Aleemah Williams ‘24 was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina Cyber Academy. At Dartmouth, Aleemah is currently pursuing a modified major of Government (with a heavy emphasis on International Relations and Comparative Politics) and Physics while minoring in International Studies (and potentially Public Policy).
During her high school career, Aleemah has held several internships with Superior court judges, private attorneys and state representatives. Aleemah is currently on Dartmouth’s varsity women’s rugby team where she is both a player and a member of the of the leadership team and participates in multiple organizations on campus such as Al-Nur, Dartmouth Women in Law and Politics, serves as member on the DP2 Inclusive Excellence Council, and has participated in the Leadership Lab at Dartmouth. After graduation, Aleemah plans to attend law school and become a practicing international attorney.
Key points Aleemah shares:
"I prioritize it in the sense that my schedule is planned out where I have enough energy for practice."
"I would definitely suggest talking to the recent high school graduates (in 2022, that'd be class of 2026) because we are basically doing what you did in terms of attending a school during a pandemic, applying to colleges during the pandemic, when we did have more of a senior year and more experiences."
Q: How are your priorities different or similar in high school and college?
A: In high school, the way that we're taught to prioritize things is deeply flawed.
When it comes to academics, you're taught to pass an exam, no matter what, or to get a good grade, but it doesn't matter. They value your grades and your success over whether or not you actually understand the material. So I think, in college, that kind of changes, or at least depending on the colleges that you go to. Though you may not get the best grade on an assignment, as long as you kind of understand the materials and you're asking those questions to your professors, it helps.
And so for me, the Ivy League decided that high-contact sports will not be played during COVID, so what I do is I try to make sure that I get all of my work done before I go have fun with my friends. There are times when I will cancel plans because I want to focus on myself and stay in. In high school, my mom instilled in me that academics are so important. I drive to practice for 40 minutes and back every practice, and I wouldn't go to practice until I finished my homework. That was really big for me. I wouldn't be able to go to tournaments until like I made sure I had everything done. But being a decent athlete, you can't skip practice. That would be awful. I prioritize it in the sense that my schedule is planned out where I have enough energy for practice. I'm eating, I'm taking care of myself, I'm hanging out with the people that I care about.
Taking care of yourself doesn't have to mean you being alone. It could also be talking to your friends or going out with your friends, getting dinner with some friends, but also time to attend all my classes and get my work done. Another thing is the importance of asking for extensions in college. I know I have a lot of things to get done, but going to professors and asking them if you can get an extension, which is also kind of a form of self-care and prioritizing yourself. Definitely prioritize your academics and your extracurricular activities, all that stuff , but prioritize your mental health and yourself before that.
Q: We often hear that to get into an Ivy League or any top university, you have to take endless APs and disappear behind the books in your junior and senior year. You’ve taken two APs -- APUSH and APES, but you took 15 dual-enrollment courses. Why did you choose to focus on more dual enrollment courses than APs? Is there any particular benefit (time - flexibility)? *are they viewed equally as AP classes by college admission officers?
A: So originally, I was taking them because I wanted them to transfer over. I had more free time, as opposed to taking APs just because with these college classes, you have to attend classes maybe two times three times a week. But it was more so just being put in an environment that helps prepare me for what life would be like on a campus away from home because I was able to adjust to an environment where I kind of had control over it but I also had my family nearby. Dartmouth is 14 hours away from where I wanted to go, and so starting with the local college and learning how to interact with professors and a bunch of upperclassmen, that kind of helped me learn how to navigate college now.
Final words of advice?
A: I can't say don't stress too much, because that's physically impossible when it comes to looking at colleges, but I would definitely suggest talking to the recent high school graduates (in 2022, that'd be class of 2026) because we are basically doing what you did in terms of attending a school during a pandemic, applying to colleges during the pandemic, when we did have more of a senior year and more experiences. I would definitely suggest learning about how all these colleges are making this experience special for first year students, but also just reaching out to other college students. And you know, a lot of people are on Instagram, if you find someone that goes to your college and they're studying what you want to study, definitely DM them. They might not respond, but eventually, someone will respond and you get to learn about the school. And also don't be afraid to fail and go out of your comfort zone. If you're a introvert and you're not very big on talking to people, networking doesn't have to be something like that's face to face, it can start small. Start with maybe one person that you feel comfortable with and go from there. Definitely focus on networking, have enough time to finish your application, prioritize yourself and your health and your safety, learn more about your school, and don't be afraid to fail. Take advantage of all the opportunities you have.
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