Our College Admissions Experience
The college admissions experience can definitely be stressful and daunting. We’ve been through it before, and we’ve learned a lot from it. We’ve put together some of our tutor’s college admissions experiences applying to college to offer you some post-application wisdom.
Peter M., University of Notre Dame ’20
While the college application process can be incredibly stressful, there is one thing I did that made it a lot easier. All through junior year, I was dreading senior year fall which everyone said was the hardest semester in high school. I was overwhelmed with how hard this semester was going to be and how I was never going to sleep or ever see my friends. However, my brother gave me some really important advice that made my senior fall much easier. He told me to try to do as much as I could over the summer. He recommended writing my major essays and doing a lot of standardized test prep. I followed his advice and it made senior fall a breeze. I was able to focus on my schoolwork knowing that much of the work for my applications was done and that I was prepared for the ACT.”
Yuna S., Columbia University ’19
I always enjoyed writing, so the CommonApp essay prompt was an exciting assignment for me. I wrote several short essays about past memorable experiences. As a passionate musician, I chose one about a negative performance experience I had and how I coped with it through poetry. My college admissions experience was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life, but I felt that it best reflected the most about my passions and my attitude towards failure. I was anxious because I never got an interview like other students at my school who had applied to Columbia ED like I did. I prepared myself for rejection, but on December 11th, I received an acceptance letter.
One thing I learned about the college application process is that it is important to use your best assets to show what you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to stand ou! The essay is a great medium through which you can show a part of yourself that isn’t on your resume to admissions officers, and offering an essay that they will remember will only help you.
Jay K., Cornell University ’18
Both of my older siblings were accepted to and enrolled at Duke. So, I mistakenly believed I could piggyback off of their success. I chose not to spend too much time on my application and personal statement, thinking my legacy status would be enough to get accepted, but it wasn’t. Then, I received my rejection letter in the middle of December and panicked. I spent the next two weeks toiling over every detail of my application. I also rewrote my personal statement to focus more on my accomplishments and less on my family’s. By the end of the process, I had applied to 21 colleges. I now attend Cornell University and I could not be happier with my experience with the university so far. I recommend all students start the process early with an open mind. In the end, you’ll be happy wherever you end up.
Shuyi F., University of Notre Dame ’18
“ As the eldest child of an immigrant family, tackling the college admissions process meant entering new territory. First semester senior year of high school was one of the most stressful of times. Attending a school as large and competitive as Stuyvesant, I felt myself falling victim to following the crowd and simply looking at the schools that everyone seemed to be applying for. As I wrote my essays, I realized that I didn’t feel passionate about most of the programs at these schools. To gain more exposure to the different schools available to me, I attended numerous college fairs and presentations. Visits to my guidance counselor helped me narrow down the options to those with programs that were best suited for the career path I wanted to pursue.
These school-provided resources were informative. However, I felt they didn’t give me insight on whether the culture of each school would provide an environment that I could see myself growing and thriving in. It wasn’t until I spoke with current students of each college that I felt I had an idea of what attending the school would feel like. Upon my acceptance to Notre Dame, they invited me to a sponsored campus visit during which I would stay in their dorms with a student host and interact with other current students. After my stay, deciding to make Notre Dame my home for the following four years was an easy choice.
Spencer G., University of Chicago ’22
Your essays should include stories but not just be stories. Stories and specific moments are a tool to convey something about yourself. They are a means to an end. When I wrote my essays, I started by typing out descriptions of as many meaningful moments in my life as possible. The next day, I reread them and looked for recurring themes.
Many students I have tutored struggle with picking themes for their essays because they aren’t comfortable with taking the time for self-exploration. You must be confident in your own self image before you try and present that image to anyone else. I wove together the stories that fit my favorite themes, edited them, and those became my essays. Ultimately, my essays were less contrived because they were about themes that I actually saw in my life. Beyond just improving my essays, this process was rewarding and therapeutic because it gave me a better understanding of myself.
Want to learn more about the college admissions experience?
Here are some more articles on the Gooroo blog to help you make this important decision.
Written by Hope Chow