Interview with Melody Fuentes, College Advice Tik Toker & Full Ride Stanford Admit!
Bio: Within current society, there is no greater power than that offered by education and opportunity. Unfortunately, both may be limited to individuals within underrepresented communities. Melody Fuentes is a student-activist and leader working to change this, in hopes of creating equal possibilities and great futures for all. Using Tiktok as a platform in order to spread vital information on high school, scholarships, and the college application, she strives to provide life-changing resources to any student who comes across her page.
Interview by Aleena Kumandan
So introduce yourself!
Hi! I’m Melody, a proud Hispanic, and I’m currently a high school Senior
Is there anything in particular you’d like me to mention?
Tell us about what you do on Tiktok and your @
I go by the username @pinkishtea on tiktok, where I use the platform to focus on providing advice on education and free resources that students across the world could hopefully take advantage of.Typically this means providing advice on the college application process and tips and tricks that I’ve gotten from Ivy League admissions officers, that I wish I would have known long ago to make the process easier. My overall goal is to make the process clearer to students, along with providing an abundance of scholarships that they could apply to.
What prompted you to start sharing this advice on Tiktok?
Well, since fifth grade I’ve had my eyes set on Stanford as my first choice, or any Ivy, really. So when I got to highschool, I was stressing myself out with trying to do everything possible, as I didn’t know what was or wasn’t important and was afraid of missing out on any opportunity. It was all so confusing, and I spent hours going through advice and resources, going to college seminars, and talking with over 25 admissions officers to see what to do and what not to do. In the end, everything I’ve learned helped me reach my goal, but there was a lot of stress and confusion to get there. I realized that I was privileged to have the time and resources available to be able to find the information I did, and others may not have the same opportunity.So, when I posted a tiktok of my acceptance, it got over 90k likes on tiktok, which was crazy to me, and I got thousands of comments wanting to know my stats and any advice I had. I realized that I wanted to spread as much information as possible in order to help students, so that instead of losing sleep and going through the same stress as me, they could just watch the advice I was given from professionals in digestible, 1-minute videos to know what to spend time on and feel confident in the direction they’re going to. I especially wanted to help those of lower income or opportunities, as they may not have the ability to seek out the advice on education and the college process.
Is there anything that you ever did to help you relieve stress while you were in the application process?
Luckily, I had a very great support system with my family, as they’ve always supported me and had my back no matter what. So, whenever I felt stressed, I’d talk with them about everything I was feeling, even sometimes having a good cry here and there, really it was really cathartic to be able to release all of the frustrations of the process I had with people that cared about me. Power naps, annoying my cat, and tea were also go-to stress relievers for me, as was spending some time on social media to distract myself for a bit.
Is there anything you’d advise people to avoid?Anything that caused unnecessary stress or anxiety?
I would strongly advise to live in the present. As high schoolers, it’s easy to have a fixation on the future and the fears of not doing enough, or not standing out. Focusing too much on this prevents you from living your life in the moment. As much as high school is about education, it is also four years of your life that go by in a flash, and it is vital that those moments aren’t spent in misery fixating on the future. Mental health should always be one’s #1 priority (as should sleep, but students rarely follow that one, hah).
Additionally, you don’t need to do everything or jump on every opportunity to get to where you want to, remember, quality over quantity.
I saw that in one of your tiktoks you mention the concept of being a “well rounder vs spikes”could you elaborate more on that concept? Which one were you and how did it affect your application process?
I got this information from a Harvard admissions officer in a seminar. “Well Rounded” students are typically jacks of all trades, but masters of none. Essentially, they likely don’t have a clear direction or a clear passion, so they may be exploring and doing multiple things that may alight with their interests. This is 100% okay.
“Spikes” are individuals that may be good in multiple areas, but there is one particular area (typically an extracurricular or passion of some kind) that they excel at (think of Olympians). Their spike is what helps them stand out and clearly tells the university what they can offer and will be pursuing in their institution.From the description, it may seem like spikes have an advantage, and in some ways, they do.
I fit more in the “Well Rounded” group, as that was what was promoted in my school. However, when I found out that having a spike is a great way to stand out, I made one based on all of the activities that I was already in. Essentially, I created a theme to my application with the main idea that centralized my overall motivation and passion, so that although my activities may seem scattered (though I’ve been in them for many years with leadership/founding positions), they were all connected, and thus created a “spike” through the way they were interconnected, though it was not my intention throughout highschool.
So what you’re saying is that to have a spike you don’t necessarily need to know exactly what you’re going to do in life starting in freshman year? What would you say to someone who doesn’t know exactly what their passion is by the time they’re starting the application process?
Sure, all a spike is is a particular area that you excel at and have dedicated a lot into. If you start the process of applications and don’t know what your passion is, that’s okay, you’re not alone, there are many individuals that are in your boat. However, it’s important to know what your intrinsic motivation is. Look at everything you do, and find what connects a lot/most of it. What is the reason you do what you do and you are who you are? How are you a person that puts back more into the community than you receive? If you don’t know exactly what direction you’re headed and are still exploring, these are great points to emphasize.
How do you suggest people go about picking schools that would be a good fit for them?
You need to do a lot of research into what you’re looking for. There’s A LOT that one needs to consider, such as financial aid, majors available, opportunities offered, campus and class sizes, student to teacher ratios, safety, etc. It’s almost never ending. However, there are multiple resources online that help point you in the direction of standards you set for yourself in what you look for a college. If you’re interested in one, go to their website and do some digging. College seminars are also great ways in order to see what a college can offer you and what steps to take in order to get admitted.
Could you name some resources that you personally use to gain access to this information?
Since I knew where I wanted to go since fifth grade, I never really sought out resources for factors to consider, as when I did more research on each individual college’s website, I had standards that I set in my head for what I wanted.
However, if people are still lost:
These two articles are great in detailing things to look out for. Also, there’s very little a quick google search can’t solve.
These resources look great! What are your feelings on community college?
Unfortunately, there’s such a negative stigma about going to community college out of high school or in general. However, there is ABSOLUTELY NO SHAME IN DOING SO. Not only is it a great way to save money, but it is easier to transfer to another college (if that’s the route one plans to go on). In the end, it’s the same degree, and education is education (though opportunities offered may differ). We should not shame individuals from searching out resources and opportunities available, and frankly to look down upon those who go to community college is pretentious and, frankly, ignorant.
Lastly, are there any final thoughts you want to share?
Education in general may seem confusing and as if there are never-ending pieces of information that you need to know. However, everything is completely doable. Believe me, everything will be okay. Do not stress over about external factors, and instead focus on your internal locus if control, what YOU have in your power to work on. Focus on your mental health and take care of yourself, your grades and opportunities are NOTHING without you.
Find ways to cope with stress, and in the end, remember, everything will be okay.
Whatever direction you go, as long as you act with integrity, intention, and drive, you will be okay.