Michelle - Villanova University - Class of 2018

Michelle - Class of 2018
Receiving six waitlist letters in a row definitely crushed me. I just wanted the whole process to be over.

Applying to college was one of the most stressful things I have ever been through. I thought I would get into at least some of my top choices. But I was wrong.

  • Hometown: Quincy, MA
  • High School: Public
  • GPA: 3.90 / 4.45 (weighted)
  • ACT: 30
  • Major: Biology
  • Goal: Meet new friends and pursue my love for science and music

Freshman Year Update

Move-in day was exciting, but after my family left, I started feeling homesick, and I had trouble making friends at first. Even at orientation, it seemed like everyone had already found their "friend group." I made a few friends in my dorm, but I found my closest friends in class. My Spanish class was especially great. There were only ten students, so everyone got to know each other really well.

I like Villanova's small community and that everything I need is on campus—even a cinema. But the best thing is having time to think about who I am and what I want to do with my life—away from the opinions of others. I always thought I would become a doctor, but I am interested in computer science, so I plan to take some computer courses next semester. I might change my major to bioinformatics.

Sophomore Year Update

This year, I took some higher level biology courses and the notorious organic chemistry! While the number of assignments and exams significantly increased, it was manageable. I was even admitted to the honors program.

I was considering a career in bioinformatics. But after shadowing a medical geneticist during winter break, I found that I enjoyed interacting with patients more than conducting research. Now I'm considering becoming a pediatric geneticist.

One of the great things about Villanova is how service is incorporated into campus life. This year I took a class on homelessness and volunteered with UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, and a campus group that delivers food from the dining hall to local shelters. This summer, I plan to volunteer at a hospice and gain clinical experience through an internship.

Junior Year Update

The best part of my junior year was living in the campus apartments with my friends and being surrounded by people I care about. But I overloaded my schedule both semesters to meet the requirements of my major (biology) and my two minors (Spanish and Computer Science). As a result, I slept much less! Taking Chinese calligraphy was a nice break and helped me explore my cultural roots.

Although I find Villanova lacking in ethnic diversity, I've been able to interact with people of different backgrounds and circumstances through volunteering. So far, I've worked at a hospice, a summer camp for people with muscular dystrophy, a hospital in Guatemala, and a nursing home. I've enjoyed learning the value of patient care in these different settings. But most of all, these experiences solidified my passion for providing comfort and reassurance to others.

Unlucky 13

At the beginning of my senior year, I found my dream school, Colgate University. It had everything I wanted: a quiet and isolated campus, a small student population, a great research facility, and rigorous academics. When I visited, I immediately liked the community and the way everyone seemed to know each other. I applied to Colgate early decision and hoped for the best.

One day in December, my mom picked me up from school. When I got into the car, she turned around and told me that there were many other schools out there; Colgate wasn't the only one. Then she handed me the rejection letter. To my surprise, I wasn't too upset. I had some doubts that I'd get accepted. Next, I scrambled to finish my supplements for 13 other schools. I felt rushed, and some of the essays were not the best I could have done.

A few weeks later, I was accepted by my three safety schools—and I was thrilled. I still hoped I'd get in to my second choice (Lehigh) or my third (Brandeis). But everything went downhill from there. I was denied or waitlisted from every other college on my list.

Saved by a waitlist

Reluctantly, I sent my deposit to U-Mass Amherst. I knew it was an amazing school, and they had given me a lot of financial aid, but I just couldn't see myself there. It was the complete opposite of what I wanted. Besides being huge, almost 30 percent of my graduating class was going there. I wanted college to be a time when I could start on a blank page and meet new people. I searched U-Mass on Google every day hoping I would find something that would change my perspective, but I couldn't.

Meanwhile, my guidance counselor asked me to research my waitlist schools to find out which one I liked most. Guess what? I found my new Colgate! It was Villanova! I fell in love with its campus, student body, and most of all, what the school stood for: unity and faith. I am not religious, but I found something appealing in the school's values and in the way students were engaged in helping their community. I wrote to Villanova expressing my interest. I included my latest report card and an updated resume, which highlighted my recent participation in the regional and state science fairs. Then, I memorized Villanova's phone number just in case they called.

Soon it was the second-to-last week of my senior year. In physics class, I checked my phone and saw a message from a number with a 610 area code—it was Villanova! My heart started to race. I quickly listened to the message and sure enough, I was accepted off the waitlist! I ran to my best friend to tell her the news, and we both jumped around screaming. I am now a Wildcat!

My ups and downs

I thought I would be done with the whole college process in December, after applying early decision to Colgate. But I had to wait for regular decisions, and then waitlist decisions! I just wanted it all to be over. Then, receiving six waitlist letters in a row definitely crushed me. It helped to join online college forums and talk to other students who were in the same position.

Other than getting into Villanova, my best moment was when I got into my first school, Emmanuel College. Although it was a safety school, it was rewarding to open that acceptance letter.

What I learned

Not everything works out the way you want it to, and that's just life. I learned to be more optimistic, and that sometimes, good things come to those who wait!

The money factor

I received financial aid from Villanova covering some of the tuition and expenses. My parents are paying for one fourth of the remaining cost, and I am paying for the rest with loans and savings.

My advice

If you don't get into your top-choice college, it's not the end of the world. Use it as a learning experience. Every bump in the road just makes you stronger.