Name: Aryan Tah
University & Graduation Year: Emory University, 2021
High School: Gems Modern Academy, Dubai
Major/Program: BBA and Financial Economicsy

1. As a first-year student, what was the biggest surprise about college life? Were there any specific challenges you faced or adjustments you had to make?

Being an international student in a new country comes with challenges, like being extremely far away from family and losing touch with high school friends.
My first year was a lot of fun, but there were times where I wished I was sleeping in my own bed or was eating my mom’s food. It not only is the physical distance, but the time difference as well. As I got busier and busier in college I started to realize that there were only certain times of the day I could speak to my family – sometimes when it was midnight in Dubai or the other way around. With time, you sort of adjust to it and realize that contacting your family does require you to plan well. Many people don’t do this and fall in the trap of losing touch with family and friends! I would recommend scheduling the days and times you will speak with your parents, and Whatsapp groups are also great.

2. What makes your college special? What is your favorite thing about it?

People will say diversity and the great professors and that is true. However, from my own experience, it would have to be the opportunities to engage in student leadership. Emory has a very tight-knit culture where the school seems a lot smaller than it actually is. This familiarity means you enjoy the benefits of a small school while not actually being one. In my opinion, Emory accomplishes this through its diverse and well-funded student organizations and clubs. people love to express their passions and interests here and that creates a campus that is not only diverse in its people, but in abilities and perspectives as well. That is something that is truly special about Emory where a person can be involved in a Greek life organization, a business club, a dance club, a drama club, etc. – truly taking advantage of all that Emory offers. One of the things I highly recommend is engaging in these clubs and more importantly looking for leadership opportunities. The skills and perspectives I have learned from these extracurriculars have helped me the most so far.

3. Are there any misconceptions out there about your college? What would you like to share with students who might be considering applying?

The main misconception would be that Emory is very competitive. Most people would say that Emory is a very academic school where people enjoy the heavy coursework and love to push themselves. This is true. Emory consists of people who are passionate about what they are studying and love immersing themselves in academics. Having said that, people are not competitive. There is a difference between being academically inclined and being cut-throat competitive and in my experience, Emory students realize that. People here love collaboration and most often than not, you will be in study groups for your harder classes. Moreover, upperclassmen love mentoring and have no problems giving advice and sharing notes. Almost every single class I have had, I have made new friends who I cram with before that exam or final paper. Finding this in a top tier school is hard. Hence, when most websites and people say Emory students are very academically inclined – it is, but in a different way.

4. Are you involved in any clubs, teams, or other extracurricular activities? If so, tell us how this has shaped your college experience.

Like I mentioned earlier, getting involved in student leadership early on was probably the best thing I did to develop myself at Emory. As a freshman, I knew that I wanted to engage in social clubs to meet new people. I loved making new friends, going out and having a good time and Emory’s Greek life was perfect for me. It was not as intense as state schools but still had that strong brotherhood and network that I wanted. There is a reason why a third of Emory students are engaged in Greek life.

Additionally, I was passionate about business and leadership and I wanted to hone my professional skills. One of the biggest chances I got was later in my freshman year when I was selected to serve on the executive board of a small environmental club – the Undergraduate Sustainability Group. It was a very proud moment for me. I put in a lot of time and effort into it eventually becoming the treasurer of the group. Managing the club’s funds taught me valuable money management skills and helped me become more decisive and organized throughout my time in college. My experience at USG then led me to become my fraternity’s treasurer, which was a much bigger step. I had to maintain and budget over $70,000 per year and was in charge of all of the fraternity’s cash flow. I was able to learn from the experience and grew more and more confident in my role. Eventually, I got nominated to serve as the VP of Finance for the Greek Council, which oversees the entire Greek community at Emory. As I kept getting new roles, I made new friends, which led me to have better opportunities. As I go into my third year, I will be joining Emory’ College Council as the VP of Audit, overseeing the budget and expenses for over 120 clubs. My experiences with all these different extracurriculars have taught me the importance of being hungry to learn, lead, and grow.

5. If you could give your 11th grade self any advice about college admissions, what would you say? Having been through the college admissions process, what is the biggest lesson you learned?

Enjoy the process!

I remember I was constantly stressed about predicted grades, extracurriculars and worst of them all – standardized tests. It was a difficult time for me but as I reflect now, I realize that I overcomplicated it too much. The stress of college admissions was always on my mind – at school, at home, even at parties – making it very hard to cope with. With every one bickering at you on about what they think you should do and how you should do it, I feel like it is important to just be yourself and take some time to enjoy. Looking back on it I wish I was more excited about the prospect of choosing colleges and starting somewhere new. Choosing a college is perhaps the most important decision you will make thus far in your life. Just remember to enjoy, believe in Diva and back yourself throughout the process.