College Advice for Younger Olympians

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Kokonilly
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby Kokonilly » April 30th, 2013, 11:10 am

While Ivies and other "top" schools are a bit overrated, I'd still like to rebut a little for their favor. Name does carry weight. There's a reason they're considered top schools. Their reputation is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy - they attract the top educators and thus the top students. Consistently, they graduate the many influential people in the world. The atmosphere is definitely different, being surrounded with an aggregation of people with tremendous intellectual capacity. The people you meet there, in my opinion, is the most convincing reason for going there. Undergrad probably doesn't matter that much academically, but the relationships and connections you develop there is invaluable. Exposure to brilliant people and ideas, befriending future world-changers. These people can change you, in ways you never expected. Ivies, at least UPenn, offer so much aid. Families making $65,000 and under pretty much pay nothing. I mean, just for thought.
Additionally, in general wonderful opportunities are more accessible at top-notch schools (which makes sense when you consider that you're surrounded by these highly accomplished professors and students, as well as - let's face it - rich people who like your school). Here, at least, it's easy to get a research position and/or an internship at a start-up at Facebook or Yahoo or something, and though it's expensive, you're paying (or not - the financial aid program here is pretty good) for an absolutely incredible experience (Al Gore and Jane Goodall both visiting within the last month, the bell tower going off for Nobel laureates/prizewinners, the ability to study in 6 of the 7 continents - no Antarctica program... yet).

Beyond(?) the cool things to do here, though, I can't emphasize how much the people at your school matter - being constantly humbled and amazed by everyone around me is one of the best parts of attending my school. Yes, the HYPSM colleges are expensive and may be somewhat overrated (well, the HYPM part at least), but I agree with EFO - there is definitely a reason they're the best and you should apply to them if you can. Who knows? Maybe the odds will be in your favor.

HOWEVER: You do not need to go to a HYPSM or similar school to succeed. But it does help.

Also, this is extremely subjective, but I wouldn't go to College Confidential. That place always made me more anxious and feel bad about myself. It's too... anxious and numbers-focused for my taste, and it lends itself well to high blood pressure. More about College Confidential: http://chronicle.com/article/College-Co ... ld/138865/

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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » April 30th, 2013, 11:55 am

Essentially:

Brand-name schools are prestigious for a reason, but you still have to take other factors into consideration. In the end, even if you do manage to get accepted, there's a chance would would be a better fit elsewhere. If you get rejected, it's not the end of the world since many colleges offer quality educations.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby paleonaps » April 30th, 2013, 1:00 pm

Since I'll be attending an Ivy next year (go Bears!), my statements about this matter will likely be biased, so make of them what you will.

I think that the single best thing about a brand-named school is the people you'll meet there. Let me put it this way - my local state school (Stony Brook University) offers an excellent education at a good price (I actually got a free-ride offer there, and that's the best price of all). And only taking that into account, I should probably be going there. But the people there (at least, the one's from my high school who are going) are not always of the highest caliber. Sometimes they are - I know some people who go there or are going there who could easily have gotten into a top-ranked brand-name school. But the majority of my friends and acquaintances who are going there are so-so academically, and while I enjoy their company, are not very... intellectually stimulating is probably the term I want (the massive size of the school is probably to blame for this disparity). In contrast, I had some excellent and thought-provoking conversations during my time visiting Columbia and UPenn, and that was after only a couple of hours on campus. Not to mention the fact that future politicians and businessmen are kind of drawn to schools like Georgetown, Harvard, Columbia, and Penn's Wharton School of Business. So if I ever were to want a connection in that area, having attended an Ivy and befriended some of these people would certainly not hurt.

There's another component to this, though, that I'd also like to address. Ever since I was little, I knew what the Ivy League was and knew that attending an Ivy was a very special thing that very few people do. And since I always valued my intelligence, I decided very early on that I would try my best to attend an Ivy. And even though I know that the "Ivy League" is just an athletic conference, and that many schools are ranked higher than some Ivies, and that state schools can offer just the same caliber of education, it retained an importance to me. I think I may just be a product of the place I was raised in (less that four hours away from all of the Ivies except for Cornell; I've heard that, in other regions of the country, this kind of attitude may be infused regarding Stanford or UChicago or Vanderbilt - is this ture) and my proximity to old-money New England areas, but it still did play into my decision. Even though I know intellectually it doesn't matter all that much, I have had a lot vested in being an Ivy League-er since a young age. It's a vanity thing more than anything, honestly, but it's your own decision - if you really want to go to an Ivy, don't convince yourself that you don't. Just make sure it's the best fit for you (which, I should say, was the reason I chose Brown).

Oh, and just one more thing - andrewwski said that going to a brand-name school says nothing about you, other than that you got in and didn't fail out. That's true, but getting in is a big deal in the first place. Many of these schools have acceptance rates in the single-digits, and the pool of applicants has been widening every year. Financial aid has made it so that the super-rich are not the only ones who can get an Ivy League education. Getting into a brand-name school like Harvard or Stanford is a big deal, and should be considered as such. Nevertheless, it's far from the only thing an employer will look for in a resume.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby caseyotis » April 30th, 2013, 1:48 pm

I mean, I'm not interested in Cornell because it's an Ivy League school. I mean, first of all, it's considered the worst of the Ivy League schools by many (or at least, the most unnoticed). However, most of the Ivies are "noticed" anyways, so that's not saying anything.

Ithaca is such a lovely town, and I would love to live there. In fact, I'm moving in two months. My father and his parents all live there, in a suburb called Cayuga Heights. I could walk to my future high school, and if I really wanted to, I could walk to Cornell. With that being said, I love being in the college town and on campus. I attended a sports camp at Cornell for years. I know my way around there better than most kids my age! It's absolutely gorgeous there. Of course, it's one of the only college campuses I've ever been to, but I've been to Harvard and Sarah Lawrence (which I can walk around from my current home), and I feel the most at home at Cornell.

With this being said, I had always wanted to go there. I want to be close to my family and I also want to do the best I can. Being comfortable is one of the key ingredients to success in a new environment. I'm just saying this because I don't only want to go to Cornell because it's a prestigious school. It has a very highly-acclaimed veterinary program (Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine), and it's my best option in my mind. If I don't get in, I'd probably be crushed.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » April 30th, 2013, 1:50 pm

If I don't get in, I'd probably be crushed.
This is a problem.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby caseyotis » April 30th, 2013, 1:56 pm

If I don't get in, I'd probably be crushed.
This is a problem.
I know, and I always tell myself that, but I can't help it. I love Ithaca so much and I want to spend my whole life there. Cornell is so perfect for me. I don't know if it would be worth it to go to Ithaca College, though.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » April 30th, 2013, 1:59 pm

Why not? Do they not have the program you're looking into, or would it be too close to Cornell?
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby caseyotis » April 30th, 2013, 2:08 pm

Why not? Do they not have the program you're looking into, or would it be too close to Cornell?
IC does have a Creative Writing major, but no veterinary medicine program at all, and that's what I really want to be. >.< Also, it would be painful to be so close to Cornell.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby haverstall » April 30th, 2013, 2:25 pm

There are plenty of good schools that are far less expensive though. Depending on where you live, your state university might have a very good program in your field. I can't speak for all majors, but for engineering, there's many states with top-ranked programs, as well as many states with good programs that may not be at the top of the rankings.
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I'm going to my state school right now, and while it may not have the big name of other schools *cought*Stanford*cough*, the chemical engineering program here is top notch, which is mainly the reason I'm coming here. Not to mention cost is great as well.

When I was looking at schools, I met with the undergrad adviser of the ChemE program here, and asked him about the rankings on US News and World Report, and he basically said for most engineering rankings (and maybe all rankings), if you're in the top 5-7 range of the ranking, the programs are pretty much all the same in terms of academic rigor and excellence. So for example, me going to the U (of Minnesota, for those who are unfamiliar with MN jargon), despite the fact that it isn't the top Big Ten school, because I'm in the ChemE program, I'm pretty much in a program that rivals those of Berkeley, Stanford, etc., at a much discounted price. So definitely don't count out your state school. You might find a hidden gem.

Also, I really wished I did more during my summers. I did pretty much nothing Freshman and Sophomore year, although partially this was because my family went back to Asia both years. Junior year, I ended up helping out in a ChemE lab, which may not have impacted my college applications, but it definitely helped me get an "in" at the U, as now I'm working in the same lab. But find something worthwhile to do during the summers that you enjoy.

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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby Kokonilly » April 30th, 2013, 2:28 pm

I think I may just be a product of the place I was raised in (less that four hours away from all of the Ivies except for Cornell; I've heard that, in other regions of the country, this kind of attitude may be infused regarding Stanford or UChicago or Vanderbilt - is this ture) and my proximity to old-money New England areas, but it still did play into my decision.
After getting to know quite a lot of Californians, I can affirm that here - possibly all along the West Coast, but for sure in NorCal - Stanford is the gold standard. Granted, people want different things regarding going to a college far from or close to their hometown - for instance, I was eager to leave Minnesota, but people seem to want to stay here in California, and I can't blame them. ;)
Why not? Do they not have the program you're looking into, or would it be too close to Cornell?
IC does have a Creative Writing major, but no veterinary medicine program at all, and that's what I really want to be. >.< Also, it would be painful to be so close to Cornell.
It's great that you're thinking about this, but keep in mind that you may not want to do that 1, 2, 3 years from now. Don't fail to consider a school that may be excellent for you just because it doesn't have a specific major or program. I mean, that's important, but if you're not a senior I probably wouldn't be considering that factor right now.

Also, following what Hav said, I failed to study for the SAT or ACT in any capacity. I pretty much just deleted the "question of the day" emails if I couldn't figure them out the second I looked at it, got ~8 hours of sleep the night before, and had breakfast that day. That's probably not the best plan - you might want to prepare - but I definitely wouldn't be prepping for it more than a year in advance.


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