Kirsten - Chapman / UC Davis - Class of 2012

student photo

I should have applied to more schools that admitted students with academic qualifications similar to mine. By the time I found out that I did not get into my top choices, it was too late to apply elsewhere.

I thought I had done everything right. I had great academics and extracurricular activities. That meant lots of admissions, I assumed. But that's not how it turned out.

Hometown: Santa Clarita CA

High School: Public

GPA: 3.3 / 3.88 (weighted)

SAT: 1920

ACT: 28

Major: Fashion design

Goal: To study abroad and work as an intern in my field

College

Status

UC Davis Attending
Chapman University Transferred
American UniversityAccepted
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Denied
Loyola MarymountDenied
Occidental CollegeDenied
Pepperdine University Waitlisted
Princeton University Denied
Syracuse UniversityWaitlisted
University of California, Los Angeles Denied
University of California, Santa BarbaraDenied
University of California, DavisDenied
University of California, Riverside Accepted
University of California, Merced Accepted
University of DelawareAccepted
University of Southern California Denied
Freshman Year Update

I was very nervous about going away to school. Unfortunately, my roommate did not work out and I had a very hard first semester. But I didn't want to come home. So I pushed myself and made new friends that are my best friends today. My parents said that the second semester would be better and they were right.

I do, however, plan to transfer to a larger school. I want football games, fraternities, and lots going on at all times. I was disappointed to find out that University of California only accepts junior-level transfers, and only for fall enrollment. Because I scored a 3 or higher on five AP tests, and because I took two college classes while I was in high school, I was able to qualify as a junior-level transfer a whole year early! Plus I got all A's in college, so I could apply as a 4.0 student! (For transfers, GPA is the most important factor.) I got into UC Santa Barbara's honors program and UC Davis's highly competitive fashion design program! Both schools turned me down last year.

I've learned a lot. #1: You can be happy at a school that isn't your top choice. #2: If you don't get into your top choices, you can pick yourself up, work hard, and get accepted later. These are important life lessons. I feel like I can do anything!

Sophomore Year Update

I am mostly happy with my decision to transfer. My design major is challenging and very competitive, but I enjoy pushing myself. I do sometimes ache to be back with my friends at Chapman. I recently met another Gamma Phi Beta transfer student. It was nice to know there was someone else in my situation and to have a sorority sister on campus!

Junior Year Update

It is still hard to think about the friends I left behind, but I am completely thrilled with my straight A's in my design major. However, even though I transferred as a junior last year, I will need to complete four years of college to have enough credits to graduate in my major. As for the future, I plan to locate an internship this summer in the fashion industry to get some real-world fashion experience and start making connections for a job after I graduate.

Senior Year Update

It is hard to leave the safety of college! I was fearful of studying in Italy and leaving my comfort zone, but I did it and had a great time. My advice is, do not be afraid! Make mistakes. Make a fool of yourself. And make yourself proud. Now is the time to find yourself, so don't hold back.

After my graduation, I am looking forward to moving back to Southern California and getting started in the fashion industry, even if I have to take a temporary intern job.

A great application means lots of admissions, doesn't it?

I was very proud of my grade point average and extracurricular activities. As Miss Teen Santa Clarita Valley, I participated in over 200 hours of community service. I also had college credit under my belt and what I considered to be strong application essays. I was confident that I would be accepted to at least half of the schools to which I applied.

I wanted to have lots of choices, so I applied to 13 schools. I looked for schools with good journalism programs, or my first love, fashion design. I also wanted to stay in Southern California, a decision I made after I sent applications to a few East Coast colleges. UCLA was my dream school, but I doubted I would get in. I was sure I would get into Pepperdine, my next choice.

Not necessarily

I was devastated when I received my waitlist letter from Pepperdine. And worse, I was accepted to merely three out of the thirteen schools I applied to. Only one of the schools was in California: Chapman University. It was not high on my list. I was automatically accepted to UC Riverside and UC Merced, although I never applied to them. I visited both campuses but decided that Chapman was the better choice.

One of the frustrations of the college application process is that by the time you find out that you did not get into your top choices, it is too late to apply anywhere else.

My ups and downs

The Internet was a great tool. Websites such as CollegeData made it easy to search through the thousands of U.S. colleges to find those that might make a good fit. I was able to look for colleges that had students like me in terms of grades, scores, and activities and see where they got in and where they didn't. This is how I figured out that Chapman would be a good fit.

I got very discouraged while I was applying. It was really stressful. I was nervous about messing something up or missing a deadline. I wound up writing eight essays in two days. It's a hazy blur now! My mom was a big help. She talked me through every step.

What I learned

I should have applied to more "match" schools—schools that admitted students with academic qualifications similar to mine. I assumed colleges would consider my 3.88 weighted GPA and then found out that many colleges look only at an unweighted GPA.

Stepping onto a campus is the best way to tell what really works for you. You may think you love a certain college by looking at it online, but then find out you don't when you visit. Had I known that East Coast schools were not for me, I would have focused more on finding colleges in Southern California.

Rather than pay for test prep, I did my prep on my own, particularly the math. I brought my math score up 110 points by taking lots of practice tests.

The money factor

Money was not a huge factor in my decision. Because my parents are self-employed, we have a very low EFC. I received full financial aid packages from both Chapman and the UC schools I was considering.

Free Newsletters

On the road to college? Make it easier with timely tips and expert advice - free. Find out more.

Sign up today!