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.
Waitlisted by his first choice, Columbia, class valedictorian Michael Abed opted for a nearly full ride at Boston University. His college application strategy: Seek out East Coast schools with a solid computer engineering program. Starting in his junior year, he pared his list to three eastern schools (he also got into Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh) and a nearby safety, the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He procrastinated on the applications, finally completing them just before New Year's Day.
GPA: 3.9 unweighted
ACT score: 34 composite
Extracurriculars: Computer programming club founder, National Honor Society, Model United Nations
Essay topic: Approaching frustrating experiences as a practice exercise
The process: "It was less organized than I thought it would be." The Common App is a step in the right direction, Abed says, but then each school layers on unique requirements.
Financial aid: Worse than the admission process. "My dad said they wanted more information than when he was buying a house."
Craziest essay: Penn. "You just finished your autobiography, send us Page 207."
Regret: Procrastinating on applications made the process unnecessarily stressful.
Organizer: The computing dude relied on notebook and pen to stay on task.
Advice: "Colleges spend a lot of time thinking about what they want in a person. But applicants don't spend much time thinking about what they want in the college. Know what you want in a school."
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