High Stakes: Chapter 6

By Catherine Wang

Madison the Performer:

Madison* was accepted to Wesleyan University through its Early Decision II application round. She was deferred to Wesleyan’s Early Decision II application round after applying Early Decision.

She checked her admissions decision Monday in her dean’s office.

“It was just me and her between fifth and sixth,” Madison said. “It was amazing. I’m really, really excited.”

Madison was also accepted to Emerson College through its Early Action program in December.

“It was a safety school,” she said. “But it felt good to get in.”

She did not feel that writing applications was stressful, she said.

“Obviously it’s a lot of work,” she said, “But it’s better than homework.”

Madison described her second semester as “really fun” so far.

“The workload hasn’t changed,” she said, “But you don’t feel stressed, so it’s more enjoyable.”

Aiden the All-Around:

Aiden,* who did not apply to any school through an early application program, ended up applying to 15 schools regular decision.

“Other than the four University of California campuses I applied to and the Universdity of Southern California, they are mostly in the Midwest and East Coast,” he said. “I have trouble remembering all of them.”

Of those schools, none stand out as front-runners, he said. He was accepted to the University of California in Riverside two weeks ago. He learned of his acceptance through e-mail and then received a package in the mail.

“It took me a while to realize what was going on,” he said, “It’s slowly sinking into my mind like ‘woah, I got into college’.”

Aiden dedicated the majority of his winter break to writing college applications, admitting that he is a “last-minute kind of kid.”

“I found it really hard to focus on writing an application and I felt a lot more motivated at the last minute to get it done,” he said. “It worked out – I don’t think I blew it on any application.”

The application he had the most trouble with was for the University of Michigan. He submitted the application two days before the school’s Feb. 1 application deadline.

Now that Aiden has finished his applications, his work habits remain unchanged, he said.

“I’ve been slacking since after first quarter,” he said. Aiden admits that his “great first quarter grades” have slipped, but not to a point that he is worried.

“They aren’t as flashy as before”, he said, “but I want to just keep them where they are now.”

Zoe the Artist:

Zoe* was accepted to New York University and Emerson College through the schools’ early application programs and will be attending NYU. She left her phone in the car the day both schools’ admissions decisions were released so that she would not be tempted to check her e-mail.

“That didn’t really help, since I couldn’t concentrate the entire day,” she said. “I was looking at the clock the entire day.”

Immediately after the school day ended, she went to her car to check her e-mail on her phone.

“I saw the NYU one and I skipped over it because I was so nervous,” she said, “I finally clicked on it and all I saw was ‘honor,’ ‘privilege’ and ‘congratulations.’”

Zoe said she “freaked out” and forgot about checking her Emerson admissions decision. She checked several hours later, and was happy to find out that she was accepted.

Zoe’s acceptances to NYU and Emerson did not affect her winter break, since she submitted the regular decision applications to University of Southern California, Chapman University and Wesleyan University before the early admissions decisions were released.

She withdrew those applications after being accepted to NYU and Emerson.

Zoe admits that she is more relaxed with her schoolwork now that second semester has begun.

“I’m not as anxious about my grades,” she said, “Now I know where I’m going. If I get a C, it won’t be like I won’t get into college.”

Alexis the Athlete:

Alexis* was accepted to St. Mary’s College through its Early Decision program. She received her admissions decision through a letter sent from the school during winter break.

“It was a big envelope,” she said, “and I knew the big envelope was a good thing.”

Her acceptance package reminded her of the one she received from Harvard-Westlake four years ago.

“It’s really exciting to find out you get accepted,” she said. “You feel like you accomplished something big.”

She visited the school several weeks ago and met with the coach that recruited her as a walk-on athlete.

She likes that walk-on athletes at St. Mary’s are treated the same as scholarship athletes are.

“Everyone has the same opportunity to become a starter. It depends on how you train and compete,” she said, “At bigger schools, it’s not like that.”

Alexis plans on going to St. Mary’s unless it is “completely not affordable,” she said.

She is now waiting for financial aid decisions, which should be released in March.

She applied for financial aid from St. Mary’s as well as other scholarships. She applied for a scholarship sponsored by her mother’s work and a scholarship particular to her nationality and anticipated major, as well as for a Cal Grant.

She applied to several California State Universities, and she will try to get recruited by other schools during the club season should she be unsatisfied by the financial aid package St. Mary’s offers.

Carter the Brain:

Carter* was accepted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology through its Early Action program.

He received his decision notification by logging onto a page on the school’s website.

“I was refreshing the page over and over again,” he said “At first, I didn’t believe it.”

Carter only applied to Harvard University regular decision.

He initially planned to apply to Princeton University as well, but decided against doing so at the last minute.

“The realistic question was whether or not I would choose any other school over MIT,” he said, “Regarding Harvard and MIT, I’m still not sure which one I would choose.”

Carter is attracted to the freedom Harvard students are given to choose classes.

“You can skip a few math classes to go to a harder one,” he said.

He is particularly interested in Math 55, a rigorous freshman math class.

Carter considers the fact that Harvard and MIT are both in Boston a coincidence.

“I’m not a fan of the cold weather,” he said, “but location, geography and climate didn’t play a big part in my college search.”

Carter said he is “trying hard” to bring up his grades while also dedicating himself to several extra-curricular activities.

“I doubt I’ll be a second semester senior,” he said. There is a lot of stress I no longer have, but no stress doesn’t mean not working hard.”

*names have been changed

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