Alumni College Application Advice

By: Opinion Editor Harshita Gupta and Centerspread Editor Annie Tang


“The things you consider when applying for college only account for a mere fraction of the things that will constitute your college experience – this means regardless of how amazing your dream school or mediocre your backup school may seem to you, reality will be different from the expectations you have on paper. So, invest quality time and thought into your applications, but think about the values and the types of experiences you will find meaningful regardless of where you go. Stressing over the small details of your application and the schools you’re accepted to will mean a lot less than a healthy perspective that will allow you to thrive in any college and beyond.”

Jin Peng (Class of 2014)


“Here’s my analogy for you. Pretend you need to give a gift to an extremely picky significant other. Think about what you did for the past eighteen years–let’s say you founded multiple organizations, were on several varsity sports teams, held numerous leadership positions, and managed to maintain straight A’s, so your gift is as good as it’s going to get: an amazingly nice, fluffy, adorable teddy bear. Now you have to wrap that gift with specific wrapping paper called “Your College Application”. No matter how nice and cute your fluffy teddy bear is, your fussy significant other is not about to accept that gift or appreciate it (maybe he or she will even refuse to open it) unless it’s all put together with nice wrapping. And if the wrapping is some fancy 5-star intricately decorated material that your recipient can undoubtedly admire, then he or she will be even more excited to open your gift and appreciate it. Ultimately, no matter how good or bad you think your gift is, make sure you wrap it the best you possibly can—don’t leave behind any regrets, and treasure this moment and opportunity. Best of luck to you all!”

Grace Lee (Class of 2013)


“The college application process may seem overwhelming, but keep yourself organized and stay on top of deadlines and everything will seem a lot easier. Excel spreadsheets can be your best friends – plot out what supplemental essays each school requires and see which ones you can recycle to cut down the time you spend writing. They’re also great to help you keep track of the different components each school requires and their different deadlines. And most importantly, remember that these apps aren’t the end of the world – don’t forget to keep the rest of your life in check and balance your school work and your relationships. The whole process will be over before you know it, hang in there!”

Tammy Tseng (Class of 2014)


“I think it’s important to put aside enough time for college apps, but you shouldn’t spend too much time on them and not have enough time for school. I think this could be a problem for people who apply to a large number of schools. I would recommend doing research on schools you are considering and thinking about where you really want to go to narrow down your list and not going overboard with the number of schools you’re applying for just for the sake of it. This will probably help people to not overwhelm themselves with too many applications and essays to write. So basically, spending a little time on research and limiting the number of schools you’re applying for and focusing on the ones you actually want to go to and have a good chance of getting accepted to can save a lot of time. As for mentality, try not to let college apps and schoolwork consume all of your time. Do some stuff that you enjoy and try to stay positive.”

Kevin Jiang (Class of 2012)


“I probably don’t need to remind MSJ kids of this, but definitely work hard on your application because every minute you put in is an investment toward your future. At the same time, however, enjoy your senior year! As long as you are able to diligently manage your time and work efficiently, there is no reason why you can’t pump out some amazing applications AND have a social life! Getting into college may seem like an all-or-nothing ordeal but it’s important to understand that there are so many different paths toward your dream careers. Not getting accepted at your top choice the first time around does not mean you’re blacklisted from that university; there are thousands of students who transfer into great schools every year!”

Cecilia Huang (Class of 2010)


“The most important thing to remember at this stage is to have confidence in yourself. When early acceptances come out, there’s going to be a lot of pressure from your friends and others. But always remember that you will end up where you’re meant to be. Let your applications speak for themselves and no matter where you go, college is all about the experience, not the name.”

Grace Wu (Class of 2014)


“Keep your mind open, because learning is forever. A major or university doesn’t define you; your experiences and knowledge do. Expand yourself and learn that you are awesome.”

Vincent Tian (Class of 2012)


“I know it’s a pretty stressful time of the year, but I would just tell the seniors to remember to stay excited. I feel like it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the deadlines. But remember that being able to apply to college is an incredible opportunity. You get to choose a couple options where you want to be for the next four years, the people you want to be surrounded by, and what you want to study. So instead of just worrying about the rankings and clinging onto the idea of a “dream school”, try to get excited about the unique opportunities that each school you are applying to offers. When it comes to applying, give it your everything and then try not to stress too much afterwards. Honestly, when you’re done with applications, give yourself a pat on the back because you should be proud of yourself for getting through the process.”

Neha Verma (Class of 2013)

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