Tag Archives: college

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.

Connecting the Dots I’ve Collected in My First 3 Months in College

*This was first posted in my column at the Huffington Post.

It was three months ago when I first step foot on my college campus, but it seems as though so many things have happened already. The amount of things I’ve experienced in such a short period of time is unbelievable. The ability of college to expose you to a variety of fields that cover almost every part of every spectrum is unparalleled.

In these first three months alone, I’ve learned something new every single day. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with people from every continent, and interact with people, one year ago, I could’ve only dreamt of meeting. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet and learn from multi-talented students, serial entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, venture capitalists, non-profit leaders, award-winning journalists, renowned professors and unique individuals who inspire me to carve my own path.

davido1

At the same time, my definition of college has constantly changed every waking moment I’ve spent here in college. One day, I’m so set that college is supposed to prepare me for the workforce by teaching me practical skills. Then the next day, I read an article talking about college being the place where you should be taking advantage of the opportunity to learn things that genuinely interest you like philosophy, acting, art and other things that most people call “useless.” I then ask myself, “why can’t I just major in life?” Continue reading

Paul Graham’s Best Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs: JUST LEARN! (Notes from CS183B: How to Start a Startup Lecture 3)

Paul Graham was the guest speaker for this week's lecture

Paul Graham was the guest speaker for this week’s lecture

Not as many people showed up for this week’s viewing lecture for “CS183B: How to Start a Startup” but nonetheless, the discussion group proved to be really interesting and insightful as we not only discussed key points in the lecture but we also talked about problems we faced and how we could solve them. It was really interesting how we ended up talking about very diverse fields from machine learning to education to media and journalism to weather, wearables and smart fabric to networking and starting a startup in college. (You can jump straight to our discussion group’s points by scrolling down to the last part).

You can view resources for the class here: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/

My overall takeaway from today though was that there’s no set-way or formula to starting a startup. There are certain things that worked for some entrepreneurs that didn’t work for other entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, starting a startup is really just about having an idea, getting cofounders, building a product users love, getting feedback from users, committing your time to your startup then just LEARNING every step of the way.

Continue reading

Businesses That Caught My Eye in the Wharton Business Plan Competition Venture Finals

Businesses that caught my eye in the Wharton Business Plan Competition Venture Finals

Just recently, I attended the Wharton Business Plan Competition Venture Finals. Every one of the finalists’ business ideas was all really amazing but there were three businesses in particular that really caught my eye. These were SlideJoy, Identified Technologies and AdmitSee – all for very different reasons.

SlideJoy giving their elevator pitch to the audience! ---"Knowledge is the muscle of Business" ---

SlideJoy giving their elevator pitch to the audience! —“Knowledge is the muscle of Business” —

SlideJoy — “You get paid to view ads”

Whenever we see ads popping out in websites or our smartphones, we never really click them. And during the times we do, it’s probably by accident. This is the problem alot of companies face in trying to promote their products. Enter SlideJoy and their very creative solution to this problem — pay people to view these ads.

This is what SlideJoy was pushing for, and it was probably one of the reasons why they ended up winning the entire competition. I mean, they just basically went against all odds and created an application that pays you to click on ads?? Talk about innovation! If I had an Android phone, I’d make sure to get this app!

SlideJoy - "You get paid to view ads!"

SlideJoy – “You get paid to view ads!”

Find out more on how you can get paid for swiping on the advertisments on your lock-screen by checking out their website at: https://www.getslidejoy.com/about and don’t forget to start downloading SlideJoy!! 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!!!

Finally a High School Graduate (Repost from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/155231/finally-a-high-school-graduate

Right before graduation!

Right before graduation!

High school flew by so quickly. I couldn’t believe I was sitting there, ready to graduate. We were finally at the finish line, about to walk up that stage to get our diploma.

It’s amazing how much all of us have changed over the past few years. Going through all our photos, I realized much has happened since we entered high school. Some of us have gotten fatter, while others have gotten thinner. Some of us have gotten into relationships, while others have explored various activities, ranging from academics to athletics and extracurricular activities.

High school was about growing up and discovering ourselves, trying new things and exploring our interests. It was also about getting acquainted with the opposite sex, hanging out with friends and learning how to socialize. It was about finding a group to be part of, or in local terms, a barkada. But more importantly, high school was about learning how to care not only about ourselves, but also about the people around us.

As I went through the Facebook timeline of my different batchmates right before graduation, I couldn’t help but feel sentimental as I remembered the different experiences we had had in Xavier School.

Honestly, it was only this past year that I really learned how to fully appreciate my Xavier education, which has given me a plethora of unique experiences like the One2One Program (where we got to use laptops in class), the SM Immersion Program (where we got to experience being an SM employee), the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Entrepreneurship Project (where we partnered with GK social enterprises) and a myriad of other programs and activities.

But now the challenge is using all these to try and make a bigger impact on society as we move to the next chapter of our lives. We may not know how exactly we can make a difference in such a complicate d world, but I firmly believe that our generation will find a way.

Our generation is known as the one that has been given the gift of being able to share every single moment in our life. We have gone through our high school years documenting every memory and sharing them with the world with the different social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And it’s exciting to guess what this connectedness and advancements in technology will do for us in the future, as we enter the next chapter of our lives.

Separate ways

Nothing will ever be the same. I will honestly miss seeing the faces of each one of my classmates from section A. I will miss the A-men and H4A, the class that taught me that school isn’t all about the grades; it’s also about learning how to have fun in life. They taught me how to value every member of the class, and how to simply enjoy the moment.

Although we may be going to different universities in the Philippines and abroad, we will always carry with us the values and skills that we learned in Xavier School—from cramming assessments, going on service programs and class retreats, and reflecting upon all these experiences.

As I look back at the past year, I couldn’t have asked for more. It’s perfectly fitting that I end my senior year by thanking everyone who has made a difference in my life over the past 18 years, and more specifically this year.

Thank you to my family for their never-ending support, and for being there with me every step of the way. Thank you so much to all my teachers who taught me lessons both in and out of the classroom. Thank you to my coaches and mentors for challenging me and for bringing out the best in me. Thank you, Xavier School, for teaching me how to make the most of my talents, and to always strive for excellence.

At the start of this school year, after I tore my anterior cruciate ligament, I wasn’t sure how exactly the year would turn out. But I told myself that I would make the most of my last year in Xavier School by joining as many activities as I could and by giving my best shot both in academics and extra-curricular activities.

Yet, throughout the year, I realized that senior year was more than just about the test scores, college applications, achievements or the clubs and committees I joined.

Senior year was extremely memorable because I chose to spend more time with the people I care about. It was about choosing to make new friends and cherish old ones. It was about choosing to stay that extra hour in school so I could spend more time with my friends. It was about turning every single day in class into a shared experience. And finally, it was about turning every single experience into a memorable one.

So, thank you to all my friends, who have made this senior year of mine the perfect encapsulation of what a journey it has been. May we never forget the little wonders, small hours and shared experiences we spent with each other because 10, 20 years from now, when we cross paths once again, we will be looking back at high school as some of the best years in our life.

Class picture :)

Class picture 🙂

 

Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/155231/finally-a-high-school-graduate#ixzz2xGcZizuQ
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The “Last Full Show”, and A Dance That Doesn’t End Here

It was around a month ago when I ballposed to my friend from ICA through the newspaper http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/152132/will-you-go-to-the-ball-with-me and in a blink of an eye, our Grad Ball is all over. That was it, our last full show.

We weren’t little kids anymore running around the playground.  We weren’t high school freshmen anymore excited for all the interactions with girls’ schools. We were fine young gentleman enjoying one of the last events in high school.

Time certainly didn’t wait for us. So many things have happened since we’ve stepped on the grounds of Xavier School. A lot of us have gone through so many different things in the last 4 years in high school, yet here we all were gathered for one last time.

For one night we got to sit down with our dates and appreciate everything we’ve been through in high school. They say that the Grad ball is a rite of passage, a last event that is supposed to celebrate the end of high school; and true enough, it was and so much more.

Many thanks to Mai Ting for making my "Last Full Show" a memorable one :)

Many thanks to Mai Ting for making my “Last Full Show” a memorable one 🙂

As they played the throwback and grad ball video, I couldn’t help but feel sentimental as pictures starting from our very first day in Xavier School to the Grad ball event itself flashed. Yet, part of me didn’t want to believe that the night was soon coming to an end. As I dropped my date off her house and said good bye, I couldn’t believe how just like that another last in high school was over. Continue reading