The Next Big Thing: Zach Hill

It was important to Puxi campus senior Zach Hill ’22 that his college of choice is able to support his desire to not be locked into any one direction until he’s had a chance to experience them all, so come next year, he’s excited to be heading to Carleton College in Minnesota, where he will be joining a community that is able to support his breadth of passions and interests.

Tell us where you’ll be heading to next year, and what you plan to study there.

I’ll be going to Carleton College relatively undecided, which is okay for a liberal arts college. The reason I’m doing that is because I wanted to experience all that there is to offer before making up my mind. Right now, I’m leaning towards social studies and humanities, but I wanted to make sure I keep my options open, just incase I discover some sort of secret STEM class that I’m really interested in.

Tell us about your college application process. 

I was one of the ones that started on it in the summer. It was a little scary, but my college counselor helped a lot with double checking my essays, making sure I was on track, helping me understand what I should focus on in my essays and why I should write a certain way.

I think this is one of the key takeaways I have, having gone through this process, which is to start thinking about this early. It isn’t always possible to start in the summer, because there might be internships and other things you’re focusing on then, but if you can plan for the big essays in advance, that’s going to help you. Don’t worry as much about the supplemental ones until after you have your main essay nailed down. This is really important, this is what is going to describe your identity, and help tell (the colleges) who you are as a person. This will help lead you into some of your supplementals. But make sure that main essay is well thought out.

I personally went through multiple drafts and multiple iterations, and wrote thousands of words for my main essay. Thinking back, I wished I’d spent more time during the planning stage, it’d have helped me stayed more focused, in the beginning, on what direction to take. 

What was it like hearing about your acceptance?

I was with my mom and dad at the time. It was actually the morning of an exam, so it probably wasn’t the best way to start the day. But when I saw I was accepted, I screamed with joy, and we celebrated for a couple of hours. I went to that exam a lot better than I think I would have if I didn’t get in.

What are you looking forward to the most about college?

Experiencing something new that’s completely different from what I’ve experienced so far. I lived in Shanghai all my life, so going to American, especially to the midwest where maybe less people know about, is an experience that I’m looking forward to.

And what will you miss most about Shanghai?

Definitely the culture here. There are just certain traditions and customs here that you won’t necessarily get to experience on the same level in America, for example those associated to Chinese New Year. I won’t be able to find those same connections there, but at the same time, I’m trading them for new cultural things that I know I’d grow to love. 

Congrats on getting into your dream school, Zach! Carleton is incredibly lucky to have you.

Our seniors are off to amazing places around the world, and we are excited to be sharing those stories. Keep an eye out for our next edition of “The Next Big Thing”.

Hear more of Zach's story below:

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