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Rejected and Relieved

On Ivy Day, I received zero acceptances, and I am relieved. Prior to March 28, I had been rejected nowhere: accepted at Boston University, Colorado School of Mines, the University of Idaho, Syracuse, and the University of Nevada, Reno. At Syracuse, U of I, and UNR, I received very substantial academic merit scholarships, including a full ride at U of I. My college list had 10 schools; I also applied to Harvard SCEA, Dartmouth, Princeton, MIT, and Yale. While I would be happy to attend any of the schools to which I applied, my family really pushed for me to include some “better” schools on my list, even though I loved UNR and had guaranteed admission.

When I told my parents about my rejections, they were not happy. They didn’t blame me, but they had felt for so long that a 1570 and a legacy status should at least get me into Princeton. Of course, that’s not how it works, especially for someone who doesn’t have national awards or published research, but I'm not here to throw shade at them.

For me, the rejections stung at first, if only because I would not have all the choices I wanted to have when it came to selecting a college. My initial thoughts were all about what I could have possibly done wrong. I had the test scores, at least one amazing recommendation (I got to read one), and a Common App essay that made my English teacher cry--in a good way! My supplements came together to form a whole, cohesive picture, and I had ECs that related to what I want to do (volunteering at an environmental education center/majoring in environmental science, for example). I’m biased, but I personally think I’m an interesting person: I’m from you’ve-never-heard-of-it, Idaho; I play the cello and ski race; and my life goal is to move to Wyoming and be a forest ranger.

So now, you’re thinking, Why did a future forest ranger apply to Harvard? I have multiple answers: a) they have an environmental science and public policy major, b) my family wanted me to, and c) we visited, I liked it, and I had the quantitative data to be competitive. And, I’m not going to lie, I thought it would be cool to go to Harvard. Who doesn’t?
But here’s the thing: I toured a lot of colleges, and UNR was the only one where I felt I would be truly happy. UW-Seattle, Cornell, Harvard, Syracuse, Hamilton, Yale, MIT, BU, UC-Davis, UNR, Princeton, Colorado School of Mines, BSU. Of course, I’m an easy-going person, and I would’ve been perfectly fine at any of the schools to which I applied. But there was just something about UNR that made me go all heart-eyes-emoji:

1. It’s 45 minutes from Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows.
2. Last summer, the team captain of their ski team guaranteed they would have a spot for me if I chose to attend.
3. They have an honors college to which I was accepted, which makes the whole “22,000 students” thing a lot less intimidating.
4. This might sound backwards, but in Idaho/Wyoming/Nevada/Montana, a degree from UNR might be better for job-searching than a degree from Harvard. My mom graduated from Princeton, and she sometimes gets dismissed as a wine sniffer by born-and-raised Idahoans.
5. I feel like its size means it has anything I could ever possibly want, and that applies to everything from friends to food to classes.
6. They gave me $16k/year for National Merit, bringing my COA down to about $12k/year, which means my parents can afford it easily without grandparental assistance
7. They’ll take my AP credits! You gotta appreciate the little things :)

On my ski team and at school, I’m “the smart one”. During applications, it seemed like everyone in my life had something to say, up to the point where my aunt was trying to get me to add colleges to my list 5 days before the January 1 deadline of most schools. They all but expected that I would end up somewhere newsworthy, no matter how much I insisted on my positive vibes with UNR.

I was rejected from the Ivy League (mostly--see below) and I am relieved. I am relieved because I made a decision deep down in October, and now I can make that decision publicly and no one will question it. There will be no “Seriously? You turned down Princeton for UNR?”. No “Are you insane? Yale is an incredible school!”. No “Your grandparents won’t help us pay for your college unless you go to Harvard.”

And that, my friends, is why I’m relieved.


For reference purposes:

SAT I (breakdown): 780M/790ERBW
ACT (breakdown): 35/35/35/34S
SAT II: 800 Math II, 790 US History, 750 Physics
Unweighted GPA (out of 4.0): 4.0
Weighted GPA: 4.34
Rank (percentile if rank is unavailable): weighted = 3/403, unweighted = 1/403
AP (place score in parenthesis): APES (5), World History (5), Comp Sci Principles (5), APUSH (5), Psychology (5), Calc AB (5), Physics 1 (4)
IB (place score in parenthesis): N/A
Senior Year Course Load: AP Calc BC, AP Spanish Lang, Econ/Open, AP US Gov, AP Chem, Orchestra 4, AP Lit
Major Awards (USAMO, Intel etc.): National Merit Semifinalist, US Presidential Scholar nominee, some school and local awards (we don't do those fancy ones in Idaho)

Extracurriculars (place leadership in parenthesis): Competitive alpine ski racing -- 8 years, 46 weeks per year, 4 to 23 hours per week; Orchestra -- 8 years (2017-18 principal cellist, 2017-18 senior quintet member); NHS
Job/Work Experience: Concessions stand cashier at baseball stadium; lab intern at research university
Volunteer/Community service: 386 hours total; volunteer at community water resource education center
Summer Activities: see above
Essays (rating 1-10, details): 9/10, really beautiful, made my parents and my English teacher cry (literally).

Recommendations (rating 1-10, details):
Teacher Rec #1 (rating 1-10, details): 10/10, my physics teacher let me read it and it was very flattering
Teacher Rec #2 (rating 1-10, details): 9/10, didn't see the one from my APUSH teacher but he nominated me to be social studies student of the year last year so it should be good
Counselor Rec (rating 1-10, details): not sure (my school is pretty big)
Additional Rec (if any) (rating 1-10, details): N/A

Applied for Financial Aid?: yes, but not expecting any
State (if domestic applicant): Idaho
Country (if international applicant): US
School Type: large public
Ethnicity: white
Gender: female
Income Bracket: upper middle class
Hooks (URM, first generation college, etc.): N/A

How I was “chanced”:
--University of Nevada-Reno (Safety)
--Colorado School of Mines (Match)
--Boston University (High Match)
--Syracuse (Safety)
--MIT (High Reach)
--University of Idaho (Safety)

My actual results:
--UNR (accepted, $16k/year, $12k COA)
--Colorado School of Mines (accepted)
--U of I (accepted, full ride)
--BU (accepted)
--Syracuse (accepted, $28k/year, $42k COA)
--MIT (waitlisted)
--Yale (waitlisted)
--Harvard (rejected)
--Princeton (legacy, rejected)
--Dartmouth (rejected)
73 replies
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Replies to: Rejected and Relieved

  • ski_racerski_racer 697 replies28 threads Member
    @Publisher I can PM it to you, if you'd like. It's not like I'll need it for anything else. Plus, UNR didn't even require any writings, so there's zero risk on my end.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    @nick3162 The OP is an excellent applicant, but Alpine Skiing isn’t a highly unusual EC in snowier and/or mountainous states. Plenty of high schools have teams, and there are racing opportunities outside of HS. It does tend to be an EC for wealthier families.
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  • nick3162nick3162 219 replies35 threads Junior Member
    edited March 2018

    I'm from the state arguably most known for skiing. As an active skier and snowboarder myself, it's considered quite exotic even in an area with abundant access to slopes during ski season. It could be my urban location that skews the data, but even still, it's probably not something they're overly used to seeing.

    Admissions officers always council the advice to stick with your passions. It seems to me the OP did just that; it's a shame really.
    edited March 2018
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    My kids’ HS has Nordic & Alpine teams. Fairly large city in a snowy state. Anyway, you will notice that the OP is happy with her choices — she is looking for fit more than prestige. Well done, @ski_racer.
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  • nick3162nick3162 219 replies35 threads Junior Member
    edited March 2018

    Rich school *cough cough*
    edited March 2018
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  • GnocchiBGnocchiB 2078 replies230 threads Senior Member
    @ski_racer I predict that you will have a wonderful experience at UNR and will excel there. Great post - thanks for sharing your experience!
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    @nick3162 Quite a few public schools in our city also had the same teams. I know because my kids competed against them in Nordic (in fact, Jessie Diggins, who won a Nordic medal in the Olympics last month went to the public HS closest to our house). But I stated above that Alpine in particular does tend to be a high income EC. So what? It doesn’t make it that uncommon.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 26647 replies267 threads Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    Plenty of public HS ski teams - both nordic and alpine - in my area as well, which is different from @intparent's. Snowy areas have ski teams. You've got to do something in 6 months of winter. Plus, there are a limited number of colleges with competitive ski teams so those schools with them do see plenty of interest.

    edited March 2018
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  • ski_racerski_racer 697 replies28 threads Member
    @doschicos @intparent @nick3162 Ok clearly some clarification is needed. I'm from Southern Idaho, but I live far from both Blaine County and Teton County, which is where Idaho's World Cup skiers tend to come from. My school has a ski club, but I'm also on a competitive club team. I am the only person from my school on this competitive club team. Here's a helpful metaphor I like to use: the school club is like rec league YMCA basketball, while my team is like high school varsity basketball. That's the difference in the level of competition. I win the school races, but am maybe 55th out of 80 in the higher-level races. Our division is one of the most competitive in the USSA.
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  • ski_racerski_racer 697 replies28 threads Member
    @TTdd16 fingers crossed! Is next year's Farmer's Almanac out yet? Oh, forget it, I'll just do my snow dance and hope for the best :))
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  • momddr2022momddr2022 70 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @ski_racer I was looking at your stats and I was surprised that you didn’t get in any ivies. I thought for sure you are Princeton bound. But I am really impressed with your attitude towards colleges. My DD has very similar stats as yours, but she does not have the same positive attitude. She got waitlisted at Harvard, Columbia, UPenn Wharton, Cornell, Duke. As of today she is deciding between UCLA, UCB, Boston U. UCB didn’t give her much aid, UCLA gave her $36k, BU gave her full tuition $52K. She is leaning towards UCLA. We are visiting the campus next week to see if it’s a good fit. What if you get off the waitlist from Yale or MIT, would you go? One last question: which city in Idaho are you from? We are from the SE Idaho.
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  • ski_racerski_racer 697 replies28 threads Member
    @momddr2022 I have chosen to remain on the waitlist at both schools, but honestly, the chances of getting off are just so small. I think I would go, because there are great things about MIT and Yale, just like there are great things about Reno. I will PM you more information.
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  • momddr2022momddr2022 70 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Best of luck for both of us!!!
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  • doschicosdoschicos 26647 replies267 threads Senior Member
    They ALL want you on campus otherwise they wouldn't have accepted you. :)
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