Philip - Amherst College - Class of 2011
student photo

I put many match schools on my list plus a few Ivies and safeties. Since I was applying to highly competitive schools, I thought it was a way to beat the randomness of admissions.

Because I attended a highly competitive magnet high school, my senior year course load was extremely rigorous. Writing more than 10 college essays—on top of school work, sports, extracurricular activities, and a job—was the most stressful experience of my life to date.

Hometown: Garfield NJ

High School: Public

GPA: 3.7 (weighted)

SAT: 2230

ACT: 33

Major: Biology

Goal: Medical school



Amherst College Attending
Bates College Waitlisted
Bowdoin CollegeAccepted
Claremont McKenna CollegeAccepted
Colby CollegeAccepted
Cornell University Waitlisted
Dartmouth College Denied
Emory University Waitlisted
Georgetown University Denied
Pomona College Waitlisted
Rollins College Accepted
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Accepted
University of Pennsylvania (ED) Denied
University of Richmond Accepted
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia Accepted
Yale University Denied
Freshman Year Update

I doubt I could be any more satisfied with my college decision. Every factor that influenced my decision to go to Amherst has made my experience an amazing one. The classes are small and interesting, with professors who care about teaching and are extremely approachable outside of the classroom. Plus the Amherst student population is a diverse group of driven young adults who study hard but still like to have some fun. While my major is still undeclared, I am continuing to pursue the pre-med path at Amherst. In the end, I know that I made the perfect college choice!

Sophomore Year Update

My second year at Amherst has been even better than the first. I know how things work, I have my friends and a vague idea of what classes to take. I think it is important, especially at a small school like Amherst, to not get too comfortable, though. This year I've really focused on broadening my experience. I joined student government and will be acting as treasurer next year. I also joined the crew team. My new activities have allowed me to broaden my friend group and my overall involvement in the Amherst community. My sophomore year has been so enjoyable because I've pushed myself to keep meeting new people and join new clubs.

My college list grows—and grows

Growing up across from New York City, I knew I did not want to go to a big city school like NYU or Columbia. But what did I want? In the beginning I was awed by colleges with amazing faculty and superb facilities. As time passed, I realized I wanted a school where the faculty is there to teach and the students are there to learn. I wanted to recognize all my classmates. I wanted professors who devote their time to their undergraduate students. This led me to more seriously consider small liberal arts schools and I added more of those to my list.

I wound up applying to fifteen schools. Why so many? I put many match schools on my list plus a few Ivies and safeties. Since I was applying to highly competitive schools, I thought it was a way to beat the randomness of admissions. A few of the schools had rolling decisions or offered a free no-essay application, so I applied because it was easy. Admittedly, I put much more time into my applications to schools like Amherst and Claremont McKenna than my safeties or the Ivies, which were on the list just for the sake of applying.

Three great choices

I narrowed the field of colleges which had accepted me down to Bowdoin, Claremont McKenna, and Amherst. I first eliminated Claremont McKenna due to the expense of traveling to California (and maybe because my mother cried every time she thought of me living so far away!). I decided that Bowdoin would not be the right fit because I heard that it has an outdoorsy feel, and I am not much of an outdoors person.

Then an overnight visit to Amherst sealed the deal. The students have an amazing ability to manage work and play. Also, it is in a consortium of five other colleges, which means it offers the same resources as a high-level university. And lastly, Amherst is committed to a student body that is not only ethnically diverse but also socioeconomically diverse. The idea of going to a school actively solving the education gap in America really impressed me.

My ups and downs

Besides surviving applying to college, getting rejected by all my Ivy League schools was tough. I refreshed the Cornell admissions page for four hours, only to find out I was waitlisted.

What I learned

I was admitted to the schools whose essays I put the most effort into. It just goes to show that the essays are one of the most important parts of applying to extremely competitive schools.

My interest in medicine/biology was quite clear in my application. I have attended numerous medical summer programs and participated in internships that have solidified my intention on being a pre-med student. This might have helped me out.

The money factor

Ultimately, money was a slight factor in my decision. All of the schools that I considered attending gave me very generous financial aid packages.