An Interview with Charanya U

Charanya U is a current high school senior who will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University in fall 2018. As a result of her ability to balance academic rigor with extracurricular activities, she was granted guaranteed admission to VCU’s medical program. We briefly spoke with Charanya about how she balanced work and play.*


How did you first learn about RCC?

My sister was also a student in the program, but I think my dad may have had a mutual friend with Ramana.


Ramana shared with us that you’ll be joining your sister at VCU. What made you decide to attend that school?

Being offered guaranteed admission to their medical program was a major factor that influenced our decision, but it’s also close to home where my family is.


Before we dive further into why we’re chatting with you, do you remember what your diagnostic score was at the beginning of the SAT program? Was it already high, average, or did you have room for improvement?

I believe I had scored somewhere in the 1200 – 1300 range, so I definitely had room for improvement!


And what was your College Board SAT score after going through the RCC SAT Prep course?

A 1520.


Wow! That’s a huge improvement. What role did that play in your acceptance into VCU?

A big role! A minimum 1500 is attractive to a lot of schools, so my score was definitely helpful.


Part of why we’re chatting with you is because many parents who enroll their student, or are considering enrolling their student, in our program are curious about how other students balance their academic studies with their extracurricular activities. Can you provide a snapshot of how you balanced both as an RCC SAT Prep student?

I actually took the summer SAT, May – October, so it was a little easier to balance and focus on the program, because school was out. But during the school year, I took the materials that I learned in class home. I would spend about 30 minutes each day practicing what I learned. The continuity of practicing really helped a lot. Internal motivation pays off. I know it can be really hard. Even though I hated it at the time, I have no regrets about it now.


It obviously paid off big time. Can you share some of the extracurriculars you were involved in?

Sure. I played sports – tennis. I was president of the Key Club, so leadership can be a big commitment. I was also in the Pre-Med Club, and I committed to one volunteer activity per week, in addition to my school classes. But during the week, I primarily focused on my school work. On the weekends, I would carve out more time for extracurriculars.


It’s also important to socialize with friends, too. It’s easy to get caught up in academics, but having a social group can help serve as your support system.


Some students in our current programs are friends when they begin the course. In fact, some of them use this course to challenge each other and see who can score the highest. Were you friends with any of your SAT Prep classmates beforehand?

Not initially, no. But there was one girl who went to the same school that I did. We ended up helping each other during breaks. If I had a question or didn’t understand something, she would share her notes or explain a problem in a way that helped me. So, I was able to make new friends during the SAT program.


As someone who has already been through college, I understand how important learning to balance work and play is. Parents aren’t constantly there to remind their children to do homework, for example, so it’s great that you’ve already got that figured out before you head off to VCU. Are there any other tips that we haven’t touched on that you would recommend?

Every student is different, so you just have to learn what works best for you. But learning to manage your time is super important. I kept a calendar where I could keep track of my daily activities. Also, be proactive about your courses.


For parents, I would recommend to just support and motivate your students. My parents never really forced my sister and I to do things, they would just encourage us in the right direction. Don’t be forceful or too strict, just encourage your students to be self-sufficient and help them to develop their self-confidence.


For more tips on Charanya’s high school preparation for college, check out her write-up, “Activities that Students can do during High School.”


*Interview edited for brevity.