Student Feature: Steve Li from Carlisle, MA attending Harvard this Fall!

“I’m attending Harvard University in the fall with an interest in Computational Neuroscience!”

– Steve Li

We’ve told you of the benefits of a KTBYTE course, but anyone can list hypotheticals right? That’s why, we interviewed a former KTBYTE student, Steve Li, to show you just how far a KTBYTE course can take your child. Steve Li will be attending Harvard University this fall to study Computational Neuroscience.

Can you give us a picture of your academic background? Where did you go to school, and what were your favourite subjects and extracurriculars?

For my secondary I attended Concord Carlisle Regional High School, where I participated in a variety of extracurriculars. This includes being a part of jazz bands, the robotics team, the varsity tennis team, and performing in a number of concerts. My musical skills range, however the instruments that I am most skilled in would be the oboe and the drums. In the robotics team, I contributed mainly as the lead programmer for them. What was incredible was the surprisingly wide variety of courses offered by my schools social studies department – a part of my school that I really enjoyed. The courses ranged from psychology to the presidency of the United States. As a STEM individual, I was really able to explore my passions through their humanities offerings – an experience that I believe is critical within our rapidly growing technological world. The multifarious course opportunities at my school really got me thinking about different ways to apply my computer science knowledge, whether through a science based or through a liberal-arts based discipline.

As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed was being on the robotics team. From long work days to late-night pizza runs, it was an excellent experience. Not only was I grounded in another field of programming, but I was able to form lifelong friends and to learn how to work as a team. As a programmer, I often find myself in an individual environment, working on my own separate projects. However, on the robotics team, we had to collaborate on all sorts of different components of the machine – the mechanical, electrical, and the programmatic aspects. This experience really influenced my decision to plan to continue with robotics in college!

How did you get started with CS? What was the main thing that sparked your interest?

One of the experiences that really got me into CS was a coding camp that I attended when I was in around 5-6th grade. The camp was designed to teach us how to make iOS apps. I came out of the event feeling very inspired and driven to pursue coding. While my app, a space shooter game, wasn’t quite functional, I still gained a lot from the whole ordeal; My eyes were opened to the potential of programming and its abilities to create extraordinary things.

How did you hear about KTBYTE?

A few months later, my parents heard of KTBYTE from a family friend. I started a few trial lessons, and within a few weeks I attended my first camp during the winter break. From there, I took several KTBYTE courses, allowing me to expand my interests and skills into other areas. Throughout my programming experiences; as a medical software developer, as the programmer for my robotics team, and as a web developer, I have been able to learn about the endless possibilities and applications of computer science.

What year in high school was the hardest for you, and why?

Naturally, I would say that junior year was the hardest and most time consuming. This was easily because I filled my schedule with a lot of courses with a high workload. However, this could be seen as a blessing as I was able to learn early on how to manage my time on top of all the other activities I was doing: robotics, tennis, music, etc. My advice for students is to learn how to work efficiently – figure out the best way for you to study, and make sure that your work environment is free of distractions. For example, I found that my phone was a constant distraction whenever I was trying to complete schoolwork. To combat this, I would put my phone away from my desk in order to focus.

Do you have any tips for students younger than you?

For juniors, the college process may seem daunting at first, but with hard work and focus you can do it! What helped me the most was working on my essays early and completing all my college visits the summer before senior year. That way, on top of the senior year course load I was able to effectively balance my college supplements. Make a schedule for your essays and stick to it – for example, I set due dates for all my supplements in order to force myself to complete them.

With high school, college, and the mounting pressure to do more and more extracurriculars, things can definitely be stressful. But keep in mind, in the end everything will be fine! It will take hard work, diligence, and tenacity, but I can guarantee that your efforts will pay off!

To allow you to fully understand Steve’s experiences and future, we decided to ask his mother a few questions as well.

When did Steve start taking KTBYTE classes?

He started taking KYBYTE classes in the fifth grade.

What classes has he taken?

We started with a beginner class to test things out, however we enjoyed it so much, we ended up taking a huge number of courses – beginner courses, intermediate courses, advanced courses.

In your opinion, did KTBYTE help Steve with developing his passion for and skills in computer science?

Definitely. KTBYTE offered him a systematic knowledge of Computer Science that was easy to learn and follow.

Can you talk about Steve’s USACO experience? How long it took him and what preparation did he do in order to place in Gold?

Steve started USACO after he took CS02. He got USACO Bronze and USACO Silver quite easily, but USACO Gold, being quite difficult, took him a couple tries to get. The courses helped him significantly, and tutoring from office hours made a huge impact too.

What extracurriculuar activites did he do? How did he balance all these areas?

He played the oboe and drum, and was on the tennis team. Good time management was critical to allow him to balance all the activities

What did you think of Steve’s TA and tutoring experience at KTBYTE?

It was great experience – being a TA really helped him acquire critical life skills such as communication, patience, and maturity.

What is your experience with KTBYTE like?

Excellent. We are incredibly thankful that a platform such as KTBYTE existed and was good enough to provide Steve an intense and varied knowledge of CS. I don’t think you could find another place as incredible as KTBYTE.

What colleges did Steve get accepted to?

Steve was lucky enough to get accepted into a multitude of prestigious colleges such as Harvard, Stanford, Illinois Champagne, and George Tech.

Did his KTBYTE experience play a role in his becoming the leader of the robotics club at school?

Yes. Because of the extensive knowledge of programming that KTBYTE provided him, he found it much easier to program in the robotics team.

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