Obianujo - The College of New Jersey - Class of 2014
Hometown: Union NJ
High School: Public
GPA: 2.6 / 2.77 (weighted)
Major: Sociology (formerly biology)
Goal: Strengthen my chances for medical school and grow as a person
Freshman Year Update
I'm very tight with people on my dorm floor, which I did not expect! Everyone has their door open and all are willing to have a conversation if I pop in. We all go to campus events together and usually eat dinner together. This is exactly what I wanted when I chose TCNJ over larger schools like Penn State and Rutgers.
Over winter break I went to Nigeria with my family and that opened my eyes to the field of international public health. We held two health fairs where we tested the villagers for diabetes and high blood pressure, two big killers there. I am now considering pursuing both medical doctor and public health degrees.
Sophomore Year Update
One of my major ups this year was winning a position as a Community Advisor, which I will begin in the fall. I will have guaranteed free housing along with a stipend, and I will live with freshmen and try to get them to have as much fun as I did. A big challenge has been deciding whether to change my major to sociology with minors in biology and public health. I am still interested in medical school, but I may specialize in community public health and work in Nigeria, where my parents have set up a nonprofit organization.
Junior Year Update
I officially changed my major to sociology with biology and public health minors—and just finished my best academic semester ever! I'm still set on medical school and have started preparing for the medical school entrance exam. It's great being a Community Advisor and being more involved in activities outside of class. Most enjoyable has been Alpha Phi Omega, a coed community service fraternity for students who love to volunteer as much as I do! Every once in a while I wish I went to a school with more specialized course options (there are so many interesting things to study out there!). Otherwise, I never regret coming here.
I attended a small catholic high school for my freshman and sophomore years and my grades were very good. But starting my junior year I had to attend the local public high school, which had over 2,000 students. This was a huge shock to my system—and my GPA.
Overcoming an academic crash
Academically, my junior year was the worst year I ever experienced. My grades for the year brought my GPA down to a 2.7! My SAT scores, however, were strong. If I got exceptional letters of recommendation and applied as early as possible, I told myself, I might get in somewhere. So I applied to colleges starting in late September, earlier than anyone I knew. The first few colleges I applied to were ones that sent me free applications. Then I found and researched schools in the mid-Atlantic region that accepted a lot of applicants and had good science programs, like Seton Hall and St. John's. I added a few reaches, like Penn State and Northeastern.
I did what I could to make my best case to the colleges. One recommendation letter came from a science teacher in whose classes I was excelling. Letters from my guidance counselor and my previous school's principal explained the difficulties I had changing schools. I wrote my application essays on the same subject, hoping that would help save me. I made sure to send my senior report card for the first grading period to my colleges, so they could see my straight A's and know that I was over my lapse. I also visited my colleges, so that they could tell I was genuinely interested in attending.
Getting in and getting lucky
I applied to quite a few schools, hoping that a few would accept me. Big surprise! I got into nine. I immediately crossed Drexel, Drew, and Seton Hall off of my list because they were expensive and didn't give me much financial aid. Penn State was my top choice in spite of the fact that I was not accepted into its biology or premedical programs. Rutgers was my backup school. But both schools were extremely large, which wasn't something I wanted.
My mother had originally mentioned The College of New Jersey to me, but I hadn't taken her seriously—who really listens to mothers anyway? But a friend later suggested it and I took her more seriously. After the first visit, my mother fell in love with it, but I played nonchalant. I didn't want to get my hopes up, as their biology program is very competitive. However, TCNJ had everything I was looking for. The campus is gorgeous, rated one of the most beautiful in the nation. Students seemed genuinely happy. Their Science Complex is state of the art. It had all the benefits of a small private school with the price tag of a public one. I visited several times to prove my commitment to attend if accepted. When I received my acceptance package, I knew that in the fall I would be attending a school that I loved!
My ups and downs
My first response from a college was a rejection from the University of Pittsburgh. I didn't read further than the first two sentences before throwing it away. I tried not to let it bother me, but it scared me into thinking that the rest of my admissions decisions would be that way. Even though that greatly discouraged me, my hope returned once I started receiving my acceptances.
What I learned
If there was one thing I could do over, it would be my junior year of high school. Now that it's in the past, I can see all the things that I could have done differently. If I had worked harder, my grades would have made me eligible for a multitude of scholarships that I can only watch others apply for now. Had I gotten better grades, I would be entering college without so many worries about how to pay for my education, and how much debt my parents and I are going to take on.
The money factor
In order to pay for next year, I am going to have to take out loans. Although my financial aid package covered about half of my total expenses, my unmet need is too much for my parents to take care of. My mother and father plan on taking out a federal Direct PLUS Loan to help make ends meet. I will eventually get a job to help them out with the expenses.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
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