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Lauren Comes Into Focus
The college issue surfaced in eighth grade when I considered switching to the local public school rather than the private school Iíd been attending. I wanted to get into a good college but I wasnít convinced that my rigorous private school, which required over two hours of commute time daily, was the only way to get there. My parents knew that the private school had a great college admissions record and believed that if I stayed at the private school I would definitely get into a prestigious college. They were less certain about the public school and researched its college acceptance record before permitting me to go there. Unlike the private schools, while all of our local public school students went on to college, only the top ten percent of students were generally accepted to the Ivy League and other highly selective schools. The top fifty percent were generally accepted to our best state school. This information satisfied my parents that I would still have a chance to get into a good school. It also let me know Iíd have to work hard in high school to be near the top of the class so I would not be limited by my grades and place in the class when choosing a college. By talking to friends' older brothers and exploring college admissions guides I got more specific information about the approximate SAT scores and GPAs that would put me in the ballpark for admissions to one of the top schools I hoped to attend.

As I set off to the local public school I wasnít sure Iíd be able to achieve the goals Iíd set for myself but it helped to know that I wouldnít look back with regret. I took the standardized test taking seriously early on by taking a short SAT preparation course the August before my junior year. By taking a prep course at this time, studying for the SATS didnít affect my other schoolwork or ruin my summer. I wasnít able to work at a camp for the full eight weeks but I negotiated leaving two weeks early in order to fit in the SAT prep class. By preparing early I was able to take the December SAT my junior year and would have been able to take the test a second time in April if necessary instead of waiting until the fall of my senior year to take the test again. This way, even if I had to take the test twice, I would have the results well before applying to colleges, allowing me to make a more informed decision.

I think the strength of my college applications came from capitalizing on my skills and talents and finding ways to further develop them. Rather than doing a little bit of everything and joining a million clubs, never allowing myself to grow in any one area, I chose a few of my greatest strengths and passions and developed them throughout my high school years.

I enjoyed sports and wanted to meet people at my new school so I joined the cross-country, swimming and track teams. In addition to my involvement as an athlete in school, I was also interested in participating in and eventually holding leadership positions in a few of the extracurricular activities I felt strongly about. I was able to combine my interest in sports and leadership as sports editor of our yearbook and also held a leadership position in the AIDS awareness and National Honor Society Clubs. I thought community service was important and as an avid horse back rider with little time for horseback riding in high school, I started volunteering at a therapeutic riding academy for children with disabilities. Although I was not riding I was able to share my love of horses and horseback riding with others. Having just graduated from a highly competitive college, it was definitely worth the effort it took to get there!


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