"Reminder: The wand ultimately chooses its wizard."| A UPenn Student on College Applications
We had the opportunity of interviewing Uday Tripathi, a student at the University of Pennsylvania about: College Applications
The President of MUSE Consulting,
The President of Engineers in Medicine,
An Engineering Teaching Assistant,
Co-Founder of Golden Gate Editing (college application consultant),
Valedictorian of his class in high school,
Scorer of 5s on all of 8 of his AP exams,
Achiever of perfect scores on three SAT subject tests,
A Merit Semifinalist,
and a Scholar Athlete.
Uday shares with us:
"College apps are a stressful time and I’m not going to sugarcoat and say that the process isn’t important. However, at the end of the day you will end up where you belong and your college experience will be great."
"Essays are where colleges are able to hear your voice and it is essential that they are as personalized and well-written as possible - these need to be very polished."
"It is very very important that you build relationships with two of your junior year teachers so that they can write a customized letter for you."
Q: Can you describe all of the sections that are on an application?
A: There are five main parts of the application: grades, test scores, essays, extracurriculars, and recommendation letters. From my experience, parents and students think grades and test scores are more important than they are. They are certainly important to some degree and students should strive to do as well as they can in getting the numbers as high as possible. However, for most top schools, there is a certain baseline that candidates need to meet and above that it matters very less what the numbers are (e.g. a 1600 SAT is not that different from a 1540). My belief is that these are just ways for colleges to filter candidates.
Beyond that, the other three elements play a huge role. Essays are where colleges are able to hear your voice and it is essential that they are as personalized and well-written as possible - these need to be very polished. Extracurriculars are judged based on degree of impact and leadership. It is more important to have depth in a couple of activities that you have done for 3-4 years in high school rather than 10 different activities that you just joined for the line item. Finally, most colleges will require two teacher recommendation letters (generally 1 STEM and 1 non-STEM teacher) and a counselor recommendation letter (which will inform the college of how you rank in terms of the school as a whole). It is very very important that you build relationships with two of your junior year teachers so that they can write a customized letter for you. The counselor recommendation is also underrated - I went to a public school where my guidance counselor had to manage 100+ students but I still made it a point to see her a few times every year just so she could write a slightly more customized letter for me.
Q: What did you consider when choosing colleges to apply to?
A: My main factors were location, prestige of the school, the social scene/student community, flexibility, and strength of the bioengineering department. I wanted to be in an urban setting and as close to a city as possible - I did not find the prospect of attending a college in the middle of nowhere appealing. The prestige of the school was important for me because I wanted to attend a top school where I would have as many resources as possible and where I could surround myself with a brilliant student body. I also wanted to attend a school that had a vibrant student population that wouldn’t just spend all of its time studying but knew how to let loose and be personable. For flexibility, I wanted to go to a school where I could explore my interests before being locked into a major and also take classes in different subject areas. Finally, because I wanted to study bioengineering, I wanted the school I was attending to have renowned faculty and a robust curriculum within the field.
Q: Do you have anything else you would like to add? Any final words of wisdom?
A: College apps are a stressful time and I’m not going to sugarcoat and say that the process isn’t important. However, at the end of the day you will end up where you belong and your college experience will be great. I know it’s hard for people to see that while they’re in high school but just know that everything will work out as long as you put in effort and come off as unique and genuine in your application.
Learn more about Uday and his experience on his LinkedIn account.
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