Kirsten - University of Arizona - Class of 2017

student photo

When you apply to college, be prepared for surprises. The University of Arizona was never on my college list, and in a few days it became my first choice.

I started making my college list during my first year of high school. So by the time admission season came around, I thought I knew everything: I would attend a small liberal arts college in Southern California—which was Eden to me with its pretty beaches and warm weather. And, I'd play on a Division II women's golf team.

Hometown: Reno, NV

High School: Public

GPA: 3.93 / 5.20 (weighted)

SAT: 1980

ACT: 34

Major: Prelaw

Goal: To explore my interests, especially in the arts

College

Status

University of ArizonaAttending
Claremont-McKenna CollegeAccepted
Scripps CollegeAccepted
University of Southern CaliforniaDenied
Freshman Year Update

Classes in the honors college are challenging and I have to allot more time to study. The hardest part was the first few days of classes. I had 21 AP units, so I was placed with mainly sophomores who already had their groups of friends.

But after that initial shock, the whole friend-making process was easy. My roommate and I hit it off right away, and I'm meeting new people all the time because I'm exploring so much. I am super-involved in my sorority, I'm in an a cappella group, and I am even designing jewelry!

At first I spent a lot of money. Then, second semester hit and I realized why everyone in college talks about being broke. Now I never spend more than I have, and I never turn down free food! This summer I'm going on an honors-only trip to Europe. I'm having the time of my life at U of A!

Sophomore Year Update

Sophomore year is a completely different beast. I got way more involved on campus, and classes got exponentially harder. Besides being active in my sorority, I give tours of the University (which makes me fall more in love with it) and I'm a resident assistant (RA). Being involved in different things has introduced me to new and different communities of people, and I love that.

I also love my new major in accounting, even though it has a huge workload. The more challenging classes, and not doing as well in them as I would have liked, were a wake-up call. Next fall, I'll be studying in Australia at the University of Sydney. Arizona was the right choice for me. I absolutely love it.

Junior Year Update

My semester in Sydney was definitely the highlight of my college life so far! I worked two days a week at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), went to class two days a week, and had three-day weekends to travel.

Back at UA, my classes are going well, although they are harder. Yet, some of the most important things I've learned have been outside of class. I've learned to network, and I've been working with a lot of nonprofits, which solidified my goal of starting my own nonprofit organization.

Now I've declared a second major in entrepreneurship. After my summer internship at PwC in Los Angeles, I'll be participating in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program at UA, where I'll be part of a team launching a new business venture. It should be exciting!

California dreamin'

I thought Pomona College, one of the Claremont Colleges, had everything I was looking for: Southern California sun, strong academics, and Division II golf. I visited several SoCal colleges, and at Pomona everything felt right: the college town, the professors, the students. I could just see myself riding my bike around campus with tan legs and long hair! Then I practically fell in love with the golf coach at Claremont-McKenna. She was excited about the program and excited to have me on the team. So, I applied to Claremont-McKenna for an early decision and to Scripps College because it shared Claremont's golf coach. I also applied to USC because my dad had gone there and I wanted to see if I could get in and carry on his legacy.

But a few days after sending my application to Claremont, I received a letter from the University of Arizona congratulating me on being a National Hispanic Scholar. As I read further, my heart stopped. They were offering me a guaranteed scholarship covering my tuition for four years, acceptance into the Honors College, first choice of dorms, and an iPad to boot!

Goodbye California girl, hello Wildcat

Still clinging to my California dreams, I reluctantly went to Arizona with my parents to visit. When we got there, I fell in love with Tucson's historic pueblo and adobe style buildings, and with the University's "big school spirit" (something my high school lacked). I met with students in the Honors College. They all had high opinions of the school and the honors program, which provided priority registration, honors counselors, and help getting into grad school. I began to see that there might be more opportunities at a big research university, especially if I changed majors (I was interested in law, but also thinking about biomedical research). And, in the Honors College I could still be part of a small community and have a "big college" experience.

The downside was that I couldn't play on the golf team. It was a Division I team and highly competitive. Even if I could make the team, it would mean playing golf all the time and I didn't want to do that. I was disappointed, but then I realized that this was my chance to start something new. I went home and applied. They waived the essay requirement for the Honors College and expedited my application. I felt like they really wanted me! I contacted Claremont and changed my request for a binding early decision to a regular decision.

My ups and downs

I was amazed at how quickly my opinion of University of Arizona changed after my visit, and how excited I was about going there. I wouldn't be "the golf girl" anymore. Now I could be someone totally different! I have always loved painting and jewelry-making; maybe it's finally time to explore my artistic side. My best moment was picking my future roommate. We talked for a long time on Skype and it made the whole thing seem more real and exciting!

My biggest disappointment came when USC denied me. It seemed impossible: My GPA and test scores were above their average; my resume was packed with team captain, published articles, and national awards. I cried. I felt like I had let down my dad, even though he told me it was ok and he didn't want me to go to his alma mater anyway. Getting admitted wouldn't have changed my final decision in the slightest, but rejection always hurts.

What I learned

When you apply to college, you need to be prepared for surprises. The University of Arizona was never on my college list, and in a few days it became my first choice. While choosing my college was a long and difficult process, in the end, my choices and actions led me to where I am. Honestly, I wouldn't do anything differently.

The money factor

My scholarship will cover all of my tuition and most of my housing. I will be paying for the rest with my parents' help, and by taking a job during college.

My advice

Applications take A LOT of time, and they are about quality not quantity. No one is going to care how many schools you applied to, so it is better to focus on submitting good applications to a few schools you love, and you'll have a better chance of getting in.