In our modern day world, especially in the heart of Silicon Valley, getting into a good college is key to having a successful career path, and by extension, a good future in a competitive world. But the main question for all our engaged, enthusiastic students is how? How can they gain leadership experience, engage in local causes while building a good resume and understand what it takes to get into a good university?
A recent seminar focused on answering these questions for eager beaver Silicon Valley students was recently conducted at Saratoga’s Joan Pisani Community Center. This was offered free of charge and was open to everyone. It was the 2nd College Apps Demystified seminar held by the Saratoga Hindu Temple and Community Center in Saratoga that Councilmember Rishi Kumar of Saratoga moderated.
The event was sponsored by Bill Gorman Real Estate, Anthem Realtors & Developers, Karishma and Deepak Chandani and Mentr, an iphone and Android App that provides an opportunity for students across the world to get college application questions answered directly from students / alumni of these universities.
Students got to hear from the best college counselors around, about what steps to take while applying for a college. Following panelist were in attendance: John Tsai from Flex College Prep, Shari Schussel from UCEAZY, Pam Miracle from Compass to College, Purvi Mody from Insight Education and Priya Pullur, an Independent Consultant. They all explained their views to parents and students from around the Bay Area.
Each college counselor focused on a different approach to college admissions. Robert Thomspon from Flex Prep talked about the differences in the UC’s vs Private Colleges, for example Tuition, School Size, and Admission Factors. Shari Schussel from UCEAZY explained that it was never too early to start the college process, saying that students should start college counseling from freshman and sophomore year, because it gives students the insight on what to participate in throughout their high school years.
Pam Miracle from Compass to College described the necessary “ingredients” and do-not’s to writing a stand-out essay. One of her main points was writing about something you are passionate, and care about, something that brings out the unique personality. Purvi Mody from Insight Education discussed how admission factors are seldom discussed, and if you are able to make yourself stand-out in other ways, you have just as much chance to get into a good college.
Priya Pullur talked about Test Optional Schools, and encouraged students to apply to test optional and test blind schools, because of their policy not requiring students to submit their standardized tests.
Every counselor provided their unique view of what it takes to get into the dream college, to approximately 200 students and parents from around the Bay Area. Once the panel presentations completed, the audience were allowed to ask questions to the panel, about anything regarding the college process moderated by Rishi Kumar.
Some of the questions were centered around how many AP classes were needed to get into the best UC schools like Berkeley, UCLA etc. whereas others wanted to understand the difference between ACT and SAT and which test option would work the best for their child. Many interesting questions came up that were handled well by the knowledgeable college counselors.
After the questioning period, a lottery was drawn to select 25 students/parents to each get a one-on-one counseling session with one of the college counselors. Each counselor conducted a few 1:1 sessions, in which they answered specific questions pertaining to the application of juniors and seniors currently putting together their application.
It was a productive time for students, parents and also the college counselors who attended, who got a chance to address the confusion and mystery that surrounds the admission process to these elite universities.
The video for the session are at https://www.facebook.com/groups/collegeapp or at http://tinyurl.com/CollegeApps2016Video
Siva Sambasivam is a Freshman at Saratoga High School who attended the College Apps Seminar and loves dreaming about his dream school(s)