We had the opportunity of interviewing RY, an alumni of Princeton University about: Getting into a Top University
In high school, RY was:
President of the New Jersey Association of Student councils,
President of the Senate of New Jersey State student body,
Student body president of her high school student government
President of her local FBLA chapter, which expanded to the biggest chapter in South Jersey
A nationally-rated fencer at Princeton
In college, RY:
Was a nationally-rated fencer at Princeton
Studied sociology and entrepreneurship
Served as student body president
Helped to launch the Company of Female Founders.
Has contributed to launching the end to end operations of a captive corporate venture capital fund along with the founders of True Platform
Works in Strategy under the Office of the CEO for True Platform
And is helping to launch our Corporate Social Responsibility and Women's Leadership initiatives
Key points RY shares:
"...I think it was probably the arc of leadership. That was a very strong theme, I think, and just an ethos in who I was. And I think that being able to learn from a failure, was something that they probably took into account."
" If you are true to what you're actually passionate about, and pursue that, and try to do your best, I believe that that authenticity will carry you so far."
Q: How did you spend your free time in high school, your weekends, summer breaks, etc.?
A: I would say my weekends were typically spent fencing from my freshman through my junior year. So most of my weekends, I was traveling. I really wasn't in my hometown, which definitely made my social life a little bit more difficult. But, primarily most of my time was either spent fencing or, after my sophomore year, was also spent thinking about student council for the New Jersey Association of Student councils. In terms of summers, I can pretty much run you through each summer chronologically. My freshman summer I went to summer nationals and my sophomore summer I was in Oklahoma with the New Jersey Association of Student councils, and the National Association of Student councils representing New Jersey. Then in my junior year, I believed I was interning and then my senior year I took a break before college.
Q: How was your college essay structured, as this is a very important part of the college application process?
A: So the prompt that I chose for my common app essay was recounting an incident or time when you experienced a failure, how it affected you, and what lessons you learned. It had a 650 word limit. So I decided to really touch upon one of the most impactful moments in my high school career. I was running for a position on my student council and "Friday" by Rebecca Black was very popular. It had just come out. I decided for my speech, instead of doing a quote-unquote normal speech, I would rewrite the words from Friday to Thursday, since we're all voting on Thursday. I used that as my speech. I basically took my essay and kind of recounted how I lost focus of the end goal, which is serving others, and got wrapped up into promoting myself through this song. And I think the lessons that I took away from that were very humbling. I ended up not winning that election, and also being very embarrassing. I mean, it was a running school joke. It's still in the school archives, and some teachers still talk to me about it, which means it's definitely something that people remember. But I would say that that was a pivotal moment. For me, I was really, really humbled to be brought back to the basics and remember why I was serving and why I was running and taking those lessons and applying that to every subsequent leadership position that I've taken afterwards. So that was how I structure the essay.
If we want to talk about tactically, it opened with a hook that I took through, took my essay through a short introduction to give some context on what was happening, kind of took a second paragraph was kind of the bridge between what was happening, and then I wrapped it up with what I learned, how I use that, and apply that to help others in the future.
Q: What would you say made you stand out for Princeton?
A: I don't think it's one thing since they always look at every student holistically, but I think it was probably the arc of leadership. That was a very strong theme and just an ethos in who I was. I think that being able to learn from a failure, was something that they probably took into account. But I think the one thing if we're talking about the one thing that maybe put me over the top, was probably being state president of the New Jersey Association of Student councils.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who aspires to get into a top school?
A: I hope this is not too cliche, but I really do believe that if you are true to what you're actually passionate about, and pursue that, and try to do your best, I believe that that authenticity will carry you so far. Sometimes when we think about applicants, we think about a pointy applicant versus a well-rounded applicant. I think no common wisdom would say you want to be a well rounded applicant. I think that we should all aim to be well rounded citizens. But I do think that it kind of goes hand in hand with that first point of trying to be the best in whatever you're passionate about. So you can be a quote-unquote, pointy applicant, because when we're thinking about filling up a class, they want a class of students that can bring a very specific perspective or skill set. If you're able to do that, you are a huge value add to the incoming class. So if you can just do an awesome job in whatever you're passionate about, it doesn't have to be leadership, it could be literally whatever you are actually passionate about, go and pursue that to the best of your ability.
This interview originally took place in an audio format. However, we have converted it to text to avoid sound quality issues. To ensure coherency, we have slightly modified the wording.