Christina - UC Davis - Class of 2017
student photo

Although colleges expressed interest in my field hockey and vocal talents, my academics still had to be strong enough to be admitted.

I always thought I would end up at a small, private school in New England. But I chose a large public school in California that was originally near the bottom of my list. How did that happen?

Hometown: Orono ME

High School: Private

GPA: 3.80 / 4.20 (weighted)

SAT: 1670

Major: Animal science and vocal performance

Goal: To do well academically and pursue my passions



University of California, Davis Attending
Bates CollegeAccepted
Bowdoin CollegeDenied
Colby CollegeAccepted
Colorado State UniversityAccepted
Middlebury CollegeDenied
Northwestern UniversityDenied
Tufts UniversityDenied
University of MaineAccepted
University of Notre Dame Denied
University of VermontAccepted
Freshman Year Update

At first, the size of UC Davis intimidated me. I worried about getting into classes, and learning in large lectures. But I realized that the campus wasn't that big, classes weren't hard to get into, and I liked the large lectures. I also like that I can focus on my interests in animal science. My labs have included milking cows, tipping sheep, and petting dogs!

The quarter system is challenging with midterms in the first three weeks of class. I did well because I used the school's tutoring resources and office hours. Double majoring in music was too much. Now I plan to minor in music and sing in the choir. I thought about trying out for Division 1 field hockey. But I would rather play for fun, focus on my studies, and possibly do research. Sometimes, being away from my family is hard. Calling and video chatting have helped a lot!

Sophomore Year Update

This year, I worked with a famous animal behaviorist on animal training techniques, and I did a media project about swine production. I also sang in the choir, performed in an opera, and auditioned for the T.V. show "America's Got Talent."

My grades were way better this year, too. As a freshman I got my first C's in chemistry and developed test anxiety. But talking to my professors was a big help. One even gave me some test-taking strategies, and I haven't had test anxiety since!

Looking back, I can't believe I applied to schools based on their field hockey teams instead of their academic programs. Most of them didn't even offer animal science! Now I'm proud to be at one of the top animal science schools, working with animals, and learning new things in my field. I absolutely love it here.

Junior Year Update

My biggest "up" junior year was studying abroad in Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. Besides being exposed to different cultures, I also learned about different animal agriculture systems and different beliefs about how animals should be used. It really enhanced my college experience.

Back at Davis, my studies are going great. I'm taking a bunch of fun classes I enjoy, including animal behavior, psychology, and primatology. It's really nice to be done with all of the lower division prerequisites (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry). Now I feel like I can enjoy myself, have a social life, and not live in the library.

I'm starting to apply to veterinary school. Next year I'll be finishing up applications and hopefully going on interviews.

Senior Year Update

Since I got into vet school (at the Royal Veterinary College in London) the pressure was off! I had more time to enjoy my classes (achieving my first 4.0!), socialize with friends, sing, and work as a peer advisor in my department.

I had my heart set on going to UC Davis for vet school, but when I was rejected, I was hardly upset. By that time, I had researched many other programs and found schools I liked even more. I chose Royal because it will let me focus on my interests in wildlife and small and exotic animals. I wish I had been this open minded and careful about researching schools when I was first applying to college. It would have made the process much less stressful and heartbreaking.

Looking back, I can't believe that I applied to UC Davis with no intention of attending. I've had so many opportunities here that I never anticipated. Now I think that wherever you end up is where you're meant to be, and it'll turn out better than you expect.

Field hockey dreams

I wanted to do it all: study veterinary medicine and singing, be involved in environmental activism, and play field hockey in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). When I toured Bowdoin, Tufts, and Colby—all NESCAC schools—I fell in love the minute I set foot on their campuses. A coach at Colby said she thought I had the talent to play there. But although my grades were good, she was concerned that my SAT scores might not be high enough to get in. I planned to take the SAT again, so I wasn't too discouraged. But now I began to wonder about my chances of getting in at Colby and elsewhere.

Then University of Notre Dame became my dream school. It was the alma mater of my mom and many members of my family. When I visited, something about the school just felt right. I felt like I belonged there. It had a great music department and a pre-vet program. It didn't have a field hockey team, but I could play at the club level and that would suffice.

I applied to nine other colleges with either top vet science programs or competitive field hockey teams. I also applied to University of California, Davis because my parents were considering a move to California. People said UC Davis had one of the best undergraduate animal science programs in the country. But it also had an undergraduate population of 25,000. I just couldn't imagine myself at such a big school.

Good and bad surprises

In February, I received a call from the director of the music department at Notre Dame. She had heard my vocal CD, which I had sent as a supplement to my application. She was impressed with my voice and asked me to apply for their music scholarship. The deadline had passed, so I hurriedly put together a new CD. I knew that her interest didn't mean I was guaranteed admission, but I felt encouraged. So when I was denied by Notre Dame, I was devastated. But, I was accepted at Colby despite my SAT scores!

Next, my parents told me it was official: they were moving to California. So I visited UC Davis on admitted students' day—and I fell in love with the school before the tour was even over! The food was phenomenal, everyone was friendly, the campus was bicycle friendly (and safe—no cars are allowed on campus), and the animal science program was amazing with more internships than I can count!

I made a list of pros and cons between Colby and UC Davis. Colby didn't have my major; I would have to study biology instead (in cold weather) and be over 3,000 miles away from my family. At UC Davis I could study animal science in a very hands-on pre-veterinary program (in warm weather) and be a short drive from home. I realized that I wanted to go to Colby for its name, reputation, and field hockey team, not for my future career. Hesitantly, I pressed Colby's "rejection" button. Now I'm excited about starting a new chapter of my life at UC Davis. Go Aggies!

My ups and downs

Notre Dame's rejection was really hard because I had received so much encouragement from the music director. Even though I knew I wasn't guaranteed admission, I got my hopes up.

The best part was sharing the college application process with my mother, especially endeavors that involved her alma mater. We visited the Notre Dame Grotto together, a special place of prayer and reflection on the campus. My mom had taken me there as an infant during her college reunion. It was cool visiting again 18 years later as a prospective student. Ironically, my mother was ecstatic when I was rejected from Notre Dame because it meant that I might attend college closer to her.

What I learned

It was a competitive year! Some of my friends at the top of the class didn't get into some of the schools where I was accepted. My best friend was accepted to Harvard, but not to other schools with a lesser reputation. Also, although colleges expressed interest in my field hockey and vocal talents, my academics still had to be strong enough to be admitted. I wish I would have tried harder freshman and sophomore years of high school and taken more AP and Honors courses.

The money factor

I will be paying out-of-state tuition my freshman year with loans and help from my parents. I'll be getting in-state tuition sophomore, junior, and senior years.

My advice

Don't be afraid to just apply! I wouldn't have applied to half the schools I applied to if I were fearful of rejection. Also, don't be afraid of admissions interviews. I was surprised by how kind, casual, and non-scary the admissions people were.