Whether you’re currently preparing for (or, stressing out about) university, or if the idea of it is years away, being informed about college life is always important. The Bite connected with a few AISB alumns to get a few tips and opinions. Here’s what they had to say:

Tudor Dorobantu, Boston University

Tudor Dorobantu, 23, studied at AISB for 4 years since 9th grade and graduated from Boston University – Questrom School of Business and Finance. 

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Q: Why did you choose this college?

A: Reasons I chose BU in order importance:

  1. BU has a great reputation and a great faculty.
  2. I always wanted to attend a large school in an urban area. In hindsight, the fact that the school is in an urban area matters less as you will likely be spending most of your time on campus (this is the perspective of US colleges). I think school size matters a lot as you have more resources and the chance to meet more people.
  3. It was closer to home than schools on the West Coast. In hindsight, I think that this is not as important. Adding a few more hours of travel doesn’t make that huge of a difference.

 It was also the best school I got into.

Q: What are your most favorite and least favorite things about your university?

A: You can choose what you want to study. I believe that this freedom allows you to find what you are good at and what you like. This is very important as over 60% of your adult life is going to be probably spent working. Imagine doing something you don’t like for more than half a day for the rest of your life.

You also get the chance to meet great people that you can form a life-long friendship.

Least favorite. I can’t say that I had a lot of things to complain about. Probably being away from home (and my sweet sister) was the hardest part. Also, job searching was unpleasant.

Job searching is hard as you get a lot of rejections, especially as an international student (applied to more than 100 jobs and only got two interviews and one offer). Also, the weather in Boston is horrible; but if you need to add weather to your list of least favorite things then you are probably in a good place.

Q: If living away from home, how is different?

A: First thing I noticed living away was the loneliness. Most things you will have to do alone (e.g. running errands and eating). But eventually you will meet people that you can spend time with.

Q: Do you enjoy it?

A: It depends. Being away from loved ones is hard. However, the environment in which you are makes a big difference. If you are surrounded by friends and you do what you like then you will love it. If you are doing a boring and monotonous office job surrounded by old people than you will probably hate it.

Q: Do you have any advice for admissions (college applications)?

A: I can only speak about US college admissions. I am also assuming that your grades are very good.

  1. SAT Prep, SAT Prep and SAT Prep.
  2. Do a lot of activities and take LEADERSHIP roles. They want to see you do something different. This will help you differentiate from the crowd.
  3. Highlight your projects and teamwork in your application.

Q: How has the workload changed (High School vs. College)?

A: Again, speaking from the perspective of US colleges: If you want to graduate with two degrees, then probably you will have to overload some semester (take 5 classes instead of the recommended 4).

Same goes if you want to graduate a semester early. I had semesters where I was overloading with hard classes and barely managed to handle the commitments and I had a semester in which I only took two easy classes and spent only around 20-something hours on school per week (study+homework+classes).

Q: What are some tips you have for students completing the DP?

A: Put effort into preparing. A great way to achieve this is to finish projects, studying or homework one day before it is due. This helps you avoid procrastination which should be your biggest enemy.

Akshay Bhasin, RIT University

Akshay Bhasin, 24, studied at AISB for 4 years and graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York in 2017.

Q: Why did you choose this college?

A: Got a good scholarship, had a film and business school, and I wasn’t sure which I wanted to do then.

Q: What are your most favorite and least favorite things about your university?

A: Favorite things: freedom, individuality, exposure to new people and different ways of thinking. Least favorite: laundry, feeding yourself, dealing with difficult roommates.

Q: Do you have any advice for admissions (college applications)?

A: Don’t stress too much. Most schools are good. Focus more on the content of your application rather than the gold playing and fine tuning. Show that there is substance to your character, and show that you’re capable of learning well and have an idea of what you want to achieve from college, even if you don’t know what your career will be. But at the same time, you might not need to go to college depending on what you want to do. It’s really expensive, and be mindful to not just fall in the trap of doing what everyone else is doing.

Q: How has the workload changed (High School vs. College)?

A: Depends on your major. You can get by with minimal effort, but then why spend the money on higher education? If you do things on time it won’t be hard. Use the resources available at your school.

Q: What are some tips you have for students that want to pursue the full IB Diploma?

A: Get at LEAST 5’s in all your classes for IB if you’re going to the US because then you’re more likely to get college credit and that can save you loads of time, money, and give you so much flexibility when making your schedule.

Melisa Oztaysi, King’s College

Melisa Oztaysi, 18, attended AISB for 4 years and is currently studying Biochemistry at King’s College in London.

Q: Why did you choose this college?

A: I attended a summer program for Medicine at KCL and I absolutely loved it. That summer I also visited other good universities for my course, like UCL, but I still liked King’s way more. I also chose this university because they invest a lot of money into the science department and thus they have many excellent facilities which can further help me with my studies.

Q: What are your most favorite and least favorite things about your university?

A: One of my favorite things about my university is the lecturers I have. They make the lectures fun and captivating, which is very helpful since it’s very easy to lose focus. In high school, because the class sizes are so small, the teacher would notice who is not paying attention; but when you are in a lecture theater with 300 other students, it’s different. They are very helpful and supportive — whenever I had a question, they didn’t allow me to leave the room without understanding the topic 100%.

The least favorite thing is the schedule. ome days I only have one lecture and other days I have 4 lectures (1h each) back to back and then a practical (2-3h). This can be exhausting.

Q: If living away from home, how is different? Do you enjoy it?

A: It was very challenging at the beginning since I didn’t have someone to depend on. I had to learn how to do my laundry, I opened a bank account by myself, I registered for a GP (General Practitioner), etc. Obviously some days I would like my parents to be here to help with my chores, but I know that can’t happen.

Q: Do you have any advice for admissions (college applications)?

A: I can’t say anything about the American/ European system, but for the UK, the personal statement is very important. If you meet the entry requirements for the university you are applying to and you spent a good amount of time on your personal statement, you have a high chance of being accepted.

Also, doing extracurriculars which are related to the course you are applying to, can make your application more unique and will show the admission office that you are truly interested in the place at that university.

Q: How has the workload changed (High school vs. College)?

A: I’ve been studying at uni for about 2 months now and I don’t know one person that isn’t behind on their studying. There is so much to do; we have to do a lot of research and reading, we get worksheets that we have to complete, we have assignments, lab reports for practicals, and on top of all that we have to go over the lectures and write down notes. A lecture is 1 hour, but writing solid notes for it can take so much more time, so it’s very difficult to be on track with the lectures.

Q: What are some tips you have for students who want to take the DP or SATs?

A: I’m not familiar with the SAT, but for DP I would say to try and write your IA’s the best you can. It will help you relieve some bit of stress when the exam season is coming up since you know that if you don’t do that well in one exam it won’t be the end of the world since the IA can help bring your grade up a bit. Nevertheless, if you go into the exam room relaxed, chances are you will perform better than if you were stressed.

Thanks to all of the alumni who took time to respond to these questions. Hopefully this small insight into their experience at college and their tips will help you later on.