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From someone without regrets

SophieGermainSophieGermain 148 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Congratulations juniors and sophomores- your college application process is soon to begin. I remember trying to decide where to apply this time last year, and even though I thought I already knew where I wanted to apply, it changed a lot by the time I sent out applications. Keep an open mind. I almost didn't apply to Brown because a family friend had a horrible grad school experience there, but with a little research I learned that undergrad and grad schools are very different at colleges. I am now on the wait-list at Brown. I also applied to Harvard, Yale, UNC-Chapel Hill, UVirginia, SUNY-ESF (environmental science college in NY), and UWashington-Seattle. The results:
Accepted: UW (Honors Program), UNC, UVirginia (likely letter, College Science Scholar), SUNY-ESF (Honors+$$)
Wait-listed: Brown
Rejected: Harvard and Yale
Boston U and UPenn were also almost on my list because they offered the right majors, but I decided not to apply after I read more about the schools. Also, in hindsight, I wouldn't have applied to Chapel Hill just because they sent me the application in the mail (there was more to it than that, but they weren't even on my radar until that point). Do your research, and don't apply to more than 8 schools. It will save you money, and it will save everyone (you, adcoms, recommendation writers, etc.) time.

A word about safeties: love them. Getting in early to a safety you adore will take the pressure off decisions later. Remember, "reach" schools don't have all the good professors and amazing students.

Next, don't retake the SAT if you score 2200 or greater (and even if it's 2000+ seriously reconsider before retaking). The CollegeBoard makes way too much money off the college admissions process, and my 2210 did not keep me out of any schools. UVA and UNC wait-listed and rejected people with higher scores than me. So did H, Y, and Brown. Once your grades and scores reach a certain level, adcoms look at other stuff.

Also, this has been reiterated many times on CC, but don't do ECs just for colleges. I didn't put community service on my apps. Try lots of new things, but only stick with the ones you enjoy. Make it your goal to graduate high school with no regrets. Knowing you did your best with what you had makes rejection much easier to take. In fact, the rejections from Harvard and Yale hardly fazed me because I know I wouldn't have done anything different in high school.

Begin writing your essays the summer before senior year and put your heart and soul into them. Make a list of events that influenced you, things that tie your scattered application together, and unique things you offer to a college. Even include the ones that might seem negative- they could end up being your strongest point. I sent an essay about overcoming an eating disorder to every college I applied to. Turning a perceived weakness into a strength can be risky, but if you pull it off it may turn into the most genuine you write. Also, spend the time to edit and rewrite. Get other people to read your essays and don't take criticism to heart-use it. I completely retyped my main essay four times before submitting it.

Remember to RELAX if you have interviews. Nerves ruined my Harvard interview. Know why you think you're a good fit for school X and write down any questions you have, but don't spend too much time preparing. My Brown interview was AMAZING and the only thing I did to prepare was practice clarinet. Also, all interviewers are different and you have no way of guessing what they will ask. It was almost comical how different mine were.

Another thing- don't read results or "chance me" threads on this forum. It's unhealthy to compare yourself to other people. Avoid posting "chance me" threads, because without seeing all the components of your application in context with the rest of the applications, any comments people make are pure speculation. Don't let anyone deter you from applying to reach schools if you truly want to go there. If you want to know if your GPA/SAT/ACT scores are good enough, consult the CollegeBoard's percentile statistics.

Finally, remember that college acceptances don't determine your worth as a person. Feel honored by the schools which accept you, and don't look back at the ones which don't. Hold in there if you get wait-listed at your dream school (I'm still hoping for Brown) but get excited for whichever school you choose in the meantime. Last, if you haven't already read the posts by An0maly and christiansoldier, I recommend you read them. They have good advice.
edited June 2010
10 replies
Post edited by SophieGermain on
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Replies to: From someone without regrets

  • footballfeldeyfootballfeldey 169 replies50 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    this was really helpful :) good luck!
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  • byuboundbyubound 1316 replies11 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Great advice here; thank you for contributing to the wealth of advice on here :)
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  • SophieGermainSophieGermain 148 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Glad to help. Good luck future seniors!
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  • all4gameall4game 207 replies25 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    This came up in my search for SUNY ESF and it was a nice, inspirational thread. :) thanks.
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  • LirazelLirazel 348 replies4 threadsRegistered User Member
    If you really want to go to HYPSM or similar, the "Don't retake the SAT if it's above 2200" is horrible advice unless you're recruited for athletics. This thread is much better for that: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/937782-advice-elite-college-admissions.html OP's advice is great for the prospective student at say, (hard to choose a college without offending anybody)...perhaps Berkeley or UVA or Johns Hopkins or even maybe Duke or Chicago or Cornell. But not the very super-most top ones.
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  • FrenchSilkPieFrenchSilkPie 344 replies24 threadsRegistered User Member
    Thanks for the advice :) I have problems comparing myself to others so your words really rang true. Best of luck next year!
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  • SophieGermainSophieGermain 148 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Lirazel, where did you hear that (besides CC)? For the most part, I've heard that once you have decent grades/SATs/ACT, the decision comes down to recommendations, essays, and extracurriculars. Wouldn't time spent on those help more than trying to score a few extra points on the SAT? I had a friend score a 36 on the ACT, win national awards, and get rejected from HYPMS. The one thing he didn't have was much besides school and a single extracurricular. Although this is anecdotal evidence, it still shows that even though standardized test scores are important, they aren't important enough to agonize over.
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  • BuddyMcAwesomeBuddyMcAwesome 870 replies20 threadsRegistered User Member
    Actually, your 2210 probably did keep you out.
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  • massgirl92massgirl92 586 replies117 threadsRegistered User Member
    for princeton there's a graph showing how your chances increase significantly as your SAT scores increase...even after reaching a threshold of 2200. i imagine brown, harvard, and yale operate similarly.
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  • SophieGermainSophieGermain 148 replies16 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Correlation ≠ causation. Have you ever heard an admissions officer say it's more important to have a 2400 than outstanding extracurriculars, essays, and teacher recommendations?

    People with 2300+ SAT scores are also more likely to have other outstanding achievements and recommendations that would help them get into HYPMS. Honestly? I had next to no leadership positions, some very common ECs, and a couple disastrous interviews. That probably hurt my application more than scoring 680 on the writing section of the SAT (everything else was 750+, including subject tests).

    And strangely enough, I still wouldn't have done anything different. Failure is humbling, and college admissions can teach you a lot about what really matters.
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