Guest Post - The Final Quarter

We're pleased to bring you a bonus summer guest post from rising senior Kai Austin, 2015:

Well, my junior semester just ended. I have almost 20 literary agent rejection letters for my novel, so I decided to start straight up querying actual publishing companies. I had my first legitimate fever in over 8 years after finals. I just launched the beta for my startup, Wriget (www.wriget.com), an organizational tool designed for writers to keep track of characters and their relationships. I am about to begin my summer internship down at eduCanon. And in the fall I will be starting SCOPE , self-publishing a book of poems/short stories, and teaching my second class at Olin on Mobile Development.

But right now there is only one thing on my mind. Watching graduation, it hit me - next year I will be a senior. A senior! I have still not even accepted the fact that I am a legal adult, and now I am in the final quarter of my undergrad life, about to be thrust out into the vast wide world? It's terrifying!

Part of me is looking back on my time at Olin in regret. All the things I did not do. I could have gotten more involved here. I could have been a better teammate there. Why did I not start that homework earlier? Why did I not wake up when I had the chance? Should have, could have, why, why not, and the whole dance of self-loathing memories can bring along. Then it is all comforted by the fact that hey, I'm not the biggest social butterfly out there. Health reasons, I've had to prioritize sleep. But between classes, clubs, random events of awesome, and my own world of writing, it sums down to one simple question: Am I doing enough?

Am I doing enough for Olin?

When I first found Olin existed, I was dead set on coming here. And it is not to say I do not know what other college types are like. I spent a year at a university with 27,000 students, almost every major you can imagine, a fast track to a graduate program, and an average class size of 250 students. It was honestly a great school! But Olin was the different I was looking for. Small school, check. Awesome people, check. Great scenery, check. Non-standard academics, check. Freedom and opportunity to pursue interests check. All round total epicness - that was not even on my list because I never thought a college like Olin could exist - check. Candidates Weekend, I wanted to tie myself to the columns outside the AC. Olin was the love of my life, my future, my every dream come true.

And now here I am, the summer before my senior year. Being all "adult-like" and hoping I sound like I understand what I am doing. That future is burning away into past memories. Memories I want more than anything to be worth it. Like a ticking clock, I am only becoming more frantic that my time here is running out.

 I do not know where this next year will take me. I do not know where I am going to end up after. I don't know if anyone will ever by my books, or if anyone will ever think my startup is worth it. I still am not entirely sure what I want to do with my life. And that scares me. Olin is my family. Olin is my home. It will always be my family and home. There is only one thing I know:

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Tales from the Road!

Hey there guys! As many of you Facebook followers know, I just returned from a whirlwind three days at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in St. Louis, after which I hopped on a quick flight over to Chicago, rented a zippy little car (Not zippy at all. Slow. Slow and trusty), and headed to Aurora, IL for a college fair at Illinois Math and Science Academy. That was a long sentence. And it felt like a long trip! But, it was also so darn awesome to meet so many prospies who were excited about Olin. FIRST is probably my favorite opportunity to travel during the year at Olin. There's such a feeling of heady excitement to the entire event, from when you step off the plane in St. Louis to giant FIRST banners, to the entire town being lit up with robot fever (that's a thing). Every time I'd run to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat, I'd see teams in Viking helmets and capes (and everything in between).

I'm going to recap some of the highlights (and a few low...lights? Downsides? Downsides) from my trip for your enjoyment!

HIGHLIGHTS:

Butter cake. I mentioned it last year, and it goes to the top of the list again. St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. I'll dream about it for the next six months.

 shaq happy gif.gifButter cake. You guys don't even know.

New Scholarship Row at FIRST. We weren't in the pit this year, and while I thought that might be the pits (HA. HA. Hilarity), it was actually a great location. We got a ton of foot traffic, and the area was super nice to spend an entire two days in. Also, close proximity to the bathrooms =  clutch.

Getting to finally meet Woodie Flowers (who is a Distinguished Partner at Olin). What an amazing person. Amazing!

Hanging out at IMSA. The students there were super-stoked about Olin, and I had some absolutely fantastic conversations about the school with people who had very intriguing and thought-provoking questions. The morning flew by!

The Renaissance Grand had elliptical machines with individual TVs. I know this isn't cutting-edge or anything, but none of my gyms in Boston have this sweet amenity, and getting to watch unlimited amounts of Property Brothers on HGTV was heaven on earth.

brad pitt working out.gifUnlimited HGTV. All my dreams coming true.

Kiki Chandra. Yes, Kiki, you get a mention. Kiki is a current first year at Olin who traveled to FIRST to help out as a mentor with her team, but she also logged serious hours manning the Scholarship Row table with me. And lemme tell you, she is a superstar. There is nothing like perspective from current students to convince prospies to check out Olin, and Kiki is doing some unbelievable research projects that really resonated with the people she talked to! Couldn't have done it without her.

The actual FIRST competitions. Holy smokes. SUCH AMAZING ROBOTS!

science gif.gifROBOTS!

Seeing all our accepted students! SO many of you stopped by the Olin table, either with junior prospies or just to say hi, and it was one of the absolute best parts of the trip. You guys are so excited to be heading to Olin this fall, and seeing your smiling faces (as lame as this sounds) is a constant reminder of all the reasons that I love my job in Admissions.

 

LOWLIGHTS:

Running out of promotional materials. SORRY! Guys, I brought twice as many brochures and inquiry cards as I did last year, and we still ran out at 2 pm on Friday. I'm SORRY! I really truly am! I even handed out my table copy of the Parent Handbook, I was so strapped. So, we apologize.

so it begins.gifProspies made a run on all our brochures!

Riding the wi-fi struggle bus. I guess in Boston, I just take widespread wi-fi availability for granted. Not so much in the Midwest. Checking work email was a monumental task, and I spent a lot of time in the Renaissance Grand lobby huddled on my laptop near the router.

Midwest speed limits. Oh, it ISN'T socially acceptable to go 79 on the highway out here? My bad. But really... my bad.

rage gif.gifGO. FASTER.

Pockets Restaurant in Aurora. They left everything out of my pita pocket, which I only discovered after driving back to the Hampton Inn. Cry me a river, right?

 disappointment gif.gif

 Empty pita pocket induces tears.

That's all I got, peeps. Until next time!

Look Forward With Hope

"It wasn't meant to be."

"You'll end up somewhere!"

"You'll have great opportunities somewhere else!"

All of these consolations ring hollow when you've lost something important. For those of you who didn't get admitted to Olin, I'm sorry.

I know that you had your mind made up. I know that you pictured the moment:  the UPS truck pulls up and the smiling driver hands you the package and your mom screams and your dad pats you on the back. Maybe the dog barks because he knows too; there's something to be excited about. Now the regular USPS man comes with the regular mail, wrapped up in the shell of supermarket circulars and glossy postcards from local realtors- a thin, white envelope.

I'm sorry.

We met you at Candidates' Weekend. We heard about your dreams, your friends, your failures. We urged you to open up and be yourself. You were. And you were wonderful. Every single one of you was perfect, in your own way. And you will continue to be perfect, forever. When you're 50 years old and you think back on your own regrets you aren't going to even think about what college you didn't get into. You're going to think about how you should have joined the choir, or how you should have asked that girl on a date, or why didn't you go to that dance, and it is going to be the little things that passed you by silently that will call to you in the night. The Big-Things-That-Everyone-Cares-About aren't going to be important anymore. The important things will be right in front of you, and stretching ahead of you into the future.

Post-CW!

Candidates' Weekends are over, and Acceptance Committee has commenced (and uncommenced!). We've officially decided on the Class of 2018. And wow, WOW, what a whirlwind it's been.

Again, if it's seemed like there's been radio silence from us, chalk it up to the crazy number of applicants this year. Also, blame it on the weather. We've had a snow day almost every single week since our application deadline on January 3rd (in fact, we had a snow day ON January 3rd). It's been reaaaaallllly crazy around here, and all in all, the combined factors of more applicants + snow days meant that we just had fewer days to manage our priorities.

That being said, Candidates' Weekend came together beautifully this year. We were lucky enough to avoid giant blizzards on almost all three weekends (although the snow dump on Saturday on CW1 almost gave me a heart attack). But, in true Olin form, when the snow started coming down, all the Candidates ran outside and had a massive snowball fight. Love you guys so much.

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I got to interview Candidates twice this year, and... wow. You guys. You blew me away. I know that I say this every year, but really. It's one thing to read your applications and marvel at your accomplishments on paper, and it's another thing entirely to meet you and your families, to talk with you about your passions, and to see you interacting with each other. It's exciting on an entirely different level.

Which, of course, made Acceptance Committee ten times harder. I can't begin to express how superb you guys are, and having to pick a class out of all the phenomenal Candidates that I met was insanely difficult. You guys will get your decisions around the end of March - we will keep you posted on definite times and dates. But again, I can't say enough how fantastic it was to meet you all. Thanks for being awesome, and for making my job so much fun.

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Pre-Application Deadline Checklist

We're coming up on another extremely busy application season at Olin. As many of you saw in our Facebook posts, we've already taken bets on the number of applications we'll see this year, and I'm putting my money on a record year! Of course, the flip side is that with that record number of applications, there will be lots of extra-long nights where I'm up on the couch reading applications (Drinking a whole tub of Trader Joe's hot cocoa. Eating cake. So much cake.). But this is the fun part of the process! This is where we get to learn all about you, dear applicants.

A few words of advice as you're crossing your T's, dotting your I's, and getting ready to hit that big ol' SUBMIT button on the Common App.

  • Did you spell-check your entire application? Oh, you did? Oh, you did twice? Go back and do it again. Trust me on this one.

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My applikation is abosltuely perfect.

  • It is always a little bit off-putting when we read things like "I couldn't imagine a school that's more perfect for me than [MIT] [Harvey Mudd] [CalTech] [University of Texas] [Ringling Brothers Clown College]. If you're writing an essay about why you want to go to Olin, make sure you put in Olin's name.

youmakemesadgif.gifWe know you're probably applying to ten other schools. But tell us you love us the best!

  • Make sure you spend a good amount of time describing your activities to us. Nothing is more difficult to read than a vague list of things you did in high school (i.e. "music - 4 hours a week"). We want to know what you did with your time! Throw us a bone here.

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  • Extra recommendations - our rule of thumb is "If it provides perspective about you that your teachers cannot and it will really enhance your application, send it along." However, if we get six extra recommendation letters in your application, that's a wee bit extraneous.

throwingpaper.gif20 recs? Really!?

  • Your essays give us insight into your personality. We decide if we want that personality to be a part of the Olin community. Don't blow off your essays.

dog typing.gifWe can tell when you wrote your essay three minutes before the deadline.

  • Oh, you're done with your application? You've followed all my suggestions? Go spell-check again.

fine.gifAgain... trust us.

 

In all seriousness though, the applications we've received so far have been fabulous, and we're more excited than ever for this application season. So, good luck to the lot of you, and happy holidays from the Office of Admission!

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