Australian student, Oscar, recently gained admission to UPenn's Wharton School, Yale, Cornell and NYU just to name a few.
He is joined by his Crimson Education Strategist of 2+ years, Mason, to discuss subject selection, building on extracurriculars, essays and why he chose Wharton over his other options.
Podcast Host 00:02
Hello and welcome to another episode of the top of the class Podcast. I am delighted to be joined by Oscar and Mason, a duo who successfully well, Oscar, I guess you did the bulk of the work, but you have gained admission into UPenn and Yale. Welcome to the show. Oscar, can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?
Hi, Alex, thanks so much for having me. So I'm a recent graduate from high school here in Sydney, Australia, where I live following the usual HSC format. And I'm looking around August or September of this year to be heading over to the US now.
Podcast Host 00:53
Right and which university have you committed to?
I've ended up committing on UPenn specifically the Wharton School.
Podcast Host 01:01
Okay, fantastic. Now, Mason, I can see you want to chime in on that? What are your thoughts on that?
Oscar, it was so great working with you. I'm so excited for you going and she's a new pen. From the very beginning, I thought you were a person who was most likely going to get a lot of offers. And so it was really good to see all of your hard work pay off and get the offers that you did.
Podcast Host 01:25
Yeah, well, I mean, obviously, it's a massive shout out. I must be like a proud moment for a strategist to say when those offers do start coming in. For you, Mason, what made you think that Oscar was going to get a lot of offers?
For me, I get a pretty good sense of somebody's ambition and drive pretty early on. And the ivy League's themselves are really competitive institutions for obvious reasons. And a lot of what I find for Ivy League candidates is the ambition. So for a lot of students who need a lot of direction that's not quite a good match for Ivy League's because the ivy League's require a little bit of direction and in the students ambition to go above and beyond. And so with Oscar, I would say like, hey, I want to see this. I want to see like one more leadership opportunity. During our next meeting, he would say, Okay, well, I did this, this and this. And he just really went above and beyond with a little nudge. He went the extra mile. It was great.
Podcast Host 02:24
Yeah, fantastic. Well, for yourself, Oscar, obviously, if Mason saying that ambition, that ambition has to come from somewhere. So for you What was the driving motivation to get to some of these top colleges in the US?
I'd say it's a few things. But in terms of just that ambition and drive, I'd say I try not to let myself do anything half pie, I don't enjoy thinking that I could have gone a bit further. So I like to push as far as I can. And then I think regarding going to university, that was part of it. So knowing that there was a possibility of going to such prestigious institutions just made me want to even more and set myself a goal to push through that extra level. So I think that that's where I came from that desire to always go as far as I possibly could and not let not leave any leaf unturned really.
Podcast Host 03:11
Yeah. Well, what's the experience as an international student? You've been from Sydney, Australia, looking at US colleges as a possibility, like where do you even start with that idea?
That's a great question. I think that before I started talking with Crimson, I had very little idea or direction about it. Of course, I'd heard about these institutions like Yale and Harvard, and Wharton. But to actually understand the application process was something quite foreign. Given that here in Australia, essentially, if you get the required data, you're into the University of your choice, in most cases. So to have to understand the fact that there were essays involved standardized testing, you needed to demonstrate leadership ability through extracurriculars, all that was very novel. So it was definitely a strange process, trying to understand it at first, but then read through that the guidance of various names of crimson like Mason, it just made a lot clearer. And then to the end of how I first started understanding the US system and got involved with it. My uncle lives in New Zealand, and he had heard about Crimson as a company, because I think his son had worked with a colleague of Jamie's so then he introduced Crimson to me. And that's how I found out about the process and learned that with a company like crimson, It then became possible.
Podcast Host 04:26
Yeah, well, the word of mouth from across the ditch there, which is fantastic. Yeah, it's an interesting thing that I think a lot of students who work with us or Crimson, tend to try and keep it a little bit under their hat whilst they're actually going through the application process because they're like, Oh, it's kind of my secret weapon type of thing. My like, hidden advantage. But it's great that you know, after you gain admission, you're like, hey, yeah, this is something that I ended up doing and it actually was really helpful. But yourself Mason when you're working with a student who has ambition, but not much know how have the US college application process. Where do you usually start?
Um, generally speaking, I start right during the first meeting, asking a student, what are your target institutions? What's the end goal for you and your family? And for Oscar who's like, 'Yeah, like, I want to study business, maybe', he was kind of not sure if you wanted to go a business or economics. He was also really interested in humanities as well. And so we had like discussion about 'Okay, well, let's first discover major and then see what types of institutions', when talking about the overall US process, I started that in the very, very first call explaining what actually goes on applications because it is so different from country to country. So talking about the holistic review process, right out the gate, I'm getting a sense for major potential and institution potential. And then from there. In subsequent meetings, I normally show students applications of successful students who had gotten offers from these top schools before, once Oscar and I did that it hopefully made it clear what a successful application looked like. And normally find that there's two outcomes of showing a student a successful application to the ivy League's, the first is someone gets really fired up and is like, Okay, this is going to be competitive, but I want to like rise to the challenge and, and make it happen. Or the other path is actually, this is not quite what I thought was gonna be the amount of work required and the holistic aspect. So let's go ahead and reassess. And pivot if you will. For Oscar, it was more, let's rise to the challenge and, and keep going full throttle.
Podcast Host 06:38
Fantastic. And when you did first get Oscar assigned to you, what did you say is some of his strengths, particularly in that holistic aspect of the application? And what did you say are some of the areas that needed a little bit of work?
Like the first onboarding process, I wouldn't say I had too much information going into that first meeting. And Oscar has a very, like, laid back attitude, which is fantastic. So I was like, Okay, well, let's see how much he can accomplish from now until our next call. When we first started working together, I knew he had really good foundations for his extracurricular profile. And I wanted to see how much he could level those up. And he leveled all of them up to an amazing extent, even though he's like, very laid back and like chill when, when speaking, he really does have like, a good drive. And so with a little nudge, he would level up an extracurricular activity to something that I would not be really expecting from call to call. So he like, wrote a Latin resource guide. He started his own business, like all of these types of things, and was able to start scaling at a really high level. And so one area that I think we needed to, I guess, quote, unquote, work on was just testing. But that was something that most students always need to work on is preparing for exams. And so we just kind of strategize what his testing timeline was going to look like. And then Oscar being Oscar, okay, register for this exam. During the next call, you register for the exam, he had his his study books, and he was doing practice exams on his own accord.
Podcast Host 08:10
Well, that's fantastic to have a student who, I guess understands what needs to be done. I know that in some cases, as a strategist, there is a lot of prompting and pushing and reminding and everything. But sounds like you didn't have to do too much with that with Oscar, which is a good situation for you to be in for Oscar going into the last year or so of high school. What was it like to take on more things more extracurriculars, more responsibilities in that final kind of 12 to 18 months of high school? Like, how did you manage that?
I think a lot of it came down to forward planning. As Mason said, it was about having a really formal and rigid time table or timeline, which meant that I was getting testing done in year 11, or in some cases in the attend. It meant that I was leveling up different extracurriculars before year 12, which meant that kamiah 12, even though COVID disrupted us so much, it meant that I could just focus on studies and what the HSC was, and really pursuing that as far as I could. But I would say that there were points throughout year 12, particularly at the start of it, where it wasn't as intense as, as the HSC would then become that it was about just having good time management and finding a balance between them. I think to some extent being at home made it easier. So it meant that I could easily switch from being on a zoom call with my teachers to then working a bit further on communicating with online booksellers, or sell out my resource book. So it meant that I could shift between activities more easily. But at the same time it did, I'd say being at home so much did make it maybe a bit monotonous. So and to that extent, I think motivation came down to just know that there was a goal inside and then if I kept pushing then I would be able to reach it.
Podcast Host 09:59
Yeah, fantastic. And you did level up your extracurriculars across a couple of different areas. Can you kind of sum up a few of the main things that you focused on? When you heard that you had to, you know, work on your extracurricular side? Obviously, the Latin resource, we can go into that a little bit. Were there other kind of opportunities that you were able to take on within a week's notice, say, like, you talk to your teacher and be like, hey, look, I'm pretty keen to up my involvement in this particular club or organization, or whatever it might be like, Can you give us a bit of a rundown of your extracurriculars?
Sure. So I'd say one of the key ones I ended up doing, particularly in year 11, and then leading into year 12, was founding my school's linguistics club. So I'd always had an interest there. But then founding a club at year 10. And below wasn't much of a thing of my school. So then once I got to year 11, I essentially put in the work to get it into place to get a solid group of kids who would come each week to not only participate in linguistic teaching from a teacher who had actually done a linguistics degree, but then also to participate in linguistics problems, which was interesting. So that that would involve being given problems in languages you'd never heard of, and then having to use information, you get to decipher them. So that was something I started off with. And then in terms of leveling that up, I ended up using the linguistics club to create a linguistics festival at school. So over a week, and that was, I think, the week before we got locked down or shut down for COVID. So I was incredibly lucky for that I involved members in the club in running many lectures and running food event and running a flag display. So that was about kind of taking the foundations that I had already had. And then with Mason's advice, working out how to push it a step further.
Podcast Host 11:46
Yeah, that's a very lucky outcome to do that just before COVID here, but yeah, crazy, crazy time, but amazing work, and really kind of make the most out of an idea. I think that's always the key right to have one core idea. And then how many different ways can you expand on that idea that makes an impact? And that's not just like box ticking, but it's something you're actually passionate about, right? So are you going to be doing some kind of linguistics or a version of that at university?
I'm definitely intending to, while Wharton is specifically a Business School, a big draw of the US system is its liberal arts approach, which means I'll get a lot of different things. throughout school, I did three different languages. And even now, while I'm starting off at University here in Australia, which I started, before I found out about results from the US. I've been doing languages here as well. So I definitely intend to keep that interest up, which is great, because it can be much more of a intellectual pursuit, while other things can be a bit more practically focused.
Podcast Host 12:47
Yeah. Now, Mason, I've been at Crimson for a couple of years, five years now. And I don't think in my time I've heard of any student do a linguistics related extracurricular. Was that a unique card to play? And is that something that you thought would catch the admissions officers attention? Because it is quite unique?
That's a good question. I find that for extracurricular profiles overall, I always like to see where a student's interests are, and then go in that direction. So with linguistics, I would say that one kind of came to fruition after Oscar's interested in Latin and French, and then kind of just kind of spiraled, it was more of like the interest of well, why are you interested in languages so much? He's like, Oh, well, I like these things about languages and language acquisition and how you study language and how it's used. And so the idea really came from Oscar about, Hey, I kind of want to start this linguistics club. Fantastic. So my role in that was how can we level that up to have even more of an impact on your application? It wasn't necessarily like the strategy to be, like, different to how that it was more of just following your gut and your intuition for what you have as interests? And how can we go ahead and package that to have impact on your applications? That's kind of the the route that I take, because there's so many different interests that people have, the way that I think of it is how can we use this to our advantage in the process?
Podcast Host 14:18
Yeah, absolutely. And for yourself, Oscar, you not only did the festival, but you ended up writing a Latin resource, which you ended up selling as a book, I understand. And then Mason, you mentioned something about like Oscar starting a business too. So tell me more about these things? Because that sounds like a lot on your plate at that stage.
Yeah, well, the Latin resource book actually came out of me making notes just for the HSC. So I initially was trying to summarize Latin grammar for myself, just so that at any point I could reference it and go back and check something. And what I found was that there was nothing really that just went straight to the point on Grandma, that it always had, whether it be stories or additional superfluous information. That wasn't right. Quiet. So I ended up typing up the notes and then looked into the self publishing process found it wasn't actually as challenging as I thought it would be. And then I was able to communicate with the self publishing house in order to get myself center trial book soared in person, which was incredible. And then I ended up ordering, I think, 100 copies the first time. And then I sold out of them in, I think, the first three weeks, which was really exciting. So that was through online sales through friends or family, then also, I've managed to get it into a language specialty bookstore in the city in Sydney, which was really exciting. And again, all of this was in the months and weeks leading up before COVID. So that was very, very timely. Yep.
Podcast Host 15:46
Yeah, absolutely. And is that the business side of things as well, like the book selling, or is there another thing in addition to that?
There was one other thing, which was this actually started more in I'd say, year nine, or 10. But then grew a bit more quickly, actually, in COVID, which was a strange turn of events. But I had started a kids party business of sorts, which involves different challenge games and activities. And I really enjoyed the process of building it and changing i think that that led to my interest in business and entrepreneurship, which helps guide me towards my major. And what that involved, it started off with me running small events for friends and family, like Amazing Race style things around the neighborhood. And then I realized that I could actually package them up somehow. So then I ended up running a few parties in person myself. But then I realized that because of school, I wouldn't have time to do that, particularly with the various locations I'd have to go out to, and it would take up essentially a whole day, by the time it's done. So then I started packaging up the boxes to send out to people for them to run themselves. And that worked for a bit. And then of course, COVID came. So then I thought at first, when COVID came that that was gonna be it like, sadly that that extracurricular is done, because in person events can't be run too much more. But then I realized that I could still use those same events or activities, but then shaped them such that they could be done at homes so that people could use them as sort of a quarantine entertainment kit. What surprised me was that after packaging them up, they ended up selling better than the other ones. So it was an interesting process. And I really enjoyed the idea that I could grow something like that. And yeah, that's definitely led me to want to pursue business and entrepreneurship on a greater level.
Podcast Host 17:32
Yeah, fantastic. Well, so many different ideas going on there. But one of the main main takeaways for me was that you have been building an extracurricular profile from like, eight, nine. And I think that's really key. And something that particularly here in Australia, I think a lot of students don't particularly understand that like it's a four or five year process to really build this out. And for yourself Mason as a strategist looking at Oscar's profile, and understanding that he's had a long involvement in these extracurriculars. Does that immediately make you feel as though he's got a better chance, then perhaps some other students who might bloom late, you know, like, start an organization when they're in year 11, and 12. But only do it for say, six to 12 months before they apply?
Yeah, that's a really good question. Like I said, when I first started working with Oscar, he had a lot of really good foundational activities that I knew that we could scale. And it was a matter of how how much time, effort and capacity Oscar had to actually scale everything. And the way that I always explain priorities is, number one is always going to be academics. If your extracurriculars are taking too much time, and your academics are going to suffer. That is not the way to go. That's the first round of review from admissions officers. So it's a holistic thing when a student is interested in the ivy League's It's alright, full throttle on all fronts. So to answer your question, yes, the longevity is important. But it's not everything when it comes to an extracurricular profile. If you have a good foundation, it makes it easier to scale everything up. And if you have a diverse set of foundational items to build on, it makes it easier. But it's not the end all be all, like you can still have a successful extracurricular profile focusing on the last year or last two years. But capacity becomes difficult. If you're doing testing, standardized testing in your final year, and you're needing to organize a TED talk, found your own business, do all of these extracurricular things like it's not possible? We're human, we need to sleep. And we need to, you know, take care of business. We just don't have that much that much time and capacity to do all of these things in one year. So yes, longevity is important, but it's more a matter of how much capacity you have for everything.
Podcast Host 19:58
Yeah. And if you can spread that capacity or spread that workload over more years, then I guess you get the results that that Oscar has got, which is fantastic. Now, Oscar, let's talk about the academics. Because obviously, that's an area of interest. And Mason, thank you for providing a lovely segue there. So let's talk about your HSC. Some of the subjects you did I know for students around the world who are listening, they might not be too familiar with the HSC. Basically, it's one of the various state run curriculums here in Australia. But give us a rundown of the subjects you did. And then if we can talk about your standardized testing as well, either the SAT or ACT. So yeah, over to you.
Yeah. So in doing the HSC, I did English advanced for unit, or extension two maths, extension latin, extension ancient Greek and continuous French. So definitely focus more on the languages there at the end. And I actually picked up French again, in turn one after not having done in 10, four of the previous year, because I just felt like I wanted to do a bit more. So I picked that up. And then that ended up taking me through to the end of the HSC. What I benefited from in terms of my subject choices was that a lot of it kind of built on the same content. So when you do extension subjects, although it might be three or four units, it doesn't always feel like you're studying three or four units, because it's using the same skills and just applying them in novel contexts or applying them to new sorts of problems. So I found that while I took on a fair number of units, it was manageable, because I could build upon what I already had. And then in terms of standardized testing, I did two AP courses in year 10. So that was part of getting through activities earlier on. So I did psychology and computer science and you attend? And then I did the general LSAT. I sent it twice in year 11. And then I also did a submitted two Subject Tests, which were math level two and Latin.
Podcast Host 22:06
Fantastic. And is there any indication of rough score range that you're going to be able to provide in that?
For which ones?
Podcast Host 22:14
For SAT for instance, because that's more well known for the audience?
Sure. So SAT, pretty sure was a 1570 for that one.
Podcast Host 22:23
Wow, smashed it out of the park. So for those of you who don't know, SAT out of 1600, 1570, very, very strong. And obviously, that for you, Mason must have ticked the academic box. But I am actually I'm quite surprised. That is a very, very interesting subject choice, by the way, like I am really interested in that subject choice been so heavily related to languages and linguistics did for you Mason, that place more importance on his performance, particularly in the math component of the SAT?
Yeah, so when I am, like approving a subject selection, my very first thought process is well, what's the overall academic profile going to look like? There are some universities that will require a certain number of years for certain subjects. And as long as the student has ticked all of those boxes for those years, then we can be strategic in choosing the subjects that the student will succeed the most. That's going to be the most important part when their application is reviewed is their success in these particular subjects. And so for Oscar, he was like, Alright, I have an interest in language. And at that point, we were still deciding, are we going to business and econs route? Are we going the humanities route? And for both of them, I said, Okay, well, you're going to do well on these subjects, ideally. And if you are going down the business route, your maths components are going to be even more important because we don't have any other types of computational factor in your application. And we ended up choosing that later on. But he did show well in all of his humanities subjects that it didn't, it didn't make me nervous that we chose those those subjects for the math section. He got a perfect sub score for the LSAT in mathematics. He also for math level two, he also got a perfect score. So I wasn't really concerned with how his application was going to be reviewed for business because we were able to supplement his his subjects selection in class with his really really strong standardized testings.
Podcast Host 24:32
Fantastic, and so I'm going to guess Oscar, the ATAR starts with the number 99. Am I right?
One could say that, year.
Podcast Host 24:39
Okay. All right. Well, congratulations on that. For those people who around the world that's a very impressive score but usually like that is roughly the the ballpark you need to be in if you're going to get into Ivy Leagues let alone a few of the Ivy Leagues now let's talk essays because obviously that is when it comes down to these top colleges. Usually the fact that that can sway an application one way or the other, talk me through that whole process for you. Because it is such a different piece of writing to what many people are used to particularly even the students who are humanities based, right? They're like, Oh, I'm a great writer. And then they get told to self reflect and write about a moment in their life. And they're like, oh, gosh, I haven't done this much before. So what was that process like for you?
It was definitely novel. I don't think I'd ever written anything like a personal essay before or I've been asked to write in my own experience in a challenging circumstance, or what I learned from a certain experience. So it was definitely novel. And I think that that came down to, again, Mason, and then my, the person who helped me out with my essays, Katherine, so that came down to really again, being strategic with what we want to communicate and how to do it as concisely and clearly as possible. So at first, when we were drafting ideas, I think we just wanted Mason's activities, which was 30 things about me and one of them, which was great to just kind of map out key points that could be talked about or key ideas. And then from there, it was a matter of building them into actual essay ideas. So breaking them down into something of a narrative, something of a message to convey. And then also looking at what we wanted to convey about myself through this essay. So while I'm not going to obviously lie, or change anything about myself for the essay, it's about kind of shaping the content we have to what the university is looking for. So whether it be with your pen, one, looking more at that kind of entrepreneurial spirit, or whether it be with the owl, looking more to the humanities, or to the social action type side. So trying to shape the essay to the college while still maintaining the integrity of the content was key.
Podcast Host 26:52
Right? And could you give us a quick insight potentially into the moment or the message that you were trying to convey?
Yeah, so with the main common application essay that was sent to all the colleges, that one I wrote about a holiday I had back to Switzerland, which is where my family's from, and it was centered around one night where I was at dinner with family members who only spoke French, and none of my family spoke English, and I was the only one who spoke something in both languages. So it was, it ended up being an ICT about experiencing new cultures understanding one another, even when communication wasn't always possible, verbally. And then from that, a message about openness and the value of dive into new experiences came about for me.
Podcast Host 27:47
Fantastic. And for you, Mason, when you get told, I mean, I think that's an awesome story. By the way, I love that situation, I can picture it very clearly. But for yourself, my son, when a student says, hey, look, this is the kind of angle that I'm going with. And they're working with their essay mentor as well on it. What makes you confident that that's the angle that the universities would want to say as well?
That's a good question. There are so many different iterations of a successful asset. And the personal statement is meant to be that personal. And for that assignment that Oscar was mentioning the 30 things about me assignment that I have, it's not part of the typical Crimson process for essays. We have a bit of a different process, but I like that particular exercise, because it makes students really self reflect on who they are, and different things that make up who they are, and why. When we were looking through Oscars, 30 things about me, we were looking for different trends that we saw. And overall, it kept coming back to why Why do you have this really big, interesting mystics and his, with his mentor, Katherine, they come up with three topic proposals. And this is the one that I thought had the biggest potential to, first of all, explain why he chose his subject selection, because it is uncommon to have three languages as your as your your HSC courses. And it explained that particular point really, really well through this topic, but also that self reflection piece of, well, this is actually why I'm so interested in languages. It's the connection piece. And that was, I think, key. For the personal statement, I always advise students to not talk about extracurriculars to not talk about academics, if you can avoid it. But with Oscar's, it seemed to just fit. It was like that puzzle piece that was missing. And I knew that it was going to going to resonate well to give a lot more context to his overall application.
Podcast Host 29:57
That is a perfect answer. Thank you, Mason. There. That well sums it up. So you've got the essay, you've got the extracurriculars, you've got the academics, and you also had to do some supplementary essays. Were there any curveballs in that at all?
I'm trying to think I remember, I was fortunate that some of the questions were quite similar. So I could reuse some essays, which was great for saving time, or just kind of reshape similar ideas to different ones. But some of them were a lot more simply put than I expected. So I thought some of the questions would give you a bit more direction on where to go. But a lot of them were just very open ended. Like, I think there was one which was described the challenge from your life or something to that end, so then it was about taking that challenge, but then not just writing about it, and then expanding it out to what you learned from and what you gain from it, which isn't the most obvious thing to do, or the easiest thing to do. Without it sounding either too, too miserable or too trusting how to put it, it's it's a matter of finding that balance between writing, personally, but then also showing a genuine growth from that moment.
Podcast Host 31:09
Yeah, always a tricky thing to do. But I think, you know, if you're able to understand what you're trying to convey, then half the battle is won there. So okay, we're coming towards the end of the application where you're actually about to submit, Mason, when you're reviewing the final application, how confident were you that this would be a good contender in the Ivy League battlefield?
The Ivy Leagues are always a reach. So it's always like a, we'll see how this goes. But I had this this good feeling that we did everything that we could to best represent everything that Oscar had done on his application, and give it the best fighting chance. But like I said, with the ivy League's even for the strongest of candidates, it's still a reach. So we applied to you Penn in the early decision round. So that was in November one deadline. And Oscar, I hope you're okay with me sharing this, but his application was deferred. That to me was a surprise, for starters, because even though on the Australian calendar for academics, they're on the January to December timeline, normally, what I find is that for students on that calendar, wherever you are in the world, if your school is on January to December, it's pretty common for your application to get deferred, I was asked his application was really strong. So I was actually still surprised that he didn't get an answer. So that gave me some some context for how his application record reviewed by other institutions. So it made me actually a little bit nervous. And then seeing the sheer numbers of what happened with the early decision and early action rounds. And then the tidal wave of applications that came in for the regular decision round, that made me really nervous. For context. School is received, like 50% 60% more applications in the early rounds. And their application, admissions results dropped dramatically. And so that made me quite nervous. Once we actually started getting some some feedback from other schools that were more in the in the match or safety ranges of schools. That's when I started to have a little bit more breathing room for Oscars application. And then for IV day, that was a good email to receive from Oscar about all of his results. So that was that was really exciting.
Podcast Host 33:38
Fantastic. Now, Oscar, take us through the results. And the results day in general, because it is such an odd one, particularly as an Australian student, where usually people are celebrating their ATAR score. And you're they're celebrating admission results. So yeah, take us through like a bit of a review of the results that you ended up getting, and what that whole experience was like me.
Sure. So I ended up applying to I think, was eight colleges, but two of them were separate from crimson, just but reusing essays and ideas that I'd already had. And then of those, I got into six of them. So but the ones with Crimson then I got into were NYU, Cornell and Wharton. So then, I found out from NYU about a week before IV day. So that was a great first step because although it was still obviously very competitive to get into and I think this year, it had over 100,000 applicants or something ridiculous. Just to get into that was kind of the first step towards, okay, it's a really fun first one out of the way we can kind of look forward because I often found the stress about us was not about I mean, it was about whether I get it or not, but a lot of it was just the waiting and the three months of going I don't know where, like what my next four years you know, like sort of at least have Why don't my about made it feel like okay, this is starting to feel real now. And then the week after when we got back Cornell yell and you've had on the same day it was very exciting. I remember I think the emails and thinking the next slide. Whatever happens after I press this button kind of changes the next four years. So that was a big moment. And then I remember kind of overthinking everything, whether it be on the yell portal, there was an extra tab that hadn't been there before. So that that was a sign something had happened. But I just needed to calm down and go, Okay, I can wait five minutes. I can wait five minutes. I thought it was very exciting. Definitely.
Podcast Host 35:40
Yeah. And when you ended up getting all the results, I'm sure like your family was pretty ecstatic as well, etc. When the dust settled, and you had these results, what's the process been since to then pick one as against Yale because and Cornell let's not forget Cornell or NYU, for that matter, like great options? Why did you end up going eventually with Wharton?
In terms of the process of deciding, I will admit that because I knew I had, I think, three and a half weeks that I did just procrastinate for a while because I didn't want to kind of lock in any sort of future plan. Without thinking too much. So then a lot of it was just kind of maybe two weeks of decompression off going okay, I don't know, it's I can calm down. Now I don't need to worry too much about the waiting. So there was definitely a two week period of kind of just not much happening. But then. But then when it came down to actually deciding I knew that of the four I got into the I was considering that Yellin pan had always been up there, above the other two, slightly more. So I, it was good that I had some natural direction towards those two. And then in terms of the direction between those two, I did more research. So I refreshed kind of the reasons why I wanted to apply to them in the first place, looked at the pros and cons of age in terms of location, degree style, business school's reputation, what their broader social life is like. And then I even had the chance to speak with Jamie from Crimson about this because there was an opportunity to interview for the AFR, here in Australia, which was very exciting. And then after that, because he was also on the call, he was able to stick around and offer me some advice to the colleges. So that was also very useful. And then in terms of what actually made me make the decision, I think it came down to just understanding what the core kind of values each of the colleges were offering. So Yale seem to be much more about learning for the sake of learning, understanding, and then perhaps using using that more for social action type purposes. And while that sounded very appealing, and especially with its focus on the humanities, that sounded great. The reason I ended up going with water was its website keeps focusing on the practical side of what it offered and how to apply the skills we've been learning to actual problems, how to use them. And as Jamie said, It meant that coming out of one, I would have skills that some other schools would only offer it an MBA, much more practical things that would make me more job ready, while also being interesting on an academic level while I'm studying.
Podcast Host 38:28
Fantastic. Well, that is a fairly good analysis of your choices there. But I'm sure like, it's something that you need to do, right, if you're going to be spending four years there, and it really can change the path you end up taking after college life as well. Mason, what advice or recommendations would you give to Oscar before embarking on this us college journey? Like from your experience to someone who's been through the system before and is now back here in Australia? What advice would you say Oscar is a must do type scenario over there in the US.
Just embrace everything. Um, a very common piece of feedback, I guess, that students have when they're about to graduate is I wish I got involved in things earlier on. There is obviously an adjustment period. I mean, when you transition to to university, that's already a big transition. But doing so as an international student is an even bigger transition. It's oftentimes the first time you're away from your family and friends that you've known your whole life. And you're kind of dropped into this situation where everything is going to be you like, everything will be new for a while. So take the time to just sit in that and I know you said I procrastinated on my decision. I didn't think you procrastinated at all you were sitting with the results and mulling it over and going with your intuition and then doing the proper, the proper steps to get the information you needed to to make that choice. That's gonna be a similar thing that I recommend you continue to do when you're transitioning to the States, like, if you're choosing, I don't know what campus club or organization to join, sit with it and see what feels right and kind of go with that intuition and obviously do your research. But I have no doubt in my mind that you're going to go off and do fantastic things, given what I what I've seen before.
Podcast Host 40:27
Absolutely. And finally, Mason for students who are about to embark on the application or who are already going through it potentially, what advice would you give to them based on what you saw with Oscars application, because obviously, Oscars application have some unique elements. And I think that's a really interesting point from my side, like, what I'm taking away from this chat, is that you don't necessarily need to look at the case studies of the students who go out and found organizations and cure cancer, whatever they're doing out there, you can just be true to yourself and find your own niche, and really expand on that in a couple of different ways. And that can be the card that you play in the admissions in the admissions round, and it can be the one that gets you through. But you might have a different takeaway, what would be your advice for students after working with Oscar?
That's a good question. There's the way that I view the whole admissions process and the whole year long journey of app season is it's even longer than that, like your whole high school experience, do what makes you happy. And that's kind of my advice just from life. In general, there's no formula. To be fair, there is kind of a formula, but there's no like, prescription of you need to do this, this and this to get into a good university. I would say, obviously, the the whole academic that is important, because these are institutions of learning. So they're academic in nature. But for extracurriculars, do things that make you happy, and that you're attracted to. And then the difficult part is leveling those up, to have an impact on your application. So if you want to get into these, these elite institutions, there's no set formula prescription of all the things you need to do. But everything that you need to do needs to be leveled up to that full throttle degree to get into these really competitive institutions. hope that makes sense and resonates.
Podcast Host 42:29
Yeah, no, that's for sure. I hope that helps students who are listening as well. And for yourself bosca, given your experience and how much you've come from, like not really knowing a huge amount about the application process to now gaining admission to Cornell, NYU, UPN, Yale, etc. What advice would you give to students as they embark on the US college application?
I'd say I have two key pieces of advice. The first would be to stay, stay with your timeline. So stay organized, I think that that really helped me out, as I already mentioned, because it meant that no one aspects became too daunting, because you had enough time to do all of them. And then the other one I do is, the other thing I'd recommend is not to just go with what you think you should apply to based on what others are telling you. So listen to yourself, and what what colleges actually resonate with you. So I didn't apply to anywhere near every Ivy or every big name college in the US and know what I want to because after doing research, I realized which ones felt like more of a fit to me. So ensure that you're applying for the right reasons and not just doing it because the name sounds good to you or you feel like you're being pressured into doing it actually want to do so because if you do have that desire, then it'll make your application that much stronger, because it'll show clear intent of wanting to go there.
Podcast Host 43:56
Fantastic. Well, guys, it's been awesome to chat and fantastic to get a bit of a sense of what it actually takes to get into these top Ivy League institutions, or at least win your case Oscar with your story and with your subjects and everything else that you've done. So thank you so much for sharing. So candidly, Mason, thank you so much for sharing your advice and wisdom along the way. It's so great to get the context and like the wisdom of the strategist on the call as well. So I hope this has been another great episode of The how we got in podcast or how I got in podcast, I should say, and I look forward to sharing it far and wide.
Thanks so much.