right arrow
GUEST STUDENT OF THE WEEK: ak2018 is a rising junior at Virginia Tech having transferred from George Mason University. He'll answer any question, including about his studies abroad or his research at NASA. ASK HIM ANYTHING!
Make sure to check out our July Checklists for HS Juniors and HS Seniors. Consult these quick resources to get you started on the process this month.
As we work to adjust to the current reality, make sure to check out these dedicated COVID-19 resources: our directory of virtual campus tours, our directory of extended deadlines, as well as the list of schools going test optional this fall.

Hindsight & the Year 2020: Admissions Results

nomatternomatter 348 replies12 threads Member
More than a year ago (January of 2019), I posted this thread, asking for fresh perspective and recommendations:



I learned so much in that thread, and I was able to convey so much wisdom and varying perspectives to my student. And, I learned that we had a lot of work to do to find "fit". To recap, he had really good test scores (he took the school day SAT 2 months later and got an even higher score), great grades & class rank (in-state auto-admit to all Texas publics), he's a 2 sport (recruited) varsity athlete, with a penchant for math, science, art, and rhetoric. He's also an URM. When we started his college search in earnest, he was already exhausted from the bombardment of sports recruitment. He didn't want to discuss sports at all in relation to the college search.

At the beginning of the search, his parameters were medium-sized school university in a college town or suburb, high 4 year graduation rate, and offers academic merit (because he did not want athletic scholarships at all, something that I didn't mention in my post). A school with great academics, diversity, and sports. He had zero interest in prestige seeking.

You all put us onto the trail of so many great schools, many of which we actually had a chance to visit! Some of the schools that came out of that thread were: University of Rochester, Tufts, W&M, Wake Forest, Case Western Reserve, Rice (which he was already considering), University of Michigan (he was already considering, and my alma mater), Vanderbilt, some of the smaller LACs (such as Williams, Bowdoin, Davidson, and Rhodes), University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, UVA, Duke, Princeton, Towson, University of Vermont, Pomona, and a couple of other schools in California.

Next up, the search!
edited 10:51AM
18 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
· Reply · Share

Replies to: Hindsight & the Year 2020: Admissions Results

  • nomatternomatter 348 replies12 threads Member
    The Search:

    He almost immediately eliminated any school in California. He watched news stories of some wildfires, and pretty much "Noped" it right off his list!

    He already loved Michigan and Rice, and kept them on his list.

    He LOVED the idea of the University of Chicago. Then, a coach, trying to appeal to expected vanity, got on his nerves and turned him off.

    He fell in love with Williams (and a coach there), but couldn't stomach the size or remoteness. It was the same with Washington & Lee University (not mentioned above). The entitlement at W&L also made him blink twice, but it was the remoteness (although beautiful) that he discovered wasn't his cup of tea.

    Vanderbilt would have been very high on his list, if it hadn't made him so miserable (allergies). It's a thing in Tennessee. His usual asthma & allergy meds didn't touch it. He generally liked the Nashville area, but it wasn't quite his scene. He kept mentioning all the ways that it was unlike Ann Arbor.

    He irrationally eliminated any school in Ohio as a general bias against the entire state. Same with Georgia. Long story...

    He LOVED Wake Forest. But, he downgraded them by a half of a "point" because of their mascot! :smiley:

    For some reason, and to my surprise, he only had a lukewarm opinion of the University of Rochester. He didn't dislike it, just didn't seem to speak to him. I'd thought this one would go to the top of his list. I think part of the problem was timing. He was exhausted when we visited New York, and some of the schools were starting to run together. I honestly think that it sort of shaded his view, and made it less memorable.

    We did an East Coast college tour. It was here that he decided that he didn't really want to be that far from home or close relatives. He also didn't like any of the smaller campuses. He did like the University of Pennsylvania where he visited spontaneously while visiting with a cousin in Philly, late summer. He met some really cool people (that he keeps in contact with), and fell in love with the architecture. He also loved Philly! BUT, he had no intention of applying. He loved Lehigh! And, he loved their coaches, and they loved him right back. What he did not love was Bethlehem, PA.

    He's had a chance to visit Rice many times (we're only a few hours away in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area). This was initially his #1. On his very last visit, the size of the campus was concerning. He also didn't love the parking situation. Still, he loved the academics and location.

    He did come to the conclusion that A) He loved the quirky eclectic urban cities B) He challenging academics mattered to him, C) He liked bigger campuses and larger student bodies, but D) he wanted smaller classes, and E) He didn't want to be within more than 8 hours from home, or close family (easy driving distance for him).

    Next up, the list.
    · Reply · Share
  • nomatternomatter 348 replies12 threads Member
    The List (planned to apply):

    #1 University of Michigan (Reach, because OOS)
    #2 Rice (High Reach)
    #3 Wake Forest (Low Reach)
    #4 Lehigh University (Low Reach)
    #4 Texas A&M (Safety - auto admit)
    #5 Texas Tech (safety - auto admit)
    #6 University of Houston (safety - auto admit)

    Also, note the number of "matches" (zero).

    The Curve Ball:

    At the beginning of this school year, he had cause to visit UT Austin (a campus that he'd only ever been on for sports, and had pretty much discounted when he thought he didn't like big schools). He'd never reconsidered it when he reconsidered the other Texas big schools, because he hadn't really done an official visit. When he finally did, he was introduced to Plan II Honors, and he absolutely fell in love with the city of Austin, and the urban UT campus. He started comparing it to Ann Arbor in a favorable way - the attributes of both that he liked. We went back several times, and he loved it more on each visit. He knew that Plan II was a long shot, but he decided that UT Austin would not only move onto his list, but up to co-#1 if he could get into that honors program.

    The other surprise was that two of his teachers was pushing for him to apply to Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. He had no intention of apply, but they were very insistent, apparently. :neutral:

    The actual list that he applied to:

    #1 University of Michigan (Reach, because OOS)
    #2 Rice (High Reach)
    #3 UT Austin (match - Auto Admit, but 1st choice major not guaranteed)
    #4 Lehigh University (Low Reach)
    #5 Texas A&M (Match/Safety - auto admit)
    #6 Texas Tech (safety - auto admit)
    #7 University of Houston (safety - auto admit)
    #8 University of Pennsylvania (High Reach)

    Note that he did not apply to Wake Forest. He changed his mind and decided to focus on his UT Austin Plan II Honors app.

    Next up - Results!

    · Reply · Share
  • nomatternomatter 348 replies12 threads Member
    The results:

    His general applicant profile highlights:

    GPA: 3.98 (unweighted)
    SAT: 1490
    ACT: 34 (never submitted anywhere)
    Class Rank: (at the time of app) 9/873
    9 AP classes completed at the time of app (Mostly 5s, and 2 4s, IIRC)
    6 AP classes for senior year
    No SAT Subject tests

    Course sequence & rigor (including senior year classes noted at the time of app):

    4 years English (2 honors, 2 AP), 6 years math (3 honors, 3 AP), 4 years AP science, 4 years foreign language (3 honors, 1 AP), 4 years AP social science, 2 fine arts (honors). Everything else falls into electives, including additional AP classes. His highest math = AP Calc BC, and highest science was AP Physics C

    2 Sport Varsity athlete (many awards), 1 National writing award, Congressional Service Award (gold), President of two school clubs, a prolific peer tutor, and on the Superintendents student leadership council. He also has numerous UIL academic competition awards. In total, he had about 300 volunteer hours at the time of application. NHS, Mu Alpha Theta, and his school's English Honors Society.

    He submitted a detailed expanded resume with all applications. He did all optional essays. He submitted a minimum of 2 LORs (One from a 1000 Points of Light Director, one from a teacher (he had 4 to choose from), and given the opportunity, he submitted a 3rd from an AP.

    Actual Results:


    #1 University of Michigan - Admitted (w/merit & in-state tuition)
    #2 Rice - Admitted
    #4 Lehigh University - Admitted

    #8 University of Pennsylvania - Admitted

    :: UT Austin - Auto Admit + Admitted to Plan II Honors & Physics + academic merit (full-ride)

    :: Texas A&M - Auto Admit + Merit
    :: Texas Tech - Auto Admit + Auto Merit
    :: University of Houston - Auto Admit + Merit (full tuition)

    Up next... The final considerations.

    · Reply · Share
  • nomatternomatter 348 replies12 threads Member
    Final Considerations

    Now, 1 day before the Pre-Pandemic Decision Day, my student has eliminated all but the following (in no particular order):

    1) University of Michigan

    2) University of Texas at Austin

    3) University of Pennsylvania

    Now, we eagerly await his final decision. I'm pretty sure I know which one it's going to be, but... Sometimes he throws me a curveball.
    · Reply · Share
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10206 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Congrats to your son on a very successful process and outcome! Fabulous options but I would be hard pressed to pass up the full ride at UT
    · Reply · Share
  • HMom16HMom16 799 replies19 threads Member
    "He irrationally eliminated any school in Ohio as a general bias against the entire state. Same with Georgia. Long story..."

    Thanks for posting...your son sounds a lot like mine. He won't consider schools in certain states or where he thinks the name is "weird" or doesn't like the school mascot or the sports uniforms...
    · Reply · Share
  • txmom19txmom19 60 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @nomatter what a well written series of posts. A lot of us went through similar journey. Congratulations for all the acceptances and job well done - to both you and your son.
    · Reply · Share
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 4491 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Congratulations and thank you for an interesting informative post. All the best to your child.
    · Reply · Share
  • nomatternomatter 348 replies12 threads Member
    @momofsenior1 I have to agree! I think UT Austin is going to prevail. I will say that he truly would happily attend every school on the list that he actually applied to. If he'd been only accepted to one of those schools, he would have been happy. He really liked them all, in different ways, but still found fit.

    @HMom16 our sons must be two peas in a pod! I was waaaay too embarassed to list ALL of the schools that he eliminated for insane reasons, like school colors, mascots, town names, or state bias etc... The Duggars ruined the entire state of Arkansas for him. Don't even get me started on Florida. He feels very strongly that Idaho has a disproportionate number of uncaught/undetected serial killers, but, oddly, he was totally fine with Washington.

    @txmom19 Thank you! It was a long, and sometimes strange journey. But, it was also fun to watch him (and be a part of) discover more about himself, his wants, and his needs. Overall, the process was sort of anti-climactic for us. He had most results by late fall 2019. I was geared up for an angst-filled wait, but nothing of the sort happened. We did have to wait for March for the UPenn one, but he had no expectations of a "Yes", so we weren't really thinking about it after the app was submitted. The most harrowing wait was for a selective merit scholarship decision. Go figure!

    @roycroftmom Thank you! I'm excited to see which school he chooses!
    · Reply · Share
  • ChangeTheGameChangeTheGame 979 replies16 threads Member
    Those are amazing admissions results @nomatter. I love how your son and your family focused on “fit” during the admissions process. Congratulations to your son!
    · Reply · Share
  • nomatternomatter 348 replies12 threads Member
    @ChangeTheGame Thank you! I think that his focus on fit is the *reason* he had such a favorable application season. He was able to write strong essays and supplements (where required), because of it. Eight schools is a lot, but using the 'Home State Flagship" strategy, ApplyTexas made it easy to knock out his safeties, so he could put his main effort into his reach, honors, and scholarship supplements. So, he really only had to put a lot of effort into 4 apps, over a six month period. He's an amazing writer, and got a lot of acknowledgment (compliments and praise from the colleges that he applied to) for presenting strong written support for his application. Finding fit helped him to hone in on essay subject matter that actually mattered.
    · Reply · Share
  • Sapphire GSapphire G 31 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @no matter Your son got his talent for writing from you. I am now invested in his choice!

    My child knocked a lot of places out too for less than rational reasons but we're lucky that it helps narrow the focus.
    · Reply · Share
  • ChangeTheGameChangeTheGame 979 replies16 threads Member
    edited May 3
    Hey @nomatter, just checking back in to see if your son has made a final decision and what was his deciding factor or factors?
    edited May 3
    · Reply · Share
  • nomatternomatter 348 replies12 threads Member
    edited May 5
    My thoughts on his "gut feeling". Of all the schools that he considered, visited, spent time at, and talked to faculty, staff, and students, UT was the (surprisingly) the least "Rah-rah". I noticed that he bristled a little bit when schools went a little overboard in trying to convince prospects and admitted students with 'forceful' spirit and traditions. That's not his cup of tea at all. UT Austin certainly has traditions, and they love their "Hook'em" and all that, but they seemed to be the most laid back, and the least dedicated to immersing newbies into their world order. Maybe they're more secure in their identity as a university than some, and less invested in keeping the magic of it than others, but he's an easy-going kid, who seems to want a more easy-going campus culture.
    edited May 5
    · Reply · Share
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43234 replies471 threads Senior Member
    Congratulations! And such a thoughtful (even if at times whimsical) process.
    · Reply · Share
  • ChangeTheGameChangeTheGame 979 replies16 threads Member
    @nomatter, congratulations on UT Austin and your son getting an all expenses paid education. As a parent, to see your son happy and to do it without your wallet being impacted is outstanding.
    · Reply · Share
  • itsgettingreal21itsgettingreal21 330 replies5 threads Member
    I take it your son got the 40 Acres? Easy choice. Congrats! Fun journey thread.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity