So you've decided to apply to overseas universities! You are probably already aware of students (maybe some of your friends) using an education consultant to help with the entire process. But do you know what exactly transpires in these consulting sessions?
Rong Kang, a student applying to US & UK universities for the Fall of 2017, and his counselor (a.k.a. consultant), Mili Kale, discuss their application journey and divulge a couple key tips!
What would you say your relationship with your counselor was like?
RK: Working with Mili was like talking with that friend who knows you well, and also isn’t afraid to be critical towards you! The essays for US universities take quite a bit of personal introspection, so it was really great to be able to share my thoughts and experiences with Mili and bounce ideas off her. I would immediately get the feedback - both positive and negative - and clarity that I needed for completing my applications – it was most definitely a reassuring process!
What are the key factors a student should possess in order to produce a successful application?
Mili: Determination, an open mind, and patience. No student gets it right the first time, and it takes a lot of motivation to keep going – for example, after each “failed” draft of your Common App essay. Rong Kang was the perfect example of a student who illustrated all three of these traits. He knew what he wanted and was ready to do whatever it took to get into his dream schools; he was open to praise and criticism and worked constructively with both; and was patient when it came to seeing the results of his hard work in his essays. He’s still practicing that patience as he waits for Stanford and MIT to get back to him!
What were the greatest challenges you faced and what was your counselor most helpful with?
RK: I had quite a wide portfolio of activities, and I wasn’t sure which ones to focus on for my essays. Mili helped me to take a look at the big picture, connect patterns amongst these experiences, and form the stories and perspectives needed for my application to showcase the best of myself.
I was working on my applications while serving National Service, making managing schedules and application deadlines all the more difficult. I was very thankful that Mili was around to keep me on track and tackle the essays one by one.
What do you find are the greatest challenges students face overall?
Mili: As Rong Kang mentioned, students usually have a wide array of activities and interests, and it is often difficult for them to understand what to prioritize. We work closely with students to assist them in this organization, ultimately helping them create a university list, profile, and overall application that best represents them. Another challenge I see many students struggle with is time management. Your last couple years of school are stressful and packed, making it crucial to prioritize and remain organized! It is important to remember that that these skills would be necessary even in university and beyond, so building them from an early age is always an added bonus!
What would you have changed, if anything, about your experience with your counselor?
RK: Haha, well, I wished I had started much earlier! The whole application requires a lot of thought and asking yourself questions. Sometimes you don’t have the answer to them immediately, even after a couple of weeks! Having more time with Mili would have been helpful, but I’m glad it turned out excellent anyway.
Were you proud of the applications you submitted?
RK: I was very satisfied that my essays could be the best representation of me, my work, and my experiences that I had worked so hard to gather over the past few years. The essays in the application are the only way admission officers will get to know about me, so making sure that it was clear what I was passionate about was important! I was glad that it turned out great.
What advice would you give students applying for the Fall of 2018?
RK : The whole application process made me realize and remember who I was and what I loved. If you haven’t yet, spend the time and energy doing and growing what you are passionate about. And if you don’t know what you are into yet, channel it into discovering your passions and interests. I believe that this drive is what will help you find success in your university applications and beyond! I, for one, found my calling in developing new apps as a Technical Evangelist.
Mili: I couldn’t have said it better! Aside from the usual - time management, organization, planning ahead - I think that thinking about your passions and what truly interests you before delving in to the application process is incredibly helpful. This interest and passion is often what guides students’ applications and can truly make them stand out!
Having worked at a blended learning solutions company in Singapore, and Teach for India earlier, Mili has come to understand the importance of community in a student’s education, and heavily focuses on building relationships and understanding those stakeholders in order to help find students and families their best-fit college.