To protect the author's privacy, the Admissions Blog has granted her anonymity for this series.
Are you sick of guidebooks and statistics, endlessly refreshing U.S. News & World Top Colleges (don’t lie), and the “50 Best Essays” you’ve perused for hours on end? Have you ever wanted a no holds barred, 100 percent honest look at one year of attempted college admissions? Then this may be the series for you. I can’t promise many insider tips or quick-fix personal statements, but I can make you feel a little less alone. Are you along for the ride? Then join me once a week for the rest of the semester as I recount in excruciating and hopefully cathartic detail my College Campaign of 2010. Let us begin.
Race/Ethnicity: White, Jewish (once upon a time, I thought this constituted diversity).
Location: New England, city
High School: Public, Magnet
Extracurriculars: Track, Piano, Tutoring, Community Service (how original!)
In summary: The perfect candidate in every way. Or so I thought. At my high school, we were constantly reassured that an indefatigable work ethic and a good package of grades, boards, and extracurriculars would guarantee our admission to a wonderful college. I was boundless. I had so much potential I didn’t know what to do with it. Any college would be lucky to have me! How would I ever choose when April 1 finally arrived?
I began to compile a list of schools to visit. First up: nearly every Ivy. Dartmouth and Cornell were nixed off the bat—I wanted to be in a more urban environment. But Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Penn, and Columbia made it on, along with top liberal arts college Amherst. Next were the mid-levels, schools where I had a better-than-not chance of acceptance. I picked Washington University in St. Louis, Wesleyan, New York University, and Tufts. Three safeties rounded off the bunch: Boston University, Brandeis, and George Washington University.
I put little thought into which colleges I’d visit. I essentially checked off a laundry list of the top colleges in nearby vicinity—only two were far enough away to necessitate a flight. My mom planned our visits while I stressed about AP tests, retook my SATs, and perfected my side-swept bangs.
Yet nascent beginnings of my greatest college application mistakes were beginning to show. I was so hopelessly self-assured that I never stopped to consider the obstacles I might face along the way to my “perfect college.” I naively believed that having the median SAT and GPA for a given college immediately made me a desirable candidate. I underestimated how highly colleges value “leaders,” and most of all, I overestimated myself. But more of that will come later.
It was April, 2009, and I was ready to visit some colleges.
The second installment of the College Campaign of 2010 is here. Read it now.