A year ago, if you had asked me where I would be attending college next year, I would have named three or four high-ranked options, most of which were far away from my high school. One thing is for sure, I would not have said I'd be going to community college. I did all of the things you're supposed to do – I toured the schools on my list, got recommendations from teachers who liked me and turned most of my applications in early. But my admissions story ended differently than I expected, and I'm sharing my story because I think it might be able to help other people who haven't applied to college yet.
When I applied to college, I had a 3.7 unweighted GPA and a 4.2 weighted. My SAT super score was a 1280. I had taken four AP classes and planned two more for my senior year. I was a member of National Honor Society and Key Club, and was the manager of my school's soccer team. I was also active in running 5Ks on the weekends.
I applied to college as an undecided major, and had four schools on my list: University of South Carolina, Tulane, North Carolina State and Elon University.
I felt good about my list because my brother had similar stats to me and had applied to these schools (plus two others) a few years ago and got into all of them. My parents agreed that this was a good plan. I knew I had a slightly lower chance at Tulane than the others, but my father and all his brothers went there, so I figured that might help.
My counselor did suggest that I add another safety to my list and I considered that, but I decided that if I couldn't get into one of these schools, I would then apply to an easier school with a later deadline. I had a “B" list of colleges that had late deadlines that I thought I would be able to get into. One of them was East Carolina and another was Appalachian State. I live in North Carolina so they would also be considered financial safeties for me.
Like everyone else, I was pretty anxious waiting for my decisions, especially when kids whose stats were better than mine started getting denied from schools that seemed to be on the same level as the ones where I had applied. In some cases, my classmates were getting rejections from even easier schools. So I was definitely sweating.
I got my University of South Carolina denial first. Then I got my Tulane denial. A week or so later, I got the NC State denial. I had applied regular decision to Elon, so I knew I wouldn't hear from there until March. But by this point, I knew my chances were not great.
So in early February, I toured ECU and App State – they were my late deadline safety schools. But when I toured them, I didn't feel like either of them would be the right fit for me. There wasn't anything wrong with them, I just couldn't see myself there.
After a week or two of thinking about it and touring NC State again, I decided that if I didn't get into Elon, I would attend community college for a year or two and then transfer into NC State. By that point, I had decided that I wanted to major in civil engineering, and NC State has a good reputation for that. I really like the feel of the campus there and it just felt like where I should be.
As I'm sure you've guessed by now, I did not get into Elon. So I will be starting at community college this fall.
I don't know if there's a lesson here for me, because now that I know I want to go into engineering, I think NC State is the right choice for me, and community college will help me get there. But if I was still an undecided major, I think the lesson would be to base the college list on better data than where my brother got in four years ago and my parents' approval. I should have gone further in depth about the stats and numbers from last year to see where I lined up. If I had done that, I would have known that I needed way more safety schools and shouldn't have chanced it.
*This student wrote this article using a pseudonym because he didn't want fellow students to know his GPA, SAT and other details.
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