Anthony - UC Berkeley - Class of 2019

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The UCLA waitlist decision felt like the predictor of my fate. I began debating whether I should attend community college.

I wanted a college with prestige in my major, great opportunities, and popular sports teams. My top choices were the two most selective colleges in the University of California system: UC Berkeley and UCLA. Even though I had good grades and test scores, I knew I was just one in a surplus of qualified applicants.

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

High School: Public

GPA: 3.91/4.34 (weighted)

SAT: 2060

ACT: 29

Major: Economics

Goal: Grow intellectually and experience different viewpoints



UC BerkeleyAttending
Cal Poly San Luis ObispoAccepted
Colorado School of MinesWaitlisted
Cornell UniversityWaitlisted
Georgetown UniversityWaitlisted
New York UniversityDenied
UC DavisAccepted
UC IrvineAccepted
UC San DiegoAccepted
University of the PacificAccepted
Freshman Year Update

In college, I am free to do whatever I want. I can hangout whenever, study whenever; there is no curfew, and no parents to impose rules. If you come from an overprotective household, as I did, it's easy to go wild. No one here cares if you go to classes, but no one cares if you flunk out, either. It's all on you.

Most of my classes are big—one had 1,400 students! The professors cram a lot of information into each lecture, and they will not remember you unless you contact them. But I love having the freedom to choose my classes and study in ways that work for me. Socially, I've joined a few clubs and I'm enjoying hiking and trying new restaurants. But I feel like I am endlessly swiping my debit card! Sometimes I just have to stay in and use my dining hall points.

The hardest thing about Berkeley is that everyone here is a superstar, so it is easy to feel inferior. I haven't completely resolved these feelings. I am trying to just do my best and not worry about others.

Bruins and bears

My parents wanted me to apply to only a couple of local schools. My sister had attended UC Berkeley, which was only two hours away from home. I, however, wanted to have more options, so I ignored their arguments and applied to schools all over the state and the east coast.

From January through March, I constantly worried I wouldn't get in anywhere. Finally, I got my first acceptance—from University of the Pacific. I was so relieved! Shortly after that, I received acceptances from UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and UC Davis, and I was ecstatic!

Waitlists and worrying

But I was still nervous about my reach schools. The day UCLA's decisions were due, I stood next to my friend as he kept refreshing the admissions portal—until he saw that he was rejected. I prayed for a good minute before I checked for my decision—I was waitlisted. I read over the message multiple times, logging in and logging out to make sure what I read was true. I even checked the next day to make sure that it wasn't a bad dream. Right after that, I was waitlisted at Colorado School of Mines which added more salt to my wounds.

Since UCLA's selectiveness is on par with my other reaches, I thought I wouldn't get another acceptance—certainly not to UC Berkeley. I saw this waitlist decision as a predictor of my fate. I began debating whether I should enroll in a community college so I could transfer to UCLA as a junior.

And then, a week later, I was accepted to UC Berkeley! I was crazy happy! When I received my waitlist decisions from Cornell and Georgetown, and my rejection from NYU, I was indifferent. I was going to my dream school! And equally great was that the admission process—and all the stress—was over!

My ups and downs

My best moment was getting accepted to UC Berkeley. I heard decisions were coming around 5 p.m., but there was a delay, and it was stressful waiting those additional hours. I tried to do homework, but couldn't focus. Then a friend posted that she had been accepted to Berkeley. Decisions were up! So I grabbed my dad, woke up my mom, and we all stared at the computer screen while I logged into the admissions portal. I was in! My mother screamed, "Both of my kids got into Berkeley!" My father had a grin on his face.

My worst moment, after being waitlisted by UCLA, was finding out that many people I knew were accepted there. I felt bitter because I thought I was just as qualified as some of them. UCLA's Facebook group for applicants was a big help, though. It was comforting knowing that I wasn't alone.

What I learned

The more you apply—whether it be jobs, scholarships, or colleges—the better your chances, as long as the quality of your application doesn't go down. I applied this strategy to my scholarship search, applying for more than 20 scholarships. All I sacrificed was time that I would otherwise be watching Netflix.

The money factor

My parents are helping me pay for college. I will contribute with a part-time job and scholarships, and possibly loans.

My advice

Don't let an admissions decision diminish what you have accomplished! Everything will play out as it is supposed to, even if it doesn't seem like it initially.