Camilla - New York University - Class of 2021

Camilla - Class of 2021
Not working on my supplemental essays until Christmas break resulted in many late nights, reading and editing my writing until I felt sick.

I've been a competitive figure skater for eleven years and an ice skating coach since the age of 15. While I felt my ice skating was an unusual hook, my high school grades put me at a big disadvantage.

  • Hometown: Centreville, VA
  • High School: Public
  • GPA: 3.35/3.85 (weighted)
  • SAT: 1310
  • Major: Education Studies
  • Goal: Work hard, get good grades, continue skating and coaching

Freshman Year Update

NYU is absolutely crazy, fun, and overwhelming. The city is our campus, and with all the restaurants, famous landmarks, and museums (that are free or discounted for students), my curiosity never stops. But it can be hard to find a quiet place to study or sleep.

Some of my classes are huge—300 students—so I don't feel a personal connection with many of my professors. But academically, I find myself working harder and feeling more motivated than I ever did in high school. I decided to change my major from Education to Economics, but this was difficult. I had to apply to the new major—submitting a qualifying GPA and an essay. Eventually, I was allowed to switch, but I was stressed about it the entire year.

Skating with the NYU team was really fun, but I have officially retired from skating due to the time commitment required and a chronic injury. I will continue to coach over the summer.

Spinning on ice, slipping in grades

During freshman year, the transition to high school sort of hit me like a train. I thought I could get straight A's without studying, like I did in middle school, but I was wrong. I finished sophomore year with a 2.8 unweighted GPA. While I managed to turn things around junior year, my overall GPA was still low for the schools I wanted to apply to: top universities with outstanding academics, renowned professors—and nearby ice rinks.

Procrastination prevails

At the beginning of my senior year, my first priority wasn't applying to college; it was training for a regional skating competition. I planned to start my applications after that, but I had to take a sudden trip to China to visit my grandmother who was ill. Upon returning, homework from several classes had piled up, so in addition to working on my apps, I needed to complete extra homework to maintain my semester grades.

Soon, things started to feel insanely stressful. To cope, I stayed up late reading threads on college admissions forums rather than finishing my homework. I wanted someone to tell me that I had a chance at a top college, but it ended up stressing me out even more.

Essay anxiety strikes

Despite my stress, I managed to finish my personal statement. It was about my passion for figure skating and I planned to use the same essay for all of my colleges. Then I read samples of other people's personal statements online and realized that mine was nowhere near as good. With only a few weeks left until my regular decision deadlines, I completely changed my essay and wrote about my passion for teaching skating instead.

By the time I finished the essay, I had to study for midterms. So I put off working on my 15 supplemental essays until Christmas break, which gave me only a few days. This resulted in many late nights, reading and editing my writing until I felt sick.

Rejected at every turn

Hearing back from colleges was absolute torture. I was denied by 11 schools. I had one acceptance: to George Mason University. It was a great school for my major, but it was just 15 minutes from my house, and I didn't want to attend college so close to home. NYU was the last school I was waiting to hear from. But after being rejected by 11 colleges, I thought how could NYU possibly want me if no other school did?

Days later, coming home on the school bus, I logged into the NYU housing portal and noticed that my status had changed from "summer housing" to "undergraduate freshman" and I immediately knew what it meant! After reading my actual acceptance letter at my house, the first thing I did was call my parents. They were just as ecstatic as I was, and I could barely manage to hold back my tears of joy. Finally, one of my top choices wanted me!

My ups and downs

Hearing that my friends had gotten into top universities while I was getting rejected from schools left and right really hurt my self-esteem. It was especially painful when they got into schools that had denied me.

Getting my acceptance to NYU was probably one of the most shocking, happy, exciting moments I've ever felt in my life. After that, the rejections from the other schools no longer mattered.

What I learned

Now I realize that given my GPA, I should have applied to more match and safety schools and fewer reaches. Yet college admissions can be extremely unpredictable. For example, two friends of mine with much better grades than me were denied from NYU when I was accepted.

The whole college admission process helped me realize that I need to be more realistic about my time and my goals. If I want to do well in college, I'm going to need to manage my time better and not procrastinate!

The money factor

I was lucky enough to get a $30,000 scholarship from NYU and a large sum of money from the tuition assistance program at my dad's workplace. The rest will come from my parents and student loans.

My advice

Learn from my mistakes and start the application process early. Studying for the SATs and writing your essays the summer before senior year will not only give you more time to prepare, it will also lift a great burden off your shoulders during your last year of high school, which I promise you will need.