Image from The Collegiate Blog.

Image from Idealist.

So, first things first–I applied to college through QuestBridge, a really awesome program for low-income, high-achieving students. I encourage anyone who thinks they just might fit into the “low-income, high-achieving” label to give it a go. More information can be found here.

I had finally adjusted to moving in with my grandparents, having the ability to drive a car, and the idea that I’d have to choose my future sometime soon when senior year started to show how much of a hell it would be. Besides internal issues–my sexuality, my identity, what I wanted to be when I “grew up”–that I was trying to figure out, my grandfather passed away in late December (3 days after Christmas and 3 days before most of my unfinished RD applications were due).

It hit me harder than I thought it would, and it made my home situation difficult. On top of the grief and the new familial responsibilities I had to fill in place of my grandfather, college applications and schoolwork were always on my mind. AP Physics ripped my imaginary “I’m a good student” button from my chest every single day. Getting a Queer-Straight Alliance up and running at my high school was proving to be much harder than I had originally thought. And I really had no idea where I would be going to college in a year or how much I was going to have to sell my soul to get there. Now, looking back, I have no clue how I managed it all, but I did, and now I’m sitting comfortably at Scripps College, half-way across the country from my home in Michigan, as a tentative Mathematics major. Let me break it down for you.

Sophomore Year

Lalalala. Everything was bunnies and flowers because I didn’t know anything about the college admissions process at this time. I knew I’d be going to college (no matter what), but I had no clue how. I knew my family couldn’t pay for it, and I was willing to take out loans if I had to, but I had faith that my hard work hopefully could somehow carry me through.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Northwestern’s Arch. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Junior Year

My lovely Honors Physics teacher introduced me to QuestBridge, which her son had applied to the year before. I looked into the program, and applied to be a College Prep Scholar. Over the summer, I got an email saying I’d been accepted, and I’d been invited to a conference at Northwestern University to learn about college admissions, applying through QuestBridge, and lots of other stuff. Of course, I went, and I came home that day feeling overwhelmed and excited about everything that was to come. I started researching QuestBridge’s partner schools, thinking of essay topics, and stressing about financial aid. I had no clue what was in store; I just knew I’d handle it somehow.

Senior Year Part 1: Match

Dun dun dun. This is when it really began. Hoping for the best, I applied to 5 colleges through the QuestBridge National College Match Program: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northwestern University, Pomona College, University of Chicago, and Princeton University. If accepted to one of the schools I “ranked,” I’d be legally binded there with a guaranteed full ride; it was the chance of a lifetime (although scary). Ultimately, I became a finalist, but I didn’t get the Match scholarship I was hoping for. All five colleges deferred me, because that’s how the program works–you don’t get rejected yet, just deferred–and RD applications began.

Senior Year Part 2: Regular Decision

At the beginning of the RD process, I was feeling pretty down. After getting deferred by all 5 schools I had ranked for Match, and after the passing of my grandpa, it was rough. I didn’t turn in two college applications on time because of all the stress, but that’s okay. I managed to apply to 14 schools through Regular Decision: 13 through QuestBridge and 1 on my own–13 “reach” schools and 1 “safety,” relatively. In the end, I was accepted to 7 colleges and wait listed to 3, but I was only considering 4: Northwestern University, Wellesley College, Scripps College, and Bowdoin College. To choose, I’d visit all four colleges’ admitted students’ program, rank them all against each other on certain factors I was looking for, and then, of course, compare financial aid packages.

Image from Moule & Polyzoides Architects.

Balch Hall from the Elm Tree Lawn at Scripps. Image from Moule & Polyzoides Architects.

Choosing My New Home

As someone who has never been east of Ohio or west of Illinois before visiting colleges, flying across the country to my 4 prospective schools was so fun. The first was Scripps College in Claremont, California. There, I saw my first palm tree. I met a lot of cool, friendly people, and I loved how it was a women’s college–yet one in a consortium so there would not be an absence of other genders. The location was magnificent, and the atmosphere was very… chill.

Next was Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I visited with my uncle, and I participated in a pretty fun program at the McCormick School of Engineering. I visited a really neat comic book store in Evanston–my first comic book store–and bought way too many of what I called “souvenirs.” I loved the urban and quirky feel of the surrounding neighborhood at Northwestern most.

Next was Bowdoin in Brunswick, Maine. Here, I visited the ocean for the first time, and the food… the food was great. Let’s just leave it at that. It was so good, it’s the first thing I remember about the school.

Last was Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Wellesley’s also a women’s college, which was a pro in my book, but what stood out to me the most was its racial diversity. I loved the excitement of nearby Boston, and all of the people I met there were friendly and definitely passionate. But finally, with personal fit and financial aid both considered, I committed to Scripps.

Now: Scripps College

Well, now I’m here in California, writing this in the computer lab of my dorm. I absolutely love it. I was worried coming here that I would regret not choosing a higher-ranked college or that I would regret not accepting my spot in Northwestern’s Engineering school (it still hurts to think about rejecting such a great opportunity), but I have no regrets. I love the place I’ve made here for myself at Scripps, I love my new friends, and I love who I’m changing into. Of course, I miss my home back in Michigan, but I’m happy here. Senior year was long and difficult and exhausting and ridiculous and stressful, but it was most definitely worth it. Scripps is my new home.

Don’t give up! Everything will fall into place–I promise.



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the author

Jasmine is a Computer Science major at Scripps College in sunny Claremont, California. Besides writing and editing for The Prospect, Jasmine works as a copy editor for [in]Visible Magazine, a writer for Persephone Magazine, and a communications intern for Whirlpool Corp. When she's not binge watching Grey's Anatomy, she enjoys not wearing shoes (no matter the weather), petting strangers' dogs, and jamming on her ukulele. She can be reached by email at russej13@gmail.com.

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