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8/10 College Application Seminar

Written by Kathleen Li and Eileen Luo, edited by Cynthia Chen and Lillian Zhou

Applying for college is not as simple as it sounds. So how does one prepare for it? The College Application Seminar was held to inform community members about the five main points to keep in mind when choosing and applying to colleges. The event, which took place on August 10, 2018, at the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center (CCACC), revolved around the experiences and advice of five panelists, all high school graduates. The featured graduates were Rachel Ma, Esther Li, William Chai, Rachel Li, and Amy Liu.

The seminar began with a few trivia questions for the audience posed by Julie Yang, the host of the seminar. Those who answered correctly were each given a free book before Yang proceeded to ask the panelists about their advice for applying to a college.

Five main topics were covered in the seminar. Panelists discussed preparing for college, choosing the best fit, writing the application essay, finding scholarships, and choosing application methods.

“College is not a last year of high school thing,” said Amy Liu. “Preparation starts as early as eighth grade, even seventh grade.” Liu is a recent graduate of Mt. Hebron High School who is heading to Carnegie Mellon University. She claimed that there were two parts to the college application process. “The first part,” Liu explained, “is about researching which college you want to go to, and the second part is about building your high school schedule.”

To build a high school schedule, one would first need to look at a college’s requirements. Most colleges require four years of each core subject, which are English, math, science, and foreign language. Depending on the school, a certain ACT score or SAT test will also be needed for admission. But there are other aspects of a college that should be looked into in addition to the academic requirements.

William Chai, a graduate of Winston Churchill High School, recommended starting off with colleges that offer your major, then narrowing down the list with other factors. “Based off the results for biology rankings, I kind of decided what kind of schools I wanted to apply to,” Chai said. “But, that was just a potential list. Based off of that list, I also used other factors to shorten it. One factor was the school’s culture, the other was financial aid – how much they gave, another was location.”

Rachel Ma, a graduate out of River Hill High School, believed that going out of your comfort zone was just as important as planning and preparation. “You might think that you have a set career path that you’re sure you’re going to do,” said Ma. “But in high school, a lot of the clubs and opportunities out there– you don’t even know they exist until you go and try it.”

Esther Li, who also graduated from Winston Churchill High School and is heading to Georgetown University in business, agreed that trying different things is important in high school. “It’s important to try all different types of things,” Li said. “Even if you’re not comfortable with it.” And although she was the daughter of two chemists and part of a STEM academy at her school, through her experiences working in retail stores and as a swim coach, Li came to realize that her passions resided in interaction with other people, not chemistry.

When looking for colleges, it is important to choose one that is the best fit for one’s individual needs and desires. “Definitely look at the academic offerings of the school,” Yang said. “Also talk about the size of the school.” Student life, cost, and geographic location can also help narrow down a list of potential colleges to apply to. Esther Li pointed out that college is “not about the dream school, but about the dream experience.” Another memorable quote from Julia Yang: “Reach for the stars, but also watch out for your parent’s wallet.”

The college essay plays a large role in acceptance. Since application officers only have a few minutes to read one essay, applicants must be able to showcase their talents and interests in an interesting way. “Your college essay has to be very unique,” says Rachel Ma. “You have to present it in an interesting perspective that sheds light on who you are as a person…There are so many applicants applying who are just like you…Admission officers have heard it all, so you really need to stand out.”

Esther Li advised writing different essays until finding one that resonates. “Try everything and see what feels like it’s going in some direction,” Li said. After some difficulty, Esther chose to write about a visit to North Korea that her parents had forced her to do. By the end of the trip, she had realized her passion for working internationally. Commenting about how many people don’t normally visit North Korea in their lifetime, Esther added that the essay topic “…[doesn’t] have to be a significant moment, as long as it’s significant to you.”

When editing and revising essays, it is important not to lose the original message. “I did ask a lot of my mentors and my teachers to read my essays,” William Chai said. “It’s important to be careful, though, about how much advice you get from other people because…people can help you with your essays, but if you ask too many people, there’s a tendency to dilute what you actually meant in your original essay.”

There are five types of college applications: early decision, early action, restrictive early action, rolling, and regular. Early action and decision both have the benefit of a higher acceptance rate, but while the former is non-binding, the latter is binding, which means that one has to go to the college they’d applied to if they’re accepted. Restrictive early action is non-binding, but it means that you are not allowed to apply to other private schools after you apply to that school. Rolling admission is non-binding, but has a longer admission window than regular decision, which is also non-binding. “Be sure to read the [college’s requirements],” said Liu. One has to be careful that they aren’t forced to go to a college that they’d rather not spend four years at.

Scholarships, as well as a higher acceptance rate, are another perk of applying early. “Definitely apply early to state schools because if you apply early, you’re already considered for a scholarship,” Rachel Li suggested. November 1st is the deadline for Maryland’s state colleges.

Soon thereafter, the panelists received a few questions from the audience members, some of whom were taking notes in the hopes that the information presented in this seminar would benefit their child when they entered high school. After all, it is important to keep one’s individual needs and desires in mind when choosing a college – just as important as knowing the academic requirements of a college application. But on should know that high school can be a time for fun in addition to college preparation. As Rachel Li says, “know that you’ll be okay wherever you end up.”


如何进入心仪的大学–CAPA-MC 申请大学讲座纪实

Written by Amy He and Evelyn Shue, edited by Cynthia Chen

申请大学并不是一件容易的事。为了帮助大家更好地了解这个过程,八月十号的晚上七点,蒙郡华人家长会 (CAPA-MC) 在美京华人活动中心 (CCACC) 举办了如何及早准备申请大学讲座。在演讲开始的前五分钟,房间里面已经坐满了人,几乎全是大华府地区的华人家长和孩子们,但也有很多非华裔人。当天晚上一共有五位演讲人:Amy Liu, Rachel Li, William Chai, Esther Li 和 Rachel Ma. 他们各自分享了如何找到适合个人的大学,如何准备申请论文,如何得到一封好的推荐信,以及如何给申请的大学留下深刻印象,等等。

每个演讲者从不同的方面谈了自己的经验。 “我没有一个梦想学校,而且我认为有这种想法是有害的,” Esther Li,李思天说。“执着于一个梦想学校就好像它是世界上最完美,最适合你的学校,其实未必是这样。如果你有正确的心态,不管你去哪儿上大学,你都可以有一个‘梦想学校’的经历。”

别的演讲者也认为一个人需要接受不同的可能性。如果一个大学没有录取你,你可以尝试别的选择。姚羽馨,Rachel Ma, 今年九月份将要去杜克大学。她认为在高中时,要尽量参与不同类型的活动,因为你不知道哪天会找到一个你非常喜欢的活动。“你一定要保持一个开放的心态,然后坚持下去,” 她说。

另外,演讲者们也分享了在申请文章上如何突出以及发挥出自己最好的一面。刘嘉辰,Amy Liu,的申请文章主题是关于写电脑程序,但她用做寿司的过程来比喻写程序,通俗易懂。姚羽馨,Rachel Ma,认为申请文章一开始就要吸引招生官,所以她引用了【非诚勿扰】里面的一句名言–”我宁愿坐在宝马车里哭,也不愿意坐在自行车上笑”– 当文章开头。李瑞涵,Rachel Li,说道,“你要把自己‘包装’成一个明确,独特的自己。不要努力做了义工,挣了300个SSL小时,然后在你的简历上只占一行字。你要通过义工经历展现出你的热诚和长处。”




CAPA JRC reporters at the first event of the 2018-2019 year.

CAPA JRC is glad to welcome Amy He, Audrey Li, Eileen Luo, Evelyn Shue, Kathleen Li, Lucy Wu, and Robert Sun as new members of our club.


New JRC members!


5/19 Public Service Panel Discussion

Written by Emily Zhang

Edited by Rachel Li

On May 19, in honor of Asian American Heritage month, CAPA-MC, Wootton High School PTSA, Calvin J. Lee Memorial Foundation, and City of Rockville hosted a panel discussion about Asian Americans in public service. The event was held at Wootton High School and included four Asian American panelists who led the discussion. The audience got to ask questions on topics relating to public service.

One of the public service panel members was Jae Hwang, a police officer. He also served as a commission officer in the U.S Army Reserve and a military prosecutor.

Hwang explained the ranking system in the police department. Everyone in the police department enters at the same level. “[You] start out as police officer, go by rank and seniority, [and] move up ranks by being there and doing work, [and] take promotional tests,” Hwang said. He believes that communication skills are the most important to become a police officer.

Out of a little fewer than 13,000 police officers, about 3% of them are Asians. Despite Asians making up only a small percentage of the workforce, Hwang does not believe there are any barriers for Asian Americans in law enforcement. “Being an Asian police officer is advantageous to the Asian community,” he said.

Another panel member was Candice Chen, a director of the division of medicine and dentistry at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She also has a physician background. “I do not think I looked at it as going to serve in a public service,” she said. “For me, I was in an academic position…an opportunity came up to direct a division that administered all the programs that I had been studying.”

“Working in the government gives amazing opportunities to meet new people,” Chen said. “People are mission driven, so I work with absolutely incredible people.”

Eric Lin is a worker at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). At NIST, there are more than 3,000 researchers, who research topics including cyber security, artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced electronics, 3D printing, and more. More information can be found on

There are many opportunities to contribute to public service in the STEM fields. “I think it is just taking an extra look at where there is lack of involvement,”Lin said. “Find something, and volunteer, it is really just simple as that.”