About two years ago, Mai-Thy Pham was the editor of Silver International. After she graduated from Blair, she went to the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC). She is now attending college as a sophomore and agreed to share her experiences with Silver International readers.
How did you get into UMBC?
When I was a senior in high school, I didn't really plan to go to UMBC. I thought I was going to go to Montgomery College (MC) for two years then transfer to the University of Maryland at College Park. However, I still applied to UMBC for back up. When I took the placement test at MC, they put me in some kind of remedial English class where I would not get credit. I wasn't too happy about that. I felt that if I spent time to study in that class I would waste my time and money. Fortunately, I got accepted to UMBC. So I just got ready to go to UMBC and forgot about going to MC.
Did you take the SAT and get a good score?
I did take the SAT test. I didn't get a really high score. But I got accepted to UMBC, maybe because of my high GPA.
Could you tell us about the major you're studying right now in UMBC?
I am majoring in Information Systems. An information system can be defined technically as a set of interrelated components that collect, process, store, and distribute information to support decision making, coordination, control, analysis, and visualization in an organization. I study many different things for my major. For example, programming, software/hardware, networking, accounting, economics, statistics, database management and more. It is a really interesting field.
Do you live at home or at school?
I live in the dorm with a roommate. My roommate is an old friend from high school, so we get along very well. It is very fun and convenient to live in the dorm. In the room we have cable TV and Internet. Living in the dorm, I am able to get to know a lot more friends. It is very secure to be in the dorm. Every resident needs to show his or her ID whenever he or she wants to go in. Some people say that is inconvenient. But I like it that way. For the guests, they need to have the resident from the dorm sign them in. The floor I am living on now is mixed boys and girls. But there is also a floor for females only. There is also a quiet floor, or a "scholars" floor. Every floor of the building has a Resident Assistant (RA). So whenever you have any problem about your floor, you can go to your RA. There are a lot more activities during week nights and weekends. I usually go home on the weekend so I don't know too much about it. But living in the dorm is not boring. You will always find something fun to do during your free time.
How do you manage your payments of all the costs?
The cost of tuition, meals, and room for each semester is around $5,500. I have financial aid from both Maryland and the federal government. I also have a scholarship and a little loan to cover my bills.
What is your GPA now?
I am doing very well. I believe I am learning more English along the way with these classes rather than taking the remedial classes I was supposed to take at Montgomery College. I don't know my GPA exactly. But my goal is to keep it above 3.5 and I know it's higher than that.
What would you advise for students who are planning to go to college?
Take as many AP classes as you can in high school. Those credits will help you go faster in college. Join as many activities as you can. Try to learn some leadership skills.