Student Stories - Biology (Pre-Med)

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Application Identity:

  • Gender and ethnicity? Asian Male

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

  • What did your application focus on? Any academic subjects, extracurriculars, etc. in particular? Mainly science subjects, biology in particular.

  • What are your plans for next year? If you’re planning on attending a college, what’s your school and intended area of study? I’m planning to major in cell/molecular biology on the pre-med track at Johns Hopkins University.

What’s your application story?

I would say that at the beginning of the college application process I was significantly underprepared. One reason was because I’m the first person in my family to apply to a college in the US as my parents went to school in China so they had no idea how the application here worked. My parents brought me to see a college counselor and I went home feeling stressed and overwhelmed from all the things she said I had to do. Eventually though, I got over this and was able to keep a level head when approaching college apps, so I would say not to worry too much because basically everyone gets into college.

Coming into the college application process, my portfolio was good, but nothing made it stand out. I was lucky to be able to contact a PI at the University of Arizona who was doing research on finding a cure for a virus. This was the perfect opportunity for me as it would allow me to do a significant extracurricular activity that was related to what I wanted to pursue in college. This was great for me because when you apply to colleges, anybody can pay a few thousand and get their student into a summer program but being accepted by a program that’s free and more highly competitive looks a lot better on your college app.

As for writing essays, I think that I spaced them out pretty well so I was never overwhelmed at any single time. I wrote my four UC essays over the summer and from there many of the topics I wrote about could be reused for essays for other schools. Personally, I think essays are one of the most important parts of the college application because that is the only opportunity you get to let the admissions officer get to know you.

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

Throughout my application process, I had a lot of help from a private counselor. I would

say that you should find a counselor who actually cares about your success and not just your money. When I was looking for a counselor I interviewed many of them. All but one seemed to charge outrageous prices and just told me that what I had was simply not enough for getting into any good college. The one I chose was way cheaper than the rest and from the interview (and the rest of the time that I worked with her) I could tell she was not just interested in making money off of me. Some indicators were that she only took 10 students total so that she could have enough time for each student, set up very frequent meetings and checkups, was flexible to adjust to my time schedule, and was truly interested in making sure I was emotionally and mentally healthy throughout the time I worked with her. Without a good counselor I’m almost certain I would not be in the position I am today which is why I would advise people to be careful if you want to hire one.

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