Melanie - Colby College - Class of 2013

student photo

I realized that being truly wanted, rather than simply admitted, is really what I was looking for from my college.

Above all else, I want to get away from the grade pressures of high school and return to what education is supposed to be: learning for the sake of learning. I want my liberal arts experience in college to help me become a well-rounded individual with a specific plan for life and a broad range of knowledge.

Hometown: Centennial CO

High School: Public

GPA: 4.0 / 4.22 (weighted)

SAT: 2150

ACT: 31

Major: Psychology and English

Goal: To become a well-rounded individual

College

Status

Colby CollegeAttending
Beloit College Accepted
Bowdoin College Waitlisted
College of
William and Mary
Waitlisted
Middlebury College Denied
University of NC Chapel Hill Accepted
Vassar College Waitlisted
Freshman Year Update

My first semester was a little bit difficult. I underestimated how tough it would be to deal with the distance between Denver and Maine. I experienced severe bouts of homesickness and thought often about transferring. However, I made it to the second semester and really settled in.

The biggest thing I learned from this experience is the importance of getting yourself out there and joining clubs and teams. I was absolutely terrified to walk across campus all alone to go to auditions and meetings, but I am so glad I did. My friends that didn't get involved are sorely regretting it now. It'll be intimidating at first, but get out there! College is the best time to push out your boundaries and explore.

Being at Colby has also showed me that I am exactly where I need to be, which is much more valuable than a nice pile of acceptance letters to places that wouldn't be right for me. My biggest piece of advice is to apply without a preference in schools. Choose only schools that you like, and then let it go. You're going to end up right where you need to be.

Sophomore Year Update

I've definitely gotten a taste of the "sophomore slump." My friends and I struggled with increased workloads coupled with the loss of the novelty and infinite possibility we felt during our freshman year. I had a brief stint as a future doctor, but a semester of chemistry cleared that up. I have now settled on a psychology and English double major and couldn't be happier. I'll be headed abroad next year to a program in the Czech Republic centered on the arts and social change.

The only thing about Colby that I sometimes want to change is the "Colby bubble," a feeling that one gets from being back in the woods and up on the hill and removed from the rest of the world. But it also makes for an incredibly close student body that stays on campus to live, eat, and hang out, which I love and wouldn't trade for anything.

A western girl sets her sights on the East

I applied to seven colleges, all out of state. I really wanted to get back to the East Coast, where I had enjoyed living as a young girl. I wanted a small liberal arts college where I could really feel at home and be close to my classmates. My top three colleges were Bowdoin, Vassar, and Middlebury. They were strong in the majors I'm considering and had music programs I could pursue as an extracurricular. Upon visiting the campuses, I felt an instant draw to the old colonial architecture and the personal feel of each campus.

We were all sure I would have no trouble getting into at least one of these colleges, given my GPA and extracurricular record. I applied at Colby and three others "just in case." Well, after getting accepted to Colby, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and Beloit, I received four disappointing letters all on one day: a denial from Middlebury and three waitlists that included Bowdoin and Vassar!

Waitlisted by one college and wooed by another

The next few months were spent in waitlist limbo. I did not receive enough financial aid from Beloit or UNC. I was determined not to go to Colby, my fifth-choice school. I was not impressed with the campus thanks to an unenthusiastic tour guide. But after sending letters upon letters to Bowdoin, a school that had politely turned me away, I realized the beauty of a college that actually wants you there. Colby put me on their Presidential Scholar list and the admissions officer and the president put little notes of congratulation at the bottom of the mailings I received from them.

I realized that I was begging to pay for an education at one school that didn't want me, while another was offering me generous aid and begging me to attend. I pulled out my photos of Colby and realized it was just as beautiful as my favorites. So I dug deeper. Colby may lack the name recognition of the other schools, but the departments are no less stellar and the achievements no less prestigious. The Colby Mules are there for the knowledge, not to compete for the glory. And, while certainly not a deciding factor, the food at Colby is supposed to be excellent!

When Bowdoin asked if I wished to stay on their waitlist, I had no hesitation in declining. If you're going to commit yourself to a place for four precious years, it seems to me that the place should be just as committed to you in return. I realized that being truly wanted, rather than simply admitted, is really what I was looking for from my college.

My ups and downs

Getting started on the applications was the most difficult part for me. It was overwhelming to look at all the essays to write and forms to fill out. But once I just bit the bullet and got going, it was much more manageable.

What started out as a chore, however, became an exploration of self. By simply writing out the essays, I had the chance to look back on my growth through the years and catalogue all the incredible things that I've been able to do.

What I learned

If you think you can do better on the SAT or ACT, take it again! It can't hurt you, and I still think that my scores put me on the waitlist. They weren't bad, but when you're up against other brilliant kids for spots in highly selective colleges, every little bit helps. That little bit of difference could get you in.

If you are on a waitlist, find new angles that your application might not have highlighted. Ask the college why they waitlisted you. Maybe you have new AP scores and can beef up a lackluster academic record. And try to get excited about your backup college. Chances are it's a lot cooler than you gave it credit for. You might just end up perfectly happy at the college that wanted you from the start.

The money factor

I got a wonderful scholarship from Colby, as well as need-based aid. I'll also try to get a job on campus—not only to make money, but also to meet people.

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