Rising Sophomore at Rice University
1. Why did you decide to join SWAG to College?
I’ve attended schools across the country and have seen the difference between America’s best and worst schools. There are great people everywhere, but only in some places do they get the information and resources they deserve to act on their ambitions--usually places where money and social power is concentrated. It’s hard to see one school struggle with 500 students per counselor where in another each counselor can focus on a group of 20. It’s not right.
2. What is one cool/fun/interesting fact about you?
Right now I’m learning how to make video games. When I was younger I wanted to design educational games to make math fun for people, and I’ve finally made the leap and am studying how.
3. If you have chosen your major, what advice would you give to those unsure of what to study?
Rather than stressing about major, focus on pursuing activities that you’re passionate about. “Major” is kind of a nebulous concept, but the skills you gain from your activities aren’t, and chances are they’ll matter more to your future work than the label on your diploma. In any case, unless you’re going med school or law school, chances are your choice of major will open more doors than it closes--plenty of tech companies are seeking humanities buffs with coding skills, and any industry is looking for people with business and leadership experience. I myself and a comp sci major, but I plan to study renewable energies in grad school. Your major doesn’t necessarily matter as much as you’d think. Skills matter. So just take classes that give you skills you’ll need to do what you’ll love and what can support you.
4. Who encouraged you to pursue a higher education?
My parents. They both went to college, so college was always an expectation for me. Same thing with a lot of my friends (in high school, not so much when I was younger). I was very fortunate to have them.
5. What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone in high school who is in the college application process?
Apply to a wide variety of schools. Even if you’re positive you’ll get into you top choice, apply to a few backups to cover yourself. And if you’d love to go to X school but are sure you can’t get in, apply. Because you can never be sure unless you try. My other advice is remember that college applications will end. You won’t be worried forever.
6. What’s one thing that has been easier or different about college life compared to high school life?
Being away from home. In a lot of ways I’ve really appreciated the freedom and think that I’ve definitely grown into myself, but it’s definitely had it’s challenges.
7. What’s the most interesting thing you packed to take with you to college?
I have a poster of some random guy holding a clarinet that I’ve had for years now--not really sure where I got it. His name is Bill Jackson. The poster gained a small cult following with my sister and me, and now with my friends at Rice. Probably the strangest thing I keep in my dorm.
8. How did you make the choice to attend the college/university you chose?
Not well. I was still basically undecided at 11:55 PM on May 1st--I was choosing between three schools, and when the deadline was seconds away I decided, “Nah, I’m not going to any of those, I’m going to Rice.” My heart had been split between my too-expensive dream school and the school I hated but my parents wanted me to go to. The decision to go to Rice was basically a compromise and honestly probably the best decision I made senior year, despite the drama (I’d changed my Facebook profile four times, and it’s sort of a joke at my high school…)
9. Explain at least two goals you have set for yourself in life (it can be anything!) and how you plan to achieve these goals.
Right now my main goal is financial stability since my household was pretty turbulent when it came to income. So I’m majoring in STEM and trying to grow my skillset as much as possible. In general I’m a very practical person, so my second goal is more a lifetime “don’t give up on your dreams” thing--I want to keep writing creatively until I’m old. I’ve written stories since I was six. It’s always been basically breathing for me, so when I get to places in life where I don’t have time to write a few poems or a story every week, that’s how I know I need to rebalance.
10. What is one piece of advice you'd give to parents with a child who is in the college application process?
Make sure you know your financial information. Look up the questions on the FAFSA and CSS Profile well in advance so you can get help from your child’s school with difficult questions. My family was in a strange financial situation so it took a lot of phone calls and preparation to make sure everything was in order. Check as soon as you can and make sure you can answer everything.
11. What’s the one example you hope to set for younger family members or others?
I try to be tolerant.