Student Stories - Undecided

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Application Identity:

  • Gender and ethnicity? Female; White, Hispanic & Latina

  • Any particular “hooks”? (student athlete, legacy, etc.) N/A

  • What did your application focus on? Any academic subjects, extracurriculars, etc. in particular? My application mainly focused on my extracurriculars, which consisted of athletics, clubs, church youth group, and community service, and my Common App essays focused on my experience at summer camp and how it shaped me as a person. I was also a dancer on my school's dance team and team captain.

  • 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 am planning on attending Reed College in Portland next year, and I am currently an undecided 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?

I applied to 9 schools in total and I would say that all of them were pretty similar in terms of their acceptance rates and such, with a couple of exceptions. Reed was actually my “reach” school, but I didn’t really focus too much on making my college list based on reaches, matches, and safeties. I did apply to two schools that I felt really confident I would get into, so those were my “safeties”, but for the rest, I just made my list based on if I would actually consider going to them if I was accepted.

What was your general application timeline? When did you start your applications? How did you manage your workload?

I began making my college list during the summer before my senior year when I visited a bunch of schools, and I refined my list by the time school started. I also began filling out the basic information that the Common App has you fill out, just so I could get that out of the way before I had more work to do. For most of the schools I applied to, I decided to do Early Action, and for Reed, I did Early Decision. This allowed me to get almost all of my applications done before Thanksgiving break which was really nice. I also found out about my acceptance to my top college (Reed) really early on, so I was able to rescind my applications from schools I had already been accepted to and didn’t even have to start on applications that were due in January-February. I tried to work on my essays during the week, but I was usually pretty busy with my academic class workload and my extracurriculars, so I ended up doing most of my college-related work on the weekends which ended up working out pretty well. I definitely got stressed out a lot, but I think I managed my time the best I could have.

Who helped you throughout the application process? Parents, school, private counselor? What resources did you find the most helpful?

I did not have a college counselor to help me through my application process, but my mom was really helpful when it came to editing my essays, and I also had some friends look over them which was great. I found that reading some of my older brother’s essays from when he applied to college was really helpful when I was struggling to find my voice while writing. It can definitely be challenging to start writing, but once you begin to find your voice and are passionate about what you are writing about, it gets much easier. Not rushing yourself is really important and I found that giving myself sufficient time to complete my essays was really beneficial because I felt like I submitted the best writing I could have.

What are your top tips for college applicants? What advice do you wish you’d known while you were going through the application process?

The college application process can be really daunting at first, and if you procrastinate it will definitely be more stressful than it needs to be. Personally, I didn’t apply to that many schools compared to my peers, so I found that it is important to keep in mind that everyone has a different situation. Whether you are applying to five schools or 25 schools, you have the right to be stressed. Not comparing yourself to others is one of my best pieces of advice I can give to incoming seniors when it comes to applying and finding out if you have been accepted. Everyone has a different story to tell, and now is your chance to tell it! Identify life experiences that have shaped you, reflect on your identity, and so on. You are going to end up at the place that is meant for you, one way or another, so remember that when you find yourself worrying about the future. I constantly had to remind myself to trust the process and not worry about what was going to happen. You may also feel burnt out at times, but taking time to step away from your work is really important to keep yourself healthy and sane. If I were to go back in time, I would definitely get more essays done during the summer so I would have more time during the school year. I would suggest getting your Common App essay done first, and then working on any other ones that you have. You got this and don’t give up! Everything will work out.

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