The Round Table

The “Ivy League-ers”

Amy Liebman, Features Editor

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For any senior in high school, spring is an exciting, but also nerve-wracking time. They await their college decision letters anxiously, all the while thwarting off questions about their future endeavors, GPA, standardized test scores, and the like.

The Stamford High Class of 2018 in particular has been receiving incredible news from their colleges; many have been accepted into well-known and competitive schools, such as University of Michigan, Rice University, Tufts University, and even Johns Hopkins University. In addition to these prestigious schools, the infamous and revered Ivy League universities have extended acceptance letters to a handful of Stamford High Students from the Class of 2018! Being accepted into an Ivy League institution is a lifelong dream for many, and if you often find yourself wondering how it’s done, and how it feels, this year’s “Ivy League-ers” can tell you themselves!

Students often find it hard to believe when they read their acceptance letters, like Mark Gjuraj, who was accepted at Yale University. Gjuraj told The Round Table “I read the decision forwards and backwards, closing and re-opening the tab repeatedly, as I truly couldn’t believe my eyes.”

In addition to pure disbelief, some students have more emotional reactions to such amazing news, like Jennifer Solares, who was accepted at Harvard University. Solares said “I read the acceptance letter about five times before it actually hit me that I had been accepted. I was ecstatic. I immediately told my parents and we all cried a little together because it felt like a dream come true.”

Likewise, James Pease, who was accepted at Columbia University, had an emotional reaction; he told The Round Table “I was in the middle of a competition with a couple of friends and, not expecting anything, checked my email. I saw “Update on your Columbia Application” and the words “I am delighted to inform you…” I immediately started shaking and thought it was fake, to be completely honest. Once I realized it was real I went to the bathroom so I wouldn’t distract my friends from the competition, called my mom, and we both cried on the phone together.”

I’m sure you’re all still wondering but how did they do it? Well, without further ado, here’s some top notch advice from this year’s “Ivy League-ers.”

Brianna Jean – who was accepted at not one, not two, but three Ivy Leagues (Yale University, Dartmouth College, and Brown University) – said that the best advice she had received during her college application process was “to make your application as true to yourself as possible.” Jean said, “There’s always a point where you want to compare yourself to other people or get caught up on Collegeconfidential over what a college “wants” but ultimately the process is about finding the environment that’s the most comfortable place for you and not about molding yourself into a perfect applicant, because they don’t exist. Also don’t let how selective a school is scare you; if you like a school apply and see what happens!”

Stephanie Walsh, who was accepted at both University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, advises that you “have a few extracurriculars where you are very involved and awarded rather than a myriad of activities that you barely participate in.” She also recommends that you join activities that correspond to your field of study so you can gain experience. Walsh said “In my opinion, I think colleges are looking to create a well-rounded class consisting of students who are passionate and specialized in one or two things rather than [admit] a well-rounded student.”

Gjuraj also says that “Being aware of how you function, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, and what you desire most in life are what will steer you toward any form of success, including getting accepted by an Ivy League school.”

Jordan Ordoñez, who was accepted at both Dartmouth College and Columbia University, says there is “no magic recipe” for getting into an Ivy League institution; overall it seems that the important things to keep in mind as you are filling out college applications are to stay true to yourself and participate in activities where you can really shine, and the rest is up to you.

In order to be admitted into any college, let alone an Ivy League, something about your application must really stand out to college admissions counselors. Marissa Young, who was accepted at Cornell University, feels that what made her a desirable candidate was that “before even knowing what I wanted to study, I got involved with a lot of activities involving the special needs community. Because of that, my application showed a really consistent chain of activities, all of which I think made me a good applicant for someone wanting to major in Human Development.” Young also told The Round Table, “I was also able to take leadership roles in a lot of clubs, volunteer activities, and paid jobs that I not only found meaningful, but I also felt were making an impact.”

Pease feels that his application stood out because “Throughout all their supplements, I really focused on staying true to myself and explaining why I would thrive in the community they foster.” He also said “I didn’t try to enhance my status by squeezing in achievements like people think you have to [do] to get into these schools,” thus busting a common myth among college applicants.

Jean feels similarly, as she told The Round Table, “For a lot of my supplemental essays I just talked about things that I would bring up in conversation with my friends all the time, like my favorite musical, feminism, and what I binge watch on YouTube to show how they all connect and really [create] an image of what I care about and how it makes me unique.”

Ordoñez says that what stood out about his application was that he “aligned [his] activities to what [he is] passionate about and followed through.” Ordoñez feels that some of the highlights of his resume were the “SHS Marching Band and Winter Percussion and the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program.” He says that “doing [activities] that you love is a conversation bonus when interviews roll around.”

Walsh says “I believe admissions saw that I was excited about the field I am planning to study through different programs and contests I have participated in,” such as the THOR: Ragnarok Superpower of STEM Challenge which Walsh was a finalist in during the Fall of 2017.

These “Ivy Leaguers” are headed into a variety of fields where they’re sure to be successful. Solares says she hopes to become “either a neuroscientist or a doctor.” She also hopes to travel to Europe.

Pease told The Round Table “After undergrad, I plan on pursuing a Masters of Science in Astrophysics, and then my Ph.D. – hopefully at either Caltech or Stanford. The ultimate goal is to work as an Astrophysicist for NASA or SpaceX.”

Jean said “I’ve been really into the idea of going to law school and exploring how law really intersects with government and public policy, so I hope I get to study that in the future. I’d really like to work in government someday.”

Young plans on continuing to pursue her current interests; she says “I’m not sure exactly what I want to do, but I’m hoping to do some kind of research and hands-on work with the special needs community.”

No matter what field they end up in, we know these students will go on to do incredible things. Congrats and keep making us proud!

*I’m sure you’re all still wondering “How do I write the perfect essay?” Well, fear not, as some of our “Ivy League-ers” have been generous enough to share their essays, which can be found here!)*

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