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It’s That Time Of The Year!

Posted by on Saturday, October 11, 2014 in Admissions.

It is that time of the year. Application deadlines are around the corner and thousands of students around the world are finalizing their applications, filling in last minute Common App details and editing their essays.

I have been through (and survived) the storm of college applications and I know how much effort goes into this long process-high school GPAs, SATs/ACTs, essays, recommendations, AP classes, extra-curricular activities, interviews…the list goes on.

Coming from India where the results of only our senior year examinations decide the fate of our college admissions, I found the U.S. application process very elaborate and at times, frustrating. However, I feel that the best way to evaluate applicants is to evaluate them holistically. I am so grateful that the US admissions process is the way it is as it gives you the scope to show improvement and demonstrate your passion in academic and non-academic fields.

High school seniors: I know that you all are very busy with applications and school right now and are eagerly counting down to D Day (i.e. Decision Day) but hang in there! In the meantime, I hope these few pieces of advice help you!

  • Essays. Believe me, I know what if feels like to stare at a blank computer screen, waiting for a brainwave to come along to write the perfect essay. But there is no perfect essay! Do not feel the need to write about something just because you think admissions officers will approve of it. Write about something you feel passionate about. If you do so, you will never be short of inspiration and you will NOT go wrong! Even though sophistication in writing is encouraged, you don’t need to sound like a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. Don’t force yourself to sound like someone you’re not.
  • Interviews. You’ve scheduled an interview. Now RELAX! The college interviews I have had so far have been informal and relaxed. Interviewers are not going to test you on your academics. Instead, they will ask you questions that will help admissions officers see you beyond the test scores. Interviewers will typically ask you a common set of questions such as:
  1. Why are you applying to our university?
  2. What do you plan to study and why? How will you apply your learning after you graduate?
  3. What clubs and activities were you a part of in high school?
  4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  5. How will you contribute to this university? Which student organizations on campus interest you?
  6. What do you do for fun?
  7. What are some of your favorite books, films, artists, etc.? Why?

These are some of the questions I was asked by ALL my interviewers. Of course, as the conversation went on, we talked about more specific things. But be sure to expect these questions and be ready for them. You don’t have to be rehearsed, but researching into specific things such as professors, student organizations and campus events that interest you is always a good idea as it shows the interviewer that you are a serious applicant.

Have fun in your interview! Don’t be nervous! If you need to calm down before your interview, read this funny post about interviews! It always brings a smile to my face! :)

  • College Confidential. Please refrain from posting in the ‘Chance Me’ threads. You CANNOT predict your chances for admissions. Each applicant is unique and is evaluated holistically by admissions officers. Seeking the opinions of anonymous users who have no role in your admissions decision will only increase your anxiety unnecessarily. Have faith in yourself ! You’ve worked so hard!
  • Take some time off. You’ve taken the SATs, AP exams, written dozens of essays, filled out the Common App and hit “Submit.” You have had to manage college applications, school and extra curricular activities all at the same time. Now, RELAX! Watch a movie, go out with friends, take your dog to the park or simply catch up on sleep. There is no point stressing over your chances of admission. If you’ve done your best, then there is no reason to worry! Remember that at the end of the day, whatever happens, happens for good. I know how excruciatingly long the wait for decisions seems , but hang in there!
  • Be thankful. During my application process, I took the help and guidance of various people, from my parents who helped me with the minutest of Common App details, to my teachers who wrote recommendation letters, to my college counselor who guided me through the labyrinth of college admissions, to my SAT tutors, to my friends who took me out for movies after my four-hour test, to my dogs who cuddled with me after a hard day’s work.

As you apply to colleges, you will also seek others’ help and support. Remember to be thankful to them. Send your teachers, tutors and counselors a thank-you note, take your friends to a movie and dinner and spend some quality time with your neglected parents and dogs. You are going to graduate in just a few months and soon you WILL get absorbed into the intense and hectic college life. So, cherish the time you can spend with your loved ones NOW!

If you have any questions about applying to Vanderbilt, do not hesitate to reach out to me at

Anchor down!


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