College Bound: Acharya and Oliver prepare for transition to college

April 28, 2016 — by Claire Chou, Spring Ma, Katherine Sun and Eileen Toh

Caroline Oliver anticipates freshman year at Barnard. Saro Acharya sets up future in film with Emerson.

Oliver anticipates freshman year at Barnard

A symphony of unfamiliar voices echoed in the Barnard College of Columbia University cafeteria as senior Caroline Oliver scanned the room, half-expecting to encounter one of her old friends sitting at a stray table. But instead of high school faces, she was greeted with puzzled yet eager students, as she was overcome with the familiar but unwelcoming feeling of being the “new kid” again.

Introducing themselves and shaking hands with one another as they took their seats, the incoming freshmen gazed at the “Welcome Barnard College Class of 2020!” presentation in front of them. For Oliver, a rush of emotions buzzed in her mind — everything felt so surreal.

“As I got used to it, I was so grateful and really astonished at the place I was in and that everything was over and that everything that i put into for the past four years had all paid off,” Oliver said. “I consider myself so lucky.”

On March 29, only four days before her visit to Barnard College over spring break, Oliver found out about her acceptance and “just lost it.” After receiving a deferral in mid-December, Oliver had spent the entire day “convincing [herself] that [she] would be OK with a rejection.”

“I can’t say that the first day [I found out about my acceptance] was happy because so many conflicting emotions like surprise and pent-up angst were open,” Oliver said. “I thought to myself that there must have been a glitch [on the admissions website], or that it was a total mistake.”

But even though Barnard had a record low percentage of admitted students this year — 16 percent — Oliver believed that being deferred gave her a “leg up” in the regular-decision pool.

“Colleges want to compare you to other people,” Oliver said. “[A deferral] feels worse than a rejection, and I looked at it like an on-again-off-again boyfriend, but people can’t let that get them down.”

According to Oliver, getting deferred allowed her to keep her file consistently active and “keep her name at the forefront of [her] admission counselor’s mind.” During winter break, Oliver sent emails for more information about Barnard to “affirm [her] interest and show ways how [she’s] grown over the past semester.” She also asked English teacher Ken Nguyen for a letter of recommendation to supplement her early decision application.

“People who didn’t have that coming in as a regular decision applicant didn’t have that relationship,” Oliver said. “I think that part of the reason that helped me get into Barnard is that I’ve developed that relationship with the school.”

In addition to attending Barnard admit weekend over spring break, Oliver also visited Reed College in Oregon and Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. On these college tours, she realized that she liked being in a big city.

After visiting these campuses, Oliver was content with her decision to attend Barnard. Her visits made her feel “100 percent confident” and secure about the direction she was planning to head toward in the near future: a double major in psychology and comparative literature.

Looking back on the crazy ride of college admissions, Oliver felt that fate seemed to be involved.

“Everyone that I’ve talked to got into somewhere where they really belong and everything turned out the way it's supposed to be,” Oliver said. “I sound like a hippie right now, but weird universe juice just makes [the college decisions process] work.”


Acharya sets up future in film with Emerson

Senior Saro Acharya drank in the sights of the grassy Boston Commons and the nearby Colonial Building. Swept up in a small crowd of 60 other students, he felt exhilarated but nervous to be attending Emerson College’s Preview Day during spring break.

“I was honestly ecstatic to be there, but it was also very intimidating to be in the same room as twenty other film majors,” Acharya said.

In addition to visiting Emerson, Acharya also took a tour at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Faced with a difficult choice between the two schools, he ultimately chose Emerson for its internationally recognized film reputation.

“Pratt has a new up-and-coming film program,” he said. “But Emerson’s a pretty established film school and it’s rated No. 10 in the top schools for film.”

Still, Acharya leaned toward Pratt for many reasons. In particular, he liked its new facilities, which were built two years ago.

“I think facilities are really important because if you look here at SHS, we have the MAP building, which allows for a lot of opportunities to work on projects,” Acharya said. “It’s really nice and it provides a lot of resources that you need.”

While visiting Pratt, Acharya had the chance to tour part of the new facilities and was impressed by the campus’s creative feel.

“The whole campus felt like one giant artwork shop to me,” he said. “It’s a pretty well-established campus and has been around since the 1800s.”

In contrast with his feelings about Pratt, Acharya felt uncertain about the environment he would find at Emerson, which “doesn’t really have a campus” and is instead integrated into Boston. Adding to this uncertainty was his general dislike of college towns, of which Boston — home to Harvard, MIT and more — is a prime example.

Acharya’s financial aid offer from Pratt further complicated his decision. He received a $21,000 scholarship for Pratt, cutting the $42,000 tuition in half, while he is still waiting to hear back about financial aid from Emerson, which has a tuition of about $40,000-$50,000.

In the end, however, he recognized that each school’s resources mattered more to him than its campus or cost. Keeping in mind his ultimate goal — breaking out into the film industry — Acharya made the decision to attend Emerson.

“I feel like it just puts me in the place where I can have the most opportunities in the future,” he said.

Acharya is most excited to immerse himself in the artistic environment there, using the resources available at Emerson to dream up and carry out his own projects.

“I’m really looking forward to collaborating with other filmmakers and media production majors,” he said. “[Emerson] has some really amazing film equipment that’s completely open for use to its students, and I honestly can’t wait to create some cool content.”


2 views this week