By Sara Purviance
Associate Director of College Counseling
In the age of increasingly selective college admission to the “name brand” colleges that take up most of the national airtime on the topic, much emphasis is put on the ball being in the colleges’ court. Countless articles are written on how colleges with sub-ten-percent acceptance rates make their decisions and how students can possibly stand out amidst steep global competition. It’s easy to forget that two of the three choices in the college process belong to the student; they choose where to apply, and then, come spring, they choose where they will ultimately attend. After acceptance letters come in, the tables are quickly turned, and colleges begin rolling out the red carpet, vying for our students to say yes to their offers. There are admitted-student open houses on college campuses in which students have the opportunity to meet with students, professors, and staff, give the dining hall food a try, and sometimes even sleep in a residence hall. Admission officers come to them, too, hosting admitted-student receptions here in the Denver area. In the College Office, we have spent April celebrating students’ successes, and helping them work through these final decisions.
I took some time to reflect on the process with several Colorado Academy seniors. As usual, they had insightful remarks as they shared their experiences and tips for younger students.
How would you describe your experience with the college application process?
Sophia Rodawig (SR) – When I started out, I was looking at a lot of the schools my parents and I liked at face value, because they were ranked highly. As the process went on and I visited schools, I realized that there was more to college than its academic reputation. I wanted a place with hard-working but FUN students who wanted to work together, instead of acting in a cutthroat nature. College is an EXPERIENCE—yes, classes, but just as importantly as developing your mind, college is supposed to develop your heart, educating you as a whole person….I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been able to maximize through a CA education and counseling, as my hard work and dedication is paying off, opening the door toward the next journey of finding myself through emotional and academic development at [my college].
Isabel Chandler (IC) – As an athlete, I did all the heavy lifting before the college application processes, so the process itself was simple. Discovering where I wanted to go was another story; I had always wanted to go to [my college], but seeing more options made my head swirl. How was I to choose? I thought about who I wanted to be and how I would get there. After blocking out the idea of college and then having my head swirling with thoughts constantly, I decided that [my college] would get me where I wanted to go…so why not go for it? That’s just what I did.
Dana Greenleaf (DG) – It was stressful because I originally took on the entire burden of the process on my own. But once I started using my peers, teachers, and college counselor, the work didn’t seem as hard.
What do you know now about the college process that you wish you would have known this time last year?
(SR) – Rid yourself of everyone else’s desires, thoughts, comments. They mean well, but when it comes down to it, the only decision you’ll truly be happy with is one that you chose for yourself.
Rebecca Kite (RK) That you do NOT need to be worrying about it so much prior to senior year.
(IC) – I wish I would have known the simplicity of the Common App. You only have a few words to fill in the ten extracurricular sections….If I had known this, the outline of how I approached what I did throughout high school would have changed. I would have been less stressed out.
What advice would you give younger CA students on how to approach the college process?
Pepijn Van Ede (PVE) – Trust your gut and don’t listen to what others might say; go where you know you belong.
(SR) – Don’t worry about it! Make sure your counselor and parents hear your voice, and keep communicating between those two ‘groups.’ It all works out!
(RK) Please breathe. It’s okay. Be positive!
(IC) – CA provides so many opportunities. Don’t regret not taking advantage of all the options—and don’t follow your friends….Make yourself stand out in another way and meet more people—that has no doubt been one of the best aspects of CA. Plugging into different areas of the school has introduced me to a range of people….Do what you want, because it will drive you to build a resume reflective of who YOU are! And the only way to find out what you want is to get your feet wet. Explore while you can—colleges will love it, but more importantly, so will you.
(DG)– CA is a privilege; treat it like one! Not everyone has the same opportunities as we do, so enjoy every minute of it!