Spike Series – Academic Contests and Olympiads

CollegeAdvisor.com (formerly Bullseye Admissions) presents its spike series webinar on Academic Contests and Olympiads in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with a Bullseye advisor. Our presenters will share their insider perspectives on how to develop an application spike in this area and how they applied successfully to colleges with this spike. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 10/29/2020
Duration 52:46

Webinar Transcription

2020-10-29 Spike Series – Academic Contests and Olympiads

[00:00:00] So hi everyone. Welcome to the Academic Contests and Olympiads webinar. We’re excited to have you here. Thank you for joining us. On this rainy evening, at least that’s where I am. So I’ll quickly introduce myself.

I’m a senior at Brown university. I’m actually in their BSMD program, which just means I have a spot waiting for me in med school where I will be going next year. It’s very scary. And I’m studying science, ecology and society. Which is a small major with a focus in anthropology. So the reason why I’m on this panel is because one of my main extracurriculars from high school was actually science, Olympiad.

We always placed very well. I’m from California, so we always placed very well in the state of California. We are often against the nationally number one high school. We also do very well science school the high school that I came from. Yeah, actually fun fact. One of my close friends from college was actually on the north Hollywood science school team.

So that’s super cool. [00:02:00] Yeah. But anyways my name is Henry. I’m currently a sophomore at Stanford studying management, science and engineering, which is just a fancy way of saying operations and engineering. In high school, I was involved in Olympiads, so I did the USA, biology, Olympiad I’m with the finalist as a junior.

And then I ended up going to the international competition as a senior. And I was also involved in brain bees, science bull or Toronto biology competition, or new office data. So like a spread and biology and stuff.

Awesome. So we’ll start off with a poll. Are you currently involved in academic contests and Olympiads are planning to get involved. So feel free to poll should pop up on your screen to just click one or whatever you have as the answer we recognize, some of you might be like juniors and seniors in high school.

Some of you might be like freshmen, sophomore. That’s working. Okay. It’s working awesome.[00:03:00]

Pretty nice spread.


Okay. I’ll let you take it from your hands. Awesome. Given that I’ve focused a lot on biology in high school, I thought it might be helpful for those of you who are also interested in biology and some of the other ISO’s which means like the chemistry, Olympiad, math, Olympiad, basically all of those subjects that have their Olympiad.

But a few tips here that I think are super important just to cover that you might not normally think about I guess starting off fresh and versus to be proactive and creating your own opportunities. So this really means instead of going with the flow. If you, for example, I don’t have biology don’t yet at your school, you can bring it to the school.

If you like, don’t really have a teacher who is like actively seeking out to support you, you can try to find one. It’s all about being proactive in not only finding opportunities, but [00:04:00] creating them when they’re not necessarily already there. And this was something coming from like a smaller school in Tennessee.

This was something that I found really helpful for me. Just. Get into the community that normally I would, more people from my school are normally a part of, and that brings me to my second point, which is it’s super helpful to have a community of people that are interested in the same things as you are.

So for biology, wouldn’t be out there is like an awesome, like discord channel where a lot of people preparing for the use of join. And there’s like similar things for a lot of the other Olympiads and biology competitions as well. Third point is don’t limit yourself. A lot of people get stuck in this sort of loop of which textbook should I read?

Like I need to go through all the chapters and memorize them and read them over and over again. But that is so self-limiting and the way you prepare, and I think that’s something that’s like an important lesson, not just in Olympiads, but across whatever you do is look for different ways to prepare.

You’ll find that things like even doing a math competition can help you with biology and lab research, writing questions doing some adjacent [00:05:00] activities can all be super helpful. Even if the end goal is to like, become like a USA, biology, Olympiad, like finalist or medalist or something on, then lastly is make sure your interest in what you’re doing.

I don’t know how many students I talked to that are doing things, but not necessarily because they’re interested in it because they feel like they have this notion of, they have to. Let me tell you, it is so much easier to put the time in that’s necessary to do something amazing and great in a field if you’re genuinely interested in it.

Because imagine the level of knowledge you need in Olympia is generally like pretty intense. And it’s really hard. I’ll just say to read textbooks for hours on end. If you don’t enjoy the subject, you’re reading about. There you go. And then also just want to point out like academic competitions are not the only way to get into college.

I think a lot of people fall into this trap of thinking like, oh, I need to like, do I don’t know, like Olympia or science bowl or something similar in order to get to college, it’s just absolutely not true. We want to encourage you. I’m seeing a lot of the poll [00:06:00] results being that you’re already involved.

We wanna encourage you to continue to be involved, but also to make sure. I sorta like a sanity check that you’re interested in the subject you’re doing, and there’s not something that’s like adjacent that might be better for you as well. I’ll pass it off to Katie.

Oh, okay. So yeah. So whenever people talk about extracurriculars in terms of your profile, you want to always keep in mind, right? You get 10 activities for your extra float list. You don’t get more, you don’t get less. So that’s really what you’re aiming for. You get 10 extra curriculars and five awards.

What you do also want to think about is with your extracurriculars, how can you create a spike? So when we say spike, people use different words for this. What we mean is something that really stands out about something that you’re involved in. So for example, for Henry, he clearly has a huge spike in the biology aspect and specifically with competitions.

My spike was in two different areas as someone who is spread out and in stem, but also in the humanities. And so I was able to capitalize on that in my [00:07:00] application and show them, Hey, here are two different spikes that show my passion. I will say, however that a lot of the times people get confused in terms of an extra curriculars.

Do you want them to all be the same thing or do you want them to all be spread out and super different to show that you’re, a Jack of all trades, what I’d like to say is that for colleges, they want to see that you are strong in all areas of academics, obviously, but they also want to see and make you.

I think of you as memorable, if that makes sense. So if you’re a student who may be, volunteers at a red cross launches, the animal shelter, volunteers, the hospital, then also volunteers at the senior center, what really unites those things. You, it might come off to the point where I’m like, okay, so this person cares about volunteering, but what are they passionate about?

What is like that spike again? And so that’s what we’re really thinking when it comes to your extracurriculars to make sure you have a strength in an area. We talk about here holding a lead, a leadership position. We talk about making sure that when you explain your spike to someone in your interview, you are concise, clear, and comprehensive.

What we mean by that [00:08:00] is if you have a leadership position, explaining what you did as a leader, not just that you’re president, but exactly. What changes did you make? What were you responsible for on your team? I can speak to my experience again, I’ll talk more about this later, but for science Olympiad, I was the captain of our team.

I necessarily, Was overseeing a lot of things, but one reason why it really stood out to my applications was because another teacher also backed me up and said, Hey, this team is entirely student run. There’s no parent involvement. And that’s why being a captain was actually a bigger deal than for me than just oh, being a president of a volunteer club for exams.

So making sure that whatever you’re putting effort into That you’re putting a lot of effort into it, but you also are able to translate that on the college application so that it shows where you put that effort and making sure that it really makes you look impressive down the line. Cool. Cool. I skipped a slide.

Go ahead. Amen. To everything you said, then we also want to take a moment to talk about how do you like stand out? [00:09:00] Spike. So what that means is one, how do you develop your spike? And then two, once like application season rolls around, how are you going to use that in your writing and in the applications you submit to better your admissions chances for colleges.

So for developing your spike, again, just want to stress that you should always be looking to your genuine. If you’re thinking about starting something new something that’s really helpful is maybe to just look back on what do you already like to do? So if you’re already love everywhere, if growing up, like you loved, I don’t know, like playing outside with like plants and like reading books on like different animals and stuff.

As I did when I was a kid maybe biology is also the thing you like to do. If you liked, I don’t know, doing a little experience at home doing little experiments at homeschool. Maybe it’s chemistry for you. Maybe it’s something entirely different, but it’s always important to go back to the interests that are really genuine to you and that you can really hold your answer to pursue at a high level with a lot of interests.

And secondly is like a phrase, I guess I want to introduce the concept of right. So I want it just a sanity check again, and it’s make sure your spike is not enough. Some things you should be thinking [00:10:00] about are like how many other people will have achievement you had for the same reasons you had.

And if there are like too many people that are doing that, then your spike is probably not the sort of spike that you are looking to get this sort of spike that sort of differentiates you in the whole process. In order to get that type of spike, the two other points. Really important to set a goal and a concrete plan whether that’s, whatever it is you want to do, whether that’s becoming the president of the club of the spike you’re interested in, or getting, X place in this competition, always super important to just have a goal in mind when you’re preparing.

And then fourth is to understand that. We only have so many hours in a week. We can’t do everything as much as we want to write a, in those like activity sections on college applications and super important to just understand the commitment to any goal that you said.

So if this is something that’s going to take 10 or 20 hours a week, just want to keep that in mind. So you’re not spreading yourself too thin with other things as well. I’m going to super important in the sense too. When developing a spike too. Go into the spike with the full commitment.[00:11:00]

And rather than having a bunch of different nubs, making sure that you’re still having one sort of stronger or several strong spikes, and then secondly, using your spike. Something that’s really helpful. Not only is the accomplishment helpful, but also, so having a story around your spike in the background, I’m in the motives you had for pursuing it.

So this is I guess it’s like a two part of the strength of a spike is like one it’s like what is the accomplishment itself? And secondly is like, why did you do it? And what does that sort of mean? What does that speak to for your character? Some things I hope with this are knowing how to distinct, how to really succinctly describe your spike to someone who’s never heard of it.

Because at the end of the day the college interviewer who was like an alumni from 1977 has probably not heard of like Usama use of though RSI, like Amy, like all of this long list of acronyms that you’ve been involved in. And then lastly, your journey. Almost like more important than your destination.

And what I mean by that is the process of you getting to whatever the end goal is to developing that spike is just as important as the [00:12:00] end result itself. Both in the fact that you have this like amazing story of your like hard work of, setbacks and successes that you can talk about. But also in what it adds to you.

Not only like applying to college, but also in college, like I can speak to. The work I did preparing for like Olympiads and other academic competitions as super helpful for just prepare me for a college workload and the extracurriculars that I’m doing in college as well. A big takeaway, I’d say from all of all from today is to use your good description when developing and using your spike.

So these things like I would say, yes, we can teach them to you and we can tell them to you in a webinar, but it’s also super important to be thinking about not only these things, but other things just deciding what’s good for you. What is best for you? What’s going to get you to, whatever the goal is at the end and I’ll pass it back to Katie.

Yes. So I’ll speak about my involvement with science Olympia. So I’ve gone, I’ve seen a lot of questions that Q and a that are asking what is [00:13:00] Olympiad are there non-STEMI Olympiads? What is it? So I’ll speak to science Olympiad specifically, cause that it was a little bit different from the other Olympia’s that Henry might talk about later.

So science be at specifically is usually considered like a team within your school and it’s composed of, however many number of people, usually 20 or 30 in which. Each member of your team is going to be a part of an event. And there are two different kinds of events. There are study events and there are build events.

So those are pretty much as you would expect, right? Study events, meaning you’re studying. And then at the actual competition, you’re taking a test in this particular event. Events can be anything from dizzy. Which is considered in public health and epidemiology. It can be dynamic planet, which is more related to climate change. Build events can make really, from anything to building like a little glider, like an airplane, or to like building a thing that will send an egg across the floor and make sure it doesn’t crack. So there really are a huge variety of things you can get involved in science Olympia that really range across.

Most of the science topics that you could think of anywhere from just straight [00:14:00] biology, anatomy too, right? Like any other form of thing. And the other from a physical science, right? Thinking about build events and how that takes time and materials. So you’ll need construction ability, maybe some tools in order to build those things.

These is a place where it’s more of a club it’s mine. It might be more familiar to a lot of y’all. And it’s a place where also you can get really good at event. You can metal and competitions, right? There are what we call invitationals, which are led at high schools or local colleges. They are regional events, their state events and they’re national events.

So there’s really a tiering level to how you can level up and how you can show that on your extracurriculars for calls. On top of that, you might also want to think about what events are you personally meddling? What events are you participating in that are showing your personal interests? So if I’m really interested in biology, I might do more biology events, or. If you’re more interested in building or, your team is a little bit more building support, you might be a part of the build team, or you might participate in some build events. [00:15:00] So these are all kinds of ways that you can participate in science Olympiad. The main thing to note is that it’s a team event and also you are in one specific thing.

You’re not expected to know everything across the board. And metal individually, as well as meddling as a team, as a school is going to be important either way, both are going to show up really well on the college application in terms of how to talk about it in essays. I can speak to my personal experience.

I don’t, I’m sure Henry can speak to his as well. I know for me, like my science, Olympiad essays were actually not the focus of my application. It was one of my main extracurriculars and don’t get me wrong. I dedicated a lot of time to it, but for whatever reason, I was like, I don’t know if there’s anything unique.

I want to say here. Yeah. That thing about here that I want to say that really. It makes me stand out compared to my other extracurriculars. So I ended up writing it as a supplement and really what happened actually is I stopped my recommendation letter after I applied and I realized, oh, this is what kind of also made this Princeton admissions officer.

She wrote me a little note after and was like, Ooh, I really enjoyed reading your, about your Olympiad experience. And I was like, [00:16:00] huh, I wonder I guess she read my supplemental essay and really liked it. I don’t know that it was okay. But mostly I actually talked about my weaknesses in science Olympiad and just that my team went through as I went from freshman to senior year in high school. And what was also impressive was that I went to a really large public school where we didn’t have a lot of funding. We didn’t have a lot of parents support the same way that a lot of other like high ranking schools sometimes do.

We didn’t really have parents who were on hand to help us build or the money to buy like test booklets or whatever. And so what was impressive was that as tapped in, it was less so about even my meddling ability and more so about my ability to organize and pull things together. Even when we didn’t really have money or even when we didn’t have supplies.

So that kind of was what stood out about my science one kid. I said, I dunno if you want to speak to your essays Henry, or if you want to wait for later.

For me, a lot of talking about biology Olympiad, which was like, I would say like my main sort of thing [00:17:00] along with some other things in biology. I wouldn’t say I talked about it too much in my essay, and that was a decision I consciously made in, which is why you bring it up. Just because I felt like there are things that I thought I needed to support more in my application than presenting that I liked biology.

And so for me, it was more about getting that full application, like making sure I’m not just like a test score or like a result or something like that, so they’re creating like a full holistic application to send in. And that’s something that I think it really speaks to the fact that everybody’s situation is different.

Katie has this amazing story and an amazing sort of essay to write about science Olympia. I personally, I felt that there were things I was stronger for me to write about and things I needed more help in my application on personally. Focus there, but it really speaks to the fact that everybody’s different everybody’s needs are different and it should be reflected in, the application presented.

So the next one also me. So I’m speaking to essay writing here just in general, but also just thinking about all of your essays together, whether [00:18:00] that be Olympiad related essays, whether that be essays about why you love whatever subject you love just across the board. So I’ve been working at admissions for over three years now.

So I want to mention that I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of essays. And half of those hundreds and hundreds of essays were about biology and pre-med students because I am a med student. And so thinking about. There are a lot of pitfalls that folks can fall into because it’s really in all honesty.

It’s very hard to explain why you love biology in a way that’s different from somebody else. So really thinking about your essays as a portfolio, meaning, you don’t want every single one of your essays to communicate the same thing. The same time your essay shouldn’t be so disparate and like showing complete different personalities.

Whereas at admissions officer you’re like, what? Who is this person? It doesn’t pull together. Different people write all these essays. I like to say think about. The admissions officers were reading your application as humans, as like actual people who are seeing all of these things, especially the qualitative things. Here’s where you can appeal to someone emotionally appeal to [00:19:00] them personally and say here’s the human that I am like, please like me, please remember me because you can play into the psychology of that. And I like to say, when I say portfolio take different levels of risk on your essays as well.

And so for some of you guys, this might be a long time later, so I want, I don’t want to belabor the point, but essentially right. Some essays will take more risks. Meaning you’ll take more risk in terms of creativity, maybe in the style in which you’ve written, the essay I’ve heard of students writing essays in that form of recipes.

I wrote one of my essays and that form of an autopsy report. You can get real out there. And then other essays are going to be what I call safer, write essays, where you are talking about your passion for biology and specifically what part of biology you love. Think about really all the qualitative aspects that are coming across are about you.

So all the different essays come together when you’re writing them. It’s really easy to forget that. Cause you’re like, oh, this essay, then this says it in this essay. Remember the human meeting them is reading all of them at once. So what’s coming across about you. The other big thing is, and this is more important for you all as [00:20:00] sophomores and juniors.

Maybe think about anecdotes as you’re living your life. I’m not saying you have to journal, but keep in mind. Specific stories that are really gonna are really meaningful you in the past so that when you get to your senior year, you’re like, oh, I remember that time. When in science Olympiad, I drill through my index finger or whatever it is.

Cause you don’t want to come your senior year and be like, oh yeah, I was on the science Olympiad team for two years. I don’t really know what I did. That’s not going to be helpful. So make sure you’re constantly thinking and reflecting back on yourself and thinking, okay here’s some stories that I could really pull out of my butt and say this is an interesting story.

That was part of my experience being in lot of these clubs, studying for Olympiad, doing one of these things, that’s going to be important. Cool. Yeah. I don’t want to belabor the point because it seems like a lot of our students are a little younger here, so I will start the next poll.

What categories of academic contests and Olympiads are you most interested in? Come our later slides, we’ll also be talking about, some of the non stem related[00:21:00] Olympia. Cause I know we’ve been talking a lot about this.

Oh, good.

All right. You got two for sign.

Actually could definitely not speak about Amy. I did it in middle school. I actually hate math. The reason why I came to brown was to avoid math. No, agreed. And math is, yeah, there’s a reason I chose biology. Olympiad. I will say that. Okay. Oh, we have a pretty good split. We have some humanities writing some foreign language.

Okay. So I think I will close the poll now. It seems like most everyone’s voted. Yes. Cool. Yeah. And we’re seeing like a spread across things, which is really nice to see. So I’ll go ahead and send in the public [00:22:00] chat. Just a compilation of different contests across these categories that you might be interested in.

I’m gonna sound like they’re available here, that we can I guess speaks to you as well. Yeah, you can go ahead with the first two are definitely your area, so awesome. Yeah. So what are these things where do these, all these, all of these like rhyming acronyms, , essentially they’re all of the national.

Science, Olympiads, and they’re all set up in the same way. You’ll enter like a national competition. At the end, it’s like the goal of the national competition is to select a team of four or six people who go to international contest. So for you somehow, that’s like the math one where you submit that’s a biology one, you sit show that’s the chemistry one, basically all variations of the same thing.

But these are essentially your individual competition. So when we say like science Olympiad versus. The like biological and beyond or any sort of other Olympiad, they’re two very different things. Science Olympiad is like a team event. And then the other, like ISO’s and USSA, whatever O’s are your individual like exam based competitions.

And so just being in [00:23:00] a personal experience These are really awesome ways to really dive deep into a subject you’re interested in. So for me, that was biology. I really loved biology for some of my friends. I was chemistry. It just depends on the person, but I would really encourage you if you’re interested to look into these different Olympiads look into like how you prepare what you use to prepare for each of them and of course get involved.

And so your school might have an Olympiad or science club that can help you. Get involved in these. So I actually found out they’d be on the biology with the hat club at my high school. But I know there’s like a lot of different situations. Like for example school, a lot of schools in my areas in my area were not really involved in Olympiads at all.

And then science school and a cutie science Olympiad Katie can definitely also speak. But these are your team-based competitions. So science school and EQT, which I believe is like the national Quizbowl assignable and Quizbowl are essentially jeopardy style team competitions where you’re like buzzing after hearing a question.

So lots of fun. I would say like national science will was one of the best [00:24:00] experiences in high school for me. Like it was just so much fun to meet all the people at NSP and spend time with your team and of course compete as well. I can’t say the same for science Olympiad. I think the only time I participated, I got disqualified for my construction event.

So that will be Katie. Yeah. So I was on the quiz bowl team and the science Olympiad team at school. So I can speak to Quizbowl as like the non-science, although science is a part of the buzzing in that. So Quizbowl was actually very interesting. It’s basically science bowl, but across every subject, that’s how I would explain it.

So science bowl, covers like all the sciences Quizbowl and includes. Includes literature includes music. It includes history, really everything you can think of and even includes sports and like movie trivia questions, which I’m always a joke. But you definitely, I really had a fun time. I was in charge of literature and science.

I believe I’m on the team. And so I’ve read a lot of classics and it’s one of those things where, especially if you know that you can respond quickly because you definitely have to get in there quick to get the buzz. It’s It’s a really [00:25:00] great thing to be a part of. And it’s just so fun because everything is fast paced.

And nothing really beats like a good buzz. Like when you get it within like the first five seconds, like that really feels amazing. I already said the science Olympiad, so we can move on to the yeah. And second to that feeling of a good buzz, for sure. For sure. So lots of math competitions to get involved in, of course we have the U S USA emo, which is the math Olympiad.

It’s like the one that leads to the international wine, but there’s a ton of ones that you can get involved in at the local level, state level and national level. One of those is new office data. So new office data is essentially like a national organization of math clubs across schools. You can get involved and compete at the state level.

And then some I don’t know exactly how many schools, but some schools will qualify for the national competition and where you can compete nationally as well. I was involved at the state level participated mostly freshmen, sophomore years, but it’s a lot of fun. You can compete in anything from like pre-calc to like speed math, mental, math for definitely more suited for me.

But it’s a ton of fun, lots of ways to get involved. And then there’s a lot of other math competitions as well. Math [00:26:00] is such a popular field, especially for high school students. Yeah. You’ll find if you just look around that there’s like a lot of ways to get involved both like at the state level, but also locally.

I would say more in middle school than high school. I was involved in these, but there are definitely a ton of opportunities to compete and even, get scholarships towards college from these competitions. Yeah, and then I can speak to brain B as well. So I competed nationally for brain B.

It’s essentially, it’s similar to biology Olympiad, and that’s it in that it’s like an exam based competition, but it’s, I would describe it as biology, Olympiad, but completely focused on neuroscience. So it’s like a super fun field to deep dive into with the competition. And the setup of it.

You’ll essentially enter a regional competition. And then if you win the regional, you go to the national level where you’ll compete. And this is a point where I would definitely bring up you’ve got to always be like looking for ways to create your own opportunities. I personally did not have a regional competition in my area and the closest one from where I was in Tennessee was the one in advantage, Georgia.

And so I ended up actually signing up for that one.[00:27:00] It took a three hour drive, but it was a lot of fun ended up winning and going on to the national competition, which was amazing. So I would definitely encourage you guys if you’re interested in neuroscience. Yeah. And I would say, I know neuroscience is a very popular major at brown just happened.

I remember actually like teaching brain be to like local students. So these are all things that you can definitely even continue on into college, right? Like science Olympia, for example, you can volunteer to be like hosting a science Olympiad competition at your college. So these are all ways that in which like you can extend it into your future and maybe even drop that name mentioned.

If you’d like to so I can speak to NACCHO and I’ll try my best at academic decathlon. So Nakhla is the language exam and I took it only once, but I remember it was such a fun time. So basically the way it works is they give you a bunch of different languages. You are not expected to know the languages.

One of the ones that my test for example, was the star wars, like Yoda’s language. And basically it’s like a puzzle test. So they give you all these languages, your. But did you know them? And sometimes we’ll have symbols. Sometimes there’ll be like ancient, [00:28:00] like Viking languages. And essentially you have to figure out what is it saying?

And you have to decipher them for, so for example, You might have to explain like how the structure of a sentence is. So for the Yoda language, sorry, I don’t know, star wars, I’m using the wrong language, but with the Yoda language you have, they give you a bunch of sentences, right? And then you have to write it out in like normal English speak, but then you also have to reverse translate and make sure that you could reverse translate complicated stuff.

Back into the Yoda language, same thing for I think we had like rooms or something. We had to translate the rooms into what the words actually meant. And they would give you a couple examples. For example, here’s some symbols, this means Zeus. Here’s some symbols. This means Venus. What do these symbols mean?

And you have to figure it out from there. Yeah. With no, like easy basis of oh, this is this letter. You just have to figure out and start forming sentences and structures. So I like to say it’s more of a puzzle exam, but it also helps know a little bit about how language is built and language structure is built.

The academic decathlon from my [00:29:00] understanding of it is also a team event and basically different people are divided into different areas of events. So for example, you might be in literature, you might be in history, you might be in like the political side. I think that’s one it’s different though from Quizbowl and then not a jeopardy style event every year.

I believe they release a. Like theme of the academic decathlon. So for example like the cold war, and then they give you like Cheerio to help you study for these things. And you have to study, for example, literature published during the cold war and analyze it. And from then on you go to competitions and there’s also right.

Regional state national competitions for academic decathlon. And my school happened to be weaker in this particular like group of things. But I know there are some schools in my area were really amazing academic decathlon and. It’s a really cool like academic event as well. I can also, do you take any national language exams otherwise I can briefly go over them.

I did not take any of them. I didn’t either, but there are, I believe some in [00:30:00] Spanish and French, for example if you don’t take these like it’s going to be fun. Like you don’t have to worry about it. I took Spanish in high school and I still didn’t take this exam, but it’s very much one. That is even harder, I would say than the AP exam.

It’s very much for testing your fluency and showing that you’re very strong in your learning of the foreign language and it’s also a test format.

Okay, awesome. Is there anything else you want to speak to Henry? Otherwise we can move on? Yeah, I think we can move on. Just want to point out again, that fool is to. A bunch of current opportunities available was available cause sent out in the public chat. So if you want to check it out, feel free to click.

And I also want to mention, sorry, I forgot. There’s also a history bowl, which is like a jeopardy south history event. So there’s a lot more of their events. I know that it seems like we covered a lot of stem ones, but they’re definitely, there are ones where you can go across the field. Whatever you’re interested in there is almost certainly [00:31:00] academic competition.

Yeah. He meant to that. Cool. So I think we can move into the question and answers. Awesome. I’ll go ahead and take the first one. Let me go ahead and publish it. So someone asks, how can we do well at Olympiads if we do not want to commit too much time towards them? So I guess I can, we can take this into parts like science Olympiad and on the ISO’s.

So for science Olympiad I’m I guess, into the team competition. Maybe there’s less time committed, involved. Don’t want to say that for sure. But I guess it depends on your role on the team. You can, I guess if you want rely on team members a little bit more and join on as more of a fun or less of a serious role for the other Olympians, there’s definitely ways to get involved without Going too intensely or committing too much time towards them.

It’s just not possible. So like for example, with a math Olympiad, a lot of schools a lot of schools have the AMC offered, which is like the first round of the USA math Olympia. And you can absolutely feel free to take that. I think, a lot of especially tech schools we’ve been asked for like your AMC [00:32:00] swore on the application.

So definitely ways to have dip your toes in it. See if it’s interesting for you. And if you want to commit more time towards the end.

I would say also I don’t, I ended up getting into it. I got into Caltech and I did not have an AMC score, so don’t know how I pulled that one off. I’ll answer. Gosh, fees question. Are there Olympiads for debate? So I will say we tend to separate out an academic contest in Olympia. It’s in a different category.

Absolutely. Both are academic, but I believe we’ll be hosting. The webinar will be already hosted Glenn for debate. It’s definitely something that you can also participate in, but it’s like an, a different styler veins since they tend not to be exam or jeopardy based debates tend to be very much event and competition.

Very regular events. So two different category. Yeah, I want to actually take a question. Somebody asked, can a spike be developed in an area if I do not have access to large scale academic contests and Olympiads, and absolutely. Yes. Like you can [00:33:00] develop a spike. As I said, only one part of the spike is the accomplishment itself of huge and often even more important part of it is the story behind it.

The motive of why you got involved. And for example, if you don’t have access to a lot of these competitions, which I will fully say are like, absolutely not equitable across the U S it’s totally fine. You can start a program at your school. You can see look around locally and see what there is to get involved in that maybe like aligns closely.

And, if you’re, for example, interested in chemistry and there is no chemistry, In your area. Totally fine. You can look to things online, look, things, look to things digitally, as well as looking at things that aren’t even academic contests like research or anything to spark your interest.

But I th I’d say it’s all about finding what’s good for you and like the circumstances. You’re

awesome. I took out for a second. Okay. So the next question I have is what are the best study tips for Olympiads? And I think Henry, maybe you can answer a little bit after this too. I would say that I’ll be [00:34:00] honest. I did not study for the Nakhla going in, so I don’t know how to study for that, but I imagine there’s, I actually remember there’s a lot of practice tests online for it.

As for science Olympian and for a lot of these events, a lot of them. If I’m being honest, it’s going to be self study. Of course you can always make it fun by studying with a team. But a lot of the times it’s going to come down to like really digging in deep to the book. So for biology, everyone likes to say, start with Campbell biology. And I would second that. For specific like science Olympia events, like if you had to study for example, public health epidemiology, which I had to do I like to look up online courses, which are getting way more popular now because of Coursera and websites like that.

I would sometimes take their public health courses. I would look around and see if there’s any material online. I remember, I like somehow managed to get my hands on, like a textbook from UNC, which they have a really great epidemiology department. And so those are all ways in which a lot of the times I’ll be honest.

You have to find the material yourself, but then really digging in deep and going for it. That’s [00:35:00] a large part of succeeding in the academic context. Yeah, absolutely. I just agree with all of that. And I’d also say just don’t limit yourself in how you prepare like something for me, yeah.

With biology, you absolutely want to start out with Campbell’s and that’s something. I had a really great teacher who supported me in doing there’s so many other ways to learn. So something that really made a difference for me was getting involved in. Lab research. It’s just, and this is something that was just preceded for biology, but being able to do all these procedures and understand them was so helpful when they came up in exams.

And, I didn’t even go in lab research because I like, I wanted to be better at Olympia. I just did it cause I was interested and it just ended up helping. And so in that sense, I’d say it’s super important to stick with your interests stick with what you like and the sort of deep dive into it, regardless of whether or not like you’re preparing for the Olympiad or just exploring your interest.

Yeah. And I would say the other part of it is no, look, this is a great time to learn how you study. So if I know for me, I love to learn by doing things. So whenever there was an event that asked me to like test things, I would actually test them and experiment with them or for [00:36:00] Quizbowl. It, at the end of the day, it is like reading books if you’re in literature, but having fun, discussing it with friends, which I know sounds like a very dirty thing to do, but I genuinely had a lot of fun with it.

Also made it a lot of fun. So there’s really a lot of, I think team spirit and a lot of these in a lot of these clubs. And for all of you who want to start a club, know that you can be building that I need to be building that kind of team and community, which makes it so great for your high school experience.

Absolutely. Okay. So I think we’re partway through the Q and a as a quick break, I want to let you know that you can do after this webinar, if you want to get help on your college apps from me or Henry, you can always book a time with us or even any other advisers. So let me get to that. Yes.

So Bullseye. Two subscription plans. So these are I like to say Netflix or Spotify where they’re per month, but you can always cancel them at any point. So our first plan is at $49 per month, then offers one, our second plan, $99 per month offers two hours. There’s a lot, a great way to just book a time, ask some questions within an [00:37:00] advisor who does really fit in with your niece interests or for example, you are like, oh, I’m really interested in brain beat.

Maybe you want to talk to Henry about how we study for brain beat. So that would be a great way to get his personal insights and comments. Your own application. We both work with really the wide range of freshman to senior. So whether it’s helping with college essays or consulting with extra curriculars we definitely do all of that.

So you think that’s that? Okay. And then. I will put the link to access this in the chat also. Yeah, I think it’s just going to link to, or go to our page to sign up again, started definitely speak to, I think for myself, but also for all of the Bullseye advisors who really want you to succeed. And it really shows even just this past admission season, we had Bullseye clients get into all the IVs in every top 25 school in the country.

And our students have rated us a 9.8 out of 10. Really often score definitely an A-plus and that’s because I put a ton of care into working with you. One-on-one through every step of the [00:38:00] process. If you want to discuss one-on-one with me or Katie, this is a really great chance to work with them.

Okay, awesome. So we can continue with the Q and a, if you have a question you want to bring up Henry. Awesome. Next question I’m seeing is. Oh, something I guess, important, interesting to address is this qualifying for international Olympiads guarantee admissions to top schools. I think this is a big misconception that people have.

It’s there’s these golden tickets there absolutely are not. I think something I would even draw on like my friend who. Did the international buyers you want to be out in junior year and ended up not getting into a lot of the schools that he applied to. It really isn’t, there’s no golden ticket to admissions.

It’s all about having a profile, having a fit with the school. And that’s what we’re here for is helping you find the fit to where you’re actually I guess suited for. And, you are a fit for rather than just, having a golden ticket to these XYZ, Tufts. Absolutely. I like to say that all the top schools, like really, even [00:39:00] amongst the IVs, we all do have different personalities.

I feel like you might be able to second that Henry like we do have different personalities and you’re thinking about what is a good fit for you, but also when you write your essays, how can you pull your story together in a way that makes sense. So for for both of us, for example, I’m sure like, It’s science Olympia, but that, wasn’t the only thing I talked about my entire application.

I had nine other extracurricular activities to talk about. I wasn’t just the person who was interested in like biology and disease. Like I had a whole host of other experiences that I had that really helped me communicate what my passion was. Not just Ooh, I like biology, but what my passion is for what I want to do at school that I was applying to, and also what I would do beyond there.

And obviously for me, that ended up being med school, but I was able to specify like more the pathway that I was taking on. Yeah. Second to that. Writing in essays, like it’s absolutely you should be exploring different ways to present a full picture of yourself.

Like for me, yeah. I talked a little bit about like biology and why I wanted to get involved in that in, in college and [00:40:00] research. But I also wrote about literally like Nikki midwives and liking to listen to her music hourly, unlimited in the ways you can present yourself. It’s all about finding what’s true to you.

What’s going to present a full picture because at the end of the day, you want to be happy at these colleges and it really shows in your application when you’re being really authentic and presenting a full picture presenting a full picture. That’s super helpful for your application.

Great. I’m trying to see if there’s more questions that we want to answer. You already talked about initiating a lot of these clubs. I think one question, it was like, what if I do terribly? Will it decrease my chances? No. Colleges don’t know what you don’t tell them. So if you bomb your science Olympia event, maybe your team will be mad at you, but also in all honesty, they’re not going to know. Like how our college is going to know, unless you tell them it’s not one of those things where they’re like omniscient and all-knowing.

So really it’s about right. If you’re a freshman or sophomore and you [00:41:00] start, you joined the science Olympiad team and you’re like, oh, this, this really isn’t for me. Like I just actually, I don’t like science after all. I thought I liked bio, but actually I’m really interested in history.

Do something else, you have time to do that. And the question is more about making sure that you develop your spikes. So I know for me, like I tried a whole bunch of things. Like you can already tell I was on like way too many clubs during my freshman year. I did Quizbowl I did history of all.

I did all of I did debate. I had no free time. And I ended up dropping pretty much all of those things because I ended up realizing, Hey, you only have 10 extra Quakers. I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s also one of those things where you only have 10 and that includes all volunteering includes all the things you during the summer.

So it really is one of those things where do the things that you actually enjoy? Henry’s been emphasizing that a lot, which I really like because it really is true. Don’t try to do all the things if you realize, oh, this is just beating my head against route. I really don’t like debate. I really don’t like public speaking, for example, don’t do debate or public speaking.[00:42:00]

There’s no one road to get into a university. You can also get into a university without placing in the top nationals. In, in an academic contest, you don’t necessarily have to do that either. Plenty of students don’t have that experience still get into Ivies and plenty of students have that experience and don’t get into IVs.

Or top 30 schools, yeah, absolutely. And, always, don’t be afraid to dip your toes in things and explore things that maybe you didn’t think would be your thing, but they really might be. So like with, as Katie brought up like biology and history, Maybe you went into high school thinking like, I want to do stem, like maybe like your parents are like, you should do stem.

This is great. Do all of this that, X, Y, Z. But you do you discover that you really like history or you really want to do Quizbowl or something that’s not necessarily stem do it. It’s absolutely your at the end of the day, best for you. Do you know what you’re interested in?

You know what you’re, what suits your strengths. It’s all about exploring it and finding it. Yeah, I really want a second. Like the finding and developing [00:43:00] it. I think a lot of folks, like they come to me junior, senior year and I asked them like, Hey, what’s your passion? They’re like, oh, I like history.

And I’m like, okay, what specifically within history do you like? And you want to have an answer for that? If you don’t have an answer for it. That means probably you’ve developed enough, but not a spike within Henry’s terms. That means you haven’t delved deeply enough into it to know what exactly do you like about this thing?

It’s not just, oh, I liked the class during school, but like what inside of the subject, inside of the blogger broader subject, or have you explored and been passionate? Okay. Cool. So I want to see if we have any live questions that we’re getting in the chat or in the Q and a that y’all would like us to answer.

Let’s see.

Let’s see someone asked is organizing academic contest for other students [00:44:00] considered a spike, too. Absolutely. In that case, your spike would call it more of community work, organizing extracurriculars, entertainment, whatever subject it is that you’re organizing other active academic contests.

Absolutely. There are different ways to get involved. Not everyone is just wanting to take an exam. If you want to organize it, if you want to manage it totally depends on what’s good for you.


Yeah. So I think we can give it another, maybe a second for Q and a or there was, yup.

Feel free to also unmute yourself and just ask us questions directly. You don’t have to turn on your camera or anything.[00:45:00]

But if you have any questions you’d like to direct to us.

Yeah. Anyone wanting to get started with a certain competition, don’t know how or really anything we’re happy.

Okay. See, I think we’re seeing one more. And then I think we’ll probably rebuild after that. So someone asked what opportunities I can, could I get as a high school, sophomore anything you want, there’s absolutely nothing holding you back or stopping you. I know a lot of people are like, you have to start when you’re like five years old to be good at project.

Totally not true. I knew one of my teammates who went to the international [00:46:00] biology undergrad with me, didn’t get involved in biology until starting his. And he literally went in that one year deep delving into it learning, getting all of the work done and he ended up making the team and it’s really it’s up to you.

If you want to get involved as a high school, sophomore and anything, you were absolutely. It’s the perfect time to do it. What did that science school or anything? You should absolutely look into it if it’s not in your area. Think about starting a club and also of course, be looking at what already exists within your school.

And initially as well,

Sorry, my audio cut out. Can I be heard? Awesome. So yeah, I guess that was the last question. Feel free, right? To reach out to all of us. We sent in the chat to book a one-on-one meeting with us or with any of our advisors. But otherwise that is the end of the webinar. We had a great time telling you about academic contests and Olympiads.

Hope it’s helpful and hope that you feel more prepared for your college applications. So this webinar will be [00:47:00] recorded and posted online. If you guys all, any, anyone must refer back to it or it’s oh, I lost that. Link them. You can always come back. But yeah, if you want to learn more about working with either of us on your essays, feel free to click that link.

If we didn’t get to your questions, we’ll also be sending out a feedback form later this evening, where you can ask additional questions. Yeah. Along with that. This webinar series is continuing and actually our next seminar will be in two days. And there’s the last is our last webinar this month.

So it’s actually for Bullseye members and it’s about pursuing computer science as a career. It’ll be presented by Christopher from Princeton. Super exciting would encourage you to join. And along with that, we have Our entire October webinars series listed here and also on the website, you’ll get directed to you when you leave this session.

And we’ll have a new November schedule in the works. And we’ll share that with you soon. But with that being said, thank you guys so much for coming out to tonight’s panel. I hope you’re all staying safe. Go out and vote if you can, and good luck on your applications.[00:48:00]