Pauline - Seattle University - Class of 2012
Hometown: Aurora CO
High School: Private
GPA: 3.4 / 3.59 (weighted)
Goal: I want to be challenged in my intellect and in my character.
Freshman Year Update
I was surprised by how well life at Seattle U met my expectations. Currently I'm involved with a social justice club on campus, the advisory board for my honors program, and I'm a staff writer on the school newspaper. Time is a real issue. Commitment is key. I spend at least twice as much time studying as I do in class.
There are challenges. Being assigned a random roommate is kind of like being assigned someone who's not your best friend necessarily, but who's family in a way. Having a dorm resident assistant (RA) who is barely older than you and yet has so much power and responsibility is a new concept, too. You begin to depend on people you hardly know.
I think that college is largely what you make of it. It is an excellent time to take positive risks, learn from amazing people including your peers, and to gradually fit new things into your life. And the earlier you try things out, the sooner you can start to determine what's really important to you.
Sophomore Year Update
This year turned out much differently than last year. I took on more academically as well as more leadership roles, and so had many of my friends. We were all busy, and many of the friends I counted on seeing around my residence hall had moved to other buildings or off campus. So at times I felt like I was starting over, which is okay.
It's interesting that the things I love most about this school aren't what sold me when I applied. No campus tour guide could have told me about the unique people I'd meet, how open and accepting the students are, how accessible professors are, or how exciting Seattle is!
I'm almost halfway done with college. It flies by fast, so milk every moment.
Junior Year Update
As my junior year progressed, I decided I wanted to study abroad but realized I was not passionate about journalism after all. I felt more drawn to direct social service work than to writing about social issues. So I declared a theology and religious studies major. And in lieu of studying abroad, I'll be taking off fall quarter to travel around the United States. I obviously didn't expect any of this when I applied to college. But if I went through college completely unchanged and unchallenged, then the experience would not have been worth it.
My five older siblings had very different college admissions experiences than my own. They were very relaxed about it. Like them, I assumed I would apply to a few colleges, get admitted, and choose one. But college admission is a lot tougher now. I was lucky I liked Seattle University. It was the only college that admitted me!
Grades vs. scores
As a college applicant, I presented a mixed picture. I'm passionate about journalism. I was editor in chief of my school newspaper, I had an internship with a national magazine, and I run my own web magazine. I also love speech and debate. I have good SAT scores, and I was named a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. I hoped those scores might balance out the less attractive parts of my application. My transcript didn't show much of an upward trend. I had a few dismal semesters in math. Looking back, I see that this meant I did not have much, if any, chance at schools like Brandeis and Northwestern.
Coming up with my short list
Researching colleges was like a hobby to me. I met with admissions reps who visited my high school. I looked at college brochures and e-mails. I went to a lot of college fairs. As sophomore and junior year went on, I learned more about colleges and what I wanted. I thought about what I most valued or disliked from my high school experience and whether or not I wanted to have those things in college. I came up with must-haves: social consciousness, journalism majors, access to a city, and a co-ed student body.
I eventually developed a short list of schools where I could truly see myself. I included one school at which I was likely to be accepted. I also had in mind a safe in-state public school to which I was willing to apply if I didn't get accepted anywhere else.
I get lucky
I was admitted early to Seattle University. At first, I was hesitant. I didn't think it would be academically rigorous enough, and I thought it might be too similar to my Jesuit high school. But after visiting, all of those notions were proven wrong. The professors and students were academically impressive. It attracts a much more diverse group of students than my high school (and many colleges). The school is committed to Jesuit values like social justice and self-reflection that I find important. And SU is right smack in the middle of a city that stole my heart. Long story short, SU fits my "must-haves" perfectly. It was very important for me to find a place that doesn't just emphasize academics but education of the whole person.
My ups and downs
I wish I hadn't been so "in the dark." My counseling department prepared us to be great candidates—but this year demanded more than "great." After submitting my application, I found out Northwestern and every other school were seeing record numbers of applications this year. I suppose I was blindsided, as were many of my friends.
What I learned
I should have done more research and applied to a couple more schools representing a wider range of difficulty. The schools I chose were among the most selective. I also should have been more careful about my essay and showed it to more teachers. I wasn't afraid to take risks with my essays, which could have been a good or a bad thing.
The money factor
My Seattle University scholarship covers about half of my costs. The rest is covered by loans and family contributions.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
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Student Stories - 2014
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