High Stakes: Finally Coasting


Illustration by Samantha Ko

Danielle Kaye

The All-Around:

After weeks of worrying that her Early Action school was too much of a reach, Amanda’s* anxiety was put to rest when she found a letter in her mailbox congratulating her on her acceptance to Georgetown University Dec. 22.

However, she had been awaiting the official decision since Dec. 15, the expected notification date, and had to call the admissions office Dec. 19 to inquire about the status of her application.

As relieved as she is to have been accepted to her top choice school, Amanda cannot officially decide whether or not she will be attending Georgetown until she receives her official financial aid package in April. For this reason, she applied to four other regular decision schools – University of Southern California, Williams, Yale and Dartmouth – just in case Georgetown does not grant her the financial aid package her family needs.

“Obviously, if financial aid works out, Georgetown is where I’ll go,” Amanda said. “It’s my top choice, so I’m very happy.”

Amanda is pleased with her first semester academic performance.

“There was a lot on my plate, just like for every senior, with college applications and everything I had to get done,” Amanda said. “It surprisingly went well for me, and the pressure to do everything actually helped me to spend a lot more time on my work and focus a lot.”

During winter break, Amanda was able to spend time with her friends and family and make up for the time she spent studying and engaging in her extracurricular activities throughout first semester.

“I’m excited to spend more time with friends now that I have more free time and [to focus] more on those relationships because I’m not always stressed about school,” Amanda said.

The Brain:

Overwhelmed with excitement, Sean was admitted Dec. 10 to one of his three top choice schools: The California Institute of Technology.

He was deferred from his other top choices, the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but is still pleased with the results because he would be equally happy to attend any of the three schools.

“It is definitely really exciting to know that there is a great place that I can go to next year,” Sean said.

Sean decided to apply regular decision to Princeton, Stanford, Harvard and Yale and sent in a video of him playing the violin to each college. If he is accepted to any of these schools, he will have to visit the campus and assess whether he would prefer to attend one of these institutions over Caltech. Sean’s acceptance to Caltech prompted him to withdraw his application from USC.

Sean submitted most regular decision applications before the start of winter break due to early deadlines for his art portfolio. This allowed him to relax during winter break.

“I’ve lived in LA my whole life, so maybe I will be here in the future, or maybe I won’t,” Sean said. “But definitely I would like to spend some time with friends and family and have a nice second semester, still with a focus on school and grades.”

The Artist:

On Dec. 16, Christina* received good news: she got a callback from USC, her top-choice school.

She will move onto the next round of auditions for USC Jan. 22.

Although she will not find out if she will be a Trojan until the spring, Christina felt relieved when she was notified of her admission to Indiana University Jan. 2.

“[Indiana] is not necessarily where I want to go to school, but worse comes to worst, I always have that to fall back on,” Christina said. “And I don’t have to worry about not getting in anywhere.”

The number of regular decisions schools to which Christina applied was contingent upon whether or not she received a callback from USC. After receiving positive results, Christina and her dean felt confident enough to forgo applying to other safety schools.

Christina’s admissions decisions from two other schools are a bit less clear.

She suspects that something must have gone wrong with her application to Emerson College, as she has yet to receive an admissions decision weeks after the notification date. She thinks that this may be due to the fact that she submitted her audition online because she could not fly to Boston for a live audition before the deadline.

Additionally, Christina did not receive a formal decision from the University of Michigan in her application portal.

“Everyone else who was deferred had that written in the Michigan portal, but mine didn’t say anything,” Christina said.

Moving forward, Christina is now in the process of preparing for her live auditions that will take place later this month and throughout February. Some of her song choices include “Big White Room” by Jessie J and “Not in That Way” by Sam Smith. She is also looking forward to the reduced stress from schoolwork this semester.

“I’m definitely really excited to be a second semester senior,” Christina said. “Hopefully I’ll have time to spend my last semester with my friends and feel less stressed about school.”

The Athlete:

Though confident on the morning of Dec. 9, Pomona’s early decision notification date, Mark* still worried that his verbal commitment could fall through the cracks. Upon opening his letter in his hotel room in Austin after competing in the Speedo Junior Nationals, Mark received a concrete acceptance.

“When I was admitted, it was such a relief that I could see the actual letter rather than having just the guarantee from the coach,” Mark said.

Mark will begin training with Pomona in August as the school’s number one recruit for the class of 2021. He expects to be competing in Pomona’s top relay for breast-stroke. In addition to looking forward to competing on Pomona’s team this fall, Mark is also excited to be a leader on the Harvard-Westlake boys’ swim team this spring.

Academically, Mark is enjoying his post-AP Chinese class thanks to its flexible syllabus.

Mark has felt relaxed since his verbal commitment in September, but is now even more relieved with an official acceptance. He is not studying as hard now, though he is still trying to maintain solid grades to avoid having his acceptance rescinded, he said.

Next week, Mark will be competing at the Austin Grand Prix, an international competition. He will be swimming breast-stroke and sprint free-style.

*Names have been changed.