Vibha’s “Are You Ready for College?” event a grand success
(Left) A portion of the student panel.
“What are the basics in a College Admission Process?”
“Is my child on the right track in this process?”
“Do I quality for scholarships?”
“What are our options?”
These questions and more were on the minds of more than 500 parents and students who attended Vibha’s “Are You Ready for College” informational seminar and panel discussion on July 29, 2017 at North Springs Charter School of Arts and Sciences in Atlanta.
“Having clarity on the admission process is very critical. As a parent, I felt the need for this when my son was going through this process. Later on, when my friends and his friends sought our assistance, we realized the need to create an event to disseminate this information. It was a huge success last year and we continued again this year,” said Sankara Narayana (Rek) Rekapalli. While continuing the student panel discussion, which was extremely popular both for students and parents, the event was expanded this year to include more experts on admission process, essay writing tips, and scholarships.
Highlight of the event was once again the Question/Answer session with the student panel consisting of 15 students from different backgrounds going to a variety of colleges. Dr. Maggie Wray, ICE-certified Academic Life Coach, and Dr. Joanne Max, College Planning Consultant, moderated the session and summarized each topic with their expert comments. Dr. Maggie Wray advised the students that “to find your true passion, you need to first do action. You have to try different things to figure out what interests you most.”
“Vibha’s event exposed me to tons of new opportunities and strategies to make my high school experience a lot better. Advice from the experts helped me to calm my nerves and feel more prepared going into high school, while the student panel provided a fresh perspective on the entire college process,” said Soumia Vellanki, a student who attended the event. A number of parents affirmed that the idea of students directly speaking to their children was the most effective way to motivate them and to understand the rigor of the college readiness process. “Kudos to Vibha for selecting students who are pursuing varied fields, as that provided a good balance and different perspectives,” said Uma Vempati, a parent.
Students' informal session.
After the student panel session, students and parents were separated into two different groups. Students mingled with the college-going students. Parents had their own panel discussion where the parents who had gone through this process and experts in the field of psychology answered questions from anxious parents who wanted to know the role to be played by parents in this college admission process. Since this session was restricted to only parents, more sensitive topics about peer pressure, stress management, and drug abuse were also discussed.
Keynote speaker Jim Beach.
The event began with keynote speaker Mr. Jim Beach, a serial entrepreneur and author of School for Startups, who emphasized the importance of networking during the college years in order to be successful later in life. This was followed by a methodical walk through of the admission process by Ms. Ginger Fay, director of Fay College Counseling. She outlined six important criteria common to admission to most colleges—Grades, SAT/ACT Scores, Academic Rigor, Extracurricular activities, Essay, and Testimonials. She elaborated on the finer points of writing an essay and emphasized the need to make it interesting and to present one’s individuality.
The final session was conducted by Mr. Stuart Canzeri, Co-Director at Peachtree Financial Group, on merit-based scholarships, need-based scholarships, and federal loans. He impressed upon parents not to discard any university at the outset because it is too expensive, but to understand the process that each college follows to determine financial eligibilities for different scholarships.
Vijay Vemulapalli, Secretary of Vibha, introduced Vibha as a social venture catalyst and gave the example of scaling up of Sikshana—working for quality education in public schools—from 15 schools in 2006 to 48,000 schools in the entire state of Karnataka, India. He made an impassioned plea to parents to support social causes on an ongoing basis as a percentage of their annual financial budget and set an example to their children and future generations. He also urged students to make volunteering an integral part of their life throughout their high school and college years.
Madhavi Korrapati, coordinator of the event, said that the response was overwhelming and a number of parents and students expressed that this event opened their eyes to opportunities and challenges that they were unaware earlier. This event will be held annually to continue to address all the facets of the college admission process. Even though the event was not billed as a fundraiser for Vibha, more than $10,000 was raised, including a generous donation from the Rekapalli Family.
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Student Panel: Members
Georgia Tech (Helena Weibel, Sreedhanya Veerapaneni), Princeton (Insiya Essani, Maya Eashwaran, Liz Bailey), Harvard (Cyrus Faruque, Prashanth Kumar), UGA (Tarun Ramesh), Dartmouth (Nidhi Rao), London School of Economics (Chandan Yendamuri), Stanford (Ashwin Ramaswami, Anshul Gupta), University of Pennsylvania (Anirudh Bikmal), MIT (Ryan Polk), and Cornell (Yashi Sanghvi).
Parent’s Panel: Members
Dr. Theodora Soublis, Mrs. Sucheta Kamath, Mr. Derrick Polk, Mr. Manish Sarda, Mr. Stuart Canzeri, and Dr. Maggie Wray.
Experts and panelists for the 2017 “Are You Ready for College?” program:
Vibha’s other events:
DreamMile, Women’s and Men’s Cricket Tournaments, and Vibe-Dancing with Stars.
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