In this episode I interviewed Rohan, who is currently finishing up his freshman year at Dartmouth. He shared his experience as an international student from India!

Part 2 is here.

Transcription

Rohan
And I said like, wouldn’t wouldn’t Jesus want us to survive and go and go on and you know, live fruitful, fruitful, good lives. And she basically said, You’re wrong. And she and she made me apologize to her for the whole class.

Kamila
Hey, college kids, welcome back to this week’s episode. Today, I’m going to be interviewing roe Hahn, who attends Dartmouth. So Rohana, if you could introduce yourself, hey,

Rohan
I’m Ron, I’m a freshman at Dartmouth College. I’m from India, where I also attended school, up till 10th grade in a traditional Indian, Indian boarding school. And then I transferred to an AP international boarding school in 11th and 12th. Grade, also in India, okay, I intend to major in environmental studies modified with government, which is a cool thing to do at Dartmouth, where you can put two fields in the same major without all the course requirements of a double major. So think of that as a major in environmental studies and environmental governance.

Kamila
Okay, so that’s, that’s really cool. We’ll talk about that later in the episode. But let’s start talking about how your grades kind of transferred from an Indian, I guess you would say high school to an American one.

Rohan
Right, right. Okay. So things are a little bit different in terms of grading in India. So what you get in your final exams, the end of the year, is your grades for the year. So you’re what you do, like throughout the most of the term, most of the year, academic year, doesn’t really matter. And in fact, only you’re only really your final exams that you take at the end of 10th and 12th. grades matter. And that’s what you use to apply to high schools, if you finish after, if you take your 10th grade scores, or apply to college, if you take your 12th grade scores. So at the end of my 10th grade, I got a 82 cumulative across all across all my subjects, which is, which would give me a distinction, which what there’s not really a good correlation with the ABC scale, because passing grade in these ICC schools is 35%, not 50%. And also, it’s a very different grading system, like the system is based on rote memorization. And you get points, you get extra points, if you answer a question with the exact words using the textbook and you lose points if you don’t, so it’s a little bit weird reader.

Kamila
Interesting. Okay. So I know the classes are not going to be the exact same like, you know, as we have here. But did you have to like, backtrack a little bit when you came to America? Like were you kind of behind your peers? Or were you able to start off like everyone else in junior year?

Rohan
Well, sorry, well, I went to an American. So I went to America, and I’m AP school in India. So it was the school was in India, but it was an American board. I think I think like my ICSC background gave me a strong work ethic, which helped me really achieve in American schools. And apparently, I am naturally I think I’m naturally better at schools, which allow you to apply concepts rather than memorize them. And, you know, basically actually think, okay, rather than just memorize stuff. Yeah. So I did a I did I think much better in the American School. Like from day one, I flourished a lot more in that environment than I did in my traditional Indian School.

Kamila
Okay, so you went to an AP boarding school in India, but you were telling me earlier that in India is in America, it’s kind of like essay Vaes extracurriculars. Like there are multiple components. So in India, did you do anything that you put on your application when you apply to many colleges? Like any extracurriculars or stuff?

Rohan
Oh, so I’m sorry, I think I may have Miss explained, explained it a little bit. So the AP school is basically just like what you have in America, because there’s their AP classes, stuff like that. So Well, up till 10th grade, I didn’t really have any extracurriculars, because it’s kind of a thing when in ICSC school where you give up actually, all your extracurriculars when you enter ninth grade to focus on studying for the board exams, and preparing for the board exam so that that up to 10th grade, I didn’t really have anything that I took a gap year after 10th grade, during which I applied to school, AP and IB schools. And during the gap year I took I interned for The Times of India and a volunteer for the web WWF, the World Wildlife Fund. So that one on my application and in boarding school, I was editor in chief of the school newspaper. I ran two independent research projects with the Environmental Science Department in our local forest area. I lead a section of the community engagement club where we connected farmers in our local area to training and educational programs to improve their livelihoods also, for Then an LED first organizing committee for our local arts and cultural festival outdoors and cultural festival. And I’m sure there were a couple of other things that I’m not really recalling right now. But those are the major ones really good. So when I entered high school in 11th, in junior year, so I those are the things I did in June in high school, like my I was editor at the school newspaper at the boarding school, I was into those research products at the boarding school community engagement, all that stuff at the boarding school, when I entered, I was they just started the daily newspaper will the Daily Online Newspaper, so I was able to, with my experience, the Times of India already take on a leadership position. Oh, SPGs Features Editor. So I suppose I should explain a little bit first, sorry, I didn’t do this before. In India, it’s kind of a thing. Whereas after 10th grade, you leave, you leave your previous school and go to another one, a lot of people tend to go into like focus programs in their field, like engineering, schools, medical schools, so on and so forth, preparing them for very specific, you know, colleges in those in those areas. In India, some people like me, have small minority chose to go to IB or AP schools. So when I was entering this boarding school, there were like 22 people or so which is a quarter of the class, and right the same time as me. So it’s just a given thing that you do. So I wouldn’t say I entered at a more senior level than anyone else who had already been there before. Could have done. I see. So yeah, continue. Right. So yeah, so I was given a hat, I hadn’t done anything until 10th grade and only done a couple things during my gap year with the Tanzania WWF. I just like, joined everything I could in that in that in my boarding school. So that was the newspaper, the newspaper, I did research projects, I joined community engagement, not the festival, the festival Organizing Committee, and then I know a bunch of other things that was a loss of loss of various things are not relevant to college, but those are the most important ones.

Kamila
So which of your extracurriculars Do you think? I guess, look the most impressive because I don’t think colleges really look for what you do. It’s more like how like passionate you are about and how seriously you take it. So which extracurricular Do you think show that passion and that strive to do, like, climb up in the group organization,

Rohan
I think that these elite colleges, especially Ivy League colleges look at like, they like to see leadership and they like to see initiative. Right. So in terms of those things, I think being a being leader of a few things that I was interested in, for example, especially I think, my the community engagement group, and being Editor in Chief, the school newspaper, was were very important on my college application, because it showed that I had the drive for to be leader and I in my essays and in my interview, I detail things that I did for the for the organization, even though I joined the school kind of late and showed my dedication to these projects. And in terms of initiative, I think that doing my independent research projects, which would not require for class at all, which I designed myself and then took the professor and and and went out and did them were shows to clear initiative in my part and a desire to learn a desire to to do to do more to have an impact. I think that looked really good. Those look really good on my application.

Kamila
Yeah, I have like this kind of I think a lot of people think this but I definitely think that Ivy League Ivy League colleges and and just other top colleges in general look for someone who like will do more than what high school just gives them they’ll like actually do something in their community or do something that not everyone else is doing. So

Rohan
Exactly. Yeah.

Kamila
There’s so it’s good that like your extracurriculars. Kind of like it wasn’t just one that standard. I was like multiple that helped you like form yourself into a very leader base initiative person.

Rohan
That’s cool. Yeah. Good. You caught that early on in your high school experience.

Kamila
So you kind of mentioned that you wrote these about these kind of like extracurriculars and your essays. So for you, did you apply common application? Yes, it did. Okay, so if you don’t mind sharing, what was your common application essay about the one that goes to all colleges?

Rohan
Okay, so I’m from a small state India called Goa, which is like, on the beach, which is a very touristy state. So sort of, yeah, but they kind of, I’ll explain. So I explained in my essay, how growing up by going up by the beach, I used to go out and, you know, Chase, Chase little crabs and watch dolphins and stuff. And then I detailed how over the course of my life, that beach, the beach, near the beach nearest to where I live, became like a microcosm of what was happening to the entire country in terms of development, because Goa is generally behind the rest of India, I think the rest of the world in terms of development, so I was able to watch the process as the The State started to really prioritize its economy over it’s an overdue environment to try and, you know, catch it up to like everyone else to catch up catch up to yet because catch up to everyone else become an actual economics economic center become a prosperous state. And so I detailed how these vast numbers of like tourists from other from other parts of India started to pour in and around the world that have started to pour in how garbage are delivered to litter the beaches, they started to really like, push their, their iron ore mining in the state. And they began and it sort of like, flew to the waters, the dolphins start to disappear, various things happen. And I just want I just my essay was about me as as just growing up, and seeing everything that changes changed in that beach and relating it to the rest of the world and how that made me become passionate about discovering the reasons why the different factors at play, and really wanting to try and try and find a way that we can, you know, be a be prosperous, but also really prioritize our natural environment. Because I don’t, I didn’t want the future generations to lose what I had growing up.

Kamila
That’s very beautiful, and how you like had the extra curricular support that that’s amazing. So and then for your outcomes. So for the individual colleges, you applied to what did you write about the you know, why Dartmouth? Or why whatever other colleges you apply to like, I’m, I know that when I when college applications come around, I’m not going to know what to write for those essays. So I’m really curious, like, What did you say to them? What did you write about to make them feel like, oh, this student really wants to be at our college?

Rohan
Right? So you’re living in India, I didn’t really have the opportunity to go out and tour a college. So I did basically did all my research online for colleges. So and because I applied early decision to Dartmouth, and gone early decision, I only did like three applications because I applied early decision Dartmouth, early action in Michigan, and then the UC app. So it’s only applications I’ve filled out, but I can speak for those. I think for my Dartmouth my white art essay, whatever they say is only 100 words, which is very, very small, most small schools, I think it’s because they really want you to put to like get straight to the point and prove why you really want to go there. And what I did, even though I’m like invalid, liberal, what I did is that I I pointed out all the different publications from across the political spectrum, available at Dartmouth, and different few different events that go on there, I think I mentioned and how that represented the ability to, to whatever your viewpoints are, within reason to express yourself without fear of being controlled, or, or not, or just a fear of being attacked for your viewpoints. And I pointed out how I in my traditional Indian School had not been allowed to do that, because for various reasons. For one, once my teacher very strongly ministries are very strongly promoted, dying for one’s religion. And I said, and I said, What and I specifically asked why, and I’m like, wouldn’t, I am, I was born from the Christian Christian faith, and she was Christian as well, as well. I’m not very strong Christian, but whatever. And I said, like, wouldn’t wouldn’t Jesus want us to survive to survive and go and go on and you know, live fruitful, fruitful, good lives. And, and she basically said, said, You’re wrong. And she and she made me apologize to her in front of the whole class. And my classmates also said, Toby, like derided me and told me I was wrong. Then once another time in history class as well, that happened a lot of history class kind of thing that we were talking about the Kashmir issue. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, like so in our northernmost state is the only one that’s majority Muslim. Yeah, I know. There have been there have been lots of riots going on there because there’s a strong army presence there. And Kashmiri Kashmir never really wanted to be part of India, but it was made part of India. And so the military has been soliciting to like basically keep control of the state. And my teacher described it as something necessary and I pointed out the human rights abuses, and then I was and then I was told again, I was wrong. And my and all my classmates also said I was wrong. And I was kicked out of my friends watsapp group and various things happen.

Kamila
That’s good, did you I mean, I guess you got didn’t have time to more the space to mention that kind of stuff in your why Dartmouth Apple,

Rohan
I mentioned very briefly, so I mentioned I mentioned like, like the like basically, I think in a couple sentences I said like disagreeing on on, on the necessity of having of military occupation of Kashmir led to me led to me being derided by my teacher and kicked out of my friends, classmates, my friends. What’s that? that group. And and so and and I said that disagreeing on dying for religion or dying for religion maybe led to me being forced to apologize in front for the class. So that was like a couple sentences I did. And I said and I also mentioned in another sentence that how my school my boarding school was a quiz at Christian heritage school. And so we were prohibited from, from screening a movie about a gay student there as editor in chief, the school newspaper, I strongly oppose oppose that and went to meetings with the board and represented the school community in that in that conflict.

Kamila
That’s good. So I’m guessing you were kind of shut down through like, all of that.

Rohan
Yeah, I mean, once was much better. But like, there’s a divide between the trustees who were very conservative and most of the school, which was more liberal about Yeah, I pointed out that that that kind of environment was something that I really, that I really thought was extremely important for an institution to have. And that’s what I really wanted. That’s why I chose Dartmouth.

Kamila
That’s, that’s good. So did you write kind of something similar for your I know, you only apply to it, you did like three applications? So did you write something similar for your other applications as well for Michigan and the UCs?

Rohan
So those a little bit different? I think I tailored it more specifically to their, to the, to the environment. So for Dartmouth, like, there was something very clear the something like something that came to me basically, it wasn’t something that I did to me, I did a little bit of research on it. And then the idea came to me, I thought it was a really good idea. And I talked to my counselor about it, I talked to my father about it. And my English teacher, they thought it said Go for it. For these other schools. It didn’t come as naturally, which probably explains why i i applied to Dartmouth ed, and it didn’t. Those schools were just like,

Kamila
used to kind of like just extra eyes, you know, they’re not my first choice. Yeah.

Rohan
But for Michigan, I did for the why Michigan essay there. We have this like, Biological Research Center in northern Michigan. And I wrote about like, my experiences, research in the outdoors, and how I appreciated having that practical resource available. And there was like, an, like, it was essential for students in the in the environmental environmental program there to spend a term that I liked, like that requirement. And you see, like, and it was just I think I just talked about, like the environment of California and whether like, a really great How did really like progressive movements start in

Kamila
California? How are they one of the most like liberal states?

Rohan
Yeah. And the environmental movement, there was very strong, but I don’t think those were those were as strong as my application as my one for Dartmouth

Kamila
was, yeah, okay. Yeah. So let’s talk about just like a few more components of your application. And then we can actually talk about, you know, Dartmouth itself. So for your APS, how many APS did you have? And what was like the relatives like how many APS by the end of senior year, and what was the relative score for those APs?

Rohan
Right, so I took six AP for the end of senior year, I’ll say that’s on the low end. For my class, my most of my classmates at Dartmouth have taken more than that. So by time I applied to Dartmouth I applied Ed so actually, no even me apply to college regular round, you don’t have all your AP scores. So I only did about three scores back for junior year, I got two fives in AP environmental science and AP AP English language, and a four and AP European History. By time at the end of senior year, my got my scores back I got two fives in AP microeconomics, and AP political, AP, government and policy, Comparative Government and politics. And I got a three in AP English literature, but that’s largely because it wasn’t a day after the AP micro exam, I learned, I think the week before that the AP English literature credit no matter what score I got, would not transfer to Dartmouth. And I’d already

Kamila
so it’s kind of like, so

Rohan
unless I really failed, they wouldn’t they wouldn’t like take away my acceptance. So I didn’t really feel the need to study for the English literature a lot. And so I basically just like, let it bomb.

Kamila
Okay, so now, did you take the LSAT or AC T? I took the LSAT, okay, as at what what scores did you get in which let’s talk about which score you tend to like, you know, the colleges because that’s the one that they actually see.

Rohan
So, I took the LSAT three times, I would not recommend that that’s probably a very, to write expensive two, I think two should be the maximum you should really take it if you have to. I got my scores were a 1470, a 1430 and a 1480. My super score using the score from the first and third times was 1500. With a 770 in English and a 730 in math, basically the second one was bad I should not have done it. It was in the same month as all my final exams, all my AP exam, cram at the end at the end. Yeah, and at the end of our school years as my as my school, my boarding school All you have to take you have to do a find a large final project. And that was also in the same month. So doing the ICT and doing all those at the same time was not helpful. And I basically did not study at all for that. So okay, so where I got was just useless. So

Kamila
but the score you got it wasn’t really like on the low end or the high end, it was probably like the 50th percentile for Dartmouth, Dartmouth,

Rohan
right? No, it was it was low, but 1500 1500 Super score is lower. The median LSAT for my class was a 1530 30.

Kamila
Okay, okay, so it’s like, didn’t do too much harm to your application, but it definitely didn’t make it look good at all.

Rohan
So I think that the LSAT is used generally more as a, a red light, green light sort of thing. So they rate your application, depending on your academic environment. So if you’re like, an underprivileged person, and you’ve got a 1400, that would look better for you than if you were Person A went to a preppy boarding school like me, who who got a 1450 or say, per se. But that’s also just a requirement, like, about 60% of the people who apply to elite colleges are academically qualified to be there who meet the academic qualification. So I don’t I don’t think maybe like 1560, or something would have been actually beneficial to application. But I don’t think 1500 actually heard it. I think 1500 was qualified me, based on my background to you know, be read and can be considered as a serious applicant. But I don’t think it actually like hurt hurt me and the 1500 Plus, regardless of what background you’re from would qualify you to get into school. So they

Kamila
kind of looked at it. Yeah. So it kind of just looked at the score and was like, okay, he’s fine. And then just had to look at like the rest of your application. Probably.

Rohan
Yeah. They said like, oh, yeah, sure he’ll do and then we’ll then look the rest application side. Okay, maybe we can admit him. Okay. This is my personal idea of how that went. It definitely didn’t really, it was a huge benefit. I think it just like, just met the standard of what was expected of me, my standardized test score was

Kamila
as a Dartmouth student. Okay. So and then last thing we’re gonna talk about for your transcript is your GPA. So what was your unweighted and weighted GPA? By the end of SoCal?

Rohan
Right, so where school didn’t, didn’t wait, GPAs. And also, we did our GPAs a little differently. It’s on the 4.3 scales that a 4.0 scale. So if you got all A pluses, it’s a 4.3. Got all A’s for one. Now, it’s a little weird. I don’t really know what the conversion is. For four point out, like I saw table online, but as far my teacher said, it really depends on the school. So I got a 4.2 404.3. That was in the top 10% of my class had 10%. My class, that was basically mostly A pluses. I believe my did sorry, they didn’t really need to flex for that. Sort of was my college counselor, I think my college counselor said that for a lot of my schools that caught that basically translates to a 4.0 a 4.0, and 4.0. Because that’s because it’s mostly a pluses instead of like a because all A’s in a regular school is 4.0. Yeah, right. So I’m not really sure how it works for every school, but I think that’s how it went for went. So yeah, I’m learning

Kamila
about all these new GPAs. Like my school does a 4.0. And then the 5.0 scale, and then, you know, I interviewed someone earlier, and theirs went up to like a 6.0 or something. So yeah, I don’t raise yours is weirder. It’s 4.3. Like, that’s just so random.

Rohan
That server likes. Yeah, that’s fair. That’s fair. Yeah. Okay.

Kamila
So you have all these components of your application, and then you apply to the colleges. So you apply to Dartmouth, Ed, you Michigan and then the UCs, right.

Rohan
Yeah, that was usually was EA and the UC app is also like December 1 deadline. That’s the sweet deadline.

Kamila
I have a question about the UCs. If you apply to like, if you just fill out the UC application, does that automatically make you like apply to all of them?

Rohan
No, no, you get to select which ones and you’re the fee you pay? Depends on how many schools you apply to. It’s $70. I believe it was $70 per UC.

Kamila
Okay, so you applied to Dartmouth, you Miche and then which UCS did you apply to?

Rohan
I applied to UC Berkeley, and you see, UC San Diego UC Davis, those are my safety schools.

Kamila
I see. Okay, so how did you feel when you opened up your Dartmouth application and you saw that it accepted you?

Rohan
That’s actually an interesting story. So I had told my my roommate, so it was the final basically the final week of school we were about all about to leave. And I told him that most people would already left actually. And classes were over. And I told my roommates that Mike Don’t wake me up at 2:30am. When it opens, basically, it was the time it opened our time, okay, and I’m gonna I’m gonna wake up at like, eight o’clock, I’m gonna take a shower, we’ll have breakfast, we’re gonna get dressed and then go and then I’m gonna open my application. They’re not listen to me what’s whatsoever so 230 They shook me awake and told me open I said, and I said, No, come on. I told you and they said, and my roommate said, No, you open it now. They’re like, it wasn’t wasn’t just everybody’s there were three or four people who are like very eager to eager to find out. Look, it’s we’re all very close to boarding school so like, if one of us gets into school becomes like, an object as like,

Kamila
it’s like a family. One person gets in everyone gets in

Rohan
that exact it’s like an all ticket price. Like everyone’s like our grade. Oh, okay. Yeah, like we can like, brag about it to the juniors and seniors, whatever. For grad it’s got its, I’m sorry, that also seems like a flex but whatever.

Kamila
The case is all about you, you say whatever.

Rohan
Then I so then I, I clicked it, I click the application update. But first, we’re like, that was a little weird. Like there’s no confetti or anything. You just for a video. The first word you read is congratulations. When I read that first word, I did not understand it. I think my ability to comprehend English and completely failed. I had to read like the first sentence like three or four times over before I understood that Mike. Apparently I said it in like a very shrill voice. I got him I got it. I got him. Apparently, according to my roof, roommates, it just like, went out. But I went I think the thing I like hugged basically everyone on my floor, which is like 30 people, and you deserve it. Thank you. And then these juniors came down because they heard yelling. And they, they congratulated me was they came they live in the upper floor. And it was, it was just a really just like wonderful night. I could not fall asleep until like, three, four hours later, because I just could not comprehend the fact that it actually gotten in.

Kamila
That’s amazing. Well, congratulations on Dartmouth. So what about the other schools that you apply to?

Rohan
Oh, so the agreement included in the agreement is the requirement that she would draw your applications from other schools upon upon getting in hearing back from dark from your ed school? So I did withdraw those

Kamila
applications. So I don’t know if you got in or got rejected?

Rohan
No, I Yeah. I don’t know if I got into guard. I think I was I was those are my matches, like the UC Berkeley in Michigan where I’m at schools. I had a decent chance getting in I don’t know, but my, my my applications were not the best I could do. I probably had a good chance getting in but like, I didn’t matter. It was not my top choice. Yeah, you got

Kamila
anyways. Yeah,

Rohan
I think my chances at Dartmouth are probably actually better because I took into account like the fit when applying and I really worked hard on this applications. Okay, more than that audition went to schools.

Kamila
That concludes part one of my interview with Rojas. If you want to see more great content like this, make sure to subscribe to my podcast who cares about college, and very soon I will be releasing part two of my interview we’re both on takes us through his journey through darkness as a freshman. Hope to catch you guys then. Bye