Published: 31st December 2018
This unique boot-camp-style workshop will groom you to get into Ivy League colleges
Check out this initiative that aims to prepare students for the high expectations that Ivy League schools around the world require them to meet — from grooming to interview skills
Every student or professional faces a dilemma at some point in their lives. The dilemma can be as simple as what would be the most appropriate clothes to wear for an interview. This happens more often to students who are planning to study in Ivy League schools as there are numerous GRE and GMAT courses in the country, but very few institutions actually tell students how to draft their résumés, statement of purpose and recommendation letters. These students might just have received their answer. Going beyond academics, here is one unique course that offers key insights into what it takes to gain admission into the top universities of the world.
FOCUS is an initiative that aims to prepare candidates to face the high expectations one needs to meet for admission into top institutions around the world. It offers students and young professionals a week-long intensive programme to focus and achieve their career goals. Starting for the first time in India, this boot camp-style workshops, to be held in Chennai from January 9 to 13, will exclusively target the résumé writing component that is a part of the application process for all top schools across the globe.
We spoke to the founder of FOCUS, Kaavya Krishna, who has a Master’s degree from Harvard University and is currently teaching at the University of Cambridge. Excerpts from a meaningful conversation:
What is FOCUS all about? How is it different from regular grooming courses?
I have been informally speaking to a lot of students about what it takes to get into Ivy League universities around the world, their answers tend to follow the same path — they are not too sure about how to frame their résumés. We have a lot of GRE and GMAT courses in India, but we don’t have a very systematic and authentic way to teach how students should write their résumés, statement of purpose and recommendation letters.
When you look at the application of major universities, you have your UG marks, GRE scores, but the important part which truly makes you stand out is what you write in your statement of purpose, résumé and letters of reference. That is something a lot of us don’t get done very well, as Indians we are told that we should not talk about our achievements, to not show off. However, presenting ourselves or marketing ourselves, stating what we truly bring to the table and how we can add value is what is required the most while applying to these institutes. FOCUS is a series of boot camp-style workshops that exclusively targets this third part of the application.
What is your USP? What will students be taught at the workshops?
Apart from guiding them on how to write their résumés, we will also prepare them for interviews. We will have them draft résumés, think through their statement of purpose, but we will not be hand-holding or writing anything for them. We will be guiding them through the process by giving them a set of templates to think about and set of questions to answer.
We will also be providing personal grooming training — when to wear a suit and when not to, what is business formal and what is business casual, how to wear your hair and more. I feel we can always do better with that kind of knowledge.
We will have faculty coming down from top universities — some teach, most of them are working professionals like we have somebody coming down from Amazon, World Bank in the US and other people. We are bringing in faculty from around the world as they can share practical tips about what they did to either get a scholarship or get into top schools.
Focus to impress: Starting for the first time in India, the boot camp-style workshops will exclusively target the résumé writing component that is a part of the application process for Ivy League schools across the globe
What is the criteria for applying to this boot camp-style workshop?
The first set of workshops will be held from January 9 to 13 and following that, we will conduct these every month in different cities. We are specifically targeting students who are looking at the top 10 Ivy League schools. At first, they have to go through a personal interview, I will have a one-on-one with each of them to understand them better, where they are coming from, what their motivation is, what schools they are looking at, what options they have and then, try to understand where they stand in the process. Only when they clear this part of the interview they get to take the course.
Marks alone are not a good indicator, someone might have scored low marks in academics, but they could be a national champion in rowing or other sports, that puts them in a completely different league, so we can’t generalise candidates on one criterion alone. We at FOCUS are trying to build a strong cohort of students who are getting into these schools and acquire the ability to also support each other in the future, so that they themselves build communities and help others as well from what they learn here at the workshops.
Which courses are most in demand at the world’s top colleges?
It entirely depends on the students, but management courses are always very popular. It is prestigious for a lot of people to have MBAs from Ivy League colleges, an engineering degree from MIT. Stanford is also very popular. Other courses that attract a lot of students are Journalism, Anthropology, Education, which are very specialised courses.
Varsity ready: FOCUS is set to conduct a workshop in Chennai from Jan 9 to 13
Considering India’s foreign relations, how do you think it would affect migration of the students or where they would like to study?
With the political situation, the onus is on the students to understand what the options are. For instance, when you don’t have to worry about your visa, it makes a huge difference in your job search. It depends on individuals as to which country they choose to go to, what their motivations are — is it just to study there, get the experience and not settle there or would they want to settle there.
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