Andrew - Penn State University Park - Class of 2015

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The whole process could have been easier if I had worked harder during my first three years of high school.

The moral of my story is never give up. Take risks and use every opportunity given to you. Penn State University Park was a huge reach for me. But when I was rejected, I believed it wasn't the end. There had to be something I could do to help myself!

Hometown: Freehold NJ

High School: Public

GPA: 3.0 / 3.34 (weighted)

SAT: 1710

ACT: 25

Major: Undecided

Goal: Graduate in the top 25 percent of my class

College

Status

Penn State University ParkAttending
Drexel UniversityAccepted
Ohio State UniversityDenied
Old Dominion UniversityAccepted
Purdue UniversityAccepted
Rutgers, The State University of New JerseyDenied
Freshman Year Update

I had a roller coaster ride first semester. At first I was on track for the dean's list. But after the second round of exams, my grades dropped like a fly in a bug zapper. More studying increased my workload, and with early morning ROTC and three long labs a week, I couldn't keep up. I finished the semester with a 3.0. Now I study harder and go to office hours and review sessions. While the schoolwork is challenging, the people here are great and there is always a lot going on. I never have a day without anything fun to do.

It's Penn State all the way

I was sold on Penn State after a campus visit and an interview with a professor of military science in November of my senior year. I knew it was my destiny. It had everything I wanted: great academics, a large student body, lots of school spirit, ROTC, outstanding athletic teams, and of course great food. (Sounds crazy, but if you're going to be there over four years, you might as well like what you eat.) The icing on the cake was the surroundings: the scenic mountains of Pennsylvania. Sure, the middle of nowhere is boring to some, but it was a plus for me. The slow, relaxed, small town pace is my idea of life at just the right speed.

But just because you want something doesn't mean you get it. Penn State offered me admission to its 2+2 program, in which I would start at a satellite campus and transfer to the main campus after two years. But there was no way I wanted to do that. I asked for an appeal of my application.

Whoops, I am off to Purdue!

After hearing "no" to the appeal by phone and by mail, I reluctantly sent in my deposit to Purdue, my second choice after another disappointing rejection—from Ohio State. Purdue actually had most of what I wanted in a college with one major hitch. It was a plane ticket or a 14-hour car ride away from home. Over the next few weeks, I bought a Purdue T-shirt, season tickets, a basketball jersey, and even found a roommate. I got really excited about going. End of story, right?

While at work on a cold day in March, my cell phone rang and I ducked behind a cabinet to answer. All I heard was my sister screaming, "You got into Penn State!" I never got nauseous so fast. I almost started to cry, but not for the reason you might expect. I would be leaving behind $260 season tickets, two shirts, and a great roommate who was almost as excited as I was to be going to Purdue.

As it turned out, the professor I talked with five months ago pushed for my acceptance to the school. Who knows what would have happened if I had not arranged for that interview.

My ups and downs

It was tough getting rejected twice from Penn State. But my best moment was after I got accepted, when I realized how lucky I was. It took a few days of confusion and clothing returns, but it all seemed worth it in the end. I was one of over 40,000 high school seniors who applied, eager to go to one of the best schools in the country, and I was lucky enough to get squeezed in last minute.

What I learned

Because I managed the whole process on my own, I consider myself to be my own most helpful resource in my college search. But I was also the least helpful. At first I set my sights on highly ranked schools. But due to my low stats, I reset my sights on state schools. Even so, my GPA and test scores were below average compared to their freshman classes. I was lucky to have things work out the way they did. Looking back, I see that the whole process could have been easier if I had worked harder during my first three years of high school.

The money factor

Financially, I am relying on loans and grants, and I am waiting to hear back from multiple scholarships.

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