Choices and alignment of interest
A strange topic for a website that helps people get into college you would say! But then, this gains critical importance when the product you are going to buy is going to change your life forever.
If we were to tell you that not all colleges are made equal, it would be stating the obvious. But if we were to add, that even the most difficult ones build out a class profile and therefore, all kinds of students (above a minimum threshold) have a shot at getting selected, provided their stories are presented to highlight their uniqueness and natural fit with the ethos of the university and program, you will be all ears. So, if you have a decent all-round performance, good general test scores (GMAT, GRE, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc), have done interesting things outside of regular academic work, the Ivy League is likely to have a good look at you.
We strongly suggest that you should choose your programs carefully. Any amount of effort put up in the selection of the right courses is more valuable than time spent with a consultant/counselor. Effort spent on identifying your own strengths & weaknesses and your persona and articulating the same is going to help you understand the reason for pursuing a course, and allow you to benefit from the experience to the maximum. After all, doing a program is but one step in the direction of a fulfilling life. It is never the be-all-end-all. But knowing yourself, helps identify alternative career paths that would be more meaningful to you.
Similarly, it is important to choose your consultants wisely. After all, they are the ones who you turn to for guidance on crossroads. And therefore, like all transactions, it is important to identify where their incentives lie. Like Abraham Kaplan’s Law of the Instrument says “Give a boy a hammer and everything he meets has to be pounded.” Therefore, ask the consultant about the colleges you apply to, and invariably, you will be shepherded to colleges that have an ‘outreach program’ – admitting a number of higher-paying students through incentivizing people in those geographies to recruit students. Now, as a student, this is great news. You would almost certainly be guaranteed a seat, and if that is all that matters, go right ahead. But please agree to never feel sorry that you could have gone to a course that was ranked higher, or a program that fit your requirements and interests better. Because, you need to ask yourself – what programs would need outreach programs and international recruiters? These are certainly not the ones in high demand!
Remember, diversity in the classroom brings vibrancy and leads to healthy debates and different perspectives. Good professors and strong research orientation, industry interface and alumni network help in building out careers that matter. And that is the reason you want to study in an internationally renowned program. Even the Ivy League colleges understand that and therefore focus on having international students with varied backgrounds in the class. So, please think carefully about the choices you are likely to make for the colleges and programs you apply. And choose counselors, whose interests are aligned with yours, and not of the programs’ they peddle.
Be the CEO of your own life.