College Talk: Claire Huang

Claire Huang
University of Pennsylvania
Cognitive Science
“Although I am on the pre-med track, I don’t believe that my college experience should be defined by this choice. In addition to neurology, I am interested in public education and video production. I believe college truly is a period of self-discovery and am excited to have learned so much about myself. I love exploring and am slowly falling more in love with Philadelphia.”

1. Why did you pick the school that you currently attend?
I wanted a new experience and thought that this was the perfect opportunity to live on the east coast. I don’t think this is the best way to choose your school. I highly recommend visiting beforehand.

2. How is the food?
The food is okay. I can’t complain—I think I have grown used to it. There are great restaurants in the surrounding area though. You can find anything from cafes to food carts.

3. It seems like I don’t have any extracurricular activities outside of school. I’m just in school clubs and volunteer at events offered by the clubs. Is there any way to find something meaningful to do outside of school? What did you guys do? Also, I didn’t get any awards and don’t know where to go to at least have an opportunity to earn an award (besides FBLA, TSA or any clubs like that) Do you guys have any suggestions? 🙂 I writing a senior profile for something else and seeing that I don’t have much to write about myself.. Please help out this worried junior!
Personally, many of my awards were, in fact, from FBLA or TSA. My outside activities consisted of playing sports and music. I found that my most meaningful experience was working in a lab during the summer because it offered me the most insight into my prospective field of interest.

4. How do I deal with being away from my family?
Being away from my family actually brought me a lot closer to them. I think that no matter how busy you are in school, you need to schedule some time to call your family. In the end, they will be the ones who are rooting for you to succeed, no matter how large the obstacles are. I found that my mom was the first one I called when I was overwhelmed. This was a huge step for me because in high school, I would always hide my failures from my parents in fear of disappointing them.

5. Do you think you underestimated yourself when you applied to schools?
I didn’t really underestimate myself. However, I did find it extremely difficult to express my life story in 200 word prompts.

6. What is college like for you?
College is stressful, exciting, fun, challenging, and scary. It allows me to discover what kind of learner I am and forces me to become more self-aware.

7. What’s the difference between a double major and a dual major? Which is better in your opinion?

8. How do you manage your time in college since you now have a flexible schedule?
In college, you really have to know what your priorities are. Many of my friends struggle with balancing their social and academic life (I am also guilty of this…I lean more towards my academic life). I think it is honestly a process of trial and error: find a schedule that works the best for YOU.

9. What were your thoughts on DB once you entered college?
Too many Asians.

10. Would you recommend the east coast or west coast?
West coast, best coast.

Questions directed to Claire:

1. What’d you do to make yourself stand out from other applicants in your graduating class? Like extracurriculars, good sat scores, or a well written application? Thank you!
I tried my best to excel academically with SAT scores and grades, but I also knew that these were not the only things colleges looked for in your application. I think I put a lot of emphasis on my extracurriculars because I was proud of my wide range of interests. However, my extracurriculars were never done just so I could stand out in a crowd. They were done because I was curious about my career options—I was genuinely considering a career in everything I did. When I discovered that a certain extracurricular was not enjoyable, such as robotics, I did not participate in it anymore.

2. How much different is the east coast? Any tips on surviving out there?
I think there is vast difference between coasts. During spring break, when I visited my boyfriend at a school in California, I could not stop commenting on the difference in culture. I think the weather has a huge impact on the school. My tip would be to not let the weather impact you. When the skies seem gloomy because of the cold weather, use it as an opportunity to bond with friends indoors. However, there is always an event or concert one short subway ride away, so that’s a plus.