Student: Alex Ng | College: Emory University, Goizueta Business School
Introduction: Hi, my name is Alex. I’m a junior studying quantitative sciences, finance, and information systems at Emory University. I first met Vinnie when I was in grade 10 when I started planning the steps to best prepare myself for college application. Vinnie showed me his understanding of what college admission values in their applicants and how he could prepare me to be a competitive candidate. By polishing my resume, we were able to present to the admissions officers the best version of myself. Throughout the three years of collaboration, his positive outlook, recommendations, and encouragement to go beyond laid some of the key cornerstones for my acceptance to Emory.
1.) Please tell me about your experience at Emory University.
Unlike many other undergrads, I wouldn’t call my college experience typical. I was among the students who went through the Covid pandemic soon after my acceptance to Emory. I took three online semesters and a gap semester after that. Most of my time was spent on Zoom, and there weren’t many opportunities to connect with other students. However, as Vinnie always said, control what you can control, and the rest will fall in the right places. During the summer, I took summer courses to get ahead of my schedule which gave me the opportunity to take a semester off, do an internship to fill my resume, and still be able to graduate on time!
I enjoy Emory’s small class size and community, because it allows me to be more involved in classes. Emory encourages (and requires) its students to explore different academic areas, so the courses I took in my freshman and sophomore years range from philosophy to environmental sciences. You do have some freedom with what courses you take as long as they fit in certain categories like sciences and humanities. It may seem like you are forced to learn subjects that you are not interested in, but you really get to know some students, professors, and subjects that you might otherwise not come across.
2.) What’s the international community like there?
The international community here is more diverse than I imagined. There are many Korean students at Emory. Depending on whether you start at Oxford College or Emory College, you might find an international community with different compositions. Emory College has a wide range of clubs based on cultural identities. The Business School (the one I’m in right now) is more compact and academically focused, although there are still many clubs whose members are only Asian/Chinese students.
3.) What is the best thing about studying there so far? What do you find unique about the university or surprising maybe…
The best thing about studying here is that there are many opportunities to get involved. Some of the finance clubs and courses allow you to invest in stocks of your choosing with the school endowment without having to worry if you lose it all (I mean, how cool is that?). The course that I’m taking right now gives me $25K to invest. You can “squander” it by investing the entire budget in one single stock and get away with it. The small class size also makes it easier to make an impression on your professor if you need a letter of recommendation for grad school or simply want to be a TA.
I’m really impressed with some of the reports saying that Emory is among the highest in student satisfaction. I know people have spent some of their best years here, but I didn’t realize how much students connected with Emory.
4.) What are some activities you’re involved with there? Briefly describe…
Because most of my time was spent off-campus, I’m not the best person to talk about extracurricular activities, but I have been involved with Emory China Care. It is a Chinese organization where students host events like Hip-hop tournament, date auction, and talent show to gather funds for charity. The money donated to charity is meant to help Chinese orphans with disabilities in Atlanta.
I’m also applying to be a member of the Algory Investment Club which does quantitative and global stock valuation. It has over $100,000 of funding from the school to invest in stocks as well as options!
5.) What’s your favorite local food since you’ve been there?
Unfortunately, I haven’t tried as much local food as I’d like. Most of the food I did try was Asian food. Because there is a big Korean population in Atlanta, there are a number of Korean restaurants like 678 Korean BBQ that really impressed me. When I connected with Vinnie for this interview, he suggested that I try Cracker Barrel. It is a fast-food chain in the South. So if you ever visit Atlanta and want to try some authentic local food, I recommend you take his suggestion. On this particular matter, I wouldn’t vouch for him. Haha.
6.) What advice would you give to other students planning to attend university overseas?
There are so many little things that I only realize were important by the time of my application, but the biggest advice that I have is to prepare early (if you know studying abroad is where you are headed). There is definitely no such thing as “too early” when it comes to preparing for college application. Preparing your test scores like TOEFL, SAT, even SAT subjects, and AP exams (if you are in that program) takes time. I’d also say for those of you who know your area of interest that you plan on getting involved with extracurriculars that match your interest. If you struggle with planning, ask Vinnie for help, because getting these into place and having them in the bank for summer programs and your college application definitely gives you some leeway if you decide to try again with your standardized tests or take on additional challenges with schoolwork or extracurricular activities.
If you are in doing IB, first of all, good luck. Secondly, get everything you need early before your regular decisions, so that you could hit submit when the time comes and then focus on preparing for the big exams in May.
Another piece of advice is that you should really explore the school when you consider your list of schools. Each university has a unique atmosphere and character. They might not be the same as what you heard from other people. The best way to know these schools is to do some research on your own and dig into it. For Emory, it is liberal arts and research. When it comes to declaring your major, you get a taste of everything before it tells you that it’s “time’s up”. For other schools, it could be hands-on experience where internships and projects take a big chunk of your time. Consider visiting the schools in person when you finish your summer program. The key is to understand what you value in a school and see if they match that. Your next four years depend on it. You wouldn’t want to attend a college only to find out that it is not what you imagined.
Of course, there are many other suggestions about the process. But if you could only remember one or two things from reading this, take the ones I mentioned. If you are interested in knowing more about what I wished that I had known or anything about my application process or Emory, feel free to reach out to Vinnie and connect with me. I’d be more than happy to tell you more.
Lastly, I wish you all the luck with your college application. It might seem overwhelming at times, but you will get through like you always did.
May the odds be ever in your favor.