The Indian SCENE: Tell us about your high school experience (what clubs you were involved in, awards received, etc.).
Priya Jindal: I graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 2017. I was a student at Ottawa Hills Local Schools from kindergarten through the 12th grade, where I grew up with the same classmates and friends all those years. In high school, I participated in two of the spring musicals, the Spanish club, and was on the varsity tennis team for all four years. I also tutored elementary school students at Toledo Public Schools through the After School All Stars program. During the summers I volunteered at Flower Hospital. In the 12th grade, I received an award recognizing women interested in pursuing education in the STEM fields.
IS: When did you begin your college search? What aspects of a college were important to you?
PJ: I began my college search at the end of the 10th grade by reading about different colleges and touring some colleges near my home. I was looking for a college that was close to home so that I could see my family often, as well as strong in the sciences because I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the healthcare field. Also, I was interested in colleges that were in or close to cities so that I could explore the area outside of the campus.
IS: Did you visit campuses? If so, when did you start? What were your takeaways from these visits?
PJ: I visited several campuses, starting at the end of the 10th grade. Most of the colleges that I visited and toured were driving distance from my home, like those in Ohio and Michigan. My family also took a trip to Boston so that we could tour some colleges there. These visits gave me a better sense of campus life as well as an idea of how large of a college I wanted to attend.
IS: Tell us about the application process. Did you apply early decision or early action anywhere? How many schools did you apply to?
PJ: The application process was tedious, so I found starting early to be very helpful. I applied to 12 different colleges, ranging from reach schools to safe schools. I applied early action to all the schools that offered early action, because that increases the chances of being accepted by showing interest in the college. However, I did not apply early decision anywhere because I was not yet ready to make a committed decision.
IS: How did you eventually decide to attend your college?
PJ: After hearing back from the colleges that I was accepted to, I narrowed down my choices based on location. This was because I knew I wanted to stay closer to home. I was down to two colleges that were polar opposites – Case Western Reserve University and The University of Michigan. After considering the different colleges’ strengths, sizes, and scholarships, I decided to attend Case Western Reserve University. A smaller college seemed more suitable for my personality and goals.
IS: Is the student body diverse? Have you ever experienced any discrimination?
PJ: Case Western Reserve University has a very unique student population and campus life. The college is located right in the heart of urban Cleveland, Ohio. Campus buildings are situated on main roads and near the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, cultural areas such as Little Italy, and access to public transportation. The students are generally very hardworking and prioritize their studies, making Case Western Reserve University a great place to focus and make friends who also work hard in school. The student population is very diverse, and there is a large presence of international students on campus. I have friends from places like Ohio, California, Dubai, Puerto Rico, and Morocco. Greek life is also very popular on campus. There is no hazing, and instead the organizations are very welcoming and foster a community of personal development. Because the college is small, meeting with and building relationships with professors is quite easy. They are always willing to help and give advice. The professors also push their students to be more independent and challenge themselves. The workload for my classes was difficult at first, but became much more manageable once I got used to my routine and identified my strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, I would recommend studying abroad if interested. There are ways to fit studying abroad for a semester into any schedule (regardless of major) as long as it is planned for proactively. Studying abroad in Madrid was the highlight of my time in college! Overall, I would definitely say that you get out of your experience what you put into your time.
IS: Give us an overview on housing as a freshman and how you found your roommate.
PJ: I found my roommate freshman year on the Facebook group for incoming freshmen. Students would post their bios, interests, and living habits in search of a potential roommate who would work well with those habits. I reached out to a girl who seemed similar to me, and we hit it off well! Before deciding to room together, we met on campus at an accepted students event. That evening we decided to be roommates and now we are still best friends. We are living in a house together next year, too. Generally, freshman housing consists of doubles with one large hallway bathroom per floor. Each floor houses students of one gender but the entire building (four floors) is co-ed. The college is also very open to and accommodating of gender inclusive housing for students who may not identify as a particular gender!
IS: What’s some advice you wish you got when you were going through the college application process?
PJ: Looking back at the college application process, I wish I had more advice in searching and applying for scholarships. I did not have much of an idea on where to find scholarship opportunities on the different colleges’ websites. There are also independent scholarships that students can apply for.
IS: Tell us about your major/planned field of study and what you hope to do with it.
PJ: I am majoring in Spanish and am on the pre-med track. I plan to attend medical school once I graduate and then work in the field of pediatric critical care. I would love to organize and lead teams on mission trips to Central America several times a year, where we would set up clinics in different villages and provide medical care.
IS: What advice would you give parents of high school students when it comes to the college process?
PJ: I would advise parents to be open-minded and supportive of their children during the application process. It is likely that the child is even more confused or lost than the parents, just because there are so many options and factors to consider during the whole process. I would also advise parents to encourage their children to start their applications earlier rather than later. This increases the chances of being accepted and gives the student more time to proofread their application and essays before submitting!
IS: Anything else you want to share?
PJ: College is such an important part of self-growth and development. The first year can be especially challenging, as you are living somewhere new with a completely different routine, new friends, and no idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that feeling overwhelmed or lost is completely normal – you are not the only one! Spending time to maintain your mental health is extremely important and should be a top priority. Taking care of yourself is crucial in enjoying college and following your goals! Joining clubs that you are interested in is also super important! Colleges have clubs for pretty much everything, so it doesn’t hurt to sign up for a bunch and find out which ones you enjoy being a part of.
… favorite thing to do with your family?
Watch “Criminal Minds” or “Chicago PD” marathons on TV
…favorite type of food?
…favorite artist (actor, singer, author, painter, etc.)?
…favorite vacation spot?
US Virgin Islands