Tuesday, March 26, 2013

[STUDENT AMBASSADOR] James Zhou–Cornell University

Hello everyone, my name is James Zhou, and I am currently a senior Biology and Society major at Cornell University. I was originally born in China and moved to Canada at the age of eight and grew up there until I came to the United States for college.

1. Why did you decide to study in the U.S. for your undergraduate degree?

I wanted to go to a new country and experience a different culture. Many U.S. colleges are known for their exceptionally strong undergraduate programs and many of which are stronger than the undergraduate offerings at Canadian universities.

As well, most colleges in the United States follow a liberal arts curriculum. So rather than being pre-professionally focused where you are just taking courses in your major or taking courses to prepare you for medical or graduate school, you have the freedom to take a much more diverse variety of classes. At Cornell, I’ve taken classes such as Architecture or Wines.

If you want to attend a U.S. medical or law school after college and later work in the United States, going to a U.S. undergraduate institution may help facilitate this process because some medical or law programs will require you to have graduated from a U.S. college, or attended a U.S. college for at least one year.

2. How was your experience applying to an Ivy League school?

Applying to universities in a different country meant that I had to take the initiative to familiarize myself with the timeline and application process because the guidance staff at my high school was unacquainted with the process.

I personally began researching around September of my last year of high school. This is usually a lot later than when most people would start; I would definitely recommend that you begin searching and narrowing down your list of schools much earlier, at least the summer before your last year. You should also aim to take at least either the SAT Reasoning Test once or some of the SAT Subject Tests before the start of your last year. This way, it’ll give you time to see your score and determine if you need to re-take it again.

3. What were some the challenges and benefits to attending an Ivy League school?

Like mentioned, the application process can be fairly long relative to the post-secondary application process in other countries.

As well, the cost of tuition and living expenses are often an obstacle for many. Fortunately, many private institutions in the United States offer need-based financial aid scholarships, many of which are very generous.

On the other hand, by coming to the United States, you will not only receive an excellent education, but often times you will be able to make a group of friends and be able to engage in networking opportunities that will come handy later on when you are looking for jobs.

Finally, many schools are also extremely diverse, so you’ll be able to meet and make friends from all over the world. 

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