Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati is a public high school for grades 7-12. Ranked one of America's Best High Schools by U.S. News, it is open to any student in Cincinnati who tests reasonably well. Walnut Hills is culturally and ethnically diverse, and some 95 percent of its graduating seniors go on to four-year colleges. We asked eight seniors to talk about applying for college.
Last fall, when an Indiana U. admissions rep came to Walnut Hills, she told Joey Steiner his sub-3.0 average gave him "zero" chance of getting in. She didn't know Joey Steiner. "That bugged me," recalls Joey. "My counselor said, 'Show her you can.' " Despite health problems that forced him to miss a lot of school over the years, Joey worked hard in senior year, boosting his fall grades above 3.0 while he was conditioning for spring baseball (his passion) and applying to colleges. He got into DePaul and Cincinnati but starts at Indiana this fall.
GPA: 2.65 unweighted
SAT scores: 570 math, 590 critical reading, 600 writing
Extracurrics: Varsity baseball (cocaptain), coaching kids' baseball, Big Brother mentor
Essay topic: Overcoming life's setbacks
End goal: A college with a similar atmosphere to Walnut Hills: welcoming, supportive, strong academically, with lots of spirit. That's Indiana, he says, despite the bumpy start.
Stress buster: Lifting weights, TV sports, video games
Hardest part: Applying to college, boosting his grades, extracurrics—all at the same time. It led to many a 2 a.m. bedtime.
Extra boost: Walnut Hills' college counseling staff—and Indiana's willingness to recognize the upward academic trend in his senior year