On May 2020, Jakarta International College was given the honour of hosting a webinar along with Parama Pradana Suteja and Yoriko Angeline. One of the most exciting insights came from Parama Suteja on how he managed to get into top universities and even got offered full scholarships.
In case you haven't heard, Parama Pradana Suteja made news at the beginning of the year due to his achievements. He not only managed to get into Harvard University, the USA for his master degree but also received a full scholarship. Another impressive feat is that he applied and got accepted to a total of 11 universities, including Harvard, Yale, Brown, MIT, and Princeton.
During our webinar, Parama also shared some crucial tips on how to be a High Achiever like him.
On how to get into top universities, and receive a scholarship.
Parama stated that "If you're a student that the university wants, then they actually would fight for you. If you make yourself interesting in some way, then they will fight for you so you can learn there. So that after you graduated, you can bring pride to the school or university."
How do you make yourself interesting for the schools you apply to?
Every year, schools will receive tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of applications from around the world. They only have 15-20 seconds to read your application. In those 15 seconds, you have to express yourself differently so that the school can be interested in you.
Being different can be explained through your background—The easiest way to understand someone's competence is through their experience and achievements. One of the examples would be your academic grades or your grade in school. Second would be what organization you joined. Do the organization support your major to go to graduate school, and the last one is a volunteer. Other than academic and leadership, they also want to see if you can show empathy for other people. If you guys can join volunteer work, in my case in the USA, it is crucial also.
Lastly, find a good mentor that can guide you. So you know the way to get into the school. How do to find a good mentor? If you want to find a good mentor, find one that is competent and is willing to help you. If he's capable but doesn't want to help you, it means nothing. If he wants to help you but is not competent, that the result won't is very efficient because he doesn't know what he is doing. One of the good thing to find a mentor is to find someone who went to the school that you want to go to because they know what the right thing to do to go there is.
Parama's experience in campus organizations
During college, before he went to UCB, Parama was part of the ACE Club (architecture Construction Engineering Club) and ESC (Engineering Student Council where he was an officer) brand manager for ACE Club, Creative coordination for ESC. It can be a plus if you hold a position in the organization.
When asked who Parama look up to and who his inspirations are
"I have a lot. The first would be my mentors, my seniors, who have guided me so far. And it's good for everyone to have more than one mentors because they will give you multiple perspectives to guide you to get to the school that you want. My architecture inspiration would be the architect that I work for during my time in Japan."
How many schools did Parama apply to? And how many gave him a scholarship?
I applied to eleven graduate schools; the schools are Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Columbia, Yale, HEN, RICE, UCLA, Cornell, Berkeley, USC. 7 Gave scholarship offers. And I'm grateful to get the opportunity.
We also asked Parama what he envisions himself to be in 20 years.
At first, I thought I would start my firm and do whatever architectural firm I want to do. But after I have been in the field for the past years, I've been thinking to do something more than that, to have my skills to help people. Because I believe that is more important than just having projects. It is also one of the main reasons that I went to Japan to learn from the architects that use their skill to help humanity. So I hope in the future that I could both build buildings but also build humans, by helping others and supporting others.
What is a success for Parama?
Success is a moment when you learn something. When you're successful, you gain something. Even if you fail, you still gain or learn something. For me, it is one of the main things that could lead you up to a better future.
Parama's tips for studying and succeeding?
"The most important thing for you to be successful and in this case to get to the school you want to go to is to be different in a positive way. Which means that you can differentiate yourself from other candidates in a good way so the university would be very interested in you."
"In studying, you need to make a long term plan, a medium-term plan, and a short term plan, which means that you know what you want to achieve in the next six months or year. And by that time you could have another plan, a smaller plan that could guide you in medium-term. It would be best if you also prepare short-term plans, like daily plans or weekly plans. And it has helped me in my career and my education for the past years".
And as I mentioned before, having a mentor is the key for you to get your success."
Parama's tips on staying focused
"Laziness came from temptation and opportunity. Temptation, in my case, would be social media like Instagram, Tiktok, and other social media. But the opportunity is when you take your phone and use the app. So when staying focused, you can control the opportunity. The apps would always be there; Instagram, Tiktok, Mobile Legend, and all those apps will always be there. But the thing that you can control is when you don't have your phone with you. So if you want to study, just put your phone away. Or sometimes I would delete the apps for a few days during my exam."
During our talk with Parama, we also found out that he achieved the first rank in his high school for five semesters.
Therefore, we asked Parama how long he had to study to achieve that kind of academic achievements?
It varies, but I'm the kind of person that when I study, I try to focus on what I'm doing. So I go 6-8 hours a day when there's an exam. When there's not, then it's okay. When there's no exam, I usually hang out with people. For me
For students, studying can be challenging and stressful sometimes. Here's Parama's answer on how to manage stress
Things that make you feel difficult is when you see a problem as a whole or as a big chunk. The way overcome it is by cutting it into smaller things that I could manage. So when you face a problem, you got to plan and make that problem into smaller problems. That way, you could overcome your stress.