Hometown: Temecula CA
High School: Public
GPA: 3.7 / 4.15 (weighted)
Major: Political science
Goal: Prepare to work in public service
The only help I got with my college search was when my parents offered to drive me to visit campuses. But I am glad it happened this way rather than having a parent or teacher direct me. I did it myself and learned exactly what mattered to me.
I had no idea how to sort through the thousands of colleges in the U.S. Every time I searched online, my list of schools to research seemed to grow exponentially. But I wouldn't let myself stop. The perfect school for me was out there, I knew it was. When I came across CollegeData, it instantly became my most valuable resource. Its charts and scales helped me figure out where I had a good chance of getting in. For the first time, I could narrow my list significantly and still choose schools with a range of admission chances.
So I would have plenty of options when choosing a college, my application list mostly included schools that I liked from all around the U.S. and that I felt would accept me. I also focused on the potential net price because I knew it would come down to that. My first decision was to apply to Cornell for an early decision. I loved its traditions and range of classes and programs. I am not academically the strongest applicant, so I knew my chances were slim. But I truly love learning and everything that I participate in. Although I was deferred, I think that came through. At least I knew that I was being seriously considered.
I found Hiram late at night searching on CollegeData. I clicked a link to the Hiram website and saw a wonderful video of an annual Halloween party the students put on for children in the community. This was such a change from the stereotype of a drunken Halloween that I decided I would give Hiram a shot. I applied early and got admitted in November with a significant scholarship.
It was the day before Christmas Eve when I visited Hiram, but they were more than happy to give me a tour. Even through the snow and the ice, I was impressed by the classrooms in refurbished houses and the brick facades. Even more, I was impressed by the people. Admissions representatives, tour guides, and even the cooks were friendly. I learned about the "Hiram Hello." Say hi to any stranger on campus and you can expect a smile and a wave in return. I found out that there are only about 1,300 students, so classes are discussion-based and there are many opportunities to participate in student government and theater. I was impressed, but I waited for the rest of my application results before making a decision.
UC San Diego was the first of the University of California campuses to deny me, so I knew that I would probably not be admitted to Berkeley. But I did not expect my UC Davis waitlist since I believed I fell well within its admissions statistics. I was surprised and disappointed, particularly since my best friend will be going there. So it came down to Hiram. The other colleges that accepted me were either too expensive, too big, too close to home, or too . . . something. It hurt less when I was finally rejected by Cornell because I knew I had a wonderful place to go.
When my report card came in for my senior first semester, I was devastated. I had three B's. I knew my GPA just wasn't good enough for Cornell. I decided then to begin getting serious about my other options. I had to step it up.
I was admitted to Hiram in the fall along with a few other schools. I got a voice message from the Hiram admissions counselor telling me I was accepted and offering me a scholarship. Unlike my other acceptances, this one made me feel giddy and truly appreciated.
Many students think that they can get into any school they want and apply to big names, or they don't think they can get in anywhere and give up on trying. Either way, they could end up at a school they may not be happy with. Everybody should have the chance to go to a college they love; the best way to ensure that is to be educated about where you apply.
Although waiting until April to make my decision was torture, I feel better knowing that I thought everything out. Once you have your acceptance letters, don't be too quick to make a decision. Wait until you have ALL your options laid out, particularly the financial aid offers. Finances are often the deciding factor of a college choice.
I am lucky that my dad is in the Navy. His GI benefits supplement the scholarship that Hiram offered me, making my first two years virtually free.