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What's it like Working with Crimson?

02 JUL 2021

Hi! My name is Laetitia Ohayon. I am a senior in high school and a student with Crimson for almost two years!

I was born in Florida and moved to New York City when I was eleven years old. My love for cosmopolitan areas and a myriad of other factors helped me and my Crimson team shape my college list and ultimately choose Barnard’s class of 2025!

I attended Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School (SAR), a competitive high school based in The Bronx, New York. I was involved in many different clubs in high school and engaged with my classmates, teachers, and the larger SAR community. I founded two clubs while in high school: Seekers Club and French Club. The Seekers Club provided an opportunity to discuss philosophical truths and teachings about life, the universe, and human nature. This club helped me learn to listen, dissect problems or issues strategically, and think critically about ambiguous and intellectual topics.

In the French Club, I served as Founder and President and immersed students and teachers in French culture through presentations, conversations, and verbal practice of French phrases. My family is culturally diverse, so we celebrate different customs and languages. My mother is from Russia, and my father, originally from Morocco, spent much of his life in France. I speak French fluently, which inspired me to found the French club.

Outside of my academic and extracurricular ventures at school, I found an interest in medicine. I explored it by interning at a couple of plastic surgeons’ offices, where I observed surgeries and provided external support to both the surgeon and patients. I also spent much of my time writing articles for medical and science journals, attending my school’s Bioethics club meetings, and taking a neuroscience course through Columbia University.

I also dedicated time to volunteering at local food banks and peer tutoring for biology students.

How Crimson Helped Me

I found Crimson during my junior year of high school. My mom attended a Crimson seminar for parents of high schoolers in New York City.

My Crimson team consisted of an Education Coordinator, Strategist, Extracurricular Mentor, and Application mentor. First, Crimson paired me with my EduCo, Drea, and then with one of Crimson’s expert strategists, Sana, who worked with me to build a balanced college list with safety, target, and reach schools.

While I initially came to Sana with a list, Sana pointed out lesser-known yet still prestigious colleges and universities for me to consider. Sana took into consideration that I wanted to attend a college in an urban, fast-paced area and factored in my interests. She helped me rank the colleges in order of preference and importance, which helped clarify my goals. I appreciated that she was realistic but also hopeful and supportive.

Sana and I eventually decided that applying early decision to Barnard was the best approach. Originally, Columbia was my dream school, but the more research I did about Barnard, the more I realized that it would be a better place for me. Sana and I concluded that Barnard was a more practical decision due to the tight-knit community and smaller-sized classes. Crimson works with students to aim for top universities and create an application list, ensuring they end up at their best-fit school and excel as both students and members of the community.

I was surrounded by fast-paced progression in New York City, but my family and school were traditional and conservative. I didn’t have people, particularly women, to show me there were alternative ways to live and that being different was okay. One of the reasons I chose Barnard was because I wanted to work alongside empowering female figures. My Education Coordinator and Strategist worked together to help me throughout my entire journey. They kept me organized and helped keep me on track.

Education Coordinators are the student success manager of the team. They ensure that both the students and mentors are working to the best of their abilities. They make sure students are hitting their milestones and deadlines by mediating communication between all team members, parents, and students.

Extracurricular Help and My Capstone Project

One of the most significant aspects of my application was the capstone project I completed with one of Crimson’s extracurricular mentors, Mitashee. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked with Mitashee to launch Project Career, a platform to help students explore various career paths that their schools or traditional upbringings may not have exposed them to. I’m proud to report that since late July, when the site officially launched, we reached over 3200 visitors!

Project Career’s goal is to tell students about the career options available to them. By doing so, I hope to empower young people to explore these choices and live more fulfilling lives.

Working with Mitashee to bring this project to life was very helpful. Her guidance and advice heightened the professionalism and impressiveness of Project Career.

Moreover, Mitashee, a senior at Princeton University, was a hardworking inspiration who taught me many other valuable skills, giving me a head start in the workforce and academic world. Some of these skills included cold-emailing professors or employers for internships and how to write resumes.

Essay Mentoring and Application Support

I worked closely with one of Crimson’s app mentors, Liana, who helped me write my personal essay and three supplemental essays for Barnard. Liana is such a great writer, which is essential when it comes to working on these essays.

The process began with a series of one-hour meetings where we discussed and analyzed my life. While we had deep conversations, she took notes on everything and remembered what we could use as a topic for the common app essay. We ended with five ideas for my personal statement. We talked about essay format, what I would need to do to make a strong essay, how to incorporate values and lessons, etc.

Working with Liana was incredibly helpful. Her critique was constructive and swift. Throughout this essay-writing journey, I feel like I learned a lot about myself. The writing process was unexpectedly introspective, and I got to know myself and my family better in the process. My personal statement focused on my traditional roots and upbringing and how I found my path, forging my own beliefs and understanding of the world around me.

My Acceptance to Barnard

My parents and I didn’t have any knowledge of the college process. We were lost. I’m the firstborn of five kids, so my family and I had never been through this process. With Crimson’s help, I learned what colleges wanted and how to get into top-tier schools. I took my studies seriously and focused on getting admitted to a prestigious college. I am grateful to Crimson for their help in helping me achieve my goals.

Laetitia O.

Written by

Laetitia O.

Laetitia is an undergraduate student at Barnard College of Columbia University and is planning to major in Biology on the pre-med track. Laetitia loves to write, bake, travel, immerse herself in the diverse cultures of her family, and learn more languages. Currently, Laetitia lives in New York and enjoys roaming around the city, reading & baking some more, interning with plastic surgeons, and speaking French.