I originally posted this in College Search and Selection, unaware that this board existed. This seems an appropriate place to post it.
CC has been helpful over the past 6 months. This site has offered me invaluable information about the application process. I feel obligated to post my results; Maybe my information will be of help to a rising senior in a similar situation.
A brief overview of my application:
Academic: top 10% in class, 95/100 gpa, 2230 SAT, many dual enrollment courses related to engineering
Extracirricular: 4 year varsity soccer letterman, captain, all section, 2 year tennis letterman, excellent musical ECs, independent music, A couple clubs, NHS, Lots of work experience
I began considering schools late in the summer after my junior year. I wanted to be a biomedical engineer. I was absolutely fascinated by the field and still am today. Here are the schools I applied to.
* I actually applied to ~20 schools, but for the sake of brevity, I am only including the significant ones. *
Stanford- I applied regular decision with my friend because we both had dreams of living in California at the best school in the world doing what we loved. I knew all along that I had no chance, but it didn't keep me from hoping. I took a few risks on my essays because I figured it would help me stand out. I applied under the bioengineering major with a secondary interest in music technology. I sent in multiple updates via fax about things I had accomplished after I submitted my application. I was rejected.
Duke- Duke was the only school that offered me an interview. I thought it went very well; my interviewer said he was very impressed and said he expected I would be accepted based off of my dual enrollment pursuits. I wasn't optimistic, however. I knew that the admit rate for RD would be terrible. I applied to Pratt as a biomedical engineer. I also sent in multiple fax updates. I was rejected.
Johns Hopkins- I put more time into this application than any other. I figured it was my best shot at a top twenty school. I applied as a biomedical engineer, hopeful that I could at least get into the school if not the BME program. I displayed an interest in cross registering at the Peabody conservatory to take courses for recording arts and sciences. I applied RD. I was rejected.
Georgia Tech- I applied RD to Tech. I was accepted, which, at the time, felt like a pretty big accomplishment. I am out of state and it was the RD round. Yay me. Unfortunately, complications arose with the fafsa and I could not correct the mistakes in time to receive a financial aid package. I received no aid, scholarship, or loans from Tech.
Penn State- I applied at Penn State early in January. This was idiotic and probably one of my biggest regrets in the whole process. I would have been a good contender for Schreyer had I applied on time. I was rejected from Main, presumably becuase spots were already filled. I was accepted to a branch campus with some scholarship and aid. PSU is by far my most affordable option.
Pitt- I applied to Pitt once I realized things weren't panning out with my other schools. I actually applied in early April, fully aware that my chances with Swanson were slim to none. I received an email 3 weeks ago saying I was accepted at Dietrich but waitlisted at Swanson. I am currently on the waitlist. I could not chose to accept Dietrich and the waitlist. Due to how late I applied, I received zero aid.
Case Western- I thought I would be a shoe in at Case, and in the fall, Case was my number one choice. I applied early action as a biomedical engineer and was deferred. I was disheartened at this point and began looking for a new school to focus on. Come the RD round, I was waitlisted. Two days ago I received an email from Case saying that I was accepted off the waitlist with a substantial scholarship and financial aid offer.
St. Olaf- I applied to St. Olaf because it was free and had a good music and math program. I enjoyed writing my essay for St. Olaf more than any other school. I got to write about my two greatest passions: Music and mathematics. However, the rest of my application was not nearly what it could have been. I didn't edit/revise anything. I didn't include anything about my dual enrollment pursuits. What did I care though? The school is 1000 miles away and I wasn't seriously considering it. The school doesn't have an engineering department so I applied as a math major. I was accepted with a decent scholarship and good aid.
-General lack of knowledge during the application process.
-Applying late to my match schools
-Setting my sights too high
-Not spending enough time on my applications to my match schools. I feel I could have gotten way more merit scholarship.
-Didn't apply ED anywhere
This is not a full list. If I wrote down every regret I have had during this whole process, this post would qualify as a novel. If you would like to know specifically what I would have done differently, let me know.
This evening, I decided that I will be attending St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. I will be double majoring in mathematics and musical composition. Are you confused? You should be. I sure am.
For the past two years, I have been certain that engineering is right for me. I have taken many math and engineering courses outside of high school, and all my teachers and peers have expected me to pursue that. However, music has always been a big part of my life as well. I have performed in many ensembles with many talented people. I have also had a passion for writing music. As a matter of fact, my senior project was to compose a piece for our concert band to perform. Extremely long story extremely short: Over the past two months I have fallen in love with St. Olaf. I have realized that I need to pursue my passion for composition. I actually just got home today from my weekend visit on campus. It is a gorgeous place with incredible people. I know I might sound fickle and naive, but I assure you this decision was well thought out and all things have been considered. I have just chosen to condense my decision making process to save space. I can expand upon my decision in the comments if anybody would like to know.
I am glad that I was rejected by JHU, Duke, and Stanford. I mean that with utmost sincerity. If I were accepted, I would have been blinded by prestige and unable to make my decision wisely.
I hate cliches, but it seems appropriate to say that everything happens for a reason. I don't believe in fate or higher powers controlling what goes on in the world, so there might be a better way to say what I am thinking. Be prepared for rejection. Always look for opportunities. Pursue your passion. There, that's better.