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Brown University

June 18, 2024


Brown University: Anotida Mufuvadze

Podcast Transcript

Transcript organized for clarity and readability

Anotida Mufuvadze, Ashish Bhargava

Ashish Bhargava: Welcome to our podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time. We look forward to learning from you and having this conversation. To get us started, would you share a bit more about your background and what inspires you?

Anotida Mafuvadze: My name is Anotida. I'm from Kansas City, Missouri, but I'm originally from Zimbabwe, Africa. My family and I immigrated when I was three years old. What inspires me the most is just being an immigrant trying to make my parents proud and achieve the American Dream. I'm from the Midwest, and my family inspires me the most.

Ashish Bhargava: That's awesome. So, Anotida, you're heading to Brown this fall. Congratulations, that's exciting!

Anotida Mafuvadze: Thank you.

Ashish Bhargava: It should be a great time. Can you help us understand when you decided to aim for Ivy League colleges? I mean, Brown is a tough one to get into, so we'd love to understand the start of your journey.

Anotida Mafuvadze: When people ask me why I wanted to go to Brown or when I started thinking about the Ivy League, I always tell them about a conversation I had with my brother. He's definitely been one of my biggest inspirations. During my freshman year, we were walking down the street, and he asked me where I wanted to go to school. At that time, I wanted to live in California because I love warm weather. My dream was one of the UC schools. He casually mentioned Stanford, and I was shocked. I didn't think I could get into Stanford, but he told me that if I worked hard and got good grades and test scores, I could. That conversation completely changed my perspective. I started focusing more on school and less on social media.

Ashish Bhargava: That's a great story. So, how many colleges did you apply to, and how many accepted you?

Anotida Mafuvadze: I applied early decision to Brown because it was my top choice, and I got in, so I didn't need to apply to other schools. I applied to a few schools early action but rescinded those applications once I got into Brown.

Ashish Bhargava: What was your selection criteria for reach, target, and safety schools?

Anotida Mafuvadze: It was tough to figure out because you don't know where you stand in relation to others. My reach was Brown, and my targets were UNC and UVA. I looked at the common data sets like test scores and GPA. If I was in the 50th percentile, I considered it a target. I didn't treat Ivy League schools as targets; they were always reaches.

Ashish Bhargava: How did you learn more about colleges before applying?

Anotida Mafuvadze: Look at the questions they ask in their applications. Their supplemental essays indicate what they're looking for. Also, visit their websites and watch videos from current students. College visits can be helpful but are not always necessary. I haven't visited Brown yet, but I knew it was the right fit for me based on other research.

Ashish Bhargava: What was your strategy for picking recommenders?

Anotida Mafuvadze: It's crucial to have recommenders who know you well. I had recommendations from three teachers, one of whom was my debate coach, and a fourth from a nonprofit leader I worked with outside of school. This helped provide a well-rounded view of who I am both academically and personally.

Ashish Bhargava: How did you prepare for the ACT?

Anotida Mafuvadze: My highest composite score was a 34, and my super score was a 35. I was valedictorian of my class. For the ACT, getting a tutor was the best advice I received. It's a unique test that requires specific strategies. My science score improved significantly after just a few tutoring sessions.

Ashish Bhargava: What extracurricular activities did you participate in, and how did you showcase leadership?

Anotida Mafuvadze: I focused on activities where I could take on leadership roles. I was president of the debate team, vice president of student government, and involved in a diversity club. Outside of school, I founded a branch of a nonprofit for youth. I aimed to create a cohesive story through my activities to present a clear image to admissions officers.

Ashish Bhargava: How important are awards and recognition in the application process?

Anotida Mafuvadze: Awards are important but not everything. Commitment and effort in activities also matter. I won a national debate award, which showed my dedication and potential to contribute to college programs. It's about demonstrating a strong work ethic and the ability to excel.

Ashish Bhargava: How did you approach writing your college essays?

Anotida Mafuvadze: I started with a unique prompt about gratitude, which helped set me apart. I spent a lot of time perfecting my essays and had teachers review them. The essay should show who you are outside of your achievements, as admissions officers already know about your academic success.

Ashish Bhargava: Did you do an interview for Brown?

Anotida Mafuvadze: No, they don't require interviews, but I submitted a video portfolio.

Ashish Bhargava: How did you manage the cost of attending a four-year school?

Anotida Mafuvadze: Leverage financial aid offers from multiple schools if possible. Don't be intimidated by the sticker price of top schools; they often have substantial financial aid available. Apply for scholarships to help cover costs.

Ashish Bhargava: What do you think Ivy League schools look for in an applicant?

Anotida Mafuvadze: They look for students who can keep up with the academic rigor and fit into their culture. It's not just about being the best but about how you align with the school's values and community.

Ashish Bhargava: What advice do you have for balancing schoolwork, extracurriculars, and the college application process?

Anotida Mafuvadze: Give yourself time and take breaks. Have others review your work to catch things you might miss. Maintain relationships and let them help you find balance. It's tough, but it's important to stay connected with people.

Ashish Bhargava: What’s your take on what GoodGoblin is doing to help college applicants?

Anotida Mafuvadze: GoodGoblin is providing a valuable service by helping students from college matches to putting together their applications and beyond. It's important to have support through this process, and GoodGoblin offers tools and guidance that can make a significant difference.

Ashish Bhargava: Thank you so much for taking the time, Anotida. We wish you the best at Brown.

Anotida Mafuvadze: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.