High Stakes: The Final Lap


Kaelyn Bowers

The Sporty Scientist: Mary*

The time for early decision results has come and gone, and Mary ’19 couldn’t be happier about it. On Dec. 13, she was admitted to Brown University’s Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), an eight-year combined baccalaureate-M.D. medical program.
Although she is done with the college application process, Mary said she is still focused on her academics.

“I feel less stressed because [it’s] second semester, but at the same time, I’m not the type of person to not turn something in,” Mary said. “I’m actually getting the same grades [as before I was accepted], maybe even better, but I have less stress about it, which is good, I guess.”

She said many of her friends who have been accepted to college are more relaxed and excited about going to school events and hanging out. However, some of her friends who haven’t gotten in are frustrated with her.

“I’m done-done, but it feels weird because I feel like I can’t talk to people about it,” Mary said. “The people who aren’t into college are like, ‘But you’re into medical school already,’ and kind of hold it against me, almost.”
She said she looks forward to spending more time with friends during her second semester.

The Artistic Activist: Ashley*

Unlike many of her peers, Ashley ’19 is still focused on her schoolwork, extracurriculars and the college application process.

“It’s interesting because I don’t feel any type of senioritis at all,” Ashley said. “I don’t understand how people do feel that. I’m not in college yet, so that is probably why – I am still on that grind.”

Ashley was rejected from Barnard College of Columbia University, where she submitted an early decision application. Following her rejection, she submitted around 18 regular decision applications, a choice she said she regrets.

“I applied to way too many schools,” Ashley said. “I would recommend to juniors and other students to not apply to as many schools.”
Ashley said she was unable to devote as much time to each individual application because she applied to so many schools.

“I didn’t put in as much effort as I should have into the schools that I really wanted to go to because I was working on all of them at once,” Ashley said. “It was a whole mess and way too much to deal with.”

Ashley said her family has been supportive throughout the process.
“In the end, it isn’t just about me, it’s about my family too,” Ashley said. “Maybe it isn’t for some people, but [for me] it was a team effort. They very much believe in me and see the value in the things that I accomplish.”
Ashley is done submitting applications, but she said she is still busy with her extracurricular involvements and anticipates that she will stay busy until the end of the year.

“I lead and plan and host events,” Ashley said. “I even have to find funding and grants. It just takes up so much time, so my social life is as it was at the beginning [of the year]. I won’t feel free until AP’s are over and I only have two classes a day.”

Charismatic Captain: Cody*

Cody ’19 is feeling much happier going into his second semester of senior year. After committing to Grinnell College in Iowa to play football for the next four years, he’s had more time to relax and spend time with friends.
He’s also had more time for introspection and reflecting on himself.
“I’m understanding myself and what truly makes me happy and using that as motivation to be better,” Cody said. “Spending time with my friends makes me truly happy. [I am] relaxing, really getting out of the school mentality for a minute, dropping everything and just enjoying myself.”
Cody said that although his workload hasn’t changed substantially, his lighter mental load has resulted in helpful grade improvements.
“This has been my best year so far, like, I’ve almost had a whole point increase in my GPA,” Cody said. “It is really stepping out of the Harvard-Westlake bubble and feeling like I need to compete with everyone else, and instead focusing on what is best for me and my mental health [that’s made a difference].”

The Musical Mastermind: Mitchell*

Following his acceptance to Stanford University, his early action school, Mitchell ’19 decided not to submit any more applications. However, he did not withdraw his USC application, which he submitted before hearing from Stanford.
“I’m probably going to go to my early school, but I’m still sort of keeping my options open,” Mitchell said. “I still want to hear from USC.”
Since Mitchell applied to USC’s Thornton School of Music, he was also required to audition in-person. Although he said the audition went fairly well, Mitchell said he regrets not putting in more effort.
“‘I was sort of like, ‘Oh, I wrote these songs. I guess I can do them fine,’” Mitchell said. “I feel like I could have done a little bit more than that.”
Now that he is almost done with the application process, Mitchell said he feels less stressed, but also less focused as a result.
“I feel like before I was motivated to do well, but now it’s more like I’m just afraid to suck,” Mitchell said. “I don’t like sort of being motivated by fear. I’m just chilling mostly. I feel like some weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but not entirely.”

*Names have been changed.