University Applications & YouTube with Danielle du Preez
Danielle du Preez turned down both Stanford and Duke to be a student at the University of North Carolina where she is a Morehead-Cain scholar. She also has a YouTube channel which is dedicated to helping make the admissions process easier for everyone.
On the 17th of October 2017, Danielle hosted a live 30 minute q&a session of Goodwall talking about university applications and her YouTube channel. The session was joined by over 100 students from around the world.
My primary advice is to ask yourself, why do you want to study at a prestigious school? Is it because of the people there, or because you won’t feel proud of yourself unless you do? Don’t wrap up your identity in going to a prestigious school, because there are lots of places you can find opportunities. If you go into the application process with that mindset, it will increase your chances of admission to an elite school, I believe.
There isn’t a single answer to what makes someone stand out, which is kind of the point of standing out. Ivy Leagues (and other elite schools) aren’t “looking” for anything but students who have strong academic records AND show that they are compelling people. At the end of the day, they want to grow the quality of their student population, and that comes by accepting students who have a strong sense of self, however that manifests itself. They are not looking for a specific list of qualities or accomplishments. Those alone will not stand out to them.
I can’t say for sure since I was not an international student when I applied. However, you can get merit scholarships to almost any university in the US. Also, my international student friends tell me they chose UNC because it is the cheapest school for international students, haha! Look into it, maybe.
My advice for students who cram is that you should do what works for you. Cramming won’t always work, but I actually think it’s really important to cram at least a little bit before the exam. It will help you remember a lot of information and get you in the test-taking mindset. But please, don’t stay up all night before an exam. Keep your health the number one priority!
I really loved Stanford and it broke my heart to turn them down. But, I had another amazing opportunity with the Morehead-Cain scholarship, which included financial freedom and support. Google the scholarship, and I think you will understand it’s an amazing program.
I was inspired to start YouTube because I love watching YouTube myself, and I turned to YouTubers for guidance during my college application period. I noticed that there weren’t many YouTubers focused on getting into elite schools, especially from the perspective of a “normal” student. I wanted to put my voice out there so that students like me could find some extra confidence to use in their college applications. By the way everyone, here’s the link to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbddGvBz9AHSEj8IEHFEE3A
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Extracurriculars are definitely important, but more so because they say something about who you are, than that colleges have specific activities they are looking for. Personally, I was the president of two clubs at my school, I got my EMT license, and I did a few other small things, but nothing amazing. I think what helped me the most in the admissions process was my essays and interviews. The extracurriculars were just proof that I enjoy being involved in my community and taking initiative.
I really wanted to attend a school where my peers had a high academic standard and would push me to learn, but not in a cutthroat, competitive way. I think Stanford is an excellent school for these qualities. I also loved USC, the University of Southern California. What I love about UNC is that we have a general atmosphere about caring about academics, but we extol hard work as opposed to elitism. There’s a point where “hard work” can become an elitist ideal, but I really think UNC has a nice “real world” feel compared to many private schools that feel isolated from the outside world.
Test scores are always important to some extent, because they are used as a superficial measure of whether or not you are up to par academically. But, you can chose not to send the ones that you did poorly on, for the most part. A couple B’s and C’s or below average scores will never keep you out of a school, even Harvard or Stanford, if you demonstrate your strengths in other ways.
I attended a government-funded summer program in my state called North Carolina Governor’s School. You can do a Google search and find out more, but it is a somewhat prestigious program (nowhere near TASP or RSI level). I valued it more for what I got out of it, though, than the prestige. I met my roommate there and she is the most wonderful, open-minded, thoughtful person. It’s great to do things to connect with other people rather than to put on your resume.
I can’t tell you what to write on your personal essays, because it is up to you to show colleges what you want them to know. I will say, however, that essays are your opportunity to tell colleges about yourself, so you should tell a story that is immersive, compelling, and memorable, but not necessarily about something major in your life. You just need to share with them who you are.
There are no limits. It can be about any of those things! Don’t be afraid to be creative.
think the key to studying in university is keeping things organized. The biggest danger is forgetting about an assignment or class with your unusual schedule and lots of free time you have in college. Use your time well and remember to take care of yourself. Also, go to office hours!