Seniors: Get a head start on your college apps this summer!

IvyWise Scholars Spotlight: Alyssa

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Queen's College at the University of Oxford

IvyWise Scholar Alyssa Shares Her Top Tips for Students Applying to College

For current seniors, the college application process is in full swing. It’s so important to have perspective when going through the admissions journey, which is why we’ve reached out to one of our own students, Alyssa, to share some advice for future applicants.

As part of our IvyWise Gives Back initiative, IvyWise Scholars is our pro bono college admissions counseling program for high-achieving, low-income students. We caught up with IvyWise Scholar Alyssa, a gifted student from California, to learn more about her college admissions journey, what it’s like to work with IvyWise during this process, and get some of her college prep advice for other students.

Tell us about your background and interests.

Hi! My name is Alyssa, and I’m a senior at Campbell Hall High School in Studio City, California. Some of the classes I’m taking this year include courses that my school offers for advanced inquiry:

  • CHAI Environmental Science
  • CHAI English
  • CHAI US Government Honors

I’m most excited to take Figure Drawing and the 2D/3D Design Studio classes offered by my favorite art teacher, who has given me guidance since my freshman year.

Outside of academics, I am the Girls’ Varsity Tennis Team Captain and run the Dungeons & Dragons Club at my school. I’m passionate about both of these extracurriculars because I get to be in supportive team-building environments. Writing, acting, drawing, and athleticism have always been important expressive outlets for me. I’m very thankful to be in communities that have both.

As I’m looking for communities that match my interests, the ‘perfect fit’ college comes into play. It’s exciting how many schools there are to choose from, and with the help of my IvyWise counselor, I have been able to narrow down my list to a list of best-fit institutions that match my personal needs and goals. Many of the schools on my list are research institutions with solid architecture or landscape architecture programs. I took an interest in architecture after getting into art and Dungeons & Dragons, where I’d create worlds my players felt like they could inhabit. I love the imagination aspect as well as the reality of architecture. You’re designing spaces people connect with and can admire, and it all starts with an idea from your head. That’s always been so fascinating to me, and I would love to pursue something I’m so interested in as a career.

At the top of my college list are Washington University in St. Louis and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, schools known for their friendliness, flourishing campuses, and after-school work opportunities.

I want to be somewhere with a vibrant campus and community. Traveling out of state and meeting new people are very appealing to me. I want to be surrounded by like-minded students who will always be excited to explore the surrounding city or extracurriculars and opportunities at school with me.

What aspect of the college admissions process are you most excited about?

Going into the process, I am most looking forward to writing my personal statement. I knew what I wanted to write about from the start of the college application process, and my IvyWise counselor is helping me articulate my thoughts and stand out through my writing.

The SAT makes me nervous because it’s a big test I only get to take a couple of times. And because of COVID-19, I could not absorb all the information I could have learned if classes had been in-person. However, I feel a lot more prepared now thanks to the math tutoring I’ve received at IvyWise, and I would not be as far along in my studies as I am now if it wasn’t for my tutor.

What are your top college prep tips for other students?

It is never too early to start college prep! Seriously. The more work you do now, the less you’ll have to do later, which is convenient if you’re involved in extracurriculars or taking rigorous classes your senior year. Also, take advantage of summer breaks. It is beneficial to put all of that time to good use. The college admissions process can become overwhelming if you do not manage your time well, so waste as little time as possible.

And my biggest piece of advice might be to any student submitting an art portfolio. Be it writing, illustration, film production, or anything else. Putting together a collection of your best work can be daunting, and rushing to add impactful pieces to your portfolio can feel like as much work as applying to colleges is. So, make sure to start on your portfolio ahead of time.

Sophomores and freshmen: you’re in a good but pivotal moment right now, and I wish someone had stressed the importance of time management to me instead of saying, “You don’t have to worry about that right now.”

Learn more about Alyssa by watching the video below.

For more information on families’ experience with IvyWise, check out our testimonials page, and meet some of our other IvyWise Scholars. Want to learn more about what you can be doing now to prepare for the college admissions process? Download our free College Admissions Guide!


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