A Little Application Story
A Little Application Story
Jack Ma


01 Student Reflections:


To whom it may be useful, this article is a reflection of my application process and an analysis of the challenges that I encountered and how I solved them.

My name is Alois Zhao, a twelfth-grader from Song house, Vanke Meisha Academy. Like everyone else, I have had a hard time trying to decide my ED school. Even though I was very interested and passionate about JHU, I was at first intimidated by its high academic standards and world-wide fame; I even imagined how I would suffer in an extremely competitive environment if I ever got in. So there was a time when I had discussions with my CCO teachers and parents about applying ED to another school such as Emory, which also seems like a fit for me. But I still did not want to give up on my dream school. By reading multiple sample essays written by admitted students demonstrated on JHU’s official website, I found these essays very inspiring and it dawned on me that these students form a fascinating community I want to be a member of; they encourage me to stand my ground firm—apply ED to JHU. So the lesson I learned here is to not only research on colleges’ solid information; pay attention to those who have already got in to see if you have anything to learn from them.

The result came out quickly. I was transfixed when I saw the line “Welcome to the class of 2024.” That was one of the most amazing moments I ever had. After being ecstatic for the whole morning, I calmed down and started to summarize my application process. I believe the following things I have done had greatly made my application stronger:

First, to prepare as early as possible. The application preparations could be very demanding, so it is best to allocate your time wisely starting from the very first day you enter high school. The preparations should not only include personal essays that some students may wait until the last week to finish but also GPA and extracurricular activities that you can try to do well at the beginning. Since I finished most of my application work during the summer holidays, I had more time in the last few months to improve my essays.

Second, read at least one classic English novel a month. It is not a mandatory task for me, but I find it relaxing and I could always learn new vocabularies and expressions. As students enter high school, they stopped reading books voluntarily because they have many other assignments to finish. However, as a student studying in an international school, I consider English the most important skill. Reading novels is one the quickest way to improve your English and understand western cultures. It also helps with writing because you can get familiarized with different kinds of writing styles that you could assimilate into your writing pieces. I found it especially useful when I had difficulties writing a prompt of a university; I always put that prompt aside and read a few hours of English literature, and then it magically becomes easier for me to write it.

Third, do not procrastinate. I had the hobbit of listing all my assignments on a piece of post-it note every day and I make myself finish all of them within that day as possible as I can. This makes my application more efficient.

I hope these suggestions will give you some inspirations as you are applying to colleges. And what I talk about next is more upon how to stay stable mentally during the application process because your mental status can affect you considerably.

When I was applying to my first school—UNC, I was both excited and stressed out. Something went wrong with my counselor page in Common App and I could not submit. It made me so agitated that I could not help to keep asking my counselor questions. With the hard work of the CCO department, finally, the problem was solved. However, during those days I did not work with the same efficiency in my classes. So here is my advice—if you are feeling nervous and agitated about anything in the application process, talk to your counselors and have faith in them. Do not let these problems affect your work.

Applying to colleges is both stressful and exciting, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is unique for everyone. Just think of it as an adventure; enjoy the process and have fun!



02 Counselor Reflections


One of the interesting parts of working with people (versus working with machines or building materials, for example) is that each one is uniquely different.  They each have different needs, motivations and capabilities, and with this in mind, it is so important to learn as much about a student as possible when advising them, to know what strategies are going to best serve that individual.

A strategy that I highly recommend to students is to do a lot of research about potential universities in advance of the application process.  After carefully considering the research results, choose relatively few schools that are appropriate to both the student’s needs/wants and their credentials.  And then work very hard on producing the absolute best application possible. This means spending time on writing the best essays possible, making sure activities are described completely, and that all of the information submitted has had a detailed eye review it multiple times.

Without much prompting, this is exactly the strategy Alois used in her university applications: Careful research, careful selection and careful application preparation on a small number of schools. And at this point, it looks like all the hard work is going to pay off for her.  The method she used is not the only strategy available, but it was probably the best for her individual situation, and the results were what she had hoped for.  What could be better?

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