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TALKING WITH LE HOANG MINH: A TALENTED FRESHMAN AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Post by: trangtrang | 23/05/2020 | 148 reads

Studying abroad in the United States of America has been a familiar concept to teenagers, in general and Amsers, in particular. Every year, beside achieving high positions in culture, sports competitions, Hanoi Amsterdam High school for the Gifted is also proud of the vast amount of students who got admitted to well-known colleges and universities worldwide. Let’s discover Hoang Le Minh’s journey to Cornell’s University with AWW’s reporter!

Reporter (RP): Hello Hoang Minh, firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your successful outcome in the last application season. Can you share your emotions after having received acceptance letters and officially becoming a Cornell’24’s freshman?

Hoang Minh (HM): Thank you! Cornell University’s acceptance letter was like a miracle during my whole application process, because before this, I have received many waitlisted or rejected letters. Obviously, being offered such an opportunity by the long-standing and prestigious Cornell, I feel very joyful and excited for my next 4 years there. I would also like to thank my parents, teachers, friends and relatives, who supported me  during my application to American colleges, especially Cornell, very much - when every year, the application process is getting harder and more competitive.


Le Hoang Minh during the yearbook photoshoot with his class

RP: Studying abroad in America is many people’s dreams after finishing high school. The application process is definitely not easy. When was your process started and how did it proceed?

HM: Just like all my peers, I started preparing for my application to American colleges in the second semester of grade 10 - first semester of grade 11. While others have reached high SAT, ACT, TOEFL or IELTS grades, I was quite nervous because I haven’t prepared yet (I took part in IJSO in the first semester of grade 10). The process of preparing standardized tests and others for my resume started from that point onwards… even until mid-February, when I took part in extra tests or interviews depending on the schools’ requirements. My English foundation was not really strong, so the process was slightly difficult to me, but I think this difficulty and pleasure of the application season make me feel extremely grateful of my supporters’ efforts. 

RP: Which major do you intend to study, and why did you choose that major?

HM: As a student of the Chemistry-specialised class, I intend to study this major in college. I find that Chemistry has many interesting applications, such as developing pharmaceutical products or preserving the environment. However, Cornell University allows students to declare their majors in the last semester of sophomore year (or in the first semester of junior year), so I will make use of all opportunities and experiences there to decide what my passion is and what I want to do in the future.

RP: The application to American colleges is usually strict and considers candidates in a big picture, from school’s GPA (General Points Average), standardised tests to extracurricular activities and essays, so when should the preparation for resumes start?

HM: In my view, the preparation should begin as soon as possible. We have to obviously try throughout the whole year for the school’s GPA. Otherwise, I think the best time to sit standardised tests is from the second semester of grade 10 to the first semester of grade 11. By arranging your schedules appropriately to study for those tests, you will maximize your chances of  improving your scores, perfecting your resumes (TOEFL and IELTS are only limited to 2 years, so I think you should sit these tests in the second semester of grade 11). In terms of extracurriculars, I think these activities should be arranged throughout the school year, and if possible, you should focus on the summer of grade 10 and 11. Beside standardised tests and extracurricular activities, preparing for the main essays, supplemental essays and reference letters, from my point of view) should begin in grade 11’s summer (June, July) so that you will have the most complete resumes when the deadline comes.


Hoang Minh (on the left) with the IJSO team

RP: Which extracurricular activities should we take part in in order to improve ourselves and strengthen our resumes?

HM: American colleges, in my view, look at extracurriculars in 2 ways: do your extracurriculars concentrate on your major and do you try to throw yourselves in many areas. From my point of view, you should build focused extracurriculars to relate them to your profession, and should add 2-3 other activities to improve the resume’s diversity. Besides, the participation in these activities if start from grade 10 (it is even better if you start from grade 9) and throughout the whole year, together with reaching leadership positions is highly recommended. If not, I think your participating with the passion of studying, contributing and trying your best is already wonderful.

RP: Lastly, do you have any advice for 1821 students who will be applying next year?

HM: I know during the COVID-19 pandemic’s breakout in many countries, standardised tests along with extracurricular activities are delayed or cancelled. During this time, I think you should spend time studying for those standardised tests and when the pandemic ends, it will be your time to shine and pass with flying colors. Extracurriculars can also be held online, using Internet foundations that you guys have already had (you can take part in some courses on Coursera or other online courses offered by foreign universities). Or if you have finished those mentioned, preparing for the main essays, supplemental essays and other factors in your resumes, now will be the time for you to prepare yourselves for this stressful and tense application season. Lastly, I hope for your healthiness, success, and luck, especially with next year’s application season!

RP: Thank you for having agreed to do this interview, hope you have many fascinating experiences at your dream school!

Reporter: Tran Mai Lien - Geography 1922

Translator: Thai Minh Anh - Chinese-English 1821