Conversation with Northstarmom

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: January 2003 Archive: Conversation with Northstarmom
By Zest and Northstarmom on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 01:02 am: Edit


After much delay, my interview with His Holiness The Dalai Lama finally transpired on the 6th of January 2002 in New Delhi. The interview swelled beyond the allotted fifteen minutes into a memorable hour that I will remember for a long time to come. Earlier today, I mailed the transcript along with pictures of the interview in progress to all the colleges I have applied to(Ivy’s + few more+ safety schools). How much weight will this add to my application?

Scores : 790 VERBAL
640 MATH

760 Writing (LIT and IC,pending, Jan 2003)

I'm an international applicant from New Delhi, India.


If it basically resulted from family connections and good luck, it won't count for very much IMO.

If it resulted out of some longterm passions and interests you have, then it could count for a lot.

What elite schools are interested in are your personality, character, interests, motivations, etc., not things like your family connections or good luck.

I think that most elite colleges would be impressed by an essay based upon wisdom accrued through an encounter with an ordinary person whom a student was drawn to because of shared ideals. Such colleges are not likely to be impressed simply by pictures showing applicants with famous dignitaries. A transcript would not be as impressive to them as would a student's reflections on the interview -- reflections going beyond "Wow! I interviewed a celebrity!" The problem with sending an interview transcript is that puts the emphasis on the Dalai Lama, not you.


My interview with His Holiness had nothing to do with family connections.

I have clearly portrayed Tibetan issues as my central area of interest and have spent one summer at Dharamshala* researching Tibetan culture. Some months ago I started to write a book. SD is a "factional" thriller based on true events of a 15-year old Tibetan Lama's incredible escape across the Himalayas from Chinese-occupied Tibet on the eve of the millennium. It is a real-life adventure about Ugyen Trinley, a handsome, effusive teenage Lama who is the target of Chinese assassins on the Roof of the world. The young Lama's run for freedom across the Himalayas was a David and Goliath situation played out on an extraordinary spiritual battlefield. Like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil it is both a real-life entertainer that observes a fascinating society and a cinematic travelogue that cartwheels the reader across a magical landscape. And this is the story of the boy-king who may well emerge as Buddhism's next spiritual head and who is expected to lead Tibet's struggle for freedom in the 21st century. Well, I finally completed 3 full chapters and a detailed chapter by chapter synopsis and mailed the whole 60-page package to the Managing Editor of a leading publishing house in India. I received an acceptance letter soon after.

*home to thousands of Tibetan refugees in India.

By Zest on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 05:48 am: Edit


By Zest on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 09:37 am: Edit


By Zest on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 01:37 pm: Edit


By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 03:01 pm: Edit

I answered your question before when I said:


Wheher your experience will count enough to result in your admissions, will be up to the adcoms. You have a great hook. That doesn't mean the fish will bite.

Good luck!

By Zest on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 04:37 am: Edit


Thank you very much for your response, Northstarmom. Just out of interest, do you work as admissions counselor?

I've applied to a rather intimidating list of schools. I'm afraid that I might have overrated and that I might not get into any of the schools I've applied to. Do you think that is a possibility?

Schools: All the Ivy's (except Cornell) + NYU, TUFTS, Northwestern, U Chicago and McGill (Canada)

Stats: 790 Verbal
640 Math

760 Writing
(LIT and Math IC Pending, January Administration)

Extracurricular Activities:

- Book Contract (Described above)
- Political editor, school paper
- Hour-long interview with His Holiness The Dalai Lama
- Interview with Indian President A. Kalam
- Summer spent at Dharamshala (research)
- Debate Team

By Zest on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 01:51 pm: Edit


By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 02:43 pm: Edit

I am not an adcom or a counselor. I am an informed parent who reads lot on the subject of admissions and also has been an alumni interviewer for Harvard and a college prof at a 3rd tier.

While you have a very strong application, I do not see any schools on it that I would call safeties.

No matter how wonderful an applicant is now, everyone needs safeties. In your case, I think that a school in the bottom 25 of the tier 1 category in US News would be appropriate for safeties.

Some places that still are accepting applications may include some of the "public Ivies" that are in the bottom of the tier 1.

Wisconsin comes to mind. It also is very interested in diversity-- including international diversity-- which might help you. If you had applied in the fall, you wouldn't probably need that additional tip, but at schools with rolling admissions, the later one applies, the harder it is to get in.

I think that the deadlines may have passed for tier 1 private colleges, though you could check into them.

In the history of college applications in the US, there has never been a more competitive time for applying. Students are getting rejections now from places that would have welcomed them 10 years ago.

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