Stacy - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - Class of 2013

student photo

I didn't end up at UC Berkeley, the school I aspired to attend my entire life, but Cal Poly's "Learn by Doing" philosophy is actually a much better fit to my learning style.

For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of attending UC Berkeley. It is the alma mater of my mother and my uncle and I have witnessed the delight of both my older sisters as they got accepted there.

Hometown: Oakland CA

High School: Private

GPA: 3.70 / 3.90 (weighted)

SAT: 1900

ACT: 28

Major: Child development

Goal: Be on the honor roll all four years



California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Attending
University of California, Berkeley Denied
University of California, Davis Denied
University of California, Santa Barbara Accepted
University of California, Santa Cruz Accepted
Freshman Year Update

My freshman year has been incredible! I've tried everything from surfing lessons to raw fish! I was really nervous about getting assignments that were impossible to complete on time, but that's definitely not how it is. They tell you everything you will have to do on the first day of classes and there are practically no surprises throughout the semester.

As for the social aspect, it surprised me how much a dorm can feel like high school. I thought college would be completely different, but there are still cliques and gossiping. Like in high school, you have to choose your friends carefully. I never thought I'd join a sorority, but I did, and it has been an invaluable experience. I've met so many amazing people that I never would have met otherwise. I will definitely never judge an organization by its cover again.

Sophomore Year Update

I've been teaching 12 hours of preschool a week and it's so much fun! I love playing with the kids and planning fun activities and field trips. I'm planning on getting my teaching credential after I graduate. I am also having a ton of fun in my sorority! We've gone to Disneyland, had social events, had Greek Week, and other events. I've held many officer positions including Philanthropy Chair. I still get a bit homesick from time to time, but I don't think I would want to be much closer to home. I love feeling so independent from my family.

Junior Year Update

I am so happy with my college choice of Cal Poly. My friends here are amazing, and I've loved all my professors and most of my classes. I am now set on becoming a high school English teacher. I will apply to teaching credential programs here at Cal Poly and at UC Berkeley (which was my first-choice college). One tip I'd like to pass on is the importance of understanding graduation requirements. I have to retake a course I took just for credit, when I should have taken it for a letter grade.

Senior Year Update

A major highlight last year was studying theatre and economics in London. I was there during the Olympics, which was incredible. My life outside of class helped me endure my tough courses, internships, and jobs. If I didn't make the friends I have or participate in my sorority and intramurals, my college experience would feel pretty empty. Instead, I have many memories that I'll cherish for years to come. I only have a few classes left, which is both exciting and terrifying! I'm applying to Teach for America, and once I hear their decision, I'll have a better idea of what my post-graduation world will look like.

Berkeley or bust

UC Berkeley was my top-choice college. Because so many of my family members went there, I could easily see myself there. Plus, I loved the idea of being 20 minutes away from home, but still living on campus and feeling a world away. I knew Berkeley was tough to get into so my second choice was UC Davis, the second-closest UC to my hometown. I also applied to UC Santa Barbara after I enjoyed their presentation at my high school and picked UC Santa Cruz as my safety. At the very last minute I applied to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which is part of the California State University system, because a friend who had been rejected from Berkeley the previous year was going there and was really enjoying it.

Rejections turn my plans upside down

When my admissions results came back, the first school I heard from was UC Davis. I was shocked when I didn't get in. I had always planned on Davis being the school I would actually attend, because of the difficulty of getting into Berkeley. I was devastated. I got into UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, and Cal Poly, but I was still crushed. When I finally heard from Berkeley and learned I didn't get in, I was miserable. My two top choices, the only two schools I had ever pictured myself attending, had rejected me. I had to start from scratch. I had never once been to any of the three schools I had left to choose from. Two weeks before I had to make my decision, I visited Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara. I had been leaning towards Santa Barbara because it is part of the more prestigious University of California system but visiting Cal Poly changed my perspective.

Cal Poly's "Learn by Doing" philosophy seemed a much better fit to my learning style than the research-based UC philosophy. Also, Cal Poly seemed like a much more welcoming community to me. I made my decision to attend, and so far I haven't regretted it. Sometimes I still can't believe that I won't be attending the school I aspired to attend my entire life, but now I'm starting to think that change is a good thing. I'll be three-and-a-half hours away from home, as opposed to 20 minutes, but I think I'm ready for the challenge. I am also getting a school with a great football team and lots of intramural sports, which is a bonus because I am a fairly athletic person. It could be that Cal Poly saw me as a good fit for their school before I even did.

My ups and downs

It was very hard to learn I didn't get into UC Davis. A couple weeks later, when I found out that I didn't get into Berkeley, I was even more devastated because I had already been rejected by my second choice.

I have a lot of volunteer experience, mostly working with children, so when I applied to the Child Development major at Cal Poly, that definitely made me stand out. I also played a lot of sports both through my high school and outside of school.

What I learned

Visiting schools is an excellent idea. For me it was the deciding factor. If you can picture yourself at the school, then it is probably a good choice for you. Even if there is the slightest chance you might want to attend a school, apply there. And don't rule out the possibility of transferring to your dream school later if you don't get in the first time.

Also, don't wait until the last minute to start your essays; it's suicide.

The money factor

My parents are paying for my education through the first four years. Then if I decide to go to grad school, I'm on my own.