Saint Peter’s College, Accounting/Economics

Name: Anelia Stanimirova
Home City/Country: Sofia, Bulgaria
U.S. Institution: Saint Peter’s College, NJ
Academic Degree: B.S.
Major/Minor: Accounting/Economics, Honors Program

Why did you choose to study in the United States?
I would say: influence. Influence from a brother or sister, a teacher, a friend, but mostly
parents. In my case-it was my sister. She graduated from First English Language School (FELS ) in Sofia and went to study in Poland. All she dreamt about was studying abroad. When I was at home I was always listening to her “speeches” about SAT, TOEFL and the different characteristics every single university was looking for in a potential candidate. That is what they chase so eagerly: someone who can make a difference, who can outstand among the others. From the first day I entered the classroom in FELS, I knew what I wanted and what I had to do to make it happen. I knew about SAT-s and TOEFL, how to prepare and when to take them; I knew how important it was to be enrolled in extracurricular activities and maintain high GPA. The choice – the U.S. before others, was very clear. Everybody was talking about the “American Dream” and how to get there and fulfill it. It is hard to go in different direction while your school is the one with the highest rate of students accepted in the U.S. colleges and universities. I knew I had an opportunity for a better life and I grabbed it.

How did you prepare for applying for admission with financial aid?
Well, first of all I had to maintain a very high GPA. Second, a lot of extracurricular activities like mathematics competitions and awards helped a lot. There is no doubt that the most important thing was my preparation for the exams. I took SAT Subject Tests and TOEFL in the summer after the 11th grade and SAT Reasoning Test in November, in the beginning of the 12th grade. Lots of time was devoted to the SAT Reasoning test because I could not afford to pass it with unsatisfactory results. Another reason was that I wanted to apply for early admission. If I failed, I had to take the exam in December or January which would have been too late. Recommendations gave a great weight on my application, too. I asked for recommendations my swimming coach and a couple of teachers who knew me very well not only as a student, but also as a person. I believe that my whole preparation diligence, research and good time handling helped me to be where I am now.

How did you assess the colleges you applied to?
I am an international student so it was very important to choose a college or university which grants full or almost full scholarship. Firstly, I checked online all colleges which accepted students from my school before.
Secondly, I asked teachers and friends for some of them. Thirdly, I made frequent visits to the Bulgarian Fulbright Advising Center where was the core for my research and information. One of the most important things was the information I received through rumors. It may sound silly, but when you know somebody who was accepted somewhere your first reaction is to research the college and if you assess that the chance to be admitted is great, eventually you apply and wait for the result. You can easily separate the colleges you have a chance with when you know the exam results, extracurricular activities and standing in the class of the students who are admitted and who are not.

How did you make your application stand out?
I don’t really know because the college does not tell you why they chose you over the other applicants. I just had all my documents prepared, all exam results were sent, all fees were paid and all applications were sent on time. I think, the essay was one of the most significant parts of my application. It actually aimed to show the abilities of students to write in English and the way they approached the topic of the essay. My application was an ordinary one but behind it stayed a lot of work during the last years and a really great desire to study abroad.

What distinguished you from the other successful candidates?
What I knew for the recruiting process in the U.S.A. was that a lot of colleges were eagerly looking for students who have an aptitude for math or physics. With all my love for math and extracurricular activities, I believed that it would be the thing which would distinguish me from the other successful candidates. I had to choose a major, which I would love to study and which looked reasonable with all my school knowledge. I chose Computer Science and it worked out perfectly.

What was the most useful information you learned about how to present yourself successfully to colleges?
The most useful information I learned about how to present myself successfully to colleges was from the Bulgarian Fulbright Advising Center. I didn’t know in details about the application process so I decided to go to the Center for advice. During the group information session conducted by Education USA adviser Mrs. Snezhana Teneva and my one-to-one conversations with her, I gradually made a plan for myself. I knew the sequence of events and the way in which I could make my work most efficient. This was a great source of information and also a place where you can share your thoughts. Parents try to understand the application process but they are even more confused than the students; the classmates are hiding information from each other, because the competition is very high; the teachers don’t have much time and information about the process.
At the Bulgarian Fulbright Advising Center I received precious information. I shared my decisions with an expert who knew a lot about the application process, and who could tell me which was right and which was wrong. Sometimes I changed my mind, sometimes not. Therefore, when I got back home I was not boring my family with my problems but I had time to think and make more and more research. I remember that I made a big board with the most desired colleges and I was comparing them by grants, fees, SAT scores and many other features as advised by Mrs. Teneva.

What mistakes did you make in the application process?
I think the only big difference between the applications was the essay topic. I think that if I made mistakes they must be there. I know I gave the best of me in organizing my applications and I don’t think that I would have changed anything if I could come back and go through the same process. Honestly, it is not if you made a mistake or not. It is about the people who are looking through your application and how they evaluate it.

What characteristics make you a successful student at your U.S. university?
It is very difficult to go in another country and begin a whole new life. You have to be extremely careful and try to follow the rules. As a freshman I had to work at two jobs to pay the college meal plan. Therefore, I concentrated on my study because I didn’t know how these two jobs would affect my grades. At the same time, I tried to balance school with friends. The adaptation process was much easier, because in my class there were 10 Bulgarians and during the first year we stuck together. We had almost the same way of life and we took some classes together. I know for myself that the more things I have to deal with, the more effort I put into achieving them. I studied a lot and tried to get used to the American way of life. I always tried to make much more of myself and here I am – a rising junior with a second internship and a silver medal for excellence, and dreams of working as an auditor in one of the Big Four companies.

How are you preparing for a successful career upon graduation?
I am preparing for a successful career upon graduation by maintaining a high GPA, taking as many major classes as I can and doing an internship in a big firm. At the end of my freshman year I went to the Career Center of the college. There, I gave my resume to the Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Career Services, whose job was to try to find internships for students who wanted to work while at college. During the summer I went to several interviews but nobody wanted to hire a freshman. I was also assigned to a mentor – an alumnus from the college who wished to help students with advice throughout their education. At the beginning of my sophomore year, my mentor arranged me an interview in a CPA firm in Manhattan. Unfortunately, they were looking for a full time employee. Soon after that I received a call from another CPA who was a close friend to the interviewer, working in the same building and who needed somebody urgently. So I went to an interview with him and he hired me. The money was not much; I had to work every day but the experience I got there was priceless. During the second semester, because of the tax season in the USA, the tension and the hours increased. As a result, after the tax season I started looking for another job. I was going to be a rising junior, with a very high GPA, some experience and much more major classes. I applied for a job online in a Tax department and I got an interview. After several days they called me with an offer to work for them as an intern. That was all I was looking for: money was better, the tension was less and the office was closer to my college. I am now working there and I like it a lot.

How are you preparing to give back to your country?
I am preparing to give back to my country all the new things I have learned during my education in the U.S.A. There are so many ideas that can be applied in my country to ease the life of the people. I will also give back my knowledge as an accountant and I will pass the ideas the Americans invented, which are one of the best in the world.

Do you have any advice for prospective international students on how to maximize their chances to qualify for admission and financial aid?
My only advice to prospective international students is to research, research, research which colleges gave full scholarships to students from their country and to choose among them. Information is one of the biggest weapons for success.

Share this

Submit your comment