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

IvyWise Scholars Spotlight: Daniel

Tuesday, November 9, 2021


IvyWise Scholar Daniel Shares His 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, Daniel, 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 Daniel, a gifted student from California, to learn more about his college admissions journey, what it’s like to work with IvyWise during this process, and get some of his college prep advice for other students.

Tell us about your background and interests.

Hello everyone! My name is Daniel, and I’m a high school senior from San Francisco, California. As I begin my final year of high school and start my college applications, there are many instances where I find myself reflecting on the past few years of my life.

I’d like to share some insight into my high school experience, activities I’ve participated in, as well as provide some tips and advice for current high school freshmen, sophomores, and even juniors.

Although I attend a Catholic high school, I am pursuing a major in the STEM field (more specifically, Computer Science). Some of the STEM classes I’ve taken so far are:

  • AP Computer Science A
  • Exploring Computer Science (my school’s equivalent of AP Computer Science Principles)
  • Honors Math classes, up to AP Calculus BC
  • Honors Science classes, up to AP Physics C: Mechanics

This year, I will be taking AP Chemistry, AP Statistics, and Engineering. My favorite among these classes was Exploring Computer Science. We got to cover many of the different fields and branches of computer science instead of only learning to code.

At school, my extracurricular activities include various STEM-related clubs, such as the STEM Club, Computer Science Club, Robotics, and “The Apogee Report,” an online STEM news blog.

Going into high school, I knew that I was interested in science and mathematics. I got involved in STEM-related clubs pretty early on and was able to obtain strong leadership positions during my sophomore and junior year.

The clubs and activities I participate in have acted as creative outlets for me. Planning and attending workshops, field trips, and experiments/labs have always been incredibly enjoyable.

Outside of school, I enjoy pursuing opportunities in artificial intelligence (my favorite branch of computer science). I’ve taken a couple of online courses relating to AI, and I’ve also been able to attend an intensive summer program. Currently, I am starting an AI internship for this fall, which is really exciting.

I also serve as a coding instructor for a local non-profit organization teaching middle school students. I’ve been able to teach students from my old middle school, which is a rewarding experience.

What aspect of the college admissions process are you most excited about? What aspect have you found to be the most challenging?

As I arrive at the stage of finally applying to college (something that has been on my mind for a long time), I am excited and nervous about where I might end up. College admissions can indeed be a stressful process a lot of the time—especially because many outcomes can be unpredictable. However, being prepared can be helpful, and that is why the thought of being able to present my best self to colleges all around the nation with the help of my wonderful IvyWise counselor is so exciting.

One of the ways I have prepared is by building and maintaining a college list with a good balance of reach, target, and likely schools. I have also researched each school I plan to apply to (location, school type, student life, programs/courses, opportunities/resources, and more). An example is that, since I am pursuing a STEM major, a majority of the schools on my list are research universities.

What are your top college prep tips for other students?

As I begin the college admissions process, three pieces of advice come to mind when I reflect on what I have learned from my high school experience so far:

  • Tip #1: Find something that interests you and pursue opportunities related to that interest! A major component of your profile is the extracurricular activities that you do. Having a “spike” or a common theme in your activities may be more appealing than being well-rounded and not having a specific focus.
  • Tip #2: Start early! Whether it’s homework assignments, personal projects, program applications, or anything else, starting early is one of the best ways to gain an advantage. The stress that many high school students (or just everyone in general) face often comes from falling behind. Starting early will alleviate stress, as well as help you produce better results and even help maintain strong grades in your classes.
  • Tip #3: Enjoy high school! Get to know your classmates and teachers—try to build relationships with them. I definitely wish I got to know more of my classmates. Especially with school being virtual for the past 18 months, there are many people whom I haven’t been able to connect properly with. I just wanted to share this tip because apart from the actual academics/learning experience, high school is a privilege and can be a great experience that we should not take for granted. Make some fun memories that you can look back on fondly in 10+ years!

That’s about all; thank you for taking the time to get to know me and learn about my high school experience! I hope that the information I shared was helpful and gave you some insight into planning your high school experience. Good luck with everything!

Learn more about Daniel by watching the video below.


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