Advice On The College Admissions Process From Schreiber High School Grads

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They say that hindsight is 20/20. A sample of Paul D. Schreiber High School students from the Class of 2016 (who will soon be joining their respective Classes of 2020) were asked about their college admissions processes. Here are their enlightening responses.

CollegeAdmission_072716AAndrew Gruber
College: Columbia University
Prospective Major: Economics-Mathematics
Number of Schools Applied to: 5

Q: How did you choose Columbia?
A: Well, I had toured so many schools, and through that, I knew I wanted to be in a city for college. In addition, I found out that I really liked schools with a core curriculum (i.e. not just subject requirements, but a set of specific courses). Going into the whole process, I knew I wanted to be an Econ major, and Columbia has amazing resources for doing internships (since some of the biggest banks and financial institutions are a subway ride away). Ultimately, Columbia came out on top for me since I loved the idea of being in New York City.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about going to college?
A: I think the freedom and independence. I really like the idea of being able to choose my own classes, and create my own life a little bit. College is the beginning of adulthood, and that is an exciting prospect for me.
Q: Concerns?
A: Oh, definitely. I’m probably most concerned about the workload and the possibility of being overwhelmed by my classes.
Q: What advice would you give to rising seniors about the admissions process?
A: First and foremost, start the Common App and supplements early. I think the sort of personal nature of the questions means that it takes a while to work through them properly and craft thorough responses. Also, I think that a lot of the time, people view extracurriculars as being one distinct piece of the application. I found it to be a good strategy to discuss them in my essays. In addition, I think the essays do a good job of letting colleges get to know you, so it’s important to be real and honest.
Q: If you were a rising senior this year and knew everything that you know now, what would you do differently?
A: I think I could’ve been much more organized. Although I began my application the first week of August, there is so much more than just the Common App to take care of. Teacher recommendations, standardized test score submissions, supplements and things that Guidance submits…there are so many moving parts. I wish I had been more organized in managing all these things, so I wouldn’t have been so stressed in October.

CollegeBound_080316BPhilip Verdirame
College: Boston College (BC)
Prospective Major: Undecided (Humanities)
Number of Schools Applied to: 8

Q: How did you choose BC?
A: I’ve always been interested in the school, and it was the first place I toured back in 10th grade. I loved the school the first time, and then I went back in 11th grade to do an “Eagle for a Day” program, where I shadowed a student with similar academic interests. BC was the first school I got accepted to, since it was the only Early Action school I applied to. I then waited many months for regular decisions to come out, even though I knew BC was my first choice. I went with my gut and committed to BC in the middle of April, and after that, I was extremely confident about my decision. After coming back from orientation, I knew it was the best place I could have ended up at, but I’m glad I played out all my options. BC has a decent-sized international population and students from all over the country. I met a lot of different kinds of people at orientation, which was really cool because certain schools often get labeled as having one type of student.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about going to college? A: I’m looking forward to going to Boston with my friends, and waking up to a beautiful school that looks like Hogwarts every day. I’m looking forward to losing at football and winning at hockey. I’m looking forward to being more involved with my faith and community service. And I’m looking forward to being a full-time student in such an intellectual place.
Q: Concerns?
A: I’m worried that the support system that I’ve relied on for achieving success in high school (i.e. friends and family) won’t be able to help me do well in college, and that the transition to living away from home will be difficult, since I’ve never been away from home for more than a week.
Q: What advice would you give to rising seniors about the admissions process?
A: If you have a lot of interest in one school, make sure you visit early, and do things to show the college it is a priority to you. You don’t need to apply to 20 schools. You probably only like about half of them anyway. Think to yourself: if you got in, would you be happy going? Because some people only get into their safeties and they hate the schools. Stay on top of your essays. Don’t let three years of hard work in high school go to waste because you wrote a bad essay the night before a deadline. Don’t underestimate yourself, and use everything you’ve accomplished to your advantage. And lastly, college isn’t everything. Everyone faces rejection from at least one school. You’ll have your classmates to help you through it.
Q: If you were a rising senior this year and knew everything that you know now, what would you do differently?
A: I think I would’ve applied to a few more reach schools just to see.

CollegeAdmission_072716DMikayla Hyman
College: Middlebury College
Prospective Major: Undecided
Number of Schools Applied to: 13

Q: How did you choose Middlebury?
A: There was a lot of research involved. I first saw Middlebury on a list of great pre-med colleges, and it looked a lot like the other colleges I was interested in, so I visited on a whim. I read a bunch of reviews for different colleges on a bunch of different college websites, and I did more research on the programs it had, like the pre-med track, Anthropology and Environmental Studies. Once I got in, I visited again, and that was really helpful to get to know the type of student and the atmosphere. Middlebury has a lot of great kids who really care about helping others, including the environment and actual people. And they have really amazing professors, who are willing to speak with the students and help them grow.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about going to college? A: I’m looking forward to hopefully figuring out what I want to do with my life, and I’m also excited to see how functional I am on my own. I think it will be cool to meet new people, talk with them and get different points of views, considering I’ve lived in the same town my whole life. I’m kind of excited for everything.
Q: Concerns?
A: I’m concerned that I’m not going to be a functional individual. I’m also concerned about the level of academic rigor. I know that my senior year of high school, I would have hours of homework a night, and I expect no less from college. I know that I’m really into extracurriculars, so I’m worried I won’t have time to perform at the academic level I want to while getting to do all the extracurriculars I want.
Q: What advice would you give to rising seniors about the admissions process?
A: You should definitely try to get everything done the summer before senior year because everyone says that, but no one person does that. You should really apply to as many colleges as you’re interested in. When I was first looking into Middlebury, I didn’t even think I was going to like it, but I ended up completely falling in love. But don’t apply to ones you know you won’t want to go to. Also, you can rewrite your essay a thousand times, and it might not ever be perfect because writing doesn’t work that way, so, just believe in your own abilities, don’t stress too much and be comfortable with what you have and who you are. Get yourself a hook for your essay: something that’s really individual to or special about you, and make sure that the college knows about it.
Q: If you were a rising senior this year and knew everything that you know now, what would you do differently?
A: I would maybe apply to more schools, and cut down my résumé. My résumé had everything I’d done in high school—pages upon pages of different clubs and fundraisers I did. Schools don’t want that. Only three of my schools asked for a résumé, so, it wasn’t that big of an issue; they just want to see major stuff.

CollegeAdmission_072716CSophie Lipstein
College: State University of New York at Binghamton
Prospective Major: Psychology ABA
Number of Schools Applied to: 14

Q: How did you choose Bing?
A: A huge factor for me was the cost and how much I would be paying back in student loans after college. I will leave Binghamton not only with a fantastic education, but with debt that is considerably manageable to pay back in comparison to the other schools I applied to. Another reason I chose Binghamton was because it had the exact program I’m interested in being part of. Their psychology and ABA programs are outstanding and I know I will thrive in the field I want to study.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about going to college?
A: I’m looking forward to taking classes that I’m actually interested in. My first semester, I’m taking Psychology, Foundations of Social Theory, Sex in American History and Modern Jewish History.
Q: Concerns?
A: Though exciting, it’s also quite nerve-racking because I know each class I’m taking has a heavy reading requirement. I’m going to need to procrastinate less and prioritize my time more.
Q: What advice would you give to rising seniors about the admissions process?
A: It is imperative to be organized and on time, or even early, when it comes to deadlines for handing in materials. It is all up to you to get things in on time, and to make sure each school has received all documents necessary for your application to be reviewed. Having my résumé and Common App essay finished before the first day of senior year made my life so much easier. I got my top four schools out of the way first when applying, making sure they were done early so I didn’t have to stress about the school not getting them. Then all I had to worry about was the other supplements to write. But I couldn’t have done this on my own. My personal essay coach, a family friend, was my knight in shining armor during the college process. I could not have been as successful and stress-free without her help.
Q: If you were a rising senior this year and knew everything that you know now, what would you do differently?
A: Senioritis is real. Don’t let it get the best of you. I made myself believe that I would maintain my grades second semester (after being accepted), and not hand things in late. But I was wrong. My grades went down, and I handed in things way past their due dates. It’s also important to find time to be with your friends and time to decompress. Allow yourself to have alone time. Lastly, sleep is important! Procrastinating shouldn’t cause you to get fewer than five hours of sleep every night. Learn to take breaks to avoid procrastination.

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