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Michael - Boston University - Class of 2009

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As I worked through my applications, I was really surprised to learn how independent I could be. If I can do that, I told myself, I can live on my own.

Because I am paying for college myself, I managed the whole process myself. It seemed scary starting out. I was the first in my family to go to college. I didn't understand what colleges were looking for and how to present myself to them. But as I worked through my applications, I was really surprised to learn how independent I could be. If I can do that, I told myself, I can live on my own.

Hometown: Erial NJ

High School: Private

GPA: 4.0 / 5.0 (weighted)

SAT: 1160*

ACT: 28

Major: Business Management

Goal: Law school or MBA

*Writing score not included

College

Status

Boston UniversityAttending
American UniversityAccepted
Boston CollegeDenied
Freshman Year Update

I had no idea what it would be like to have so much freedom. There's no one to tell you what to do. I did alright my freshman year but plan to work harder on academics next year. I was set on law school but wonder now if going into management might be a better deal. I might become a sports agent.

Sophomore Year Update

I have started my major classes in Business Administration and am working hard to bring up my GPA. I am looking forward to a class where I develop a product as part of an eight-person team. Next year I will be an RA for one of the freshman dorms and that will get me out enjoying Boston more often!

I choose the city, then the schools

I had some exposure to an actual college campus when I went to the New Jersey Boys State Conference at Rider University. I liked Rider, but it was too close to home. I wanted to experience what it would be like to live immersed in a big city far from home. Boston was my top city, so I applied to Boston College and Boston University. I also became interested in American University, since it was in another city I liked, Washington, DC. The CollegeData site showed me I was likely to get in there, so I applied.

Financial aid is the icing on the cake

When I visited Boston College, I realized that being close to a city was not enough for me. BC is about half an hour outside Boston. I wanted to be smack in the middle of a city. Boston University has an urban campus. The whole city is accessible on public transportation. Sure, the campus is not that pretty—it is mostly cement—but I felt right at home there.

So I chose Boston University. First, it was my number one school. Second, it was the only school that offered me financial aid. The award was like the icing on the cake. I got into my number one with aid, so I was ecstatic. My other choice, American University, offered no aid at all.

My ups and downs

The most challenging part of applying to colleges was keeping focused. I took my time filling out applications and researching schools. The college application class I took senior year was a big help holding my feet to the fire. We had to fill out apps, write an essay, research colleges and careers, and apply to three schools. This helped me get going.

Before I got my BU offer, I was turned down for all scholarships and aid, even at my dad's work, which I was counting on. My first acceptance was American University, and they did not offer any aid. The $45,000-per-year price tag was pretty scary.

What I learned

Don't drag your feet with your applications. The sooner you turn them in, the better. You can relax, and it might improve your chances of getting in and getting financial aid.

The money factor

I am paying for school myself through loans (90%), grants, and part-time work as an intramural sports referee here at BU. The financial aid was not the most important factor but helped to solidify my decision to go to BU.

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