Andrew - Tulane University - Class of 2011
Hometown: St. Louis MO
High School: Private
Freshman Year Update
The most difficult aspect of freshman year was making major lifestyle adjustments to college-level courses and college social life. The funny thing is that after encountering a whirlwind of people and organizations, I ended up somewhere completely unexpected. I pledged a social fraternity. This was something neither I nor my parents had ever anticipated. I have become a firm believer in the merits of joining a high-quality Greek organization.
Sophomore Year Update
This year I took very competitive courses with mostly juniors and seniors. There were times when I felt overwhelmed! But Tulane has a "work hard, play hard" environment that suits me well. Over the past two years I have heard countless brass bands, helped build a house with Habitat for Humanity, learned how to "twist, suck, peel, and pinch" at a crawfish boil, celebrated along Mardi Gras parade routes, and walked in the "second line" at a jazz funeral. Next year I start a joint-degree program that lets me earn an undergraduate degree in finance and a masters in accounting simultaneously. Once I graduate, I will probably work towards becoming a CPA.
I received several awards and honors for wrestling when I was in high schooland I played many roles in school plays and musicals. I may not be the first wrestler to enjoy acting, but I think it made my application stand out. I am also a first-generation college student.
My priorities get back where they belong
At the outset of the college application process my priorities were not where they should be. My ideal college had a coveted brand name, an average ACT above 30, and an annual tuition around $50,000. I made an initial college list that included several such colleges. But after a weekend of visits to Northwestern and University of Chicago, I found that a famous name meant much less to me than the culture of the student body and the values of the administration.
I realized that I wanted to go to school with people who were relaxed but hard working. I wanted a culture that was focused on the success of students. Other factors that became important included a warm climate, a reasonable cost, a strong track record of providing aid, high admitted freshmen test scores, and a high faculty to student ratio.
Don't believe it until you see it
College visits played a dominant role in my final decision. One college was my first choice for months until I stayed overnight and realized that I would not be compatible with the student body. The students just did not seem engaged in class. Another school at the top of my list turned out to have a big party mood.
At Tulane, students were very active in class and seemed intelligent and friendly. Tulane met my other needs in terms of academics, culture, personality, size, and location. Of course, New Orleans has a long way to go toward being rebuilt. But I see that as an opportunity to help with reconstruction. As for the risk, a system of storm warnings will be triggered if another Katrina strikes. The students will be moved.
My ups and downs
Neither of my parents graduated from college so it was difficult for them to give me advice. All three of us were in the dark! Fortunately, my counselor was very engaged. Every time I made a college visit she was interested in my feedback. She told me how important essays were to admission officers. She helped get readers for my essays and helped me improve my writing.
Writing those essays was hard work. A few essays went through numerous drafts only to be cast aside. I labored for hours over the ones that remained. But the hard work paid off. I was a National Merit Finalist for one of these essays.
What I learned
Although I am happy with my choice, I wish I had considered more schools and knew what to look for in the first place. It turned out that the schools I was most interested in at first did not meet my needs at all.
My other advice is about time management. You might not want to work on your applications, but you will run out of time quickly. Know your schedule and plan ahead to get the work done, and done well.
The money factor
Money played a very significant role in my decision. The schools that I applied to were chosen in part because they either had lower tuitions or would be more likely to offer merit scholarships.
I earned a Dean's Honor Scholarship from Tulane, which covers the full cost of tuition for four years. For my scholarship project I made a film that briefly related the histories, music, and cultures (especially culinary) of St. Louis and New Orleansall while I was serving up some tasty ribs!
ROAD TO COLLEGE
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Student Stories - 2015
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Student Stories - 2014
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Student Stories - 2013
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Student Stories - 2012
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Student Stories - 2011
Student Stories - 2010
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Student Stories - 2009
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