Monica - Hiram College - Class of 2014
Hometown: Temecula CA
High School: Public
GPA: 3.7 / 4.15 (weighted)
Major: Political science
Goal: Prepare to work in public service
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.
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.
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.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
Student Stories - 2016
- Ally - Ohio State University - Class of 2016
- Emma - College of William and Mary - Class of 2016
- Jess - Binghamton University - Class of 2016
- Leyth - Pomona College - Class of 2016
- Michael - Northeastern University - Class of 2016
- Molly - Vassar College - Class of 2016
- Shaquilla - Harvard College - Class of 2016
- Tlalli - Yale University - Class of 2016
- Pablo - Amherst College - Class of 2016
- Kathleen - UC Berkeley - Class of 2016
- David - Vanderbilt University - Class of 2016
Student Stories - 2015
- Brenna - Iowa State University - Class of 2015
- Candace - U. of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill - Class of 2015
- Andrew - Penn State University Park - Class of 2015
- Nick - Georgetown University - Class of 2015
- Stephen - University of Pennsylvania - Class of 2015
- Stephanie - Stanford University - Class of 2015
- Jeremy - Boston University - Class of 2015
- Amy - Hillsdale College - Class of 2015
- Maggie - UCLA - Class of 2015
- Joseph - University of Vermont - Class of 2015
Student Stories - 2014
- Alexander - U. of Colorado Boulder - Class of 2014
- Alexandra - Indiana U. Bloomington - Class of 2014
- Gabrielle - Furman University - Class of 2014
- Linda - Grinnell College - Class of 2014
- Mario - Cal Poly Pomona - Class of 2014
- Matt - Carleton College - Class of 2014
- Michael - University of Maryland - Class of 2014
- Monica - Hiram College - Class of 2014
- Obianujo - The College of New Jersey - Class of 2014
- Philip - American University - Class of 2014
- Leslie - Wesleyan University - Class of 2014
Student Stories - 2013
- Jessica - Wellesley College - Class of 2013
- Jason - Univ. of Michigan - Class of 2013
- Daniel - Yale University - Class of 2013
- Melanie - Colby College - Class of 2013
- Anthony - University of Pittsburgh - Class of 2013
- Claire - Johns Hopkins University - Class of 2013
- David - University of Chicago - Class of 2013
- Eric - UC San Diego - Class of 2013
- John - Pomona College - Class of 2013
- Umbar - Cornell University - Class of 2013
- Kira - Swarthmore College - Class of 2013
- Joelle - Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison - Class of 2013
- Mark - Union College - Class of 2013
- Uddit - U.S. Air Force Academy - Class of 2013
- Julia - University of Florida - Class of 2013
- Justin - University of Georgia - Class of 2013
- Stacy - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - Class of 2013
- Briton - Hobart College - Class of 2013
Student Stories - 2012
- Roy - Calif. Maritime Acad. / UC Irvine - Class of 2012
- Kirsten - Chapman / UC Davis - Class of 2012
- Ashley - Mount Holyoke College - Class of 2012
- Marquis - Princeton University - Class of 2012
- Pauline - Seattle University - Class of 2012
- Sundiata - Univ. of Mass. Amherst - Class of 2012
- James - Villanova University - Class of 2012
Student Stories - 2011
Student Stories - 2010
- Daniela - Bates College - Class of 2010
- Renata - Brown University - Class of 2010
- Megan - Denison University - Class of 2010
- Catlin - Harvard College - Class of 2010
- Catherine - Reed College - Class of 2010
- Matthew - Syracuse University - Class of 2010
- Danielle - UCLA - Class of 2010
- Stephanie - University of Illinois - Class of 2010
- Sam - University of Washington - Class of 2010
- Jeffrey - Washington and Lee Univ. - Class of 2010
Student Stories - 2009
Live Well and Prosper
On the road to college? Make it easier with timely tips and expert advice - free. Find out more.
Sign up today!