want to show, delve into work or extracurriculars. You really wanna show leadership academic opportunities or time management. You know, for me, debate is what got me into Harvard is what gave me most of my opportunities in life and gave, and it taught me how to write when I didn’t have that in high school.

So, you know, if but for other students, you know, I know people that when The the one, the main emissions officers at Harvard, you know, just worked a lot of hours at McDonald’s to provide for her family. And yeah, so Drisha just came into the chat. Are there high G p a requirements? So there is no cutoff.

You know, it’s not like if you make below a 3.7, you’re not going to get in. Now they typically accept students with very top GPAs. But if there was a good reason why that’s not the case, especially if it’s something that we rectify when you get to Harvard, they do accept students who aren’t in the top 10 of their class.

For example, I had a friend who went to Harvard who she was homeless before she went into Harvard and even, and she wasn’t in the top 10% of her class, but she worked harder than anybody else. She was just having to work to support herself in high school. Or if a student, for example, a really common story is someone that’s struggling with a health issue, including mental health, maybe freshman, sophomore year.

And then they get the resources they need, they get the accommodations they need, they get their healthcare sorted, and then they’re doing better. So I would say as long as there’s an upward trajectory and it and that you’re, you know, showing that if there was a problem, you rectified it and you addressed that in your application, you were good.

Someone else came in with specific require stats. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you 80% of people that applied to the Ivys are academically qualified. Beyond that, what an admissions officer told me is they don’t want too many tuba players from Idaho. So basically they want. A varied class. And how this is going to look at post affirmative action is changing right now.

But they really want people from every walk of life. They want people who are homeless beforehand. They want people who are Saudi princess. They want people who came from rural Louisiana. And those are all real people I’ve met. And I would also say your essay is the most important thing you can do.

The way an admissions officer put it to me back when I used to do interviews for Harvard is if you had 20 essays on the same topic with similar stories that had identifying information removed, your parents should be able to easily pick yours out of that stack of 20. And if it’s not that unique, you need to go back and redo it.

But don’t feel like you have to share your life story if you don’t want to. I had a great student who got into Harvard who just talked to Breta academic interest because she didn’t feel comfortable talking about the trauma her family went through and she got in and got a great scholarship package, and I’m gonna pass it over to Stacey.

Thanks Theodore. I learned a good piece of insight there. I like the, the takeaway about the essay writing. I’m gonna use that if you don’t mind moving forward. So thank you for that. Stacey, sorry, before you get started, just real quick. Yeah. Just know that you don’t have to respond to questions in the chat.

We are gonna have q and a later on, so if folks are asking you questions, feel free to ignore them or save them until after everyone has presented. So don’t feel pressure to answer questions in the moment. Just wanted to say that. Thank you so much, Anisha. It makes total sense. So, my journey to college, I was a first generation college student.

My parents were working class never got a college degree, so they were pretty unfamiliar with how to apply to college. I also went to a very large public school. And the support for Ivy League applications, Ivy League level applications, I, I should say was not strong. I think we got maybe one student admitted to an Ivy every other year if we were lucky.

And so it was pretty rare. Not a lot of support. Had to do a lot of research on my own. And that’s part of the reason why I work with CollegeAdvisor today. I’m really passionate about providing those resources that I. I accidentally stumbled on a balanced college list. During my application process, I ended up applying to about 12 schools.

And when I say balanced, I mean a balance of reach schools, which typically are very, you know, rigorous schools. They are those that have admissions rates that are very low and admit kind of very competitive applicant profiles and particularly so on the academic front. Then there’s target schools. So target schools are those that your academic profile matches very closely.

And so you represent the typical student that would probably get into that school. And then there’s safeties which have higher admissions rates. You’re likely gonna get in. A lot of students get into those schools. So that’s kind of how I balanced my list. I had a lot of state colleges, so I, I lived in Connecticut, I still do today.

And so I had university of Connecticut. I had Southern Connecticut State University. I had Quinnipiac, which is a local university here. I had match schools for me at the time. That was Boston College, Tufts. And that was at the time, right? And Northeastern, I considered to be a good match for me.

And then I had Ivy’s, including Yale. So my list ended being pretty balanced, which is really important, right? When you’re applying to colleges, you wanna make sure that you have a wide variety of options. I’m not, I, I laugh all the time about a recent show on Netflix that I will not mention here, but there was a girl in it that it’s a very popular show that applied to all the Ivys top of her class thinking, yeah, of course I’ll get into one of these.

And she got into none. And the reality is, I think Theodore alluded to this earlier you know, after that 80% of the students that apply who are all academically capable of coming to that IV are reviewed. They’re looking for a diverse class, right? You all are capable of potentially being a great student, a great contributor to their community, but they’re, they’re tasked with an incredibly difficult decision of forming a class at that point, because they cannot admit everyone.

And so that’s the reality of the Ivy League application process, right? During my search, I prioritize. I prioritized name and prestige. So this was, you know, naive younger me, and that was important to me at the time. It was important to my family. I prioritized location. I wanted to stay in the northeast, particularly in Connecticut.

If I could, you could hear that through my college list, right? I also prioritized flexible curriculum. Theodore mentioned distributional electives. So Yale, like Harvard has distributional elective, or not electives, excuse me, requirements, which basically means there’s not a set of required courses that you need to take per se, but rather there’s a.

Many, many, many, many courses that you can take in a, a bunch of different categories, right? So you don’t have to take English one, but you need to take a writing class. And so I really like that flexible curriculum, which is very representative at a lot of the Ivys. I also represent prioritize STEM majors.

So I really love math, physics chemistry, biology. And I decided to apply chemical engineering when I did apply. Later on I did change my major. I ended up majoring in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience. And so, fun fact is that students on average change their majors about three times.

So just know that when you’re going into your application process, it’s okay. If you pivot when you get to college eventually to a different major, if your initial choice wasn’t the right choice for you. But what’s the most important when you’re applying is to apply to a major. That does make sense given your interests, your career goals and then your background too.

What courses and extracurriculars and experiences have you had that have led to that moment for you to choose that major? So, I also took a lot of college tours. I know theatre mentioned that too. This was really important to me in my junior year summer, I, I spent a lot of time traveling and, and visiting all of these college campuses.

It was easy for me to do because they, I did wanna stay local. It’s not easy for everyone. So just keep in mind that if you can’t do that because you have a big, you know, we wide net of schools that you’re applying to, make sure you look at those school websites and go on virtual tours. We live in a wonderful.

Society now where we can access all that, that information right at our fingertips. So definitely go ahead and, and enjoy those and those information sessions online when they’re available. I also interviewed at Yale. This was a really major step for me. It’s kind of one of those core memories for me. It was a really great experience.

I interviewed with a current student and I do believe that that had an impact on my application. In the final decision, I applied early action to Yale and I applied early action to only Yale. I didn’t have to apply early action to only Yale. And we’ll talk a little bit about this later, probably in discussion of the questions.

But early action essentially let me apply early and find out early. So I found out in December, I did get in and I basically said, okay, that’s it. I’m done. I’m gonna go there. So that’s what my journey looked like. So was I considering other Ivy’s? Yes, I was considering Brown, Harvard and Princeton. So Emmanuel and theater, I could have probably been a classmate of yours had my goals been a little bit different.

But I did end up at Yale. Important factors for me were financial aid. You’ll learn that through your research that financial aid at these top 20 and Ivy League institutions are mainly need-based most of the time. And so I had a lot of need. And so my financial aid package was very strong and generous.

And I knew that was gonna be the case across the schools I was applying to. So that was really important to me. I talked about the flexible curriculum. Theater mentioned this during campus tours, right? You wanna understand the campus feel. There’s this feeling that you get when you go to a campus.

You don’t, you can’t describe it. It’s just a gut feeling. You know, when you walk on campus, you know that that will be a home for you, an appropriate home for you. And that’s the only way I can describe it. If you’re able to go to college campuses that is something that you’ll understand and you’ll take away from it.

Academic resources. Yale has a tremendous you know, amount of research labs and libraries. That was really exciting for me. Student life. I really loved the residential college model that came with Yale, which meant you got assigned to a residential college, kind of like sorting into Harry Potter houses.

So that was really, really cool. I loved extracurriculars that they had available. I was into theater and that was really important to me to see a vibrant theater life. On campus, especially during admitted students days or bulldog days later, they had this great extracurricular fair that I could review.

Peer mentorship. There’s a freshman counselor system where I was able to be assigned to a freshman a senior, excuse me, and and a group of other freshmen. And so I immediately had this kind of core family that I could tap into at any point as well as a mentor in the senior that who that was assigned to us in that group.

My. Prospects for an alumni network, were very strong as well, right? The alumni network from these schools is very strong. And I knew that I talked to alumni and I had good experiences talking to them and their experiences. And then post-grad opportunities, I could see the career statistics. I could see that people were being placed appropriately and in alignment with their majors and their goals.

And so that was really great in my research. Again, I ended up at Yale close to home, but I wanna mention that my second choice actually wasn’t an Ivy. I’m sorry to say to my colleagues here on the call, I actually would wanted to go to Northeastern. If I didn’t go to Yale. I, again, it’s this feeling that you don’t quite understand until you get to the campus.

I absolutely fell in love with Northeastern. I fell in love with the area. I fell in love with the campus then the people, and so that was my second choice. And so it’s really important to prioritize what’s important to you. Advice for students applying to Yale. Talk to current students, alumni and admissions officers.

Okay? And I’m not saying go to them with questions that if you just Googled, you would find online. You need to go to them with meaningful questions that will inform your decision to go to that school. Think of applying to school like dating, right? It’s not only important for the you to be a good fit for the school, but the school needs to be a good fit for you.

Otherwise, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. You will not be happy. You wanna be someplace where you’re happy and that can ultimately fulfill your career goals, which really, that’s why you’re going to college to begin with. Everything else is kind of secondary, but the secondary part of that is you wanna be comfortable and you wanna feel like you are at home on the campus that you ultimately end up choosing.

Take that campus tour or visit, we talked about that at at length. Ask yourself, which programs or majors does Yale have that align with my interests? If you’re looking at Yale’s course catalog and their, and their list of majors available to you and you’re not excited about tho those options, that might not be the best school choice for you.

I doubt that would happen. There are so many majors available. But I always tell my students that I’m advising. To make sure that the school has at least two to three majors that you’ll be interested in studying, because like I said, students on average change their major about three times. So you wanna make sure you have other options available should your initial goal, your initial major, not work out.

When you are applying, be focused and clear in your writing. Again, I love Theodore’s recommendation about if your parents can’t tell it was you when you wrote it. If you, there’s no identifying information, then you need to go back and rewrite it. You know, make sure what you’re conveying to the admissions officer is something that adds value to your application.

It’s, it has to be something that if they’re reading all of the other components of your application, it’s not self-evident, right? It doesn’t mean that, you know, you can’t talk about the extracurricular that you included in your activity section. That’s fine. But what about it? How did that impact you? How did that affect your growth?

You really need to dive deeper and convey information that. Let’s the admissions officer know who you are. And on that note, be authentic and true to yourself in all components of the application. It’s not useful to look left and right and compare yourself and to what other students are doing. You need to focus on what’s important to you, and that will make your application stronger overall.

And with that, I am going to send this over to. Thank you, Stacey. Thank you Theodore as well. It’s always awesome to hear from the experience of others. So what was my college application process like? Well, in the beginning I really had no idea what I was doing. I knew that I wanted to apply to Ivy League schools.

I had that dream, I had that that sense of, you know, wanting to accomplish something. But because of my upbringing, a first generation low income student, I really didn’t know how I was supposed to do that. I had the desire, but I didn’t know what the path was going to be like. So if you’re feeling that way maybe my suggestion is something that I did is ask a lot of questions.

I sought guidance from, from counselors or from teachers, from people that I trusted that I knew that maybe had. Information. I mean, I also use a lot of Google, so Google is is your friend, as he was my friend during that time period. And the way that I started was kind of just making the list.

What, what, where is it that I would dream of going, right? Kind of when I started having that idea. As Stacey was talking about as well, search some schools that I maybe had an academic profile that fit very nicely with that I felt comfortable, and then others that I felt that it would be pretty easy to get into.

And sometimes we might ask ourselves, how do you know if it’s easy to get into? How do you know? Well, all of that has to do with the research as well. What your grades are like, what classes you’re taking how you maybe have scored or how you think you might score in standardized testing. All of these different factors kind of help you start getting an idea of, of what schools ask for and what you might offer, at least in that first level of the components of the application.

Once I start asking these questions, having a better idea of what I wanted, I focused a lot in, in my junior summer. I know that now summer’s basically finished. I don’t know if those that responded that they’re juniors or because they haven’t started school yet or that they’re currently just in their first weeks or month of being a junior in high school.

But my recommendation is definitely to take advantage of that summer. That’s what I did. I began to prepare for my applications, kind of having a feeling of what was in the application itself. And then that way once I began my senior fall, I felt that I was in a much better place because once school started, not only did I have schoolwork, I was also an athlete.

I, I played football, I played basketball, I did track, I did community service. So there’s a lot of things that start happening once you’re in school. So that is why my recommendation is definitely to take advantage of that summer. That way the workload is a little bit easier to handle. The stress load is easier to handle.

Ultimately I ended up applying to most Ivy League schools some others like Stanford. And luckily I say fortunately in March, I was admitted to Princeton to Columbia and to Stanford. So when I was considering all of these Ivy League schools, what made me choose Princeton? So at the beginning I was mainly thinking of Harvard, Colombian, Penn, and I think this is where what we heard with Stacey and Theodore really comes to play.

Things change once you visit, and it’s that intangible feeling. It’s hard to put into an equation. This is how you’ll feel if this happens or if that happens. Until you get there or until you have the opportunity, even if you can’t visit, even if you’re just searching online or even just speaking with other people about what their experiences are, it really helps make that decision.

But before I made that decision, what was I looking for? For the most part, I was looking at location. I thought that being near to a major city or having an urban setting was going to be very important to me. That’s kind of how I grew up, both in Miami and in Toronto, in Canada. ’cause I was technically an international student, even though I lived most of my life in the us before applying after that was financial aid.

Luckily most Ivy League schools, if not all of ’em, are very generous. They’re very welcoming in terms of this, this elements of the application or elements of a worry that you might have. So I would say that you are in luck with the Ivy League schools. As Stacey was mentioning. It is mostly need based.

So, As far as someone explained it to me in very concise words, if you got into the school, they don’t want financials to be an impediment for you to go. If they believe that they want you to be a part of the university, they’re going to make that effort to make that happen without it causing a financial burden.

So that was the second thing that I was looking for again, since I was an athlete at that time. Sport, sports culture, you know, how is that, like in the university, do students go to the games? What is the stadium like, or what are the facilities that they have? I mean, obviously for me that was important at the moment.

And then I wanted to know what kind of programs of study they had. And I think this is where one of the things that that, that really stood out to me for Princeton was that they focused so much on the undergraduates. They allowed small seminars that, you know, kind of, I. Gave you that opportunity to be very close with professors, but also very close with, with other students and, and and with colleagues.

So that, to me was, was very, very important. And, and ranking, I mean, because of the same dream, the same aspiration. Obviously this was something that, that played a key component, but it wasn’t on the forefront of my mind, but it was something that, that I, that I considered. I know that a lot of of our students or high school students asked what our GPAs were, how many aps did we take?

So I’ll briefly touch on, on that topic. So I, I did the IB program. So in terms of the aps, I didn’t, I didn’t do that type of high school curriculum, but I did the ib. I had a, a great or I would say that I would highly recommend the IB for those that, you know, are thinking, is that good? Is that bad?

It is something that I definitely thought helped me. And in terms of my G P A, I did have a pretty solid G P a it, it was a bit different because I was in Canada, so there was somewhat of a translation of the G P A, but once it was translated into what the US system was like, it was between a 3.8 and a 3.9.

I can’t remember exactly the number anymore. That was some time ago, but it was, but it was a good G P a, not a perfect G P A. That is something as well that I want to highlight. When I took the a c t I also didn’t get a perfect score or a super high score. And that’s okay because as Theodore was saying the essay is a very important component of the application being unique being genuine about who you are, what makes you stand out.

All of those things are definitely components that are, that are now at the forefront of the mind of college admissions officers. Ultimately, after visiting different universities, Princeton just to me was, was the most appealing offer. It was something that I really, really enjoyed both in terms of the campus, what they offered academically.

It just seemed to be a perfect fit. And again, it’s gonna be different for everyone. My answer might not be super specific. Oh, but how did you feel that it’s just something that you feel that is why the visits are very recommended as well as doing your research in terms of maybe. As a sidebar in terms of which one would be better, a c t or or a c t.

So, At least what I remember in high school, I was not too fond of, of math. That was not something that I was very, very acquainted with. So I did feel a little bit of hesitation to take the, the, the SS a t I don’t know why, but at that moment, what, at least what was explained to me, the a c t might be a little bit more welcoming to those that are not that great at math.

And the science section kind of helps you boost that sort of profile. But ultimately, regardless of how it was for me, my recommendation which one to pick is first do you research? What is the test like, what do they test, what are they looking for? And then see how that matches with with your strengths.

Maybe take a practice test, feel it out, and then you make a better decision that way. I think in general, that is just a recommendation that we should all take is that as long as I. As long as you do your research, kind of feel out what might be best for you, that is something that would definitely work.

What advice do I have for students? So not only for Princeton, but for all applications, is do your research. Definitely be informed. Take advantage of the fact that almost everything can be found online. As Stacey said, if you’re gonna ask questions to, to counselors, the teachers, the friends, the family, have them be questions that would enrich those results or whatever it is that you would find online, definitely plan ahead.

I know that it’s difficult in high school. There’s so many things that are going on, but it is nice to be able to plan ahead, know what is coming, what are the due dates, what are the components, what do I have to work on? I think that definitely helps with the workload, with the stress load, and then that ultimately will help you perform better on the application.

I always thought of it as I did with, with sports. If I don’t practice, if I don’t eat right, if I don’t rest, if I don’t do all of these things planning ahead for my games or my competitions, while I’m obviously not gonna perform as well. But if I do plan ahead, I perform better. And I think the applications is definitely something similar.

Start creating your student profile. What does that mean? Universities are looking for diversity. Things that are not just the same. So if you’re gonna volunteer, have it be something that is very genuine, very close to what your interests are. If you’re gonna do maybe an internship, think about that as well.

If you’re gonna take classes. Think about every time that you make a decision, whether it be your classes, whether it’s standardized testing, whether it’s volunteering, whether it’s sports, extracurr extracurriculars. Have it be with a purpose, with an objective. Don’t just choose things to choose them or because you feel that you have to choose something.

Always have it be kind of part of a plan on how it’s gonna build your student profile, which is gonna speak to who you are and ultimately help college admissions officers say, I want the student. This is someone that I would love to be on our campus, make strategic decisions, which, you know, goes hand in hand with that.

And I speak not only to the, to the application process, but also with everything else that has to do with, with your applications. If your dream is to be at a top-notch university. Well, then you’re also gonna have to sacrifice. There might be days or weekends where, you know, socials or a party or a get together or whatever it might be, might have to be sacrificed.

And that’s okay because if you put in the time and the effort, not only in your schoolwork, not only in your extracurriculars, but, and everything that has to do with the application, ultimately you’re just increasing the chances of you being able to get in, invest time on your applications, especially on your essays.

Most parts of the application are kind of, you know, self-explanatory, but the essays are very, very important. It is your opportunity to stand out, to shine, to be unique, to be genuine about who you are. And that is ultimately, I think, and I, I think I heard Stacey and Theodore have the same opinion. It has a great impact and if anything, it has the greatest impact on the application process because college admissions officers are people too.

They have emotions, they react emotionally to things. They also get attached to profiles. So that’s kind of the idea. You build your narrative, you create that impact, and you make them ultimately wanna say, I don’t wanna let this student go. I don’t wanna let this applicant go. This person definitely has to be here.

And then lastly, if you can, if you have the financial means, if things work out, visit, visit. And, and don’t just be a part of the college tour because sometimes, at least in my experience in some universities, I felt kind of boxed in. Take some time to explore your surroundings, you know, what is near the campus.

Or ask students maybe outside of the tour, like, what, what you do, where, where do you go out, all those kinds of things because you’re gonna be living there for quite some time. So if you’re comfortable there and you like it there, obviously your experience will be all the better. So as much as you can visit and as much as you can get a chance to know what the university is like, that would also help you make your decision.

Thank you. All right. Thanks y’all so much for all of that. I’m gonna come back on camera. We are going to transition into our q and a section. You all have been asking a ton of questions in the chat and Stacey and I have been trying to get response to you along the way. So be patient with us. There are over 500 of you in the room.

But if you are having any challenges with submitting your questions, just know you might have to log out, log back in through the link that you received via your email. Let’s see. Any other announcements? Oh, folks were asking me about the handouts. Apologies, they were not shared before. You should have access to them now.

One quick thing I’m gonna say before we jump into questions, I’m not going to ask our panelists specifics about their GPAs or about their scores. I know that Manuel shared some of his, but the only reason I’m not going to is because there’s no formula, there’s no special score that any of us have or that any of us achieved.

And also the scoring has shifted a lot over the last few years. And so what score I might have may not be relevant to the scoring of the test right now. So please stop asking those questions. I’m not going to answer them. But okay. Let’s move on to the first question I do wanna ask, which started with Theodore actually.

So Stacey, can you take this one just ’cause I know from your admissions background. So just define early action. And then the other question was how does the early action decision process work and. Comparing it to early decision and do I have a better chance? So all of the kind of early action things.

Stacey, if you could take a stab at that. Yeah, appreciate it. Yeah, the chat blew up in response to that, so I’ve tried to answer a few along the way. Okay, so early action means that you are applying by an early deadline, which the advantage is twofold. One, most schools will tell you that gives you a slightly higher chance of admission.

And then two, you find out your decision early. So I applied early action, for example, and I believe the, at the time, the application deadline was in October and I found out December 1st. Like I remember sitting down, I actually used to work at a stop and shop if you’re from the Northeast. I used to work at Stop and Shop.

I took my break to go check my decision on my phone or my laptop or whatever I was doing in the Starbucks and the stop shop because I was so excited. And so you do find out early, which gives you a lot of peace of mind, right? The other thing that could happen to you with an early action decision is you might be deferred to regular decision.

That does happen to some students and, and you know, then you find out during the regular pool. But if you can meet that early deadline, I usually recommend it because you have that slight Advantage so it slight increase in your chance of admission for that reason. Early decision meanwhile is very similar in the sense that you apply by an early deadline and you find out early.

But when you do find out early, you must it’s binding. You must commit to that school. So when you apply ed, you can only apply your ED means early decision. You can only apply to one. So you can apply to many schools early action. You cannot apply to many schools early decision. And then just for reference, there are schools who have regular decision deadlines.

They might not have early deadlines at all, and that’s okay. You can still apply early to them. In my experience, I applied early to, I believe it was Northeastern. Northeastern didn’t have an early deadline, but I found out early and I have a feeling that there are strict strategic procedures for admissions officers.

When they do see these competitive applicants come through, they probably realize that they’re applying early action elsewhere and they might be releasing decisions earlier to those applicants if they did apply early. So I actually found out from Northeastern earlier than I thought I would. And that was really great for me to have that information.

So it doesn’t hurt to apply early to other schools, even if they don’t have early action or early decision deadlines. And then there’s rolling in mission. So a lot of schools will allow you to apply at any point after the application opens and then release decisions on a rolling basis. So I just wanted to give it a complete overview there.

No, thank you. That’s super helpful. Appreciate it. I’m gonna ask for folks to go through this quickly, but it did come up a lot in the chat, like, so what extracurricular activities did you do in high school and how do you think they helped you get into college? So I’m gonna start with Theodore and then we’ll go Manuel, and then we’ll end with Stacey.

So, Theodore, Theodore extracurricular activities in high school and how they helped you. Yes. So I did a ton, so I’m just gonna be brief. My main ones were debate I did ballet, tap and jazz classical dance for 10 years. I volunteered at the aquarium over 600 hours. I was on pretty much every academic team you can think of, like chess, like trivia team, math theme, all of that sort of thing.

And I, I also did a lot of tutoring and I think the thing like debate taught me how to is actually the number one extracurricular associated with success in college, at least at the time I did it. Because it teaches res research skills, writing, critical thinking, thinking on your feet. And so, and it gave me the chance to go.

All over Texas and interact with people from all different walks of life and have to convince them of my ideas, which I think was really great. And it also created a sense of camaraderie, but definitely the, there was no formula. Like you can do pretty much anything as long as you’re passionate about it and show how like leadership or time management and get into the Ivy.

So don’t feel like you have to do a club just to get in.

Awesome, Theodore. Thank you. So mine was maybe a little bit simpler. I spearheaded it in kind of two ways. First, as I mentioned earlier, sports. So I did a variety of sports. This helped build what I was talking about before my student profile. So anything that has to do with leadership, teamwork, sacrifice, discipline, all of the different components that, you know, a good athlete has to follow, that definitely helped me build that part of my profile.

And then the other part of the spear was community service. So I mainly volunteered with two NGOs. And basically having that idea of what I wanted to give back to the community. It was mostly the immigrant community or the undocumented community, or, you know, vulnerable populations. That’s kind of what I volunteered most, most of my time in.

So for me it was, it was very simple. It was what are, what am I passionate about? I love sports, but I also love giving back to my community. And the important thing in terms of extracurriculars, and I think Theodore was also touching on this point, is that there is no specific formula. It is not about doing too much or doing just some things.

It is about you being passionate about what you wanna do. Always have it be within an objective that it fits with, with not only who you are, but what you wanna do later on in the future, possibly maybe in college or, or further beyond. Yeah, that was basically what I did in terms of extracurricular extracurriculars when I was in high school.

Yeah. Great profiles for my colleagues here. So the ones that come to my head that are the most important, I mentioned I worked right, I had to work the moment. I turned 16, I was working. So that was a really important part of my application. You can include work. I’m gonna re-emphasize that. You can include work and you can include family responsibilities.

Okay. Those are qualifying extracurricular activities because you spend a lot of time doing those. Tennis, I played tennis. I was on my varsity tennis team. I was a mem actually on the board of the, my student council. I played piano for a long time. I was in my national Honors Society. I, and then my most influential one was my work in theater.

I mentioned this earlier. That actually is what I wrote my personal statement about. And to this day, I save it and I look back to it and I shared it with my theater director and. She framed it or something. I don’t know. She was very excited about this because again, not a lot of people get into Ivy, so it was really cool for her to see that that was such an influential part of my application.

And so back to you Anisha. Yeah, yeah. No, thank you. No one asked me this, but I’m just gonna say I did a lot of sports. I played two varsity sports and I played three instruments and I also did theater, and I wrote about theater in my application. But again, I think I also, one thing to keep in mind is contextual.

So I did a lot because I was in a rural space. I was in the middle of nowhere in Connecticut, so there was nothing to do, but extracurricular activities that were on at my high school But, you know, so keep that in mind. I guess also of like, your locale will shift what’s available to you and how much of it you can do.

But I’m gonna do a quick p s A before I get to the next question, which is for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, some folks asked about this in the chat. We know that there’s, this is a overwhelming process and so our team of over, I think we’re over 400 admissions officers at this point.

Point and experts are ready to help you and your families navigate the process through one-on-one advising sessions. If you’re not currently working with us, you can take the next step by setting up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist on our team by using the QR code that is on the screen.

During that meeting, we’ll talk about extracurriculars, we’ll talk about alignment with your college list, and we’ll outline some tools to help you stand out in the competitive admissions world. So we’ll leave that QR code up there and get back to the questions. And my next question, I was going to try to make it targeted.

Oh, so whoever wants to take this one combo question, is it true that you must do a passion project to get into an Ivy? And a separate person asks, what is a passion project and how do you go about taking one? So if anyone wants to tackle passion projects, if you did one, or if you’ve had advise students who have done some and wanna share that out in the space.

Noelle, you’re making eyes. I’m, I was gonna say, I’ve talked a lot. I really wanna defer to my colleagues over here. I was, I was waiting to see if, if anyone wanted to, to take on the question. Well well, to answer to the first question, do you have to do a passion project to get into an Ivy League school?

The answer is no. Again, there is no formula. There’s no specific to-do list to get in. Can you do one? Yes. If you feel that that is something that you want to do because you believe in it, then I, I invite you to do so. And what is a passion project? How, how would I define a passing project? I think I might have done one.

Maybe without even knowing that I did one. But as I said before with my extracurriculars, I helped a lot with the immigrant community or the undocumented community. A lot of them did not speak English. So what is something that I did or that I helped do with the NGOs that I worked with was helping them learn English and also helping them know how to take the, the citizenship test for those that were, you know, applicable to that specific part of their residency or their living in the us.

And I did that quite a bit. A passion project is basically something that, you know, comes from anything that inspires you. You, you build whatever it is that you wanna build, whether it’s something for donations, I’ve, I’ve had, you know, students that, you know, built a donation drives for specific causes and they led them and they, you know, got everyone together and they would go door to door, whatever it might look like, but it’s something that stems from an idea.

From a wish, from a passion, from something that you want to do, and it starts developing into something that you build, something that you organize, something that you execute, continue implementing, et cetera. What would I suggest is that if you are interested in doing a passion project, have it be something that is genuine, something that actually speaks to you.

Because having a project is not easy. It is time consuming. It is not just something that you do. Nonchalantly. If that makes sense. It is something that you have to dedicate a good amount of time and of your essence, I would say to actually have it be successful. So do you have to do one? No.

Can you do one? Sure. If that is what you wanna do. Thank you Noel. Okay, just to keep it moving, I’m gonna ask, I’m gonna target this question at Theodore if you wanna take it. Stacey, if Theodore doesn’t want it, what are the best tools to use to study for the s a t and when did you start studying?

Okay. Sorry, my mic was having issues. Yes. No, so, so really the best tool out there is Khan Academy because it is free and they work directly with the SS a t I personally find them a really easy way to learn if you’re also with CollegeAdvisor with I, I wanna say the premium and up package. You, we have s a T tutoring, which is a great resource.

I started studying probably about a year before then and really rigorously over the summer. I really started prepping though for the P S A T, which is a test offered in your junior year. That is a scaled down version and qualifies you for National merit because there’s a lot of scholarships associated with that, and it can get you on a lot of colleges radar.

It, and one thing to look at it with the P S A T that not many people know is a lot of corporations offer P S A T scholarships. So it actually is easier to get the national merit if you are part of that corporation. So like it might be employees of Taco Bell, or in my case, the children of Walgreens employees.

So that, that’s something to kind of look into to see what scholarships are offered because of that. And it can get you a full ride to most state schools if not most, but many state schools, if you are a National Merit scholar, Cool. Thank you. I don’t know who wants to take this question, but it, it obvious was a question that was gonna come up.

So how does the Harvard race based admissions case play a factor in admissions now if no one wants to touch it, I’m happy to try. But Stacey, how are you feeling about this question? Yeah, it’s a very popular question right now. So essentially just to. Recap, the Supreme Court decision is such that in affirmative action race ethnicity can no longer be taken into consideration when forming decisions about a diverse college community essentially.

And so the challenge for admissions officers now and admissions teams is they need to determine other ways to ensure that underrepresented groups are in fact admitted to their schools and have a equal opportunity. Outside of having that determining. Factor on an application to consider. I will clarify that the Supreme Court decision said nothing about sex.

And so sex or gender. So decisions can still be made in terms of ensuring kind of diversity across that factor. But when it comes to race ethnicity, that can no longer be a factor in the decision making process. And a lot of universities are coming up with creative ways to approach this. So I believe I can’t remember which college it it is, but I think one college, maybe Anisha, you mentioned this to me there, the essay, they’re doing it in their supplements, like they’re kind of alluding to it in the, or how that the students are viewing that decision and, and giving them a chance to respond to that.

Anisha, do you have anything to add? The thing that I would add, I think the way that I’ve heard some colleges are trying to approach it is through pipeline programs. So they cannot talk about it in the admissions process, but they can talk about it through early recruitment. So if you are in programs like a HOSA or anything that is for first gen students or low income students or some other sub identity it is possible that you can get connected through pipeline opportunities, even though race will not be considered through the formal admissions process.

So different colleges are experimenting with addressing it in different ways. I will say another thing. Go ahead. Go ahead. I, I was gonna say, kind of adding onto what both of you have said is really talking and, and I think a lot of colleges are asking about diversity of life experience and how that plays into it.

And I would say something that like, don’t feel like you can’t discuss this, you know, still talk about how it impacts you and that will be taken into account and the first year we’re all figuring this out. Yeah, no, I appreciate that. Add-on. I had some students who feel like they can’t mention race and there are students who feel like they must mention race.

So I would say write whatever feels natural and most comfortable to you. I wanna ask this question, Manuel. I’m not sure if you’re comfortable with answering it, but I’m gonna ask it. What does diversity look like at an Ivy League school and how is your, what was your experience like at a p as a person of color?

Sure. No, I definitely feel okay answering the question. So diversity, what did it look like to me at least? I met people from all, all around the world and I met people from all walks of life, all sorts of different socioeconomic situations, pasts. Sure in some cases there might be some that are more common than others, but I basically had the opportunity to, to learn a whole bunch of cultures that I never even knew existed.

People from countries that I had never even well I might have heard of, but I never actually met someone from that country. And and I think, at least in my case, you also find comfort as much as you wanna find it, right? So for me it was, you know, what is my comfort zone? What kind of people do I wanna be with?

And then I just felt comfortable. Other people, you know, might have had different experiences, but at least for me, I felt always included in, in Princeton as long as, at least the people that I spoke with are on different Ivy leagues. They had similar experiences. I think Ivy League schools have made a very Concentrated effort into making sure that there are different spaces that people feel included, that, you know, there are those safe spaces that you know you can be yourself in.

So I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t worry too much about that if that is a cause of concern. Things are definitely changing. The way that college admissions works is also changing and that also changes the makeup, not only of the student body, but also what the faculty does. So as far as in my experience being a student of color and a first generation low income student, I never felt out of place.

I was the opposite I felt at home. Yeah, I’ll only add as a person of color, I did not feel out of place as a person of color. I felt more out of place as a first gen low income student. The economic disparity between myself and my classmates, I think was a bigger issue to kind of navigate with going out, going on vacations and things like that.

So that, I will say, for me, it wasn’t as much of my, my racial identity as much as was socio socio socioeconomic. All right. The last question I’m gonna have us wrap up with today, which is an interesting question. I’m gonna throw it out, see how y’all feel about it. But do you think you would be where you were today if you had not gone to an I B D college?

Theore. We’ll start with you with this softball question, obviously, and then we’ll work our way down the line.

We can hear you okay. Okay, great. All right. My, my computer says I’m muted. But I think I would’ve had a radically different life. But I think I still could have gotten the same career outcomes. It might have just been harder because the amount of support I had at Harvard was unparalleled. I also, you know, had, they really helped me with my grad school admissions.

I also, you know, I had some health challenges and Harvard gave me a ton of accommodations for those, and I think that might have been harder at a big state school. But it could have made it, it could have worked. And I know people who got just where I am that went to a state school. So like where you apply at 18 does not determine the rest of your life forever.

Manuel, I definitely agree with, with, with that last point, that it’s not gonna be something that is either going to ruin your life or, or make your life because life, you know, is very long. There’s a lot of things you’re gonna do. But I, for me, it’s, it’s a hard question. My, my mind kind of got into a lot of philosophy that I learned, but I’m trying to reject all that feeling of wanting to debate the philosophically.

But how would life have been? Like I think that I would’ve still been me. I would’ve still been the same person that works hard, that wants to do things I the right way and, and do the best that I can. So I think that the outcomes might have been similar, you know, it might have not looked the same. The trajectory would’ve definitely not been the same.

I, I can’t lie and say that, you know, going to an Ivy League institution doesn’t offer benefits. It doesn’t make things easier. I would be dishonest if I said that. But at the same time, it is not like the all, like, the end all be all of things. If I don’t get in, my life is over, nothing’s gonna be the way that I want it to be.

That’s definitely not true. I have a lot of friends that also have the same dream that I had, you know, their life trajectory brought them in, in, in, into something different, and they’re happy, successful, they ended up, you know, doing the things that they wanted to do. So it’s more, for me at least an aspiration.

Something that if it happens, awesome. If it doesn’t happen, awesome. Life continues. And as long as you stay true to yourself and continue working hard, I think your, your life will be what you want it to be.

Yeah. A few sentences to wrap up. I agree with Olive. What has basically been said my trajectory likely would’ve been different. I do still think I would’ve ended up where I am today. I might have ended up there potentially a little faster depending on where I ended up and what I decided to pursue because I, I, you know, my, my university drove the major I chose and kind of the steps I took.

I might have chosen a different major if I went to a different school, so who knows? But I do, I will tell you wholeheartedly that I am where I am because of the connections I made through my university through the alumni network. My, even my first student job at Yale influenced my trajectory pretty firmly.

So I, I definitely think it, it was quite impactful, but I will tell you that the, for the. Right student. You can have an Ivy League education at many different schools. You have to be resourceful. Right? So the, the takeaway here is that we had connections and we had a lot of support, and other schools might not have that.

But if you are somebody who can really, you know, seek out that support and resources, you can certainly go very far. Yeah. I’ll wrap up with that and say, I think the only thing would, that would’ve been different in my life would be the people. But I, I honestly do think the trajectory, because. To the point, you are who you are.

Your goals are gonna be what they are. You’re gonna respond to certain stimuli in certain ways. And so yeah, I, I think where you go is all on you, you in the best sense. But all right. We are gonna leave it there. We’re over time. Thanks so much to our panelists. Thanks to you all for your patience with our questions.

I’m so sorry we did not get to answer like a percentage of them, but hopefully we got to enough between the chat as well. Thank you Theodore. Thank you to Stacey. Thank you, Manuel, for your time. Thank you all for joining us. We hope you enjoyed the opportunity to learn about Avi League. I’ve learned to hear from our Ivy League panelists.

We’ll also have some more sessions coming up this month, so if you didn’t get your questions answered here, please join us on August 20th where we’ll have some admissions officers talking about the common apps. Some folks were asking about how, how to get that started. So please join us. Then we have two sessions on the 21st one talking about college essays and the other one talking about selecting a major as a pre-med applicant.

There was some pre-medicine questions in there, so please join us on the 20th or the 21st. We hope to see you soon, but until next time, take care and have a great evening everybody.