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Tech’s Personal Touch Big Factor in Accepted Student's Decision

Jan 22, 2018

On Saturday, January 13, more than 4,600 students received acceptance letters from Georgia Tech after applying through early action. Now they have a decision to make- is Georgia Tech the best fit for them? This is a story about a first- year tech student who found herself in a similar position at this time last year.

Like any high school student trying to make a college decision, Riya Agrawal considered a lot of factors last spring as she weighed offers from a variety of schools.

The academic standards for Georgia Tech were incredible, the rankings were impressive, and the price was right, but what swayed the first-year chemical and biomolecular engineering major was her first impression of the people at Georgia Tech.

When the resident of Bangalore, India was trying to choose a college, campus visits were out of the question. She had heard good things about Tech from family friends who lived in the area, so she took the time to look into Tech’s academics, co-op programs, and the affordability of a Georgia Tech degree. She and her parents liked what they found, so she applied and waited. What happened next blew her away.

Riya Agrawal sitting on a stone wall outside of the Ford ES&T Building

“After I got all of my college acceptance letters, I was weighing my options,” recalled Agrawal. “Every school reached out in some way, but the way Georgia Tech did it really moved us as a family. Five current Georgia Tech students contacted me in the same week. They were all in Bangalore for the summer and wanted to meet me. I met them for lunch with other accepted students, and they told us all about Georgia Tech. It was informal and very cool and personal. They loved Tech so much they wanted to talk to us. Who does that? I made my decision then and there.”

With that kind of introduction to the Tech community, Agrawal’s expectations were very high when she arrived on campus. A semester later, she is happy to report that those expectations have not just been met, but exceeded. She particularly likes how supportive Tech students are of each other.

“There are a lot of really good schools for engineering, but based on my conversations with students elsewhere, the environment here is different,” said Agrawal. “At Tech, the students are grounded in reality and the environment is more collaborative than competitive. It's not cutthroat here. People support each other, and that sets Georgia Tech apart.”

She has also been impressed by the diversity on campus and the range of activities and organizations available for students, from major-focused professional associations to performing arts clubs. 

“I've been involved with service projects like Engage Atlanta, and I joined Ramblin' Raas, a competitive Indian dance team,” said Agrawal. “I'm in the Grand Challenges program as well, which has made it so easy to make friends. It's so inclusive, and I'm having a great time. I'm glad I was right about the sense of community here.”

Riya Agrawal posing in traditional Indian dance costume

Finding a community where she could make a difference was important to Agrawal, who was born in Seattle to Indian parents, and moved to India when she was seven. 

“I was kind of born into two worlds,” said Agrawal. “In America there's an excess of many things, but in India it was completely different. I want to get into a discipline focused on sustainability and conservation of resources. That means a lot to me. When I moved to Bangalore it was a rural area, and it grew up around us. I want to learn how to do that sustainably.”

Her interest in sustainability led her to pursue a chemical engineering degree, which has a broad base and lies at the heart of energy and material production. Her hope is that by acquiring a better understanding of sustainable production, she can help shape policy on some level, whether it’s by working for companies or through government. Either way, she’s well prepared to make her case. After all, she was a national champion debater in high school and represented India at the international championship. 

“Whatever I end up doing, I want to work with people,” said Agrawal. “I want to help make the world a better place. I can already tell Georgia Tech is going to prepare me for that.”

By taking advantage of all that Georgia Tech has to offer, Agrawal has shown that her decision to commit to being a Yellow Jacket was a wise one.