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Takeaways from my Coffee Chat w/ Emily Liu

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Have you ever wondered what makes a good supplementary application, why go to Western Ivey School of Business (if you get an offer), and the difference between Investment Banking and Consulting?

Well so have I! And even if not, I think this article will benefit you as a high school student.

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak with Emily Liu, a student @ Western for BMOS & Ivey, as well as being an Advisory Intern @ Deloitte. As I was nearing university applications in the coming Fall 2023 and looking to apply for Western Ivey AEO, I wanted to ask her all about the applications and university life, so I could set myself up for success.

In this article, I'll be going over my key takeaways from each section of my call with Emily, first starting off with supplementary applications.

👀 Article Outline:

  1. Supplementary Applications

  2. University of Western Ontario

  3. Investment Banking vs. Consulting

Supplementary Applications

1. Understand what universities are looking for

The first thing Emily emphasized to me when applying for universities, was that you should always know what kind of students that specific program is looking for. This means going over the application website and reading it over carefully, so you can align your essay answers according to their needs.

Example of what Western Ivey looks for in their applicants.

When discussing this point, I was immediately struck by its similar it is to job applications. When you're filling out the application and getting interviewed, you always want to consider what the employer wants, and to demonstrate those traits and experiences to them. You want to make the interviewer/ admission officer's job easy, so it's obvious you are cut out for their program. It's exactly the same for university applications.

2. Use C-A-R-L when writing essays

Moreover, Emily mentioned using the C-A-R-L framework when structuring my responses, so that you can go in-depth about your experience and show that you are continuously taking learnings out of your experiences.

  • Context: Briefly describe the context of you experience

  • Action: Explain what actions you took

  • Results: Explain what happened as a result of your actions

  • Learning: Identify what you have learned

By following a specific framework, you can craft a strong essay with a good flow. With the use of results and learnings, you can show the impact of your actions and your reflections. Additionally, personal growth is something which admission officers want to see.

3. Peer-edit + revise, revise, revise

Another point Emily touched upon was to not worry about writing down your best essay in one sitting. Take it gradually, write several drafts and make it incrementally better each time. It's super important in this stage to ask for feedback from other people (such as from other upper years or even current students at your target university).

4. Try and have your essay come a full circle

One final tip Emily gave me in this section, was to have your essays start and end in a full circle. For example, if you start off with the question about what leadership truly is, finish off with a revelation you made about it, or try to tie it back together relating to that.

For context, I also used this tactic for my Grade 11 English presentation last school year, and my teacher ended up saying in front of the class that my presentation was the

"highest of the highest level 4".

This was coming from an IB teacher too. Obviously, many factors in my presentation, including in-depth analysis & high standards slides (TEDtalk style) contributed to my success, but I truly believe that by starting off with a question I had in mind, answering it through my talk, and posing it back to them helped formulate a cohesive presentation and deliver the message I wanted to. Circular writing will help greatly in application essays as well.

University of Western Ontario

Another topic Emily and I dwelled upon the call was why she chose Western and her tips for university! As I will be going to university in September of 2024, I first started with asking her questions about the transition between high school to university.

Managing the Transition from High School to University

1. Have strong time-management skills

One major different between high school and university that Emily noted is that in high school, teachers chase after you for assignments while in university, it's solely up to you to stay on top of each class.

At the University of Western Ontario, Emily said that her marks are generally based on three exams per course, so it's super vital to have good time management and study skills. She suggested that every week, you should choose a day to review the content from each class, that way you won't have to cram when it's exam time.

2. Mitigate homesickness... and lack of friends

Another thing Emily noticed was that if you move away from home for university, you might feel homesick and bored. So she suggested going around your dorm, knocking on doors to introduce yourself and talk with the upper years in your dorm to find friends. She also suggested bringing an item or two from home to combat homesickness and to keep a similar schedule as the one you had at home.

Why Western?

Personally, my two target schools are Queens' Commerce and Western for Ivey AEO. So a major question I had for Emily was why did she choose Western over other universities?

To answer this question, Emily spoke about the option Western has for Dual-Degree learning, where you can complete two degrees at the same time (e.g. Law + Ivey, CS + Ivey, BMOS + Ivey, etc.). This can be very advantageous when looking for a job because you already have the skillset of two fields, which can be highly sought after.

One of Emily's regrets was that she chose BMOS (Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies) rather than something different, as Ivey was already going to be about business. So if I ever have to choose, I will probably take her advice and do CS or something I'm interested in!

Emily also talked about how Western provides prestige, connections, and supportive peers. Additionally, at Ivey, they teach using case-method learning which enables students to learn using situations from the real business world (unique to Ivey).


In terms of financing, tuition is $6-8k per year for years 1 and 2, then $25k per year for years 3 and 4. This added up to a total of up to $66k for the education alone. Then you need to add residence costs which will be $15-20k a year for first year. And years 2-4 you can rent with others for $6-7k.

So all in all, we're looking at around 107k plus books, food, transportation, leisure. That is quite steep.

Luckily, Emily told me that there is an on-campus Human Resources place you can go to and look for jobs. She tells me that working during the school year is definitely possible (10hr/week should be manageable) and there are on-campus jobs too. While this may seem great, it probably won't make a huge dent in the overall tuition assuming wages will be minimum wage or slightly higher. Therefore, it will be wise to seek funding in scholarships and apply for OSAP.

Study Tips

For this section, Emily says to determine your learning style first and structure your study methods around your strengths. For Emily, she finds that it really works for her to pretend to teach the content and to say things out loud.

“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” ― Albert Einstein

Moreover, the use of flashcards, going over notes intermittently, drawing out mind maps will be beneficial. For math, she says to do practice problems and put all the formulas onto one page.

Just a bonus tip: If you want to stand out to your professors, go to office hours.

Surprisingly, there isn't always that many people there and professors like it when you are genuinely curious about a topic. Also, by doing this you can build knowledge and connections with your teacher and classmates. Additionally, you can also raise your hand and sit at the front of their classes.

To further build rapport with them (or any professional for that matter), you can look them up and mention their work and ask them about it!

Clubs + ECs @ Western

Last but not least, similar to in high school, Clubs and Extracurriculars (ECs) are important in university. At Western, Emily tells me that it is a requirement to join at least three clubs. She suggests choosing one club for each of the following clauses.

  1. Professional Development

  2. Interest

  3. Social Impact

By doing so, you can engage in well-rounded extracurriculars. Additionally, you can find the Western club list on Google + Follow them on Instagram. As they do summer events, it can be advantageous to go to them if you know you're going to that university.

Investment Banking versus Consulting

In terms of career path, I'm looking into going to Investment Banking or Consulting. No matter which school I end up getting into, I am extremely determined to work hard, and to put my blood, sweat, and tears, to achieve the success I want.

When asking Emily about these two competitive fields, she said a number of things.

First off, for Investment Banking (IB)

- it's more lucrative than consulting - hours are very long - the workload is extremely tough - In this field, you act as a middlemen to help secure deals for M&A - More computer-heavy and dependent on the market

Then, for Consulting

Emily told me how being a consultant is more so social impact and doing new things. As a consultant, the company and field you work in is very different each time, and you try to find solutions for them.

As such, I'm leaning towards this one as I myself am also really passionate about social impact, and I prefer the slightly shorter hours. I honestly just cannot see myself working away for many, many, many hours with little to no purpose just for a slightly higher pay, and my conversation with Emily helped me better understand this.


In conclusion, my coffee chat with Emily was very interesting and helpful. I learned a lot about how to write a really strong essay piece for university applications, why Western is a great school for business, and the major differences between Investment Banking and Consulting.

Due to this chat, I think I'll be looking to get accepted into and go to to Western Ivey, as well as to pursue a career in consulting. This chat was super interesting and I would like to thank Emily and Illuminate Universe for giving me this opportunity to network and learn.

It's been a great half-year with Illuminate and moving forward in the future, I'll continue to reflect on what I learned here, as well as to maintain a mindset of LIFELONG LEARNING!

~ This is Anson Lee, signing off

Illuminate Leadership Jan 2023 Cohort


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