Posts Tagged applications

A holiday poem from Center for Student Opportunity

CSOlogo-85‘Twas the night before college application deadlines and all through the town
Each and every student was stirring, at least one with a frown.
From considering publics, to privates, Ivies, Big Ten, and more
Each student was hoping to send in their highest test score



Most were quite stressed, but none touched their beds,
As visions of application essays danced in their heads.
Some were on twitter and facebook taking the process in stride,
And everyone wished for a copy of the
College Access & Opportunity Guide.


Making sure that the schools promoted access, opportunity, and success
These future college graduates had learned to determine great colleges from the rest.
“How will I afford college? Will I need loans?
What will my financial aid package be?,” These students moaned.


On to CSO College Center they went to sign up to be Opportunity Scholars
Where what to their eyes did appear but hundreds of colleges and ways to get dollars
They wrote to “Ask the Experts” for the answers to all they should know,
Then checked out the
blog and read of ten others—also first in their family to go.


Having utilized CSO, they had done all that they could to prepare
Now the question was not if, how, or when, but merely to where.
Fast forward to spring, when from outside the mailbox there arose such a holler
I got in, I got in—I’m truly an
Opportunity Scholar.


Help students become first in their family to go to college and make all of their holiday and college wishes come true. Donate to Center for Student Opportunity.

Please share this with your friends, family, and colleagues.

Draw A Picture With Words

irvin-85Ask any admissions staff what aspect of an application makes a student stand out and they will reply that it is the essay. There is really no way to stress the importance of the essay component during the college application process. Being one of the most important aspects of the application, the essay is also one of the hardest to do. Here are a few tips that I discovered during my college application process.

1. Avoid cliches.

There are thousands of other students applying to the schools you are applying to and the last thing you want to do is appear like you are just one more applicant. Therefore, it is very important for your essay topic to be creative, unique and not like the rest. How do you do that? Well, I wish there was a formula for it but sadly, there isn’t an equation that gives you a unique essay topic. Or maybe there is. I believe that it goes as so: (brainstorming) + (more brainstorming) + (brainstorming)(more brainstorming) = a unique topic. Maybe it is because I took a calculus final last week that my mind is in a mathematical mood but my point is that coming up with that unique topic takes a lot of thinking.

Think about who you are, think about any experience that has changed your life or has taught you something that you still carry with you to this day. Avoid anything that you think is common such as an international trip, a camp experience, winning an award. Do not get me wrong, you can write about these things but you will really have to make it stand out. Many people are able to travel abroad, get an award, go to summer camps, but what admissions officers are looking for is a vivid picture of who you are. Which leads me to my next point.

2. Draw A Picture With Words

Writing is an art. It is the writer’s skill to make the reader see what the writer wants him to see. With this in mind, when writing your essay, you do not want to tell the reader who you are. You want to show him or her who you are. What I mean by this is that you want your personal statement to show your qualities. If you are very determined, you do not want to say that. What you want to do is show a situation in which your determination was brought forth, such as facing an obstacle (learning how to ride a bike, walking in the snow, learning how to swim). For example, in my personal statement I showed that I am a first generation student. I did not say that I was but I described in my essay that English was not the first language in my house. You see what I did? I showed the reader who I was. I did not just tell him.

3. If at first you don’t succeed, try it again. Oh, and make sure someone proofreads your personal statement.

Most of us average human beings did not get their personal statement in their first try. It’s ok. It takes time. That is why it is not the best idea to write your essay the week before all your applications are due. The deadline is in less than three weeks! So if you haven’t started yet, start now. Like right now.

That is all for now.

Man, it is good to be home.


sophia-85Well, tomorrow is the day of finals for me and it is 3 in the morning. I realized that now would be the best time for me to write a little bit more about my college experience thus far.

Honestly, looking over it all. I love it. For a large percent of the time, I complain about the work, the deadlines, the studying, and the rigorous work, but now I realize that it is simply college. I knew what I was getting into and it will be worth it in the end.

I’m learning so much more than I imagined, and it’s not the same type of knowledge that I learned in high school. It’s education that I can apply to life. Sharing my opinions and actually putting them to use.

Although, I do have to admit, my sleeping pattern has taken a turn for the worse. I’m up all night and mostly stressed the whole time, but isn’t that the full college experience?

There is never a time when I have nothing to do, and I am thankful for that or else I would be writing about how bland college is.

It definitely is not. I can promise you that. I can already tell that my time here will be some of the most memorable years of my life and they’re going by so fast.

Enjoy the process of college. From applications to move-in days. Those memories are going to stay with you, like they’re staying with me.

Also, I apologize for not posting sooner….technical difficulties…. I’m going to do my best to post more frequently.

Happy studies and happy holidays!

Our work is never over

duylam-85I was going to keep some of the more major things I’ve been doing at college under wraps, but in light of a series of events that have occured back home I feel the need to stop being so abstract and “wise man” like and show maybe proof that the sky’s the limit regardless of “this, that, and the third”. Hopefully I don’t sound like I’m gloating…but I am. Just kidding, hah.

So maybe we should kick it off with my high school year.

January 1st passed, just like you guys now, all my applications are done and I’m feeling overly relieved. Between my schools it was a whole bunch of business schools: Washington & Lee, Uni. of Virginia, Uni. of Richmond, and Babson. And then there was the Rhode Island School of Design. I know!! Complete 180 from all of the schools I’ve applied too, but that was my sort of crazy, not-secure school that I would go to if I decided to pursue my more creative dreams.

Well the rest is history as they say, but it’s actually more like a long story I’m going to explain in my blog.

I never went to RISD as you know, hah, I was too scared to follow that route, but to serve as a medium I went to Babson, which I thought would be nice because Boston is right there and a big city means big opportunities. Oh good lord I forget to mention that at that time and currently still, I was/am passionate [is that too corny of a word to use?] industrial design/product design. Industrial design is basically the creation of new products. Some of your favorite companies have a huge emphasis on design: Apple, BMW, Fender, etc. You get the gist.

Right anyway, so I’m all gung-ho about design so I email the professor, Sebastian Fixson, in charge of this really cool class at Babson called Product Design & Development. So I email him once I decided on going to Babson. We remained in correspondence all throughout the summer, and after the first week of college I email him again and we set up a time to just talk about everything. So I meet him and I’m trying to exude my passion as much as possible, and let me remind you meeting him was a HUGE thing for me – I had already planned on sitting in on his PDD class. Anyways we talk about everything and he offers me a seat in the course!!! This just put a smile upon my face because even though I wouldn’t get credit I would learn something, which I did, and I also created a few important relationships. Right also this course was a 3 school joint program with Babson College for business, Olin College for engineering, and the Rhode Island School of Design – HOW COOL THAT EVERYTHING COMES BACK 360 [actually I knew about the class before I came].

Check out more from the class here

Anyways I sit in on the class and [this part always makes me laugh] it’s full of 3rd years & 4years and I introduced myself and I said I was a 1st year at Babson and I picked business over RISD and they all laughed at me. Woot! So I sit in on other classes and I even got to go to RISD, which is absolutely beautiful by the way, and I met a man named Tim Prestero of Design That Matters. A quick aside, DTM is a non-profit that produces products that are actually of use to people in 3rd world countries such as medicial devices.

Tim had this really interesting project where students would be making a phototherapy unit to help fight hyperbilirubinemia/jaundice in newborns [you can find out more here and click around that is only one type of HB]. If there are any parents, you know how this works. The jaundiced baby/baby with hyperbilirubinemia is placed under a blue light [yes blue light is all it takes] and in a few days the problem is gone. Well this project was of particular interest to me because it was to be made in Vietnam and first implemented in Vietnam, my home country. As you know, Vietnam is not so rich, and the best phototherapy units, such as the neoBlue, cost up to $10,000 USD. Yeah that’s not working for a third world country.

I approached Tim and we exchanged information and I email him a few days later seeing how I could help even though I was a first year. He then directed to the Babson MBA graduate students who were working on this. I emailed them, and then I met Shilpi Gupta, Molly McDonald, Lara Clemenzi, Rahul Bhansali, & Prakash Bhatia the students on the project. We met over the course of the semester and worked on a design that would fit the culture [even my mom helped!]. Well long story short, the final product matched the best phototherapy unit on the market, the neoBlue, on output and the product lasts, about, 10,000 hours. And guess what? The creation of the product only takes $400 USD. Labour expenses will raise the cost of the unit once it starts becoming manufactured in Vietnam, HOWEVER, everything should remain will under $1000 USD. Also, by the time the product was in the design fair at Babson, there were already 300 orders for it.

Here are photos:

This is Praks with our baby. And our finished design.

I am completely honored to have worked with these people, they are nothing short of amazing. Something major come from practically nothing. Even if you’ve got a million to one shot, you’ve still got a shot.

The most powerful weapon on Earth is the human soul on fire” – Ferdinand Foch,

Climb High, Climb Far…TAKE RISKS!

lysa-85Hey guys! Frequently here at Williams I walk past Hopkins gate. Engraved on this passageway are these encouraging words:

“Climb High, Climb Far, Your Goal the Sky; Your Aim the Star”

These simple yet meanigful words, evoke just how important it is to strive beyond the best you can be. Therefore, I urge you all to consider applying to those schools, you figure are completely out of you’re reach. What’s the worst that could happen?

During my college application process my senior year, an admissions counselor once told me, you could have all “As,” perfect SATS, and be involved in  many extracurriculars at your school, but that is not what makes you stand apart from all the rest! I further learned that every year dozens of the “virtually same type of students” apply to the nation’s top universities with these very same qualities. And you know what? In all honesty, most of them are turned away!

Believe it or not, having good grades, good test scores, and trying to be involved in everything in high school may not even get you into an IVY or top school! 

I know when I was in high school I figured grades meant everything and that no college cared about my perspectives or anything else. However, when you apply to college the truth is quite the contrary. Colleges do want to know your struggles and how you’ve over come such obstacles. It’s not about how many times you may of fallen, but rather how you’ve picked yourself back up and made something positive out of a negative situaiton.

So don’t stress about your grades so much, or being voted the leader of every club or sport. Don’t hesitate to do something out of your comfort zone; something non-academic! Be unique; be bold, because that’s what will truly set you apart when you’re application reaches the admission office!

Remember when you write your application essays, that colleges respect an individual who can face the ups and downs in their lives, and realize that you are human! Try to personalize your essays so that they not only cover the topic you must write about, but also encompass something unique about yourself, your thoughts, or who you are as individual. DON’T BE JUST A NUMBER IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS, TRULY STAND OUT!

I myself, wrote my college essay on the corruption of the foster care and adoption systems in America. I tied my essay into my own experiences in foster care as a child, and how being adopted has impacted my life. I figured I was taking a chance with this topic, because not everyone is going to agree with you, but you must write about whatever lies close to your heart, because that’s what’s going make an impact, and truly stick in the minds of admissions officers when they are making their decisions of acceptance.

So don’t hold back, when writing you’re essays.  TAKE CHANCES! THE MOST UNIQUE STORIES AND THUS ESSAYS MAKE THE BEST ONES! If you need any advice on your college essays or just want someone to look it over for you, just email me, or post a comment. I would love to help you guys!Thats what we bloggers are here for, YOU!

E.D. early decision or easily distressed?

duylam-85Dang, you got an 84 on that Calc test? Good luck getting in YaleVardStanNceton or ColumWillBrownReedMudd [hmm, smashing college names doesn't work as well first names].

Many of you probably applied E.D. to schools already. Some of you probably took a test and didn’t do well on it. Now you’re freaking out because Stanford only accepts 4.48 students.  Students by the way who have never once gotten below a 99% on any test since kindergarten [those kids didn't do well on their coloring tests]. This is so false. My friend David got into Stanford when he got like a 75 on his physics test.

Tip to be gained: Don’t stress out over everything!
Other tip: Don’t slack in school just because you applied ED. I was an abuser of procrastination when I was in your shoes.

Another tip: Don’t put all your money on your ED school, you might not get in. Now using the business lingo I’ve learned: Hedge your bets by allowing yourself a margin of safety. [It feels pretty cool knowing what those finance guys are saying]

I didn’t apply ED to any school because well most of my schools didn’t have an ED option, and I’ll tell you something for those of you who are starting to pick or starting Apps [you guys have better started!! don't procrastinate]. You may be easily distressed as well. Yeah you might feel like time is running out, and in all technicality it is running, but I won’t say running out because that’s too pessimistic.  But hold on to your wits, Little Wing. Don’t you get pessimistic. So here is my piece of wisdom I have fought so hard to learn. Take life a step at a time. Don’t try to have an all night session for your paper. Or write your CommonApp essay RIGHT BEFORE IT’S DUE.

My friends were a huge factor in helping me get my things done in an orderly manner. They got me this picture frame that said “Procrastination: Hard work pays off later. Laziness pays off now.” You really don’t want a bad later.

So you know go to your advisor and ask him or her to help get your transcript ready to send off. They can be really slow sometime. And for those of you who haven’t found a school; try leafing through some College magazines. Or if you have a person you admire [Akio Toyoda for me] why don’t you see where they went to school and check it out.

May your lows keep you humble and your highs keep you tied,
- Duylam

Do you feel like time is running out?

joseph-85That’s how I felt last year at this time. The leaves were falling off the trees, the air had a bite, and the sun was setting earlier.  The election season was over, and I had spent the last few months putting off thinking about college in favor of work and the campaign.  Fall had come, and it didn’t wait for me.  I had done most of what was expected so far thanks to the guidance from a caring teacher, but I hadn’t even begun to consider what schools to apply to. In fact, all I had really done was take the ACT with writing.  The deadlines were coming though, and I had made sure in advance I hadn’t missed any.

An important conversation that I had with one of my mentors earlier that year left me with an interest in Liberal Arts colleges.  After leafing through a book with overviews of schools throughout the country in the days following the election though, I had a good idea of what institutions interested me.  This is a practice I highly recommend to all of the high-schoolers out there.  In fact, it was the Insider’s Guide to Colleges that first informed me of Occidental College’s existence.  That Oxy wasn’t even on my radar before is important because it shows the importance of broadening the scope of your horizons.

When applying to schools, listen to others but also think for yourself.  What you want is important, and it is your education on the line here.  Many high school students aren’t getting fantastic advice in their schools.  In my case, I was lucky to have it from one teacher and a whole host of mentors outside of my school.  If you feel the same way, I would recommend looking around the other regions of your life for advice.  The internet is a tremendous resource as well, but I recommend using your informed instincts there as anywhere else. Just don’t be afraid of rejection.

Finally, the last bit of advice I have is this: Get your applications done in plenty of time so you can make sure it is done correctly.  I can’t stress this enough.  All the mysterious people you are sending your application to will see are the words in front of them. Make sure that it’s you that they can see, and take the time to be certain. You won’t regret it.

Who You Gonna Call? Ghostbuster’s…? If it’ll Help You Succeed, Go For It!

khadijah-85I got my first midterm back. I’m excited, I’m hoping for the best. Then I look at it- a horrible grade.  A horrible horrible grade.  This means I’m a failure. Here I am, so many people think I’m smart, so many people believed in me. By getting this bad grade, I’ve let everyone who believes in me down.

There are two ways this can go: I can hide in an abyss of the library and study my butt off, and feel bad about myself, or  I can ask for help, seek out resources, and improve. I can still mess up, that’s a fact of life. But it’s what I do after something goes wrong that determines what happens in the situation.

This may seem like common sense to you- of course, when you’re in trouble, you ask for help, we know this. I see you rolling your eyes. But this translates to more than just college, this isn’t just about when you get to college. There are so many steps to be taken before you get there. There are so many steps that you, your parents, anyone you may know may have not been exposed to yet. You are all intelligent and have tons of potential, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to ask for help. Nor does that mean that if you can’t figure something out that you or others perceive to be easy, that you can’t ask for help. In order to achieve what you want, in order to get what you all are  deserving of- an education- to help yourself and your families, you have to realize that you should NOT go it alone. Asking for help does not mean you are incapable or that you are unable to figure something out. To the contrary- asking for help is a sign of inner strength, for it shows that you know yourself and will go after what you want, and you are willing to learn and grow from experience.

So next time you have a question about an application question, or the steps to signing up to the SAT, or anything relating to what will help you succeed in the future, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your family, your friends, your school, and Center for Student Opportunity (CSO), including us scholars, are here for you. We’ve been through it too.


“A la mode” means with ice cream!

jesse-85Good news! I finished my philosophy paper! It felt great finally submitting it. You know what else was great? I had some pecan pie for the first time on Tuesday; it was delicious AND I had it a la mode. I had it at the Faculty Dinner where you invite a professor, advisor, or proctor to eat dinner with you to get to know them outside of the classroom or lecture hall. My friend and I decided to invite our 2 professors from our Anthropology course. It was great! The four of us ate dinner and got to talk about our backgrounds. It was a fantastic way to get to know them better. It’s important to get to know those that teach you.

So anyways, I know what’s on your mind. It’s November. The first round of applications are due in a few weeks, you must be excited. Even if you are not a senior in high school, be aware that it won’t be too long until your applications are due.

Hopefully, you seniors are prepared to work REALLY hard on those applications and get those personal statements in order. If you do not have anyone to help you at home, try talking to your counselors or teachers at school about helping edit your personal statements. They can give you some very useful tips on how to structure your essay and how to make it better. Do not be afraid to ask! They want you to go to college and if you approach them and show that you’re really serious about it, they will help you out.

And for all those juniors, sophomores, and freshman out there- remember, it is never too late to get ready. Develop those relationships with your teachers and counselors early. Talk with them, connect with them, and get to know them. Not only will they be able to give you advice on school and personal things throughout high school, if they actually know you they’ll be able to write you a personal recommendation letter that is actually genuine and not superficial.

Also, the more they know you, the more they will be able to help you decide which college is right for YOU. There are a TON of colleges; it just comes down to choosing which ones to apply to. Get on top of this, guys!

So, quick recap:

–Develop relationships with your teachers and counselors EARLY

–If you need help with personal statements, other essays, or even just understanding a concept – go to your teachers and counselors for help, they will like your proactive approach and see that you’re really putting in the effort

–Start looking for colleges that are right for you. Do not just look close to home- branch out and look for colleges all over the country. There are lots of private schools that will help pay your tuition!

P.S. Save the Myspace and Facebook for AFTER you finish your homework. Trust me.