Letter to My College Advisor

I am late to the college reflection process, but here I am. Better late than never, right? As I flipped over my notebooks, letters, and random thoughts, I realized that this task is way larger than I originally estimated. It’s a lot!

Therefore, I created a template to review the past four years. Hopefully, this structure can help me process the growth and transformations in a reasonable fashion. If you are interested in doing this exercise, send me a note and I’ll share the document with you.*

*It’s a work in progress, so you have to bear with me.

Before coming to Brown, each student was asked to write a letter to their academic advisor. Since this was my first assignment, I took it seriously. Perhaps too seriously. I saw the following comment to self on top of the advisor letter:



*This advice applies to 80% of the applications you’ll write in college.

Here is the actual letter (without any edits) I wrote in Evernote*

*As much as I’d love to edit the letter out, I want to stay true to who I have been. I’d consider it okay for someone with minimal English writing experiences.

Dear Advisor,

I am Charlene from Taiwan and this will be my first time studying abroad. I love to interact with people and am excited for the new adventure at Brown. People often say that I am an extrovert; at the same time, I am introspective and appreciate writing and reading alone. I am an avid learner interested in quantitative subjects and international news; thus, I am really interested in computer science, statistics, economics, and entrepreneurship. My current intended major is computer science-economics.

Inspired by the movie Her, I was fascinated by artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. I have always dreamed of utilizing machine learning to create tailored online courses for individuals. Digging through many amazing internet resources from Wait But Why to TED talks, I think about the universe and believe that everything is possible in the future scientific progress. This is me — always craving for something more and nurturing a big dream. However, my pursuit of computer science is not an easy path. I started coding at 13 years old. From QBasic, C, C++, to Python, I have explored a wide range of programming languages. Yet my learning curve is steep. I started in the ease of turning simple logic and mathematics into codes. As I began to build larger projects with data structures, I struggled with debugging. To get across the plateau, I read a lot of reference materials, searched on Stack Overflow, and never gave up. I picked up Python again through games, data structure, and database courses on Coursera. Thus, I really look forward to how Brown can inspire me to create new things.

I have dreamed of becoming a product manager at a tech firm. As Deep Nishar (LinkedIn) puts it, a great product manager has the brain of an engineer, the heart of a designer, and the speech of a diplomat. To prepare myself for a better future, I have compiled some specific plans at Brown:

1. Do research every semester.

2. Volunteer in my first winter vacation.

3. Intern/attend coding camps in the summer.

4. Attend hackathons.

I also strive to live out what Aristotle said, “where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” I am interested in data science, entrepreneurship, MUN, and other networking clubs. I plan to try out as many new things as possible, find my passion, and work toward my dream.

I also want to keep learning French and would like to know if there is any club/study group on campus. I have heard that the consulting and investment banking club provide great training and network. I am also thinking of interning at private equity, venture capital, and investment banking and applying my skills in computer science, applied mathematics, and computer science.

Everything, except for not having closure, was so on point.

  1. In addition to being an extrovert, I came to recognize my introverted self.Just as my dear college roommate said, “I didn’t expect you to be so alone-but-not-lonely: You take control with such confidence that only through living together could I appreciate your introversion.”
  2. I followed through on my initial major (Computer Science-Economics) and added a third one: Applied Math.
  3. I knew my entrepreneurial passion and wide intellectual appetite.
  4. I was not only inspired by Her but also went to intern at a company that productized Her — Fin.
  5. I still love Wait But Why, but now I read less long-form articles and more books instead.
  6. I stopped watching TED talks and turned to comedies instead. Any F.R.I.E.N.D.S lovers here?
  7. My scientific obsession with the universe takes on another layer: spirituality.
  8. I believe that everything is possible.
  9. I have no idea who is Deep Nishar, but I appreciate what he says about product manager.
  10. I did do a lot of research across computer science and neuroscience. Looking back, I’d probably spend less time on research because my passion lies in business.
  11. Instead of volunteering, I ended up interning at a small edTech startup as a software engineer during the first winter vacation.
  12. I interned at Google in the first summer, but I didn’t get into the coding camp I applied to. This is such a blessing in hindsight.
  13. I attended a lot of hackathons. Perhaps too many. At least I made a lot of friends who inspired me to take on a bolder life vision.
  14. I tried VC / PE / Consulting and found my passion for entrepreneurship.
  15. The only thing I didn’t keep up is French.

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with my trajectory. Maybe it’s time to write one for the next five years.

Have you written any letter to your advisor in your freshman year? I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. I’d really appreciate it if you could take a minute to fill out this survey for me! ❤️