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3 Tips To Get Into Ivy League For Indian Students

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Have you been dreaming of a Pinterest-inspired life in the states as a student of their top universities? Do you want to run away from the Indian elected autocracy and education outside is your only choice? Do you feel the grass is greener on the other side? Do you see yourself in a multi-ethnic rat race rather than just an Indian one? If yes, you are at the right place. Here are a few tips from a fellow Indian Ivy League aspirant for you to ace admissions and go live your dream life!

  • Do Not Be A Jack Of All Trades Master Of None

Extracurriculars are imperative for college admissions in the US. This trait sets it apart from top Indian colleges that conduct admission on the basis of academic merit. However, both Indian and US colleges expect children to have a brief idea of their future and expect to see it reflected in their list of extracurriculars. 

A standard college application has 10 slots for extracurriculars. The first step is choosing your extracurriculars. List down 3 to 4 qualities of yourself that you think is best or which can be improved to make you the best in them. Make sure at least 2 of these qualities align with your tentative future field of study. From this list of 4 talents, you have to curate a list of 10 extracurricular activities. For eg, if you’re natural quality is leadership, be part of your school council and take interest in local politics. Start a club or be a team leader in a sport. 

Ivy leagues appreciate practical experience the most, so make sure that whatever you choose to focus on, you are knee-deep in it and that your cause and research works to benefit those around you at that time or in long term. Remember- make sure your courses, future field of study and extracurricular overlap somewhere or the other. To find what are the best extracurriculars for you click here or go to the IvyZen website.

The 8 Main Exams for Indian Students to Study Abroad -ExTravelMoney
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  • Grades Matter

With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, test-optional admission procedures were introduced in most colleges for the class of 2021. However, the fate of the class of 2022 (and ahead) may not be the same.

More than 460 colleges still require an SAT or ACT score in their application. So if you are a student looking to apply in the US, prepare for your SATs. The best time to start giving SATs is in 11th grade(junior year). You can choose to give it as many times out of the 5 times that is conducted in a year. To analyse what you need to work on, take an SAT analysis test on Khan Academy for free and aim for a score of 1550+ to secure your academic entry.

School grades also form an important part of your application. Your education board in junior college does not essentially define your admission. Switching from ICSE, CBSE or SSC to IBDP in junior college can be harrowing for those as the learning approach and academic experience varies greatly. Although it provides ease in terms of GPA calculation or acquainting oneself to a different teaching method, managing academics and extracurriculars can prove to be an unnecessary burden.

Admission offices are looking for students who are pursuing the most rigorous curriculum in their field of interest.

(Please note: Most rigorous curriculum does not essentially mean pursuing science stream.)

Keep your grades high and refrain from converting your grades until asked to(in your college application). Here is a comprehensive guide to grading conversion from ICSE/ISC and CBSE on the 4.0-grade scale and a probability calculator for getting into your dream school. 

Scholarship – Aees Global
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Via your grades and extracurriculars, you have shown admission offices what you can be – a cosmopolitan adult ready to take on the opportunities and problems that life has presented you with. Your personal essay is where admission offices gauge what you are or what you were and how your circumstances have shaped you and your future. Do not procrastinate when it comes to your essay. These are not written in a day. Sit and remember your life, the lessons you learnt and brainstorm topics.

Eg. Show them how a story your grandparents told you has now become your life motto or why your passion is your passion etc. Show not tell. Be visual about your experiences and show them those parts of you that are not reflected in your grades or your extracurriculars. 

When framing the essay, don’t use long and pretentious words to flaunt your vocabulary, keep it candid and personal. Don’t use a lofty tone and try to be positive about most of the things you write. Do not duplicate your CV/Resume, however, you can elaborate on what you wrote there. Do not waver from the core topic of your essay. Write it like a story, not a sitcom. Explain your character arc and finally conclude with what you began with- the moral/core topic of your essay. Keep the essay concise (400 to 600 words) and choose your words wisely, such that although your essay looks like a pond, it is as deep as the ocean. 

In The End…

Prepare ahead of time. Do your best and try to be the best and most productive version of yourself, because this is what Ivy leagues want to see. Early applications have higher admission rates, so make sure to apply early. Apply to as many schools as you want (20 is the maximum) and ensure that they are a mix of likely schools you want to attend. Lastly, remember, college admissions are a gamble. Do not blame yourself for not getting in if you did your best. Your college doesn’t guarantee success, you do.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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