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.
Cassie Hazelip's college search is perhaps one of the most informed ever taken. Shortly after transferring to Walnut Hills in ninth grade, Cassie devoured guides and came up with a list of 40 colleges. Her ultimate goal: law or med school. In 10th grade, college visits began. By junior year, she had reduced the list to 16, refined her interests to international affairs, and started her essay. All her applications were off by October 1 of her senior year. Cassie's diligence paid off: She got into three of four schools she applied to. She's going to Michigan this fall to study political science and psychology. Undoubtedly, Cassie will be showing up to campus early.
GPA: 3.56 unweighted
SAT/ACT scores: 610 math, 620 critical reading, 660 writing/30 composite
Extracurrics: Varsity tennis, senior class treasurer, volunteering, tutoring
Essay: Overcoming her hearing disability
A must: Visiting colleges (do an overnight in a dorm room if possible, she says). Her trip to Michigan sealed the deal.
Insider tip: Stay in contact with university officials after you apply. You want them to know who you are.
Destressor: Getting it done early, playing tennis—and venting to her counselor
Biggest surprise: Some applications took 15 minutes (Indiana's was one). Michigan's took five days.