Application Process Engineering Subject

Stephanie’s Application Process

What made you want to study abroad?

I don’t really like the Asian education system that only cares about grades. While preparing for the high school entrance exam in my junior high, I made up my mind that I wanted to study abroad and pursue the education that allows me to find my own worth beyond exams. 

What’s the toughest part for you during the entire application process?

Preparing for all the college applications while maintaining a good GPA. During my senior year, midterms and finals were all dedicated to help the majority of students prepare for GSAT (college entrance exam in Taiwan). Therefore, I had to cram the content across three high school years in weeks while writing essays and going through college apps. 

What do you think helped you the most?

Definitely doing some self-care routines! For me, jogging after school every day helped me clear my head and be able to focus on the things I needed to do. During the college application process, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Having your own self-care routines will help you immensely. Some of the examples are: taking a walk outside, chatting with a friend, watching movies, etc. 

What are some things you think you did well during the app process?

I think my extracurricular activities very successfully helped me stand out as an applicant. I have always been interested in the entertainment industry and business (by the process of elimination). Across my high school years, besides partaking in MUN and taking on leadership positions,  I attended a filmmaking summer session at UCLA. I was also the videographer and photographer during my volunteer trip to Nepal. I was the lead editor of a class journal partly because I was somewhat interested in the book publishing industry as well. All of these experiences showed a lot towards my interests in both business and entertainment. 

What’s the most regretful thing you’ve done during the process? What would you do differently?

Choose whether you’re gonna take the SAT or ACT carefully!!!

I was convinced that my math and science were pretty good so I would perform better on the ACT (fyi, I don’t think ACT’s reading is easier than SAT). I didn’t even take any SAT practice tests until I hit a wall preparing for the ACT. I tried taking an SAT practice test, and it turned out it was easier for me to get a higher score on the SAT. 

What do you think sophomores, juniors, seniors students should do right now?

For sophomore and junior students: plan out your whole college app timeline as soon as possible. (when you’re gonna take TOEFL, SAT/ACT, write essays, make a school list, etc.) Attend all the extracurricular activities that you think will be helpful to build your resume. Keep your GPA up at school. And don’t forget to enjoy your high school life! 

For seniors, you’re almost there! Just keep working hard on those essays, grades and even SATs. Most importantly, don’t forget to take breaks and be true to yourself. In the end, what colleges you get into are not what matter most. It is how much you grow during the process that will benefit your whole life. 

Stephanie Cheng,
University of Southern California ’24


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