Getting Into Your Dream College


Photo provided by Aayushi Gandhi

Senior Aayushi Gandhi holds up a flag for Stanford University, which is the college she will be attending in the fall.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to being a senior is the stress of college applications and awaiting their results. At Seven Lakes, there is no shortage of ambitious students who have applied to some of the top-ranked universities in the country; however, securing such an admission is no easy task. Nevertheless, seniors Aayushi Gandhi and Phoenix Wu have accomplished this feat, having received their acceptance letters from Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), respectively.

“MIT is an incredible school,” Wu said. “Probably the best in the country for STEM. So I just wanted to shoot for the stars.”

Wu, who competed as part of the USA’s team in the International Chemistry Olympiad last year, says that his Olympiad career was a very important part of his college application.

“It’s hard to say what made my college application stand out, because nobody really knows how college apps work,” Wu said. “I would say the strongest part of my application is probably that I’ve been competing in the Chemistry Olympiad for my entire high school, and last year, my junior year, I was lucky enough to be on the national team.”

Being generally qualified is important for applications, but standing out in some way from the general crowd, especially in essays, is key to being noticed by colleges, says Gandhi.

“They probably just look for someone who stands out, because they receive thousands of applications a year and a lot of people applying have similar qualifications,” Gandhi said. “I think essays are a great way to do that because everyone writes something different.”

Although it’s important for applicants to project their skills and qualities to the fullest and make a good impression on colleges, Gandhi recommends that college essays showcase the authenticity of the writer.

“Be authentic in your essay, because you don’t want to end up sounding like a robot,” Gandhi said. “I’m sure they [colleges] get a lot of that. Really show your personality in your essays and in your application so that they can actually get to know you.”

Aspirants for top universities who consider themselves capable of getting admitted into the university may consider it an intimidating task, and might not know where to start. However, developing extracurricular activities through persistence and pursuing one’s passion is a good way to present oneself as a well-rounded person who would be a valuable student in the university.

“If you’re an underclassman, say a freshman or a sophomore, try to find a genuine passion and just pursue it to the fullest,” Wu said. “Don’t go around starting random non-profits because you think it’ll help your application, because admissions officers can tell what’s genuine and what’s not genuine. Try to pursue your interests in your own way.”