High Stakes: Clue three

By Allegra Tepper

As seniors count down the days until their senioritis can finally kick in—that’s 72 days until second semester, for the record—some have been focusing their efforts on last minute attempts to raise their GPAs. Others have been neglecting the books in favor of early applications and a select few have found the perfect balance between the two.


Shawn says he’s mastered the balancing act, but not without a couple of bumps in the road. While other seniors were partaking in Halloween debauchery, Shawn stayed in to cool down after a marathon of submissions. Shawn sent off University of Wisconsin on Thursday and his application to the University of Michigan on Friday without snags; both schools have rolling admission programs. On Saturday, Shawn struggled to submit his Common Application before the Nov. 1 Early Decision deadline. The site wouldn’t accept the essays as formatted and his browser kept him from previewing his application before send-off.

“I can’t work computers,” Shawn said. “It was terrifying.”

To add more fuel to the flame, Shawn had forgotten to complete his Early Decision Contract, which required a signature from Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts. Despite the obstacles, Shawn “miraculously” submitted his Early Decision application to the University of Pennsylvania and is now turning his attention to the University of California. He plans to submit applications to six of the state campuses, his top choices being Berkeley and San Diego.

Shawn said that his first quarter was nothing short of amazing. Though the schools he has already applied to don’t require his first quarter grade reports, Shawn will be sending them anyway.

“I got around a 4.5 this quarter, which brought my whole GPA up from a 3.7 to a 3.81,” Shawn said. “I went home and actually did work after school this year, on a daily basis. It clearly paid off. If only I had figured that out earlier.”


Annabelle didn’t quite have the same outcome this quarter, describing it as rough to say the least.

“I can’t even gauge how I am doing in my classes and there’s not enough time to put in the effort that I want to,” Annabelle said. “I feel bad, because I actually want to, there just isn’t the time.”

Her plan for second quarter: “I’ll be spending my frees being anti-social in a little corner. That’s the only way it’s going to get done.”

Despite her struggles with her AP classes, Annabelle was thrilled with her October SAT scores and is gaining confidence in her applications. Although she decided that Early Decision was not for her, it recently became apparent that her peers didn’t get that message.

“There’s a rumor going around that I am applying early to Stanford,” Annabelle said. “It was weird. I was like, ‘Wow! People are wondering what I am doing.’ It was too crazy. But I guess the craze is normal. We’re still kids and we’re nervous about the future, but it’s a little too much for me sometimes.”

Annabelle says all of her extra time will be devoted to her applications and right now most of that energy is going into the University of California application, which is due Nov. 30. A self-described “chronic procrastinator,” Annabelle foresees a winter break filled with cramming to finish applications before the new year.

“Right now, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel,” Annabelle said. “It’s a big black hole, ominous and lurking, waiting to swallow me up.”


Taylor has been directing her attention toward her music supplement, what might be the most important part of her application for the conservatory-style programs to which she is applying. Certain schools only require recordings, while schools such as Oberlin require two music teacher recommendations and resumés.

The October SATs didn’t go as well as Taylor had planned, but she won’t be retaking them because she plans to retake her subject test scores in November.

“Since most of my friends applied early, I’m feeling a little behind,” Taylor said. “I’ve just spent so much time worrying about it, now I have to start moving because we’re coming down to the wire.”

As she does more research and solidifies her still somewhat evolving list, Taylor is coming to some surprising conclusions about her preferences.

“I thought I would be really into New York City,” Taylor said. “But it turns out I just love the farmlands.”

Liberal arts colleges like Williams, Oberlin and Bennington are maintaining top slots on her list.

“I am so glad that I like Bennington, because I feel like I have a good chance of getting in,” she said. “I feel like they rarely get students from schools like Harvard-Westlake and I think I’m at an advantage there.”

*names have been changed