High Stakes: Episode 3

Last Wednesday, thousands of students ditched Halloween to click the “submit” button on their online Common Applications, backing up the server for hours.  Lindsey was one of these students, finally letting her application to Yale join some 3,500 others, estimated from last year’s figures, though this year’s number will likely be higher since Princeton and Harvard nixed early decision. Lindsey is now tired and apologizes for being in somewhat of a haze.

One application was taxing enough: “Every time you are thinking to yourself ‘Who am I?” she said. “By the end of one application I was exhausted.”

She still has six or seven more to go: Washington University St. Louis, New York University, Kenyon, Tufts, Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence, and possibly Brown.  Even if she is accepted to Yale, she is pretty sure she will still apply to her other top schools, NYU, Washington University, St. Louis, and Kenyon.

She notes “I’d be nervous if I were to get into Yale,” feeling she would not consider other options that may not have names with so much a buzz but which may be a better fit for her. 

Lindsey isn’t quite sure what that specific fit is yet.

Two of her top choices, Kenyon and NYU, could be considered polar opposites: Kenyon is located in rural Gambier, Ohio and has an undergraduate enrollment of 1,640, whereas NYU is smack in the middle of Greenwich Village and enrolls 18,239 undergraduates. 

But while Lindsey is not set on her preferences concerning these factors, she does see a common denominator. 

“I want to be able to be individual,” she said. “I know that at a smaller school I can do that, and I know at a school like NYU I can also do that.”

She felt Yale was a fit right away. On a visit, she came upon a magazine dedicated to black-and-white photography, a passion of hers. Yale also has darkrooms below some of the residence houses, which had her sold.

Strong academics and the breadth of opportunities offered are also appealing to Lindsey, who is taking four AP courses this year and sees college as a time to find her focus.

“I have no agenda,” she said. “My agenda is that I want to be happy and learn a little more about myself.”

She is apprehensive about setting her sights on only one professional goal as some peers have, feeling this would perhaps lead her down the wrong path.

Being one of many applying from the same high school, she has run up against some awkward situations. 

“I don’t mention where I am applying to school because it creates an unnecessary tension,” she said. “But it’s important to be open with your friends and acknowledge the fact that we’re competing, but we want what is best for each other.”

Her biggest insecurity is she doesn’t feel she has “a laundry list of activities” and has not excelled in her sport.  However, she feels her grades and test scores “open the door.”

After surviving junior year, she is eager to offer suggestions for those approaching the process.  Her most important advice?

“College is a place you’re going to live and study for four years. It doesn’t define you as a person,” she said.