Jessica - Point Loma Nazarene Univ. - Class of 2020
student photo

All my friends had described feeling tremendous happiness when they were accepted by one of their top choices. But I didn't feel that way.

I ignored how good of a fit PNLU was for me. Instead, I tried to fall in love with another college. But I was kidding myself.

Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

High School: Public

GPA: 3.1/3.7 (weighted)

ACT: 28

Major: Marketing and English

Goal: Make the dean's list; participate in clubs, choir, and dance

College

Status

Point Loma Nazarene University Attending
Boston University Denied
Saint Mary's College of California Accepted
San Francisco State University Accepted
Seattle Pacific University Accepted
University of San Francisco Accepted
Freshman Year Update

I love the supportive community here. But it is hard balancing social events, friends, and school. And, I failed a test for the first time (in microeconomics). After learning to study a little bit every day (instead of just before a test), I've seen a vast improvement in my grades.

Although PNLU is a Christian university, I am surprised by how many students have different views on religion, politics, and social issues, which I think is great. But there are also ministry and chapel requirements, and community service, so there is a lot to do. I de-stress with running, playing pool in the rec center, and hanging out on the beautiful campus — often on hammocks overlooking the ocean!

The biggest surprise is that it's actually pretty awesome going to college with my brother. It's nice having someone around who really knows me.

Not my brother's school

When I first visited Point Loma Nazarene University, I liked it a lot. The campus was beautiful and the business and communications programs were good. The only problem was that my brother was going there, and I was adamant that I wasn't going to follow in his footsteps. We are very different, but most people don't see that. I didn't want to be known as "Joshua's little sister" anymore.

Bound for Boston U

My dream school was Boston University, which I had visited my junior year. I loved the campus, its communications program, and, most of all, the city. I knew it was a reach school, not just academically but also financially since it was located across the country. But I wanted to apply anyway.

The rest of my colleges were mostly small, private Christian schools with good programs in my major areas of interest (business, marketing, and English). PNLU was on the list because it met my criteria, but I ignored it and spent more time researching my other schools. My second choice was Seattle Pacific. The idea of going to school in Seattle was exciting. It also had a great theater program. I really loved being involved in theater in high school and participating in the marketing and promotion of the shows.

Accepted and so . . . disappointed

I got into Saint Mary's College first. It was a safety school, and I was pretty happy, mostly because it was my first acceptance. Then I got into Seattle Pacific, and I wasn't that thrilled. I pretended I was, running to class to tell my teachers that I got in, but I knew I was kidding myself. All my friends had described feeling this tremendous happiness when they were accepted by one of their top choices. But I didn't feel that way. I told myself the way I felt wasn't important. Besides, I hadn't heard from my other schools yet.

A week later, I received a huge acceptance packet from Point Loma. This time, I actually jumped up and squealed, "I could totally be a Sea Lion!" My dad took a picture of me with the singing card that Point Loma sent. Funnily enough, I was wearing a PNLU sweatshirt. But soon after that, I disregarded my happiness because I still hadn't heard from BU. Then, at Disneyland of all places, I found out I was denied.

Getting serious about PNLU

A few days later, I evaluated my acceptances. After considering the academic programs, financial aid offers, clubs and organizations, and the way the community interacted on social media, my choice was between SPU and PNLU.

Now I got serious about PNLU. I talked to my brother's friends, other current students, and an admissions counselor. All the students I talked to had such positive experiences. I didn't like that I'd have to retake a math class, but everything else beat SPU: the study abroad options, the business school ranking, the smaller class sizes, even the weather. It was obvious that all this time, I was just being stubborn. PNLU was the right choice all along.

My ups and downs

It was a little surreal getting denied from BU at Disneyland. I had been waiting to hear from BU all day, but I put off checking my email because I didn't want to distract from all the fun. At dinner, I couldn't wait any longer and checked my phone. There it was: "Unfortunately we cannot accept you at this time." I turned to my mom and she just hugged me and said that after dinner we could get Mickey beignets because they make everything better!

But the truth was, I really was okay. I was definitely disappointed, but I just took it more as, "Well, I'm obviously not meant to go there." It would've been awesome to get in, but it wouldn't have been financially feasible to send me across the country.

The best moment was finally committing to Point Loma and admitting that it was a good fit for me.

What I learned

I was surprised how much I enjoyed applying to colleges. Managing school and my extracurriculars with my applications was much easier than I thought it was going to be. Most of all, I realized I wasn't choosing PNLU just to be like my brother. I had done my research, applied to different schools, evaluated my options, and chose the school that had the most to offer me.

Now, as much as I hate to admit it, I also realize it was helpful that my brother attended PNLU. Through him, I was able to experience the school, meet current students, and talk to students in my major. We're actually both excited about going to school together again and having the chance to be close.

The money factor

My cost of attendance (including room and board) is about $42,000 a year. My financial aid package includes grants, scholarships, and two loans, and covers a little more than half of the total cost.

My advice

Put a lot of time into your application, and ask for help if you need it. Don't put SAT vocab in your personal statement unless they're words you actually use comfortably. And don't be afraid to email or call your admissions counselor at the college. My counselor at PNLU was really helpful and answered any questions I had.