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Getting into 'prestigious' universities: what input do achieved GZAAT students have to offer?

As we continue to plunge deeper and deeper into the year 2023, more and more students, and especially Seniors, are getting oriented towards thinking about what they will do once this school year is out. Some 12th graders might consider taking a gap year and exploring a schoolless world. Others, however and with little surprise, are starting to actively send out their college applications. The college one chooses to apply to largely depends on the student’s interests and personality. Some people prefer small liberal art schools, while others look for largely known prestigious colleges. However everyone has probably, at some point, considered the idea of attending an Ivy league school in the USA.

There are eight Ivy League Universities in total, which are all private and American universities: Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Princeton and Dartmouth. These universities have a reputation for having a highly selective admissions process, academic excellence and a chance for the best career opportunities for the students. Ivy League universities are very demanding because they provide the best education, best professors (including Nobel Prize winners), high impact research in many fields, vast offer of study programs and the best endowment (including the best equipment, libraries and infrastructure).

Our school has a lot of students who have been accepted to many different, prestigious and amazing universities. Some have even been accepted to the Ivy League schools. It is comforting to know that quite a few students who graduated from GZAAT continued their studies at Ivy league schools in the USA. Of course everyone’s CVs and techniques for standing out and being accepted to these schools differ, but there are some tips that GZAAT alumni and current Ivy league students have to offer.

Niko Gharibashvili, a Senior, applied to the University of Pennsylvania this year as an early decision, and got accepted! This is very exciting news and a very impressive accomplishment. Niko describes what aspect of his CV he thinks contributed most to him being accepted into Upenn, explaining that he tried to portray his personality as best he could through his application: “I think that my overall application was one of the strongest in our school. To list a few: my academic performance, vast number of unusual and compelling internships, my personal statement alongside with other writings, my accomplishments in sports and in other activities helped me get into an Ivy League university. Most importantly, universities like Upenn value an individual's character the most during admission and I think that I portrayed my personality and my overall nature pleasantly through my application, which I think had the biggest effect on my admission to this university.”

Niko says that he had decided that he wanted to attend this university during summer break, and after doing some thorough research on the school, this decision was finalised as he started to put his CV together. He started actively writing out his application during September/October. “I suggest that students start their application process during the summer break and not postpone their work.” Niko also mentions his extracurricular activities, which were vast and very interesting. He says that he is very proud of all of the work that he’s done: “Some of my extracurricular activities were: Intern at Cartu Bank; months of Special Forces training, Intern at Hadron Therapy Center; Intern at Kutaisi International University; Intern at Charitable Foundation Cartu; PR and Communications intern at Cultural Heritage Preservation Project by Charitable Foundation Cartu. I also did a lot of sports, like water polo and boxing; my independent project of Peer-Tutoring. I am proud of all of them but I am the proudest of my internships at Cartu Bank and the special forces training. Both were the hardest to accomplish and demanded enormous amounts of time and determination but both were worth it for the sake of my personal growth.”

Niko advises younger students now to really show their personality through the various writings that they’ll have to do and use the applications to show the university or college your true nature and what type of a person you are in general. He says that it’s important to give academics your all, and to take part in many extracurricular activities which are of interest to you.

Sopo Kevlishvili is a GZAAT alumni who graduated in 2019. She applied, and got accepted, at Columbia University. She is currently studying there with a 100% scholarship. Sopo says that her personal and supplemental essays probably had the biggest impact on her admission and acceptance. She explains that these essays portray an individual's personality, experience, and perspective on life the best, and much like Niko, Sopo believes that it is very important for a college to see these characteristics in the application.

Unlike Niko, Sopo was thinking about her college application since Freshman year. She started to participate in extracurricular activities by her Freshman year, with the thought of her CV in mind. By the end of her Sophomore year she had already taken a few SAT subject tests. She actively started working on her personal essay at the end of her Junior year. Sopo suggests to students that they start working on different aspects of their applications as soon as possible, since a CV consists of various parts and can start getting worked on from early on. Then, she goes on to explain exactly what she did to diversify her application in more detail: “I participated in and organized multiple charity events. I supervised Saturday School, was a member of the school choir, and served as a prefect. I also did several extracurricular activities outside of school, like a summer school and internship at a local hospital. I am definitely most proud of the charity events and projects that I participated in. Being a part of projects like Saturday School and COATS, to name a few, lets the student make an impact and teaches them how to be more responsible citizens.” Sopo finalises her interview with a piece of advice to students with aspirations of applying to Ivy league schools: “I think the best advice is to start working on your applications as soon as you can, and not forget that you can always seek help from the amazing staff at our school!”

These hard working and accomplished Georgian students give a lot of hope to fellow young Georgians. They demonstrate that it is possible for a kid from such a small country to be able to make it to what the whole world perceives as great schools. They also show to GZAAT students today that it is fully possible to aim for your dream school and reach this goal, as long as you put in just the right amount of effort. Their perspective on the application process is interesting and hopefully helpful to anyone who needs this advice. Good luck to Sopo and Niko, as well as every other hard working student with great aspirations!

Edited By: Lizi Schierman

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