The journey to college acceptance is one best told by the experts: high school seniors who've just completed the process. Learning how others got into college can help inform your own effort, so we asked students from the Class of 2011 at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., to relate their experiences, tips, and observations.
After initially considering 10 schools, including Tufts University, Brown University, and Amherst College, Laura Anthony settled on applying for early decision at the University of Pennsylvania and early action at the University of Maryland and Emory University. Penn "was on my list early," she says, ever since she first visited the Ivy's campus at age 14 (her dad is an alum).
Still, choosing to do early decision "was a tough decision." You get your answer sooner, but early action gives you more time to figure out what you want. Anthony, co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, plans to study humanities at Penn.
GPA: 3.97 unweighted
SAT scores: 670 math, 720 critical reading, 800 writing
Extracurriculars: Besides the school newspaper, vice president of the American Sign Language Club, reading tutor, member of the National Honor Society. Guitar lessons, horseback riding.
Essay topic: Her horse's personality
Best preparation: The 30 or so hours a week she logged on the school paper "taught me super organizational skills."
Advice: Do a spring break college trip. Visiting "allowed me to picture myself [at] each place and decide if it was a good fit for me."
[Learn more about college road trips.]
Biggest myth: That you won't get in anywhere. "I think that if you know what you want in a school and are responsible with where you choose to apply, you can get into a college that you really love just by being yourself."
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