GLI College Forum 2017 – May 28, 2017

Jonathan Ye

One of the most critical times in high school, and, unfortunately, one of the most stressful, is applying for colleges. The culmination of the past three years of studies, extracurriculars, and plain hard work, college applications have a large impact on your short-term future, as well as significant effects on the long term. Everyone has heard the talk: getting into a good college can help you land a good job, which will make you more money, and so forth. This puts a large amount of pressure on students, who may not know where to start, or what areas to focus on.

Global Leadership Initiative’s students have personally felt and understood that stress, and thus decided to host an annual College Application Experience Forum to help fellow students gain a better understanding of the college application. Invited to speak are newly graduated students who were accepted into some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country, as well as their parents, who walked with them every step of the journey. This year’s 2017 College Forum, held on May 28, was the 5th annual forum that GLI has hosted. Roughly 200 people attended, with the room completely packed by the time the event began.

The forum started off with the GLI band performing “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran. Then, the MC's Roy Lin and Michael Zhu introduced themselves. This was followed by Club Co-Presidents Kevin Gao and Shannon Yan giving a brief overview of the accomplishments and achievements of GLI in the past year, and core members Ashley Zhuang and Darron Dai sharing about the past, current and future projects of GLI.

After the introductory speeches, the guest speaker, California State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, was invited up to give a speech. Baker has been heavily involved in improving education and the community, and helping students become the leaders of tomorrow. She has also been a regular attendee of GLI's events, especially the college forum. In her speech, she talked about how she has watched GLI from the beginning, and seen it grow and expand, becoming an important presence in the community. She commended GLI's members for being at the forefront of the youth leadership movement, and for being proactive in making change. Her eloquent speech was followed by large round of applause.

The MC's then turned the audience's attention to the first focus of the event: the student panel sharing insights onto how to apply for college. The students included: Kelly Chen (MIT) Diana Fan (UC Berkeley), Veronica Gong (Northwestern), Jerry Lai (UCLA), Alex Wang (Cornell), and David Wang (UC Berkeley).

The MC’s asked various questions about high school and the application process, including about extracurriculars and competitions, which each student gave their own personal insight to. The key point that the entire panel stressed throughout the forum was that the entire college application process is a unique and extremely personal experience. From selecting colleges, to selecting majors, to what you put on your application, the whole process should be a reflection of your interests and passions, and who you are as a person. “Even if you think something is unimportant for your application, if it’s important to you, then you should put it on there,” Diana Fan said. Another aspect that the students touched on was how to manage relations with parents. They all agreed that the best way to minimize conflict with parents is to have an understanding and agreement about what is reasonable to be expected of both parties.

The MC’s then shifted the focus to the student’s parents, who were asked questions about their experience watching over their children through high school, and as they applied for college. One of the key points that they all agreed on was to give their children space to grow, while still nurturing and supporting them. They also echoed their children in stating the importance of having a clear understanding between students and parents. A few questions from the audience concerning more specific circumstances were also answered, such as what a student could do if they were interested in a subject but did badly in a related class.

The forum concluded with a few announcements, including handing out awards for last year’s Writing Contest. Last winter, GLI members wrote articles about whom they were thankful for, or about holiday traditions and how they came to be. Out of all the entries, GLI core members selected the three best entries, who were awarded at the forum. In third place was Shannon Yan’s recollection of the San Francisco City Impact she attended. In second place was Daphne Yan’s poem about her Christmas experience. Finally, in first place, was Maggie Zhang’s story about how a tradition arose between her and a long-distance friend. The winners were all awarded certificates and gift cards. Afterwards, the GLI band also performed “Classic” by MKTO. On behalf of GLI, I hope that everyone who attended gained valuable new knowledge about the college application process, and will be more confident when the time comes for them to begin their own application process.