My College Application Experience


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Hey, my name is James and I’m a senior this year in East Islip High School. As most other seniors have, I have recently completed my college application process. It was definitely one of the most stressful things I have done in my life. I am sending applications to 12 schools, including Georgia Tech, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, and my top choice, MIT. I applied to MIT through early action, and am expecting the decisions within the next week as I write this. MIT has been my dream school since 9th grade, and the college application process has sparked a lot of emotions for me that I do not typically feel.

Applying to selective colleges like Ivies, or MIT has brought with it at times, an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. Although I am usually quite confident in my academics, looking at average accepted statistics for students at MIT has made me feel especially negative. I scored a 1500 on the SAT, and while this is generally accepted to be an amazing score, at MIT, it’s actually the bottom 25th percentile of accepted applicants. That’s right: to even be in the top 75% at MIT, you need to score within the 99th percentile of the SAT. This at times, felt overwhelming. Twinges of regret, and hopelessness came across often. I often thought about how I should have done more activities during the summer, I should have started a club or an app or anything. I feel as if I have very little which makes me stand out. However, thinking about it now, as I await one of the biggest days of my life, I realize that all of this is not necessarily accurate.

I have grown to be at peace with this process. Looking back, academically, there was not much more I could have done. I have taken 11 AP classes in high school, and never received below an A+ in any of them. Even though I am highly critical of myself, I realize that I have tried my best and did everything I could to reach my dreams. Even with my extracurriculars, I pursued things that I enjoyed during high school. Sure, I could have founded a food bank, or gone on an abroad mission to end world hunger. But, instead I poured my time into Boy Scouts, Soccer, Track, Robotics, and things that I enjoy.

I know who I am, and upon reflecting on all of these selective universities, I realize that wherever I end up, I will be welcomed, and I will feel at home.

I know who I am, and upon reflecting on all of these selective universities, I realize that wherever I end up, I will be welcomed, and I will feel at home. I am at peace with whatever decision MIT has made at this point, and I am also at peace with the decisions that the other universities will have made as well. 

My best advice for people on similar paths as me is to find who you are. Pursue what interests you above all else. By all means, push yourself academically like I have. But most importantly, find out what makes you, you. Although applying to selective schools can be daunting, the bottom line is, you have nothing to lose by putting yourself out there and finding out (except maybe the application fee). And who knows, maybe your dream school likes what they see of you, and you get to be one of the special few who go to that school. Always remember that no matter what happens, you will find your second home.