College advice from departing seniors

The Talon interviewed some seniors from the Class of 2015 on their advice for the upcoming college admissions cycle.


What did you first look for in a college?

Joachim dos Santos, McGill University: I wanted a place where I could both experience a different culture and succeed in a prestigious institution and program. My main idea of where I would spend my next four years was either in Europe or Canada.

Sammi Gistren, Georgia Institute of Technology: Location and an environmental-engineering major. Living in a big city or near one was important.

Juli Isman, Parsons School of Design: Design programs. I thought ranking would be important, but turns out it wasn’t. I wanted to be in a place where I would feel comfortable. I had to visit before applying to get a feel for the campus and see my first impressions of the place. I definitely disqualified some places after visiting them because I just didn’t see myself living there.

Edu Coccaro, University of Pennsylvania: Location, strength of curriculum, and reputation.

Jason Lim, University of California Los Angeles: Reputation. It’s what Asians love.

Laura Schivartche, Johns Hopkins University: Location, whether or not it was a research school, feeling of campus (after visiting), major/minor opportunities, and diversity of students and activities.

Val Hollard, Duke University: Professors, campus, special programs, and graduation rate.

Rodrigo Curiati, Northeastern University: Campus and area of study.


What was the most challenging part of the application process? Why?

Joachim dos Santos: Starting it. Other than that, probably sending it; I had a bit of an issue with the credit-card number.

Sammi Gistren: Writing my college essay. It was really hard to decide what to write about and know when the essay was “finished.”

Juli Isman: Everything comes at the same time: IA’s, tests, application deadlines, etc.

Vivian Aidukaitis, Brigham Young University–Hawaii: Taking the ACT and SAT multiple times. Remaining positive even when not getting the desired score is hard, but possible!

Bea Lorencatto, The George Washington University: The actual process of applying wasn’t really challenging. Once you start writing essays, it seems to get easier and you start to write better and better. But what really was the worst was the time after applications were sent and responses were coming in. You suddenly start to wonder what you should or could have done better and what schools you should have tried applying to. Rejections suck.

Laura Schivartche: Writing original essays that had my voice. It’s really hard not to sound like any other student because we’ve all had similar experiences.


What eventually guided your decision?

Joachim dos Santos: The difficulty of the school and where it is located.

Sammi Gistren: The resources available for research, the reputation of the engineering department, and the tuition cost.

Juli Isman: Despite wanting to have the “campus experience,” I figured that it was more important to establish strong networking and have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of internships.

Edu Coccaro: Location and community life.

Bea Lorencatto: I always had this idea that I wanted to be at X school and when I visited, it was the complete opposite. It also brings a lot of comfort into not having to invest on a “blind date.” Seeing the schools and all its facilities really helped me decide. It’s honestly so true that you get this sense of “this is where I want to be” when you find the right school during visits. When I visited GW, a school I wasn’t even planning on applying to, I just felt “right.”

Jason Lim: Best reputation from the accepted schools, of course, by Korea’s standards.

Rodrigo Curiati: Campus, work opportunities, and strength of program.

Gabi Campos: Brown’s open curriculum and overall approach to education (along with the wonderful people I met when I visited) were the main factors that guided my decision. It was very tough to choose, but I’m glad and grateful I had the privilege of having agency in this choice and I’m very excited to start college in September.


What are you most excited for?

Sammi Gistren: Getting to learn what I’m most passionate about and getting to know a new city.

Juli Isman: Art school. New York City. Yeah.

Vivian Aidukaitis: Living with roommates and being responsible for myself. I can’t wait to be independent.

Laura Schivartche: Just going actually.

Rodrigo Curiati: Living in a different country and having the opportunity to work or study abroad.

Gabi Campos: All of it (minus the communal bathrooms).


Lastly, do you have any advice or tips for the rising seniors?

Joachim dos Santos: Start early! The earlier you get it over with, the better.

Sammi Gistren: Stay confident in yourself and remember that comparing yourself to others is not worth your time. Try to find a way to reflect upon the process as you go. When the time comes to make a decision, you want to be able to remember why you applied to those schools and what you want.

Juli Isman: Plan ahead and make schedules. Don’t let everything pile up.

Vivian Aidukaitis: Sometimes it’s hard to ask people to read your essays because they may be personal but ask! The more people who read it the better off you’ll be. Don’t forget to make yourself sound amazing. It’s okay to brag a little!

Edu Coccaro: Start out as early as possible. As someone who wrote his essays the week, or day, applications were due, I can guarantee you that you do not want to go through the same stress. Do as many early actions as you can and if there’s a college which you’re sure you want to go to, opt for early decision. Remember, admissions officers will only know who you are through your writing, so make sure to get across to them.

Bea Lorencatto: There is a lot of competition out there. You have to give it your all and you’ll end up where you should.

Jason Lim: Make an Excel chart with complete and incomplete columns so that you don’t screw up.

Laura Schivartche: Take your time, disregard rankings. Rankings are irrelevant if you don’t fit into a university.

Val Hollard: Apply to every college you picture yourself at. Don’t choose before getting accepted.

Rodrigo Curiati: Don’t leave anything for the last minute.

Gabi Campos: Start early. Seriously. The end of the first semester of senior year is particularly stressful. You don’t need college applications to add to that stress, nor do you want to work on them during your well-deserved break.