High School Students, Yale University, US Colleges, College Admissions, College Applications, French, Study Abroad, DJ "> Podcast | Yale-Alum-Ike-Wilson-Learning-Languages--Studying-in-Europe-and-Lasting-Relationships-enrlpt


Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest 

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)  3-Minute Listen

As a member of the Yale University Alumni, Ike Wilson looks back at his Undergraduate Experience in this podcast. Ike Wilson is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in French.

Ike’s Yale experience is a combination of creative pursuits of expression, International Study and People Networking.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. “Yale was great!”
  2. Why Yale?
  3. Academic Transition to Yale
  4. Being Campus Radio DJ
  5. Applying to Yale

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Yale Alum Ike Wilson: Learning Languages, Studying in Europe and Lasting Relationships.

Ike loves languages. He studied French in middle school and Spanish in High School. He loves music. Ike wanted to go to a college that would allow him to pursue Languages, American Culture, and things international.

Ike Wilson is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in French. As an enthusiastic member of the Yale University Alumni, Ike shares his Undergraduate Experience in this podcast.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • Why Yale?
  • Adjusting to Academics at Yale
  • Residential Colleges and Activities
  • Study Abroad in Paris
  • Advice for Applicants

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction [0:34]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:27]
  • “Yale was great!” [5:15]
  • Yale: “I made the right choice” [8:04]
  • Varied Interests in High School [12:02]
  • Transition to Yale [15:10]
  • Peers: Smart, Down-to-Earth [24:29]
  • Engaging Lectures [27:20]
  • Residential College Life [30:05]
  • Being DJ, Writer on Campus [40:22]
  • Summers - Coaching, Teaching, Traveling [42:34]
  • Semester Abroad in Paris [47:49]
  • Yale Redo. What would you do differently? [52:29]
  • Advice to Applicants [54:47]
  • Fond Memories: The People [59:22]

Our Guest: Ike Wilson is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in French. Ike is currently pursuing a Master’s in Journalism at New York University.

Memorable Quote: Ike on his Yale years - “With hindsight, I was stressing out about things that did not matter”.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

<Start Snippet> Ike  0:06

If you get a chance to go to a place like Yale, you know, take it. I think you, if you, there's no one right way to do it. Yeah, I certainly can't pretend that I did it the right way. But I am very satisfied and happy with what I did do. Sure. And I walked away with amazing experiences, but also just amazing contacts.

Venkat  0:34 

Hi! Welcome to this episode of College Matters. Alma Matters.

Ike Wilson is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in French.

Ike loves languages. He studied French in middle school and Spanish in High School.

Ike wanted to go to a college that would allow him to pursue Languages, American Culture, and things international.

Yale met that bar, and more.

On our podcast today, Ike shares his experiences at Yale, “with” as he says “a great deal of fondness”.

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives,  Five Highlights from the podcast:

Ike  1:27  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[“Yale was great!”]

Yale undergrad, I feel at least when I was there, they were it felt like the the undergraduate experience was kind of carefully put together by the administration by the school itself. They want you to do well, they they help you a decent amount. And they did they do their best to ensure that you have a great time.

[Why Yale]

It probably wasn't so much, you know, the fact that it was an Ivy League, it wasn't really I mean, the prestige is certainly part of it. As I said, it was a good school and you couldn't say no to it. But I just felt like there was a particular vibe or character to the, to the school that was, was interesting to me.

[Academic Transition to Yale]

Yeah, academically, I would say that I was somewhere in the middle, I thought it was tough my freshman year, making that adjustment. I struggled in certain kind of certain larger lecture classes. Where to me it felt like it was a little bit unclear how much you should know or how much you should be studying. Or memorizing. Yeah. And I honestly just didn't have a feel for you know, what, what an exam would even look like, once you reached the college level or, you know, an Ivy League level.


[Being Campus Radio DJ]

Pretty easy to just have your own show. So the Bulgarian suitemate I mentioned earlier, okay. He and I hosted a show together and we just, you know, it's like broadcast. It's online, but also I think there's an actual FM station. Uh huh. And we just played music we liked and sometimes, you know, we would get requests like, back then we were using Facebook all the time, people will just comment on some Facebook status and be like, play this song for me. And then you could do it, you know.

[Applying to Yale]

Obviously a bar that you have to be above. Um, but you know, once you're above that bar, you have perfect SATs or ACTs and 4.0? or what have you, taken all the AP classes got fives. That's, that's not you just the first thing to know is like, your mentality has to be that that's not enough. Yeah, that's you can be comfortable just with those realities. Yeah. And that kind of stinks to hear. But that's true. That's like step number one.

Venkat Raman  3:45  

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast. So without further ado, over to Ike!

Venkat Raman  3:52

Welcome to our Podcast, College Matters. Alma Matters. Thank you so much for making the time.

Ike  3:59  

Sure thing.

Venkat Raman  4:01  

Well, today's a chance for you to kind of go down memory lane and live your Yale years all over again. And tell us, tell the audience, how those years went and what you got out of it.

And just for the general benefit of listeners, I mean, you know, this is really intended to provide some insight into your life and experience at Yale. And hopefully the students and aspiring students can benefit from it, as they apply for their own college journeys. So thank you again and love to sort of hear about Yale from you.

Ike  4:48  

Sure, yeah. Well, thanks for having me. Hopefully, I can be of use to the listeners. I'm single perspective. But yeah, I mean, where can I start.

Venkat Raman  5:01  

Yeah, why don't we, why don't we start at the top and sense of, you know, looking back, what, what do you feel about Yale? What was that experience like? And then we can drill down to various aspects of that experience.

Ike  5:15  [“Yale was great!”]

Cool. Yeah. So I was at Yale from ‘07 to 2011. And, to this day, you know, I guess 13 years now, going on 14, since I arrived on campus, my takeaways from the experience have always been positive, they continue to be positive, I look back on it with a great deal of fondness.

So yeah, I mean, my overall experience was very positive, I can't speak highly enough of my experience in Yale generally. I would say that's mostly rooted in the people that I met there. So you know, that's kind of like the main reason if I say, Yale was great, it's because of the people I befriended.

And even the people that you don't even maintain friendships with, it's just like, the people that you meet are fascinating and interesting and stimulating, intellectually. And so being in a place for four years, you know, during a very formative time in your life, and you're still a teenager, you're still learning about yourself being around a wide variety of people like that, in this one kind of little ecosystem is pretty cool.

At the time, you don't really fully acknowledge or you don't fully appreciate it. Yeah. But I'm able to look back on it now and, and be very grateful for what I had. And what I continue to have, you know, I, I obviously, have maintained friendships, a lot of folks I met in college, and I could I consider them, you know, lifelong friends. So it's been good to me.

And, you know, I would say also, Yale undergrad, I feel, at least when I was there, they were, it felt like the, the undergraduate experience was kind of carefully put together by the administration by the school itself. They want you to do well, they they help you a decent amount. And they did, they do their best to ensure that you have a great time not obviously, not everyone walks away, having had the best time, but I think that a pretty solid majority of people that I at least, you know, the people that I knew in college, all enjoyed themselves, generally.

Venkat Raman  7:49  

So maybe, what would be great is to kind of, you know, talk about why you picked Yale, why did you end up going to Yale? Why did you feel that was the right place for you?

Ike  8:04  [Yale: “I made the right choice”]

Um, it's a good question. It's, uh, well, I mean, I guess the easy answer is that it was probably the best school that I got into high school. So you kind of can't say no.

I, I suppose I wanted to, to one one part of it was, you know, I'm from the west coast. I'm from California. And I, I think one part of it was, I did want to go away from home and kind of do the classic Northeastern college thing. probably wasn't so much. You know, the fact that it was an Ivy League. It wasn't really I mean, the prestige is certainly part of it. As I said, it was a good school and you can say no to it, but I just felt like there was a particular vibe or character to the, to the school that was was interesting to me.

I visited as a senior in high school after I got in. They call it Bulldog days. It's like an Admitted Student weekend. And you can spend time there with a usually it's a freshman, maybe a sophomore. And so you can ask all the questions you want to ask and you can get a sense of the school and with a nightlife is like what the social life is, like, obviously, you can visit classes. So you see what it's like academically. You get a sense of all the different clubs that are there, you know, acapella groups, and clubs, soccer and club basketball, and I don't know people, you know, everything in between. I mean, there's like dance dance groups and people who love board games who got together once a week and you know, play a specific board game, and there's, it's all there. And they kind of show it all to you as an admitted student.

So you come away with a pretty built out view of what it could be at its best. And so that was fairly, it was really attractive to me. I thought they did a good job of putting that weekend together. Sure. But you know, you have to be careful and you have to ask the people that you You meet while you're there about, you know, what is it like when it's just a gray February? You know, one day? And is it still this awesome? And you know, they're honest, if you talk to a freshman or sophomore, they say no, like, I'll be pretty stressed out in the Monday night with a ton of homework. But, you know, what I heard was, the positives outweigh the negatives, right? I mean, I was California, I knew I was gonna get really, really depressed by the cold weather. I'm someone who stresses out about schoolwork. So you know, that's unavoidable. And that certainly proved to be the case when I got there.

But yeah, just, as I said earlier, I had a feeling that the, the environment was going to be conducive to a lot of intellectually stimulating experiences. I thought that I was going to meet awesome people. I mean, it really came down to that. And that one weekend I visited, I met a bunch of awesome people, some of them ended up didn't even you know, they didn't go to Yale. In the end, some of them went to Harvard or Stanford, but the Yalies who I did meet, you know, the older ones who were already there, it was, yeah, it was clear to me that this was going to be a really cool four years, just being around smart people. And that's, like, invaluable sort of, you know, I, I certainly felt when I got there, both that Bulldog days, but also later on that maybe, you know, you have these, these feelings of anxiety that maybe you don't belong, right. It was a mistake that I got in or what have you, but you get over that, because you realize that you have to just take, take advantage of it. Yeah, yeah. And so, if I was, I'm obviously very happy that I made that choice when I was 17/18. Because I think I made the right choice.

Venkat Raman  11:51  

See, talk a little bit about your high school. I mean, what, what kind of things interested you, what, what were you involved in? What are the things that you got excited about?

Ike  12:02  [Varied Interests in High School]

Um, what was I into it in high school?

I was the captain of the basketball team in high school. So I've always been really obsessed with basketball, soccer. Well, I knew that in in my college life, I would like to continue playing basketball in some capacity. I was not recruited, I was not going to be a division one varsity athlete. Right, right. But, you know, if it was a smallish school, they could maybe have like a club program, which I ended up having. So I think on the club basketball team, so that was attractive to me. They were actually quite competitive, too. So that was cool.

But just generally, you know, setting Yale aside and college choice aside, I mean, in high school, I was also very much into creative writing, English, English classes. I was always a big fan of music and entertainment movies. Kind of a music nerd, I suppose. And I've always been weirdly good at knowing useless pop culture facts.

So, uh, what else travel and languages I would say I grew up actually going to a French International School in Palo Alto, California. Uh huh. So that took me through eighth grade. Uh huh. And so I was among the minority, I would say I was probably it was probably 40%. American 60% French? Uh huh. So I grew up in my primary school years and middle school years, just kind of surrounded by international students. Yeah, yeah.

They were in California for like two or three year periods at a time because their parents were working there. Yeah. And so I was always attracted to like, different points of view, I suppose. And perspectives from, from different countries, being around international students was always fun.

And so ideally, you know, after high school, if I could, so I went to an American public high school, if I could go to a college, which offered me the chance to be around more international students. Again, that would be cool. So I was hopefully going to do that.

I also love to travel and I knew that going back to my French primary and Middle School routes, I always knew that in college, I was going to try to go to Paris. Yeah. When I was a junior that study abroad, so that was kind of what I was looking for. That was kind of a, I suppose my profile that I put together as a, as an applicant to colleges. Yeah. Definitely love languages and travel in different cultures. Yeah.

I did some nonprofit work as well. Some fundraising for school supplies, and Vietnam. I'm half-Vietnamese. And yeah, I think that's kind of my high school profile, I suppose. And obviously, you know, the requisite you know, I took AP classes, I was sure.

I was a good student.

Venkat Raman  14:57  

Talking about getting to college. So let's talk about, about your transition from high school to Yale. How did that go? Maybe we can start with the academics and sort of talk about the other aspects.

Ike  15:10  [Transition to Yale]

Sure. Yeah. I realized that up to this, up to this point, I haven't really discussed academics much. And I should say, obviously, another reason I chose to go to Yale was because I knew that it would, you know, it would provide a nice, professional network one day and also, you know, provide opportunities in terms of getting careers or getting jobs rather, yeah, out of college, just helpful for that as well. But when you're 17/18, you don't really think too much about that.

I, academically, I would say that I was somewhere in the middle, I thought it was tough my freshman year, making that adjustment. I struggled in certain kind of larger lecture classes, where to me, it felt like it was a little bit unclear how much you should know or how much you should be studying. Or memorizing. Yeah. And I honestly just didn't have a feel for you know, what, what an exam would even look like, once you reached the college level or, you know, an Ivy League level. Yeah. It's like, what is, what does an exam even mean? Yeah.

And so I, I was kind of hounded by this sense of perfectionism. Like, I had the sense that I just, you were supposed to be perfect and know everything. Yeah. And so that probably kind of bit me in the butt a little bit. Like I just was maybe paralyzed with a paralyzed with anxiety when I was approaching my first midterms. So that was an adjustment for sure. And I didn't do particularly well during that, that first cycle of midterms, I don't think in the fall. I'm particularly as I said, with larger lecture courses.

I tend to do better, you know, I mentioned I like English work, and I speak great creative writing, I tended to do better from the get go at yo with smaller courses that were more discussion based or kind of more liberal, artsy. Yeah, that the larger lecture courses, particularly likes, I guess, science and math, you know, stuff that I feel a little bit less comfortable with. Uh, huh. Those, those proved to be pretty difficult.

But I would say that generally you kind of learn to do things at Yale that the more reps you get in just like with anything, but yeah, you know, this is probably too harsh, a term or too negative term, but like you learn to cut the right corners. Yeah. Yeah, you know, I don't want to advocate for like, slacking slacking off or anything. But it's like, you kind of like learn where you know what you're struggling with? And what needs more attention and what other things you actually are doing fine on and you don't actually need to spend more time on it at all. Yeah. So that's like, it's kind of a weird balancing act, but I really actually didn't really feel super comfortable as a student there until my junior year, I would say, okay, but having said that, you know, my grades are actually pretty, pretty solid.

My freshman and sophomore years, I had a pretty good GPA, just overall, but it's just, like the stress of it, and the feeling that you don't know what you're doing that sort of got better [in] my third year.

Venkat Raman  18:20  

Yeah, that was gonna be my question is how did you kind of handle all that? I mean, how did you get past? Sounds like you have built in anxieties. But other than that, how do you kind of master or figure out how to deal with some of those courses? Because it's, you know, that adjustment is really the important thing. And I think you pointed out that you just focus more on the things that were quote unquote, harder, or that you're struggling with, and then, you know, the ones that you can deal with, better obviously spent less time so.

So that's, that's good. I mean, you know, but, but overall, did you think it was a function of that you needed to just put in more time, Or was that or there's something more, you know, fundamental like, that you didn't feel adequately prepared for certain topics? Or was it just a question of working harder?

Ike  19:20  

It's a good question. I feel like it was a question of working smarter. Yeah. Which is obviously a cliche, but it actually yeah, totally, totally grounded in reality, like you get you. You also, I feel like it also has to do with knowing what you like, yeah. You know, you start to pick classes and start to do things in a way that at least makes you more satisfied, like personally, into my and I know that it's a hard lesson to learn when you're only 18/19. Yeah, it's like you, you should you kind of have to like, gauge what really matters.

You, um, and you know, for a lot of Yale, Yale students, you're all you know, you're all very, everyone's smart there and did well in high school, they have a, they have a track record of being among the best in their school, these high school. So it's like your expectation is, is going to be, to excel in college too. But yeah, there's an adjustment period there you're like, Alright, well, everyone here is amazing. So not, you can't all be standouts among standouts. And so there's kind of a humility that comes with it, too.

I thankfully was never really too into trying to be like the best student at Yale was more like I just wanted to, to learn and to focus on making sure that I felt like I was improving myself. Sure. So that was like, that was useful for me to like to have that sort of like sense of modesty, I guess.

But yeah, I think I think it's, it's a combination of working smarter, but also working harder than you, you just get a sense of like, how much time it takes to you know, write an essay for Yeah, Dale English class, or study how much time it takes to study for a Yale science class. Like it just it's a different level that you're at. And there's some adjustment.

Venkat Raman  21:14  

Let me ask you a question here. I mean, do you think that you took courses that challenged you or took courses that interested you? And then mine the challenge? Or did you feel like you were kind of trying to balance the difficulty versus, you know, interest?

Ike  21:40  

Yeah. So I would sort of take cues from some of my, my classmates and peers and friends. And that was another way that I learned to kind of just do things more efficiently and more intelligently. Yes. See how others were doing it. Yeah.

Um, my approach ended up being that I would take class, I would choose classes, based on a combination of everything you just said. So yeah, as long as you know, what you really like, and you're stimulated by, you definitely take, you know, for me, it was creative writing.

Venkat Raman  22:09  


Ike  22:10  

Also French, I wanted to get good at French again. So I'd go to Paris and be fluent. I had taken a break from French in high school. Mm hmm. For Spanish, so I was actually kind of bad at French when I got to New Haven. Mm hmm. So and I, you know, growing up just loving languages I had, I took great pride in mastering the language all over again. Uh huh. So I definitely chose French and creative writing English classes. And then there's some requirements you have to fulfill like science and math. Yeah, I got through those subjects in high school, because I had to, and I did, you know, obviously, reasonably well, yeah. But I never felt totally intellectually stimulated by them. And yet, in college, I would just do them because I had to, and get through it as as well as I could. Yeah. So you know, knowing myself, I suppose, on that front, it just allowed me to just take the quantitative classes, take the science classes, and just get them over with, like, I just, if I was gonna get something lower than an A, I was fine with it.

And, you know, for full transparency, there's like a, I forget what it's actually called. Now, because I'm so old. Now. I think it might be called the blue book. But there's a there's a system of course evaluations. And it's super useful when you're picking classes. And you can look, you can actually look at what previous students have said about the class. And for science classes, I would sometimes pick classes that were known to be relatively easy, you know, are known to have less work than other ones. Because that's that you kind of just need to make that, that call to have a balanced like, work life balance or school life balance. Sure.

But you know, other students are different. Some people want to just Excel everything he would that that student certainly exists at Yale, they crushed every class, they get an A and everything doesn't matter how hard it is. I just wasn't that kid, so.

Venkat Raman  24:06  

Talking of other kids, what was your general feeling about the classmates you already talked about? Sort of being seeing a lot of the brightest from each of the schools there? What would they like? What was the environment like? Was it collaborative? How did how did your interactions with all these folks go?

Ike  24:29  [Peers: Smart, Down-to-Earth]

So you get a wide variety? Which is to me the best part. Yeah. Now obviously, I suppose that's true. Like any school environment, there's Yeah, but there's, there's there's a lot of different types of people and types of students. But I think I would say that the extremes that a place like Yale are like much more pronounced Yeah. So like you get, and I mean that in a good way, so you get someone who was like, the best, I don't know Counter Strike player in all Bulgaria, like a computer game. Yeah. He's also a math genius, but he's also totally Down to Earth. Yeah, and likes to have a beer or something, whatever, you know, yeah.

These, these kind of hilarious and fascinating extremes, and you have the kids who were, you know, night owls, and they live at the library, but, you know, never shown a single interest in like nightlife or any of that, like social socializing, they're there to like, crush school and get into the best medical school, you know, and and that's, that's cool too. Like, if you have a random class with a student like that, you're like, Whoa, I've never seen this person before. But it's like, it's, it's just amazing. Every day, you're interacting with all these different types of people?

And, you know, it's like, some, I would say, like, the, the some of the fun things or like the, the socializing, right, like some, some students, I guess you'd call them nerdy? Yeah, some are less though. And some, some students are really drawn to bonding with the people, they're in residential colleges with, like, you know, you're kind of placed into one of 12 dorms when I was there, I think it’s now 14, they've added to, but when I was there, there were 12 different colleges. And you're just be placed in the dorm. And for lots of students, you know, wherever you are randomly placed, it was kind of like those became your best best friends. Sure. And you spent all your time hanging out with your, your core group in your dorm, but other people just like totally branched out and had other ways of meeting people. And it's like, kind of like, to each their own.

I think, generally, the thing that that that made everyone or the one common trait amongst everyone was like, you're pretty much guaranteed if you were gonna, like, talk to someone. Yeah, you would have, I think, pretty interesting conversation at least, like, there was a pretty high floor for like, intellectually stimulating conversation, you know? Yeah. And that's something that I tried not to take for granted. At the time.

Venkat Raman  27:12  

How was the teaching and the professors? How were the general relationships with Professors?

Ike  27:20  [Engaging Lectures]

As I mentioned, small classes were sort of preferred for me. But the lectures can be really engaging. Obviously, there's, there's world class professors there who do a great job with their lectures. And you can learn a whole bunch in both types of classes. I know, obviously, with science classes, you also have lab work, right. And that was something I never experienced as a non-science person. But I know that that was just like, a really high level education as well.

When I was there, I really appreciated the shopping period. Yeah, yeah. So you're able to kind of literally test out classes for about two weeks at the beginning of each semester, you can throw them into your shopping cart, so to speak, and you kind of just like, show up and see what the vibe is with the professor and look at the syllabus and check out you know, the workload and all that. See, you know, see who else is interested in the classes, who's shopping it with you.

I, I was generally always pretty impressed with the professors. You know, maybe not all my classes were amazing. But, you know, generally speaking, I had a good good experience overall, I, in fact, I did an independent study once with one of my English teachers and professors. She had been a fan of some of my creative writing work as a freshman. And then I think, as a senior I, I did an independent study with her because she was just, she wanted me to keep exploring that kind of writing. It was a bunch of nonfiction stuff about my family history. And she became sort of a mentor, and, frankly, friends, you know, she met my parents and my brother and my brother, actually, followed me to Yale, he was a year below me. He came to Yale and he ended up taking her course because my recommendation and she became close to him. So yes, she she knew my family and we stayed in touch after school.

So yeah, just I had a pretty good experience. You know, some people you don't click with, obviously, but that's just, yeah, be expected. But, you know, everyone's Well, I guess you do get the kind of stereotypical, like, world class professors into themselves, or whatever. But that's, to me, it's like hilarious!

Venkat Raman  29:42  

Now, let's sort of move over to the campus life. Sure, talk a little bit about residential colleges. So maybe, how that worked, maybe that in the food and then can go over to the social, cultural and organized activities.

Ike  30:05  [Residential College Life]

Sure. So, yes, I mentioned the residence for colleges, there are 14 of them. Now, I believe there were 12 when I arrived.

The way it works is in the summer before your freshman year, you fill out a questionnaire about your habits and what you're looking for socially or stuff like that. And the deans, I believe, and maybe some of their staff at each of the 12 colleges, they look for the answers, and they try to do their best at pairing students in doubles like that, you know, bedrooms with two beds, yeah, or suites. So, you know, it's in the, in the dorms you live in like suites of four, or five or six, or even more than that, right. Where it's, you have a common room, and then you have little bedrooms off of it. And so I was placed in the suite of six that summer. Uh huh.

Um, it's kind of a weird, you know, process. It's like a black box of, of a process. Like, we don't really totally get it, but they look at our answers and they, they do their best to put us together. And so my, my group of six was actually I thought very, very well put together. Yeah. And so yeah, you don't you don't actually have a say in what college you're in, either. So they just kind of placed you in it randomly. Yes. Unless you are legacy. So if your father or mother wasn't one of the colleges you can request when you when you get in, can be placed in the same college. Okay.

Um, but other than that, it's random. So I was randomly placed in Trumbull College. Uh huh. And, as I mentioned, I was with five other guys my freshman year and it really worked out. Well. I mean, I'm still very close with all of them. Very diverse group. One person was from Queens in New York. He's a half Peruvian half Korean. Uh huh. Another person was a Jewish guy from Connecticut. Uh huh. Like suburban Connecticut. Another was a black man from Atlanta. Uh huh. I was, you know, a half Asian, half white kid from California. We had a guy from London/Greece. Who was my immediate roommate. And then we had was who am I missing? Oh, we had a guy from Bulgaria. Who I was kind of imagining Yes. Had when I talked about the profile.

Yeah, so you know, to to international students from abroad, and then an Atlanta, New York, Connecticut and California. And we got along pretty well. And we were I would describe us as being pretty gung ho about the Trumbull college social seemed like we were very plugged in. And we wanted to get to know everyone within our, our class in Trumbull college. Uh huh.

Um, also, I should note, so like for people listening, one way that I like to describe the, the residence or college system at Yale is like, it's sort of like Hogwarts in Harry Potter, right? There is no sorting hat, obviously, but you, you're just thrown into one of these colleges, and then you're affiliated with it for the rest of your time. Now, that doesn't actually mean that you have to live in the dorm, in the Residential College Hall for years, but it is afforded to you that opportunity is given to you. You can live in the dorms, all four years, it's guaranteed.

And the first year you live on old campus, which is like the freshmen quad live in a dorm that is associated with your college. Uh huh. But the college itself is a different building. It's like a different, like miniature castle, basically, um, and starting sophomore year, you can actually live in your college. And then you can do that also junior and senior year. So what I did actually was freshman year, I was an old campus and Bingham Hall, which was at the time it was the old campus dorm associated with Trumbull? Uh huh. Then sophomore year, I moved to the college itself. Yeah. And then actually my junior and senior years I lived off campus. Oh, really? Okay. Yeah.

Um, but in each college, there is a dining hall. Mm hmm. There's a common room that usually a basement there's like, there's something they called a buttery, which is usually the like a small kitchen in the basement where like, people volunteer to make midnight snacks every every night. Uh huh. There's usually like ping pong tables and you know, each college is different. Sometimes they have like little like a little theater stage where you can put on little productions or there's like maybe a little movie theater or some one of them have like a pottery studio. There's all kinds of stuff in the basements of these colleges. Pretty cool they each have a common room I think I mentioned they also each have a library where people study.

So it's its own little like you know, some little ecosystem it's cool like there's they all have the different vibes and they all have their different vibes in the dining halls as well. Like it changes it seems that goes through cycles with like certain colleges are known for having the best food but generally speaking the food at Yale in the dorms is all pretty uniform. It's quite good honestly, I mean, my impression of it is high quality dorm food. I you know, I tried some dishes from what I remember like for the first time sometimes that in the dining halls so.

And the culture around it is like you You kind of walk in you swipe in you're automatically thrown the food plan if you're off campus later on like, which is what I did, you could you could opt out of the food plan. Yeah, but uh, you know, you meet people from other colleges like you don't have to eat your own college dining hall. Yeah, you can you can you can check out all the other ones. Yeah, you can. You can like you know, do dinner hangs you've set up a dinner on Thursday with a friend of yours from a different college and you meet in yet a different a third college, you know, yeah, that's not your college you go to their dining hall for dinner with your friend. And I think they're open from like, for dinner it's like 530 or 5:00 to like, maybe eight I am. I'm too old now to too far away from it.

But yeah, there was a whole culture also of like, you know, on branch for like brunch on Saturdays like people would get in right before the doors closed, like because they slept in. And like the dining hall staff are really really friendly. They all get to know you if you're especially if you're if you're pretty consistently go into your own colleges dining hall. Yeah, they know your name they make they crack jokes about you barely making it in on time. So that's all fun.

And then I mentioned so outside of the dorms, you know, people don't necessarily stick to their, their colleges. So, you know, you have other ways of meeting people you can do. Clubs, yeah, math whatever, ping pong club sports. There's obviously varsity sports, which is how a lot of people meet each other. Right? You know, amongst the athlete community.

You got to, there's a there's a small Greek nightlife like frats and sororities. Yeah, um, there are a surprising amount of options in terms of nightlife, I would say, you know, like, Yale is not known as a party school. Uh huh. But if you want to party, like, that's a possibility. And there's a variety different ways you can do it. Like, people have parties and dorms and get togethers like that. Or you could do it off campus houses, you can do it. You know, once you're old enough, you go to bars. And then there's Greeks in arts or there's there's frats, and sororities, as I mentioned.

Yeah. And then there's a very real thing, which is secret societies, which is something that happens later on. Typically, it's only for seniors. Yeah. When I was there was about a quarter of the senior class was in a secret society. Uh, huh. They've now added some Junior societies. But traditionally, it's for seniors, and it's a way to to meet people that you wouldn't have otherwise met in your final year. So it's like a, like a cool kind of just social club that meets twice a week. Usually, I think it's only 16 people per society. Uh huh. So it's not, it's not this thing. You know, it often gets compared to eating clubs at Princeton or Yeah, Harvard. I would actually say that they're quite different. Yeah. My impression is that daily life it's not fair. I wouldn't say nightlife if not daily life kind of revolves around eating clubs at Princeton, and then certainly the nightlife at Harvard revolves around finals clubs. Yeah. nightlife does not revolve around the secret societies at Yale, because there's so few people in each one. Yeah. They're just meeting twice a week. Like, it's just otherwise. That's it, you know, they kind of meet in wherever they meet like a clubhouse or what have you, what have you. And they kind of just get to know each other. It's, it's a, it's relatively informal.

In my case, my society, I wasn't one I was in one way that was, that was mostly actually varsity athletes. So I played club basketball. Yeah. But it was a cool way for me to meet all these, these varsity athletes I did not know. And then it kind of opened up things for me even more social, you know, from social perspective, my senior year.

Yeah, I could walk around campus and suddenly I knew, you know, like, at a much large network because these athletes would introduce me to their teammates and then their friends and it was just a cool expansion of my network in my final year.

Venkat Raman  40:05  

So I also  noticed that you were a DJ for some period of time. And also, you know, a writer or contributing to the campus magazines and stuff like that. So talk a little bit about that.

Ike  40:22  [Being DJ, Writer on Campus]

Sure. Yeah. So there's a radio station, which is cool if you want to, if you're interested in music, like, like I was, there's a, there's a Yale radio station.

And it was relatively straightforward and kind of painless to, to become a member. I don't exactly, I don't exactly know the process, but it was like, pretty easy to just have your own show. So the the Bulgarian suitemate I mentioned earlier, okay. He and I hosted a show together, and we just, you know, it's like broadcast. It's online. But also, I think there's a national FM station. And we just played music we liked and sometimes, you know, we would get requests, like, back then we were using Facebook all the time, people would just comment on some Facebook status and be like, play this song for me. And then you could do it, you know, even you could shout them out.

So ours was like, pretty rudimentary, we were just playing music we liked. Yeah, I think other people had, like, more built out things that were, you know, structured podcast type of interviews. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it was, it was the cool thing to be able to do and, you know, have access to this building yet to learn how to use the equipment in broadcast.

Yeah, and then, uh, I was involved in some writing for some of the campus. The student magazines, which is cool. Yeah. I hope that there was a French language journal as well. Um, God, yeah, I completely forgot to mention like, like, writing and publications. Yeah. There's, there's, you know, the Yale Daily News is, I think, the oldest college daily. Yeah. Um, a lot of my friends were on the Yale Daily News and, or the The New Journal, which is a student magazine. And they, they got their chops in. And they, they, they just, they became really good kind of journalists. And then a lot of them are now professional journalists.

And, yeah, it helps you, there's a lot of extracurriculars that can really help you in the long run, to, in addition to just your classes.

Venkat Raman  42:24  

So let's talk a little bit about your summers. How did you utilize the various summers while you were in college?

Ike  42:34  [Summers - Coaching, Teaching, Traveling]


So the first summer I think I just went home to California, in the Bay Area actually coached basketball at Stanford basketball camp, where I had been a camper as a child, so that was kind of wild. And then I traveled with my suite mate from Connecticut, actually, we went to Europe and we visited the two European suitemates Uh huh. The guy from Connecticut. It was actually his first time outside of the country, I think. Uh huh. That was pretty eye opening for him. And he was, you know, he and his parents were like, Ike, you need to keep me alive. That was my role. That's, um, so yeah, pretty laid back freshman year summer between freshman and sophomore.

After sophomore year, I went to London. There's a Yale in London program. So I took two summer courses in London. I stayed in a dorm in London. I think it was the UCL dorm. Is that a thing? I don't remember exactly. The university's name. University College London, maybe? Yeah. And yeah.

Yeah, I just got some experience London as a, you know, 1920 year old that was Yeah, cool. When you're there with other Yale students. And again, you know, you're meeting new people all the time. So like, that was I was in classes that summer with people I did not know beforehand. And those were the Yale London courses are typically arts focus. So they were like heavy on art history and drama.

The Drama was great, because we actually got, I mean, obviously, it's not free, but you know, essentially, like, as a student, in the moment, you're like, Oh, this is I get free tickets, all these plays and lunch. And that was amazing. So you know, it was just a way to also get ahead on your class credits towards graduation. Right.

Um, and then my final summer, actually did two things. So I taught in New Haven. I stayed in New Haven for the beginning of the summer. And I taught at a program run out of old campus, actually, in one of the buildings in that freshman quad, it's called Dwight Hall. They run a lot of like local programs and kind of charitable things. Uh huh.

There's a summer program called the Ulysses S. Grant foundation. It's basically a summer school. Uh huh. for local Middle schoolers. And I was a teacher in that program that summer. So I was teaching rising eighth graders. And my core class was a creative writing class nonfiction writing, which is sort of in keeping with my own interest in it. And I also taught like a history of American pop culture class, some of the students that was fun, they had no idea who James Brown was, you know, weird stuff like that.

And you started just you just teach him and then where also did the I did a history class with my with my, one of my other other teachers,  we call it history's playbook, which is really fun. Because we sort of just create the curriculum from scratch. In fact, we, this whole program allows the teachers there's nine student teachers, all undergrads, and how do you create the curriculum from scratch entirely overall, so like you, you come up with the classes that you want to teach, and you put it together. And that history's playbook was really fun, because we were just like, create these semi fictionalized, but mostly grounded in reality scenarios, and we would just put them to the students like, alright, you're the monarch of so and so country. And there's a slight revolution, you believe that you are, you know, given your royal rights by God, but now they're asking for a constitutional monarchy? Uh huh. There's a little bit of a rebellion? Would you sign off on the constitutional monarchy? Or would you take up the offer of your in laws who are asking you to escape to them, and then they'll help you invade your own country and take power back? That's like, you know, students, if you're that monarch in this situation, what which path you choose? And that was a really fun way to get them to, you know, in that case, learn about the French Revolution. Yeah.

And it's interesting, because you get the students in these groups, and they're debating what they should do. And I think for that kid, that particular situation was like, split down the middle. Half of them wanted to escape and get, get to their in laws and their half were like, yeah, I'm cool with a constitutional monarchy. And then eventually, you've spilled the beans. And you say, Alright, so that was actually the French Revolution. And that was, it was a really effective way we thought to teach them about these things.

Um, so that was the beginning of that summer. That was summer of 2010. Yeah. And then on the back half, actually, I had received some fellowship money to go to Paris to go back to Paris, because I've been there the previous fall. Right. I went back to do thesis research for my French thesis.

Venkat Raman  47:40  

So [its a] good lead into your summer abroad study abroad? Sure. So talk a little bit about that.

Ike  47:49  [Semester Abroad in Paris]

Yep. So I mentioned before junior year, I was in London for the summer. And that fall that fall 2009, I was in Paris. And...I did it through this program called center for university programs abroad. It's one of the like, Yale approved that location.

The way that study abroad works at Yale, to my understanding is that there are some yo programs in certain cities abroad. In other cities like Paris, there isn't a program, but there's some others that Yale approves of. Sure. So you have to apply through them, or to them. And the one that I apply to I abbreviated CUPA, um, they essentially serve as a middleman. So they kind of throw you went to local Parisian universities. And that was great. And that's, that's what I wanted. I mean, you know, there's some other options in Paris for American students who like, kind of just put you in other classes with other American Yes, yeah, there's a lot of times it's just an English.

But CUPA allowed me to like, actually experience what it was like to be a university student in Paris, in France, like, it was everything was in French. They basically treated you like a French student. Yeah. Um, and so that was a, you know, pretty cool. And it was a challenge for sure. And it was sort of like the culmination of my, like, re-mastery of French, you know, I have been fluent in like, middle school. And then here, I was trying to get all the way back, living in Paris. And so that was great, academically.

But also, you know, there's some of the pressures taken off of you because you think for the most part when you're abroad, particularly if it's not a Yale program, path, it's pass fail. Yeah. Um, so you know, really, it's like it, it allows you to try to enjoy the, the abroad experience as much as possible outside of the classroom. In my case, because I was doing this for pride, I was like, trying to show myself that I was all the way back in terms of my French mastery. Yeah, I actually took this class pretty seriously. So I, I actually did really well in those French classes and some of my French, you know, local Parisian university professors were like, wow, you I don't, this is pretty nuts, like we did not expect you to do well.

Um, but yeah, and then generally speaking, you know, you're there was some other Yalies, at least in my case, but CUPA, you know, they've taken students from all over the place. So there's, there's a little contingent from like Reed College, on the west coast, there's people from Princeton. And, you know, to varying degrees, you've come close to those folks, too, but you try to, at least in my case, I was trying to be, you know, the friend, French people, Parisians, yeah, um, luckily, actually, one of my Bulldog days hosts from when I was in high school, he hosted me as a junior actually. And so by this point, he was graduated from Yale, and he was living in Paris. So, you know, this is like, an example of just Yale's the Yale network, enabling things for you. And he was just a nice contact app in Paris. Because he was, he was now no longer in academia. And he was just like, a working person in Paris. Yeah. So I met his friends.

And yeah, and I came back actually, in January, the weird thing about Paris, is they the schools there that the exams are, I suppose it's not that weird, but the exams are after the winter break. Yeah. So I had this I actually stayed for Christmas break, like, in Paris. And that was cool. Because my actually my parents and brother came out and did like a Christmas there. Yeah. Yeah.

And then came back to, to New Haven for the spring semester in January. And I was off campus by that point. I was actually living in a fraternity. Yeah, yeah. For that one semester.

Oh, yeah. I totally failed to mention that I was in a fraternity, um, amongst other things, but yeah. And my final year, senior year, lived off campus again, with like, a house full of international students. That was fun, too. That was a good, totally different experience.

Venkat Raman  52:11  

Now, maybe this is a good point to ask the question, if you were to go back, and were to spend this for years and years again, I mean, what would you do differently? What do you think looking back, you’d have done more or less off?

Ike  52:29  [Yale Redo. What would you do differently?]

You know, I think I would try to appreciate it more. Which is weird to say, I mean, I, I knew at the time that this was like a pretty cool opportunity that I was living, you know, but it's, yeah, it's, you know, with hindsight, you're like, wow, I was stressing out too much about certain things that did not matter. You know.

For instance, choosing, choosing to major in French, you know, I wanted to major in both English and French. Yeah, I ended up just doing French because I enjoyed it. I, you know, I, I chose not to do the English double, because I had to, like, memorize all this old English poetry, which I didn't want to do. I just wanted to focus on writing. So I ended up taking a bunch of creative writing classes.

But I mean, that, that just the, the process of finalizing that decision was just so awful. And like, I was so stressed out about it, like, Oh, no, what does this mean about me? Like, I'm doing French as a major, like, I mean, you know, it's, if you can't do things in like a rash, yeah, reckless way, but, you know, I was not being reckless about it, I just needed to kind of be comfortable in my skin and be happy with my choice and move on and enjoy the fact that I have these wonderful roommates and wonderful friends and, you know, like cool classes to take, and just this this awesome experience, like, in even, you know, assignment to assignment, I just feel like, there's, in hindsight, obviously, everything's 2020.

But it's just, you kind of, you kind of got to be okay with being done and doing a good job, but not doing a perfect job. I mean, that's maybe like, antithetical to a lot of to the way that a lot of Yalies think but yeah, I think now looking back, it's like, you got to enjoy the people, you got to enjoy the moment more.

Yeah, I would have, frankly, would have liked to meet even more people while I was there, you know, the be more involved in more extracurriculars and be more social.

Venkat Raman  54:27  

Now the question is, if you were to advise aspiring students, you know, who are looking to come to Yale. What would you tell them not so much what they would do once they get there? What do you think they ought to do with their application so that they have sort of the best chance of getting in?

Ike  54:47  [Advice to Applicants]

Um, ooh, a tough question. I actually used to work a little bit as a admissions consultant helping folks Yes, applications.

So like, you know, with a school like Yale or Harvard or Stanford or Princeton, there's going to be I mean, I don't even know what the numbers are now. But it's just countless, countless applications from very, very qualified students. Right? Right.

So there's obviously a bar that you have to be above. But you know, once you're above that bar, you have perfect SATs or  ACTs and 4.0. or what have you taken all the AP classes got fives. That's, that's not you just the first thing, you know, is like, your mentality has to be that that's not enough. Yeah, that's you can't be comfortable just with those realities. Yeah. And that kind of stinks to hear. But that's true. That's like step number one.

I think step number two for a place like Yale was, think about, you know, do your research and think about the kind of vibe and character that the school has and what it offers academically, but also, socially, resource wise, and all that stuff, that a lot of the stuff that we've been touching on.

And think about how it applies to you and how it personally excites you and fits in with your own interests. And you want to put that forward, or put that forth in like your application materials, you know, namely your essay. Yeah.

To my recollection, there was a Why Yale essay, in addition to the common app essay. Mm hmm. So, you know, I kind of just talked about what Yale represented to me, and why it was fascinating and interesting and appealing. Um, yeah. And, you know, in that case, in that essay, I think I even did some research and looked up, you know, certain programs I might be interested in, I probably looked up the French department, maybe at the time, I was interested in American Studies. And just looked at, you know, what those offer, and, you know, what they're about those, what those departments are about, what, what they're interested in, kind of philosophically ideologically, and tried to show myself as being one of the same.

But, you know, in in my common app essay, it's, I think my common app essay sort of just appealed to the Yale's sort of international appeal, as well, like, you know, the fact that there's a lot of international students there, and it attracts people from all over the world of different backgrounds. Like, that was what I said about myself, like, that's what I'm interested in. Yeah. And so I think it fit with that side of Yale.

But, you know, there's many sides of Yale, oh, that's the kind of the amazing thing is like, if you're, if you're a hard math person, sure, you can, you can kind of position yourself as that and you can make it fit to Yale, because there is a hard math side of Yale too. And, you know, you can kind of make it all work, but there's got to be some sort of extra Oomph, there's like, it's not just about you on paper, as an applicant, it's like, there's, you want to introduce yourself to the admissions committee, as this person who is authentically themselves and who's able to frankly, write about that version of themselves, like you, it's, you kind of just need to put yourself down in writing, you're introducing yourself to them, in a way.

Venkat Raman  58:06  

So did you apply as, did you go in as an undeclared Major, or did you pick, you obviously didn't pick French at that point? Did you actually have French on your application?

Ike  58:20  

No, I did not. I think I went in undeclared kind of thing. I think I mentioned as I just meant, I think I think I might have said that I was in my Why Yale? Or maybe there was a short answer, essay too.

But I think I said something about being really interested in at the time and American studies because it was a combination of like, liberal arts, you know, like writing history. You know, I was into, at the top I said I was interested in music and sports like that American Studies to me was like a way to kind of bring all those things together. Sure. And I said that, but you know, they didn't hold me to it.

Venkat Raman  58:58  

So, we are coming to the end of our podcasts.

Before we sign off here. I do want you to have a chance to talk about a thing that you might not have talked about, or if there is some precious or fond memory that you want to share, or something just outright interesting, but irrelevant. It's just fine too!

Ike  59:22  [Fond Memories: The People]

Um, yeah, I mean, I sort of touched on this throughout, but I do think the main thing for me was the people.

And if you get a chance to go to a place like Yale, you know, take it, I think you if you there's no one right way to do it. Yeah, I certainly can't pretend that I did it the right way. But I am very satisfied and happy with what I did do. Sure.

And I walked away with amazing experiences, but also just amazing contacts, like people who, whether they're close friends or just acquaintances, like it's just like a great network to have, both socially and professionally.

And the people I remain close to today, you know, it's just cool to, to, to have that common kind of shared history together. Now it's going on 12/13 years for us, it's only going to continue.

And I just think that those Yale, those friends I have from Yale, like they, they are just wonderful, accomplished hardworking people. And they're very, very smart. And just, you know, interacting with them just inherently is intellectually stimulating, but like, that's a cool thing to have in your life. And, you know, you try not to take it for granted.

Venkat Raman  1:00:44  

Awesome. So I, this has been extremely, extremely interesting, and I'm sure very beneficial to all our aspiring students out there.

So, I first of all want to thank you for being so generous with your time and for sharing all these experiences and personal stories.

So for now, I'm going to just ask you to be safe. And obviously we'll drill down and talk some more in the future. But for now, thank you, and take care.

Ike  1:01:17  

You got it. Thanks for having me.

Venkat Raman  1:01:18  

Sure thing. Yup.

Venkat  1:01:19

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Ike Wilson.

Ike’s Yale experience is a combination of creative pursuits of expression, International Study and People Networking.

And he seemed to be enjoying every minute of it!

I hope this inspiring podcast motivates you to check Yale out.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you so much for listening to our podcast today.

Many thanks to the Counseling firm Admissionado for introducing me to today’s guest, Ike Wilson.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

Yale University Alumni Podcast, Podcast for High Schoolers, Yale Alumni Podcast, College Podcast, Undergraduate Experience, Yale Alumni, High School Students, Yale University, US Colleges, College Admissions, College Applications, French, Study Abroad, DJ.

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