From Student to Teacher: Your Passions Can Take You Far

– Gaurav, Harvard University

Gaurav’s enthusiasm for math and science prompted him to join Pace Junior Science College’s Integrated Program after grade 10 as it offers students challenging courses and prepares them for India’s competitive entrance exams for subjects including engineering, science and medicine. When one of his teachers at Pace Institute offered Gaurav a chance to become a teaching assistant and give lectures to younger students, he grabbed this opportunity and has not looked back since. He soon realised that explaining mathematical concepts to others deepened his own understanding of this subject. Teaching also motivated him to start reading books that contextualise math historically and philosophically. Most importantly, however, the experience of teaching revealed to Gaurav the profession that will suit him best–to pursue mathematical research and become a professor.

Wanting to be part of an academic community that values scientific knowledge, Gaurav was drawn to the diverse and holistic education offered by US colleges. So, despite performing well at Pace Junior College’s Integrated Program, Gaurav decided to explore colleges in the US. He began shortlisting colleges by the strength of their math departments and overall reputation. This gave him a list of 15 universities, most of them being extremely competitive. Having started the process early, he had time to go through the college-specific essay questions, which in turn helped him eliminate a few colleges from his list as he realised they were not the right fit for him. His final list comprised of 12 colleges; most of them dreams, some targets and a couple of safety schools.

In the end, Gaurav only applied to five. Why? Because Gaurav started his application journey early. This allowed him to organise his applications by deadline, brainstorm and start working on his essays well in advance, identify his dream school, and apply to it by the 1st November early application deadline. Weeks before the January deadlines came around, Gaurav received the reply he had always dreamed of–he was admitted into Harvard University! He was then able to sit back and relax for a little while before getting back to his other passions and concentrating on goals such as competing for the Indian National Math Olympiad.

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The fundamental role of independent educational consultants is to help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.

Here are 5 things families should consider when looking to hire an IEC:

  1. Does the IEC belong to a professional association such as IECA with established and rigorous standards for membership?
  2. Do not trust any offers of guaranteed admission to a school or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships.
  3. Ensure that the IEC adheres to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA.
  4. Find an IEC that visits college, school, and program campuses and meets with admissions representatives regularly in order to keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures.
  5. Do they attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?