“You are the coolest kid on planet Earth. Every college is going to want you. They are going to slit throats just to have you attend their university because they can see your potential and know that you are definitely the one student that will forever post their framed logo in the College Hall of Fame. ”
Well, at least that’s what I told myself, right before I received my first rejection from a scholarship program.
Unfortunately, there is no fantasy world that works the way my mind hopes it would be. Regardless of who you are, you are probably going to be rejected from not just one, but several schools. And that is just a part of the college process.
But, you know what? Even though I was rejected, I’m not very sad. My family and friends kept asking me, “How are you doing? Are you okay?” And I was because I know that it isn’t the end of the world!
Even though I am not the perfect applicant and not every school is going to want me, I know that a bunch of them, in fact, will want me, and that this one rejection is not the end of the road. Everyone gets rejected, and it’s something you have to expect when taking the risk to apply for college. I know what will come soon after this: acceptance!
Part of what helped me today was following some sage advice from BlogDailyHerald, originally written for Brown Early Decision applicants:
- Don’t post a live countdown to the decision on Facebook. It’s a double-edged sword: everyone knows you’re anxious, and the Internet’s a good place to vent your frustration. But if you don’t get in, odds are there will be one nosy person on your profile asking, “Well, what’s the verdict?”
- Don’t go on College Confidential. I’m not even posting the link to the site here, because I know the temptation’s there as you read this. Going on this masochistic website is a rookie mistake. You’ll gain nothing from it except extreme self-awareness and a conviction that you have no future (spoiler alert: you do!)…
- Look at pictures of cute animals. Who says animals falling asleep can’t fix everything?
Regardless of what happens, even if not every college is going to want you, you still are the coolest kid on planet Earth. So you’ve got that going for you.
And by all means, don’t let fear of rejection stop you from applying! As they say, “you can’t win if you don’t play.”
Good luck on getting those applications done for upcoming deadlines! Send any application questions you have to email@example.com.
Oh, the hardest essay supplement question of all: “why (insert college)?” If you’re anything like most teenagers, you don’t really know why for a lot of the colleges on your list. Your reasons (in your own head) may likely be somewhere along the lines of:
- “The campus at the school is really pretty!”
- “I think the school is an Ivy League, so it’d be cool to go there, I think”
- “The school is in a city, and I’ve always wanted to live in a city”
- “The school is my safety school and I just want to make sure I’ll end up going to college”
- “I’ve heard from a couple of adults that this is a good school”
But here’s the thing: colleges want to really know why you want to go there, not just a list of qualities about the school that could be changed to fit any other school.
I got the idea for this blog post from another blog post that actually changed the way that I view these essay prompts now. Instead of plagiarizing someone else’s work, I am going to give you the link to the post here: The Bridge Blog
Hopefully this advice helps give you the strength you need to start and finish those pesky essays!
As always, shoot any questions you have about essays to firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh, clubs. What awesome and equally not that awesome programs we have at my public high school.
Clubs are really awesome because they are an opportunity to find other people in your school that have the same interests as you, or a place to try a new activity. Where else would I have learned to debate if I didn’t decide to join the Speech and Debate Team/Club? They are really awesome for experimenting with what you like and don’t like and beginning to develop a sense of who you are and what you like to do.
Now, I also don’t like clubs, and this isn’t because I don’t like what they stand for. I do not like clubs because people seem to think that in order to get into college, they need to be a member of fifty random clubs and President of twenty-five of them. Sorry, but no. Joining a gazillion clubs is definitely not a free pass to college, and it actually could hurt you.
You may have heard people say this to you over and over, but colleges want you to have a passion. By this, it means that colleges want to see that you have explored your interests in high school, and have found something to really grab a hold of and take to the next level.
I was like you at one point; I definitely thought that being a member of every “intellectual” club on campus was going to show my future college that I was a smart person and that I liked intellectual things. I tried to join a lot of clubs on my campus, but I had to learn the hard way that it was really a bad idea.
Why was it a bad idea? Well, let’s take the fact that I tried to join the Robotics and Red Cross Clubs. I am not in any way interested in designing Robots, and blood freaks me out. Although they were both great organizations that are great experiences for their members, they weren’t the clubs for me. There were plenty of other clubs on campus that suited me and who I was much more.
Let’s also look at the idea of overloading on clubs. Sure, the idea of being in every club that sounds interesting is nice, but when you’re actually attending seven different club meetings per week, plus having to take all of your classes and sleep and do your other activities, it gets to be too much on you, and can drag you down.
What you should really do is find a couple of clubs that you really do enjoy, and take what they stand for to the next level. My passion, for example, resides in leadership and solving issues. Because I really really love leading others, I became the President of my school.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re saying to yourself right now, like every person is actually going to become President of the school.
No, of course not, but what I am saying is that you should find a way to take your passion to the next level. Are you passionate about the environment? Take the initiative to start a community campaign to keep the beaches clean. Do you love writing? Write a book! Do you see a problem in the world that you know needs to be fixed? Try to fix it! Take it beyond your high school club and into the world around you.
By doing this, not only will colleges get to see the real you and what you really stand for on your application, but you will benefit knowing that you have done something incredibly meaningful with your life.
Have more questions on extracurricular activities? Don’t hesitate to send your question to email@example.com.
The whole idea of paying for college is funny. We all know it’s expensive, and, although we are all looking forward to those great four years, we also dread the idea of being in debt after we graduate.
This idea has been a hot topic among my fellow senior friends recently. Most of my pals have they decided that they want to attend a state college simply because it’s cheaper. And then there are friends that aren’t even applying to a four-year because they know that their family can’t afford to pay that much at all for college and think that there aren’t any other options.
Well, let me tell you this: my family won’t be able to pay hardly anything for college, and I am applying only to four-year, private colleges.
What? Private colleges? Aren’t those the schools that cost $50,000 just for tuition?
Yes, those are the colleges with the sticker price of $50,000. But nobody actually pays that much. And, for me, schools like that are the reason why I am going to a four-year next year and not community college.
I was like the rest of my friends not too long ago. My family was freaking out because I wasn’t good enough in tennis to receive an athletic scholarship. And, with the crazy prices of four-year institutions haunting my dreams, community college seemed like a good option, even though I really wanted to go off to college and have that amazing 18-year-old year where you’re a freshman in college, newly liberated from the structure of high school life. It made me sad, but I knew that paying thousands upon thousands of dollars just wasn’t a possibility.
I found out about Questbridge when I was in my junior year. (If you’ve never heard of it, look it up: it’s an amazing resource for low-income students.) They are affiliated with 35 amazing, private colleges, and they have this program called the National College Match, in which, if you’re selected as a finalist, you can basically apply ED to up to 8 schools that you get to choose from the 35. If you are “matched” with one (accepted ED), you are GUARANTEED a full scholarship there.
To me, this program was an absolute miracle. If I could get this scholarship, I thought, I could go to a four-year college after all!
Questbridge has another program for high-school juniors called the College Prep Scholarship, in which you can be considered to attend cool summer programs at some of the partner colleges, or go to one of Questbridge’s College Admissions Conferences. I applied to that, because “why not,” and I was selected to go to one of the College Admissions Conferences. So, the day of the conference, not really knowing what to expect, my stepmom and I hopped in our car and drove to Stanford University.
So, trying to make this as concise as possible, that conference was one of the most life-changing experiences of my life.
First off, the other students at this conference were amazing. There were teenagers of every color, from all different walks of life, and I had the opportunity to speak to some of them. It was just like my dream of college, being a part of so much diversity, and it made me so excited for the future.
But here is my main point: they did a big lecture on financial aid at private colleges, and, it turns out, tons of private colleges guarantee to meet 100% of your financial need, meaning you will not have to pay a dollar more than you can’t afford.
And this wasn’t just for Questbridge kids; this was the policy for everyone. There are dozens of private colleges in America that will pay your full college expenses if your family makes a very small amount of money.
My family could have always afforded to send me to a private college, even without outside or athletic scholarships.
This was some of the most amazing news, but I couldn’t believe that no one had ever told me this before. Seriously, no person had ever mentioned that private colleges were actually a possibility. These schools have amazing financial aid policies for not just families like mine, but for everyone, including the middle-class family that tends to get screwed over by the cost of public schools.
So now, because no one had ever told me this, I am now telling it to you: private colleges are a possibility for people of all economic backgrounds.
Now, the next step is finding out which colleges these are, because not all of them have the best policies. Here are the things you should look for on the school’s website if you absolutely need an amazing financial aid package:
- The school should guarantee to meet 100% of demonstrated need
- The school should have a no-loans policy (if you are worried about this part)
Schools like this will cover everything that you need, meaning, every dollar that is more than your Estimated Family Contribution will be covered in some way by the school.
A good way to estimate how much you will have to pay at a private college is through their net-price calculator, available on their website. Every college has one because they are legally required to. By doing this, you may find that a college that you once found impossible to attend could actually be a reality.
If you have other questions about financial aid, don’t hesitate to ask a question! Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a video that can be extremely helpful to those of you who are still unsure on how to distinguish yourself in the crowd of applicants to your dream college. I am aware that the majority of college-bound students aren’t even interested in applying to Harvard. Although the title is “How to Get Into Harvard,” this video can be applied to standing out in the applicant pool of any college. The creator of this video is YesReneau on YouTube, a hilarious member of the Harvard Class of 2016. She has a couple great videos that are helpful to look at if you are, in fact, looking for admittance to Ivy League schools and other institutions of that extremely selective nature.
You would not believe how many of my friends ask me this question, and you would not believe how many of my friends think they know the answer to this question.
The real answer is that there is no magic formula for being accepted into the country’s most prestigious schools. However, after researching a lot about students that get into these schools, here are a few simple Do’s and Don’t’s:
- Get extremely good grades all throughout high school. Most students that are accepted into these colleges are crazy high-achievers with nearly straight-A’s and several AP/IB classes. Easier said than done, right? Maybe it’s too late to fix your lousy freshman year grades. If that’s the case, then make sure to keep an upward trend on your achievement. Show that you are willing to put in the commitment in the years where it counts the most.
- Get high test scores. Very few students at these colleges achieved lower than an 1800 composite on all 3 parts of the SAT. Most have over a score of 2100. Although most of the knowledge used on these tests is acquired throughout your years of schooling, it does not hurt to take an SAT/ACT prep course or self-study for the test.
- Follow your passion in high school. And, by “follow your passion,” I mean do what you really love to do. Don’t join the robotics team at your school just because you think it will look good on your resume. Join the robotics team because you are honestly passionate about robotics! Joining clubs you aren’t interested in will leave you bored, unhappy, and miserable. Students that are accepted into top schools are students who put hundreds of hours into an activity that they really enjoyed doing.
- Write amazing essays. Essays are not only the place where colleges see how well you can express ideas; essays can fill in the gaps of your application. If you had a major hardship in your life that prevented you from getting good grades in high school, write about it! These schools aren’t just looking for “geniuses,” they’re now, more than ever, looking for real people who know how to fight for their goals and achieve in the face of adversity.
- Have your parents do everything for you. These schools are looking for self-motivated students that will do well when on their own in college.
- Join 200 clubs and organizations trying to “improve your resume.” Honestly, when these colleges see that you are in so many clubs, they don’t see anything that you have done, only that you have spread yourself too thin. If you think about it, if you dedicate yourself to dozens of clubs, how are you going to have time to make a serious impact with any of them? A much better route, not only for your college resume, but for your happiness in high school is to find your 1 or 2 things you are extremely passionate about, and do those to the fullest.
- Think that you have no shot. As stated before, colleges are looking for a diverse population of students, which means kids that come from every walk of life. Even if you think your grades aren’t up to par, the other areas of your life can help make up for the missing pieces. There is also no harm in applying to a school and seeing what happens. You may just be pleasantly surprised.
- Think that you are a shoe-in. No person is a shoe-in for the most prestigious schools. It’s important to understand that tens of thousands of high-achieving students apply to these schools and that your chances of getting in, regardless of who you are, are slim. I read a story of one girl who applied to only Ivy League colleges and was so scared when she was rejected by all except one. Luckily, she was accepted by one, but imagine if she hadn’t been? Don’t put yourself in that situation. Plan for anything to happen.
- Try to be somebody that you are not. Embrace yourself and show who you really are as a person. You are not going to succeed in trying to put up a facade to these colleges. Show your strengths in your application and know that who you are is good enough!
There will be more follow-up posts about this subject. Just remember, even if you don’t get into the Ivy League school of your dreams, it’s not the end of the world. These top schools are amazing places with amazing opportunities, but that does not mean you cannot find similar opportunities elsewhere.
If you are rejected by one of these schools, just remember that about 90% of the other applicants are in the exact same boat as you. Ninety percent! Think about how many amazing kids don’t go to Ivy Leagues, but still find success in life. It’s not the college that accepts you that defines you, it’s you that defines you; find a place where you will be able to succeed as yourself.
High school is crazy. Trying to get into college is even crazier. And yet, thousands of amazing individuals manage to get into the nation’s top schools each year.
When this website first started, dozens of high-achieving students were interviewed. Here are some highlights of their best advice to students looking for acceptance to any college:
“Be yourself on your application – do not write about what you think the admissions office wants to hear. Write about what you are passionate about, and try to find something that will help you stand out from the tens of thousands of other applicants.”
“As I write this sentence, I have no idea whether I’ve been denied/deferred/accepted, but what’s more important, I think, is not measuring self-worth by a single admissions decision. We all have so many years ahead of us, and wherever we go, it’s our choice to take advantage of whatever’s in store… Cliche, I know, but there’s a reason why people keep repeating it.”
“Looking through this it’s going to seem like you roll the dice and hopefully you get in. But I really do think if you have decent (not extraordinary) stats and extracurriculars you can get in. I put a ton of work into my essays, and I’ve been working hard all of high school. The application is just a way to show how hard you’ve worked and what you’re capable of.”
“Admission to top universities like Stanford is such a crap shoot for anyone, so don’t go into it thinking you’re a shoe-in or a lost cause. Put your best foot forward and show them why they WANT YOU, not just why you want to go there.”
“During high school I never really focused on ‘doing things to get into college;’ simply do things you love, and do it well, so you will have fun and success will naturally lead to college. My leaving comment to the other high schoolers is to follow your dreams, and don’t let anybody tell you ‘no.’ You really do miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”