College Roundtable Highlights


Healy Hall at Georgetown University.

Earlier this year, the seniors of the Hilltopper sat down to discuss the college application process and all of the ups, downs, and turns that come with it. The full conversation can be found here; the following are some of the best tips and insights from the roundtable.


Note: This is not necessarily an accurate reflection of the college application process for everyone, but rather the people involved in the discussion.

  • The trials of Imposter Syndrome.

Ananya Vasireddy: I just want to say, I really love the Academy. I’m really glad I went, mainly because of the people I met there, and the experience I had with my friends. But the Academy gave me major imposter syndrome. I felt really insecure about everything, like my grades… just everything. I would’ve never dreamed of applying to a school like Stanford; I literally was so sure I was going to get rejected. And I think I only gained that confidence myself midway through junior year. And two and a half years is a long way to go, being really unsure of yourself and just not feeling too hot about your grades or whatever it is. I know so many people who have insane grades, and insane everythings, but they still feel insecure about their intelligence. I don’t know. It’s hard because it can definitely affect what colleges you apply to just because you have this wack perception of yourself because of the culture you’ve been experiencing for the past four years. That being said, the people in the Academy are some of the best people I’ve ever met. I don’t know. I would go again, but it was hard the first two and a half years.

  • The upsides and downsides of college application Internet culture.

Melinda Reed: And that’s why these Reddit threads and College Confidential can kinda be a little destructive, at least [to me]. I know personally for myself it seems you are just pure numbers. And you have a bunch of internet trolls telling you every worst thought you’ve already had about yourself: that you’re not going to succeed, that college is the one path to your own happiness, that you’re not good enough. When in reality, the opposite is very very… the opposite is the case.

Sriya Guduru: My YouTube recommended is completely warped by SNL clips and college decision reactions. So it’s like, (sighs) I miss my normal YouTube feed. But on the opposite end, I’ve also been on Reddit, but I think Reddit’s like fine. The moderator of [r/]Applyingtocollege [a Reddit thread for college applicants] is really nice…  [Another platform] for college stuff is College Confidential. You already know! Or like, r/ChanceMe where they just post their stats and it’s like, I don’t have a problem with general things but when they just post their stats, and you’re like “Oh my god, I’m like the valedictorian of a thousand kids. I have a UN award.” That’s going to make me feel awful about myself and be like “Wow, I guess I’m not going to get into college because I’m not remarkable like that.”

  • The right fit.

Kunal Kumar: I was going to say what Vatsala was saying about fit. I know this is maybe a little cheesy or whatever, but I believe truly that everyone ends up at the college that they fit best. Like whatever the reason is, I don’t if there’s like some…. I don’t know how the admissions officers can tell… I can’t really explain it and it sounds like magical almost, and I know I’m saying this as a high school senior who hasn’t even started college. I just feel like it’ll just work out in everyone’s best interest.

Ananya Vasireddy: Also, like transferring is always an option. And honestly that thought has comforted me because if I end up somewhere where I don’t like, or even if I end up somewhere where I really wanted to go but I don’t like it there, I can transfer and everyone has that option. It’s not like the end of it all. There’s other options for you.

Melinda Reed: You’re defined by more than where you end up.

  • The end is also the beginning.

Vatsala Swamy: For so much of our life, college has been the final destination, the goal. But now is when our life truly starts. And I think there’s a quote that says this so much better. But it’s not about where you go, it’s about what you do where you go, right? And I think that’s what college is about and that’s the culture there. In the end, it’s going to be fine.

  • The importance of time management.

Melinda Reed:  I came from a family where we were very much about staying stable. You have to put your own mental health above school. If you are up very late doing homework, then that homework’s not worth it… I’m very glad that I had people in my life push me to live it. I wasn’t just a robot because I always thought of it this way: if I died before graduation, then what was this all for? I wanted to at least have some good life experiences in the bank. So that’s my advice and morbid thought for all freshmen.

  • The truth in the cliche adage “believe in yourself.”

Ananya Vasireddy: I would tell my younger self, like, you’re smart. Stop doubting it. Like literally, honestly I’m glad that I put effort into my studies. I’m happy… I did have a balance of social life and work, but I was so stressed because I thought that I wasn’t smart. And it was just so painful. Like looking back, I’m like “why did you do that?” I valued my grades in math and science so much more than my grades in English and social studies, which is what I was generally, naturally better at, and I don’t know why I did that to myself. I really wish I believed in myself because once I did, my grades in math and science just improved… To any freshman coming to the Academy, you’re smart. Like, don’t doubt it. Don’t. Yeah, that’s it. That’s literally it.


Good luck to everyone currently in the college application process!