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Thread: The College Process

  1. #11
    Duke Blue Devil Tickety's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process



    I'm a graduating senior for whom the horrible college application process has just ended. (Well, not completely for me, I'm waitlisted at two Ivy's, and if I get off the waitlist my Dad's making me consider them seriously, though my heart's pretty set on Duke already. ) Let me tell you... your senior year is going to SUCK. I can't remember a time when I've been more stressed. You've gotta work to keep up your GPA, do decent on your AP exams, ask teachers for recs, start writing your essays, maintain your commitment level to your various ECs, meet with your guidance counselor to figure out the rest of your life... yeah. Good thing you got your SATs out of the way. Don't forget to do SAT IIs if you're planning to apply to colleges that ask for them.

    You asked if there was anything I would have done differently. There's really just 2 things.

    1) I would have applied to more than one "safety" college. I figured I only needed one (VERY stupid, don't do it!), and that one turned out to give me the most trouble - I had to get my school to send them my transcripts three times. If anything had gone wrong and I only had that one safety to rely on, I could've been seriously screwed.

    2) I wouldn't have worried so much. I was terribly anxious that I wouldn't get in anywhere. Everywhere I turned there were reports of how this year had the most number of kids applying for college. True, this did affect me in the end (Yale only accepted 5.6% of kids from their Regular Decision round, the lowest ever in history, compared to 9% last year... the sad part is I knew this statistic from memory) but not one bit of worrying could've changed that. All those sleepless nights I could've been enjoying myself with my friends, instead of sitting at home reading about stellar students being turned down from Harvard. Honestly, all you can do is try your very best to represent yourself in your application. Then send it off and try to forget about it. It will be extra hard during the countdown period in March (most schools release their decisions 31 March or 1 April) but if you let the anxiety get to you... you will die.

    Wow, I just realized how bitter I sounded.

    You'll sound just like that next April, I promise.

    So, what colleges are you considering?
    2003-2008.

  2. #12
    Wonky snarkmistress Lucy's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    I got lucky when I applied to college: the one I wanted, UVA, was still doing early acceptance at the time, and so I did my application in the fall of my senior year and got in, and so I didn't have to worry all spring or do numerous applications. I heard schools are phasing out early acceptance, though. I don't know what else might have changed in the past 14 years (dear god) but I would advise you to work hard on the essay portion of the applications. Good, unique, well-written essays can sway admissions people toward you even if your grades or SATs aren't as high as some other applicants.

    And I know it's hard to resist parental pressure, but please try to go to a school YOU want to go to, not what your parents want. My boyfriend's father pushed him to go to his own alma mater, even though it wasn't the boyfriend's first choice, and he never felt like he fit in (it was a good school, but a slightly stuffy one; the bf wanted another in-state school that felt more relaxed) and dropped out after three years to do what HE wanted. He never did finish his degree and regrets it.
    It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever. -- David St. Hubbins

  3. #13
    Duke Blue Devil Tickety's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    Oh, about early acceptances... DEFINITELY apply for an EA/ED (Early Action/Early Decision - make sure you know the difference!) school if you absolutely positively have a #1 choice. (Or apply early to a college with rolling admissions so you definitely have at least one college under your belt.)

    The good: If you get in, NO MORE COLLEGE APPS FOR YOU. This is a major plus point. Also, you get to relax more during your senior year. Don't slack off too much though, you need to keep your grades decent (As and Bs) so your acceptance isn't rescinded. For Duke's final school report, there was a section for my teacher to explain any Cs on my transcript. Yes, Cs! Thankfully I didn't relax that much.

    The bad: If you get rejected, it hurts to have to do more college apps, especially if you feel the sting of being turned down by your ED/EA school. So, DO NOT get too attached to any school until you've been accepted. I became VERY obsessed with the college I applied to early and let me just say, I am very thankful I was deferred and not rejected back in December, because I don't know how I could've taken a rejection, knowing I would have 9 other college apps to fill out.
    2003-2008.

  4. #14
    Ready? haejin's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    Yikes! I never quite saw money as a "real" issue, so reading the posts about student loans was a good wake-up call. Unfortunately, I know of more than a few people who've had to turn down acceptances to schools they would've loved to go on the basis of insufficient financial aid offers. The reality of the risings costs of tuition, especially for the top schools, have yet to sink in - though I do know that tuition for NYU, and probably other schools "up there," might as well cross $50,000.

    Tickety, congrats on Duke! One of my friends is going to go there as well (she said it was a hard choice between Duke and Bowdoin). What other schools did you apply to? Why did you pick Duke? Incidentally, Duke is on my preliminary college list, but I think it's there as a "just because." So here's your chance to sell me your school!

    Other schools on my preliminary list are: Swarthmore (my favorite at the moment), Carnegie Mellon, U.Rochester, Bowdoin, Williams, Hampshire, Bard, Johns Hopkins, and U.Penn. For safeties, I have SUNY and CUNY. I have an interesting mix going on, I suppose. I went to visit both Swarthmore and U.Penn in March, and I really liked both. Actually, I think it's really more the proximity to Philadelphia that I like, and that's something both schools have (it being much more in-your-face for U.Penn, of course). I also think I "saw" myself more at Swarthmore than at U.Penn.
    Gustav Holst was right!

  5. #15
    Duke Blue Devil Tickety's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    That is a very nice college list. I would've loved to apply to Williams myself.

    I'm going to sound like a total prestige whore, but here's the list of schools I applied to (note: my parents had a big hand in this, because they have to finance part of my education): Duke, UChicago, Yale, UPenn, Columbia, UMich, Dartmouth. I've been waitlisted at Columbia and UPenn, and will know if I'm in any time from mid-May to the end of June, I think. Agonizing. If I get into Columbia, I think I'll go with Duke. If I get into UPenn, my Dad is making me go there. At the moment I feel schizophrenic, because while I really want to get into being a Duke Blue Devil and all, I don't want to fall in love with it too much in case I have to pass it up. So right now, I may not be the best person to sell Duke to you. Honestly, visit it and you'll pretty much fall in love with it.

    Out of my acceptances, it really came down to Duke and UChicago for me (UMich and Dartmouth rank pretty low in comparison, just based on fit and the size of the schools. UMich is way too big, Dartmouth's heavy Greek life and drinking scene didn't sit too well with me. Plus, the largest city is 3 hours away!)
    2003-2008.

  6. #16
    Duke Blue Devil Tickety's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    Why I chose Duke over Chicago:

    1) The grade deflation at Chicago. I heard from the current students that it is really impossible to get an A in Chicago, so much so that if you get a 3.25 GPA, you're on the Dean's List. In fact, one of the tees they sell has "If I wanted an A, I would've gone to Harvard" on the front! I don't plan on going to grad school, but I do want to keep my options open - so I want to go to a school where getting a high GPA is possible without killing yourself. At Duke, that's possible.

    2) Historically higher ranking and recognition. Duke has been a top 8 school every year except 1989 (it was #12 then). In 1993, it was ranked 3rd in the US. (By April next year, you'll be able to recite these kind of statistics at the drop of a hat. If you're a mad researcher like me, anyway! ) While I know the rankings are somewhat arbitrary, and that there is usually little difference among the top 10, I realized this could be advantageous if I happen to have older employers who refuse to recognize the wonder Chicago has become. I have heard this is not completely impossible. (Yay for double negatives.)

    3) Chicago has a P.E. requirement, involving swimming. Duke doesn't! You can become as unfit and fat as you like (though I totally plan on using the gym.)

    4) Duke's campus. OHMYGOSH. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gor-freakin'-geous! Chicago is pretty awesome too, though, I have to say.

    5) Duke is in the "research triangle": lots of research opportunities (major plus because I'm interested in a bio-sciences type career).

    6) Duke school spirit. Basketball.

    7) The bands that come to Duke. Third Eye Blind, The Roots, Pablo Francisco, Frank Caliendo, Augustana, Boys Like Girls, Regina Spektor and next year (you're probably not supposed to know this) there will be a first semester concert by the Lupe Fiasco.

    8) If you're into politics, Duke's had Karl Rove, Chelsea Clinton and Barack Obama this year.

    Of course, there are some things about Duke that made me question it. The major one was the Greek culture - I don't plan on going Greek and thought it might be a little alienating if I didn't. But I chatted with the students there, and with current freshmen on the Facebook group, and it's hardly an issue. Frats hold parties that anyone can attend. Plenty of people choose not to, many like just hanging out with friends watching movies and all that nice stuff. People will know if you're Greek but they don't judge you if you're not.
    2003-2008.

  7. #17
    FORT Fogey Missyboxers's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    Quote Originally Posted by haejin;2968008;
    One of my friends is going to go there as well (she said it was a hard choice between Duke and Bowdoin).
    That's really funny, well, to me. My sister's at Duke and I went to Bowdoin (pm me if you have questions about Bowdoin).

    I'll come back with more specifics tomorrow, since parts of this are still very fresh in my mind, but here's one quick story. My family normally doesn't take beach vacations to the Caribbean-- we've done so three times in my 24 years, when we really need a break from stress: once after my grandmother passed away, once after my grandfather passed away, and the third? Right after Christmas the year my sister was applying to schools.

  8. #18
    FORT Fogey Missyboxers's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    Okay, here's my $.02. I applied in the fall of 2000, so it's been awhile, but I'm sure some of this is still relevant.

    Junior spring and senior fall aren't high on my list of favorite memories. College applications are easily as much work as one or two classes. I was applying to mostly small liberal arts colleges where things like interviews and showing that you're interested can sometimes make a difference, so I visited some of my schools two times. My mom and I logged many hours in the car, and we would try to find fun hotels to stay in, or make little side trips on the way to or from our destination (i.e. we stopped in Cooperstown after my visits to the upstate NY schools) to make the trips more fun. I got into Bowdoin early, so I was done by mid-December, but I would have been in deep trouble if I was deferred-- my essays weren't ready, etc.

    Even since I applied, unfortunately it's become a lot harder to get into schools. The top tier in particular has become a total crapshoot, so don't get your heart set on anything.

    Other thoughts for when you're looking at schools:
    Try to forget about things like a school's relative prestige, overall academic reputation, etc. A specific department program, maybe, but the overall reputation.. not. A couple reasons for this.
    1) There are a bunch of good schools, and things like that are very subjective.

    2) Your academic experience will be what you make of it anyway. If you put a lot into it, you'll get a lot out, regardless of where you end up. If you put yourself on autopilot.. same idea.

    3) Going to a great school doesn't guarantee that you'll make millions, going to a school that you perceive as less good doesn't mean you're destined for second rate opportunities. I know Ivy League alums who are having trouble finding jobs, I know people with high school diplomas who are still employed within the same industry. Ultimately, all of this comes down to how hard you work, not where you went to school.

    Remember that you have to live there for four years. (Well, or transfer, but I don't think that's your goal.) To be sure, you are at school for an education. But academics aren't the only part of the college experience (and arguably, they aren't the most important either). It may seem superficial, but things like food and housing and what's in the area will be a huge part of your life. Those were two of my favorite things about Bowdoin. I ended up at more than my fair share of two hour breakfasts and dinners over the course of my four years there, which is something that probably wouldn't have happened if eating at the dining hall was a chore. Similarly, dorms. It's hard to be happy someplace where you don't ever want to go back to your room. Surrounding environment is important too, and it really depends what you want. As was said above-- don't choose a school based on what someone else wants. YOU are the one who has to live there.

    Basically, this all boils down to knowing yourself and finding a set of schools where you personally could be happy living. Class is a very small part of the college experience, and it's important to keep that in perspective. At the end of the day, you'll remember the time you spend with your friends more than you'll remember your 9 am lecture.

    It's a miserable process, but as much as you can, remember that you'll end up someplace that in all likelihood, you'll really like and try not to let it get the better of you. And again, if you have questions about Bowdoin, feel free to PM.

  9. #19
    FORT Fogey ScoutMom's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    You guys are scaring me! My son is a junior in high school and will be starting this whole process. [quiver, shake] The good thing is (I think) that he knows where he wants to go. If he doesn't get in there, he'll probably go to our local community college for two years and then transfer. Our community college is very highly rated and I know a lot of kids (as well as adults) who attend and really like it. I was thinking that this process wouldn't be too bad, but I don't know . . . may be I'm missing something very, very important!

  10. #20
    Team DAN schmoo2's Avatar
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    Re: The College Process

    my opinion - if they really don't know what they want to do with their lives, and you have a good local community college (we have a great one here) take a year or 2 there. As a parent, I spent a ton of money on my kids first choices only for them to change their minds and come home and go to the local college.
    One then went to the local state for his BA and Masters, and is off working on a PhD now. In organic chemistry. Far cry from the Art Institute and Interactive Multi Media web design..... My daughter, I still don't think she knows what she wants to do. She put all her hopes on a tough program to get into at a very expensive college - and after 2 years didn't get into it so left.

    I never wanted to go to a full blown college route myself. I have 2 associate degrees (one in accounting, one in computer science) and have managed quite well. I know it is harder now - and I don't like seeing degrees as a requirement when there is some great experience out there.

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