Matthew - Syracuse University - Class of 2010
Hometown: Freeville NY
High School: Public
GPA: 3.79 (weighted)
Goal: Graduate school
Sophomore Year Update
This year I transferred to Syracuse University from Drexel University. Transferring was one of the best and hardest choices I have ever made. I felt I needed more challenge. At Drexel, I never felt any sense of unity. Syracuse is the exact opposite. I have never owned more orange clothes or drank more orange juice in my life! Currently I am conducting research with a psychology professor on the role of alcohol and injunctive norms. My current extracurricular activities include a co-ed community service organization, my drama group, working at the day care center as my work study, psychology club, and Habitat for Humanity.
Junior Year Update
I can say without hesitation that this year has been the best by far. I have the feeling college only gets better and better until they force you to leave! I've been doing a lot of psychology research with my professors. This year, I presented at a psychology conference and had an internship at a local social work agency. In addition to all of my psychology pursuits, I'm going to apply for a job as a summer tour guide at SU, so I'll have some money coming in while I continue the unpaid work that I do in psychology. I have recently picked up another major in English Textual Studies. It's a lot of work, but it'll look great when I apply for graduate schools next year. In the fall I will be an RA in one of our residence halls. This way, I can give back to the school and get a free housing/meal plan to boot.
It was very hard for me to figure out what I wanted in a college. I changed my mind constantly, even after I started college. My two constants were psychology and theater. I wanted to use my college time to learn how to better understand people and help them lead positive lives.
Discovering co-op programs
As I dug into the details, I learned more about what appealed to me. My outstanding discovery was the cooperative education, or "co-op," program. Co-op programs integrate work experience with your academic studies. Not only could such a program help launch my career after college, but it would help me test my career choice. So finding a college with a top co-op was a high priority. Other priorities included locating an urban campus outside New York State (which later became not so important) and a psychology program that offered a bachelor of science, rather than a liberal arts degree.
I visited all my potential choices before applying. On the advice of my counselor, I looked at physical features, like wireless connections and the condition of dorms, classrooms, and dining halls. I was the guy on campus tours who was out in front asking all the questions.
Northeastern University seemed perfect for me. The campus and the surrounding city, Boston, were amazing. And they had a fantastic co-op program. Drexel was my backup choice, followed by Pace. I eliminated other schools as too technical or too focused on the liberal arts. I applied to a number of SUNYs, but mainly to please my parents.
My runner-up choices pay off
I heard from Northeastern last, and was hugely disappointed not to get in. But I had all my acceptance letters to console me. After starting at Drexel, my second choice, I transferred to Syracuse University to seek a higher academic challenge and greater school spirit.
My ups and downs
I kept procrastinating on my applications, telling myself that I could do them later. When finally I started my apps one month before they were due, I was really scared. These were colleges I really wanted! Why did I wait so long? I'm used to changing my mind a lot, so maybe I was afraid of committing.
My friends were very supportive. One friend brought over her typewriter and typed my applications for me. I did not trust online applications. I used the regular mail.
After my first acceptance I couldn't wait to get more letters. I wasn't expecting to get so many admissions! It made me feel great to look at those letters.
What I learned
I asked a lot of questions of everyone who might know something about one of my colleges. I asked students, advisors, and parents. On campus tours I always asked the guide his or her favorite and least favorite thing about the college. Tour guides are supposed to tell you only the high notes, but I found most of them were honest about things they didn't like, such as the dining hall food.
The money factor
My parents said they would pay only the equivalent of SUNY rates. I am covering anything above that with loans.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
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