Gina Bagnulo News Editor, The Pawprint
Kanak Gupta, Class of 2020 has made DAA’s student spotlight in being accepted to several Ivy League universities, including institutions such as Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell. Gupta, did the rigorous IB diploma program during her last 2 years at DAA before deciding on pursuing, “future intersections of engineering and liberal arts” at Princeton.
As the idea of getting accepted to one yet alone multiple Ivy League universities is a dream for almost every member of the DAA student body, The Pawprint decided to conduct an interview with Kanak to discover how she accomplished something that most people only dream of.
Would you say that you are naturally smart?
I think that I’m gifted with some natural abilities but I’ve definitely worked hard on developing my skills.
Do you think you worked harder than most people during your time at DAA?
I have probably worked as hard as others in the top quartile of my class. In general, I would say that the class of 2020 is comprised of a lot of people who are ambitious, hard-working and dedicated.
Are your work methods, “little and often”, or do you save most of your work until later and cram?
Little and often. Even during vacations, I made it a point to balance work and enjoyment by taking out some time for work.
It is thought that successful kids have parents with high expectations, do you think your parents have high expectations?
I think that my parents probably did have high expectations of me, but they never put undue pressure on me.
Did you have to give up any of your extracurriculars to achieve your dream, especially while doing the IB program?
I gave up one or two extracurriculars in senior year that I had tried out in the previous year but did not enjoy. However, I did continue to participate in activities that I was passionate about and committed to. In my opinion, it’s important to make time for extracurriculars even during the rigorous IB program because it will not only allow you to explore different interests but also help you develop strong time management skills which will be essential during college.
How did you make your decisions on which schools you wanted to apply to?
To build my college list, I started off by doing preliminary research on many different universities to better understand what opportunities they offer, what kind of community they foster, and how they are reputed in engineering (which is what I intend on majoring in) amongst other things. Based on my findings, I started to compile an initial, not-so-succinct college list. I condensed this list based on my experience with visiting several university campuses during the summer before senior year. Being on campus and talking to students gave me a real sense of each college’s culture and helped me determine whether I would fit in and be happy at that institution. Word of caution though: while visiting colleges can be invaluable in finding the right fit for you, it is important to consider other factors too. Personally, I didn’t love my Princeton tour because I didn’t get to see a lot of the facilities and I couldn’t quite gauge the university’s “vibe” as there weren’t many students on campus during summertime. After my tour, I considered not applying to Princeton but I’m so glad that I ultimately did because the university offers a lot of great opportunities to grow and pursue various interests.
I would definitely advise people who can’t visit university campuses to do their virtual tour and send an email to admissions officers asking to get in touch with current students. Talking to students can be very helpful when deciding where to apply.
Once you had all of your acceptances how did you make your final decision?
After receiving my acceptances, I first decided whether I wanted to study engineering at a more tech-focused school (like Georgia Tech) or one that emphasizes the liberal arts (like the Ivy Leagues). I opted for the latter because though I intend on being an engineer, I have a wide variety of other academic interests like philosophy which I want to continue to pursue.
Amongst the Ivy Leagues, Princeton really stood out to me because of its undergraduate focus: the university’s graduate school is rather small so the college pours all of its resources into the undergraduate school. As a result, professors who are at the forefront of their respective fields are eager to help undergrads and work with them to conduct research. In fact, one of the favorite things about the university is that it guarantees students the opportunity to conduct independent research with a faculty advisor for two years! I chose Princeton for its incredible opportunities and amazing community.
Kanak is an inspiration to the entirety of the DAA student body and has shown us all that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Dubai American Academy are proud to have had her as a student and wish her everlasting success at Princeton as well as all her future endeavours!