Category Archives: College Application Process

When One Door Closes, Multiple Doors Open (My Common Application Main Essay)

*This was my common app essay that answered the prompt, “Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.” Given that high school seniors are probably going through the process of writing their college application essay, I figured it wouldn’t hurt if I shared mine on the internet to help inspire high school students.

Numerous times I felt like giving up on my basketball dreams yet I didn’t want to be labeled a quitter. Instead, I wanted to one day tell a story just like Michael Jordan’s and how he was initially cut from the varsity team only to end up becoming the best player in the world; this became the driving force of my basketball obsession after I didn’t make the varsity team during my freshman year.

I spent countless of hours working on my game, pushing aside my friends and what a “high school” life was supposed to be about. Yet as my Junior Year ended, I sat there tired of the whole routine of working my butt off every single day only to have sub-par performances during actual games.

And after another dismal performance, I was ready to call it quits when my dad told me that if I quit, all the hours I spent working on my game would be wasted, and I’d be labeled a quitter, forever– this led to a renewed fire to stick it out in hopes of making the most out of my last year in high school.

I promised to double or even quadruple my effort in the next practices when, lightning struck. In a blink of an eye, everything I had worked for in the past 8 years disappeared as I lay on the court shouting in pain after tearing my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), an injury that would sideline me for the rest of my senior year.

I suddenly remembered all my daily sacrifices of swallowing up those gooey protein shakes, shooting hoops under the scorching heat, doing dribbling drills during lunch breaks, refusing to indulge in junk food, sleeping at 9 pm in hopes of growing taller and turning down my friend’s invites to hang-out just so I could work on my game instead.

I was devastated as I stayed up all night in pain thinking about what I had done with my life, then I suddenly remembered why I even worked so hard in the first place — the story I wanted to tell couldn’t end here.

How could I give up when my senior year essentially hadn’t even started? I now had a blank page to start writing a renewed story.

6 months later, my story continues to unfold. Who would’ve thought that the same injury that felt like the world falling on my knee would catapult me to a much bigger world. I wasn’t afraid to fail anymore, for I already knew how it felt to hit rock bottom so I went ahead to pursue opportunities that I was once too scared to even consider.

I tried out for the debate team, where I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and learn more about global issues. My devastating injury suddenly seemed so trivial compared to the pressing societal problems we debated about. I was now playing a much bigger game than basketball.

More importantly, as I fulfilled my dream of representing my school and country in international tournaments, I got to meet people from all over the world — each one with their own dreams of one day making a more profound impact in the world.

This inspired me to spend more time working on community service projects while continually trying to inspire others to do the same through my blog posts and newspaper articles that document my Senior Year journey — one that saw me change from the health-conscious basketball freak that my friends used to call me to who I am today, an ambitious global citizen constantly looking for novel solutions and stories to share.

Maybe I was never meant to have a story like Michael Jordan’s because ultimately, we all have our own unique story to tell, and I’d like to think that tearing my ACL was just the start of a whole new chapter.

——-

Feel free to let me know what you think about my essay by emailing me at david.ongchoco@gmail.com. Do let me know as well if you need any help with your essay.

8 Tips for Students Looking to Apply Abroad (From an applicant who just went through the process)

Looking back at the past year and what I went through during the application process, I can say that CAMP Philippines and my CAMP mentor really helped me in myriad of ways that I will forever be thankful for.

A few days ago, I got a chance to visit my CAMP mentor Chris Dee who is currently a junior at Yale. At one point, we ended up exchanging notes on the application process, synthesizing my experience (what worked well for me), talking about what CAMP has done for all the mentees and underclassmen and just going over the rising college-abroad scene in the Philippines and our role as “Illustrados.”

(CAMP has a super duper helpful guide for people interested in studying abroad (all the essentials are here): http://www.campphilippines.org/uploads/1/2/3/6/12362897/_camp_college_app_guide.pdf

With my CAMP mentor in the Yale, New Haven campus

With my CAMP mentor in the Yale, New Haven campus

I still remember going through the process like it was yesterday. The college application process was an experience in itself, filled with countless of highs and lows. And in between all those were valuable lessons I learned that I wish to share with you guys as you go through the process yourselves!

Top 8 Tips for Students Looking to Apply Abroad

  1. Enjoy the Process; Treat it like a Game –As you start thinking about applying abroad, it’s inevitable that you will become busier than ever. To add to your academics and countless of meetings already, you will have to study for the SATs, write your essays and find ways to stand-out and boost your application.

Since you will go through it anyway, might as well stay positive and enjoy the process. The best way to do this is really treating the college application process like a (video) game with you trying to improve his score (SAT score?) and finding ways to make it to the next level! And besides, believe it or not, some of your best memories will come from the fact that you’re applying abroad!

An extremely helpful SAT guide: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-preparation/955109-silverturtle-s-guide-to-sat-and-admissions-success.html Continue reading

Khan Academy: A Free World Class Education – Salman Khan@Stanford

It was always a dream of mine to visit Stanford University and after visiting Stanford today, I now have much bigger dreams when it comes to education – Thanks to Mr. Salman Khan.

I could’ve visited Stanford University on another day but I decided to visit today because there was a speaker I didn’t want to miss. Through the Stanford events page, I found out that, you guessed it right, Mr. Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy would be speaking on campus for the Stanford’s DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Series. I knew I couldn’t miss this opportunity, and I’m glad I didn’t because his talk was worth every minute!

“For the next 10, 15 years, this thing called education, we can make it much more equal, we can make it more like water, a fundamental human right.”

Khan Academy has changed the lives of students from all over the world

Khan Academy has changed the lives of students from all over the world


Mr. Salman Khan didn’t only keep the talk entertaining by dropping jokes and puns here and there, but he also kept the audience on board by using powerful stories, anecdotes, lessons and real-life experiences that left us all inspired.

(The video will be soon uploaded at the Stanford website: http://events.stanford.edu/events/433/43305/ and http://etl.stanford.edu/)

How it started

Mr. Salman Khan started his speech by talking about the journey of Khan Academy and how it all started. He went way back to the moment where he encountered a simple problem that he wanted to solve. This problem was his cousin having a hard time in math. Continue reading

FINALLY!!! College Admissions Results!! The end of a journey…the start of a new one!

I’m still overwhelmed right now from graduation and then college results but I just have to write this note of thanks to everyone who has helped me in this journey! 

After a few rejections and wait-lists to some of my top choices for university, I wasn’t expecting anything anymore. Yet, just like how I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last May, life surprises you when you least expect it. I’m glad I ended up making it to UPenn, UC Berkeley, UMich, and UCLA. 

Thank you to my friends, classmates, parents, family, relatives, teachers, mentors, coaches and everyone who has helped me become who I am today.

When I was a high school freshman, I just wanted to go to La Salle since they are on a trimester system and I could quickly graduate. But I’ve come to realize our plan at 14, isn’t always our plan at 18 or 22 or 30. There are so many factors in life that all we can do is to cherish every moment

At the start of last year, I wasn’t even sure whether I would apply abroad but I decided to give it a shot. At the beginning, I was still skeptical about it but after I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), I was really confused and unsure what would become of my senior year.

Yet I decided to trust the Man above and still make the most out of my senior year……and now that it’s all over, funny how things didn’t turn out how I expected it to be……because it turned out to be so much more than just a school year!

Who would’ve thought that as tiring as it was, this past school year would turn out to become the most memorable, amazing and surreal year in my life! I will miss Xavier but glad I was able to end my stay in Xavier with a bang!

So last but not the least, thank you God for everything that has happened, all the blessings I’ve received and of course all the family, friends, classmates, schoolmates, mentors, teachers and relatives who’ve made me who I am today. I questioned you when I tore my ACL yet you did have a plan! I may not have seen it then but it’s a bit clearer now.

To end I’d like to quote our graduation song “Thank you, Xavier” written by Lorenzo Arceo, “All the memories made, tomorrow’s already yesterday. Our roads will cross again, and we’ll be even better.” “Wherever we may go, whoever we may be, I’ll just let you know. I’ll let my light shine. I’ll be someone greater.”

Thank you again everyone for everything and all the shared experiences we’ve had. This one is for you guys  Wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for all of you!!

This has been my dad's dream school for me :) super glad that I made it!!

This has been my dad’s dream school for me 🙂 super glad that I made it!!

 

UC BERKELEY!!! SILICON VALLEY BABY!!!

UC BERKELEY!!! SILICON VALLEY BABY!!!

 

BRUINS!!! John Wooden is the man!! HAHAHAHA

BRUINS!!! John Wooden is the man!! HAHAHAHA

 

WOLVERINES!!!

WOLVERINES!!!

Because the SATs are over…Repost from Inquirer: “Much Ado About Getting In”

*This article was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer dated January 16, 2014; now that I’m also done with my last SATs, I guess this deserves to be reposted here in my blog 🙂

Last year's CAMP Conference where hundreds of students gathered to learn more about the college admissions process abroad

Last year’s CAMP Conference where hundreds of students gathered to learn more about the college admissions process abroad

With just a few more months before graduation, anxious of what their future will be like, high school students flocked to the Ateneo campus to check the Ateneo College Entrance Test (Acet) results which were released on Jan. 11. Some of my friends started shouting in joy and celebrating as they saw their names on the list of accepted students; they finally had a college.

At the same time, my other friends sat there thinking about what their future will be like as they wait for the test results of the other schools they applied to. The buildup to the college admissions results means a lot of goose bumps and late nights worrying whether or not one will get into the college he or she wants. Continue reading

One Year Blogging Anniversary — The Best Is Yet To Be

I know I should be doing some last minute review for my SAT subject tests right now but as I posted my post on taking my last SATs tomorrow just a few minutes ago, I noticed a WordPress notification with a little trophy and as I clicked on it, there it came, “Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!”

One year of finding the silver lining in every step of the journey

One year of finding the silver lining in every step of the journey

Indeed, time flies. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started this blog. And reading through some of my posts, I can’t help but feel that I’ve somehow learned how to enjoy life more, to make life count a bit more.

Funny how in some ways, I have gone through a 360 degree change but deep down, I’m still the same David who one year ago started this blog with a purpose. This same purpose I guess is what has enabled me to continue blogging about my experiences, learnings and adventures. 

And no matter how much I’ve changed since the day I started my blog, January 23, 2013, I’m actually still the same curious student of life with a bit more love for writing, but just as perplexed with the obscurities of life as I ever was.

Continue reading

SAT subject tests — One Last Time

It’s been quite a while since I last blog. A lot has happened since the fourth quarter has started yet central to everything I’ve been doing in the past few days and weeks is one thing — reviewing for the SATs, one last time.

And finally, this is it. Tomorrow is the day I take my SAT subject tests. Barring any craziness in the future, this will be the last time I’ll be taking the SATs.

It has honestly been a crazy adventure that has gotten me studying like I’ve never studied before. I’ve carried my biology and math books to places I’d never even think of studying in. I’ve poured almost every ounce of my energy and glucose in an attempt to master all the concepts I’ll be needing. Continue reading