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My Life At An Ivy League College

As a first-generation college student at an Ivy League college, nothing could have prepared me for what my first semester entailed. When I first arrived on campus, I was ecstatic to begin my time at such a famous institution, known for its community and commitment to education. However, my high expectations quickly were quickly deflated, as the initial weeks proved to be much more of an adjustment than anticipated.



Ivy League colleges


My Initial Struggles At An Ivy League College


From a potential cancer diagnosis at home to being unable to adjust to the intensive curriculum, I genuinely began to consider that this place may not be for me. On the one hand, I wanted to go home to my family, alongside my dad in our familiar restaurant kitchen, in order to help alleviate the burdens at home. On another hand, people at this school seemed to be more intelligent and more successful than I could have ever imagined. While everyone else appeared to be acing their new courses, classes like University Writing and Multivariable Calculus were the most difficult ones that I had ever taken. How do you study for Principles of Economics with no notes, recordings, or resources besides a voluminous textbook?


Extracurriculars 1: Challenges


Things here are competitive — if getting into this Ivy League college was tough, getting into these clubs is even harder. Throughout my time thus far, I applied to various organizations, each of which involved a lengthy interview process for which I always progressed far in but not far enough. With applications at finance clubs requiring extensive knowledge of hedge funds, venture capital, and marketing, I felt overwhelmed and underprepared. This spring, I made it to the 4th stage interview process of a well-known business fraternity on campus. I felt hopeful. Unfortunately though, I was not offered a 5th (and final) interview. At that point, I was not sure exactly what I wanted to pursue or how I could even pursue it. I wanted to join numerous clubs to gain more knowledge, yet it seemed like most students already had the skills needed to easily pass these otherwise daunting obstacles.


Extracurriculars 2: Successes


Despite the fact that extracurriculars were, in this sense, discouraging, I tried to remind myself that it was all a part of the process and continued to apply. Eventually, I was able to find some success, as I became one of the 15 out of 75 applicants accepted onto the Executive Board of the Columbia Chinese Students Club as an Organizational Committee Member! Within such a role, I was able to contribute to hosting Night Market, one of the largest events on campus that features talented student performances as well as a chance to enjoy traditional Chinese street food. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who could actually understand my culture and even celebrate it with me on such a scale. And it was thanks to the initiatives supported by my school! To this extent, I believe that coming to an Ivy League college ultimately presented just as many extracurricular opportunities as it did difficulties.


Living In A New City


Despite being from a rural area, the bustling environment of New York City was relatively easy to adapt to; after all, I had always been somewhat of a busy bee. Certain aspects, though, like the stark differences in the cost of living did come as a shock. I remember my surprise when one of my first meals, a tonkatsu plate, was $18, where any other meal at home would be close to $10!


But with each subway ride, I slowly began to find my balance while exploring the city, and finding new hobbies as I connected with new people. Lately, I enjoy cafe-hopping in Soho, and going out for sweet treats like bingsu or tiandian! Some of my favorite places to stop by include The Lost Draft, Ladurée, Kerber’s Farm, and Grace Street Coffee & Desserts. From walking the High Line at Hudson Yards to eating way too much tanghulu in Flushing, I have already accumulated so many experiences in this city that I will cherish for a lifetime.


Picking A Major


An adaptable education system has been instrumental in my academic journey. The ability to explore a variety of disciplines before committing to a specific major has allowed me to discover where my true passions lie. When I applied to an Ivy League college, my initial plan was to major in Neuroscience. However, as I explored different fields, I found myself spontaneously drawn to Economics. This exploration eventually led me to Cognitive Science, where I have since decided to specialize in Behavioral Economics, as such a multifaceted degree perfectly aligns with my diverse interests as well as offers potential career opportunities in various fields, including psychology, law, artificial intelligence, linguistics, and beyond.


Landing An Internship


Moreover, this community has also played a crucial role in my summer endeavors. The guidance and encouragement from faculty, advisors, and peers have motivated me to strive for excellence and explore different organizations. This summer, I am thrilled to have been selected as a Diversity, Education, and Inclusion intern at Zimmer Biomet, a leading medical company valued at $25 billion USD. Out of 1,200 applicants, being chosen for this role is certainly a testament to the benefits of going to a prestigious institution, as none of this would have been possible without the vast resources and opportunities offered otherwise. With access to cutting-edge libraries, networking events, and career workshops, college has equipped me with the tools and knowledge needed to succeed.


College Fulfillment


As a freshman who arrived without a single clue as to how demanding an Ivy League college could actually be, I was terrified that I would spend a lonely four years here with nothing but studying on my mind. However, I am glad to report that such fears proved to be far from the case, as I can now see why people say that undergrad is one of the best periods of their lives. Safe to say, I am content with my life as well as overjoyed to have persevered to where I am in the present. With great friends by my side, I feel more represented and supported than ever before, and I will continue to move forward with the comfort of knowing that the people at home also continue to root for me. So, as much as my first year has been a rollercoaster, it has also been a year of immense growth and unforgettable memories – and I can not wait for what is next.


The College Admissions Essay Expert


My journey to acceptance would not have been possible without the guidance and expertise of The College Admissions Essay Expert. They have an outstanding track record of helping students such as myself achieve success with college admissions. Their aid ranged from helping me with the college application to providing strategy and editing with the college admissions essays. I am grateful for all they have done on my road to admissions success.

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