To offset the negative effects of closed university campuses and wealth-exclusive college counseling on potential applicants, YouTubers like Iris Fu ’24 are helping high schoolers navigate the college admissions process.
In recent years, Stanford students, including Dyllen Nellis ’23 and Katherine Waissbluth ’22, founder of The Kath Path, have used their YouTube channels to help high schoolers write their essays and applications and to show the lives of Stanford students. Most recently, Fu, whose college reaction video garnered over 145,000 views, has been regularly creating college admissions related content for her audience. Fu thinks the wide appeal of college YouTubers comes from how “they are shedding more insight into the [college admissions] industry.”
As for her personal inspirations, Fu noted that the channel Cath in College, one of the first college YouTube channels from a Stanford student, excited her about the prospect of vlogging at a top academic institution. Similar to her predecessors, Fu regularly posts videos with her personal advice on the college admission process, spending anywhere from six to 20 hours each week producing content. She has also geared her content towards finding opportunities during the pandemic, including videos about “at-home” extracurriculars and securing internships.
When asked how she decides what to post on her channel, she listed a couple of questions she asks herself: Would I enjoy creating the content? Would it provide value to other people? Fu also looks at her analytics to see which videos are driving the most traffic to her channel, which gives her a good sense of what people are looking for.
Fu regularly engages with her audience and hosts a Slack channel with almost 600 students from across the world to explore their personal interests. She also sends a weekly newsletter to her users with personal insights and quotes to improve their productivity and motivation.
In addition to sharing college admission tips, Fu talks about insecurities high schoolers may face during the application process on her channel. In a recent video, she shared her personal struggles on comparing herself to others and encouraged her audience to recognize their self worth, recommending ways to escape overwhelming internal, negative comparisons.
When asked about facing negativity from the internet, Fu responded that she is not concerned.
“All that matters [is] that you provide value to the people who actually appreciate your work,” she said.
Fu emphasized the importance of finding passion through extracurriculars, claiming, “As long as you’re doing what you enjoy and putting your best effort into it, that is going to be enough, not just for college, but for your own sake.”
After being the only girl in the final round for the National Economics Challenge, Fu discovered her passion to address gender inequality in economics and wrote her own economics book. In her book, she aimed to incentivize female representation in the economics field and created graphics that were gender neutral to appeal to a wider audience. She urges other students with passion projects like hers to find value and use them to further their interest in a field, but warns that “the worst thing you can do is do something for the sole sake of getting into college and not actually getting any value from it yourself.”
Fu plans to continue with her YouTube channel when she enters Stanford this fall.
“I’m having a lot of fun with it,” she said. “I know I’m going to at least upload once a week, even as I go into college.”
“College is just a stepping stone; it’s not the end goal,” she said. “Do things for yourself, not for an admissions officer who sees your application for 15 minutes.”
This article has been corrected to reflect that Iris Fu checks which videos drive the most traffic to her channel. A previous version of the article incorrectly stated she checks which videos drive the most traffic to the writer’s channel. The Daily regrets this error.
Contact Nevin Thombre at nevin.n.thombre ‘at’ gmail.com