Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Gender and ethnicity? Female, Chinese
Any particular “hooks”? (student athlete, legacy, etc.) N/A
What did your application focus on? Any academic subjects, extracurriculars, etc. in particular? I purposely didn’t try to get as many extracurriculars as I could, I focused on the ones that I was really passionate about. Most of my application was about water polo, coaching for synchronized swimming, volunteering at the VA hospital, and my club TEDxGunnHighSchool. I applied to be a public health major, so I put a lot of academic focus surrounding what I do at the VA hospital because it’s in the biology field.
What are your plans for next year? If you’re planning on attending a college, what’s your school and intended area of study? I’ll be attending UC Irvine through their honors program and as a public health sciences major.
What was the general composition of your college list? How many schools did you apply to? How many reaches, matches, and safeties were on your list? Did you feel like your list was balanced?
My college list was pretty balanced out, in my opinion. I applied early decision to a pretty big reach school, and that was the only Ivy League school I applied to. I had four reach schools, one safety, four target schools, and then I applied to six UC’s. I didn’t really put the UCs into categories because based on previous years the UCs are really unpredictable, in my opinion. A lot of people apply to a ton of safeties “just in case,” but it’s so unnecessary. You really only need one, because you will definitely get in if it really is a safety school. Don’t waste your time and money by applying to random safeties! Also, I had a few friends who were very confident about their schools and ended up being disappointed. Don’t think too highly of yourself, be realistic. College acceptances can be unpredictable and especially during this pandemic, you never know what to expect.
What was your general application timeline? When did you start your applications? How did you manage your workload?
I started writing out my common app essay in the summer and had some of the UC essays written by the end of summer as well. I basically had my common app essay finalized around the start of my senior year and began writing the supplementals for my early schools. Don’t be afraid to apply early action/decision, it really helps a lot. I suggest applying early action to your safety, just so you know you’re set. I applied to three schools early—one was my reach (ED), one target, and one safety. I actually think it helps to write your safety/target school essays first rather than your reach because it takes a while to really write good essays. Your first couple of essays are always gonna be—not the best. Mine definitely were not. It takes a lot of time to write out a solid, meaningful essay so never leave it to the last minute. Plus, you have to do a lot of in-depth research for every school’s supplemental essays. I finished writing my UC essays in November and wrote all my regular decision essays throughout November and December.
Who helped you throughout the application process? Parents, school, private counselor? What resources did you find the most helpful?
I didn’t have a college counselor, but a lot of my friends did. I’m not sure if I would’ve had different results if I had a college counselor. I relied mostly on my friends to edit and reread my essays, and they were really helpful. Just don’t ask too many friends to help you, because they will have different advice and it will start to get too confusing. Trust only a few friends, teachers, etc. to read your essays.
What are your top tips for college applicants? What advice do you wish you’d known while you were going through the application process?
In my opinion, I think having the proper college list is the most important. I changed my list a ton of times before finally settling on a good list. A lot of people start writing their supplemental essays for a college, and after finally doing their research on the school, they realize it’s not a good fit for them. You don’t want to have to run into that problem because then it’ll be too late and a nuisance to change your list (you’ll have to change where you send your test scores, transcript, etc.). You should really know which school you want to apply to and you should be okay with attending every school you apply to—yes, even the safeties. Also, don’t apply to a school just for its name. Everyone says that, but it really is important. Apply to the schools you can imagine yourself going to. My last tip is for when you get college results back. If you get rejected from your dream school, don’t think of it as “I’m not good enough for the school,” think of it as “the school doesn’t think I’m the right match for them.” A school will know if the applicant will be successful at their college or not—both academically and socially. Having a good college list hopefully will mean that all the schools are good matches for you—but every rejection just means that the college doesn’t think you’re quite right for their school. It’s not the end of the world! Good luck to all the seniors!! :)