Does volunteering affect my chances of being accepted to a university? How many hours should I have?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 7 months ago

US colleges  do not have a specific number of community service hours that you must complete in order to be admitted. However, community service is part of a larger category called Extracurricular Activities, and you will be evaluated on how the strength of your extracurricular involvement. Also, some schools, especially the Jesuit schools, often ask a supplementary question (in addition to your main application essay) of what you have done to make your community a better place. If you are having trouble finding volunteer opportunities, get creative: Ask around if you can volunteer in local businesses, or the office of....View More

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My school doesn’t offer any extracurriculars but I hear they are important for US schools. What options do I have?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 7 months ago

Extracurriculars do not have to be provided by your school. There are many creative ways that you can create your own extracurriculars. First of all, realize that playing a sport, either for your school or in your community, is considered a good extracurricular. Other ideas are getting a job, shadowing a professional in a field of interest to you, doing an internship (ask the friends of your family if they may have any opportunities for you) or start a program such as tutoring local children. You can also do tutoring of students at your school in an area that is....View More

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Is it better to go to my safety school or to take a gap year and apply again with better test scores and more extracurriculars?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 7 months ago

This is a tough question, and again the answer is, “It depends.” If you like your safety school and think that doing particularly well there and being at the top of your class and perhaps in their honor program, would allow you to get into a top graduate school, then consider going to your safety school. If you are extremely confident that your scores will go up and that you can do something meaningful that will enhance your application, and that you believe in doing anyway, and if you are really unhappy with your safety school, then consider taking a....View More

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I'm currently in my junior year and I intend to major in CS. Are there any suggestions for extracurricular that can help me with my college app?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 7 months ago

There are many ways to improve your chances to be directly admitted into a CS major.  One way is to take extra courses during the summer or during your break. There are many free courses online. If you have the resources, it can enhance your application quite a bit by taking an extensive course on a college campus. Excellent courses are available at Carnegie Mellon, Brown University, Columbia, MIT, SUNY Stoneybrook, U Penn, U Mich and others. If you cannot afford this expense, there are many courses online that are more cost effective. Another way to enhance your application is....View More

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How important is it to do academic summer programs?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 7 months ago

You don’t have to do an academic summer program, but you should do something in the summer to either enhance your own academic profile or else to make the world a better place. You can volunteer with a local organization or even help to tutor local children. Or you could try to do an internship or even to shadow an adult who does something that you consider interesting. Make your summer count.

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How do I add more than 10 extracurriculars?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 7 months ago

Congratulations! You have done a lot. If you have more than 10 extracurriculars, and you truly think the additional ones are important, then you can add them in the Additional information section of the Common App. Use the same format as in the Activity Grid: Name of Activity, Title or Position Held, hours per week, weeks per year and whether or not you plan to participate in college.

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The Common App says to add my extracurricular activities in order of importance. How do I know which ones they will think are the most important?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 7 months ago

You should add your extracurriculars in their order of importance to you, and what has been the most influential in your life. In general, however, you list the ones you have participated in the longest and where you have the most awards or the highest position, first. Look through all of the categories and try to not make the all community service or all academic related. Look at all of the categories and see if there are other activities you may have forgotten, such as Family Responsibilities (such as taking care of a younger sibling) or Music. Even if you....View More

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How do they verify our claims of social service/leadership/extracurricular activities?

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    Judith Winters
  • judith@jwcchk.com

Judith Winters Answered 7 months ago

It is not necessary to provide certificates or letters attesting to student’s social service,leadership, or extracurricular activities. US colleges believe in the honesty and integrity of everystudent’s submission of these commitments.

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What are the best extracurricular activities to do?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 7 months ago

The best extracurriculars to do are the ones you feel most drawn to, and that you are not merely doing to get into college, or to look good on a college application. Do what you love, and that is the best way to go deep into any given subject. This is what will deepen your interest in your activity, and where you are likely to be the most engaged, enthusiastic, innovative, and where you are most likely to emerge a leader. Some US colleges ask in particular what you have done to make the world a better place. So, you....View More

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Is it important to do extracurricular activities related to my major? My ECs are mostly related to community service. Will they have the same impact on the admission officer?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 6 months ago

Hi there! It's great that you are doing community service. Many schools ask specifically what you have done to give back to your community. For the common app as well as most of the state applications, there is an activity grid to list your activities (the common app allows you to list 10) and everything you do counts. Honestly, your extracurriculars will be evaluated in terms of your depth of involvement, no matter if they relate to your major or not. Your length of commitment, any leadership activities, and how you describe what you have done all count.There are some....View More

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If one of my external recommenders outlines my internship with them and the type of work I did, do I still need to talk about the internship experience/what I learned during my time at the internship in my college specific essay? Or is it recommended to save space and use the words to talk about another significant experience?

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    Anupama Singh
  • advisor@indexcc.net

Anupama Singh Answered 5 months ago

Not all schools require letters of recommendation and some even ask that you don't send them.  In these cases, you will need to write about it if you want it to be considered as part of your application.  If the school does require recommendations and your recommender does write about it, I recommend that if it was a significant learning experience for you that you still write about it, but from your perspective of how you grew from that experience.  You should be able to talk about both experiences if they were both significant.

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Will any sort of internship help in college admissions? If I am interested in engineering and do a more biology related internship, does it still help me?

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    Anupama Singh
  • advisor@indexcc.net

Anupama Singh Answered 5 months ago

Depending on what you do and how you tell your story, it can make an impact.  Like any experience, it's important to reflect and deeply think about what you learned, not just in terms of the process and the technical parts, but also the softer parts such as your own personal development, relationships in the office, all the unsaid rules and protocols, etc.  Universities don't necessarily expect you to do an internship in a field you plan on studying as there are still many learning opportunities beyond your field of study.

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How selective is the Stanford Summer Session for High School students?

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    Kim Dixit
  • kim@theredpen.in

Kim Dixit Answered 6 months ago

There are several different summer programs that run at Stanford. Admission to the Humanities Institute is competitive and so is the Math program. The other programs require a solid application but there are more seats available so admission is not as selective. Students I have worked with have really enjoyed all Stanford programs because they attract a high caliber peer group and the length of the programs offers an immersive experience in college life. Good luck!

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I was told that if I apply early with a really good SAT/ACT score of 1520+/34+, have strong extracurricular activities, good marks in high school, I might be able to bring my cost of attendance down at UT Dallas. Is this true?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 6 months ago

It's true! Those are very high scores for UT Dallas, which has generous scholarships even for international students. The university has tried hard to increase its diversity over the past few years, in particular by having diversity scholarships. In addition, there are many Academic Excellence Awards, the Eugene McDermott Scholars awards, and other scholarships available as well. To see some of the details, see https://www.utdallas.edu/isso/finaid/Here is the link specifically for scholarships https://www.utdallas.edu/finaid/scholarships/ . Here is the link for the Diversity Scholars. It includes a video specifically for international students. https://www.utdallas.edu/diversity/departments/community-engagement/diversity-scholars-program.htmlHope that helps! Feel free to reach out to me with any more questions.

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Can you suggest extra-curricular/co-curricular activities for aerospace engineering major?

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    Geetha Swamy
  • geetha.swamy53@gmail.com

Geetha Swamy Answered 5 months ago

Aerospace engineering is a very niche field. For you to find internships in India where aircraft building happens only in the Defence sector may be very difficult. If you have some one who can arrange for you to get an opportunity in organisations like Hindustan Aeronautical limited, it would be great. Alternately you could just experience of engineering in regular manufacturing industries or in IT sector. This will demonstrate your interest in the technical field. How about aero modelling or drone building? You could try your hand at that! It will be fun and you might learn more about aerodynamics....View More

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    akash_manoj@hotmail.com

I'm an Indian student studying class 12 in a CBSE school. I took Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Psychology without Mathematics in my classes 11 and 12. However, I studied Math till Grade 10, have enrolled in an online edX certified Calculus BC course for my senior year and gave the Math 2 SAT subject test in June. I'm targeting HYP and other ivies for an undergraduate course in Biology (PreMed track). Will this affect my chances considering good ECs in STEM and research in cardiovascular medicine that involves a lot of Maths in it? How else can I prove my competency in mathematics? Please let me know your thoughts on this.

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    Kim Dixit
  • kim@theredpen.in

Kim Dixit Answered 4 months ago

Competitive US universities require students to demonstrate a strong competency in mathematics for 3-4 years especially if they want to study sciences. Since you have not taken math  you will need to explain why in your application through counselor LoR. Although your research shows your competency in math, there is no way universities will know its level since you cannot upload your research. So, I suggest you to take the AP Calculus BC course next May (though keep in mind the results come out after you received all your offers). Moreover,  engage yourself in math-related research projects and/or participate in....View More

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    Srihari Balaji

Can a student who is a chess Candidate Master be recruited by college chess teams?

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    Kim Dixit
  • kim@theredpen.in

Kim Dixit Answered 4 months ago

Yes, it's possible. However, you can't be recruited the same way the other sports applicants are. It is important that you contact coaches or chess competition leaders to push for your application. 

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Applying as a Public Policy/ Economics major, what would be more credible - an internship with a Member of Parliament or The Planning commission/ other advisory bodies?

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    Anupama Singh
  • advisor@indexcc.net

Anupama Singh Answered 2 months ago

The best internship is one that you do for you and your own interests.  If you make a decision just to better position yourself, it's the wrong way to make this decision.  You should choose an internship opportunity that best suits the area(s) you're interested in, the one that would allow you to work with the people with whom you'd like to get closer to, etc.

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I'm an Indian studying in a CBSE school! I took Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Psychology without Mathematics in my classes 11 and 12. However, I studied Math till Grade 10, have enrolled in an online edX certified Calculus BC course for my senior year and gave the Math 2 SAT subject test in June. I'm targeting HYP and other ivies for an undergraduate course in Biology (PreMed track). Will this affect my chances considering good ECs in STEM and research in cardiovascular medicine that involves a lot of Maths in it? How else can I prove my competency in mathematics?

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    Geetha Swamy
  • geetha.swamy53@gmail.com

Geetha Swamy Answered 4 months ago

What are your grades in classes 9, 10, 11 and 12? Why are you targeting only the Ivies? Have you even considered other top schools for Biology?  What score did you receive in SAT Math 2 test? There are so many other questions you need to consider before you dash into planning for admission to HYP. It seems that your competency in Math is uppermost in your mind. Please consider the other factors I have listed above. They are very important. I am glad that you have some good extra curricular activities. They will certainly work in your favour. Math....View More

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    Pulkit Bhasin

In the activities section of the HKUST undergraduate admission application, are we supposed to mention broad activities such as programming and quizzing and elaborate on them in the description or write specific activists such as President of XYZ club and talk about it? Also, if we’ve worked on independent projects, should we mention them separately?

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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered 8 days ago

I would prioritize what you think has been most impactful for you, and discuss those in order. I would indeed discuss your programming experience if that has been important to you, and tell how both what you have done and how it is meaningful, as well as being president of various clubs and what you have learned by having this position. If your independent projects are separate from programming and the clubs, you should discuss them separately. There is not one correct way to do this. They want to see what is important to you, and to have you discuss....View More

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