“What are the basics in a College Admission Process?”
“Is my child on the right track in this process?”
“Do I quality for scholarships?”
“What are our options?”
These questions and more were on the minds of more than 500 parents and students that attended the “Are You Ready for College” informational seminar and panel discussion organized by Vibha. This event is another innovative event put together by Vibha, known in Atlanta to be at the cutting edge of creating exciting events like DreamMile, Women and Men Cricket Tournaments and Vibe-Dancing with Stars.
“Having clarity on the admission process is very critical. As a parent, I felt the need for this when my son was going through this process. Later on, when my friends and his friends sought our assistance, we realized the need to create an event to disseminate this information. It was a huge success last year and we continued again this year” said Sankara Narayana (Rek) Rekapalli. While continuing the student panel discussion which was extremely popular both for students and parents, the event was expanded this year to include more experts on admission process, essay writing tips, and scholarships.
The highlight of the event was once again the Question and Answer session with the student panel consisting of 15 students from different backgrounds going to a variety of colleges – Georgia Tech (Helena Weibel, Sreedhanya Veerapaneni), Princeton (Insiya Essani, Maya Eashwaran, Liz Bailey), Harvard (Cyrus Faruque, Prashanth Kumar), UGA (Tarun Ramesh), Dartmouth (Nidhi Rao), London School of Economics (Chandan Yendamuri), Stanford (Ashwin Ramaswami, Anshul Gupta), University of Pennsylvania (Anirudh Bikmal), MIT (Ryan Polk) and Cornell (Yashi Sanghvi). Dr. Maggie Wray, ICE-certified Academic Life Coach and Dr. Joanne Max, College Planning Consultant moderated the session and summarized each topic with their expert comments. Dr. Maggie Wray advised the students “to find your true passion you need to first do action. You have to try different things to figure out what interests you most”.
“Vibha’s event exposed me to tons of new opportunities and strategies to make my high school experience a lot better. Advice from the experts helped me to calm my nerves and feel more prepared going into the high school, while the student panel provided a fresh perspective on the entire college process”, said Soumia Vellanki, one of the students who attended the event. A number of parents affirmed that the idea of students directly speaking to their children was the most effective way to motivate them and understand the rigor of the college readiness process. ”Kudos to Vibha for selecting students who are pursuing varied fields as that provided a good balance and different perspectives” said Uma Vempati, a parent. After the student panel session, the students and parents were separated into two different groups and students were further given the opportunity to mingle informally with the college going students.
Another highlight of the day was the parent panel discussion where the parents that had gone through this process and experts in the fields of psychology answered the questions from parents. The panel members – Dr. Theodora Soublis , Mrs. Sucheta Kamath , Mr. Derrick Polk , Mr. Manish Sarda , Mr. Stuart Canzeri and Dr. Maggie Wray answered all the questions from anxious parents that wanted to know the role to be played by parents in this college admission process. Since this session was restricted to only parents, more sensitive topics about peer pressure, stress management and drug abuse were also discussed.
The event started off with the keynote speaker Mr. Jim Beach, a serial entrepreneur and author of School for Startups, emphasizing the importance of networking during the college years in order to be successful later in life. This was followed by a very methodical walk through of the college admission process by Ms. Ginger Fay, directory of Fay College Counselling. She outlined the six important criteria that are common to admission to most colleges, barring exceptions – Grades, SAT/ACT scores, Academic rigor, Extra Curricular activities, Essay, and Testimonials. She further elaborated on the finer points of writing an essay and emphasized the need to make it interesting and presenting one’s individuality.
The final session of the evening was conducted by Mr. Stuart Canzeri, Co-Director at Peachtree Financial Group on the financial aspects – merit based scholarships, need based scholarships and federal loans. He impressed upon all the parents not to discard any university because it is too expensive at the outset, but to understand the process that each college follows to determine the financial eligibilities for different merit and need based scholarships.
Vijay Vemulapalli, Secretary of Vibha introduced the organization as a Social Venture Catalyst and gave the example of scaling up of Sikshana, working for quality education in public schools, from 15 schools in 2006 to 48,000 schools in the entire state of Karnataka, India. He made an impassionate plea to all the parents to support social causes on an ongoing basis as a percentage of their annual financial budget and set an example to their children and future generations. He also urged the students to make volunteering an integral part of their life in a meaningful way throughout their high school and college years.
Madhavi Korrapati, the coordinator for the event, said that the response was overwhelming and a number of parents and students expressed that this event opened their eyes to opportunities and challenges that they were unaware earlier. She confirmed that this event will be an annual event that will continue to address all the facets of the college admission process, with the knowledge from experts and sharing the unfiltered experiences from students and parents. Even though the event was not billed as a fundraiser for Vibha, more than $10,000 was raised at the event, including a generous donation from the Rekapalli Family.
Vibha is gearing up for their annual DreamMile 1K/5K/10K Walk/Run event to be held on Sept 23. Please visit atlanta.vibha.org to know more about the upcoming DreamMile event and a summary -experts, articles and information- of the “Are you Ready for College?” event.