EducationUSA Mentorship Program

ANGELYN ARDIWINATA LIEM: How I Decided What to Study?

Let me first start: I am Angelyn Ardiwinata Liem, and I graduated from Columbia University in New York city with a master of science degree in Social Enterprise Administration from the Social Work School in 2013.


I was very interested in social entrepreneurship at the time (and still am!). Ever since college, I know that my passion lies at the intersection of Education and Business. My personal life journey has made me realize the importance of education and I want everyone to have a good education. I don’t know how else I can get everyone to have a good education without involving some kind of business methods/tools. See, in business, you can scale things up. That is why I thought Social Entrepreneurship major would be best for me based on this passion of mine.


How did I decide what to study?


I asked myself what I wanted to do in life; what my purpose of life is. I could have taken an MBA instead because it would be easier to apply to jobs and people somehow favor you more if you have an MBA degree. I actually wish I had taken an MBA for a while. But in hindsight, I am glad that I chose what I chose. My classmates at the Social Work School were some of the most interesting and genuine people I have ever met, even though at the time I did not realize that because I thought I had chosen the wrong school.


What was the most difficult part of the application?


The GRE! Like many people, I don’t like taking tests.


How did you choose the people who wrote recommendation letters for me?


Based on their credibility, relevance to the school I am applying to, and how much they would support me. I chose my boss (who went to the same university), a founder and CEO of a top social enterprise in Indonesia, and my favorite college professor.


How many schools did you apply to?


I applied to Harvard, NYU, Columbia, and Pepperdine. Got into both NYU and Columbia and chose to go to Columbia. If I got to apply again, I would have added Stanford to the list, now that I realize how much I love entrepreneurial thinking!


One piece of advice?

Don’t fuss over grades. Fuss over whether you truly understand whatever it is you’re studying.

And if I got to do it all over again, I would:

Work on a real project that I am passionate in while at School, get a lot of input from professors and classmates, join and win competitions, take internships seriously, and then go and turn that project into a real startup.

January 21, 2015

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