Ethan - Indiana University - Class of 2020

"Don’t base your college decision on first impressions. The second and third visits really made up my mind."
  • Hometown: Lawrenceburg, IN
  • High School: Public
  • GPA: 3.3/3.54 (weighted)
  • SAT: 1740
  • ACT: 26
  • Major: Marketing and Finance
  • Goals: Get a great education, study abroad, take advantage of everything a big university offers


Getting waitlisted at my dream school turned out to be for the best. During the time I spent waiting for a decision, I found the right school for me.

It’s U-Minnesota all the way

When I started looking at colleges, I only considered geographic location. Loyola University was my top choice, simply because I wanted to live in Chicago. But then I toured University of Minnesota and everything changed. As soon as I stepped on U of M’s campus, I was in love. I saw all that a big university has to offer, and how important school spirit was to me. But most of all, U of M felt like home. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.

My test scores were below average for U of M for my intended program (premed). But I applied anyway because almost every class I took in high school was AP, college, or honors. I also had 11 extracurriculars (leadership in two), community service, varsity athletics, and job experience. I hoped my record would show that, although I didn't get straight A's in all my courses, I was able to balance everything I did.

No News is Bad News?

I sent in my U of M application at the end of August and also applied early to Indiana University, Purdue, and Loyola. By November, I had heard from everyone (with acceptances!), except for U of M. It was great to be accepted to three colleges before Christmas break, but I thought not hearing from U of M was a bad sign. I continued to keep in touch with the U of M admissions office, so they realized how interested I was in attending.

In January, I still hadn’t heard from Minnesota, so I toured Purdue and Indiana University. I had visited Indiana once before, just one week after I toured U of M. But at that time, I was so in love with Minnesota, I was underwhelmed. On my second visit, Indiana really stood out. I liked that the campus was right in downtown Bloomington. Most of all, I loved the school spirit. I could tell that the students were really proud of IU and loved cheering on the Cream & Crimson.

An IU backup plan

In April, I was waitlisted at U of M. I was surprised--because I was expecting to be denied. Now I had a glimmer of hope that I’d still get in. But I decided to commit to Indiana, just in case things didn’t work out. I could always withdraw.

More time passed with no movement on the U of M waitlist. By now, I had attended an event at IU for admitted students, had gotten to know some of my classmates and professors, and found a roommate. I had gradually discovered more and more things I liked about IU (some, even more than U of M). I knew I would get a great education at IU, and it was a fraction of the cost of attending Minnesota as a non-resident. Finally, I realized that I no longer wanted to go to U of M, even if I were accepted. I was staying with Indiana!

My Ups and Downs

When I was officially denied by U of M in May, it really broke me. Even though I had committed to IU, it was disappointing to know that I couldn’t have gone to Minnesota either way. I remember sitting at my desk and thinking, “Why am I not good enough? What could I have done differently?” Then I thought, U of M is just one college. Nine others accepted me. I must have something good going for me or they would have said no, too.

Later, I felt like everything had happened for a reason. Over the summer, I decided to change my major from premed to finance and marketing, and I discovered Indiana had one of the top business programs in the country. I had definitely ended up in the right place.

What I learned

Don’t base your decision on first impressions. I’m really glad I visited IU a second and third time, because those visits really made up my mind. Most of all, I learned that if I trust myself and trust my gut, things will usually work out.

The Money Factor

My parents and I are using savings to cover some college costs. I also received a few scholarships from local organizations. The rest will come from loans.

My Advice

My grades and scores put me “on the fence” at most of the colleges I wanted to attend. If you feel like you’re below the average for a college you really want to go to, apply anyway. You never know what the admission counselors will see in you.



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