I recently got into several schools, and I narrowed my list to include Stanford, UPENN, Swarthmore, and USC. The deadline for me to commit is May 1st (super soon)! I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Stanford (Applied as International Relations/PoliSci and Theater and Performance Studies double major)
Cost: ~80k a year.
- Pros: 5:1 Student to Faculty Ratio; high level of prestige; 40 minutes away from San Francisco; excellent school spirit and games; great weather all year round (although I would like to see snow, but it’s nbd); world-renowned professors; etc.
- Cons: The Quarter System (I am not sure if it’s for me); Palo Alto (I’ve heard mixed things about how it feels a bit isolating); flake culture/Duck Syndrome/Imposter Syndrome present on campus; seems more STEM-oriented (I may feel left out if I pursue the arts); not sure about the theatre program here.
UPENN Wharton School (Applied as Management concentration and Theatre minor at CAS)
Cost: ~80k a year.
- Pros: 6:1 Student to Faculty Ratio; it’s in Philly (fun on weekends, city life); best Business school/prestige; invited to apply to the Civic Scholars Program (focused on service); great alumni network; fantastic internship opportunities; pursue business and the arts; etc.
- Cons: I don’t like and am NOT good at math/calculus (I crammed before every test and didn’t remember a thing from my AP Calc AB class); inadequate mental health facilities; only diverse on paper (in terms of the student body); lack of creativity due to pre-professional culture.
Swarthmore (Applied as PoliSci and Theater and Peace and Conflict Studies double major)
Cost: Got in as a McCabe Scholar (free tuition); will still need to pay room & board + other additional costs.
- Pros: Free tuition (my cheapest option for higher education); 8:1 Student to Faculty Ratio; peaceful arboretum campus; 30 minutes away from Philly; cash-free amenities (free printing, events, laundry); great connection with professors; etc.
- Cons: Small undergraduate class (easy to form cliques, harder to meet new people); smaller alumni network; not as well known as Stanford, UPENN, or USC; minimal party scene/not great social life; not sure about the theatre program here.
University of Southern California SDA (Applied as Theatre BA major and International Relations/Political Science minor at Dornsife)
Cost: Received a University Scholarship ($15K in total over four years); ~78k a year.
- Pros: It’s in Los Angeles (fun on weekends, never bored, beaches & snowy mountains); well-funded Theatre program; great location to pursue acting; 8:1 Student to Faculty Ratio; excellent Alumni network; great school spirit and games; etc.
- Cons: The area is a bit dangerous; not as prestigious as Stanford or UPENN (harder to convince my parents to assist with finances); not sure about the Political Science/International Relations program here; I am sure there are more, but I can’t find much.
Note about costs: I am fortunate enough for my family to be able to afford college regardless of the cost, but the McCabe Scholarship from Swarthmore is compelling (I will likely still have to pay for Room & Board, as well as other additional expenses).
What I am looking for:
Academics: I’m really indecisive as to what I hope to do in the future (whether it be pursuing acting, nonprofit management, or getting involved with public service/politics/government), so I’d like to be able to explore all of my interests fully! I prefer smaller class sizes but would also be okay with a few larger lecture halls. I’d also love to study abroad!
Student Life: On the weekends, I want to have fun/go out/relax (work hard, play hard) with friends. I also want my college to have active clubs, a good dating/social culture, and impactful service opportunities. Lastly, I’d like to be able to explore the surrounding area (whether it be the city or nature) and not feel trapped on campus.
Arts: I’d love to join an A Cappella group and do Theatre/Musical Theatre in college. In addition, I hope to take voice lessons as well as do performances at local theatres (if possible). I want my school to be well funded for the arts and have respect for the arts and theatre.
Future goals: My biggest priorities in/after college include getting good internships/job offers, having a great alumni network to connect with, and being prepared for life post-college. Again, I haven’t decided what I’d specifically like to do, but I hope to have connections/opportunities straight out of college for my profession.
Other: Diversity is definitely important to me! I want to meet people from all walks of life (meeting new people every year) and have significant cultural centers on campus. Also, school spirit is something that my high school lacked, and I would love more of it in college.
I still need to do more research on the above colleges (because I honestly applied to many of my colleges on a whim due to COVID-19), so I’d appreciate everyone’s thoughts on academics, extracurriculars, culture, student life, etc. at these schools.
I know the prestige of schools like Stanford is a big deal (and, of course, is important to me as well), but I’d also like to go somewhere that I’d be happy at, has great resources, and can help me achieve my goals. Any help is much appreciated. Thank you!