Hometown: Rockwall, TX
High School: Public
GPA: 4.5/5.0 (weighted)
Major: Political Science
Goal: Law school
I had all of my college essays written before senior year even started, and I began my applications on August 1, the day the Common App opened. I finished everything so early, I had time to help my friends with their college planning. But I wasn't prepared for the big plot twist ahead.
At first, I wasn't 100 percent sure what I wanted in a college. All I knew was that I did not want to go to a huge school. The moment I stepped onto Vanderbilt's campus, I knew it was perfect—it was beautiful and homey. The academics were awesome, and while it was a smaller school, it had the spirit and athletic teams of a large university. Plus, it was in Nashville, an exciting city full of opportunities. I knew my chances of getting in were slim, but I was on a Vandy kick. My second choice was the University of Oklahoma. At first it felt too big, but I realized that I loved the school spirit and popular sports teams. And my two best friends were applying there.
Then my mom forced me to tour Texas Christian University, which I was adamantly against because it was too close to home. But when I visited, I was thoroughly impressed. The campus was stunning and everyone was so friendly—even the dean. Class sizes were small, but it felt like a big school. There was also a real family dynamic between TCU and the Fort Worth community. So I added it to my list, even though I thought it might be out of reach financially.
At the end of September, I got my first acceptance letter—from Oklahoma. It was so exciting! My heart was still set on Vanderbilt, but since Oklahoma had a refund policy, I decided to enroll and submit my housing application so I had priority, just in case.
Then December came and I was rejected from Vanderbilt. At that point, I thought that was it—I wouldn't be going to my dream school, but I would be going to University of Oklahoma with my two best friends. What could be better? Then a couple of weeks later, my mom came to my workplace carrying an envelope with a big "CONGRATULATIONS" on the outside. I had been accepted to TCU! My mom was so excited, she couldn't wait until I got home to tell me the news. And, surprisingly, I was also really excited—much more than I expected. I hadn't realized how much TCU had grown on me. Suddenly, customers were congratulating me and telling me how smart I must be. My boss was super excited too. And in that moment I knew that I REALLY, REALLY wanted to go to TCU.
I was worried that the financial aid package from TCU wouldn't be enough, so I stayed enrolled at Oklahoma. I checked my account every day to see if my financial aid results had been posted. Finally, in March, I logged in, and I almost screamed! TCU had awarded me grants covering half of the tuition and fees—making it just as affordable as Oklahoma. I sent screenshots of the offer to my parents, and my mom texted back, "I guess you should UN-enroll at OU!"
I was also accepted to Rhodes with almost a full ride, which was difficult to pass up. It didn't help that most people said things like, "You're crazy! Why are you paying for TCU when you got a full ride somewhere?" But I knew I was making the right decision.
Circumstances and friendships change, especially senior year, so don't be too influenced by your friends. I was almost guilt-tripped into going to Texas Tech and rooming with a girl I'm not even friends with now! And, of my two best friends who applied to Oklahoma, only one of them is actually attending in the fall. Also, be flexible. I nearly refused to even tour TCU because I hated the idea of being so close to home, only for it to end up being my dream school.
My financial aid package knocked down the cost of TCU to what I would pay as an out-of-state student at University of Oklahoma. Since I am now attending an in-state school, I am eligible for a loan with a lower interest rate.
Visiting campuses is crucial. I didn't know that I didn't like really small schools until I toured Rhodes. I didn't know that I still wanted an athletic presence and active social scene until I visited the University of Oklahoma. I didn't know I liked being in a big city until I toured Vanderbilt. Visiting colleges helped me discover my likes and dislikes—and led me to my perfect school.