Nikita - Georgia Institute of Technology - Class of 2019
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At first I didn't think non-academic factors were important to me. But in the end, school spirit, athletics, and just the way the campus felt also influenced my decision.

I would have enjoyed going to any of the schools I applied to. I made sure they were all schools I could actually see myself attending rather than just applying for the sake of applying.

Hometown: Davidson, NC

High School: Private

GPA: 3.59/3.84 (weighted)

SAT: 1980

ACT: 26

Major: Business

Goal: Maintain a high GPA, do lots of community service, and have fun

College

Status

Georgia Tech (EA) Attending
UNC at Chapel Hill (EA) Accepted
Wake Forest University Accepted
Virginia Tech Accepted
N.C. State University (EA)Accepted
Elon University (EA)Accepted
Clemson University (EA) Accepted
University of Georgia (EA) Accepted

Academic rigor comes first

Academics were always my number-one priority in choosing a college. Things like the "feel" of the campus, its athletic teams, and campus size were less important to me. I plan to major in business with a concentration in Information Technology, so I wanted schools that were strong in both these areas. UNC Chapel Hill, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest were my reach schools—when I compared my scores to those of the students they admitted, I knew I wasn't a shoe-in.

When my acceptances came in, my top choices were UNC Chapel Hill and Georgia Tech based on their academic programs. I was so indecisive! UNC was like my "home school." It was only two hours away from home, and I knew a lot of people who went there, including my sister. I didn't know anyone at Georgia Tech and it was four hours away from home. It was also in the middle of a big city, and I wasn't sure I'd like an urban campus. It was exciting to think that at Georgia Tech, everything would be new—but I was afraid of starting over in an unfamiliar place.

Stepping out of (and into) my comfort zone

However, after visiting Georgia Tech twice, I fell in love with it. The business school was amazing, with so many opportunities and resources (there was an upside to being in the heart of Atlanta!). I learned about its wonderful study abroad programs, co-op and internship opportunities, and diverse courses.

As for the campus, Georgia Tech is in its own bubble. You can't even tell it's in the middle of a big city. It looks like any other green college campus, which I loved. At first I didn't think non-academic factors were that important to me. But in the end, the school spirit, the Division 1 athletics, and just the way the campus felt were all things that influenced my decision to attend Georgia Tech!

My ups and downs

I applied to a lot of colleges early, yet I also procrastinated somewhat on my applications, mostly because I was also juggling AP classes and extracurriculars, and studying for the SAT at the same time. As a result, I endured many late nights. When I got overly stressed, I told myself to take a step back and breathe, and that everything I'm doing is to make a better future for myself.

A great moment was getting my decision from Georgia Tech. I was on a school bus trip with 16 students. The driver pulled the bus over on the side of the road and everyone surrounded me as I pulled up the page on my phone. When I saw my acceptance, I started jumping and screaming, and all my friends joined in. I ran to my mom, who was a chaperone, and jumped in her arms. We both started crying!

What I learned

Although the process of applying to college seems like just filling out a bunch of information, it's not. I learned so much about myself and what my true passions are. I discovered that one of the things that makes me who I am is India. I was born in the U.S., but I travel to India each year to visit my extended family. I perform traditional Indian dance and speak Marathi, which is the language spoken in Mumbai. I thought writing my essay would be difficult. But I wrote about the time I witnessed a bombing in a marketplace near my family's house in Mumbai. There were no deaths, but many injuries. I think because the experience affected me so deeply, I found it really easy to write about.

The money factor

My parents are very good with saving money and they saved enough to send me to an out-of-state college.

My advice

Try not to stress too much, but at the same time, put a lot of thought and effort into every application, even if it's for a college that's lower on your list. And when it comes to your essay, pick a topic you feel passionate about and just write.