The Waiting Game: No one wants to play it, but you should know the rules.

What to do while you wait....

What to do while you wait....

The Waitlist-What it is and the Strategies to Successfully get chosen off of it:


First: you must be realistic, it may not happen. Psychologically, you may want to start thinking strongly about the second choice and really start planning to be there. Logistically, you NEED to make a final choice for ONE school by MAY 1st and pay the deposit and complete any “Intent to Register” formalities.


Regardless of whether you stay on the waitlist at one or more schools, YOU MUST DECIDE ON ONE COLLEGE BY MAY 1ST AND PAY DEPOSIT TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT SOMEWHERE. If you end up getting off of the wait list, then you can choose to go to the “wait list” school by informing the other school that you deposited at that you are not coming. You will only loose the deposit.

What is a waitlist? The waitlist is a device used by schools to hedge their admissions results. Every program starts the admissions cycle with two critical projected numbers: applications and enrollments. These two "start and finish" numbers inform all of the key pieces of data for that program: acceptance rate, yield rate, financial aid metrics, and so on.

Even when those key numbers become solid (when the enrollment management committee sets an enrollment number and the application pool is finalized), there are still moving parts, because the admissions committee must project what the yield rate (the number of admitted students who ultimately enroll) will look like in order to ascertain how many students to accept. If the yield projection is too low, the school will over-enroll in the fall. On the other hand, if the yield projection is too high, the admissions office will be scrambling to fill the class.

This is where the waitlist comes into play. Obviously, if a program needs to add students at the late stages of the admissions process, they need to have "hot" leads. So when the committee makes decisions on students, they are always sure to keep a number of students in the mix, just in case they need to go and recruit from that pool anew. Therefore, the waitlist is - in its simplest form - a hedge against a bad yield projection.

The waitlist can also be a "soft deny" (a way to let people down easy), a built-in part of the process (winnowing down hundreds of second tier candidates to determine which fifty really want to get in), or even just the fulfillment of the status quo (after all, everyone has a waitlist), but the purest use is as a mechanism for the admissions office to course correct. It's as simple as that.

What is the timing like? Once you know how a waitlist works, the next step is understanding when it will work. At some schools, there may be internal, telltale signs early in the process that they aren't going to hit their enrollment numbers and an aggressive waitlist admissions campaign might begin early. Other programs will think they are golden until the last minute, when the big wave of enrollments never comes. Those are the schools that have to really scramble. Either way, you want to get on the record early and often, expressing your continued interest in the program. If and when the school starts to reach out to waitlisted students, you want to be at the top of the queue.

How can you tell if a school will be going to its waitlist? Sometimes you don't know right way (at least not until waitlisted candidates start chattering on message boards), but there are other times when you can forecast a school going deep into its waitlist. For starters, you can look at recent trends and see how schools have done yielding a class. In particular, look to the previous year and then make an educated guess based on the inverse of that prior year. Schools are very reactionary, so if they yielded tremendously well for the incoming fall 2008 class, you can bet that they were aggressive in building their yield projection for this current cycle. Could be a good waitlist bet. On the contrary, a school that hit the waitlist hard last year is not very likely to admit a lot of students off the waitlist this year, because their reaction is the complete opposite - to get conservative and shrink the projected rate.

What is the one thing the school wants to know most about me as a waitlist candidate? Pure and simple, they want to know if you will enroll should they accept you. It sounds a bit crude, but the time for high-level matchmaking is largely over - at this stage, the admissions committee simply wants to figure out whether you will be a "one-for-one" conversion. A "one-for-one" refers to the idea that each admitted student off the waitlist will enroll in the program. This is extremely important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the impact it has on the admissions numbers that the school must report at the end of the process. Each additional acceptance letter raises the ever-important acceptance rate and each admitted student that does not enroll further drops the yield rate. Once a program goes to the waitlist (especially if it is unplanned), they are already fully engaged in damage mitigation. Therefore, their primary concern is identifying qualified students (again, this is the value of the waitlist - you can stock a pool of candidates who are all qualified) who will enroll if given the chance.



As mentioned, the most important thing is that the College wants to pick students who will actually come. Many students stay on the wait-list because they are “keeping score” (just want to see where all they get in). Some because they do it as a “knee-jerk” reaction, but then get into a school that they prefer and never take the effort to inform the school they want to go off of the wait-list. And then there is YOU, the kid who actually wants to GET IN! So we want to communicate to the school that you are in this third bucket!

Steps to follow:

While this is a delicate process of walking the razors edge of showing persistence without annoying them, you do want to show them through your efforts and things that you send in that you are willing to work to get in. The kids in the first two buckets above will not bother to do this. So, below are steps that you can send lots of things that will not be gimmicky or annoying.

Send in the response that you want to stay on the waitlist as soon as possible.

Compose a longer letter to remind the school of your strengths and inform them of any recent accomplishments, awards, honors and work that you have done since you applied. If you will have any grades for Finals completed you can have your high school fax those to the school. Or if you have good grades from any Mock Exams, have those sent.

Let the admissions office know—again—why you make a great fit with this school in particular. It can’t hurt to visit the school if possible, call occasionally, or offer to interview.

Get another recommendation or reference letter if you can. This is especially helpful if the person writing the letter can provide reasons why you make a good candidate for this particular school. This is particularly effective now because it is connecting to just one school as opposed to all of your schools as it was initially

Ask the college what you can do to bolster your chances for acceptance. You may not get any useful information out of this, but it can’t hurt to ask. This approach works successfully for many applicants each year and is another reason to reach out to the college, hence showing them how much you want them.

I have had students in the past who have created short videos of why they should get in, compose songs or small video games. Anything creative will show how much you want it!

Send in something separate that again highlights the GREATEST achievement in your personal brand, just to remind them of this super KEY achievement.

Review the Common Data Sets for the colleges that you are waitlisted at. This will give you and idea of how possible it is for you to get in. You can google: particular college + common data set + waitlist and get it. For instance, here is the common data set for Stanford:

Not a very promising example in that Stanford accepted 0 people from Wait List, but helpful in that it shows that this would not likely be a college to hold your breath for:

Total first-time, first-year (freshman) men who applied: 20,464
Total first-time, first-year (freshman) women who applied: 18,364
Total first-time, first-year (freshman) men who were admitted: 1,147
Total first-time, first-year (freshman) women who were admitted: 1,061

Total full-time, first-time, first-year (freshman) men who enrolled: 904
Total part-time, first-time, first-year (freshman) men who enrolled:
Total full-time, first-time, first-year (freshman) women who enrolled: 773
Total part-time, first-time, first-year (freshman) women who enrolled:

C2. Freshman wait-listed students (students who met admission requirements but whose final admission was contingent on space availability)
Do you have a policy of placing students on a waiting list? Yes

Number of qualified applicants offered a place on waiting list: 814

Number of wait-listed students who accepted a place on the list: 576

Number of wait-listed students admitted: 0

Is your waiting list ranked? No


But most importantly, start thinking about your “birds in hand”, colleges that you got into. There is no point in holding out hopes for a Wait List school. Work hard to convince them and then move on with your life until that decision is available.


The "Likely Letter"



This time of year, many applicants get something informally called the "likely letter" from some of the schools that they applied to. This is where the college sends a letter saying that they're very excited about the applicant, and will be getting back to the applicant in about a month, but that they are excited about the student joining their college. This is not an acceptance letter, this is purely a letter that says that the student may get in.  

As a counselor for over 10 years now, I am alarmed at this practice increasing. I have had students in the past who have received this letter and then not actually been admitted. I do not think that it is fair that universities send this kind of letter to Students. What good can it do? This is already a very anxious time for students waiting to hear from universities. Presumably, the university has already read the application, so why not just decide and send the letter of acceptance early. This practice also scares students who have not received the likely letter. They are all talking to each other on college confidential or some Facebook group. What doesn't mean you have not received this likely letter? Actually, it doesn't mean anything, but try to tell that to the student who is anxiously waiting to hear back from colleges and keep hearing about the other students are receiving these letters.

Don't make this process have even more anxiety than it already has.

Meghna Ravishankar shares some of her advice....

Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Applied to College

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Completing college applications is an extremely stressful task and causes anxiety in many students, teachers, Internet service providers, the whole lot. Everyone knows that they are obviously a test of endurance, stamina and intelligence, and should therefore be respected from a distance, and feared up close. (You thought high school was hard, LOL). The aim of this article is to hopefully make you a little more confident about your college applications or just a little less stressed out (Success not guaranteed). I am going to relive my application process, and if we both make it out alive, maybe you’ll learn something.


Narrow your Choices

Narrowing your list of prospective colleges can be difficult but it’s not impossible. Remember that the rankings of colleges are often based on their grad schools. Consider this while applying and when deciding on a college later on. Many small liberal arts schools are not featured in these rankings but they are by no means less brilliant than the huge, highly ranked research universities (don’t be too quick to brush them aside, most are pretty great). College prowler will be your best friend throughout this process.


Finish Tests Early

Get your standardized testing out of the way as soon as possible because it’s just a pain if you try to juggle your applications, standardized tests and schoolwork all at once. Avoid doing the November/December, unless it’s really necessary, because it’s usually around the same time as the midterms in 11th, AND in 12th you’re writing college essays and midterms. I did that and my scores didn’t really improve so: waste of money, waste of time. But you’re not me so do whatever, YOLO.


The dreaded SAT: It’s a huge pain and it’s not exactly cheap, around $100 to write a test for over 3 hours; $51 for the test, $40 for being Asian and some random taxes of course because life is incomplete without them. GET IT OUT OF THE WAY.


Make sure you check if the colleges on your list have any specific testing requirements (SAT, TOEFL, IELTS, SAT II) and see if you can have them waived. There’s nothing more annoying than having to spend a ton of money on random tests that you could’ve avoided. Some of the smaller liberal arts colleges don’t even require the SAT anymore (YAY liberal arts!).


Organize your Thoughts

Writing essays is a time consuming process so start early. Make sure you stick to your deadlines because it’s going to affect YOU in the end, no one else. If you’re sending your essays to a college counsellor don’t be late and expect them to work miracles because they’re people too and believe it or not, they need to sleep at night as well. Ask your teachers and peers to read your essays and give you feedback. That being said, don’t feel the need to take every single person’s opinion into account. It’s very easy to lose your thought process and your voice in an essay when you take everyone’s feedback into consideration. You are trying to convince colleges to choose you for YOU so be true to yourself as much as possible. College admissions committees are not as mean as you think they are. They are more afraid of you than you are of them (once they admit you, you have an insane amount of leverage.) Find out if colleges are need-blind or not. A common belief is that you are less likely to be accepted if you apply for financial aid but this is not always true. If you know people in some of the colleges you want to apply to, talk to them and get a sense of the academic intensity and the expectations that professors might have. This is also helpful when you are choosing where you want to go after the decisions have come out.


Enjoy Life

Fast forward. Applications are sent, a huge burden taken off your shoulders. Take a breather because you deserve it for making it this far. Now start stressing about whether colleges actually love you. It’s normal to be stressed while waiting for your decisions but remember, there’s nothing you can change about your applications now. So just have fun while you can. Getting accepted is always fun, getting rejected or deferred, not so much (Feels something like this


Finally you have to pick where you want to go: the perfect place for an amazing experience and a new adventure. Think carefully even if you think you already know where you want to go because the entire application process might change things for you. Trust me on this one. I had to choose between UBC and Grinnell. Before I applied, I had my heart set on UBC and it was a no-brainer when anyone asked me where I was going.


When it finally came down to it, however, UBC wasn’t the one for me, even though it was my first love. At the time, I thought I was making a huge mistake by choosing Grinnell but now I can easily say it was the best decision I have ever made (Grinnell is amazing. You should apply! Colleges are like clothes. Imagine that you find a really nice pair of jeans and they look great but they don’t fit you. You squeeze into them anyway but they look terrible on you. Don’t choose a college that doesn’t fit you.



Lastly, while choosing the college you want to commit to, have a set of criteria to compare them and make a rational decision. I can’t give you a list of criteria because it depends on what is important to you. One thing I’ll tell you, however, is that WEATHER IS IMPORTANT. It shouldn’t be a determining factor (unless you are very picky about the weather) but I think it’s pretty important. I go to college in Iowa where winters are -20°C on average. Not fun. I’m sure I would’ve transferred by now if I didn’t love my college as much as I do.


I know this was long but we both made it through. I hope it helped. These are things that I learned late into my application process so maybe it will help you get a jump on your work. Hang in there! College is such a blast, so I hope you find your perfect fit.


OMG, I haven’t done an internship yet!!

It’s almost March and more than the rising heat of the impending summer, I know the month by the inevitable questions that come in from concerned 11th grade students: “Is it important that I do an internship this summer?” I will patiently remind them that, as with all things in this process, it is only important that they “do” what they are truly interested in doing. “The Internship”, like community service, has long been thought of as one of those critical areas that students have relegated to the checklist that they think of as a requirement in a good application. As with all things that students do with the intention of just being a bullet point on their resume, getting a letter of recommendation for an internship becomes one of those goals for many students. Lets face it, we are all in love with pieces of paper (and parents keep piles of these certificates from their kids achievements over the years organized neatly in shoe boxes under beds). I always remind students that I can go down to the local notary here in Bangalore and get a certificate that says that I am the Prime Minister for Rs. 100. A piece of paper means nothing, and in fact, most admissions people don’t want extra letters of recommendation or certificates clogging up your already big application file. They want to hear from you! They want to know WHY this internship was important to you.

But everyone in my class is doing an internship!!

So is the internship really that important? Well, it depends. You need to ask yourself a few questions before deciding if and what you want to do. If you don’t, you are likely to find yourself in an Facebook Internship. That is not as good as it sounds. I call the Facebook Internship one in which you are actually going to some office for a week or two, but all that you do is update your status. But if you can find a meaningful internship, yes, it is a great experience to have. Also, since in the UK you do not have that much flexibility to change your major, they are very interested in seeing that you have explored the “real-world” application of what you want to study.

Before rushing into this, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to get out of this internship? Have some specific goals or expectations for the internship. You may end up being wrong about these, but if you have some goals, you will be more focused on actually doing something, and it will provide a better conversation with your supervisor for the internship.

  • Why am I doing this? Maybe you want to get a sense of a particular career path that relates to an area of study that you are considering? Or maybe there are resources at a company that help you explore an area of research that relates to something that you are interested in.
    • What potential “product” or “outcome” could come out of this internship? Having something tangible that you can share with others is far better than a letter of recommendation. See if there is some kind of report that you can produce, or even a small contribution that you can call your own at the end of it.

    Your Supervisor is likely to be very nice, and very clueless!

    Well, he/she is clueless about what to do with you at least. It is the unpleasant side-effect of anti-child labor laws that most organizations will have very little idea of what you are capable of and they typically don’t have people come work in their company for such short periods of time. I think that the most important consideration to think about when approaching an internship is to determine your purpose and potential outcome. Think about the work that the company does, and about your own skills and goals that you defined in the above questions. In the first meeting with the supervisor, or in emails prior to meeting, you could share these thoughts and they may help him/her get a better idea of what you could do. If nothing else, it will show the supervisor that you are there to work. And this will help you avoid the second deadly, yet common internship ~ The Shadow Internship. That is when they put you onto the CEO or some other important person in the organization and say that you will “shadow”, or follow them around for a week. This could be interesting, but it is highly unlikely that you will contribute anything in that kind of internship. I also always suggest when you are looking at internships that you see whether you may be able to break it into two or three times during different vacations in your 11th and 12th grade. It is more likely that over time, you will get a better idea of where you can add value and in the second or third time may really be able to contribute something. I think that this also looks great to admissions, as it shows commitment in consistency of focus over time.

    Brainstorm on the possibilities!

    Right! So, your 16 or 17-years-old and have maybe one month to dedicate to an internship. I hate to break it to you, but most people are not beating the pavement looking for your exact demographic for work. The first place to look is with your own family and family friends. If you have done the discovery process above, it will be easier for others to hone in on opportunities. When you do connect to a possibility, suggest an introduction, but then take it on yourself. Use the introduction as an opportunity to “sell” yourself based on what you are looking for, your goals and expectations. I guarantee that it will impress that “family friend” and lead to a more meaningful role. There are also organizations that help students find internships, one such group that I had a girl attend really helped her explore her interest in Law.1 I had another student who built homes in South Africa and learned intensive second language courses.2 But these programs are not inexpensive. I would also suggest that you check with your seniors in school and counselor to see what previous students have done, as the companies that they have worked with may be more comfortable with hosting high school students. Also, don’t forego your own family business, if that is a possibility. It is easier to believe that your mom or dad allowed you greater access than it is to imagine Ernst and Young really let you get that involved!

    Finally, lets not forget that just the act of some good hard work is a commendable thing. In fact, for most students in the US and UK, internships are not that accessible either. Instead, delivering the newspaper, baby-sitting and mowing lawns will be on their resumes. Nothing wrong with understanding the value of money through the sweat of the brow! I had two brothers that I worked with in the past, their father owned the largest car dealerships in town. They were interested in studying business. He gave them jobs washing cars for the summer. Ask them now and they will tell you that it was a great experience. Ask them then and they moaned.

    New Essay Prompts on the Common Application!

    Class of 2017 has the historic honor of being the first class to have new Essay prompts on the Common Application main essay in over eight years! There are several other changes, like the word limit is now 650 words (before 500) and will be strictly enforced. The system is also going completely online this year (read: inevitable problems looming).

    I for one am very happy with these changes as I found the old topics quite stale and invoking equally stale responses. I have always appreciated the Topic of Your Choice option over the cheesy "Miss World" like response from the old Diversity prompt or the Issue of National importance (sorry, almost fell asleep again writing that!). Oh, another change, the Topic of you Choice no longer an option!

    Without further adeiu, here are the new Prompts:

    • "Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story."
    • "Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?"
    • "Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?"
    • "Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?"
    • "Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family."

    For the full Announcement Download This

    A student's journal of her college visits

    Wow, this was so fun to read and such a great job of documenting college visits by this student that I wanted to share on my blog. Even the pictures are great!!  Enjoy!

     Colleges Visited:

    Duke University
    Meredith College
    Swarthmore College
    Brown University
    Amherst College
    Smith College
    Williams College
    Wellesley College
    Northwestern University
    Claremont McKenna
    Scripps College
    Pomona College

    Download the Full Descriptive PDF here


    10 Opening Lines from Stanford Admission Essays

    These are fun to read from a counselor that I enjoy following on Twitter (Lynn O'Shaughnessy)

    10 Opening Lines from Stanford Admission Essays

    1. I change my name each time I place an order at Starbucks.
    2. When I was in the eighth grade I couldn't read.
    3. While traveling through the daily path of life, have you ever stumbled upon a hidden pocket of the universe?
    4. I have old hands.
    5. I was paralyzed from the waist down. I would try to move my leg or even shift an ankle but I never got a response. This was the first time thoughts of death ever cross my mind.
    6. I almost didn't live through September 11th, 2001.
    7. The spaghetti burbled and slushed around the pan, and as I stirred it, the noises it gave off began to sound increasingly like bodily functions.
    8. I have been surfing Lake Michigan since I was 3 years old.
    9. I stand on the riverbank surveying this rippled range like some riparian cowboy -instead of chaps, I wear vinyl, thigh-high waders and a lasso of measuring tape and twine is slung over my arm.
    10. I had never seen anyone get so excited about mitochondria.

    Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.

    University of Chicago's new 2013 Essay Questions

    "Provocative." "Comical." "Engaging." "Fun!"

    These are all words that students have used to describe our uniquely UChicago essay questions. (Yes, this is our attempt to make applying to college “fun.” Or at least a little less stressful.)

    Rolling out the maroon carpet to grant you an exclusive sneak peek at this year’s essay questions. This should give you plenty of time to ponder, play, and procrastinate before the application process commences this fall.

    The complete UChicago supplement and financial aid details will be available when the Common Application goes live on August 1.

    “A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.” –Oscar Wilde.

    Othello and Iago. Dorothy and the Wicked Witch. Autobots and Decepticons. History and art are full of heroes and their enemies. Tell us about the relationship between you and your arch-nemesis (either real or imagined).

    Inspired by Martin Krzywy, admitted student Class of 2016.

    Heisenberg claims that you cannot know both the position and momentum of an electron with total certainty. Choose two other concepts that cannot be known simultaneously and discuss the implications. (Do not consider yourself limited to the field of Physics).

    Inspired by Doran Bennett, AB’07.

    Susan Sontag, AB’51, wrote that “Silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech.” Write about an issue or a situation when you remained silent, and explain how silence may speak in ways that you did or did not intend.  The Aesthetics of Silence, 1967.

    Anonymous submission.

    “...I [was] eager to escape backward again, to be off to invent a past for the present." –The Rose Rabbi by Daniel Stern

    Present: pres·ent

    1. Something that is offered, presented, or given as a gift.

    Let’s stick with this definition. Unusual presents, accidental presents, metaphorical presents, re-gifted presents, etc. — pick any present you have ever received and invent a past for it.

    Inspired by Jennifer Qin, AB’16

    In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose a question of your own. If your prompt is original and thoughtful, then you should have little trouble writing a great essay. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.

    So where is Waldo, really?

    Inspired by Robin Ye, AB’16.


    Thinking about Brown University for Engineering?

    Student Brown University in Engineering/Physics Spring 2012:

    Brown University Engineering!

    1) US news rankings are complete BS. Everyone who goes to college will tell you the same. These rankings tend to rate universities and departments based on the "quality of research" and the amount of money spent on research. This leads to two potential problems: firstly, it is very difficult to judge quality of research. After all you are working on something no one has ever done before so one can't say beforehand whether or not the research will lead to something useful. Secondly, the amount of money spent on research highly depends on the size of the college: the bigger the college the more money spent.

    In my unbiased opinion, Brown is very very good. The engineering department is close knit and there is a lot of one on one attention and a lot of freedom for one to pursue what one wants. A fair way to rank a department would be to see the success of their graduates. We have a ~100% acceptance rates for graduates to one of their top three choices for business school. That means you will definitely get in to Harvard, Wharton or Stanford for business if you want after graduation. As for engineering, we send a LOT of people every year to Stanford, MIT and Columbia and at least a few to CalTech.

    2) All engineering classes are taught by professors with graduate and undergraduate TAs. On the whole, the classes are well taught. I've never had a problem but some times you may have a less engaging professor and that could change things, but that's a problem at all universities. In terms of resources, Brown has a single building for physics and engineering with 7 floors of labs. Considering that engineering has ~75 students a year, there are lots of people to work with and a lot of resources that undergrads have access to. At Brown 6000/8000 students are undergraduates so we get a lot of attention.

    3) I've been doing research for over 2 years now. I think every Brown student will tell you that getting involved with research is super easy. We have something called the UTRA program which funds research for undergraduates. And the way I got involved with research was a simple email! There are so many labs to chose from and ALL of them are looking for undergrads. I have really enjoyed my time as a research assistant. I mean it's strange because you basically work in a lab with all these grad students and they all treat you like a grad student because you work on similar stuff. 

    My research is based on light. We're trying to create an "optical guitar" type thing. When you play a guitar, you press the string down at some point along the frets and you pluck the string to hear a note. If you move your fingers to a different position and pluck the string you hear a different sound. I'm working on doing something similar, but with light. Our "string" is light emitting molecules and we change distances of mirrors from these emitters to produce different frequencies of light.

    4) Apart from research you can get involved with projects with other students through student groups. Or you can work on projects with professors and build stuff. For example one of my friends decided to make a boat that could navigate itself. There is a car building team called Brown FSAE, you can look them up. I mean if you think of something you want to do, you just have to drop by a professors’ office and talk to them and they'll help you get the stuff you need. And I'm talking about personal projects!

    5) Brown's ME department is actually the best engineering department at Brown and is highly respected in the country. (Also I'm no longer an ME. My concentration is Engineering/Physics but I took loads of ME classes). So ME is divided in to several sub categories: fluids mechanics, solid mechanics etc. Our solid mechanics group is really really top notch. Our professors in ME are all almost exclusively from CalTech, Cambridge, MIT and Harvard. But all that apart, the ME classes are taught extremely well and all include design projects so you actually build stuff too. In your freshman year alone you'll build an exercise machine, a solar car and simulate the launch of a satellite to the moon!!!

    6) Doing engineering with economics isn't difficult, but it does take away from the freedom of your education at Brown because both combined have a lot of requirements. I really really enjoy economics and would have done the classes as my elective even if I wasn't a concentrator and so I have had a great time. But as advice, I'd say start off doing engineering and explore the other departments and then pick another concentration. Don't jump for engineering/economics (if you were planning to) straight away. We have awesome departments in Applied Math, CS, geology, Egyptology, and international relations.

    7) Excellent question. Let me start of by saying that I don't have a job as yet! But my case is an exception because I started applying very late because I wanted to go to grad school first but then decided to get a job. I might stay on at Brown and finish my Masters in engineering.

    Me aside, all the big names come to hire at Brown. To be very honest, your major plays almost no role in what jobs you get unless you are in a specialized field. So you couldn't be a history major and then hope to get a job as an engineer in any company. But if you're looking at consulting, finance it really really really doesn't matter what you study. What they care about is the way you think and of course you need some basic math skills. The people who interviewed me for various consulting and finance jobs had majored in stuff like death studies, anthropology, political science, engineering and Egyptology. And no I'm not making this up!

    7) If you do engineering and Econ, yes you take away your freedom. There are around 5-8 classes that you have as electives but compared to the average Brown student that is a lot less.

    Now for what I think and some general advice:

    Brown is a great place. Everyone that I've met here is very happy. We are one of the happiest colleges in America! What I really like about Brown is that people here are really passionate about what they do. No one is doing stuff to build a good resume/CV, they're doing it because they're actually interested.

    The students are friendly and there's a lot of collaboration and less competition. By that I mean that we all study for exams ourselves, then spend a good amount of time discussing the material with each other, teaching each other. The same applies for homework. And the professors here are (for the most part) very warm. They are informal and at the same time great mentors. I've had professors who have waited for me to finish my classes and teach me one on one for an exam the next day. I've had professors who've taken me out for meals, and some even invite you to their houses. That means a lot to me. Having a personal relationship with professors has greatly shaped me as a person because there's no barrier between you and them. They advise you, judge your work and at the same time call you for a soccer game on Sunday!

    Most Brown students are dual concentrators. So if you have a range of interests, this is the place for you. The Open Curriculum lets you seriously explore different departments and then if you like more than one, you don't have to jump any "hurdles" or get permission to dual concentrate. You just fill in a form. And the ease of getting involved with research is another thing that I think is special. I'm not sure undergraduates can do research so easily at other colleges, or may be given a small part of a graduate students project. But here I have my own project and the grad students help me!

    Academics apart, Brown had a great nightlife and party scene. Providence is a small city with quite a few good restaurants. Boston is 1 hr away and NYC is 3 hours away. Unlike big city colleges Brown actually has a campus with fields and greens. The nice part of Providence is where Brown's campus is located, so you never have to walk more than 5-10 minutes from your dorm to get anything.

    I hope this helps. If you have other questions, just write back to me.



    Why I chose University of Virginia- over Stanford, Duke, Cornell....

    I will be posting several student letters that I have collected over the years from students that I have worked with who have written to current students:

    Past student here attended UVa for Physics and is currently in Medical School at George Washington University:

    I am glad to hear you are working with Prab – definitely a smart move.  He helped me out during my college search and application process and only great things resulted, so if I may offer you a general piece of advice, it is to listen closely to Prab.
    As for why I chose UVa over Stanford, Duke, Cornell and some University of California schools –
    In terms of quality of education, I should mention that I was actually advised to make UVa my choice by pretty much every single university professor in physics or a related field (at schools other than UVa I might add), and industry scientist that I spoke to prior to making my choice:

    -          I met a University of California graduate school recruiter during my internship at Sandia National Laboratories who was a Stanford graduate.  He explained to me that Stanford is a place you want to go for graduate school, and that I need a real education during undergrad.  I said I was also thinking about UVa, and he says “now that would be the choice to make!”

    -          I visited the University of Arizona during one summer and met a physics professor there.  He was the lead for a study to find out which top 10 or so universities had the best undergraduate physics programs in terms of how well the university actually teaches the students.  In no particular order, UVa was on that list.
    And so it went on.  I came to understand that there is a big difference between quality of teaching and “top 10 schools according to US News”, in a search for a good program.  As a side note though, UVa is ranked 2nd in US News’ top public schools.  Though UVa may not strike the typical high school student in India as a dream school, it is very well sought after, and highly respected as a world-class institution in the United States.  I have numerous, numerous friends who have turned down schools like Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and pretty much every Ivy League school in the United States to accept a place at UVa.  Both for financial reasons, and otherwise, which I will get to.
    In general, UVa is known to be very strong in a wide array of departments, which I feel is especially important in the American education system.  As you may have learned, undergraduates have various basic area requirements that are independent of your major within a college.  That is, in general, you will have writing requirements, humanities requirements, science requirements, language requirements etc. whether you are a politics major or a physics major, so you had better hope science isn’t the only thing the school is good at teaching.  How good do you think a technical school will be at teaching history?  Furthermore, the American college system allows for you to change your mind easily (which happens A LOT), or even double major in a completely different field.   My roommate is an Economics major who discovered a love for Art History here.  He will be double majoring, with Art History as his ‘hobby major’.
    One very important reason I chose UVa was the offer I received to join the Echols Scholars Program, which exempts me from all area requirements and gives me priority registration over all other students.  That is a crazy good deal, let me tell you.  In fact, this was a huge factor in my choosing UVa.  I never have to worry about not getting a place in a class, and have been given the privilege to entirely design my education (with my advisors of course) outside of the physics and math majors.
    One thing I greatly, greatly appreciate here, is the Honor System, which a huge part of UVa culture.  Basically, all students are bound to not lie, cheat, or steal – a system that was created and run entirely by the student body itself.  Take home exams are commonplace; professors leave the room during exams (and no one speaks!); your word is trusted.  I could go on, but I greatly appreciate the privileges the Honor System gives us.  Student governance is huge here.  Even the University Judicial System is student run.
    This e-mail is getting to be some pretty lengthy reading material, so I’ll go easy on you and jot down a few more points and would be more than happy to elaborate on anything that particularly strikes you anywhere in this e-mail, just let me know.

    UVa is ranked #1 for fitness (facilities included) in the nation; UVa has an immensely wide array of student clubs and organizations opportunities.  I think of how I wish I had more time to go to this event, and join that club too on a daily basis; UVa has a fantastically well developed system for studying abroad (which you would already be doing I guess) and for just traveling and doing service abroad; UVa has an incredibly rich history – there is so much tradition here and so many amazing benefits to this.
    Anyway, just let me know if there is anything above that you would like me to explain further, I would be happy to tell you more (as I have much more to say).  Just let me close my stressing how important it is to find the best fit for you in terms of student life and quality of teaching.  I am sure Prab has talked to you about this, but think about it – you are in college for 4 years and it would definitely nice to be happy during that time.  I have friends who picked the school they thought would be the best choice based on which school they felt had the “best reputation”.  My friend at Johns Hopkins for pre-med is unhappy, my friend at Cambridge (even though it’s in the UK, it still illustrates the same point) is unhappy.  Unhappiness is bad for college, as you may guess.