Emma - College of William and Mary - Class of 2016
Hometown: Avondale Estates GA
High School: Public
GPA: 3.94 / 4.15 (weighted)
Goal: Learn who I am and what I can do
Freshman Year Update
College is so much better than high school! The people are more interesting, you can choose the subjects you want to study, and there are tons of activities. After realizing that I could do what I wanted (like skip class or sleep in), I kind of became my own parent and reminded myself how lucky I am to be here. I am also careful to watch how much money I'm spending and what I'm spending it on; my friend blew through $2,000 the first semester. I love dorm life because I live with my friends, but it can be claustrophobic at times. (My roommate's boyfriend is around all the time, to the point where I feel like I'm dating him!) Managing my spare time was the hardest part. I watched TV and ate a lot, which resulted in the dreaded Freshman 15! I now have a healthier routine.
I really wanted a small, liberal arts school so I could study a range of topics before deciding on a major. I also wanted a strong student community filled with students like myself: curious, quirky, and fun-loving. But I didn't realize that the colleges I wanted might not want me. I was waitlisted by all my top choices! I felt like I didn't even want to go to college anymore!
Barnard or bust
Unlike most of my friends, by the end of my junior year I had no idea what I wanted in a college or what I wanted to study. So my parents and I spent five days visiting six campuses in the Northeast. I quickly figured out that my ideal college campus had trees on it, did not have beer-drinking as the only available weekend activity, and was not freezing. But nothing really clicked until I visited Barnard College in New York City. I knew immediately it was the one. The students were vivacious and confident and the idea of becoming a "Barnard woman" was so appealing. I turned in my application to Barnard without any doubt that I would get in. But my happy-ever-after college story was about to take a turn for the worse.
The Queen of Runners-upville
The last week in March was the most stressful in my life! First, I was waitlisted at two of my top schools. Then came the day I expected to get my Barnard letter. I was hopeful and untroubled. I sped home, and there it was: the dreaded small envelope. I screamed. I cried. I punched things. I wrote Barnard a hateful letter. I deleted that letter and wrote another explaining why I was right for them and why they were right for me. My coach, counselor, and a teacher wrote letters too. It felt so unfair! I had six friends accepted to Ivy League schools that week, and I couldn't get into a non-Ivy liberal arts school. I felt incompetent, embarrassed, pitiful, and useless. After getting one more waitlist letter, I felt like queen of runners-upville. I was good, just not good enough.
Then I managed to stop my pity party and began to look at the bright side: I still had four great schools that wanted me and that I could revisit. When I had first visited William and Mary over the summer, no students were on campus. I was unimpressed. For me, the most important factor in choosing a college was the people. When I went back, however, I was able to talk to tons of students! I heard many great things about the school from everyone. If all of these interesting and different personalities could be happy here, I was sure I could too! Also, I love Williamsburg and the history surrounding the campus, and the academics are great. Plus, William and Mary is a public university, and even with the out-of-state tuition, it's cheaper than a private college.
My ups and downs
It hurts to be turned down from a college you've poured your heart and soul into. It felt like a boulder had dropped into my stomach when I read Barnard's waitlist letter. I cried all afternoon. Getting rejected or waitlisted at the college where you know you belong really is a grieving process.
I think making the final decision was my best moment. It is such a relief just to have that decision made and to know that, at least for a little while, you don't have to worry about college anymore. Until housing forms and orientation forms and registration forms start pouring in, that is!
What I learned
You can't get a feel for a college until you're walking around the campus when school is in session. Visiting before you apply is great, but visiting after you've been accepted is even better. Then you're looking at the school and the students in a whole different way: it's not just "Could I see myself applying here?" it's "Could I see myself thriving here for the next four years?"
Barnard required four supplemental essays and I blew through them in a day. I think that's the main reason why I got waitlisted. It's not that my supplements were bad; they just weren't as thoughtful and streamlined as my main essay was. I really wish I had spent more time on those supplements!
The money factor
Because I'm an only child, my family has been saving for my personal college fund since I was born, and we're paying for it with that money.
I know everyone says this, but it's so true: even if you don't get into your top school (or even your top four schools), everything will work out. I can't wait to get to the beautiful campus and meet all my new, cool friends. It might not be New York City, but to me, it's just as good.
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!