Welcome back everyone! Todays blog post is gonna be a long one, BUT that’s because this post has been a year in the making. It’s about making a college decision during the midst of a global pandemic. This year has definitely been one for the books, with so much of the college process changing throughout 2020, I thought this post would be helpful for any upcoming seniors or high schooler. If you’re interested in hearing my journey, getting college tips, and most importantly hearing what school I chose… keep on reading!
(p.s. I also made a YouTube video about my admissions journey in case you wanna watch that as well)
Let’s throw it back to March when I started this process. School was cancelled for 2 weeks while they prepared a way to do virtual learning due to Covid cases in the US. I got bored very fast, so I decided to take advantage of the time and start preparing my college resume. I thought back to any community service opportunities, leadership positions, or awards I had gotten throughout High School and made a list.
Tip #1- Start early and prep for the process. You have a lot of planning ahead. As you do community service, receive academic achievements, etc. keep a list of them in the notes app on your phone, so when you start to prepare your college resume it will be easy!
While I worked on my resume I started researching schools. This is where Covid- 19 made things interesting. I had taken the SAT & ACT a few times, but planned on taking them again in the spring of 2020, while other students were planning on taking the test for the first time. After the test dates got pushed back multiple times, most colleges in the U.S. went test optional. For me it was the best news, standardized tests have never been my thing, and like many other students I don’t think it well represented the student I am. I took this opportunity to apply to the schools who went test optional like ,as I found out, so did millions of other students, I think some kids said I guess “I’ll apply to Harvard, might as well”…The extra applications at elite universities in 2021 made acceptance rates hit record lows due to the changes from Covid-19.
Tip #2- Many schools are planning on staying test optional for another year or years to come, so do your research! If you don’t think your scores show who you are, then find a school that understands that and went test optional because TRUST ME you will find some amazing options. Many schools now choose to get to know you through their extra essay questions.
My next step was to start brainstorming an essay idea. If you don’t know 99% of colleges will require around a 500 word essay to apply to the school. If you are applying through the Common App, which is the route I took, then you can either follow 1 of 6 general prompts, or do the “make your own prompt” which gives you full creative freedom. I know many students biggest stress is coming up with an essay topic. For me personally I decided to combine 2 unique stories of my past that came together in the end to build one general theme of ” Fake it till you make it”. I told a story, using lots of figurative language, about the time I was in a Field of Screams video commercial with my dance studio. I was the girl who got lost then got chased by monsters, unfortunately for me I’ve always been terrified of Field of Screams, but didn’t want to pass up the opportunity because of fear. Then, I proceeded to go into how I forgot the entire routine and just stood there in an audition I did for The Radio City Rockettes Summer Intensive. When the music stopped the Rockette told me ” The best advice I could give you girl is fake it till you make it.” That’s just a portion of the story, but those where the main topics I choose to write on. The topics reflected a unique story of character and effort.
Tip #3- College admissions counselors want to get a feel for who you are in your essay, so just be yourself! Write about any story from your past that has left some sort of impact on your life, it can be funny or serious. Just remember though that they are reading thousands of essays, so find a way to make yours pop out of the bunch.
Fast forward to August 1st when the common app opened for the class of 2021. By this point I had absolutely no clue where I wanted to go to college which meant I was not going to apply Early Decision since I didn’t want to be bound into attending a school I never saw. Throughout the Summer I had walked around the campuses of a couple of schools in my state because with Covid we couldn’t really travel, but I had seen a couple of schools from my 2 older brothers college tours.
Tip#3-Safety vs Reach schools, select a percentage from each and look for free applications. I ended up applying to more schools then I ever would have thought. I applied to 15 schools in total with 5 of them being free applications. I applied to so many since #1 I hadn’t ever seen 90% of them, and #2 this year was most definitely unique. With so many schools going test optional for the first time, I didn’t know what they were looking for in an application. This year most of the schools I applied to had their number of applications they received highly increase and set all time records for the universities. You were applying with more students applications, and students from the class of 2021 who had taken a gap year. To be honest I was extremely nervous. My applications were all sent in by the beginning of November, and I got my final decision result on March 31st. Before we get into where I got accepted here are a few more tips…
Tip #4- During your Sophomore or Junior year attend online events from schools you are interested in. By attending digital tours or information sessions it gives you a good chance of possibly receiving a code to enter to receive a free application.
Tip #5- Don’t Procrastinate. Once you start the school year your mind is gonna have a lot going on, and you’re not going to be wanting to write a college essay or supplements on top of all your other school work. I KNOW it’s hard to not procrastinate since the applications mostly aren’t due until the winter, but trust me it’s gonna feel so good when you don’t have to cram in the end.
Tip #6- Organize your work.My biggest tip would be to make a google doc and give each school a different color. Under each school, type out the prompts of the supplemental essays you have to write & the word count. By doing this it made it feel like an assignment. I put the colleges in the order of priority deadlines then just worked my way down the list writing a little more each day. As I finished one then I would highlight it so I knew it was completed!
Tip #7- Find a teacher, a parent, a friend, etc. and have them EDIT, EDIT, and EDIT everything. In the videos I’ve watched of what college admissions counselors are looking for they always say when they see a silly mistake like spelling a word wrong which could have been fixed by spell check on google docs, it immediately turns them off, so do ya editing!
Tip #8- Patience is hard when you are stressed and working so hard to get all your applications in and then have to wait so long for decisions. Just know that your senior year will go fast and there are so many great universities to choose from, but in the end it will be pretty clear which one is for you. Worrying won’t allow you to enjoy your senior moments.
Now on to what my options were, I got into 9 schools and wait listed at 2.
★Elon University ★ American University ★ Duquesne University ★Fordham University ★ High Point University ★University of Pittsburgh ★ La Salle University ★ Lebanon Valley College ★ Saint Joseph’s University ★ wait list- Villanova & Syracuse ★
If you want to know how I got down to my final 2, then you’ll have to check out my YouTube video which was linked at the beginning of this post, but I lowered this list down to 2 choices…
★ELON UNIVERSITY or FORDHAM UNIVERSITY★
This was funny because they are 2 totally different vibes.
Starting out with Elon, My older brother Gavin’s Alma Mater. Elon is a school on the smaller size located in North Carolina. It has a large sorority life, the cutest little town, and some nice warm weather. They also have a great communications program which was my biggest priority throughout the college search. My only concern was the distance from my home, it is one longggg drive and did I not want to be near a city??
Then, we have Fordham located in the Bronx in New York. With Manhattan just a 30 minute Metro ride away, Fordham also has a great communications program and connections to NYC. I was accepted to the Rose Hill campus, but they also have a campus at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Fordham has a vast amount of things around campus, but the school had no sororities and is a little smaller than Elon.
I had to look at my list of pros & cons many many times, but I finally made a decision. Next Fall I am going to attend…
I officially am going to be a part of the Fordham class of 2025!! I am so excited to be a part of the Ramily & can’t wait to make some memories the next four years. Make sure to follow my blog if you want to see all my college content coming up, you guys came through high school with me, and now you are coming along with me to college.
To all the high schoolers out there I wish you all the best as you start the process of applying to your future colleges, and to everyone else thanks for reading this far! Stay tuned for a new blog post soon.
xoxo- Ashlyn Kate