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Application Process Engineering Subject

Stephanie’s Application Process

What made you want to study abroad?

I don’t really like the Asian education system that only cares about grades. While preparing for the high school entrance exam in my junior high, I made up my mind that I wanted to study abroad and pursue the education that allows me to find my own worth beyond exams. 

What’s the toughest part for you during the entire application process?

Preparing for all the college applications while maintaining a good GPA. During my senior year, midterms and finals were all dedicated to help the majority of students prepare for GSAT (college entrance exam in Taiwan). Therefore, I had to cram the content across three high school years in weeks while writing essays and going through college apps. 

What do you think helped you the most?

Definitely doing some self-care routines! For me, jogging after school every day helped me clear my head and be able to focus on the things I needed to do. During the college application process, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Having your own self-care routines will help you immensely. Some of the examples are: taking a walk outside, chatting with a friend, watching movies, etc. 

What are some things you think you did well during the app process?

I think my extracurricular activities very successfully helped me stand out as an applicant. I have always been interested in the entertainment industry and business (by the process of elimination). Across my high school years, besides partaking in MUN and taking on leadership positions,  I attended a filmmaking summer session at UCLA. I was also the videographer and photographer during my volunteer trip to Nepal. I was the lead editor of a class journal partly because I was somewhat interested in the book publishing industry as well. All of these experiences showed a lot towards my interests in both business and entertainment. 

What’s the most regretful thing you’ve done during the process? What would you do differently?

Choose whether you’re gonna take the SAT or ACT carefully!!!

I was convinced that my math and science were pretty good so I would perform better on the ACT (fyi, I don’t think ACT’s reading is easier than SAT). I didn’t even take any SAT practice tests until I hit a wall preparing for the ACT. I tried taking an SAT practice test, and it turned out it was easier for me to get a higher score on the SAT. 

What do you think sophomores, juniors, seniors students should do right now?

For sophomore and junior students: plan out your whole college app timeline as soon as possible. (when you’re gonna take TOEFL, SAT/ACT, write essays, make a school list, etc.) Attend all the extracurricular activities that you think will be helpful to build your resume. Keep your GPA up at school. And don’t forget to enjoy your high school life! 

For seniors, you’re almost there! Just keep working hard on those essays, grades and even SATs. Most importantly, don’t forget to take breaks and be true to yourself. In the end, what colleges you get into are not what matter most. It is how much you grow during the process that will benefit your whole life. 

Stephanie Cheng,
University of Southern California ’24

Categories
Application Process Engineering Subject

Jenny’s Application Process

What made you want to study abroad?

For me, I knew at a very young age that I don’t fit well into the Taiwanese education system. I am simply someone who likes working with her hands more than studying for tests. I also know that I want to try different things during college. I am unsure of my career goals thus universities abroad would allow me to explore more. 

What’s the toughest part for you during the entire application process?

I think the hardest part of the entire application is the mental challenge. It is really hard to go through the process. You are under pressure for such a long time. Other than that the more specific part is writing. Writing so much about yourself and what you went through is a very difficult situation. It’s also very challenging to “decide” your path when you’re so young. You have to make so many big decisions and write your life like a bibliography.

What do you think helped you the most?

For me, talking about it helped. I seeked help from therapists and psychiatrists along the way. Of course this isn’t the only solution, but don’t be afraid to seek help. There is nothing wrong with seeking help. In addition, support from friends and family helped a lot. I think before the process, understand who you are. Like stated above, it is hard to know exactly who you are. You can ask people around you for help. In addition, jotting things along the way. Jotting down big events or challenges along the way can help you write college essays later on. 

What are some things you think you did well during the app process?

My extracurriculars are the strongest thing about my application. I really like doing different things and trying different things out so it was fun for me. I think on my common application I filled 9 out of the 10 spots. I don’t suggest doing that because colleges might think you’re faking it but I think you can see by now how much I love doing little things and not studying.

What’s the most regretful thing you’ve done during the process? What would you do differently?

The most regretful thing is essays for me. I think I wasn’t able to differentiate myself clearly from others which was a shame. It didn’t allow the colleges to get to know me more. Other than the college application process, I think it was a shame that I let go some of my hobbies during the process. It is important to still do what you love to let go of stress. 

What do you think soph, junior, senior students should do right now?

I think for high schoolers you should find your own self. This seems very vague and abstract but it is crucial to know what image you want to put out. You can use things such as online career tests, asking friends and family, and asking yourself big picture questions to slowly understand yourself. During this process, also, explore different hobbies. I see so many people not sure of what they want to do. Use this time to explore what you truly want to do. Don’t simply go into something because it is what is expected of you to do or what your parents want you to do, do it because you like it. 

Jenny Lee,
University of Toronto ’24

Categories
Application Process Engineering Subject

Justin’s Application Process

What made you want to study abroad?

Studying abroad has always been my goal since I was an elementary student in a local school because I knew I won’t fit in the Taiwanese education system. By saying that, it doesn’t mean Taiwan’s education is inferior compared to the other. It’s a subjective opinion that I got from my previous experiences.

What’s the toughest part for you during the entire application process?

I’d say the most challenging part for me is writing the common app essay. Since I am a person who doesn’t really know how to express emotion or thoughts adequately out of my mind, this weakness of mine has made the complicated essay writing process even more troublesome. I’ve tried many different formats and contents for my drafts, but they were all not good enough to directly show who I am, said my counselor. For months I was in a cycle of thinking, writing, and getting my draft rejected. Due to time constraints, I ended up having an “average” application essay that I didn’t like. 

What do you think helped you the most?

I always have the hobby of keeping records of what I’ve done in the past, which helped me build my resume for college application. Instead of having trouble recalling what I’ve done in the past, I scrolled through albums in my phone and flipped over the folders that contained my certificates from various events. This continuous work for years saved me a ton of time to work on other time-consuming tasks like writing common app essays. What I’m trying to say is do not underestimate the effectiveness of taking photos for records. Memories don’t last for years, but your photos do. 

What are some things you think you did well during the app process?

I did well on writing the short supplemental essays that were required for various schools I applied to. Different from the common app essay, these essays provided specific directions for students to follow. So I spent a week writing and reviewing, and they all ended up really well. 

What’s the most regretful thing you’ve done during the process? What would you do differently?

Even though my common app essay writing process sounds more terrifying than it can possibly be, most of the troubles were caused by my own hands. I started writing until the beginning of my senior year, which is really late. I missed the entire summer, approximately two months, to brainstorm the contents and so on. If I used the time more appropriately, I indeed could have written a better essay than the one I ended up using. 

What do you think soph, junior, senior students should do right now?

For sophomore and junior students, there’s a lot you need to do. You should deal with your schoolwork seriously and prepare for tests you need to take for the application, such as SAT, TOEFL, AP, etc. Meanwhile, don’t forget to attend extracurricular activities. If you have more time to spare, try to think of a meaningful topic for your common app essays. Seniors, you’re at the final stage right now. You’ve done a great job developing the resume you need for the application. Take one more SAT test if you need, maintain your academic performance at school, and start dealing with the application as soon as possible. 

Justin Chuang,
Boston University ’23

Categories
Application Process Engineering Subject

Alice’s Application Process

What made you want to study abroad?

When I competed in robotics abroad, I saw how students in other countries were encouraged to put in their time and effort in something they truly love. They learned knowledge beyond what is taught at school and applied what they learn in the real world. I really admired their enthusiasm and courage to make their dreams reality, and decided that I wanted to earn my college education in that kind of environment. 

What’s the toughest part for you during the entire application process?

Definitely the essays. It was extremely difficult to write an intriguing story that still reflected my true experiences. As a student from a public high school, I also didn’t have as much experience in writing. However, I think there are plenty of resources out there, you just have to know where to look. 

Here are some resources that really helped me build up my personal statement:
College Essay Essentials, by Ethan Sawyer; 50 Successful Harvard Essays; 50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays (link); The College Essay Guy Website (link)

What do you think helped you the most?
For me, it was asking someone close to me to review my essays (ie. my mom and sister.) College counselors or upperclassmen may know how to write a good essay, but they don’t know who you are. When my family reviewed my essays, they could really tell what topics fit me and the prompt the most, and they were able to provide comments that still reflected my identity. So I’d really advise people to ask their close friends, family, or teachers to review their essays, instead of going after expensive essay editors.

What are some things you think you did well during the application process?
Personal Statement: I had to revise my personal statement over and over again, ultimately rewriting it a week before the regular decision deadline, the one thing I’m most grateful for doing. The final version of my personal statement was something that truly represented who I am, what I’ve done, and what I dream of doing.

Interview: After 3 to 4 interviews, I gradually developed an SOP for interviews. One, prepare three reasons why I want to attend this school. Two, prepare three questions for the interviewer. Three, prepare one interesting experience I had in case I encountered a question I can’t answer on the spot. These simple preparations saved me from awkward silences. 

What’s the most regretful thing you’ve done during the process? What would you do differently?
Applying early action to my two favorite schools and not applying early to a safety school. This was a bad decision because my essays were pretty awful in my early applications. I wasn’t so familiar with interviews either. I ended up getting rejected EA from my two favorite schools and no acceptances from my safety schools. So for regular decisions, I basically applied everywhere thinking I wasn’t going to get accepted anywhere. If I could go back in time, I would start my essays early and apply to only one dream school. I would also apply early to one safety school, so that I have at least a safety net while applying for regular decisions.

One other thing I regret is not being proactive enough. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that you can get accepted to your dream school, you just have to put in 100% of your effort. 

What do you think sophomore, junior and senior students should do right now?
Sophomores: Find activities you’re really interested in, and be committed.
Juniors: Take the SAT!!! Start going to college information sessions and build up your college list. You’ll find that there are a lot more schools out there, and more than one school is perfect for you.
Seniors: Write essays, prepare for interviews, draft resumes and create portfolios. Also, stop worrying and refreshing your portal. You’re going to be fine as long as you put in your best effort and believe in yourself 🙂

Alice Chen,
Columbia University ’24