You’re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resources—including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.
There was a story that I read when I was in ninth grade that has stuck with me throughout the years. You may have read it too. It was titled The Bishop’s Candlesticks and was one of the chapters in my English textbook.* The play’s protagonist is an incredibly generous man, almost too generous to a fault, who goes by the title Bishop. The entire play occurs in the Bishop’s cottage, where an escaped convict breaks in to demand food. The Bishop treats the convict as his friend, feeds him, and gives him a place to stay. In turn, the convict steals the Bishop’s beloved candlesticks, only to be caught by the police as he tries to escape.
The final minutes of The Bishop’s Candlesticks is a powerful reminder of what generosity can do to a damaged soul.
Victor Hugo said it best,* “As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.”
Research has shown time and again that by helping others, you help yourself.* In fact, helping someone else by donating money is found to trigger the same mesolimbic regions in your brain that are triggered by receiving monetary rewards yourself.* In a weirdly non-mathematical way, we gain more by giving more.
You got this far in this journey because of the generosity of the professors and managers who recommended you, the teachers who encouraged you when you lost hope in yourself, the friends who cheered you on when things went haywire, the seniors who proofread your application, and your parents who trusted you to live on your own in a new country. Not to mention the countless strangers who were your faceless guides on the internet. And finally, us (we hope).
You had a village behind you on this journey, even if you didn’t know it.
Now, how can you be a member of this village for someone else?
That’s what we want to briefly touch upon here.
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I found the joy in sharing my knowledge when I received considerable positive feedback within NIT Trichy on an article I wrote on the theory of general relativity in my sophomore year (which, sadly, I cannot find anymore). Those were the days when physics deeply fascinated me. By learning a new concept and sharing it in an easily digestible manner, I was able to help someone else and strengthen my own grasp over it. Win-win.
You can do the same by writing about your journey so that the lessons are cemented in your mind, and also help future aspirants. It doesn’t even have to be in the form of an article (or a book). You can participate in webinars, make a video, or simply write answers on a forum like Quora. Be sure to share the important resources you used in this process. You have incredible knowledge built up through this journey.
The world deserves to see it in action.
Mentor Your Juniors
Writing a blog article might help hundreds of students along their way. On the other hand, mentoring one student will completely change his or her life. You don’t have to pick between the two; you can do both. Mentoring someone goes beyond providing resources and talking about what you did.
Mentoring someone requires that you understand their situation, empathize, and tailor your advice accordingly.
Pick three to five students who reach out to you when the next cycle of admissions begins. Set up a regular cadence when you can meet them all and be updated on their situation. Share resources to help them with their applications, and find ways in which they can help each other. The good thing about generosity is that it is infectious. Your altruism will soon be multiplied many-fold as the lives you touch begin to do their part.
Thank Your Village
You could not have done this without them. Take the time to write personalized emails to everyone you could think of who had a stake in this. Trust me, it is a fun process! I remember thoroughly enjoying writing emails to all the professors who wrote me a recommendation letter. The highlight of it was the responses I received from them as they expressed their happiness.
If you wanted to thank us in some way, we only ask that you leave a brief and honest review of this book on e-commerce platforms and other forums so more students can discover it.
We would also love to receive an email from you.
Until now, we helped you get admitted! The final and fourth part of the book will help you prepare for what is to come as you leave your home country.
Much of this chapter is written with an Indian audience in mind. If you are from another country, you may still find it useful, but many of the details will differ. We suggest you find additional resources in your country for loan information.
Introduction to Loans and Visas
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