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Advice from alumni: Anthony Yan

Anthony Yan started the IGCSE program at EF Academy New York in Grade 10 and moved on to the IB Diploma program. He graduated in 2015 and is now studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Rochester. He has fond memories of his time at EF Academy where he played on the varsity basketball team, and today he is still in touch with his roommates and some of his teachers. Check out Anthony’s Q&A:


Full name: Anthony Yan

Age: 20

Home country: Hong Kong

Languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and a little Spanish

EF Academy campus: New York

Program: IGCSE, IB Diploma

Grad year: 2015

Favorite clubs: Varsity Basketball

Favorite subjects: Physics

University: University of Rochester, studying Mechanical Engineering


What was your first impression of EF Academy?

The highlight of the first day was meeting friends from different countries. On the first day, it was super hot and we were still in Tarrytown. There wasn’t air conditioning in any of the rooms and residence was still pretty empty and then I met a friend named Daniel. And he helped me get a fan and a lamp from the office. I lived with my roommates Ace Capacio and Jose Luis Pueyo for all three years – Jose actually thought about leaving the first year, but we convinced him to stay – and we’re all still friends today!

What was your favorite part and least favorite part of the IB program?

My favorite part is how rigorous the program is because it helps the teachers and students bond. IB is so tough and you ask the teachers for help and that helps you bond, the teachers essentially become family. I still spend time with my former teachers when I visit the campus to pick up my brother.

How did you balance schoolwork and varsity sports team?

I didn’t think it was too difficult to balance schoolwork and my hobby. When I was in 10th grade I was recruited by the coach and I wasn’t sure if I could do it because it was the first time I had a full timetable in English. But being on the varsity team shaped my schedule better so I really felt like I had to get things done and I felt that it really helped.

How did you choose your current university and your program?

I was thinking about Engineering when I was researching schools. I have always enjoyed solving problems. I was thinking about “green energy” when I was first introduced to Engineering as a major. I looked into different universities and my parents wanted me to stay on the east coast so I can be near my younger brother. So that’s why I was looking at universities in this area – Drexel, Rutgers – I applied Early Decision to the University of Rochester and I got in and I went. The University of Rochester is ranked well for Mechanical Engineering. I was talking to my counselor and an advisor and they were very helpful resources. What also impressed me about the university is the freedom we have – we pick a major and unlike other schools, they let us pick whatever classes we want within very broad limitations. They don’t call it a minor, they call it a “cluster” and it encourages students to explore. I explored architecture and theater. If you do engineering, which is very time consuming, you only need one cluster which is three college courses in that cluster. Other majors, like math, you have to fulfill two clusters.

Some intro courses to engineering bring in some history of different architectures from different eras. And in those intro courses we looked at how forces worked and then how those architectures evolved and the role technology plays.

What advice do you have for current EF Academy students?  

Enjoy your life and make healthy decisions.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

Finding a balance between family and friends. I do a good job of balancing my social life and spending time with friends. That makes me happy because friends and teachers from EF Academy became family, but I still have family back in Hong Kong. It’s so cool that we still see each other and connect.

Last summer, I had a one-month internship, and my friend from Germany (Daniel) and two other friends from Thailand and one from Beijing came to visit me!

What is your dream for your future?

I’m still trying to find my way – my parents want me to come back to Hong Kong and the market for green energy there is small. I was thinking that in the near future I would go back to Hong Kong, take some courses and certifications/licenses to prove that I’m a professional so that I can do more engineering stuff there. I believe that in China they’re opening more railroads and it’s easier to commute between the two places. There’s more chances for me to work in southern China, and after earning some money maybe I’ll think about pursuing my dream of saving the world.

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