The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

High Stakes: In Suspense


The Brain:

Hoping to pursue his studies in the math and sciences, Sean* followed through with his original intention to apply Early Action to The University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. He is specifically intrigued by the unique core curriculum offered at The University of Chicago and said he looks forward to combining courses in the core with courses in the sciences, making this university his top choice out of his three Early Action schools.

Sean started writing his applications for the Early Action schools in August, which he said helped reduce the amount of stress during the week leading up to the Nov. 1 deadline.

“Since I started writing some of my [University of] Chicago essays over the summer, I never really got caught in a huge crunch,” Sean said.

Sean hopes to be accepted to at least one or two of these Early Action schools, and is excited to complete Regular Decision applications to Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, Yale and the University of Southern California. Given that he has not visited the campuses of any of his Regular Decision schools, Sean has not yet been able to decide on whether he would prefer to attend any of his Early Action schools over Regular Decision schools, if admitted.

Sean has so far enjoyed his courses this school year, with a schedule largely focused on science, math and music. His favorite classes have been symphony and his weekly directed study course in music, which he chose to primarily focus on Advanced Placement music theory material.

The All-Around:

Amanda* was originally hesitant to apply Early Action or Early Decision to any schools because she worried that she would be granted less financial aid than during the Regular Decision application period. After meeting with her dean and discussing her chances at the schools meeting her financial needs, however, she was assured of the high probability that she would receive the aid her family required. Amanda therefore decided to apply Restrictive Early Action to Georgetown University, Dickinson College and the University of Miami.

Georgetown’s political science, law and policy programs strongly appeal to Amanda, given her intention to go to law school. She also appreciates the opportunities to gain practical and hands-on political experience in Washington, D.C., as the city is the center of American politics.

After pressing “submit” on Georgetown’s application, the stress of the application process did not subside, she said.

“I feel like I should’ve felt something bigger [when I submitted my application],” Amanda said. “I feel like it should’ve been this big moment for me. But immediately, it was really stressful because I was like, now I can’t do anything and it’s completely out of my hands.”

Although Amanda is confident in her extracurriculars and grades, she often feels intimidated by Georgetown’s applicant pool from Harvard-Westlake. Hearing other students and her dean talk about the applicant pool, she said, makes her question whether Georgetown is too large of a reach. Despite her hesitations, Amanda has no regrets about her decision and has decided to be open with her friends about where she has applied.

“As I’ve gotten farther in the process, I’ve realized that telling somebody [where I have applied] won’t change anything,” Amanda said. “It’s just a superstition of mine. If somebody asks me, I’ll share.”

The Artist:

Christina* has had her mind set on pursuing a career in pop music for many years. But recently, after having performed in the upper school production of “Les Miserables,” she has begun to have second thoughts.

“I’ve always been pretty insecure about my acting, which is why I’ve never really considered theater to be a serious option,” Christina said. “But after doing ‘Les Mis’ and receiving such high praise for my acting as well as my singing, I’ve become more confident in that ability. I’m questioning whether or not I would be better off receiving an education in singing and acting and dancing, as opposed to one in just voice and performance.”

The University of Southern California Popular Music Program is still Christina’s top choice because she would be able to take part in musical productions along with her studies in singing.

Since USC does not have an Early Decision option, Christina decided to apply Early Action to the University of Michigan, Emerson College, Tulane University and Pace University.

“My strategy was just to apply Early Action everywhere that offered it, just so I could have some sort of acceptance or rejection, so I’ll know earlier,” Christina said.

Christina received pressure from her college counselor and mother to apply Early Decision to New York University. However, after discussing her high chances at USC with her dean, Christina decided not to do so.

Now that she has submitted all of her Early Action applications, Christina is now focused on the audition components. She has yet to finalize song choices and is in the midst of choreographing short dances that are required by musical theater programs at certain schools, such as the University of Michigan and Emerson College.

The Athlete:

Mark* verbally committed to Pomona College for swimming Sept. 28. He had already received an offer from Swarthmore College, but continued to push back the offer until he had heard back from Pomona. He was anticipating a phone call from Pomona since he was told by the school that he was their top recruit, but was worried that waiting too long would jeopardize his offer from Swarthmore.

After finally receiving the phone call from Pomona, Mark decided that it was the ideal college for him because of the school’s academic rigor and his desire to stay in California.

He immediately cancelled his official recruit trips to Johns Hopkins University, Emory University, Amherst College, Williams College and Carnegie Mellon University.

Mark was also interested in Yale University and Brown University, but did not anticipate receiving offers.

“Yale and Brown were risky and I thought they might not be the perfect fit,” Mark said. “I settled on Pomona when they gave me the offer.”

After committing, however, Mark started to doubt his decision.

“I was afraid that the academic standards [at Pomona] were too tough and I wouldn’t be able to survive there because I know they are more academic and less athletic-minded,” Mark said. “I was thinking I’m an athlete, so maybe I should go to a more athletic school with less pressure on academics.”

Despite his initial concerns, Mark is content with his decision. He looks forward to leading the Pomona men’s swim team to victories over their rivals Claremont Mckenna, Scripps and Harvey Mudd.

Now that Mark knows where he will be attending university next year, he said that the burden of maintaining a high grade-point-average has lessened.

“I truly feel like I’m learning stuff now without the stress of grades,” Mark said.

*Names have been changed.


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High Stakes: In Suspense