College Advice for Younger Olympians

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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby foreverphysics » April 30th, 2013, 2:30 pm

>.>
I think my college requirements are "anywhere more than 1000 miles away from Auburn, has good physics/engineering program, preferably has a music program, and doesn't totally suck".
That being said, my dream colleges are somewhere around the idea of Stanford, Caltech (no music, only downer), MIT (same as Caltech), Yale (been a dream for a long while) and Berkeley. I don't think I would be totally crushed if I didn't get into any of those places, but I'd probably be at least somewhat disappointed.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby andrewwski » April 30th, 2013, 2:30 pm

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).
I'm not going to disagree with you, but there's still state schools that have excellent opportunities for the students who try for them (and deserve them). Most of my peers have gotten research positions and internships - over the past year, I have friends that have gotten internships, job offers, or research positions from NASA (myself included), SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corp, Sandia National Labs, Los Alomos National Lab, Air Force Research Lab, Brookhaven National Lab, GE, and many others. I have friends that are going to grad schools such as Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Northwestern, etc. Although again, I don't give as much weight to the name - but it does show that doing well in undergrad will get you to whichever grad school you want.
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.
This is strongly dependent on your major - but at least for engineering, the ones who start out are not always the ones who finish. Ie, you may know someone who is going to Stony Brook, etc, who you don't think is the strongest academically - and they may not finish the program.

There's a lot of people who think they can make it through engineering, etc, and start out studying it at state schools, but don't make it through. I've gone through 4 years of engineering school, and I've found that at least 80% of the people who will be graduating with a degree are the good students - the ones you'd want to befriend, the ones who work hard. The rest are those who just squeak by - but although they may have a degree, their low GPA and lack of activities is not going to work well for them.

But the idea behind what you're saying is correct. The connections are a very important part of where you go, as is the quality of the program. I'll agree completely that the connections you make can be the most beneficial thing - it's certainly worked in my favor. What I would caution anyone though is to assume that only the top-name schools have good connections, or even better connections. You need to make an objective assessment of the program and professors. I suggest though, making that assessment without considering the name.

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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby Kokonilly » April 30th, 2013, 2:33 pm

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).
I'm not going to disagree with you, but there's still state schools that have excellent opportunities for the students who try for them (and deserve them). Most of my peers have gotten research positions and internships - over the past year, I have friends that have gotten internships, job offers, or research positions from NASA (myself included), SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corp, Sandia National Labs, Los Alomos National Lab, Air Force Research Lab, Brookhaven National Lab, GE, and many others. I have friends that are going to grad schools such as Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Northwestern, etc. Although again, I don't give as much weight to the name - but it does show that doing well in undergrad will get you to whichever grad school you want.
Yeah, opportunities will pretty much always be there if you look for them. It's probably easier to find them here than at other schools, though, because there's so much support (financial or otherwise) for them.

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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby paleonaps » April 30th, 2013, 2:43 pm

If I don't get in, I'd probably be crushed.
This is a problem.
I kind of disagree. I think it's a problem if by crushed you mean won't get out of bed, no motivation to do anything crushed. If you'll just be very sad, I think you probably fall well within the realm of normal. The best advice I have is to prepare for the worst (e.g. picturing yourself happy at every school you apply to), but to hope for the best. I did that, and it worked out for me. For most of my life, my dream was Yale. When it came time to apply, my dream was Harvard. Neither worked out in the end, but I had prepared well enough (and gotten into enough wonderful places) that I wasn't too badly affected. Sad, yes. Crushed, no.

I think that andrewwski already pointed out something I wanted to say. Try to consider schools without their name attached. It's hard, especially if you're applying to many prestigious places. It even carries over into making your decision. For instance, I considered going to Johns Hopkins, which is famed as a medical school. However, it apparently doesn't put all that much effort into making its undergrads happy. But when I told people I got in, a lot of them told me to go (one girl, in particular, is doing pre-med at a state school, and I think she made that association and was a little jealous), because all they heard was Johns Hopkins. The best way to do this would probably be having a friend or parent put together a spreadsheet or something with the colleges numbered, not named. You choose based on the programs, price, and the like, not on the prestige.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby haverstall » April 30th, 2013, 3:02 pm

I was eager to leave Minnesota
Why would you ever want to leave this wonderful place? I mean, it's not like we have snow in April or anything that drastic. :D
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby Kokonilly » April 30th, 2013, 3:09 pm

I was eager to leave Minnesota
Why would you ever want to leave this wonderful place? I mean, it's not like we have snow in April or anything that drastic. :D
Oh, obviously that would NEVER happen... :roll: Sorry, but I like wearing shorts.

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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby EastStroudsburg13 » April 30th, 2013, 4:15 pm

Sidenote: I never studied vocab for the SAT. Still got a half-decent score.
Plot twist: Haverstall got a 800 on that section. :P (jk, I have no idea what you got)
If I don't get in, I'd probably be crushed.
This is a problem.
I kind of disagree. I think it's a problem if by crushed you mean won't get out of bed, no motivation to do anything crushed. If you'll just be very sad, I think you probably fall well within the realm of normal. The best advice I have is to prepare for the worst (e.g. picturing yourself happy at every school you apply to), but to hope for the best. I did that, and it worked out for me. For most of my life, my dream was Yale. When it came time to apply, my dream was Harvard. Neither worked out in the end, but I had prepared well enough (and gotten into enough wonderful places) that I wasn't too badly affected. Sad, yes. Crushed, no.
I think I interpreted "crushed" to mean the first part. Naturally you'll be disappointed if you get rejected from a good school, but the best thing you can do when that happens is pick your head up and make the best of it. Then you go become an epic student wherever you end up going. :)
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby caseyotis » April 30th, 2013, 4:30 pm

Thanks, guys. I'd probably be really sad, and for a few days or so, I might resemble the first example. Overall though, I'm a very resilient person, and I'm sure I'd be able to get over it.
Of course, my attitude is that that won't happen and I have to be positive because I know that I'm going to make it. I don't know what could dissuade me from dreaming about going to Cornell. However, that's not the only school in the world. I'd love to go to UPENN (relatively close to NY, one of the best veterinary programs in the country) or Stanford (good writing program, close to relatives, beautiful campus). But of course, anything's possible, and as I learn more about the what the country has to offer, I might discover new things.

Thank you so much!
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby haverstall » April 30th, 2013, 6:17 pm

Sidenote: I never studied vocab for the SAT. Still got a half-decent score.
Plot twist: Haverstall got a 800 on that section. :P (jk, I have no idea what you got)
heh, I wish. But hey, to each his/her own. If you feel you need to study vocab, more power to you. I just never really cared about standardized tests, and thus approached them in that way.
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Re: College Advice for Younger Olympians

Postby Kokonilly » May 1st, 2013, 10:47 am

I was eager to leave Minnesota
Why would you ever want to leave this wonderful place? I mean, it's not like we have snow in April or anything that drastic. :D
Oh, obviously that would NEVER happen... :roll: Sorry, but I like wearing shorts.
It's not like you guys have snow in May or anything either!


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