Changing Course: From NTU's Medical School to Columbia University

In the 2018 application cycle, Ryan C. received acceptances to five US universities ranked in the top 30, including 2 Ivy League schools. 


However, Ryan's path to success wasn't easy, or straightforward. Growing up, his role model was his father, who worked hard as a dental surgeon seven days a week to provide his son with all the opportunities he lacked while growing up in Malaysia.

My admiration of him was the main reason behind my initial pursuit of a medical career, following in his footsteps.

After finishing JC, Ryan enrolled in the medical programme at NTU, itself one of the world's most prestigious institutions of higher learning. After three years studying medicine, however, he began to doubt his choice of career.

I had spent almost 3 years in medical school but found the career path and the mundane nature of hospital life a very stifling one, which was at odds with my personality... Never mind the fact that I had other interests that I loved; Monday nights as a local grassroots and political activist; the thrill of the investment world, blue chips and virtual currencies; those weekend stints as a session musician and busker; blogging about my wild escapades in the food-crazy streets and back alleys of Singapore.

Ryan wanted a more well-rounded, liberal arts-style education overseas - one that would enable him to explore all of his interests. But he had two main challenges: 

    1.    Family and faculty resistance to his plan was fierce.

There is...a prescription for everything in Singapore. When I decided to enrol in medical school, I'd checked a box that would bring me a step closer to that stereotypical ideal career. When I decided I wanted to quit, the protests from faculty and parents were fierce! You have done so well till now, they all said. Why give up a good future?

    2.    Applications to the US are far more complex than university applications in Singapore.

In Singapore, students simply submit their exam results to be considered for a university spot. The application process in America involves myriad forms, waivers, essays, declarations and submissions.

As a non traditional student who had never applied to a US college, I was very much foreign to the entire application process. Additionally, having already left high school, I no longer had access to the various resources such as college counsellors and seniors to consult with; I was very much flying blind.

Ryan came to Crimson Education to help him combat these challenges, and received holistic support from a team of expert admissions consultants, mentors, and tutors. 

If my pre-existing accomplishments and interests were rough diamonds, Crimson was the polish in helping refine these passions. For instance, I am very much a self-taught investor. Crimson networks brought me in contact with career investors such as Jamie Beaton, the youngest analyst of Tiger Management; my encounters with him equipped me not only with practical skills which I could apply to my own investment strategies, but also groomed my understanding of hedge funds and a budding interest in working as a fund analyst.

His advisors went beyond helping him navigate the process and sharing tips on essay-writing - they augmented his interest in food and its ability to unite people to birth "Makan&Mingle" sessions, where Ryan invited fellow foodies from across the world to sit down together for a good lunch and hearty conversation. This endeavour seamlessly integrated my interests in food and culture - While we live in a divided world, the snaking queue of any popular eatery is a melting pot of race, culture and religion, united by a single cause - the prospect of a good meal.

What made the biggest difference to Ryan, however, was not the advice of his counsellors but rather the support he got from his peers in the Crimson network. 

In my opinion, Crimson's greatest asset is its vast network of high-achieving College students and alumni. Gaining membership into the hallowed halls of Ivy League colleges is as exciting as it is daunting; the Crimson network opened the doors to invaluable access to seniors who had walked down this similar path before, who were always on hand to allay my various fears and insecurities, as well as lend much-needed emotional support throughout my journey.

Building a diverse and interesting profile is key to securing a spot in top US universities. As a prospective investor, Ryan is spoiled for choice, with acceptances to Columbia, Cornell, NYU Stern, USC, and U Michigan. 

Ryan will attend Columbia university as a freshman in August 2018. Looking back, he has a few parting words on building a meaningful life:

It is so easy to cruise, buoyed by the current of being mainstream. I would encourage you to pursue a future to be determined by personal choice, and not by societal expectation.


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