West Linn High School student plans for Yale University
Anisha Arcot's collegiate dream will become a reality starting next fall. The West Linn High School senior recently discovered she was accepted into six of the eight Ivy League schools in the country, and Yale University was at the top of her list.
Ivy League schools are selective universities that are considered to be the most prestigious colleges in the United States.
"It feels like walking into a dark room, applying to colleges, and you really don't know what to expect," Arcot said. "I very well could have gotten into two schools or three schools or every single school, who knows. I don't really feel one way or the other about it besides feeling grateful that there was an outcome I enjoy and that I'll be able to go somewhere I want to be next year."
Yale University — which is the most likely choice for Arcot — has an overall acceptance rate of about 6.3 percent, and Arcot doesn't just credit her straight As or AP classes for her acceptance; she thinks her interest and involvement with languages, cultures and extracurricular activities boosted her chances as well.
"Just finding those few things that really interested me and then pursuing them to the fullest extent that I could, kind of helped me figure out what my interests were and I think that's what colleges are looking for but I really have no idea," Arcot said. "I didn't do any of those things with the sole thought of getting into a college in mind; it was just that they were things that interested me and I guess that worked out in my favor."
Arcot's love for languages began in kindergarten when she started learning Japanese. The following year she took up Chinese, and eventually she came to learn Spanish, Russian and a small amount of Hindi.
"I think (learning languages) is a really interesting way to explore new cultures and as a part of learning foreign languages, I've studied abroad a couple times so that definitely takes up a lot of my time," she said. "I think it's a rewarding thing to study and you can make connections through it."
In eighth grade, Arcot lived abroad with her family for a year in India and Malaysia.
"That was the first time I realized that it doesn't matter which country you're living in, there will always be people who are similar to you and who you can connect with," Arcot said.
"I think that's what helped me go study abroad and live abroad again; (that experience helped by) mitigating the fear of what it's like to live in a different country with people who have grown up in different cultures than you."
Attending WLHS as a freshman, Arcot left again to study abroad at a prestigious school in Beijing her second semester. And when she decided she wanted to learn Russian halfway through her high school career, she wanted to try something a bit different.
Through the National Security Language Initiative, an immersive study-abroad program that places students in a country for slightly less than two months to undergo formal and informal language practices, Arcot learned the basics of Russian before living with a host family.
Once there, her host parents didn't speak English.
"I had only been learning Russian for three weeks," said Arcot, adding that she used the translation app on her phone, drew pictures or used sign language for help. "I would bond with my host mom over very basic things like cooking a meal with her or watching Russian television."
Aside from learning languages at an early age, Arcot has sailed frequently since she was 8.
She remembers her first sailing camp that her parents made her attend. And she was terrified.
"I wasn't an adrenaline junkie 8-year-old or anything like that so I was convinced it wasn't for me but by the end of the week it calmed down weather-wise so I started getting the hang of it and kept taking some summer camps," said Arcot, who joined a competitive middle school race team and has been sailing competitively ever since. "I really enjoy it because there's a good combination of strategy and also athletic ability involved so it's very engaging as a sport."
Arcot plans to continue sailing on Yale's team. She'd also like to continue studying Russian and look into political science, global affairs and economics during college.
While Arcot is leaving her future open, she would like to work in government, whether that be diplomacy, foreign service or another area.
"I think it's a cool way to give back to an environment, a country and potentially school systems that have benefited me so much," she said.
A career in law might even be in Arcot's future. After competing for the WLHS Mock Trial team for three years and interning for an attorney last summer, she has found yet another passion.
"Mock trial is kind of the movie law where you're in a courtroom, your witnesses are crying on the stand and all those funny things, but I got to experience what it's really like to practice law," Arcot said. "I kind of understood that there are some really tough elements to it but some of it is really rewarding, like when you win a case, when an adoption goes through or a parent gets custody of their child. There are really happy moments that easily outweigh the sad moments and I think that was an eye-opening experience."
Arcot plans to visit Yale for a second time later this month to finalize her decision for undergraduate school.