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HFI’s Seniors Share Their Stories with Sophomores

Annually, at HFI, seniors are invited to give advice and share experience with sophomores to inspire and help them avoid possible mistakes. This year, more time was allocated to this activity, and many students benefited. Students from the four Y10 classes took notes and photos, and we interviewed Yuki to learn more.

On April 20th and 21st, seven senior students in total came to Y10 College Counselling classes. They each had about half an hour to talk about their growth and development throughout the three years spent at HFI.

In Nakalembe, Helena Cao and Aaron Gu shared their experiences. Helena shared her insights on individuality. She believes it’s impossible to copy another student’s profile, and confidence should be based on holistic self-awareness. She shared her experience of constantly being in anxiety when comparing herself to others, and how she eventually realized the importance of becoming a good person first. As for major choices, she encouraged us to think about our passion and motivation. She gave a few tips on self-care, explaining that the time wasted in depression could be used for improvement instead.

Aaron’s main advice was to engage actively in activities, read more non-fiction, and in general, explore more. In applications, more emphasis should be put on showing personality instead of listing activities. Another thing he stressed was to not procrastinate. This not only results in anxiety but alsomight result in the loss of opportunities. Thinking more can help you know yourself and help you find yourself in applications.

A Student in Nakalembe asked about procrastination at the end. Helena shared that she would sometimes go watch videos of others learning to motivate herself.

In Longping, Emily Cen and Ning Lan shared their thoughts. Emily talked about different activities and stressed the importance of learning from seniors or consulting the counselor. She mentioned how personal activities can be more flexible and suitable to one’s future major while group activities can represent one’s leadership and ability in managing a team. Clubs in school are also resources that are helpful and reachable. The next part she talked about was applications. Reading books that are related to your major is very beneficial for your applications and it would be better to start preparing your application before the senior year. What’s most important is to enjoy the process while simultaneously learning more about yourself.

Ning talked about class selection, activities and being active. For course selection, she mentioned how the selection should be balanced and that we should be open to exploration. For example, she added US history to her courses when her other classes were mainly math and science, which was later discovered to be useful. She stated that it is also important to balance course difficulty with GPA. Being active is key. As she mentioned, consulting seniors provides valuable experience, and building a social network with teachers can also be helpful.

In Borlaug, Alexander Wang and Christina Yang shared their ideas. Alexander talked about his class choice in his junior and senior year. He gave specific tips and tricks on what to do in each class. He also reinforced the idea that while maintaining a high GPA is a standard in college applications, there should be a balance between your GPA and your interests. Activities, as he mentioned, should be focused on self-identity. Passion, personal connection, and relation to profession are three keys when determining an activity. Alexander also discussed the process of choosing schools. School websites are important resources, as well as subscriptions in WeChat, discussions on Zhihu, and videos on YouTube.

Christina shared her in school learning experience. She emphasized that office hours are precious and must be utilized as well as mentioning the importance of teachers. For activities, she advised that only those that fit your interest and are helpful should be kept. Choosing teammates wisely is also important, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to deny your classmates if the activity is not suitable for them.

Standardized tests should not be always in the first place, as scores might not be that crucial. Don’t feel left behind, try not to feel pressured by peers, and try to figure out what you like most.
After the presentation, a student asked whether it is pressuring to take five classes in the junior year. They replied, saying it was ok as long as you manage your time well.

In Villegas, Sammy Qiu shared her experience during the application season and her ideas in her three-year HFI life. Her first recommendation is to learn about ourselves and try to discover our preference, the field we are interested in, and our advantages. The second is to read books and try out different activities. Finally, she suggests that we make a list for ourselves, including what is attractive to us and what is not acceptable to help decide a major. Sammy divided her application into four parts: Score, Academic, Activity, and Life. She emphasized that activities should always be selected according to your interest instead of following others. Students should focus on the small but meaningful things in life as these can bring more valuable feelings, making the words in your application more touching. She highlights the importance of time management, and showed a calendar of her daily schedule, recommending Y10s find their own pace under highly intensive study. Finally, she ended her presentation with one sentence, “Explore yourself and the world.”

Students took a lot from this, having a deeper understanding of the application process and gaining more knowledge regarding what they need to do.

As this activity was initiated by the College Counselling Center at HFI, we also asked Yuki and Rachel a few questions.
As head of College Counseling, Yuki hopes that students who are in a confused periodcan learn from the experience of their seniors. Although students may not be able to immediately determine their future direction, they might be able to gain from useful resources mentioned such as websites or platforms. Also, since some seniors were also stressed out during their Y10 year but eventually found their passion, Yuki hopes Y10s can see that there’s no need to worry if they are unsure about their future major.

Additionally, speakers had plenty of room to tell the complete story of their application process, unlike last year, when one person only had 15 minutes. This year, nearly half an hour was allotted to each student, and plenty of time was set aside for Y10s to ask questions.

Another counselor, Rachel mentioned that Y12 students have been very cooperative. Because of different class schedules, these studentshad to negotiate and divide the work in just a few days. Yet they all were well prepared with PowerPoints, visual aids, or notes.

Overall, sharing and communicating with fellow students has always been an HFI tradition. We hope this event can be carried on, not only helping Y10s find their way, but also strengthening the connection between seniors and sophomores.

Content proposer: Ariane Hai
Writers: Yiyi Tu, Yi Lai
Editor: Annie Liu
Information collectors: Ariane Hai, Ivy Tan, Mary Zhou, Annie He
Interviewer: Jasmine Dong
Image sources/photographers: Yi Lai, Ivy Tan, Mary Zhou, Annie He, Annie Liu