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.
"From the beginning, I knew what I wanted to do," says Robert 'Kit' Durban, who focused on schools with strong athletic training programs. He applied to, and got into, eight: Boston University, College of Charleston, Ithaca College, Temple University in Philadelphia, Quinnipiac College in Connecticut, James Madison University in Virginia, Miami University in Ohio, and the University of Texas.
He chose Boston over close second Ithaca because BU has the option to get a bachelor's degree in athletic training plus a doctorate in physical therapy over six years. "It makes you much more competitive to have dual degrees," he says, looking toward his dream job: soccer trainer in Britain's Premier League.
GPA: 3.53 unweighted
SAT scores: 670 math, 650 critical reading, 670 writing
Extracurriculars: Most Valuable Player on Blair's soccer team, lacrosse team member. Guitar lessons, art.
Essay topic: About witnessing a 14-year-old Native American boy's ceremonial Sun Dance for his ill father in South Dakota
Do-over: "I'd stay overnight" on campus visits; he regrets that the only perspective he got of the schools he visited was from the campus tour.
[See our list of 36 questions to ask on a college visit.]
Biggest surprise: He found some college websites to be "an absolute pain to navigate." It was difficult to find some of the information he needed to complete his applications.
Helpful: An unpaid summer internship he held after junior year shadowing the University of Maryland athletic director
More Montgomery Blair High School student profiles:
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