I hope you are happily anticipating this year’s summer courses/trips, if they have not begun already. My name is Malcolm Carson and I am a recent graduate of Columbia University.
I know my submission is a little late for this semester’s entry but as a recent graduate I wanted to wait a little bit longer until graduation and then give a more holistic view of my entire college experience.
The past four years have been quite a journey to say the least. From struggling through my freshman writing class all the way up to somehow completing last year’s quantum physics course. Attending, and more importantly, completing college is no small task, no matter what school you attend, and, as you can imagine, this is no different at an Ivy League school like Columbia.
However don't ever let any of the hardships you encounter break your spirit. As a member of the original class of ILC students and a Columbia graduate, I have a unique outlook on both the ILC experience and the actual Ivy League college experience. I can not tell you how important it was for me to participate with the ILC, as it prepared me for the academic rigors of college and it also helped to prepare me, a California high school student, for the social and physical environment that exists on the East Coast.
Those few weeks spent at Brown and Cornell definitely helped me to realize that I was able to keep up with highly intelligent students similar to what you are sure to encounter during your ILC summers. Although it didn't quite prepare me for those harsh winters that you are also sure to encounter, should you choose to attend college on the East Coast, I will be the first to tell you that once you make it through your ILC experience you will undoubtedly be adequately prepared for the intensity that exists at the college level.
I would be lying if I told you that your high school education and your ILC summers will prepare you for every single thing that college and life in general will throw at you. However, I can confidently tell you that both have given you more than enough of a foundation to survive and flourish in today's competitive world. In order to survive this though, one must have the fortitude to never give up no matter what your exam scores may say, no matter how small or unintelligent you may feel with respect to some of your peers, or no matter how homesick you may become. You must remember that you are worthy and able. Never let anyone—especially yourself—tell you that you can't do something or are unable to live up to the challenges that will be thrown at you. Just keep in mind that you are only ever competing against yesterday's version of you and every day is an opportunity to beat your old self. If you keep these things in mind you are sure to achieve whatever goals you set for yourself.
That being said I also want to say that both the ILC and the college experience is not simply about academics. Do not kill yourself by only hitting the books. Once you have done an adequate amount of studying for the day and you are confident that you have grown from yesterday's version of yourself, remember to take some time out for yourself and have a little fun. Go explore whatever city you are fortunate enough to be living in for the next few weeks. The ILC is not just about academic exposure but also about exposure to new environments, climates, and most importantly people. Be sure not to waste any of these aforementioned aspects. Keep balance within your experience and good luck to you all in your ILC endeavors and your college experiences as well.