Inside the Mind of a College Applicant: A Thought Experiment (And our THREE BIGGEST TIPS)

by: Annie Jain

Sometimes, it feels like there are about as many details to remember about the college applications’ process as there are grains of sand on this island beach. From transcripts, to teacher recommendations, to counselor documents, to personal statements, supplements, financial aid documents, deadlines, interviews, and the list goes on. In fact, you can probably feel your head spinning just after reading that sentence fragment. 

ANYONE (yes, ANYONE) can write great essays and achieve fantastic extracurriculars.

It can be constructive to take a mindfulness breather at times – almost like an island getaway for your mind! During your mental island vacation, it can be constructive to focus on and reflect over a few things… while internally sunbathing and enjoying your break of course. It can be constructive to bring certain, often-forgotten essential ideas into the light of day and examine them (or into the moonlight… whenever you like to chill outdoors during your hypothetical island getaway weekend). 

These essential ideas all center around the same theme – that YOU are a marvelous applicant! Yes, YOU! Especially during the current pandemic, when scores are taking a backseat to more holistic measures such as essays and extracurricular profiles. ANYONE (yes, ANYONE) can write great essays and achieve fantastic extracurriculars. The bottom line is that it’s less about being academically extraordinary and more about being unique and brave.

If you could only bring three objects to an island, what would they be?

This is why we want YOU to play a little thought experiment while in your mindfulness-getaway-internal-beach-weekend-vacation state. We’ve all heard of the old icebreaker – if you could only bring three objects to an island, what would they be?

Since our setting is an island inside the mind of a college applicant (YOU!), these three objects will not be objects… so much as ideas. 

We, the Co-Founders of Tyche Academy, understand that there are a million things to remember during college applications’ season. And so, if you – the applicant – could pick just three ideas for your mind island, what would be our three most important tips we would want you to remember?

Here’s what this would like like if each of us gave you our ONE tip to remember:

I, Annie Jain (Princeton ‘23) caution students about the one biggest mistake she has seen in college essays thus far: a lack of adequate self-reflection. However, it is much easier for one to hear that they need to self-reflect more than it is to actually create this window into one’s thoughts. Thus, I have demonstrated self-reflection and other tactics in my blog post entitled “A College Essay About Writing a College Essay” about my experience writing my common app!

Leann Lee (UChicago ‘23) assures high schoolers that ANYONE can have a marvelous extracurricular profile. Finding opportunities is less about being extraordinary and more about being brave. Whether through cold emails/calls or reaching out through “warm” connections, Leann describes in-depth how to navigate the often-daunting reins of networking. Read more and find templates in her blog post entitled “Networking 101 for High Schoolers.”

Alex Lin (Georgetown ‘23) encourages every applicant to find their own unique jigsaw piece. Everyone is a multifaceted, complex individual; however, one must also consider how to cater oneself to a specific college. It is important to remember that colleges aren’t looking for a class of great individuals necessarily, but rather individuals who can collectively make a great class. Therefore, remember not to craft each college an entire puzzle piecing together EVERY aspect of your multidimensional being. Rather, carefully mold a single jigsaw piece that fits seamlessly into the greater puzzle that the AOs are trying to build: The ____ University Class of ‘25 Jigsaw. Check out Alex’s blog post “5 Tips on Acing Your College Apps” for more details.

Tyche was founded by three college students during the pandemic in order to give back to the community through COVID-19 donations as well as content creation to alleviate some of the stress that college applicants are facing given current events and immense uncertainty. Check out our about page for more information about us and view a summary of our additional services here. Additionally, you can read more blog posts about the college applications process and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter.

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