Student Profile: Pamela Williams

We asked eight high school seniors to talk about applying for college.

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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.

By applying to 23 colleges (and for "at least 25 scholarships"), Pamela Williams became a true expert in the college app and financial aid processes. She was accepted by 21 schools, including Spelman, Loyola-Chicago, Vanderbilt, and Baylor, where she'll be studying biology. That's the warm-up to her career goal, cardiac thoracic surgery.

GPA: 3.3 unweighted

ACT score: 28 composite 

Extracurriculars: Community service, including volunteering at a children's hospital, National Honor Society, student council, school newspaper editor 

Essay topic: Community service 

Insider tip: It's free to apply online at many schools, while paper applications carry fees. 

Must do: College visits 

Myth: That you need to write only one essay. Some schools require supplemental essays, while specialized programs require specific essays. Penn and Duke each required three essays. 

Tiebreaker: Vandy offered a free ride; Baylor nearly that. A visit by Williams clinched it. "Without visiting, it's like walking into the unknown." 

Advice: Religiously affiliated colleges often give away bundles of money to students with solid grades and a commitment to community service. 

More Student Profiles: 

Nubia Gomez
Alyssa Jones
Carlos Fernández
Edgar Javalera
Jerell Cotton
Michael Abed
William Ash

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