Alexandra - Indiana U. Bloomington - Class of 2014
Hometown: Cincinnati OH
High School: Private
GPA: 3.75 / 4.30 (weighted)
Goal: Become ready for the real world
Freshman Year Update
This year has been mostly ups, the major "down" being missing home. I am very close to my family, my dogs, and the comforts of home. It's weird not having much living space, not being able to cook my food, and showering with shoes on. The ups are pretty much everything else: the big parties, the tailgates, having a town with lots of restaurants and fun things to do, a lot less class time, and the opportunity to meet tons of new people from all over the world. The "work hard, play hard" mentality is very prevalent here. Academically, the business school and the honors college offer me opportunities I don't think I would have gotten at any other college. It pays (literally) to go to a college that wants YOU.
Sophomore Year Update
I think now how crazy it is that I was never really excited about coming to IU. Freshman year, I used to get homesick; now when I'm home, I feel homesick for school! Moving into my sorority house changed everything. I live in a real home now—but with 100 of my friends. My academic challenge has been to figure out my career. I spent a lot of time discussing this with professors, seniors in the business school, and seasoned professionals. I decided to do a test run of a career in investment banking through an intensive internship program in New York this summer.
Junior Year Update
Halfway through my internship with Goldman Sachs, I realized investment banking was not for me. Still, I learned a lot, made some great friends, and saw the value of IU's focus on real-world applications. Due to my Excel modeling classes, I was able to help my Ivy League peers with functions and financial models. This year, I'm serving as vice president of my sorority, and I completed a challenging semester in the Business Honors program involving real-world business cases and a team project. Going to a big, spirited school still makes me feel excited every day. (Basketball games are pretty fun when we're ranked #1 in the nation.) I should have been more open to schools in the Midwest. I hate the cold, but I am so happy at IU, I can bundle up a few months out of the year!
I adapt easily and I can pretty much fit in with all kinds of situations or crowds. Every school that accepted me seemed like it might be the perfect school. So I figured out what I liked in a college by visiting it after I'd been accepted. Only then could I put myself in the students' shoes and ask myself if I could truly see myself spending four years on that campus.
Chapel Hill or bust
My die-hard, absolute, 100 percent first choice was University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The people are friendly. The students seem motivated and intellectual but ready to have fun. The weather is perfect. The school spirit is unmatched. The campus is beautiful. And the town is a lovely quintessential college town. UNC has one of the best student newspapers in the country, something I'm interested in pursuing, as well as a very highly ranked business school.
I applied early but got waitlisted. I did a second visit and wrote a handwritten letter to my admissions rep telling him how much I loved the school and providing specifics as to why. I figured all of that would be enough to get me accepted in the regular round of admissions. But I stayed on the waitlist. Now I got mad! I am a great student! I was invited to join the Cum Laude Society and was a National Merit Finalist. What more could they want? But by April, I was also waitlisted by University of Virginia and denied by Penn.
Indiana lays down the red carpet
I had to move on and decide where to put my deposit. Indiana was the first school I ever visited. I went in the fall of my junior year, just to "see what a big school felt like." I was impressed with the campus but by the time I'd been accepted, I'd pretty much forgotten what it was that had impressed me so much!
But after Indiana offered me scholarship money and admission to honors programs, I went for a special event for business school direct admits. The faculty was extremely friendly and impressive. I got to talk to the dean one-on-one. I realized that I knew a lot of people who went there and loved it. Everyone there bleeds crimson by the end of their four years! In the end, Indiana's commitment to its students, beautiful campus, alumni networking, and lower cost is what made me choose it over Emory, Ohio State, Maryland, and Tulane.
After making that decision I thought, "Why wait around for UNC when IU is already rolling out the red carpet?" So, I decided that even if I got in off of the waiting list at UNC, I would still attend Indiana. What a huge relief!
My ups and downs
I wrote over 16 essays for colleges and scholarships. I couldn't "recycle" any of them, and it was hard to pour my soul onto a page time after time. The process was emotionally and mentally draining.
I think there are lots of upsides to attending a school that wants you. You are offered special programs, opportunities, and often scholarship money. It's like being a big fish in a small pond.
What I learned
I got accepted to Indiana in October, which was a huge weight off my shoulders, knowing that I would be going somewhere in the fall. I definitely would suggest applying in the early fall to a rolling or early action admissions school to reduce the stress of the whole process.
I learned that choosing a college shouldn't just mean choosing the most prestigious school you got into. You really have to look at what's the best fit for you: socially, financially, climate-wise, academically, and maybe even spiritually. People worry so much about reputation, but in the end, it matters more what you accomplish in your four years than where you accomplish it.
The money factor
My parents are paying for college. I feel much better letting them take the financial responsibility knowing I received scholarships to make it more affordable.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
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