Student Stories - Psychology

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Application Identity:

  • Gender and ethnicity? Female; Chinese

  • Any particular “hooks”? (student athlete, legacy, etc.) N/A

  • What did your application focus on? Any academic subjects, extracurriculars, etc. in particular? Extracurriculars (volunteering at summer camps, working at math tutoring center, early childhood development, summer service learning trip) and how they tied into psychology

  • What are your plans for next year? If you’re planning on attending a college, what’s your school and intended area of study? NYU, psychology major

What’s your application story?

I applied to 22 schools in total, which was not at all a balanced mix of reaches, matches, and safeties. Most were reaches or matches and I probably only had about 1-3 safeties. I spent my summer attending camps, service learning, and traveling abroad so I didn’t start working on college apps until September. I brainstormed essay ideas for my common app essay throughout September but actually started writing in October. I usually finished my essays a couple days before or even on the day it was due. This is definitely one of my regrets, as I ended up missing out on part of the last day of spirit week because I only showed up for the last period of the day in order to finish up writing for the November 1st deadline. I finished 3 out of 4 of the UC essays the week of Thanksgiving break, once again, only a few days before they were due. I also worked on essays throughout winter break, so I never really got a real break until after January 5th. I wrote most of my essays in my college advisor's building just because it was an area where I could focus better and also got essay revisions there.

What are your top tips for college applicants? What advice do you wish you’d known while you were going through the application process?

I heard this a lot but didn’t follow the advice––start early!!! Seriously, the last thing you want to do is miss out on the last spirit day in your high school career. It really sucks. Even if you’re not actively writing early on, at least start thinking of potential topics to write about so that when it comes time to sit down and crank out an essay, you have ideas ready and you don’t just waste time sitting there not knowing what to do.

I think one of my biggest struggles for coming up with ideas was coming up with a topic that would differentiate myself from other applicants. What I ended up doing for quite a few essays was talking about my interest in the major I applied for, psychology, and how my extracurriculars and classes helped me explore that subject in ways that may not be obvious. Not only do I get to bring admission officers’ attention to the extracurriculars I was involved in, it also shows my passion for pursuing the major I chose. Even if your major is undetermined, talk about something that’s important to you.

I think it’s also helpful to make sure you put yourself in an environment where you can work without distractions. Give yourself additional deadlines before it’s actually due so you avoid procrastinating. If you’re stuck, go out and take a walk or take a break. Staring at your blank screen will just make you feel like no progress is being made and can be discouraging.

Finally, have confidence in yourself. I know from experience that constantly comparing yourself to others can make you feel like no college is going to accept you, but you never know. There are so many different factors that go into your acceptance/rejection that you probably won’t be able to guess, so just do your work to the best of your abilities and trust that it will work out. Even if you don’t get into what you thought was your dream school, life goes on. I know this is easier said than done, but don’t get hung up on the rejections and just move forward.

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