High Stakes: Chapter 3

By Catherine Wang

Alexis: the Athlete

“Not much has changed” on Alexis’s* front, she said. She is “keeping up with coaches” via e-mail and phone calls.

“We’re still going back and forth,” she said. “We communicate when we can.”

For most of the schools recruiting Alexis, recruited athletes do not need to complete the full application, so she has been balancing senior year classes with a demanding training schedule for her sport, which is “going well” so far.

“I feel like this year is the year I could choose classes I want to take,” she said. “So I’m really enjoying my classes.”

Madison: the Performer

Madison* decided that in addition to applying to Wesleyan University Early Decision, she will also apply to Emerson College Early Action.

“It was a personal decision,” she said. Emerson is a school Madison’s dean categorized as one she would “most likely” be accepted to, and Madison would like to have the comfort of knowing she is accepted to a school in December.

“It’s the same reason people apply to schools with rolling admission,” she explained.

Because Wesleyan does not have a supplement essay, Madison feels that she has the time to complete the essay Emerson requires for students applying to her chosen major.

“My Common App essay is almost done, so what more can I do for the Wesleyan application?” she said.

Madison took the SAT on Saturday and is continuing to put a lot of effort into her schoolwork.

“I guess I’m as confident as a senior can be about my grades right now,” she said.

Zoe: the Artist

As she expected, Zoe* has not yet finished her application essays for either New York University or Emerson College, both of which have Nov. 1 deadlines for early applications.

She has, however, finished her art portfolio, which is what she thinks will be a key component of her application. Neither NYU nor Emerson give alumni interviews, and she fulfilled her standardized testing requirement last year, so she is focusing mainly on schoolwork.

“We all know first quarter you have to work really hard, and I don’t want to jeopardize anything,” she said.

Based on her performance so far, Zoe thinks she will be happy with her grades at the end of first-quarter. Three of her classes are Advanced Placement courses. The course she has to put the most effort into is AP Economics, she said.

Two academic teachers will write recommendations for her, in addition to an art teacher and a professor from an art program she attended this summer.

“I’m really nervous,” Zoe said. “I hope my professor writes me a good one.”

Zoe’s dean thinks she is in “good shape,” especially given the strength of her portfolio.

“It’s totally different for me since I’m an art-based student,” she said.

At her summer program, Zoe worked with NYU professors and students on the material she compiled into her portfolio.

“I got feedback from people who are from NYU,” she said. “Hopefully it’s what NYU wants.”

Carter: the Brain

After one full month of school, Carter* is starting to realize that balancing a “tough senior course-load” with three early applications is not easy.

“It’s ultra stressful,” he said.

Carter is taking seven academic courses this year, all of which are Advanced Placement, Honors or Directed Studies. In the midst of his schoolwork, he dedicates 30 minutes each night to his applications by either writing new material or “strengthening” what he has already written.

“Each time I look at my applications, I think of something new I should say, or something I’ve said improperly and should say differently,” he said.

Carter has yet to do any of interviews. He plans on doing his MIT interview after submitting his application.

“I’m actually afraid that with the early deadlines, I may not get enough time with each application that I initially thought I would,” he said.

Aiden: All-Around

While most of his peers are frantically completing early applications and striving for respectable first quarter grades, Aiden*, who will not apply anywhere early, is “not really stressed out.”

Seeing his friends and classmates in “panic-mode” and knowing he has more time to “think things through” makes him more confident in his decision not to apply early.

Aiden has been making progress with his applications, having moved from the brainstorming phase of his Common Application essay to the writing phase. He has also started the University of Michigan supplement.

“I’m getting the grades I anticipated,” he said. “So that’s a good thing. I’m pretty satisfied with that.”

As of now, Aiden’s college list has nine schools on it, including University of Michigan, University of Southern California, and University of Pennsylvania.

*names have been changed

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