Leslie - Wesleyan University - Class of 2014

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I learned the importance of the little quote in my guidance counselor's office, "College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won."

Like many students I felt pressure to go after "great" schools, the schools that everyone knows about. But after I seriously considered attending a few of these colleges, I realized that I wouldn't be happy going to any of them.

Hometown: Wyoming OH

High School: Public

GPA: 3.77

ACT: 30

Major: Philosophy

Goal: Find out what I am really passionate about

College

Status

Wesleyan UniversityAttending
Amherst CollegeWaitlisted
Boston CollegeAccepted
Cornell UniversityDenied
Middlebury CollegeWaitlisted
Ohio State UniversityAccepted
Williams CollegeWaitlisted

Where undergraduates come first

The more I researched colleges, the more I realized that I wanted a school that focused on the liberal arts and had a strong commitment to undergraduates. I wanted to be in a place where the students were intellectual and passionate about learning, but also could let loose and have fun. This led me to drop from my list some highly competitive colleges. For example, I got many calls from University of Chicago encouraging me to apply, but I decided that its heavily academic atmosphere was not for me. I needed a school where being educated isn't determined by how many hours you spend in the library.

Choosing a great fit over great names

After I got waitlisted at Amherst, Middlebury, and Williams I had to make a crucial decision. Should I accept a position on a waitlist at one of these well-known schools or go with one of the options I had in hand? Although I was disappointed that I had so few colleges to choose from, I was really excited about Wesleyan University. It had all that I wanted in a college. (This might sound sappy, I know!) Wesleyan gives its students a great undergraduate education, but isn't as well recognized as it deserves. I finally decided that choosing a college whose name people recognized instantly did not mean it was a good choice for me. I sent my admission acceptance to Wesleyan immediately.

My ups and downs

For me, the most difficult experience was essay writing, mostly because of how I approached the task. I tried writing essays that I thought my schools would appreciate. For example, for my Common Application Essay I thought I would write about one of my accomplishments or how I helped someone out. In other words, make myself look good. But that felt wrong. Instead I wrote an essay about how I realized one of my "character flaws" and how I struggle daily to overcome it. So it is okay to try to impress a college by HOW you write your essays, but that should not be WHY you write an essay.

I made a big mistake not visiting Cornell and Boston College before I applied. When I did, I realized that neither campus had enough student diversity for me to be comfortable.

What I learned

From stressing over which schools to apply to, to struggling to write my essays, to finally making my final decision, I have learned the importance of the little quote in my guidance counselor's office, "College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won." It is all about finding the right place to discover yourself and transition into adulthood. That place may be a large state school in a big city or a small liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere, but you have to stay true to yourself and what you want, and make the decision that is right for you. And it is awesome when you know you found the place where you will learn, grow, and become who you want to be.

I did everything at the last minute. To make my January 1 deadlines, I sent out my Common Application ten minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve! I wish I had started much sooner so I had time to experience more of the excitement and joy that comes with finding the right place to start the next chapter of your life!

The money factor

I received grants and loans from my school. I am also hoping to win some scholarships.

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