DACA Recipient Got into UIC after a Gap Year: ASK ME ANYTHING!

@HKimPOSSIBLE graduated from high school last year, applied to multiple schools via the Common App, but decided to take a gap year as many of the schools he was accepted to did not provide sufficient financial aid to him (as he was considered an international student).

During the initial cycle, he was a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient so he was considered an international by many schools - and he would not receive a Pell Grant or MAP Grant (Illinois) despite graduating from an Illinois High School and living in the United States for nearly fifteen years.

During his gap year, however, he received his US Permanent Residency just in time to apply again via Questbridge as a domestic applicant. In addition to obtaining his green card, he continued researching Alzheimer’s and volunteered at the hospital among other things.

This October, he became a Questbridge Finalist, but unfortunately, did not match to any of the schools he ranked for the National College Match - all of which were extremely competitive in the first place.

However, after the National College Match, he was accepted regular decision to multiple schools. He was a 0 EFC student so most of his financial aid was fabulous - except the package from the University of Southern California, one of his “dream” schools (a California school pretty much), which asked him to pay nearly $15,000 including loans.

With the application season, it was now time to weigh his options. The best undergraduate school for him was the school that would best prepare him for medical school. He has a thought out plan in his head and is certain medicine was for him. That being said, he also applied to a few BS/MD programs - Case Western’s PPSP, Brown’s PLME, Northwestern’s HPME, URochester’s REMS, and WashU’s Medical Scholars Program, along with the GPPA Medicine program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Thankfully, he was accepted to UIC’s BS/MD program!

He had many other amazing options, including full merit scholarships such as Washington and Lee’s Johnson Scholarship along with some others from Bowdoin College.

He’s truly grateful for all the schools that accepted him and it was a difficult decision in the end, including giving up USC. That being said, he has committed to UIC and will be attending their BS/MD program which guarantees a seat at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

@HKimPOSSIBLE will be our Guest Student of the Week, so make sure to ask him all your questions!

:heart: So proud of your perseverance and maturity!

Excellent choice to highlight this student’s journey.

So happy to see HKImPossible highlighted this week! :slight_smile:

@HKimPOSSIBLE How did you feel when you took the gap year? Was it hard on you to see your friends go onto college but you were going to be a year behind?

One of my favorite CC journeys!

@vaevict1s I have to be honest, yes, I did initially feel pulled back, but then I realized I always spent my birthday LONG after the school year ends…so in that sense I tried to think I was either a little early, or just a tad later than my class of 2019 peers.

It’s a big mental navigation - it’s not easy, but very do-able considering what was to come (greencard, much better aid, and other programs).

Even if I had a full ride to UIC prior to my gap year I probably would’ve waited for my greencard and applied again.

But a few months in, you know it’s already July/August and EA/ED was right around the corner!

Just wanted to say congratulations to @HKimPOSSIBLE. I followed your story last year and am so very happy that you’ve landed in a good place. You deserve all the best ahead! Good luck at UIC!

The full thread is here. It’s worth reading to see how he managed his situation: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/2131364-reject-train-going-full-speed-p1.html

Congratulations again, @HKimPOSSIBLE !

@HKimPOSSIBLE Just wanted to say CONGRATS! It makes me happy that your hard work payed off! Hope you have a great time at UIC.

Thank you everyone for the support and kind words!

Your thread really inspired this community! Thank you for that.

Could you share how many schools you applied to the first time around, and then how many you applied to a year later?

Also, I know it’s a big ask, but could you share what schools you applied to and whether or not you received an acceptance, waitlist, or rejection? In your thread, you lump the waitlisted responses with the rejections, because you withdrew those applications. And you never shared what happened with Rice and Stanford.

Thanks! This feels like getting to ask an author about one of his characters after I’ve finished reading the book :smile:

Hi! I am a graduating high school senior from Florida going into university with my A.A. I am currently a DACA recipient and have found it very difficult to find any scholarships that I could apply to. Do you have any that you could apply to as a DACA recipient ?

@pdvxpz20 Hmm, to be honest, I forgot almost everything haha. The first time I applied, I probably applied to around 20 or so schools, and this time, through Questbridge Regular decision, I applied to close to 30 schools I’d say.

I got acceptances from my state schools and various schools on Questbridge’s partner list. I did not get into Rice/Stanford - I also withdrew from my waitlists when I committed to UIC GPPA. Although there were schools I really liked (one of which was USC), the aid wasn’t good at all. So Bowdoin (with their Faculty Scholarship) and W&L University with the full merit scholarship (Johnson Scholarship) were the major choices I had to choose between. Money was the largest factor along with Pre-Med for making my decision.

@Marlen11 Hello, and congratulations on graduating, and especially making it through as a DACA student. When I applied as a DACA student, I wasn’t really aware of scholarships specific for DACA (though there were some local ones from my Church), and especially as I assumed a school would take the scholarship as I would be getting financial aid - however, that did not seem to be the case.

Apply to any and all scholarships you are eligible for. For DACA and also Undocumented students I know there are some big scholarships like “The Dream” scholarship (https://www.thedream.us/scholarships/opportunity-scholarship/)

In addition, there are many scholarships for immigrants and some big ones for Hispanic immigrants as well such as Esperanza (http://www.esperanzafund.org/) and The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (https://www.hsf.net/).

However, I’m not sure how they would apply for graduating seniors as many of the application deadlines have closed by now (I think) - unless you’re an upcoming senior.

@HKimPOSSIBLE - your thread was one that I followed for so long. I’m curious- did you find the various points of view from everyone chiming in helpful, or it added to the difficulty on your decision. There was a lot of (well intended) advice, but it all really conflicted sometimes.

People chiming in made my decision much more difficult - but that is a good thing, especially as all the help, from what I could tell, was very honest and sincere.

I think the one thing to keep in mind is what your gut tells you. Advice is good and a great place to get cues to look into (for example a school’s student life, medical school admissions data, and etc), but you shouldn’t necessarily choose a certain school against your gut just because some people say you should.

However, that being said, many people on my thread were extremely helpful and their advice was valuable - so while you should certainly “go with your gut”, remember to let the suggestions sit in your head for a while so you can actually go into it and think about it - asking for advice should not be asking for confirmation.

that is a great choice