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“Create a path you're willing to follow."| An MIT Student's Advice on College Apps


We had the privilege of interviewing Joseph Li,

  • a dedicated tennis player

  • a YouTuber with over 2k subscribers who share college and life advice

We asked for some experience about: College Applications


Here are some important words he shares:

  • "'Sometimes, the best way to solve your own problems is to help someone else.'"

  • "Don’t apply to schools you don’t truly think you’d go to if admitted."




Q: What did you consider when choosing colleges to apply and attend?

A: Academic reputation, location, strength of STEM programs, field of study flexibility, and cost.




Q: What were some important steps you took to prepare for college and when would you suggest taking them? (researching, taking the SAT/ACT, writing essays, etc.)

A: I would recommend researching colleges starting the spring semester of your junior year. I made the mistake of not doing so until about 2 months before my first application deadline, and I honestly didn’t know much about a lot of the schools I applied to. I’d say take the SAT/ACT by the end of junior year, so that if you’re not happy with your score, you still have time to retake. I think applicants should ideally start brainstorming essay topics at the beginning of the summer before senior year, and start really putting those ideas on paper by the start of the school year.




Q: How many colleges did you apply to and what are some key factors you considered?

A: Same answer as 2 questions beforehand. I applied to 20 colleges.




Q: Did you visit any college campuses? Does visiting them really change your choice or decision?

A: I visited about 6-8 college campuses. I think that college visits are very overrated, and they didn’t really help me other than showing me which campuses looked nice, which I could’ve used Google Earth for anyway. Even then, I thought MIT was a pretty ugly campus but I ended up committing there regardless.




Q: Did you apply for early action or early decision?

A: I applied to 9 schools early action (including MIT)




Q: What is one thing you wish you knew when applying for colleges?

A: Don’t apply to schools you don’t truly think you’d go to if admitted. Looking back, I definitely applied to some schools just for the sake of the “big name” associated with them, even though I really knew nothing about them or actually disliked the school’s culture/environment.




Q: Do you have anything else you would like to add? Any final words of wisdom?

A: I’ve become obsessed with Avatar: The Last Airbender recently, so I’ll leave with a quote from Iroh: “Sometimes, the best way to solve your own problems is to help someone else.”


You can check out Joseph's LinkedIn here.