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!