How to Apply to Colleges [Part 2] | Nicolas Chae | Skillshare

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How to Apply to Colleges [Part 2]

teacher avatar Nicolas Chae, Princeton University Class of 2021

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (13m)
    • 1. Welcome to Nic's Declassified! [Part 2]

    • 2. Essays & Short Answers

    • 3. Building Your Profile

    • 4. Financial Aid & Scholarships

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About This Class

Nic’s Declassified School Survival Guide

Worried about what you need to do to get into your dream college? Lucky for you, Nic’s Declassified has it covered. YouTuber, Entrepreneur, and Princeton University Economics student Nicolas Chae will teach you everything you need to know about the college application process in order to ensure you get into the school of your dreams. 

In order to best prepare yourself for the college application process, there are a couple of foundational elements you need to build throughout your time in high school. In the first part of this series, Nic provides a breakdown of

  • Which courses you should take each year
  • How to get involved in meaningful extracurriculars
  • Starting the search for the college of your dreams

In the second part of this series, Nic walks you through the entire process of completing your college application including key lectures breaking down how to build your best profile for admission into your dream college:

  • Writing a unique, compelling college essay
  • Demystifying financial aid & scholarships
  • Asking for letters of recommendations
  • How to stand out in your interviews

Once you’re officially a college student, Nic takes you through:

  • Acclimating to College Life
  • How to pick a major
  • Building habits for success in college

Whether you’re a freshman in High School, or a senior who has no idea where to begin in the college application process, this class is your one-stop shop for all things college. In less than one hour, Nic will provide you with the tools you need to get accepted to any college of your choosing.

Meet Your Teacher

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Nicolas Chae

Princeton University Class of 2021


Greetings and salutations, friends!

My name is Nic (21) and I'm a senior in the Economics Department at Princeton University. Since I got into college, I've been documenting my life as a college student and the journey it took to get me here through YouTube to an audience of engaged, interactive students from all over the world.

Throughout my time at Princeton, I've gotten hundreds of messages from people just like you asking how to succeed in high school to get into the school of your dreams. As someone who understands the frustrations and uncertainty in the college application process, I decided to come up with a series of lectures outlining everything you need to know, from your freshman year of high school, all the way up to your first year of college.

I'm ... See full profile

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1. Welcome to Nic's Declassified! [Part 2]: There are few things as intimidating as a college application process. The culmination of all your years of hard work boiled down into a single application to determine whether or not you're qualified for the school of your dreams. I know it's a scary process because well, I've been there. My name is Douglas Jay and I'm a senior in the economics department at Princeton University. Since my freshman year of college, I've been documenting my life through YouTube and the journey you took to get me here. Throughout this process, I've gone hundreds of messages from people, just like you asking me questions about how I got into the number one university in the country. Now as I come to the close of this chapter of my life, I'm very excited to announce the launch of Nick's declassified comprehensive guide, walking you through every step of the college application process, everything you need to know from the start of your freshman year of high school all the way to your transition to college. Now, a couple years back as I was going through the process myself, I was thinking, dang, I wish there was a comprehensive guide that would tell me everything I needed to know. So I did just that builds an all-in-one comprehensive resource to answer any sort of question that Google can't help with. And the reason I believe this is so beneficial and revolutionary is that every single course throughout this lecture has been written by an actual college student who has been through the process just like you, what better way to learn from your peers who had the exact same struggle with and had the same questions but ended up succeeding throughout this entire journey, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship money and are now attending some of the most prestigious universities in the country. This course, I'll be taking you through the various steps of the college application process, starting with the foundation of a successful high school curriculum to best set yourself up for admission into your dream University. Then we'll break down the actual aspects of the application as well. Some tips on formulating a cohesive, well-thought-out essay that's gonna make you stand out from the crowd, will also provide tips on standardized testing for tests such as the SAT or the ACT, as well as how to maximize your efforts for SAT subject tests, an AP tests. Finally, we'll conclude with your transition into college, as well as billions of habits for success. And you start your first semester of college, we'd put in several hours of preparation to bringing guys this course diving is going to be really beneficial and bringing a lot of utility. Hopefully as you guys go through these lectures, you'll find a lot of value in insights that you won't find anywhere else without further ado. Welcome to Nick's declassified. 2. Essays & Short Answers: Nick's declassified, how to write the perfect college application. Essays and short answers. The most important thing that you can do for yourself in regards to the essay is to get started early. You hear over and over and you're really not gonna realize you're screwed until you have to leave football games after your marching band halftime performances. To submit your Harvard essay before the midnight deadline, which I may or may not have done, trusts me, start in August and early September to give yourself enough time to get all your thoughts together, plan multiple drafts and polish your final product after the test-taking process, writing the first words of the common app will be the most stressful thing. Here's what you have to do. Schedule out an entire day. You'll need it. Fantasy at your favorite place, the library, starbucks, your couch, open up a document or a notepad for brainstorming there at the prompt and let any and all ideas flow from your hand onto that paper. Write down whatever pops into your head and anything you can craft a story out of. Once you have a document full of ideas, start narrowing it down to the ideas that are outlandish. And the idea is you can actually work with. From there, you now have a bunch of starting points that you can use to further explore and see what will work best for your pumped. It will take multiple drafts before you're drawing becomes the Mona Lisa. So expected first drafts to be trashed but don't get discouraged. The content. Don't think of this as writing an essay, but rather you're writing a story unique only to you and can't be copy and paste it to hundreds of other applicants. Are you in Asian guy trying to get into the University of Texas engineering with high-grade some good scores. That's fine. But there are a hundreds, if not thousands, of Asian males with 34 ACT and participated in robotics for debate, what can you write about that makes you stand out amongst the hundreds of thousands of other essays competing for a full ride with a Cornelius Vanderbilt scholarship. And Vanderbilt, At the end of the day, the admins committee is accepting a human, not a test-taking robot. Be unique, be creative, and take risks with your application. Supplemental essays and short answers. Students have no trouble coming up with the longer essay prompts and can write for days. The true test of a strong writer is how well they can formulate a story in the least amount of words possible. Psychologists began introducing supplemental essays that are easy ways for the admissions committee to determine it applicants running abilities as well as get to know them better. The best advice for The short answer questions is to find one concrete subject to write about and only stick to that if you try and explain your whole life story in a 150 words, you'll lose clarity. This isn't the time to use superfluous wording or beat around the bush, cut straight to the chase and only include what's absolutely necessary. Remember, quality over quantity. Also, don't be afraid to be casual or lighthearted and your responses, they want to get to know your personality better instead of what your scores are as far as how to format your response, I recommend sticking to sentences compared to list or phrases as it's easiest to input in the Common Application. One question I get a lot is how to tailor essays for specific schools. And honestly there is no definitive answer. Each university has different preferences and there are literally hundreds of variables that go into one's final decision. Since no one knows what happened behind those closed doors, it's better to spend less time worrying about the nitty-gritty details and focus on conveying a compelling story in getting your message across a paper to an actual human being. That's why I play such an emphasis on being genuine and not changing the way you would normally write it to fit a structured college essay outline. In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all template for any of these essays in a truly is whatever you want to write about. For me, I considered it less as a college admissions essay and more of a story or even a poem. The editing stage, essays reviewed and critique by peers, teachers, parents, and anyone who is willing to take five minutes to look over your essay legitimately, listen to what they're saying about your writing. Don't everything your essays perfect because there's always room for improvement. The more feedback you get on your essay, The more you'll see flaws that you didn't even notice before. You've read your own work dozens of times, which means having a set of fresh eyes will give you a new perspective of what works and what doesn't. However, always trust your gut instinct. If someone tells you to change the wording or sentence structure, but you did it purposefully and intentionally go with what you think is best at the end of the day, no matter how many people read your essay, they are your essays. Nolan will have the same voice, passion, or clarity that you can tell about your life story. Keep in mind that a lot of the main essay prompts are fairly similar. So you'll be able to use one or two really good stories and to be good for multiple applications. However, pay special attention to the wording of the problem so you don't end up copying and pasting a completely irrelevant essay and having it end up in the committee's trash bins, double-check your school names. I can't even imagine how embarrassing it would be to copy and paste a short answer and have it say, I love to attend Columbia University in the lovely city of New York on your Yale University application, save yourself the immediate rejection letter and take time to carefully proofread your answers so they're tailored for each specific school. 3. Building Your Profile: Building your profile, a lot of students don't realize that a simple resume can take your application from average to outstanding by creating an outline of your high school accomplishments in highlighting your creative abilities, you show the admissions committee that number one, you're willing to put in the extra work. Number two, you've accomplished a lot. Your resume should show your rank, GPA, test scores, work experience, extracurriculars, leadership positions, and anything else significant to your four years in high school? For myself, I want a scholarship with National Geographic to travel to Ecuador in the Galapagos Islands on photography scholarship. And I absolutely included that. I also ran for student body president three times and lost every single year. I did not include that. However, I submitted a photography film and music portfolio along with my website and YouTube channel. If you're a musical prodigies, set up a camera in the auditorium and film a solo you've been working on. If you're the next picasso, submit the art pieces you've been working on. This is the part of the application for you to showcase the years of hard work you put into your craft rather than studying for tests or writing essays. And trust me, the admissions committee will appreciate things like this much more than KID with only perfect test scores, Valedictorian into 24 AP classes. There's a stigma around, well, high-school kids expect college admissions directors to like and approve on an application. At the end of the day, admission counselors are parents, teachers, and just regular people start thinking of creating an application that appeals to humans rather than using fancy, unnecessary formal diction in your essays, that they'll need a dictionary to look up. Letters of recommendations. At times, this can seem like the most intimidating part of the whole process. Asking one of your teachers to write a stunning recommendation on your behalf for the college of your dreams, leaving the fate of the next four years in the hands of a teacher who you might've gotten on their bad side one time. Trust me, it seems scary, but the end of the day, these teachers want you to succeed just as much as you want to. There's no better feeling the walking into the teachers classes that I ask for recommendation letters from and telling them that got into the number one school in the country. Imagine how much pride that brings them and how happy they are that they were able to help you get into your dream school. First, you have to find a teacher that you like and vice versa that actually likes you and that you did well in their class. Obviously don't go to your AP physics feature if you had a C plus throughout the whole semester, the teacher that inspired you, motivated you to work hard in a class and that you felt comfortable enough to talk to and trust. And honestly, it doesn't even have to be academic teachers, band directors, cheer coaches, theater teachers. Anyone who has had a significant impact on your life would be more than happy to write a recommendation letter on your behalf. But don't ask them a week before it's due. Teachers are super busy and often have unpredictable schedules. So in order to ensure a well thought out personal letter, ask them at the end of junior year or beginning of senior year. Once senior year rolls around habit, teacher already in mine, walk in and have a nice conversation about their summer and politely asked, would you be willing to write a recommendation letter on my behalf nine times out of ten, they'll smile and say absolutely. Unless you are too late to hop on the train, they may already have 20 or 30 kids already asked them, not the end of the world, just move on to a different teacher. Now the scary part, your application is due in two days and there's still a tiny tab that says teacher recommendation not yet submitted. Oh, my god. Is Mr. blamed trying to sabotage me to miss blank, not liked me enough to write a letter from me. Well know, kids rarely realized that teachers are humans too. And just like us they forget, make mistakes and quite honestly, don't have enough time to think of each individual student. It's your job to go in and remind them incessantly to gear regulator turned in on time and let them know exactly when you need it. By a little word of advice, always tell them it's due to two or three days before the actual deadline to give you time to make sure it's submitted correctly afterwards, make sure you write them and genuine thank you. Note and get them a small token of appreciation. After all, it's not easy writing a whole letter for one student, much less 20 other people. So take the time to properly think them and respect their schedules within the common application, there'll be a tab called invite recommenders, where you will insert the emails for each of your teachers. Then within the specific college, there'll be a drop-down menu where you can choose which recommendation letter you want. Submitted. Interviews. Interviews are offered by most schools depending on your location and whether or not they have available alumni in that area, you will most likely receive an email from your alumni organizer who will put you in contact with your interviewer, who you will schedule with. Sometimes they'll give you available dates that you can pick from where we'll ask what days you are available. Keep in mind, these are real employees, CEO, consultants, people who schedules are much busier than yours. So you better have a pretty good excuse to not be available. 4. Financial Aid & Scholarships: Nick's declassified. Well, you've counselor won't tell you. Now in this section we're going to break down some aspects of the application process that your counselor may not tell you, as well as some advice for narrowing down your colleges and finalizing your decision, Financial Aid and Scholarships. Now once you finalize a list of schools that you want to apply to, you wanna figure out what scholarship each school offers and which ones you qualify for based on talent, merit, test scores, and financial need, priority deadline. Most schools automatically consider you for scholarships when you apply, but make sure the scholarships you seek don't require any additional steps. If they do make sure to add them to your to-do list and submit them before the deadline. Outside scholarships, after he had been accepted to your university and receive your financial aid packages, apply for scholarships outside of your school, there are literally hundreds of scholarships by companies and local businesses to give up free money. The early bird gets the worm, so don't miss out on this opportunity to earn a little extra cash. Uh-huh. Fascia is the first thing you need to do when beginning of the financial aid process of your application. The earlier you do it, the earlier you get a response and the earlier you can file for an appeal if needed. Facet takes tax and income information from the previous year to determine how much financial aid you'll be receiving in this year. If you feel like you and your family did not receive as much aid as you should have, the appeal process is sometimes necessary. However, this is done through the university you are attending and not via phosphate. Therefore, finalizing financial aid is a secondary step to applying and being accepted types of scholarships, each school or major gives up their financial aid packages differently based on test scores, grades, talent or need, which are called Grants. While grays are important for these kinds of scholarships, the bulk of it is based on your test scores as well as the PSAT, national merit scholarship. Although not everyone has a good test taker and scores are not the only basis for acceptance when it comes to merit scholarships, test scores are very important. Standardized tests are not your strong stew. I recommend taking prep classes which are offered at a majority of schools for no cost or even online free resources like Khan Academy, talent based, most talent based scholarships are offered by the major specific school rather than the university. The amount awarded in the process also varies from school to school. Some may require you to do an interview, others may require an application, and some may require a portfolio. Many students applying towards a performing arts majors such as music, dance, photography, et cetera, are not always aware of the scholarship opportunities. So it's important to communicate with the schools you're applying to beforehand. Need-based scholarships given by the universities are based upon the information filed in phospho. This is why fascia is a crucial first step if you are relying on need-based scholarships to attend college, if you believe you and your family's financial situations qualify for a grand fill out the fascinating in its entirety. And when you received the admittance letters for the suppose we apply to it will also include your financial aid package, similar to the Pell Grant given by fast flow. You can write an appeal to your school for more money if the information on the FASB is outdated, which allows you to explain your current situation. But downside to grants is that it's a year-by-year case, whereas most scholarships are guaranteed all four years as long as the requirements are fulfilled. If you know your financial situation will not change throughout your college career, grants are the way to go. Unlike loans grants for essentially free money that you don't have to pay back. There are many other resources to find scholarships as well. Websites like human Ego and raised out me are good to check out student loans. Personally, I have not had to take out student loans. However, from what I've heard, these are the most cumbersome, at least enjoyable option to finance your college education for some families, this may be the only way for you to attend a school of your dream. Student loans are taken out of a bank with a contract that you will pay X dollars per month over the next Y years with an interest rate of z percent. These are incredibly burdensome. It can often take several years to finally pay off. Now this is obviously a conversation you have with your parents or whoever else is financing your college education. It is not an easy matter, especially with the exponential increase of college prices over the past few decades. There isn't a one-size-fits-all topic as everyone's financial circumstances are different, it may seem unfair at times, but just talk it over with your parents and see what is going to be the best option for you and your family.