Monica - Hiram College - Class of 2014

student photo

Every time I searched online, my list of schools seemed to grow exponentially. The perfect school for me was out there, I knew it was.

The only help I got with my college search was when my parents offered to drive me to visit campuses. But I am glad it happened this way rather than having a parent or teacher direct me. I did it myself and learned exactly what mattered to me.

Hometown: Temecula CA

High School: Public

GPA: 3.7 / 4.15 (weighted)

SAT: 1810

ACT: 29

Major: Political science

Goal: Prepare to work in public service

College

Status

Hiram College Attending
Arizona State UniversityAccepted
Cornell University (ED)Denied
Duquesne UniversityAccepted
Northern Arizona UniversityAccepted
San Diego State UniversityAccepted
St. John's UniversityAccepted
Tiffin UniversityAccepted
University of California, BerkeleyDenied
University of California, DavisWaitlisted
University of California, San DiegoDenied
Freshman Year Update

I am very happy here. First, I have the opportunity to get to know my professors. My biology professor offered to teach me as an independent study student when I realized I had already learned the material in high school. It was fantastic! Second, I live on a co-ed freshmen-only floor, so it was very easy to get acclimated. All the students were in the same boat I was! Third, because the school is small, there are fewer people to compete with for positions on sports teams, as club officers, or in student government. Everyone can find a comfortable niche on campus.

I do sometimes wish I had chosen a larger school in a more populated area. Hiram is in a beautiful, natural location, with a small intimate campus, but I feel pangs of jealousy when I see photos of friends in a big-city school.

Sophomore Year Update

Finances were a big issue for me in deciding where to go to college, but I was surprised to learn that financial stress doesn't go away once you are enrolled. I still needed to work with the financial aid office this year to sort out money problems. Another ongoing issue is my college choice. Over the summer I continued to wonder if Hiram was smaller than what I wanted. After being back on campus for just a couple of weeks, though, I realized that this school is well armed with professors, administrators, peers, and coursework that are exactly what I want. I will get my big-city experience this summer when I intern with the State Department in Washington, D.C.

Junior Year Update

My junior year has been filled with excitement. Through Hiram's Garfield Institute for Public Leadership, I went on a five-day trip to Cuba with 18 other students to explore foreign policy. I also got involved with Students for Liberty, planning events and coordinating with other schools to spread ideas of libertarianism. Moreover, I was able to go to D.C. for SFL's international conference. This summer I will go to L.A. to intern in the film industry with the Moving Picture Institute. After my internship at the Department of State last summer, I realized that I wanted to pursue something more autonomous and flexible. I am hoping that this internship will let me do just that.

Senior Year Update

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to afford to stay at Hiram for another full year, so I graduated a semester early. Now I work in Washington D.C. with the non-profit Students for Liberty. The work I do here is a blast, and it's great to be around so many like-minded young adults!

If I could change my college experience, I would adjust what I studied. For the first couple of years, I diddle-daddled around with many disciplines. This was fun, but I wish I had been more focused and double-majored in philosophy and political science. Overall, however, I am happy with my choice. I can't wait to go back to Hiram for graduation and walk with my classmates. Until then, I am enjoying adult life.

A never-ending college search

I had no idea how to sort through the thousands of colleges in the U.S. Every time I searched online, my list of schools to research seemed to grow exponentially. But I wouldn't let myself stop. The perfect school for me was out there, I knew it was. When I came across CollegeData, it instantly became my most valuable resource. Its charts and scales helped me figure out where I had a good chance of getting in. For the first time, I could narrow my list significantly and still choose schools with a range of admission chances.

So I would have plenty of options when choosing a college, my application list mostly included schools that I liked from all around the U.S. and that I felt would accept me. I also focused on the potential net price because I knew it would come down to that. My first decision was to apply to Cornell for an early decision. I loved its traditions and range of classes and programs. I am not academically the strongest applicant, so I knew my chances were slim. But I truly love learning and everything that I participate in. Although I was deferred, I think that came through. At least I knew that I was being seriously considered.

Visiting through snow and ice

I found Hiram late at night searching on CollegeData. I clicked a link to the Hiram website and saw a wonderful video of an annual Halloween party the students put on for children in the community. This was such a change from the stereotype of a drunken Halloween that I decided I would give Hiram a shot. I applied early and got admitted in November with a significant scholarship.

It was the day before Christmas Eve when I visited Hiram, but they were more than happy to give me a tour. Even through the snow and the ice, I was impressed by the classrooms in refurbished houses and the brick facades. Even more, I was impressed by the people. Admissions representatives, tour guides, and even the cooks were friendly. I learned about the "Hiram Hello." Say hi to any stranger on campus and you can expect a smile and a wave in return. I found out that there are only about 1,300 students, so classes are discussion-based and there are many opportunities to participate in student government and theater. I was impressed, but I waited for the rest of my application results before making a decision.

UC San Diego was the first of the University of California campuses to deny me, so I knew that I would probably not be admitted to Berkeley. But I did not expect my UC Davis waitlist since I believed I fell well within its admissions statistics. I was surprised and disappointed, particularly since my best friend will be going there. So it came down to Hiram. The other colleges that accepted me were either too expensive, too big, too close to home, or too . . . something. It hurt less when I was finally rejected by Cornell because I knew I had a wonderful place to go.

My ups and downs

When my report card came in for my senior first semester, I was devastated. I had three B's. I knew my GPA just wasn't good enough for Cornell. I decided then to begin getting serious about my other options. I had to step it up.

I was admitted to Hiram in the fall along with a few other schools. I got a voice message from the Hiram admissions counselor telling me I was accepted and offering me a scholarship. Unlike my other acceptances, this one made me feel giddy and truly appreciated.

What I learned

Many students think that they can get into any school they want and apply to big names, or they don't think they can get in anywhere and give up on trying. Either way, they could end up at a school they may not be happy with. Everybody should have the chance to go to a college they love; the best way to ensure that is to be educated about where you apply.

Although waiting until April to make my decision was torture, I feel better knowing that I thought everything out. Once you have your acceptance letters, don't be too quick to make a decision. Wait until you have ALL your options laid out, particularly the financial aid offers. Finances are often the deciding factor of a college choice.

The money factor

I am lucky that my dad is in the Navy. His GI benefits supplement the scholarship that Hiram offered me, making my first two years virtually free.

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