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.
A dedicated dancer and solid student, Nicole Turchi applied to five schools with strong dance programs: the University of Maryland, George Mason University in Virginia, Fordham University and Hofstra University in New York, and Point Park University in Pittsburgh. She got in everywhere, but it came down to the two more economical locals, GMU and U.Md.
"Money was a huge factor," says Turchi, who plans to double major in dance and kinesiology. Her interest in the latter arose from once getting physical therapy for a dance injury. "You can heal an injury using exercise instead of drugs," she says. Given its strong kinesiology program and offer of full tuition, Maryland got the nod.
GPA: 3.67 unweighted
ACT score: 29
Extracurriculars: Youth Dance Ensemble, U.S. Figure Skating novice level competitor, National Honor Society, theater, poms squad
Essay topic: Performing with her dance ensemble at the White House
Extra work: Most schools required her to get accepted, then audition for the dance program. Maryland required an audition only for a performing arts scholarship, which she won.
Insight: "Your transcripts matter a lot." That means both your GPA and the classes you take.
Financial tip: "Money should be in mind" early, when you're applying. Financial reality dashed the hopes of several friends once they'd been accepted. "Nothing's worse than getting into a school you love and then [you] figure out you can't pay for it."
[Learn more about paying for college.]
Organizational trick: To manage the "many little different parts" of the application process, she kept color-coded lists of needed documents, deadlines, and separate dance program applications.
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