Alexa - Eastern Michigan University - Class of 2021

My deferral felt worse than a denial. I wasn't in, but I wasn't not in. It was torture until I got my final decision.

I've been excited about going to college since middle school, and my dream was to go to the University of Michigan. It had everything: My ideal college town (Ann Arbor), academic rigor and prestige, and an in-state price tag. I've had a Michigan Law T-shirt since I was 11!

  • Hometown: Monroe, MI
  • High School: Public
  • GPA: 3.88/3.92 (weighted)
  • SAT: 1220
  • Major: Political Science
  • Goal: Attend an Ivy League Law school then work in politics

Making my own opportunities

Coming from a small, rural public school with only three AP classes, I worried that I was behind other applicants academically, and my test scores were not as good as they should have been. But I had made my own opportunities, especially in local politics. I worked on a congressional campaign. I was on the Governor's Cabinet for Michigan Youth in Government (which is comparable to Girl's State). I also played first-chair flute in band and participated in honors band.

Besides Michigan, I liked women's colleges on the East Coast, like Wellesley and Smith. But as I learned more about the costs of attending college far from home, I added more in-state schools to my list. My second choice in Michigan was Kalamazoo College, a small, private school with a great political science department. I thought it was a really good fit. But all throughout the tour, my father kept saying under his breath "This is too expensive." So I knew that even if I stayed in-state, I was going to have to consider cost.

Early action disappointment

My two best friends and I applied early action to Michigan. On the day decisions arrived, I got an email from each of them—they had gotten in! So I checked for my decision—and I was deferred. I was really upset. My deferral felt worse than a denial. I wasn't in, but I wasn't not in. It was going to be torture until I got my regular admission decision.

Meanwhile, I had been accepted to Eastern Michigan University. They gave me a large merit scholarship, acceptance to the honors college, and an invitation to tour the campus. So I decided to visit, even though EMU was my absolute last choice. When I arrived at EMU, I learned this was a private tour designed around my interests. I met other students, sat in on political science classes, and met faculty in the music program, pre-law department, mock trial team, and study abroad program. At the end of the tour, my attitude had changed. I wanted to go to EMU!

Wolverine Waitlist, then a surprise

My decision from University of Michigan came two days later: I was waitlisted. Of course I was disappointed. But I was okay. At EMU, I might be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, not just another smart kid in a huge school. Plus, with the merit aid EMU was offering, I wouldn't need to work while I'm in school or graduate in debt.

To my surprise, I received a letter from the University of Michigan a few weeks later, inviting me to transfer sophomore year! I'm thrilled to have this option, but I'll just have to see how things go at EMU. Right now, I am beyond excited for my new adventure at Eastern, and I don't think I'll want to transfer. Only one person from EMU has attended Harvard Law School, and I'm planning to be number two. Go Green!

My ups and downs

I was really upset to be deferred from U of M right before Christmas. I checked for my regular decision pretty much hourly every day from December to March. It was really stressful and I cried. I think the hardest part was how everyone was so surprised that I wasn't accepted to Michigan. To this day people still ask me if I am going there!

The highlight of my experience was the private tour I was given at EMU. It made me see myself there, and that I would enjoy it. I was surprised and flattered that the tour was based on my interests. I felt special, and I wanted to go to EMU not just for the price, but for the opportunities.

What I learned

Don't overlook honors colleges. EMU's honors program is basically a small prestigious college within a large university. It has a small community, and I think it will be easier for me to build relationships with my professors. One has already offered to help me with research.

The money factor

From EMU I received a $6,500 annual scholarship and a $1,250 alumni legacy scholarship. I also received more than $3,000 in personal scholarships and plan to work part-time on campus with the Office of Government Relations. My final cost comes in around $10,000, which my parents can afford.

My advice

Be involved in high school and form good relationships with your teachers and counselors, not only for recommendations, but because they are great people to have in your life for support.