Name: Vedya Sharma
University & Graduation Year: Wesleyan University,Class of 2022
High School: JESS Arabian Ranches
Major/Program: Psychology

1. What was the biggest surprise about college life? Coming from Dubai, were there any specific challenges you faced or adjustments you had to make?

I failed to anticipate the level of independence you get at college, especially when you’re so far away from where you grew up. I remember I struggled a lot with discipline freshman year, and I was so focused on fun that I left work and chores to the last minute, so I’d be in the laundry room at 5am when I finally had no clean underwear left. This was a surprise because I always thought I was good at keeping myself in check. As I grew older, I began to work out routines and strategies for efficiency, and my junior year was close to perfect when it came to balancing uni work, chores and fun.

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

Wesleyan is special to me because I find that so many people on campus, especially the people I surround myself with, are so creatively inclined. They prioritise their hobbies as much as they prioritise their academic work (sometimes more)! This is important to me as being around those people has allowed me to really delve in and work on my hobbies and explore my creative potential. I have achieved things that I thought I could only dream of when it comes to music and writing, and I am not shy to share my work with my friends! Another thing I adore is the interdisciplinary approach we take in many classes. I believe that this approach is incredibly important in order to understand and critique existing academic theories and social issues, and professors often welcome the sharing of personal experiences and cultural differences to deepen everyone’s understanding of a subject. This is something I really value. Wesleyan has a small population, so a lot of the classes are discussion-based, which I believe is really important to create an enriched learning environment.

Also, there are literally a million cherry blossom trees on campus that bloom wonderfully in the spring! So pretty.

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

I think Wesleyan has a reputation of being super artsy and edgy, which is true, but it is important to remember that there is a good experience waiting there for everyone, as there are so many different types of people at Wes.

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

I finally got into acting at Wesleyan, which is something I’ve always been passionate about but never really got the opportunity to do while I was in Dubai. So far I have done a play, four films, a musical and an acting class (I’m taking a second acting class next semester)! I also joined a new club called ‘Rebel Eaters Club’ my junior year, which works to critique and deconstruct diet culture and fatphobia. This is something I am very passionate about and it really is a safe space for all!

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

I think Diva was a HUGE help to my college admissions process, because I remember she told me that she thinks I would like Wesleyan. I trusted her and applied, got in, and I am loving it. Looking back, I think the most important thing really is considering whether or not you think you’d like the particular school you’re going to apply to/pick. So you have to research it a little bit, and see if it excites you. This can be in terms of academics, location, or overall vibe. It felt pretty intuitive when I chose Wes. I believe part of the reason I got in is because my personality matches Wesleyan’s collective personality, and I’m sure Diva saw it, as well as the admissions officers when they accepted me.

6. How has COVID altered your college experience? Do you have any specific advice about attending college in the post-pandemic world?

COVID interrupted my sophomore year, which was heading in the direction of being the best year of my life. It was heartbreaking. However, my junior year was completely immersed in the pandemic world, and I think I grew a lot. I returned to campus, like many others, even though my classes were online, and I found that I don’t mind online school at all. For me, a huge part of the college experience is the independence, and as long as I had that, I was fine. Online classes helped me feel comfortable participating in class, which is something I never used to do, but this year I would not shut up. I also developed wonderful relationships with my professors as they were easier to reach, and I was very rarely late to class, and I almost never skipped, which, I have to admit, is something that would happen quite often before COVID. My advice would be to really think about which classes you’re choosing, and, unless they are a major requirement, PLEASE only take classes that genuinely interest you. There is nothing more rewarding than being excited to go to class, discuss, and learn. It really is an amazing feeling. I finished my finals two weeks early both semesters this past year, mostly to get them out of the way, but partly because I was genuinely excited to write them and get feedback!