Molly - Vassar College - Class of 2016

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I was surprised by how challenging the admissions process was. I considered myself a strong candidate until I heard back from most of my schools. What else did they want?

I knew from the start that I would apply early decision just to get the process over with. I would know where I was going early in my senior year, and the rest of school would be a breeze. Or so I thought.

Hometown: Montclair NJ

High School: Public

GPA: 4.0 / 4.52 (weighted)

SAT: 2010

Major: Undecided

Goal: Figure out my goal

College

Status

Vassar CollegeAttending
Barnard CollegeWaitlisted
Boston CollegeWaitlisted
Bowdoin College (ED)Denied
Brandeis UniversityAccepted
College of William and MaryWaitlisted
Connecticut CollegeAccepted
Franklin & Marshall CollegeAccepted
Georgetown UniversityDenied
Hamilton CollegeWaitlisted
Middlebury CollegeDenied
Wesleyan UniversityDenied
Freshman Year Update

At first, I was upset about leaving my life in New Jersey and having to start over and make a new group of friends. It was hard to be away from my family, especially my sister, and the comforts of home. You don't realize how much you'll miss your own shower! It was scary waking up the first few days in a strange place with strange people. But after time, the strange place became home, and the strange people became friends I can't imagine living without. Vassar is such an open and diverse place, one of the best things has been meeting different people and being part of a strong community.

As for academics, it matters more what you're learning from class than what grade you are getting. I'm taking all sorts of classes (even Chinese) and exploring my interests. Competing on varsity track is definitely a time commitment (we practice every day except Sunday). But having a sport helps me stay organized and manage my time. My advice is to enter freshman year with an open mind. While my transition wasn't easy, I am definitely very happy here.

Sophomore Year Update

I have an extremely busy schedule this year. Besides track, I'm on the House Team for my dorm, where I help organize events and deal with problems in the house, and I'm on the student council. Now I feel more connected and invested in the campus and my life is more engaging and fun, plus I have met a lot of new and interesting people!

As for my studies, I declared a double major in Chinese and International Studies, concentrating on economics and geography in East Asia. This multidisciplinary major is a great fit for me since I have so many interests. I'm also taking Spanish and plan to study in Madrid next year. Although it was fun to take random classes as a freshman, it's nice to finally figure out what I'm interested in studying!

Early decision meltdown

After touring about 40 colleges, I knew I wanted a small school. I had no idea what I wanted to study, so liberal arts schools also appealed to me. I wanted to be at least an hour away from home—but not a plane ride away. After touring Bowdoin College, I chose it as my early decision school because it is one of the most selective of the small liberal arts colleges, I loved the campus, and I wanted an academic challenge.

Of all days, I found out that I was rejected from Bowdoin on my birthday. It was the worst feeling in the world, and it only got worse after hearing how others got into their early decision schools. I entered the regular decision round with little hope and no expectations.

Definitely not getting into Vassar

Because I was interested in running at the college level, I got in touch with track coaches at some of my schools. The Vassar coach expressed a lot of interest in me, and invited me down to visit. I had an amazing overnight at the school, but I didn't want to, once again, fall in love with a school and then be rejected. I knew that feeling, and I never wanted to have it again.

Then I was waitlisted at one of my top schools, Hamilton. Since Vassar was even harder to get into than Hamilton, I lost all hope. On top of that, 22 kids from my school had applied to Vassar, so the odds were definitely not in my favor. Vassar released its admissions decisions later than the other schools, so I had to wait for the inevitable bad news. I was shocked when the acceptance letter popped up on my screen! Although getting rejected from your favorite school may be the worst feeling in the world, getting accepted to a school you really want is the best feeling in the world!

My ups and downs

I had an amazing guidance counselor. She was kind and accommodating, and she made sure that I was on track for applying to all my schools. I could not have done it without her. My mom also helped me out. She was always on top of things and put so much effort into helping me choose and apply to colleges. She spent countless hours driving me to college tours, overnights, and interviews.

I was surprised by how challenging and stressful the admissions process was and by how difficult it was to get in. I considered myself a fairly strong candidate until I heard back from schools. I found myself wondering, "What else do they want?"

Another "down" actually turned into an "up." I realize now that Bowdoin may not have been the right school for me. It was nine hours away from home in freezing cold Maine, and it had no appealing majors. What was I thinking?

What I learned

Looking back on the whole process, I would tell myself not to take things so personally. It gets harder and harder every year to get into selective colleges, and for every person who has been accepted to their dream school, there are ten others who have been rejected.

In terms of my application, I wish I had focused more on my SAT scores. They were decent, but below average for most of the competitive schools I was applying to. They didn't match my GPA, which was above average for most of those competitive schools.

The money factor

My parents are paying for the majority of the tuition, and the rest will be paid through scholarships and student loans if necessary.

My advice

Applying to college is a little like falling in love. You search for years to find the perfect school for you, you fall in love with one, and you can only hope that it will accept you and love you back. But all too often, it rejects you and your heart is broken. You feel vulnerable, insecure, and depressed. But what's important is that you keep on pursuing love. You can never give up because eventually you will fall in love with a school that loves you just the way you are.

Also, don't let the college process ruin your senior year! Live in the moment and enjoy the last few months with your friends!

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