Junior Turned Freshman: Edmund Takes College


On graduation day in 2015, TAS junior Edmund Tong held in his hands a laminated diploma and a small bouquet of flowers. He topped off the look with his very own graduation cap, the last of the three items given to him by his fellow StuGov officers.
For Edmund, the day was practically his own graduation day. As a junior, he was about to head to Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science in the fall. It was going to be a very different journey from the senior year others in his class saw ahead of them.
The seed behind this move began budding after Edmund attended a summer program at Carnegie Mellon after sophomore year. “Throughout that experience, I was continually amazed by the educational capabilities that a college could offer…[it] was so appealing that I did not want to wait another year,” said Edmund.
These thoughts became a reality when, at the beginning of the year, Edmund took his idea to Mr. Lowman, his assigned college counselor. From then on, Edmund began rigorously researching colleges that would best fit him.
His application process “was hardly any different from the process that the current seniors are going through.” The only difference was that he checked a few extra checkboxes and had to explain why he was applying without a high school diploma.
Edmund applied to several other high-ranked institutions besides CMU. However, what drew him eventually to his school of choice was his avid love for computer science. “Quoting Mr. Lowman, Carnegie Mellon is the computer scientists’ playground. The longer I’m here, the more I see the truth in that statement,” said Edmund. “My peers have played with all sorts of things that I’ve never heard of, and I can’t wait to learn more from them over the next four years.”
Although interest-wise, Edmund was bound to fit right in, he was still nervous for his first day of school. “[It] was a pretty nerve-wracking day as I sat through 3D Calculus, Economics, the freshman English class, and Matrices and Linear Transformations,” he said. “I realized pretty quickly that this was going to be nothing like high school. The homework was going to have
staggered due dates, and priorities would have to change as time passed.”
But as everyone does, Edmund has settled down and is finding his place at his new home. “There are no average days at CMU,” he said. “Every day is unique because of the research I see that’s being done (did you know that CMU is thinking about building Baymax?!), the stuff that I’m learning, and the stuff I’m being challenged with. One of my homework problems was solving P vs. NP (a major unsolved problem in computer science)–it was for extra credit, a million dollars, and a PhD.”
He looks to continue engaging in the special community around him, having joined Cru, a Christian organization, and having applied to join the Carnegie Mellon Emergency Medical Service team. He also plans on furthering his work in computer science outside of class. Ultimately, he hopes to end up with at least a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, but Edmund remains open-minded about the endless opportunities ahead of him.
To current college applicants, he urges you to take it easy and not force the process. “The ideas will start popping into your head on the bus, right before you fall asleep, or while you’re walking to class,” said Edmund. “From my experience, those ideas were the best ones.”
Full Q&A with Edmund here!