Brandon - University of Delaware - Class of 2017

student photo

I received three waitlist letters on the same day. But I wasn't even upset. I knew that University of Delaware was the place for me!

Colleges began recruiting me for rowing in my freshman year of high school. I was thrilled to be recruited by Cornell. When I visited, the crew coach seemed very interested in having me on his team—all I needed to do was get admitted.

Hometown: Allison Park PA

High School: Public

GPA: 3.90 / 4.15 (weighted)

SAT: 1920

Major: Accounting and finance

Goal: To be known by faculty as an outstanding student



University of DelawareAttending
University (EA)
College (EA)
Miami UniversityAccepted
Saint Joseph's
University (EA)
University of RichmondWaitlisted
Villanova University (EA)Deferred/
Wake Forest
University (EA)
Freshman Year Update

The best part about college is the independence, but you need a high degree of self-control. For example, going out the night before a calculus test isn't a wise idea (learned that lesson the hard way, never again.) The hardest part was managing my time, since I devote three hours to rowing practice every day. But once I got into a routine it was easy.

When you start college, everyone is on the same page as you, so naturally they are looking to make new friends as well. I suggest joining a few clubs or sports early and not underestimating the friendships that can be formed there. Living in a dorm has been a space adjustment, but there's a real sense of camaraderie on my floor. My best financial advice is to apply for a credit card. If you pay off the entire balance every month, it is a great way to build your credit score. (Yes, I am a finance major!)

Cornell with caution

While the crew coach at Cornell was encouraging—and even offered to review my essays—he was also very clear that crew coaches didn't have much pull in the admissions office. He could only guarantee that if I got into Cornell, I would be on the rowing team. He suggested that I apply early decision so that my interest would stand out in the admissions office.

Since Cornell is so competitive, I applied to eight more colleges that had contacted me about crew. Of these, Villanova University was my first choice. I liked Villanova's suburban location outside of Philadelphia and was especially interested in its finance club, where students are given a portion of the college's endowment to manage. I decided to apply to Villanova and three other colleges early action, and the rest regular decision.

On Cornell's early decision day, I raced home from work to check its website. I took a deep breath before I pressed the "login" button—and was greeted with a screen informing me of my rejection. I let out a loud sigh. I had spent so much time on Cornell's application. It felt like all that hard work was for nothing. But honestly, I was not surprised. I told myself that all Ivy League schools are fiercely competitive, and I would have to find my niche somewhere else.

A few days later, I was deferred by Villanova to its regular decision pool. It felt like my worst moment. But I couldn't wallow in my sorrows. It was really hard to find the motivation to complete my next three applications, but I did. Now I just had to wait. I was still counting on getting accepted to Villanova.

Finding another niche

In mid-March, I finally got some good news. I was accepted to University of Delaware and decided to visit. As soon as I set foot on campus, I loved it. I met a member of the crew team who was also a business major and asked him all kinds of questions. He raved about how the classes at Delaware are very relevant to the real world. In fact, I noticed that one part of the business school featured a Bloomberg terminal, just like on Wall Street. And, like at Villanova, students in the business school could manage part of the college's endowment! With all the social opportunities the university offered in addition to the academics and the crew team, it seemed like the perfect balance of college life and school. I could really see myself spending four years there.

After returning from Delaware, I received three waitlist letters on the same day—including one from Villanova. To my surprise, I was not even upset. I knew that Delaware was the place for me! I quickly joined their Class of 2017 Facebook group and began communicating with my future classmates.

My ups and downs

Besides finding my fit at Delaware, the best moment was getting accepted to St. Joseph's University and Xavier University with scholarships. Even though those were my backup schools, it felt great to be wanted.

On the downside, I had some difficulty with my parents, who tried hard to sell me on their alma mater, Miami University. When I toured the campus, I didn't like it. It was too rural for me. But I applied anyway and was accepted. My parents wanted to make sure I was making the right decision, so they asked me to visit Miami again. I still didn't like it. In fact, after the visit I was reassured that Delaware was the right choice. Even though my parents told me that the decision was mine to make, and they wanted me to do what was best for me, it was still hard to see them disappointed.

What I learned

The trials and tribulations I endured during the college admissions process helped shape me as a person and motivated me to perform my best in college. I also learned I'm not as bad at writing essays as I thought!

The money factor

I am paying for school partially with a grant from Delaware. My parents will cover the rest.

My advice

Start your application essays early. I started mine as soon as the Common Application released the essay topics on August 1. Having others proofread my essays was time-consuming but really worth it. Finally, work hard those first three years of high school because grades matter at competitive colleges, then follow your heart and apply where you want to go.

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