This is the first part of my interview with Archana where we discuss her application process that got her into the University of Pittsburgh.

Part 2 is here.

Transcription

Kamila
Hey college kids welcome back to my podcast. I’m just here to remind you to subscribe so you know and future episodes are released. Other than that, I hope you enjoy my interview with Archana from University of Pittsburgh

Hey college kids, welcome back to my podcast who cares about college in today’s episode I have Archana so if you could introduce yourself.

Archana
Hi everybody, my name is Archana rom Kumar, and I am a sophomore studying at the University of Pittsburgh.

Kamila
Alright, so first, let’s get to know you as an applicant. Can you give us your race, gender and your socio economic status when you are applying to colleges?

Archana
Yeah, so I identify as female. I am Asian, and my socio economic status when applying is upper middle? I would say. Yeah, it’s an estimate.

Kamila
All right. So first, in terms of like your family dynamic, can you tell us like were you the first to go to college in the in America in the United States? Were you expected to like pursue higher education? Did you have any siblings who perhaps went before you that could help you in the college application?

Archana
Yeah, so I’m actually like, first gen, like, I’m the oldest in my family, I have a younger brother. And I actually don’t have a lot of like, I didn’t have a lot of people to kind of ask questions to like in terms of family, because I only have two cousins that were one year older than me. And they both went to college here. So pretty much, I was asking them a lot of questions. And I didn’t really have like, a lot of like family upper, older family members, cousins here. So it was kind of tough in that aspect. I didn’t really know a lot. And until I kind of went through it, it was kind of like a work in progress. And my family, my parents, they tried to help me as much as they could. But for me personally, it was challenging without kind of like, ask without being able to ask like some, like closer questions to people that I knew.

Kamila
And what was the expectation, perhaps from your parents or expectations that you put on yourself? What were you aiming for in terms of higher education?

Archana
Right, so I’m currently a pre med here studying. and my major is computational biology. I should have mentioned it before. But I’m computational biology. And I’m currently taking like orgo organic chemistry right now. And my in terms of like, my parents expectations, they I always expressed interest in science, biology, medicine, I would say. And I think I started off thinking I would be pre med 100%. And now I’m like, a little less, I would say, I’m still thinking of completing all the course requirements for medical school. But I, since I’m not too sure exactly, if that’s what I’m going to do, I don’t see myself like going straight into medical school, rather, I plan to take a gap year, because it would just give me more time to kind of work and build my application. My parents, they, they don’t really care, honestly, they, they do want me to pick a career that will give me like money. In the end, I feel like that’s the most important thing. They want me to be like, able to like support myself and be financially stable. Like, I individually on my own. I feel like they would like me to pursue medicine. But if I decided I didn’t want to anymore, I don’t think they would say anything about that. Because my current major is kind of more of a mix of computer science and like biology, so there’s a lot of there’s a lot of boom in that field, currently, and it’s there’s a really like good outlook for that in careers in this industry as well. So it’s kind of like 5050 At the moment, but yeah, we’ll see where it goes.

Kamila
Yeah, we’ll talk definitely talk more about like how you came upon your major a little bit later. Did you apply BS MD programs? I was just signed up

Archana
to I applied to two, I applied to Stony Brook BS MD and I applied to I think it was b u Boston University BS MD I didn’t get into the BS MD But I did get into the regular undergrad four year. So it’s kind of like a separate part of it.

Kamila
Okay, so you weren’t like one of those people that applied to like 10 or 12 vs MDS?

Archana
Um, no, I only applied to like two actually, because I kind of since I wasn’t sure like 100% set on it. I didn’t want to like waste my time applying for so many. So I just did two of those. And then everything else was just like a four year program pretty much.

Kamila
Alright, so can you tell us a little bit about the high school you went to? Was it first? Was it public or private? And then I guess we could say like the culture, the atmosphere, did they send a lot of kids like college? Was there a lot, like really competitive in terms of your high school?

Archana
Yeah, so my high school was public. It was pretty big. It was like 3000 kids. And it was a very competitive school, I would say, comparing to other high schools, it was, honestly, there were a lot of like, Asians, like, specifically Indians in that in our school. And honestly, most of my classes were also predominantly Indian, as well. I was taking like APs and honors, in terms of like, college expectation, um, a lot of kids did go to college, and they went to really good colleges. We had some girl in my grade, our valedictorian went to MIT. That’s like, that’s really, really big for our school and the SAT I think the salutatorian went to Olin College of Engineering. So there were really high expectations. There were IVs, there were just state schools there were like, private colleges and community college. So we did definitely had like a mix. And yeah, so it was it was pretty diverse, very diverse in that aspect. Everyone went to everywhere, all around the country, things like that. But it was a very, it was definitely a pretty competitive school. And I feel like that made me that made me want to do more as well, because I was seeing what everyone else was doing. So that’s why I feel like I ended up taking like harder coursework and stuff.

Kamila
So one more like more broad and general question before we get into, like, the different components of application, the grades, the standardized test scores. So going into high school, yeah, you know, there are like multiple approaches, there are some people who are like very set in stone like, okay, for years, now, I got to dedicate to making my college application. And then there are others who come in, you know, kind of free flowing, figuring it out as they go. So when you entered high school, what was your approach? In terms of the college process? Were you like, freshman year? I’m getting ready to do these extracurriculars? Or was it more like, I’ll see how this goes?

Archana
It was definitely I’ll see how this goes. I didn’t really think about college at all until junior year. Like, honestly, I didn’t really do anything, like, directed towards that. I mean, I mean, like, I did join clubs, and I did sports, but I like just academically I hadn’t thought about, like, oh, where like, what am I going to do? Where am I going to go until junior year. And then junior year, I started, like, very vaguely kind of thinking about just colleges at least, like where would I be interested. And I had like, maybe like a couple, maybe, like three drafts of like, I’d make like one list of everywhere I was interested. And then I’d kind of update that. And by the I feel like by the summer of senior year, I had the college’s pretty much set in stone. What I was thinking, and I, I think that summer was when I made like, kind of like a really large spreadsheet. I know maybe people have heard about this where you just kind of list out everything that you need to do all the requirements, like I had like that, like a column for like, the test scores, kind of like the percentage of like people that get in. I mean, acceptance rate that scored and I had like, how many recommendation letters and things like that. So it was kind of this huge spreadsheet that I kind of just like worked on during the summer and that’s also the summer that I started doing my essay to. So I really didn’t have like, I was definitely not one of those people that like started really early. I feel like he just I just couldn’t really picture college until like my third year anyways, since like I was just like doing school I just feel like it wasn’t really a thought until like it really time came around. So yeah, that’s pretty much that’s pretty much what I did at least.

Kamila
Alright, so let’s go on to the classes GPA, stuff like that. So can you tell me I guess we can skip on because you did mention your school had AP so can you tell me how many APS you ended up taking by the time college apps came around? Like how many were on your application?

Archana
Yeah, so I think I took around like seven maybe I didn’t write the test for two of them, I think because I started to realize that it was a waste of time and money for for certain subjects which I’ll use for For me, like, since I’m going to be was going to be pre med and do science in college, I thought it would be a waste of time to take like AP Bio, my senior year like the the exam because I knew I was going to take it again in college. So I actually didn’t end up taking that exam. So by that point, I was a little smarter. And I realized it was just not worth it for me since I was gonna do that. And then I I don’t I can’t remember which one I but I did do like math, chem, like

Kamila
English, like the standard, like core classes,

Archana
or three classes, or Thea three or four classes. And I just did like two Englishes. But I didn’t take one of them. Like, again, that was another thing. I didn’t really need it. I just took that class. And then I just didn’t I realized I didn’t need the test. So I think it was about seven APS,

Kamila
I believe. And can you tell us at least the average, you don’t have to go through each and every single one. But the average score that you got on the AP test that you did take,

Archana
I got like a mix of like, I got mostly fours and like a cup like one or two fives I would say.

Kamila
Alright, so I go for basically a four average for average. Yeah. Alright, so now let’s go Oh, GPA, we have to do GPA. So can you give your unweighted, you pay the one that’s out of 4.0 and then weighted GPA and also give the scale for your school? Because schools do it differently, right?

Archana
So my school does a five as a five is an A in an AP class and a 4.5 ze in an honors class and then four is regular. So it’s like point five, basically, you’re adding. So my weighted was a 4.27. And my unweighted, I’m going to estimate because they don’t really tell us our unweighted. They just released a weighted for some reason. I feel like it was around like 3.8 to 3.85. Okay, like it was around that. So it was a kind of like a mix of like, B plus A minus and A’s. I feel like that would be like the best way to memorize.

Kamila
Alright, so let’s go on to standardized tests. Now. Tell us did you take you could say you’re completely from here. Do you take sa t or AC T? What preparations did you do? How many times did you take it? And what was the score overall that you sent to colleges?

Archana
Yeah, so for me, LSAT was just not it was just challenging from the start. I was really never really good at taking tests. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever really became good at it. I just was just like, I’m think I’m done now. So I took I started off with the LSAT. I think the first one I took was junior year in November. And I did the LSAT three times. I prepared the summer coming into junior year with I did a course called prep expert. It was it was an excellent course it was really good. It was definitely very geared exactly towards the LSAT we use like the college board exams as preparations. It wasn’t one of those courses where they had their own tests, where they make their own it was just a college board ones. And it was it was really good. But I was just like really not good at taking tests. I think after my third LSAT, I was like, I really want to try the AC T. And I ended up doing that twice, all the way up until like September of my senior year. And by the end, I ended up getting the same score pretty much on both. I got a 1460 on my LSAT and a 32 on the AC T. And my advice is that I feel like take the LSAT twice. And if it’s not working out I feel like switch to the AC t because I feel like there is a lot of room to grow and do better on the AC T than LSAT like if it’s not working out for you for the LSAT I feel like you’re probably going to do really well on the AC t and I wish I kind of just like just drop a LSAT and just focus on the AC t because on the second try I was like pretty close to getting like oh nice score, but I just didn’t really have time and I didn’t want to do it again anymore. So yeah, that’s why they I’m telling my brother the same thing I’m like just screw that say t just go to the AC T I feel like you’re gonna do better on that.

Kamila
No, I completely understand cuz I took the LSAT as well and now I’m doing because I’m still a junior so I have a lot of time I’m doing preparations for AC t and let me say at least the reading section for the AC t a whole lot easier.

Archana
Yeah, that it just I’m sorry like I just No matter how many times I like practice, I just feel like it just wasn’t good for me like I just I can never really do that good. It felt like luck or like like a lucky guests at some point. Like everything every passage was is different. Like no matter how much preparation I feel like I did for that like it just never ended up working out for me. So it was pretty stressful like Jr Because of that, because I put a lot of pressure on myself thinking like, Oh, if I don’t get to, like 15 Something I’m not good enough for college. But that was just like really hard to like kind of go through junior year especially, like being like, one of the only older kids that I knew in my family, like, like studying in America, like doing like this whole thing. I was like, I just feel so stupid right now. Because all my cousins like in India are like super smart, all that. And I’m just like, not even able to do this. But I try like a kind of like a I kind of was really harsh on myself. I realize now senior year now in college, like, it does not matter. I’m no one’s walking around talking about their LSAT. I feel like it has no measure once you reach college, it’s just simply to get in. But I feel like even then, like, it’s not the main thing that people are looking at, you know?

Kamila
Yeah, I mean, I agree with you for like, more like stem kids? Is, is it just reading sections easier is what it is.

Archana
And I feel like I was better at math and science. So it would have been better. But it was just, it was just me kind of learning through the process. I think that’s why it kind of ended up like, just like, I was like, I’m done with this.

Kamila
And for your AC T preparation. Did you do the same? Like, did you sign up for another course? Was that solely on your own?

Archana
Um, no, I just like got this like book from my cousin. Like he did that. The older cousin that I had mentioned, there one year older than me, he had just given me like a hand me down book. And I just kind of use like my LSAT, like study skills, and just took like practice tests to get with the practice with the timing. And I feel like I maybe like Google, like a couple tips here and there. But I didn’t do any like extensive, like study course with a CT.

Kamila
And when you are applying to college. I mean, of course, like they’ve made it like pretty recent that you can like submit your own test scores. Like it doesn’t have to be an official transcript. So did you submit both your essay T and AC T? Or was it just the AC t that you submitted? I just submitted

Archana
the LSAT. I don’t really know like why I did that. I think I got the same thing on both. And I think I just did. I think I don’t know, I just kind of like just was like, Okay, I’ll just do an LSAT. Like, that was just the first one. I did. I’ll just do that. So I Yeah, there was really no, I don’t know, the I don’t know if there’s like a benefit of submitting both. Really? I mean, because I had the same score. I feel like it didn’t matter.

Kamila
Okay. Okay. Yeah. All right. So let’s go on to we did like the GPA we did the standardized tests. He was going to extracurriculars? Yeah, huge part of the application. Can you list you don’t have to like go through like the small ones. But can you list like the main extracurriculars that you had on your college application? Like, what did you do? When did you start them? Eventually? What role did you climb yourself up to? And then what was the commitment with those extracurriculars as well?

Archana
Yeah, so my biggest commitment, definitely high school was cross country and track and field. I did cross country and winter track spring track, like all three seasons, all four years. So I pretty much did like the whole year round. And the commitment for that was pretty much what school ended at, like 220. For us, we’d have practice until like, five every day. And then we’d have sometimes we’d have meat, races, meats Saturday, we’d have practice in the morning. So that was like really, really huge. I feel like I’m honestly talking about it. Now. I’m like, that’s actually really big. So I pretty much always got went home at like 530 Like every weekday. And I did since cross country starts in the fall, we’d have like summer commitment to like to twice a day practice. Like, so it was our running was a pretty big program in our school. Like in our county, like we were like, very like a large like, group for they say in New Jersey, so we were like a large school with like a pretty big, like, athletic program as well. So I was like, I was, uh, I was varsity my sophomore year in spring track. And then after that, I was varsity in winter track and then cross country. So sophomore year spring was the first time that I got like a varsity letter. And then after that, I got like all the other two so that was like my biggest commitment. It was honestly like, it was at times like it was so like painful. Like I was like, I just want to go home and I don’t want to do this but like I also loved it like at the guy love like just being able to like feel like really accomplished at the end like after all the races, workouts and meats and I feel like the teammates and the social component was a really really big part of me part of that for me of why I loved it so much. I’m not really running now in college. And I actually weirdly miss it I miss like, like having somewhere to go like doing something I’m like really big on like, being active and stuff and honestly not doing that is kind of killing me. I I feel like I’m actually considering joining the running club here at Pitt next semester because I realized I’m missing a lot. So yeah, that’s like my writing story. I’ve been running since like seventh grade. So it had been like six years. Okay, by the time I graduated, yeah. And in total,

Kamila
one more thing, one more thing. So in I know, like, I have friends who are on cross country, oh my God, it is such a huge commitment. I can’t imagine like, hours after just 10 miles a day, it’s just so much. So and I also know that there are competitions, like for most sports that are, I think you can go up to states and competitions. And then sometimes you have to, like travel a little bit to go to different competitions in different states. So can you tell me in terms of like, cross country personally, how far did you progress? And then if your team let’s say, like goes to states, and they win at states, does that count towards you as well? Like, I also want to state or is it more like my team won it states? Can you say like the competition aspect of it?

Archana
Yeah, so I personally was better in track than I was in cross country. I would my season would like personally for me, like, and a lot of teammates, their season our seasons would be over before the sectional race, because only a very small group of like girls like seven girls, seven guys would continue to sectionals and if they place in that they would go to like meetup, champions, things like that. So that was kind of my cross country side. But for track, I did participate in like, state relays. I’ve done like four by 800. And I’ve done in winter track. I’ve also done like, like higher level meats. When when we like when things it’s not really I guess, towards anyone, personally, I just kind of like a group when we do have like an award ceremony at the end of the the season like a banquet type of thing. And sometimes you will get like certificates like I got like this, like interscholastic like athlete thing. Like certain people would get like certain awards and like recognitions, like in the county, things like that people who competed at like high level meats, and like placing those meats, they would get like awards. So kind of like depends like, like, personally how you do but the wins would kind of only be like for the whole team.

Kamila
But on your college app, would you write like, Oh, my team wanted states or something like that?

Archana
Um, no, I wouldn’t write that I only mentioned like the award that I got, like for me personally, and I had only mentioned like, I was a varsity athlete. So that was really only Yeah, I didn’t really mention like group things on there for that.

Kamila
Okay. Okay, so let’s move on. What other main extracurriculars did you have on your college application?

Archana
So yeah, I was also part of this volunteering organization called Leo Club. Leo Club International. So Lions Club International is like a huge thing around the world. And we since we were kids, we were called the Leo Club. So our South Brunswick that’s where I’m from. In New Jersey, we had our only AAU club and I started off the end of my freshman year, my friend just told me like, Hey, there’s this club, like, are you interested in joining, I was like, maybe. So I kind of went along with him. And I ended up like, really, really liking the people there. I love the the advisor of the the club as well. And I really liked the projects that we were doing. So I got really involved in that club and what kind of volunteering wasn’t. So we did like. So we would do like, Special Olympics volunteering, we would do like make Thanksgiving food kitchen. We had done a we had done a Six Flags, volunteering thing. It was really fun, because we just got to go on rides. And it was like a volunteering aspect as well for that. So there were like really, really fun stuff that we did. And the biggest one that I did once I got on the board, I was an executive member my senior year. And I we actually planned to 5k the first one for our club in our in our township. So I was like very heavily involved in like, volunteer like planning with the volunteers and creating like the whole schedule and all the shifts and all that. And so were my my co my other colleagues, other colleagues. Yeah, that’s the way had colleagues like, on in our club, we all like we all signed, we planned out planned out the whole thing. And I’m honestly probably the most proud of that, that I that I contributed to and helped, like, make come together we had over, like 120 people sign up for it. Wow. So for our first ever 5k It was very, very successful. And it was super fun. I I honestly use that every the Holyoke club experience a lot on my college application. It I think it really gave it gave me something to talk about, because I did a lot with that. And the 5k was a really big part of something that I was able to kind of just like, use a lot in my applications and essays and stuff.

Kamila
Wasn’t it like a useless volunteer, but it’s like you guys raised money to give towards causes?

Archana
Yeah, so we’d have like, we have like five, we have like different like, kind of like that like values or like, I don’t have to say like we have like different categories to which we kind of do like our volunteering events. So for example, the 5k we actually donated our money to diabetes awareness and research. That was that was our goal for that event. So we like donated it to a Lions Clubs like funding and we also donated it to JDRF, which is like for research in diabetes awareness. And we’ve done other like fundraisers towards like vision and like environment, like clean sprinkler cleanups, picking up garbage and stuff like that. So we’d have like different like categories, and we try to like do events and each of those things.

Kamila
Okay. And the executive board was that like the highest like level you could get in that club? Like you guys. It was more like a panel, not a panel.

Archana
Yeah. So the President, Vice President, Secretary, I had actually had ran for Secretary. But I didn’t get that position. So I was given the executive. So there was like, four people. It seems like the three positions and then the executive, and then our advisor. So yeah,

Kamila
okay, okay. Okay. So, you definitely, you said, you mentioned Leo Club, like throughout your application? So did you mentioned like in your essay and stuff?

Archana
Yeah, that was like a huge part. Whenever asked, like, what leadership position anything about leadership, I would just throw that there. I’m pretty sure I had, what I would do is I written one, like, kind of, like, big paragraph about everything that I did about that. And for each college out essay, if it was a little different. I’d kind of like tweak what I wrote to kind of fit the question, but the overall theme, I would pretty much use Leo Club a lot. And I would use I did another volunteering, which was it was called buddy ball. I was with our township Soccer Association thing. And what we would do is we it was just a bunch of high schoolers, and we’d actually play with special needs kids, we play soccer with them, like every Sunday for about an hour. And so I also talked a lot about that as something that I really did and something that I did, and I really enjoyed being able to do with kids because I love doing anything with kids. So those two and like running were pretty much like my main three things that I would discuss because those are like my most involvement, I would say.

Kamila
And for the other volunteering activity did playing with the disabled kids on every Sunday. Did that start freshman year?

Archana
I think I did that sophomore year. Yeah. Okay. sophomore year, I did that for a whole year and then junior year. I got a little busy. And then senior year, I was actually yeah, I should also add this i i started working at a pharmacy actually, I was like, I was like a pharmacy clerk. So that was like towards the end of junior year. So I kind of really never had time to kind of go back to a buddy ball. That was what we called it with playing with the kids. Because I was just kind of like moving towards like different interests and seeing like other ways I could kind of like do things and I someone had reached out out to me about this job. So I was like might as well try it. And I kind of got let go pretty much when COVID started. So it was it was about

Kamila
let’s hear what did you do? Like first of all, how did you like? Well, like you said, someone reached out to you. So can you tell us you know how long you did it for? What were your responsibilities and such jobs are always interesting. Like

Archana
yeah, so it was end of junior year I the boss was kind of like traveling back and forth. So I was just kind of waiting on like starting he was pretty much ready to like start training me, once he had heard that I was like, a good option from one of the people, students who was already working there. And so that summer, summer before senior year, I had started going in, like an AI training. And what I would do is basically, um, so we’d have like, I do like a lot of cashier responsibilities, obviously, people will patients would come in and ask if I have a prescription ready, and it’d be like, okay, and then I’d go to the back, and I’d like check, like, where’s their bag of medication, I’d bring it back from the mob. So that was like a pretty basic thing, or if anything they bought in the store, I would also bring them up. And then like, behind the counter, I’d work beside the pharmacist and I’d like basically bag up the medications. They kind of leave me like baskets full of like stuff, like for each patient, and I’d have to like, assemble, like all the medications, staple the bag, and like put it where it needs to go. So that was another thing that I had to do. And I’d like to phone like I’d pick up the phone pretty much every time if somebody called patients would ask about like insurance questions or is my medication ready, that’s a common one. Or like, or there’d be like, I have a new insurance, I need to put it on file. So it was kinda like a lot of things. And then like, we also do like deliveries of medication. So I’d have like a separate station to kind of bag up medications and have that special like, it’s like a little different process. But that would be for like deliveries and out for the guy to come in and take all this stuff. So it was like, I only did about like four hours a week once I started fully working. Because I was just so busy with like, cross country and tracks. Obviously during the school day I’d get couldn’t do any of the weekdays pretty much I do like Sundays. But until I got like to my own, I would kind of work alongside with one of the students who had been working there. They were just another high schooler, but I’d kind of just like, follow them. And I do my thing and they kind of watch over me to make sure I’m okay. Doing it. And it I feel like it helped because it’s a very like, it’s a bit nerve racking because it’s kind of like a very serious thing. Like you don’t want

Kamila
to you can mess up those medications. Yeah, if you kind of put

Archana
the wrong medication, like in the wrong bag like that, then it’s like, it’s a big problem. So I it was kind of like, it was a little stressful at times. But it I feel like it really helped me with like patient interaction, customer interaction, just like people skills, honestly, I feel like it really helped. It’s just like, people come and go, like, you just need to be able to learn how to talk to them. And like, if someone’s being like, kind of like, not in the best mood, like how do you kind of like deal with that I was just like something you kind of had to learn. And I really enjoyed. I like my coworkers. And it was it was a nice job. But um, yeah, I mean, it kind of got let go once COVID hit. So I worked there from like, June of junior year, all the way until like, March of senior year, pretty much.

Kamila
So it’s like nine months, nine months,

Archana
nine months. Yeah, it wasn’t it wasn’t too long. Honestly, it was. But that was just kind of how it worked out because of what happened. I actually wouldn’t when COVID started, like, mean that one week when everyone was just like kind of freaking out. I did actually go to work that day. I mean that week, because like nobody wanted to come in, like literally none of the kids wanted to come in. And since it was still so new, and we had no idea like what was going on. Like I was just like, well, I’ll just go because like, I feel like no one’s there. I’ll just get paid. And I’ll just go. And then pretty much after that one week. It was like middle of March. Exactly. And I just not didn’t go after that. Because it was just like not safe.

Kamila
Yeah. Yeah, completely understandable. Okay, so Are those your main extracurriculars?

Archana
Yeah, that’s pretty much like the main stuff.

Kamila
Alright, so let’s go on to the actual college app. So let’s start with the way you kind of kind of went into it a little bit earlier. But can you first explain how you made your list of colleges? Did you go on college tours? Did you do simple like Google searches? What was your like criteria? Did you want to be near a city in the suburbs? Did you want to be close to home far from home? What were you looking for in a college?

Archana
So what I was looking for was I kind of knew like I was going to go to a state school. Just because being science and pre med, I didn’t want to go to some ivy league and be incredibly incredibly, incredibly challenged and just have a tank on like my GPA if I was considering doing graduate school or medical school. So like I kind of wanted to just go to a state school because one it would just be less expensive, obviously depending on where it is, and like to, I just didn’t want that I just didn’t want to like, like struggle so much in my undergrad in compared to like some ivy league or a really top school. But I did. I did only visit one school actually. And it was right before COVID I was pretty late and I, I kind of regret not being able to do more. And I mean, obviously I wouldn’t have known COVID was going to come when just hit all of us. But I I wish I started visiting maybe earlier in senior year, just so I would have had more things to consider. I visited University of Maryland. And behind there, oh, really. That’s where my two cousins go to my cousin’s their third year at Maryland. So I was like, ask them for everything pretty much. So I visited College Park and I absolutely loved it. I mean, it was amazing. Campus was awesome. My parents, they like the pre med advisor. My mom really liked her. She was really sweet. And I got to talk to some of the students who were just going to enter medical school. It was like a panel of like, graduates pretty much. And everyone was just really sweet. I really loved it. But yeah, that was just like the one that was just like one school and I was between it was in my top three, I would say UMD by the end. But that was pretty much the only school I got to visit and it was great. But I was kind of sad that I never got to see like anything else.

Kamila
Um, so you didn’t go to university of pittsburgh until like,

Archana
I actually never visited pay until I got here. I committed without seeing pay, which is kind of crazy. I had a lot of trust in the school. But I mean, it’s really awesome. I I love it here. But with the other colleges, I applied to maybe I said the two Bs MDs, those were obviously like reach for me, I would say applied to Cornell because my mom told me to I don’t know why I got rejected so and then I applied to. I applied to Rice University that was like another reach. And then I applied to like a lot of applied to just like the northeast and stuff. I applied to UMD Rutgers. I applied to University of Florida. And I also applied to like Drexel, and I think that’s a I’m kind of looking at what I had done and Pittsburgh, obviously, and UNC Chapel Hill. So it’s kind of like a mix of like, state half state schools maybe and then like half for like, just for the heck of it. Like kind of like, just for the heck of it honestly, just to see what would happen. Who knows. But I pretty much got into every school except for I didn’t get into Cornell, obviously, I didn’t get into UNC Chapel Hill and kind of like the other tough ones. I just didn’t really get it I didn’t get into. So my options were obviously like the state I was between Rutgers UMD and University of Florida. In the end. My parents my mom, actually my my both my parents wanted me to go to Florida. They knew that there were a lot of good med schools in Florida, and a lot of great opportunity there. You f is seventh ranked in the top public schools. Yeah, it’s a good like public school. And they had like, really good opportunity. But to me, I didn’t want to go far from home. And I had told him that multiple times. And my mom’s like, well, if you go to Florida, we can come in for vacation. I was like, Well, this is not about us about me. And so I I was just like, I don’t really want to go to Florida. Like I knew that and I I feel like they just like were Yeah, they just knew I wasn’t gonna go like I said I didn’t want

Kamila
to wait, so was University of Pittsburgh, not in your top three.

Archana
It was it was so you UMD and you pit pit.

Kamila
Okay, okay, and then how did you end up choosing PE you said you really like UMD?

Archana
Yeah, so yeah, so pretty much I was between PE and UMD. I was not going to go I was like I had no interest in going to Rutgers, my home college state at my State College. Because I just didn’t want to be here. I knew I wanted to go somewhere out. So I was between pay and UMD pay it was just less well one of the things was it was less expensive for me. Then UMD and I didn’t get really that much from USB. There’s basically nothing so I was gonna I was gonna end up paying like full price space, like pretty much and I’m at Pitt, I was accepted into the Honors College here. And I had also gotten like a I think because of the Honors College I’m not sure I got like a like a what I call it not an early admissions but a guaranteed admissions. To the Master’s of Public Health here, so I would be able to get in if I wanted with lower grades pretty much. Yeah, I was just guaranteed that so I had that letter I had the honors and I just knew that Pitt was just a really was a better school for like the major and the field that I wanted to go in. I know that you MD is also really good in STEM, but you pay is I just felt was known much better for the hospitals and research. And just the end, like our pretty much our school is 70% or arts and sciences. Okay, so a lot of people come here just for study bio, whatever the hell they want to do. It’s just like, pretty, very biomed Dental, pre health or school, so I just felt like it would be a better fit here for me than at UMD.

Kamila
Alright, so

Archana
yeah,

Kamila
yeah, so I’ve two questions with Honors College, and you know, most public, like flagship schools will have an Honors College will have the regular and then they’ll have the honors, with Honors College, is it any sort of like different application or when they’re considering your application? They’re like, Okay, you get in. And we’ll also put you in the Honors College because we think you’re, you know, the top of the students we’re going to admit.

Archana
Yeah, so for the honors, you have to apply by a certain deadline. That’s one thing, it’s a separate, like, it’s like, it’s not separate application, but like, you have to make sure you submit it by this time to be considered.

Kamila
And you need to specify that you want to go you’re applying for college.

Archana
There’s like a, there’s like two for pay. At least there was two like essays like paragraphs, I guess, for the Honors College. So I had known about that. And I was like, I just want to try for it. It’s just two extra. So I just applied when I did the common app, I believe it was on the common app itself. It was obviously optional, because I not like has to do it. But I just had filled that out, in addition to the regular stuff that I needed.

Kamila
No, but you can apply to pick get rejected from the Honors College but still get into. Yeah, okay. Yeah. And then for comparison purposes, like let’s say, like, with UMD, we’re gonna say like, how does in state tuition differ from out of state? And I’ll say like, what it would cost for me and Marylander to go to UMD. The tuition would be less than 10k a year, I think I think it’d be about eight. Yeah. Yeah, about 8000. A year for an in state Marylander. And I’m sure it’s probably similar for other people in their state school. How much was the sticker price for you at UMD? Like tuition wise?

Archana
I didn’t realize it was 8000. That’s very, very low.

Kamila
Actually. Yeah. Eight or 10? I think

Archana
it’s 50,000. For out of state. That’s why That’s why I’m saying I don’t know if I’m in state is 1000. I feel like it’s like 30 No, no, no, no, no, it’s it is 50. I mean, that’s the 61,000. Yeah. Is that

Kamila
including like room and board and like, Okay, well, okay. Oh, no. If you include room and board, yeah, it goes up to like 20. Something. Yeah, tuition.

Archana
Okay, let me look at I have the thing, here you MD is 32. Okay, just tuition, from whatever whenever I looked at this, so like two years ago? So it’s about 50? Sorry. Yeah, I’d sort of saying maybe I feel like she’s saying just the tuition price. Yeah, it’s 32. And, I mean, with the tuition points, 50. And I just feel like that’s a lot. There’s a lot. Yeah, that’s a lot. And a lot of the people at UMD, who were doing bio or pre health, they were all actually in state. They even had said themselves that they preferred to go to UMD. Because they were going to save money. Yeah. So I was just like, that is definitely like money is definitely a factor if I’m going to do more school after. So I didn’t want to go to too pricey of a school just for the

Kamila
undergrad. And then the tuition for Pitt. What was the tuition for Pitt? Like just the sticker price? Not the tuition, sticker price

Archana
per pair? I think it’s like, I think it’s like 32 for out of state, I believe.

Kamila
So it’s like the same with you MD.

Archana
Um, but the tuition or it might be like 29 or something. For total. I know the total is like 45. Okay, total like 45 Yeah, okay. And I had gotten scholar much more scholarship money here than there. So that was that. Also, like it was just reduced it like less compared to UMD.

Kamila
And also one more thing was Honors College before we get into your essays, you know, yeah, so with Honors College, when you’re like, I guess when you’re applying through an Honors College do Honors College students get first dibs on tuition like no tuition like scholarships and stuff.

Archana
I feel like the oldest kids get more scholarship. But I don’t know that it’s particular to honors. I think anyone could get scholarship money. But maybe the honors kids would just get more that maybe I’m not too sure about that. But that would be what I think I think the like the guaranteed admissions thing, I think that was a result of honors college that I feel like, because I got that after I got accepted in the Honors College. So I feel like that might be a result of that aspect. But I don’t believe the tuition, the university scholarship money that they say is dependent on that.

Kamila
Okay, so let’s move on to, I guess you can say the last portion of your application before we talk a little bit about the little college experience that you’ve had. So, college essay, what topic did you write on? Like, which prompt did you choose? And you say you started the summer before senior year. So can you tell us like the different stages you had with writing before you came to your final product?

Archana
Yeah, so I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I had no like, I know, everyone, I don’t know where people come up with these special experiences that they’ve had. But I had a pretty ordinary high school experience. And I was really struggling to think of a topic. But I kind of just like, wrote about, I think I made turn it into something more like, personal and like my thoughts. I would say, I talked about how like, I feel like I had no vision. Like in life, like beyond getting into college. I felt like that was so like, I felt like that might be a lot of people, like everyone is just focused on getting college but nobody had thought about what am I going to do after? And I kind of talked about that. And how I was so focused on like the nitty gritty things getting into college that I had, like, like zero thought about what was it going to do after, and I actually wanted to reread it. Once I got this opportunity for this podcast, I was like, you know, I want to take a look at it to just see what was I thinking two years ago? Because I think it’d be kind of cool. I feel like mine was more like a journal entry. I don’t know. It feels like it was more like a personal thing. But yeah, I don’t know, I I don’t think it was like really special. I I feel like that was like the only thing I could come up with at the time to just kind of talk about like me and myself, but not maybe not necessarily like something that happened to me is more just like me thinking. And then just like explaining, like all this, these thought processes and stuff. So that was like with my essay, I went through maybe like two or three drafts. They say not to ask too many people to read your essay, because then it kind of loses like its original meaning of what you wrote. So I only had asked my younger cousin, the older one. And I had asked, um, this like English tutor, teacher that I had, like, in middle school. We were very like, she was very, she very much like me, and she had said, send over your essay, and I’ll read it for you. So I just asked her and my cousin and I think that was it. I didn’t want it like many people to read it just because I didn’t want like so many changes that like it doesn’t even sound like me anymore. So I know, that’s like one thing that people say, and I kind of stuck to that. So I didn’t really go more than that for the essay. But for the extracurriculars, I didn’t really ask anyone to read. I mean, not extracurriculars, the essays about like extracurriculars and all the other stuff. I just did that by myself. I didn’t really ask anyone to read over it just because it was kind of short. And like, I was like, I don’t really know, like what you could change because like, the content like I’m just talking about everything that kind of really happened. It’s pretty, like straightforward. And that sounds you’re just typing out, like all your experiences and things like that. Um, I I think I don’t think I’ve did many drafts for those like little short ex supplementaries essays that they would say. Maybe like, just like read it over. Check it over before I submit. But I feel like I focus more on the essay, obviously because I was more important. So I spent more time like revising that.

Kamila
And what with your essay, what conclusion? Or perhaps lack of conclusion did you come to at the end?

Archana
Um, do you mean like, like my in my essay itself? Yeah, like

Kamila
when you’re you’re talking about like, how people don’t really think about college, but they don’t think about anything after like, what conclusion did you come to?

Archana
You know, I really wish I had read the essay now because I can’t really remember what I had said on there. But I just I don’t know. I feel like it kind of got a little deep. Honestly, I don’t know. I really wish I read it before I can’t really remember unfortunately. But um, I think it was just me. Kind of like saying that like I didn’t want to have a very closed mindset anymore. And I realized that I was having a closed mindset, and that I wanted to start being more like open and kind of just like, like kind of stop being very tunnel vision in life just because I was so like, I was just like that I would just always think in like, fragments, like, I’d be like, This is what I’m looking forward to. And then this is what I’m looking forward to, but I never feel like I was able to see the big picture. And I feel like that, just like, that held me back because I wasn’t really, I wasn’t open to like doing new things. I wasn’t open to like, try new stuff because I was just like, I was like, This is what I have to do. And then this is what I have to do. Yes, because that’s what everyone told me. I never feel like I had my own like my own like path to do to follow and things like that. I feel like that’s what I said I can’t I can’t really remember but I feel like you’re just me kind of just explaining like I had this realization like this moment of realization when like, I just knew that. I was like just thinking very like close minded, I think. I think

Kamila
it’s a great movie. It’s called the personal statements.

Archana
Yeah, that’s yeah.