Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City is a magnet school for grades 8-12. Ranked one of America's Best High Schools by U.S. News, it is ethnically diverse, and some 92 percent of students participate in the school's AP or IB programs. We asked eight Sumner seniors to talk about applying for college.
Jerell Cotton wants to be a doctor, always has. In seventh grade, a science teacher recommended him for a Saturday Science and Math Academy. "I really like science," he says. In high school, he worked at a health center and a hospital, and as a biomedical research intern at the University of Kansas Medical Center. "That's where I developed my passion for neurology." While Cotton has been focused on pursuing medicine, the process has had some bumps. Still, he's happy about the path that got him into Washington University in St. Louis.
GPA: 3.9 unweighted
ACT score: 26 composite
Extracurriculars: Spanish National Honor Society, math and science mentor, senior board officer, biomedical research intern
Essay topic: Becoming a Mormon
Biggest goof: Missing Harvard's admissions deadline
Smart move: Washington U visit. "It was a perfect fit."
Best financial move: Contacting financial aid office to explain that he can't count on his dad to help foot the bill after he was unable to reach his father to supply tax returns for FAFSA. His parents are split.
The best part: The cost of school is more than covered, thanks to financial aid and institutional and private scholarships.
Do-over: Starting application process earlier. He spent much of the winter break finishing apps.
Hardest part: Coming up with an essay topic. "It has to be an attention-grabber." Writing it was easy, he says.
Helpful steps: "Talking to people about my essay" and getting it proofread.
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