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Joelle - Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison - Class of 2013

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I would definitely consider applying to colleges in big college towns because you get a really fun college experience. The entire town revolves around your school.

I wanted to go somewhere out of state that was a large school in a college town. I wanted big school spirit, a fun social life, and strong academics. I wanted to get away from California, get to know new sorts of people, and experience the seasons. I really liked the vibe in the Midwest and thought people were extremely nice. I was ready for a fresh start.

Hometown: Los Angeles CA

High School: Public

GPA: 3.50 / 3.60 (weighted)

SAT: 1730

Major: Undecided

Goal: Study hard. Play hard.

College

Status

University of Wisconsin-Madison Attending
Indiana University Bloomington Waitlisted
Penn State University Park Accepted
San Diego State University Accepted
University of Arizona Accepted
University of Colorado at Boulder Accepted
University of Florida Denied
University of Iowa Accepted
University of Oregon Accepted
West Virginia University Accepted
Freshman Year Update

I am really excited about college. I wish it could last forever. The social scene is outstanding, but on the other hand, everyone studies hard. The downs have been the weather—it's cold to me, coming from California. And taking required courses is annoying because I have no interest in some of them. But being away from home really helps me figure out who I am and how to live on my own. Living in the dorms forces me to socialize with people I might never have talked to in high school. I never realized how different people are and how much you can get along with someone even though you are completely different. My advice to freshmen: be as social as you can by meeting tons of new people, but balance that out by always making it to class (even if that means Friday mornings)!

Looking for big fun in a big school

I decided to apply to four Big Ten Conference schools, including University of Wisconsin where my brother goes. As backups, I chose three other schools that seemed to have the features I wanted but were closer to home. My mother made me apply to one school in state in case we had big money issues. West Virginia University and University of Florida were random choices I picked because they are big party schools.

It comes down to Wisconsin

After getting into my first choice, Penn State, I was very disappointed to find out that I was accepted for the summer semester instead of the fall semester. My parents were already concerned that Penn State was more expensive than the other schools that accepted me. Starting in the summer meant I would be taking an extra semester, which would add to the cost. Then I looked at University of Iowa and University of Wisconsin and decided Wisconsin was a better fit for me. I felt more connected to the place because my mom went there and my brother goes there. I love everything about the school: the fun college town, big school spirit, a huge campus with infinite possibilities, fun social life, and a reasonable cost for an out-of-state college.

My ups and downs

Because I applied to ten schools out of state, I had to change all of my essays over and over because none of the schools accepted the Common Application. This made the process longer and more challenging. On a positive note, I believe that I ended up with the best outcome possible. I definitely don't think about Penn State anymore because I am so excited about Wisconsin now.

What I learned

I started the application process in early October. Since some of my schools had rolling admissions, I had acceptances by November. I knew much more about my status in the college application process much sooner than everyone else. It was a really good feeling to have.

I would definitely consider applying to colleges in big college towns because you get a really fun college experience at these schools. The entire town revolves around your school, there is a lot of downtown night life, and there is an active sorority and fraternity scene to help you make friends and have fun. It could be the best time of your life!

The money factor

Luckily my parents are taking care of that, while I use my own money for spending to go out at night or any shopping that I might want to do.

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