Interview with Gigi Spence

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Gigi Spence and Upper Echelon Academy Co-Founder Clementine Goutal discuss getting accepted to Columbia University, avoiding “senioritis” and more!

Upper Echelon Academy: Are you planning to take a gap year or begin freshman year this fall? What were some factors that influenced your decision?

Gigi: I am not planning on taking a gap year so I will be an incoming freshman this fall! I decided that a gap year really wasn’t for me because I don’t want to lose that time in my education. On top of that, after getting into my dream school, I couldn’t imagine having to wait an extra year to start pursuing my degree.

Upper Echelon Academy:  What were the most helpful tools in preparing for the application process?

Gigi: The application process was grueling and I couldn’t have done it without the expert (and tough) guidance of my college counselors. They motivated me to do the best written applicaions I could. Once the applications were in it became critical to maintain standards and not let anything slip in my senior year. Enrolling in Upper Echelon Academy really made the difference. I came to UEA during second semester senior year – when staying focused on school is the absolute hardest – and the tutors were able to keep my motivation up when the “senioritis” really hit, and my grades never looked better.

Upper Echelon Academy: How do you expect University to affect your commitment level to riding? Will you keep horses and continue competing?

Gigi: I will be going to school in the heart of New York City so my horses will stay in Chicago to maintain their consistent training program. I’m fortunate that Columbia has an equestrian team, which will allow me to continue riding regularly while I’m at school. I plan on riding for Columbia and competing on the collegiate circuit. Since my course load will be pretty heavy throughout college, I likely will have to scale back on competing my own horses during the year but I absolutely plan on showing when I can, especially during the summer.

Upper Echelon Academy: You have great grades and scores, but were any subjects more challenging? If so, how did you face and overcome these obstacles?

Gigi: The most attractive aspect of UEA was the fact that for all subjects an excellent tutor was available on a one to one basis I am a math/science person and it was helpful enough for that but the real value came from individual guidance in my least favorite subjects where I couldn’t rely on my usual approach of studying in groups I could just simply text the UEA tutor and get a swift response – this was key to maintaining my grades in those subjects.

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