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Sometimes you need another plan

ninakatarinaninakatarina 1619 replies44 threads Senior Member
We had an adventurous, disappointing, then exhilarating college application experience. tl/dr at the bottom if you don't want the full story.

My son had a 3.92 unweighted/5.49 weighted GPA (out of 6, 5th in his class of 400), a handful of AP 4 and 5s, 33 ACT, a deep and active interest in theatre with over 25 productions both at the school and professional. He's a decent writer, I thought he had good essays. Compelling personal story. But then again, I'm his mother, my judgment on his writing skills is obviously biased.

He applied to Yale (EA and then regular after deferral, grandparent legacy), Brown, Wesleyan, Pomona, Swarthmore (aunt legacy), Fordham for acting, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg and Arcadia. Denied at Yale, Brown, Wesleyan, Pomona. Waitlisted at Swat. Accepted for academics at Fordham but denied from the acting program. Accepted at F&M without much financial aid. On the good side, he was offered very good merit money from Gettysburg and Arcadia.

The list had too many reaches and not enough safeties. That's pretty clear to me now.

He was extremely depressed after Ivy Day. But we went to accepted students' day and deposited at Gettysburg and he started learning to like the school and environments. He started registering for classes and discovered that everything he wanted to take was at the same time of day, or was an upper level class with prerequisites that he couldn't take for a couple of years. And he hated the choices for science and math classes that he was going to have to fit in somehow over the next four years.

However, on Ivy Day when he was so disappointed, we found a list of 'colleges still accepting applications'. In the middle of his depression he decided to throw one last Hail Mary pass and he put in an application to St. Andrews of Scotland. Dashed off the essay in half an hour, didn't give it to anyone for a second reading.

Many times during the next 8 weeks I regretted that decision. Instead of having no other choices and setting his whole heart to be happy about Gettysburg he still had that 'what if' hanging over him. As time went on I was sure the answer would be a no and that he would go through the Ivy Day depression all over again.

Last day of classes passed, still in limbo. Graduation day dawned. I was working from home and letting the kiddo sleep in (he stayed up late gaming). I heard a thumping up the stairs. Oh, great, what's broken now, I thought.

He got in to St. Andrews.

We've never been. But that's where he's going for the next four years.

I think he would have been happy at Gettysburg eventually. He was disappointed in his first set of classes, sure, but he would have adapted, he would have made solid friends and a rock star 4 years.

But this opportunity has all of us so excited. He's excited about trying out classes, half of the course catalogue is intensely interesting. He's excited about learning new accents. We are excited about the possibility of travel and the ways in which he will be challenged and grow. St. Andrews just passed Oxford to land second on the Guardian's list of best colleges in the UK (watch out, Cambridge).

If he had gotten into Yale, Brown, Wesleyan, Pomona, Swarthmore or Fordham's acting program then he would not have applied to St. Andrews. If he had gotten on more waitlists he would not have applied. If we had gotten more money from F&M he would be going there. But he got all those setbacks and instead of giving up he tried once again and hit the jackpot.

tl;dr lessons learned - read the course catalogue for everywhere you apply and make sure they have enough classes in the majors that interest you. Don't overload your list with reaches and super-reaches, a big slug of rejections can be emotionally traumatic. However, if you don't like your first set of choices look around for other options. There are downsides to late applications. It can prolong the agony of indecision and you may not have the happy ending that we had. But Hail Mary passes and last second three point shots do land sometimes.
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Replies to: Sometimes you need another plan

  • melvin123melvin123 1761 replies29 threads Senior Member
    Thank you for your excellent post. Hope your son loves St Andrews!
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  • ninakatarinaninakatarina 1619 replies44 threads Senior Member
    Well if he doesn't he's too far away to come home for a weekend...
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3743 replies182 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Wow. Just got wind of this thread on another forum page and it did not disappoint! Congratulations.
    edited June 2019
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  • DeastonDeaston 273 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Congratulations on your son. My kid had a disappointing Ivy deferral but a successful ED2 round. It builds character.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30284 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Congratulations! It’s great his Hail Mary pass worked out. I know a number of kids who have gone to St Andrews, and they loved the experience. For them it was a first choice from the get go.

    Had he not been accepted, the story would have been more typical, and still with the same thread title for you that would fit. Many kids go to Gettysburg, F&M , Dickinson, when the more selective schools were what they had in mind. Most all of them I know excell at these schools, maybe even more than they would have at their preferred schools, become true stand outs and are all flourishing these days. All anecdotal on my part, but studies have shown that those who could have gone to the top schools tend to excell regardless of where they do end up going to college.

    Your son’s stats similar to my youngest’s and those schools that were your son’s top choices would have been high reaches in my mind for my son. He had one favorite school so he applied ED to it. I was sure that he increased his chances 3 fold in doing that. Every bit of my years in looking at Naviance and other college acceptance info from our area screamed it. That it’s that difficult to gain admissions to these selective schools is very difficult for most people to comprehend.
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  • RayMantaRayManta 221 replies8 threads Junior Member
    This is a great story about using that list of schools still looking for incoming students to its fullest, for the purpose it is intended. There are wonderful schools on that list, many with national reputations. I'm sure you and your son are learning all you can about St. Andrews and Scotland right now--don't forget all the great travel opportunities! It's beautiful country--but it gets really cold! A simple recommendation: He needs to buy a waterproof trench coat with a warm lining, and he'll fit right in.

    Congratulations, and thanks for sharing!
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  • PublisherPublisher 11260 replies148 threads Senior Member
    St. Andrew's In Scotland has a significant relationship with the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

    Typically one applies to the joint degree program which requires two years at each school, so I am not sure if your student can benefit from the relationship, but it might be worth investigating.

    Congratulations re: St. Andrews which is an outstanding university respected worldwide.
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  • happy1happy1 23831 replies2384 threads Super Moderator
    edited June 2019
    Thanks for sharing and FWIW my D's friend went to St. Andrews and had a fantastic expereince. Here's hoping your S will as well!

    edited June 2019
    Post edited by happy1 on
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35365 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Love this story. Love the resilience. And the present excitement.

    Look for cheap flights now.
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  • CTMom21CTMom21 606 replies2 threads Member
    I just happened on this thread, @ninakatarina. Decades ago I attended one of the top NESCAC schools, and when it came time to think about junior year abroad, a friend turned me onto St. Andrews, as a less conventional alternative to LSE or other London schools. St. Andrews was far less popular then for US students. Not only did I have an amazing junior year, but I ended up transferring. One year just wasn’t enough. It was a unique experience — not always easy — but I grew so much just from being “away” in a different environment, not to mention the travel opportunities. I love St. Andrews so much, and in fact we are going as a family this summer. Best wishes to your son and if I can answer any questions (based on my experience 30 years ago) don’t hesitate to ask.
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 2371 replies15 threads Senior Member
    I love this story and I hope your son loves St. Andrews! I am pretty sure he will!
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  • readthetealeavesreadthetealeaves 779 replies14 threads Member
    Congrats to your son! Hope he has fun at St.Andrews. It is true often “One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” — Henry Ward Beecher
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  • ninakatarinaninakatarina 1619 replies44 threads Senior Member
    @RayManta what we are learning about St. Andrews in particular is that temperature-wise it isn't extremely cold because the sea mitigates things, however it gets a lot of rain and a LOT of wind. Kiddo has a reproduction WW! wool trench coat that he would wear all year long if he could, he's looking forward to the cool climate.

    We have vacationed in Williamsburg almost every year since the kid was born; it's one of our favorite places. When we were looking at colleges kiddo crossed W&M off of the list because it was too familiar and he wanted to go somewhere new and different. So he's appreciating the potential irony of a year or two 'abroad' somewhere so familiar and much closer to home.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10526 replies581 threads Super Moderator
    Nice story, congratulations. What I really like is that you took the time to look at the list of colleges still accepting applications. Taking advantage of resources is what can set him apart. He did that.

    On a different note, this opportunity might change his life in ways you won't foresee. Years ago, I did study abroad in London. I ended up living there for 20 years, marrying a Brit, returning to the UK for regular visits, and have regular visitors from British friends and family. Studying abroad really opens the mind to a different way of life and new ways of thinking. Hope he has a great time!
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  • Conformist1688Conformist1688 1222 replies29 threads Senior Member
    There's probably lots of fun social activities the last week of term.
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